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  1. #1
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    Is all ch stereo of the same sound quality as 2 channel listening?

    My girlfriend loves to listen to jazz and other types of music using all channel stereo from our surround receiver and I like jazz and all of my music in 2 channel stereo or direct but she feels that the more speakers playing the better the sound . I think it has a better quality of sound my way. Whats your opinion?
    Last edited by ChrisY; 05-17-2006 at 06:40 AM.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular edtyct's Avatar
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    The sound mavens will certainly jump all over this one. But two-channel redbook CDs that are processed into 5.1 channels do not satisfy everyone's ear, whether in DPL IIX or DTS Neo-6. Some people, however, just have to put all of their speakers into play to feel the power, even if, technically, the stereo version sounds more resolved and solid. And there is some sense to this bias, given that stereo cannot always satisfy the sense of ambience that a multichannel spectrum can. Only in rare cases do I personally prefer such multichannel presentation of two-channel material. When the material is already recorded as 5.1 channels, however, as in certain DD or DTS releases, I generally like it better than a two-channel version, unless the mixing in 5.1 is particularly bizarre. Part of the reason is the compression of this type of material, which is less distracting when all of the channels are exploited.

    With SACD or DVD-A material, which has greater definition than redbook CD, either way can be an absolutely splendid experience, but I lean toward a well-distributed multichannel mix myself when available. But I'll take anything that I can get in these two formats.

  3. #3
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Ut oh. Me thinks that you may have opened up a wild can of worms with this one.
    I don't think that you will come out with a clear, "this is better" answer in the end. Some people believe that 2 channel is the only way to go for "real" sound reproduction. Others will say that 5.1 or all channels is better. Do what makes your ears happy. Let the little lady do what makes her ears happy. Try not to fight when you listen together.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  4. #4
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    Im sorry guys for opening up such a can of worms and thanx for your replies. Lord knows I want to get along with my possibly future Mrs but I just CANT STAND the way she likes to listen to music, it literally gives me the RED A$$ ! It sounds like something's about to come through the walls and snatch you through it .I really prefer just the front speakers on along with the sub when listening to music.

  5. #5
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    I listen in 6-channel stereo on my Yammie. I've tried just the stereo mode and it just doesn't sound as good. This may be because of my arrangement of speakers to accomadate my room. In pure stereo mode from what I can tell the center channel isn't used, which in my system leaves a gap in the middle of the soundfield. In multi-channel the center combines the left and right into mono. I think this is the only difference but I could be wrong.

  6. #6
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Tough call. That's one of those sticky personal preference thingies.

    A lot of people feel that since they paid for five speakers and amps, damnit, I'm gonna listen to it. to me, that's kinda like buying a very fast car and driving it flat out all the time.

    With my Denon, when I use the all channel stereo mode on a two channel source, it does alter the signal. Not only by sending sounds to all speakers, but it also does things to the overall phasing, tonal balance and various other things. IOW, it kerfutzez with the signal.

    again, IMNSHO, very, very few recordings I have benefit from it. Even so, when I find the rare one that may sound "interesting", I usually go back to two channel after a while. The bogus effect wears thin quickly. I find the pure two channel mode provides a cleaner sound.

    Sounds to like your wife may be confusing quantity with quality. But YMMV*, or. more like lt, YWMMV** and it all depends on who is driving.

    P.S.. what's RED A$$? ...sounds kinky to me.

    * YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

    ** YWMMV - your Wife's mileage May Vary.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    A lot of people feel that since they paid for five speakers and amps, damnit, I'm gonna listen to it. to me, that's kinda like buying a very fast car and driving it flat out all the time.

    With my Denon, when I use the all channel stereo mode on a two channel source, it does alter the signal. Not only by sending sounds to all speakers, but it also does things to the overall phasing, tonal balance and various other things. IOW, it kerfutzez with the signal.

    again, IMNSHO, very, very few recordings I have benefit from it. Even so, when I find the rare one that may sound "interesting", I usually go back to two channel after a while. The bogus effect wears thin quickly. I find the pure two channel mode provides a cleaner sound.

    Sounds to like your wife may be confusing quantity with quality. But YMMV*, or. more like lt, YWMMV** and it all depends on who is driving.

