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E-Stat
11-19-2009, 07:05 PM
How many of you have multi-channel based music systems? I do not and will explain why later, but am curious as to how many folks here have gone that route, why and what your experience has been.

Thanks for any comments.

rw

Ajani
11-19-2009, 07:46 PM
I don't own a MC System for the same reason I don't own a Vinyl one:

All my music comes from CDs/Downloads (2 channel)... So since I have no intention of changing my taste in music to suit what's available in MC, I'll stick with 2 Channel...

harley .guy07
11-19-2009, 08:36 PM
I have the ability to do multi channel for music but I rarely do to the fact that I prefer what my main speakers give me in two channel playback. Plus in my opinion when I hear live music it comes to me from a stage and for the most part the sound is coming from that stage. I knoe people talk about the effects of using the rear and center speakers to produce the reverberated sounds from the rear and such but most listenig rooms do this naturaly and if you can adjust your room to take advantage of this and also to quil the things in your room that ruin the response and boost frequencies unnaturally I believe two channel is still the way to go in most situations.

dakatabg
11-19-2009, 10:32 PM
I have it multichannel but I use my 2 channel amp! I just have the mucltichannel for the hell of it!

poppachubby
11-20-2009, 03:04 AM
I had an MC set up in a spare room briefly. It started with only the mains and sub with the amp bypassed. However I added the rears for kicks, I enjoyed it just fine. It's certainly not for critical listening.

A good friend does all of his listening from his DVD player through his MC set up. Again, sounds fine and it's interesting to hear how some recordings get processed. I think Mr Peabody had a thread similar to this a while ago.

In that thread I had told him about led Zeppelin II, Whole Lotta Love. The psychedelic break in that song has a crazy effect through an MC system. It "spins" around the room from speaker to speaker. This wasn't a special recording either, regular CD.

Feanor
11-20-2009, 03:20 AM
I have a stereo system and HT M/C system. I regard the former to be my "main" system but I've be known to listen to multichannel music content, SACDs and DVD-As on the latter.

M/C does have the potential to convey a more realistic music hall experience than stereo possibly can.

kexodusc
11-20-2009, 04:40 AM
I do...my MC system is inferior in terms of the component quality and speaker quality to my stereo rig - but there's some multi-channel recordings that just stand out and deliver a sense of realism stereo never could.

Still, while I've experienced that it is a bit better when the recordings are done well, there's some elements I don't like (even on the best of mixes), and unfortunatley quite a few more stars have to line up to maximize its potential vs stereo.

A few years ago I was pretty darn excited about multi-channel prospects, but alas, I've grown quite disappointed with the lack of selection of music I enjoy available in such formats, and the inconsistent implementation of the extra channels from recording to recording. Sometimes some of the extra speakers emit sounds that can be quite offensive. Moreso, there's a pragmatic element - the effort and costs invested for the smaller selection of playback material is a big obstacle.

All this to say maybe I've swung back the other way...the potential is there but...

frenchmon
11-20-2009, 06:16 AM
Well when MC first came out in 5.1 DD I tried it for a while in my Home theater but it was not that great to me. Then I got MC SACD in my HT and it was a different story altogether. It was pretty good. But now its pure two channel for me in my two channel room...red book or 2 channel SACD. With good gear and cables its possible to get the depth and width you need from a good recording as if its on a stage. It wont surround you as MC SACD but to me a good two channel just can't be beat.

Ed_in_Tx
11-20-2009, 06:50 AM
I was just listening to a CD "Santana Live at the Fillmore 1968" last night on my quad system - Sansui QSD-1, Pioneer QC-800A pre, 2 Pioneer Spec-4s, and 4 Pioneer HPM-150s. Incredible realism in the sound stage and the whole environment. My newer home theater receiver (Pioneer) in the Dolby Pro Logic mode can do an excellent very convincing job of multichannel from stereo too. I've been doing multichannel "quad" since 1972.

Hyfi
11-20-2009, 07:22 AM
I have a stereo system and HT M/C system. I regard the former to be my "main" system but I've be known to listen to multichannel music content, SACDs and DVD-As on the latter.

M/C does have the potential to convey a more realistic music hall experience than stereo possibly can.

Yeah, what he said....

rob_a
11-20-2009, 11:59 AM
I find great Joy in listening to 2 ch. and multi. I think they both have their advantages. Most music does sound best in 2ch. A solid high quality player can really bring to life a well engineered Redbook disc. But my high resolution DVD-A/SACD format stuff sound sweet! In two channels or multi, you canít beat the clarity and detail. I have also listened to some Multi channel Blu-ray music and the quality is incredibly, My hopes are that Blu-ray takes hold and blu-ray audio becomes more available, I would rather see a high resolution format like Blu-ray become mainstream then The next generation of MP3 players.

