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  1. #1
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Am I a multi-channel convert??

    Last weekend was a multi-channel marathon for me. I listen to a number of my SACDs M/C on my HT set and was able to draw a few important conclusions for the experience. Overall multi-channel offers the classical music listener a significantly enhanced experience over stereo.

    The recordings I auditioned are all large-scale classical works of excellent (or better) sound quality in stereo and, as I discovered, also in M/C.
    • Haydn: 'The Seasons', (Rene Jacobs), Harmonia Mundi HMC 801829.30 -- fabulous music, M/C sound, and performance
    • Holst: 'The Planets', (Dennis Russell Davies), Chesky SACD234 -- decent but relatively disappointing M/C sound
    • Shostakovich: Symphonies 5 & 9, (Valery Gergiev), Philips 470 651-2 -- perhaps the best M/C sound and great performance
    • Dvorak: Symphonies 8 & 9, (Ivan Fischer), Philips 470 617-2 -- excellent overall
    • Bruckner: Symphony No.9, (Nikolaus Harnoncourt), RCA Red Seal 82876 54332 2 -- excellent sound; good performance as far as I can tell, but I understand why Bruckner is nobody's favorite composer: turgid neo-Romantic bombast
    • Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra; 'City Scape', (Robert Spano), Telarc -- very good sound but surround effects perhaps a bit exaggerated; Concerto for Orchestra is an interesting, fun piece, 'City Scape' not so much.
    My equipment:
    • SACD player: Samsung DVD-HD841
    • Receiver: Panasonic SA-XR25 "digital"; note that this device does an analogue to digit conversion on all input -- there is not "direct" or "pass-through" function
    • Front speakers: Paradigm MiniMonitor, V.3
    • Center: DIY Vifa 6.5" woofer + BG Corp Neo3PDR tweeter, vented
    • Rears: Boston Acoustics A60
    My specific conclusions are as follows:
    • For classical music, M/C offers a significantly different, enhanced perspective on the performance. One moves from the back of, or an entrance way to, the hall to an excellent orchestra seat.
    • M/C reproduction particularly enhances the sound of "power" instruments such as tympani and brass.
    • A restrained use of M/C is better, that is, it's best used to capture the concert hall ambience than move a portion of the orchestra to the back or sides.
    • The benefits of M/C can be enjoyed even with equipment of modest quality; in fact, assuming budget constraints, it makes sense to trade off some quality to obtain M/C capability.
    My future plans will be altered in these ways:
    • I'll always purchase the SACD over the CD version of the recording -- not for microscopic improvements in resolutions, etc., but for the multi-channel.
    • I will shift my overall equipment upgrade emphasis to my "HT" setup from my stereo setup. I'm really looking forward to building DIY replacements for the Paradigm since my DIY centre easily traunces the former in smoothness and resolution.

  2. #2
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Last weekend was a multi-channel marathon for me. I listen to a number of my SACDs M/C on my HT set and was able to draw a few important conclusions for the experience. Overall multi-channel offers the classical music listener a significantly enhanced experience over stereo.
    Thanks for posting your experience. I have to agree with you. Multi-channel just does a much better job of making the music seem "larger", well suited to many classical recordings.

    I would also recommend you listen to Beethoven's 5th & 7th (Kleiber) from Deutsche Grammophon. The original analog recording was actually done back in the era of quadrophonic sound (there's several other popular recordings that were done this way). So the SACD is created from the true multi-channel analog masters. Incredible!!!

    My specific conclusions are as follows:
    The benefits of M/C can be enjoyed even with equipment of modest quality; in fact, assuming budget constraints, it makes sense to trade off some quality to obtain M/C capability.
    Gotta agree here too. Especially when one consdiders the diminishing returns you get with speakers. The benefits of multi-channel can more than make up for the small loss in fidelity in many cases.

    I will shift my overall equipment upgrade emphasis to my "HT" setup from my stereo setup. I'm really looking forward to building DIY replacements for the Paradigm since my DIY centre easily traunces the former in smoothness and resolution.
    I know the Neo tweeter well, which 6.5" Vifa did you use?