    P.S.. what's RED A$$? ...sounds kinky to me.

    * YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

    ** YWMMV - your Wife's mileage May Vary.
    I agree with you and I thank all of you for your opinions and comments on this topic. Oh and markw RED A$$ is just another way of saying your irritated about something or someone.

  8. #8
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    A lot of people feel that since they paid for five speakers and amps, damnit, I'm gonna listen to it. to me, that's kinda like buying a very fast car and driving it flat out all the time.

    With my Denon, when I use the all channel stereo mode on a two channel source, it does alter the signal. Not only by sending sounds to all speakers, but it also does things to the overall phasing, tonal balance and various other things. IOW, it kerfutzez with the signal.

    again, IMNSHO, very, very few recordings I have benefit from it. Even so, when I find the rare one that may sound "interesting", I usually go back to two channel after a while. The bogus effect wears thin quickly. I find the pure two channel mode provides a cleaner sound.

    Sounds to like your wife may be confusing quantity with quality. But YMMV*, or. more like lt, YWMMV** and it all depends on who is driving.

    P.S.. what's RED A$$? ...sounds kinky to me.

    * YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

    ** YWMMV - your Wife's mileage May Vary.
    I dont think the i paid for 5 speakers and amps has anything to do with it. It sounds good/bad has everything to do with it.
    Look & Listen

  9. #9
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Easy, big guy.

    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    I dont think the i paid for 5 speakers and amps has anything to do with it. It sounds good/bad has everything to do with it.
    For some people, not necessarily you, the first statement will hold true.

    It's the second statement that should be the determining factor here, and that's a personal judgment call. To each his/her own, or "Ya pay's yer money, ya takes yer choice".

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    I Think Some People Have Misinterpreted Your Question

    Unless I am misinterpreting your question, I think your asking if a regular 2 channel said will sound better listening to it on a receiver in the all channel mode rather then do DVD-A/SACD 5 channel discs sound better then regular CDs.

    My opinion based on personal taste is an unqualified yes. Again note, everyones taste is different. In my case, my Denon receiver allows you to play CD's in the all 5 channel natural mode which simply means that the rear left & right speaker are playing exactly the same things with no difference or alteration in sound as the front left & right speaker. The only speaker that has "altered sound" is the center speaker which is in plain English mono- it just combines the left & right audio sound. Anyway, for me this gives the sound more depth & a more 3 dimensional tone. Accoustics plays a part too.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Sound quality wise, running a 5 channel DSP on a 2 channel source is the worst thing you can do. Again, that's if you want to preserve the quality of the orignial 2 channel recording.

    But like in Ed's case, if you like the sound of the digital alterations then go for it. Your girlfriend likes it, so be it. Keep her happy! She's obviously not an audiophile though

  12. #12
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    PL2 is what i know use instead of 5ch stereo. I just cant listen to 2ch from only mains,it just seems to flat. Different strokes for different folks.
    Look & Listen

  13. #13
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Oh good, DSP's....

    DSPs really get alot of undeserved bad publicity.

    Just because a signal enters a DSP doesn't mean the sound quality is destroyed. DSPs (at least good ones) take a lot into consideration. Phase, SPL, imaging, soundstage ambience, etc. Music DSPs seem to be hit or miss, with miss prevailing more often than not.

    I think over the years though, companies figured out how to get movie DSPs to sound decent. I don't mind using movie DSPs, they can put a fun spin on a movie, and provide more of a "theater" effect. I always listen to a movie in the straight Dolby or DTS mode first though. I'll focus on music DSPs for the rest of this post.

    Some companies do music DSPs better than others. Sony receivers have the absolute worst Music DSPs I've ever heard, followed by Marantz and Denon. Denon's 5 channel/7 channel stereo mode is pretty good. I've heard some pretty high-end receivers that make wonder why they even bother including music DSP's in the feature set.

    Yamaha really went the full distance back in the 1990's with their DSP technology. They've generally been considered among the best if not the best in that category, but even they've got some real dud modes.

    Personally, I can't stand the "Church" modes and the likes on a lot of these things...way too much reverb and echo for my liking to the point it's just destructive. But there are times when I'll play around with the Jazz Hall or Concert hall modes on these things. It's usually more of an expirement, and I usually go back to true stereo, but sometimes the effects are pleasing. And Dolby's PLIIx Music setting is pretty good. I do like the ambience these things provide. I use 7-channel stereo a bunch, but that's only for background music at parties or to increase the overall loudness of the music without driving the snot out of any single speaker.