Woochifer
11-20-2009, 02:17 PM
No separate "music" system for me. I simply run everything through a multichannel setup. Two-channel sources are played back through the two main speakers, while 5.1 material uses the full setup.

I've stated many times on this board that multichannel simply conveys a spatiality that I've never heard as accurately or as solidly rendered from a two-channel setup.

As an example, I've cited the SF Symphony's 5.1 SACD Mahler series. The two-channel tracks on those recordings sound great, and I can see how some listeners might prefer the two-channel mix to the 5.1 version. But, as someone who regularly sees the SF Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall (going there again tomorrow night for a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic), there's simply no question that the 5.1 mix brings the listener much closer to the actual live experience inside that particular room.

Also, with pop recordings, the surround speakers are used to create depth in the soundstage. While a good two-channel setup can also convey a sense of depth, that depth with the side imaging is much better anchored with a good 5.1 mix.

The problem with multichannel is that it requires much more optimization in the setup to fully realize the advantages. First off, you need the speakers to timbre match. Mismatching surrounds will only take you so far. You need a very close voice match in the surrounds to fully convey that 360 imaging.

Also, you need to make sure that the alignment and positioning are correct. The surrounds should directly face each other and position about 110 degrees off-center, and no more than 120 degrees. The height also needs to be optimized. About 1' above ear level is fine (though Dolby specifies at least 2' above ear level).

In addition, if the speakers are not all equidistant, then you need to adjust the processor to include a 1 ms delay for every foot of difference that the speakers are apart.

And then, there's the variability with the recordings themselves. As with two-channel, the listening experience with a 5.1 track greatly depends on how good a mix you have. In some cases (like Miles Davis' In A Silent Way and the Alice in Chains compilation), the multichannel mix is horribly done and the two-channel mix is much preferable. In other cases (like the Concord Jazz SACD series), the multichannel mixes remove much of the heavy handed processing used in the original stereo mix, resulting in a demonstrably cleaner sound and a clarity that was never heard in the two-channel version.

When all of these conditions line up, then you're talking about a listening experience in which 5.1 surpasses two-channel. As with all things in audio, YMMV depending on any number of different variables.

frenchmon
11-20-2009, 03:36 PM
Not to hi-jack the thread, but gotta ask one question of you Woo. How is the concord Jazz series SACD stuff? While I like my SACD's from Terlarc and Chesky which I think are great recordings, my Diana Krall SACD's from Verve don't impress me in the slightest. I've seen the Concord stuff but never bought any.

frenchmon

Woochifer
11-20-2009, 04:33 PM
Not to hi-jack the thread, but gotta ask one question of you Woo. How is the concord Jazz series SACD stuff? While I like my SACD's from Terlarc and Chesky which I think are great recordings, my Diana Krall SACD's from Verve don't impress me in the slightest. I've seen the Concord stuff but never bought any.

frenchmon

Some really good stuff on that label. As mentioned, the stereo tracks on most of Concord's releases were heavily processed during the mixdown. Back then, I thought they sounded pretty good. But, the new SACD mixes really reveal just how artificial those original stereo mixes actually sound by comparison. Most of these recordings date back to the 1980s, so the source recordings might sound a little bit dated. Also, because the original tracks were not intended for multichannel playback, some of surround mixing overly segregates the instruments into specific channels. But, the fidelity of the 5.1 SACD tracks are a huge improvement from the original versions.

The jazz titles from Telarc (on their Heads Up label) are very aggressively mixed in the surrounds, and were intended for 5.1 from the start. Some of it I like, some of it I don't. But, it's very different from the more minimalist approach they use with their classical titles.

I really like Chesky's production quality and the Swing Live! SACD is a great test track to use for optimizing your surround speaker placement. Get the placement right, and that recording puts the listener right in the middle of that jazz club.

frenchmon
11-20-2009, 06:49 PM
Some really good stuff on that label. As mentioned, the stereo tracks on most of Concord's releases were heavily processed during the mixdown. Back then, I thought they sounded pretty good. But, the new SACD mixes really reveal just how artificial those original stereo mixes actually sound by comparison. Most of these recordings date back to the 1980s, so the source recordings might sound a little bit dated. Also, because the original tracks were not intended for multichannel playback, some of surround mixing overly segregates the instruments into specific channels. But, the fidelity of the 5.1 SACD tracks are a huge improvement from the original versions.

The jazz titles from Telarc (on their Heads Up label) are very aggressively mixed in the surrounds, and were intended for 5.1 from the start. Some of it I like, some of it I don't. But, it's very different from the more minimalist approach they use with their classical titles.

I really like Chesky's production quality and the Swing Live! SACD is a great test track to use for optimizing your surround speaker placement. Get the placement right, and that recording puts the listener right in the middle of that jazz club.