  3. #3
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    I love multi-channel but i'm getting it into my head that ANY recording can be totally screwed up by the mix. So some of all formats sound great and some suck,because of the mixer.
    Look & Listen

  4. #4
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    I follow the ambiophonics philoshopy that two channel stereo with multiple speakers is all that is needed to reproduce realism in playback. Although I don't follow the prescribed setup that they mention, I think that I experience similar results with my unconventional side speaker setup. The imaging may not be pinpoint but I get a full 180 degree sound spectrum with no apparent seems. This effect can't be acheived with just two speakers. I'm using 9 speaker plus a sub and if I had additional space behind my listening position I would add 3 more speakers for a 360 degree soundfield.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    I am sticking with analog 2 channel and high resolution digital playback. In my system i always sit front row center and in a orchestra there are no instruments to the sides and behind you. All the hall information is on the discs, but only high quality components and speaker systems give back and retrieve all the information. For movies its cool tough!

    Just my opinion ;-)

    -Flo
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  6. #6
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Kex, a couple of things in response

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    ...

    I would also recommend you listen to Beethoven's 5th & 7th (Kleiber) from Deutsche Grammophon. ...

    I know the Neo tweeter well, which 6.5" Vifa did you use?
    Great. I will try the Beethoven 5 & 7 by Kleiber; in fact I already have it on SACD. You'll note that I only included recent recordings in my trial list, but a few remasters of older stuff was to be next up.

    The Vifa I used used was actually a 7". The model isMG10MD09-04; see here ...
    I recently added a BSC circut to my crossover and that helped a lot. Previously I was hoping that placing it on top of the TV would remove the need for that, but some BSC was clearly necessary. See my new crossover schematic ...
    I think I'll go for the 8 ohm model for my fronts. I think Solen carries it in Canada. It sucks buying stuff from the US because of shipping costs and brokerage fees.

  7. #7
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    [/indent]I think I'll go for the 8 ohm model for my fronts. I think Solen carries it in Canada. It sucks buying stuff from the US because of shipping costs and brokerage fees.
    Madisound will undervalue shipments up to 50%. This can save a good chunk of duty, taxes and brokerage fees.

    For whatever reason I find Parts Express and Madisound to still be cheaper quite often than ordering domestic. I don't think it's Solen's fault. Some companies just have MSRP's that are way off fair market value.

    Harman Kardon receivers sell for 200% more in Canada too for some reason...go figure.

  8. #8
    nightflier
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    [/list]My specific conclusions are as follows:
    [list][*]For classical music, M/C offers a significantly different, enhanced perspective on the performance. One moves from the back of, or an entrance way to, the hall to an excellent orchestra seat.[*]M/C reproduction particularly enhances the sound of "power" instruments such as tympani and brass.[*]A restrained use of M/C is better, that is, it's best used to capture the concert hall ambience than move a portion of the orchestra to the back or sides.[*]The benefits of M/C can be enjoyed even with equipment of modest quality; in fact, assuming budget constraints, it makes sense to trade off some quality to obtain M/C capability.
    Very interesting findings. I also have a preference for Classical music, and I have to say, it lends itself best to multi-channel sound, IMHO.

    - How well do the Paradigms match the center channel?

    - You didn't mention a subwoofer, but I've found that bass management makes quite a difference and that not many SACD players have the ability to adjust this over the analog outs. I use an ICBM, but I think that any bass management would help, particularly with disparate speaker types (provided there is a sub in the mix).

    - I played around with the Panasonic receiver and I was rather underwhelmed with its sound, it was a bit bright and may be the reason that the percussion and brass was so pronounced. That said, I have to admit I haven't had a lot of luck with 5.1 analog sound on most receivers (currently using a HK DPR1001).

  9. #9
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Good questions

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Very interesting findings. I also have a preference for Classical music, and I have to say, it lends itself best to multi-channel sound, IMHO.

    - How well do the Paradigms match the center channel?

    - You didn't mention a subwoofer, but I've found that bass management makes quite a difference and that not many SACD players have the ability to adjust this over the analog outs. I use an ICBM, but I think that any bass management would help, particularly with disparate speaker types (provided there is a sub in the mix).

    - I played around with the Panasonic receiver and I was rather underwhelmed with its sound, it was a bit bright and may be the reason that the percussion and brass was so pronounced. That said, I have to admit I haven't had a lot of luck with 5.1 analog sound on most receivers (currently using a HK DPR1001).
    The Paradigms aren't a great match for the center but result is acceptable. There the combination isn't aggrevating and its possible to enjoy the music. My center is the smoother and slightly more resolved sound.