    Despite the rhetoric from Audiophiles, 2-channel stereo is pretty inadequate at reproducing the ambient cues you would hear at a live performance at ANY venue, with possibly the sole exception of your listening room. We've known this for years. Keep in mind, DSPs were made to address the obvious shortcomings in 2-channel stereo mode that many audiophiles were hearing. We can argue whose and which DSPs accomplished this best, but that's another thread.

    I think with the slow emergence of multi-channel audio, and 5.1 recordings, the need for music DSPs has been greatly reduced since we can achieve the real thing. But when DSPs were being developed, we didn't have multi-channel audio. They were the closest thing to it.

    The better DSPs don't mess up the soundstage because the center channel is just fed the common signal at a reduced level. It centers the vocals, but makes it seem "deeper". Not a bad thing. The L/R directional cues are preserved by the discrete signals they receive. Even better, some music DSPs don't use the center channel at all. There's no musical instruments played out of the surround channels, just ambient noise or crowd effects. I can see the appeal there.

    Audio purists of course can't stand DSPs. A lot of the time it's just the fact they're anti-anything new or they don't understand how these things work and how to set up a 5.1 system. Sometimes DSPs just suck though. As was mentioned previously, there is some music that does benefit from various processing. I tend to agree that the majority probably doesn't.

    In the end it's a personal preference thing of course, but don't be afraid to try them out just because you've read in some magazine or on an audiophile website that all DSPs are bad always. Sometimes they can a bit to whatever you're listening too. It doesn't hurt to try, if you find you don't like it you can go back at the push of a button...to easy.

    My biggest problem with DSPs is the lack of conistency from album to album or even song to song. Sometimes you can feel really engulfed in the music as if you were there, until a weird echo effect or ruins it for you. I'm sure if given enough time, companies would have improved on DSPs further - look at the huge improvements Dolby PLIIx made over the original Pro-Logic, with 5.1 recordings though, I doubt there'll be enough demand to bother pursuing it now.

  14. #14
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    A happy wife is a happy life.

    Use this as an excuse to build a two channel rig for yourself .

  15. #15
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    A happy wife is a happy life.

    Use this as an excuse to build a two channel rig for yourself .
    Now there's a plan!

    Our living room = 9 speakers
    Bedroom = 6
    basement = 2 (also where the pool table lives)
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  16. #16
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    Everything is a matter of personal taste. To me, 2 channel direct sounds good, damn good, but lacks that enveloping sound. DPLII Music mode is awesome sitting on the couch. just about any CD or burnt CD sounds really good, this is what I prefer best. Now, 5-6-7 channel stereo to me is what I use when I want maximum volume. It to me doesn't sound anywhere near as good as DPLII Music mode, but I can get way more volume from 5 channel stereo. I have noticed that there is less bass in all channel stereo over 2 channel and DPLII, so I usually nudge up the volume on my sub.

    Different strokes for different folks.

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    I must weigh in on the 2 channel side.It just sounds more natural to me.I have tried the dsps just to be fair but could not find one that i was happy with.Dts neo6 was the only one that was even close.There was a artificial processed sound that just not appeal.As Kex said,they are not consistent from one recording to the other.To me a properly set up 2 speaker system gives me the best sound,full and rich.I think that many people hear more speakers as better,because their fronts may not be set up properly for stereo.Of course this is all just my opinion.

    bill

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    Did you try 5 Channel Natural Sound

    Your tastes seem to be fairly close to mine Have you tried (if you have this on your receiver) the all 5 Channel Natural Stereo Sound. What this does to be a bit redundent is not alter the left & right speakers sound but instead puts the same recorded sound in both the front & back left & right speakers & makes the center speaker essentially a mono blend of the left & right channel. Technically the only thing that is "reprocessed" is the center speaker & even that is not really reprocessed because its just the natural left & right sound combined. I find it give CD sound alotof depth for me. I tried the other week as an experiment to listen to just regular 2 channel stereo & the sub & the volume coming out was incredibly low & even when I boosted it up, I far preferred the all natural 5 channel sound. Again though, its a matter of personal taste.