I wont be doing any 5.1 SACD listening. But I do love 2 channel SACD for the clarity it brings. My Musical Fidelity does excellent red book which almost sound as good as my SACDP from Marantz, but the Marantz still has it beat with SACD but not by much. Its just the SACD is just a tad more transparent. I thought about selling the Marantz 6001 and getting the SA8001 or SA8003 but just adding new interconnects to the 6001 gave it a new level of performance. I had cheap cables at first. But sense I already have the Marantz and a few SACD's I might as well keep it. I've seen some wonderful stuff on the Concord label and now I think I'll give them a shot. Thanks for bringing your expertise.


frenchmon

Woochifer
11-20-2009, 06:56 PM
I wont be doing any 5.1 SACD listening. But I do love 2 channel SACD for the clarity it brings. My Musical Fidelity does excellent red book which almost sound as good as my SACDP from Marantz, but the Marantz still has it beat with SACD but not by much. Its just the SACD is just a tad more transparent. I thought about selling the Marantz 6001 and getting the SA8001 or SA8003 but just adding new interconnects to the 6001 gave it a new level of performance. I had cheap cables at first. But sense I already have the Marantz and a few SACD's I might as well keep it. I've seen some wonderful stuff on the Concord label and now I think I'll give them a shot. Thanks for bringing your expertise.


frenchmon

Too bad you don't have a 5.1 setup. That's really where you hear the difference with the SACD track. The two-channel SACD tracks on the Concord Jazz releases use the original stereo master tape, and don't really clean up the processing.

frenchmon
11-20-2009, 07:11 PM
Too bad you don't have a 5.1 setup. That's really where you hear the difference with the SACD track. The two-channel SACD tracks on the Concord Jazz releases use the original stereo master tape, and don't really clean up the processing.

Oh...thanks for that little note. I guess I wont be buying any SACD from that label. Maybe Red Book.

I did have my SACD installed in my HT so I know what you are saying. But I spend so much time in the 2 Channel room I figured Id set it up down here.


frenchmon

frenchmon
11-20-2009, 07:17 PM
Hey Woochier...I was looking at you DVD music collection and noticed you have one of my favorite fusion drummers of all time....Billy Cobham. Whats that guy doing these days...any clue?

frenchmon

E-Stat
11-20-2009, 07:20 PM
The short answer for me is that despite the fact that I really want to like the MC experience, I have just not been very impressed. Thirty years ago, I drove a second pair of Advents using a Dynaco Quadaptor which synthesized a rear channel. At first it was kinda neat, but the novelty wore off and ultimately I sold it and stacked the Advents. About fifteen years ago, I tried again this time buying a dedicated processor with amplifier and added some rear speakers. The result was pretty much the same.

About three years ago, I finally heard a very nice $100k MC system using Magneplanar MG 20.1s as mains, 3.6s as rears, a pair of CC-3s for center and five Nola Thunderbolts subs, one of which was used for the center channel. This sourced by a EMM Labs DAC6e and CDSA transport, Conrad Johnson MET-1 preamp and an Edge MC amp using Nordost Valhalla throughout. Yes, it did sound very nice playing a number of Telarc recordings. My reviewer friend gave me his personal tour around the selections he chose for the Telarc TAS sampler. Yet, for me it was another case of the "is that all there is?" I greatly preferred hearing his spectacular two channel system that did things the MC one could not. OTOH, the MC system also served HT duty where there I found it to be more impressive especially when used with a three gun Sony projector and 100" screen. There, he used a Krell processor.

From the responses, it seems that there is an even mix of those who have chosen to go MC vs. those who would rather optimize their two channel setups. I know that if I were to invest any more into my system, it would be to refine what I already have.

rw

Feanor
11-21-2009, 05:25 AM
In summation of what I've seen in this thread -- and what I've said on previous occassions -- these are the reasons I don't have M/C as my main system are:

I can't afford an M/C system anywhere close to the quality of my current, main stereo system;
As Wooch emphasizes, placement and setup are critical to best results, and my available spaces don't easily accomodate an optimal arrangement;
There aren't enough excellent recordings to justify the expense and effort the above imply.