    I did not use a subwoofer. I suspect the sub-out on the Panasonic receiver isn't working properly. Deeper bass would certainly have improved things. Also, the manual for the XR25 is vague about bass management in general. However, as I said, I believe all inputs including SACD/DVD-A undergo AD conversion so they could be bass managed.

    When I first set up the Panny I found it distinctly bright, however after several hundred hours of use I not longer found this to be the case. On the other hand it certainly lacks the definition and bass precision of my Bel Canto integrated.

  10. #10
    nightflier
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    M/C or higher res?

    What about the higher resolution of SACD being the source of the improved/different sound? SACD's also have higher resolution that could also explain some of the observations. Have you tried any stereo SACD's?

    In my listening, I have found that there is a noticeable difference between a stereo RBCD and an SACD.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    I think you and kex nailed it. With a properly placed and calibrated multichannel system and a good 5.1 recording, you can get a practically unlimited soundstage width and "air" galore, even with relatively modest speakers. If you think you're hearing something impressive now, just wait until you match your speakers all around! When I matched my surround speakers, the cohesiveness of the soundfield sounded much tighter and really noticed how much more stable the imaging sounded along the sides. (the tightness of the side imaging is more noticeable with recordings that place you at the podium position, rather than several rows back into the audience)

    I go to about 3-4 orchestral performances a year, and even the best two-channel setups I've heard cannot replicate the aural experience of how it sounds from the audience position, simply because live sound does not end with the front soundstage. The aspects that multichannel can provide are the stability of the side image and conveying the ambient cues that resonate around the concert hall. Even with lossy formats such as DD or DTS, the "you are there" sensation can be very convincing if you got the multichannel alignment done right and properly match the speakers all the way around.

    Since you have a SACD player, I would suggest that you look for the SF Symphony's Mahler series. These are limited edition hybrid CD/SACD discs, and they were recorded in the DSD format so the SACD playback will be as close to the master source as you can get since no PCM conversion or downsampling was involved. The two-channel mixes already sound excellent, and I'm looking to get a SACD player soon so that I can hear those recordings in their multichannel glory. (I'm waiting for further reductions at the Good Guys store closing sale so I can snap up one of the Sony ES SACD players)

  12. #12
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    What about the higher resolution of SACD being the source of the improved/different sound? SACD's also have higher resolution that could also explain some of the observations. Have you tried any stereo SACD's?

    In my listening, I have found that there is a noticeable difference between a stereo RBCD and an SACD.
    Right now, I can only use DD or DTS for multichannel, and even in those formats, I can really sense the advantages that a well-mixed multichannel recording can convey. Kex and Feanor already mentioned that this is something that they're willing to tradeoff some resolution with the playback equipment to achieve. I concur with that conclusion as well. Fortunately, SACD (and DVD-A for that matter) doesn't require any compromises because it gives you both higher resolution and multichannel (all multichannel SACDs will also include a two-channel SACD mix, so comparisons are easy).

    IMO, the key to getting the most out of multichannel playback is with the speaker alignment, delay timing, level matching, and speaker matching. Over the years, I've read plenty of multichannel detractors on this and other boards, but many of these observations rely on showroom demos, and the vast majority of demo room 5.1 setups are far from optimal. If I had relied strictly on dealer demos to listen for the merits of multichannel music playback, I might not have been too impressed either. But, once I got my speakers aligned properly and matched the surrounds with the mains, it did not take much to convince me at that point.

  13. #13
    nightflier
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    Another point

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    But, once I got my speakers aligned properly and matched the surrounds with the mains, it did not take much to convince me at that point.
    Wooch,

    I've been playing around with my speakers since I am about to purchase some new components and I wanted to make sure I'm looking at the right issues in my system. I now have 4 identical speakers and enough room to try different things. However, I don't really want to spend the money on another single speaker to replace my center channel, although I think it may be one of the reasons my SACDs don't sound ideal to my ears.