Deadeye
11-21-2009, 03:35 PM
This is really me JoeESP9. For some unknown reason the forum will not accept my correct user name.:confused5: :incazzato:

In any case; I have one good (to me) system that has to serve double duty. When playing any multi-channel material I use the Lexicon with a pass through on my SP9. I have the volume control set at unity gain for it. I measured and marked the position with a removable marker. :ihih:

My SP9 is connected directly to the front amps. All 2 channel sources are connected to my preamp. Although my system and room is optimized for 2 channels I get pretty good (to me) results) when playing any kind of multichannel source. I guess having timbre matched speakers makes a difference.:smile5:

In multichannel mode a well recorded thunder storm sounds very convincing. Try the PS Audio DVD From Coal To Coltrane for a well recorded storm. Batlle scenes from a movie like the opening battle scene in Saving Private make we want to duck. Some of this is because of the Lexicon processor. However, I think it's mostly because I've taken such time and care in getting the front two channels right.:smilewinkgrin:

In two channel mode, with a good recording the end of my room with the speakers disappears and it sounds like real live (well almost) musicians.:16:

To sum it up....
At my house multichannel material gets played in multichannel and stereo material gets played in stereo.:cool:

E-Stat
11-21-2009, 04:23 PM
When playing any multi-channel material ...
Joe, what is your true multi-channel source? The Lexicon would be unnecessary with a SACD MC player. Or do you refer to a synthesized environment?

rw

theebadone
11-22-2009, 08:58 AM
I have been toying with the idea of building a quad system. Not a 5.1 or 7.1. But an old quad cd-4 system, like what was offered by pioneer and sansui in the 70s. The components can still be had pretty reasonable, and blow those new surround systems right outta the water. :ciappa:

JoeE SP9
11-22-2009, 01:29 PM
Joe, what is your true multi-channel source? The Lexicon would be unnecessary with a SACD MC player. Or do you refer to a synthesized environment?

rw

I don't have an SACD player. I've getting ready to pull the trigger on a Pioneer DV-79AVi universal player. I hadn't bought any SACD's so I had no real need for a player for them.
For now my MC source is Dolby Digital DVD's. I suppose as things change for me I'll need another processor with mc analog inputs.

frenchmon
11-23-2009, 07:37 AM
Joe, what is your true multi-channel source? The Lexicon would be unnecessary with a SACD MC player. Or do you refer to a synthesized environment?

rw

I have both sources and while they both do MC they are not the same as far as sound.

frenchmon

Sir Terrence the Terrible
11-24-2009, 04:17 PM
All of my hometheaters and music listening rooms are either 5.1 or 7.1. While I have quite a few two channel classical and jazz recordings on CD, I also have quite a few classical and jazz CD's encoded in DTS 5.1 sound. Most of my listening these days comes in the form of these DTS 5.1 recordings, SACD, DVD-A, and Bluray music, all in either 5.1 or 7.1 surround. I optimized my systems to accurately playback ALL music, whether it is mono, stereo, 3.1,5.1 or 7.1. A two channel system is not capable of doing this.

The idea that it takes a lot of money to put together a MC system is a rediculous assumption. I have two 7.1 hometheater/music systems, one built around Sufire CRM-2 mini monitors that I paid $450 a piece for at a liquidator sale, and upgraded vintage ADS L-300 mini monitors I paid $50 a piece for, and later added better mid/bass drivers and a new crossover. When you include amps for both, one costs $5000 dollars, the other $2000. I do not think any audiophile would protest the sound of either of these two systems, especially because they sit in rooms with excellent acoustics even before I tweaked them. Optimum setup was easy when you understand how the ear/brain interprets sound coming from different directions. Wooch already outline the proper position for a 5.1 system, but for 7.1 it is a little different. Proper 7.1 speaker setup put the center a 0 degrees, the left/right mains at 30 degrees, and left/right side speakers at 90 degrees, and the left/right rear wall at 150 degrees. The subwoofers I use are 15" custom built large sealed box, and I use two of them in each system.

I firmly believe in system flexibility, as I do not want my system to have built in playback limitations no matter what I am listening to or watching.

Looking forward, the Blu ray format is the last great hope for MC high resolution music. SACD and DVD-A are basically dead formats with no R&D or advancement forth coming. I own about 20 Bluray music only titles, and I must say I have heard nothing on SACD or DVD-A that approaches the quality I hear from these releases. I have two 24/192khz releases, with the rest being either 5.1 or 7.1 24/96khz releases. More of these titles are on the way.

While I respect the choice of others to remain in the two channel world, my desire for flexibility and the ability to listen to all music natively drove me away from the two channel world years ago. There is nothing like listen to music that is spatially recorded, and properly played back with the natural spatiality intact. I always found it a little strange when audience responses came from BEHIND the performers, and not in front and to the sides of the frontal sound stage. I found it strange and weird to hear reverberation tails coming from behind the performers instead of behind me. I do not like having to always sit exactly in the center of my room to get a proper soundstage. If you move off center with two channel, then whatever speaker you are closer to is what dominates what you hear. That just is not good for me.

For a recording perspective two channel is much more difficult to get right than multichannel. Images have room to breathe in MC, and in stereo it is confined to the space between the speakers. There are just too many limitations with two channel that I am mot confortable with.