    If I remember right, SACD requires five identical speakers and they need to be positioned differently than a typical HT setup. If so, SACD really won't sound as the original mixing engineers intended through a HT setup, which typically has a wide-dispersion center channel and more diminutive rear channels. Of course, some engineers may actually compensate for this because they realize most people don't have a dedicated SACD setup. [Come to think of it, this may be another reason why Sony was lukewarm about pushing SACD and decided to push for the DTS standard instead. I wonder...]

    While this may not be an issue unless we're doing very critical listening, these factors do come into play when we introduce into the discussion such items as higher end SACD players and approximations with live concerts. For my part, I'm looking for the answers in the components of my HT system, but that will be expensive. So if it's just the speakers, I want to know that beforehand.
    Last edited by nightflier; 11-02-2005 at 02:05 PM. Reason: typos

  14. #14
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Nope

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    What about the higher resolution of SACD being the source of the improved/different sound? SACD's also have higher resolution that could also explain some of the observations. Have you tried any stereo SACD's?

    In my listening, I have found that there is a noticeable difference between a stereo RBCD and an SACD.
    No, the multi-channel enhancement I heard had nothing to do with better SACD resolution (such as it might be). In fact my HT system has significantly poorer resolution than my stereo setup.

    I have listened to quite a lot of SACD stereo playback and I'll say two things about it. First, my typical SACD sound better (in stereo) than my typical RBCD. Secondly, my best CDs give up very, very little to the SACDs. The SACD improvement in stereo is -- for me -- insignificant. To be fair to people who hear a big difference, I'm a fairly old guy and don't hear frequencies above 10kHz.

    I stated that I would choose the SACD over the CD version from now on. However the reason is the multi-channel capability, not better resolution, reproduction of this or that instrument or that sort of thing.

  15. #15
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    This is interesting

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    ...

    If I remember right, SACD requires five identical speakers and they need to be positioned differently than a typical HT setup. If so, SACD really won't sound as the original mixing engineers intended through a HT setup, which typically has a wide-dispersion center channel and more diminutive rear channels. Of course, some engineers may actually compensate for this because they realize most people don't have a dedicated SACD setup. [Come to think of it, this may be another reason why Sony was lukewarm about pushing SACD and decided to push for the DTS standard instead. I wonder...]

    ...
    Like I said, I'm really not certain what my Panasonic receiver does for DSP, but I suspect that it does an AD conversion on the SACD inputs and applies digital delays to the outputs. Of course, I set up the receiver specifying the distances to the front, center, and surround speakers and I suspect that digital delays are in effect.

    That being the likely case, the sound is still good despite DSD => analog => PCM => PWM conversions

  16. #16
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Wooch,

    I've been playing around with my speakers since I am about to purchase some new components and I wanted to make sure I'm looking at the right issues in my system. I now have 4 identical speakers and enough room to try different things. However, I don't really want to spend the money on another single speaker to replace my center channel, although I think it may be one of the reasons my SACDs don't sound ideal to my ears.

    If I remember right, SACD requires five identical speakers and they need to be positioned differently than a typical HT setup. If so, SACD really won't sound as the original mixing engineers intended through a HT setup, which typically has a wide-dispersion center channel and more diminutive rear channels. Of course, some engineers may actually compensate for this because they realize most people don't have a dedicated SACD setup. [Come to think of it, this may be another reason why Sony was lukewarm about pushing SACD and decided to push for the DTS standard instead. I wonder...]

    While this may not be an issue unless we're doing very critical listening, these factors do come into play when we introduce into the discussion such items as higher end SACD players and approximations with live concerts. For my part, I'm looking for the answers in the components of my HT system, but that will be expensive. So if it's just the speakers, I want to know that beforehand.
    Same speakers would be nice but mostly not likly. Thats what bass mamagement does. Dont forget,your player is doing everything which is pretty much just sending the signal to the speaker without doing anything to it.
    Look & Listen

  17. #17
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    Why is is it the audio snobs on this board miss the obvious point that some audio recordings are mixed with multi-channel in mind, while others (even though they have multi-channels of information) aren't? Just because it says Dolby 5.1 on the package doesn't mean the engineer gave a crap about mixing it that way. If you think all multi-channel recordings involve an elaborate array of mics at the concert hall as dicated by same law of audio recording to give you the maximum multi-channel experience, you're also dreaming.

    Just like we have bad studio mastering jobs of conventional two-channel CD's even though the artists performance was good, we also have multi-channel recordings that sound really good, while others sound like they were processed with 'Old barn with metal floor' DSP mode because the studio engineer just happened to like it that way.

    So, why are we trying to make global proclamations about multi-channel sound when in fact the quality of the source mastering varies too much to do this? You guys seem to think SACD is some magical algorithm that makes any source, even if it's just stereo, sound great with 5 speakers. I'll need to write Sony and inform them of that one.

    If the source is is mixed *competently* with multi-channel in mind (Delos Labs, etc), then the recording will sound better in a properly calibrated multi-channel home set-up. Duh...duh...duh. If the source material was given a half-a$$ multi-channel treatment, then it will likely suck in multi-channel mode and make you just flip the stereo/direct mode botton because it sounds better. Duh...duh...duh.

    Of course if you spent $2,000 on your fancy A/V receiver, then the quality of the source mastering doesn't really matter because you are smarter than the recording engineer and you can make up information that isn't there, correct? That's what y'all seem to be saying.

  18. #18
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Are we getting multi-channel music{SACD and DVD-A} mixed up with movies soundtracks? I'm talking about music.
    Look & Listen

  19. #19
    nightflier
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    Audio-snobbery

    Quote Originally Posted by abstracta
    Why is is it the audio snobs on this board miss the obvious point that some audio recordings are mixed with multi-channel in mind, while others (even though they have multi-channels of information) aren't?
    Ab,

    With no intended snobbery, I'm making the assumption that we are talking about the better recorded multi-channel disks. The ones that Feanor mentioned in the first post, I would consider fairly well engineered. I was hoping to leave this fact as a constant, for the purposes of the discussion about the improved sound that multi-channel can provide.

  20. #20
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Yes, indeed

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Ab,

    With no intended snobbery, I'm making the assumption that we are talking about the better recorded multi-channel disks. The ones that Feanor mentioned in the first post, I would consider fairly well engineered. I was hoping to leave this fact as a constant, for the purposes of the discussion about the improved sound that multi-channel can provide.
    It's silly to condem the medium because a some recordings are not up to its potential.

    All of the SACDs I mention at the start are good. Nevertheless I allowed that I thought that some used multi-channel more effectively than others.

  21. #21
    Digs tunes and vids RJW1138's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Last weekend was a multi-channel marathon for me. I listen to a number of my SACDs M/C on my HT set and was able to draw a few important conclusions for the experience. Overall multi-channel offers the classical music listener a significantly enhanced experience over stereo.

    ......
    Hey Bill,

    Look time no talk!

    I'm really surprised that you're enjoying multi-channel music listening so much on your obviously lesser system, when you've got Magnepans and a Bel Canto integrated in your main system. That says a lot! Very cool to know.

    Question though: I'm surprised about your use of a non-matching centre channel speaker. Intuition tells me that you'd be better off without it, letting your receiver sum the centre channel info into your mains and doing without the non-matching speaker. You'd still have great soundstaging and imaging, provided your mains are positioned properly, and you'd completely avoid all the problems of non-matching tonalities and other characteristics of your speakers. Have you tried this? I'm really curious to hear your feedback on this.

    Anyone else have any opinion on not using a centre channel speaker versus using a non-matching one?

    In the meantime, keep enjoying the tunes!

    Ryan in Regina

  22. #22
    nightflier
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    Keep the center in the mix.

    Quote Originally Posted by RJW1138
    Anyone else have any opinion on not using a centre channel speaker versus using a non-matching one?
    I would say that a non-matching center would be better than none at all. I would suspect that not having a center would spread out the sound too much away from the center stage, where most of the attention should be. It would also no longer be true multi-channel (quadrophonic?).

    That said, I do think that Feanor would get much better results with matching speakers.

    Also, I am very curious about how a lower-end surround music setup differs from a higher end one. This is of interest to me because I find myself a bit underwhelmed with what I've put together, and I think I may not be the only one who feels that way. SACD & DVD-A are a significant improvement over RBCD, but I still have this nagging feeling that I'm not getting everything out of my setup.

  23. #23
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    I would say that a non-matching center would be better than none at all. I would suspect that not having a center would spread out the sound too much away from the center stage, where most of the attention should be. It would also no longer be true multi-channel (quadrophonic?).

    That said, I do think that Feanor would get much better results with matching speakers.
    With multichannel music, generally the center speaker is not as important as it is with home theater sources because most recording engineers have decided to use the center channel on a minimal basis when doing 5.1 music. I do agree though that if you can find a sufficiently matching center speaker, then you should go with it simply because the center channel is discrete. The center channel mixdown process that the processor engages in when the center channel is inactive, is done to predefined proportions and does not always result in a stable phantom center image. With a discrete center channel in place, the mixing engineer is not purposely EQing and otherwise processing the signal the same way that they would when mixing for a phantom center with two-channel and 4.1 mixes.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Also, I am very curious about how a lower-end surround music setup differs from a higher end one. This is of interest to me because I find myself a bit underwhelmed with what I've put together, and I think I may not be the only one who feels that way. SACD & DVD-A are a significant improvement over RBCD, but I still have this nagging feeling that I'm not getting everything out of my setup.
    I think you might want to experiment more with the speaker placement, the delay timing, and level adjustments. The diagram below shows the ITU reference alignment. This is how studios typically arrange their monitoring setups for multichannel music mixing. This will optimize the surround imaging with multichannel music, but might compromise the surround effect for a lot of 5.1 movie soundtracks, particularly those that primarily use the surrounds for ambient cues and don't use a lot of directional effects. Dolby recommends that if your system is used for both movies and multichannel music, you should elevate the surround speakers above ear level and point them directly at one another. That diffuses the sound enough so that the surrounds don't sound like point sources with ambient sounds, while preserving just enough of the directionality to hear the surround imaging with more directional sources.



    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    If I remember right, SACD requires five identical speakers and they need to be positioned differently than a typical HT setup. If so, SACD really won't sound as the original mixing engineers intended through a HT setup, which typically has a wide-dispersion center channel and more diminutive rear channels. Of course, some engineers may actually compensate for this because they realize most people don't have a dedicated SACD setup. [Come to think of it, this may be another reason why Sony was lukewarm about pushing SACD and decided to push for the DTS standard instead. I wonder...]
    The diagram that comes with SACDs is actually the ITU reference alignment -- it's not format specific since DD, DTS, DVD-A, and SACD mixes have all used that alignment in studio mixing setups. Ideally you would go with five identical speakers all the way around, but in no way is that a requirement. You would definitely optimize your multichannel music playback by going with identical speakers, but most setups have to perform double duty and if you have a TV, it usually sits exactly where the center speaker would ideally go. That's why Dolby has its recommendation of elevating the surround speakers high and pointing them at one another -- it simply represents the best compromise for systems that are asked to do both. Your question is not a format specific issue because even a music DVD with a DD soundtrack will be affected by how you place the speakers and how well they timbre match.

  24. #24
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Woochifer]....

    The diagram below shows the ITU reference alignment. This is how studios typically arrange their monitoring setups for multichannel music mixing. This will optimize the surround imaging with multichannel music, but might compromise the surround effect for a lot of 5.1 movie soundtracks, particularly those that primarily use the surrounds for ambient cues and don't use a lot of directional effects. Dolby recommends that if your system is used for both movies and multichannel music, you should elevate the surround speakers above ear level and point them directly at one another.
    ...

    The diagram that comes with SACDs is actually the ITU reference alignment -- it's not format specific since DD, DTS, DVD-A, and SACD mixes have all used that alignment in studio mixing setups. Ideally you would go with five identical speakers all the way around, but in no way is that a requirement. You would definitely optimize your multichannel music playback by going with identical speakers, ...QUOTE]

    For the record, my set up is fairly close to the ITU arrangement, except my surrounds are at a greater angle, necessitated by the room size, and at ear level.

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    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    For the record, my set up is fairly close to the ITU arrangement, except my surrounds are at a greater angle, necessitated by the room size, and at ear level.
    If you increase the angle to about 120 degrees or more, then you start to lose the connection between the front and back soundfields. Unfortunately, these kinds of compromises are part of trying to integrate a 5.1 setup into an everyday living space. Differences in distance can be compensated by simply changing the delay timing, but the angle is something that you should try to get as close to 100 to 110 degrees from the center as possible.

    In my setup, I found that multichannel music seems to sound best when the surrounds are about 6" to 12" above ear level. I generally position them higher for everyday listening because a lot of movie soundtracks fare better that way.

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