  19. #19
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    Ed
    Yes i did,my reciever has the same dsp,its called passthru,but does the same function.I just gave it another run and my opinion has not changed,i still like running my Arcam through the multi-channel input as this is the only input that does not run through the dsp engine so the Arcams voice is untouched.But again just my preference,to each his own.When i was doing that little test the only one that sounded half listenable was Dts neo6,that was not to bad,i found the others kind of harsh sounding,it was not the multi channel that i objected to but what it was doing to the sound.I do listen to some sacd in multi channel.

    bill

  20. #20
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Gentlemen start your engines

    I am fortunate enough to have a much lenghthier history with music than with gear. I say fortunate because this lets me evaluate each disc in a utilitarian mode with no 'internal audiophile conflicts'. I have a few general findings that I hold to be true. 1) most discs done within the last 5 years sound better IMO in a 2-channel scenario.2) Multi-channel discs sound better in MC. 3) Older discs (Philips, DG, EMI, Onyx, London) can benefit from additional processing. My suspicion is that as cd has grown, engineering and mastering techniques have become qualitatively better. In many of my older discs, classical and jazz especially, much of the ambience to which Ed referred in the second post is lacking. In my system All-Channel-Strereo tends to get a bit mucky and generally kills any kind of imaging in the front at all but the highest volumes. When necessary, like bill, I prefer dts Neo:6.
    All said and done, I most prefer the cogency of a good 2-channel mix but I am not tied to it by any blind allegiance to how the multiple characters in the mastering process wanted to present it. Of course this will be highly system/room dependant so it doesn't suprise me that there are varyinging viewpoints.
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  21. #21
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    I've just realized after all this time that I enjoy listening to music using PL 2 music quite a bit. The music is really coming alive to me with this setting.

  22. #22
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    I'd just love to flog this dead horse and throw in my worthless dos centavos. I have found that all multi channel playback of 2 channel music sources to be a nice little diversion from time to time but in the end for me it's a novelty at best. Even with a 5/7 channel stereo mix while you are enveloped in sound, there is no coherent soundstage and imaging in the traditional sense. For casual listening or for parties this isn't necessarily a bad thing but imo it's destroys any attempts at critical listening. Regardless of the implementation, unless I have really bad seats, there is no way that the drummer is ever going to be positioned behind me. I never did buy the arguement about reflections either. Reflections or not, with your eyes closed in a live venue you still know exactly where the band is and where the sound in coming from. I've experienced the best multi channel results with electronica where it's virtually impossible to place the sounds in a real world sphere in the first place. This goes contrary to my experience with 2 channel movie sources as I vastly prefer a DPL variety processing, perhaps because I don't listen to movies as critically.

    Deliberate multichannel mixes are a different matter. Personally I don't really like all that many of them and find they suffer from too much interference at the hands of the mixer. Of course there are some stunning exceptions.

    In the end I prefer 2 channel playback, sans sub but with less bass capable speakers I would probably be convinced to add a sub back in.

    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  23. #23
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    So DD or DTS in a movie,is that a novelty? Just ask'n.
    Look & Listen

  24. #24
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    I just bought a Harmon Kardon HT 7.1 Reciever to replace some 15 y/o Hafler gear. The Pre-Tuner's computer is whacked. Amp still works fine. Anyway, I decided that if I was going to get another tuner I would get something modest to build a HT around the new Sony 40XBR1. I have setup the reciver in Multi Zone to use 2 of the channels to drive a set of JM Labs Tantal 509s and a set of Athena Outdor speakers via a Niles selector. I read lots of reviews and for $600 I thought it to be a good deal for what I intended.

    HT Recievers at this price range IMO suck! All the different ways you can change the sound don't add up to the clarity & separation of instruments, control of bass, and overall slam of the old Hafler 2 channel system. It can't even drive my living room Dynaudio 82s. As I build my HT system I will drive center, sub, and rears with the HK reciever while driving the Danes with my Odyssey Stratos and Tube Pre.

    OK, all that being said, for movies there is nothing like a quality HT rig. For music, a quality entry to high end rig just plays stereo cds better. My main system realy does not need a sub. I do need the center channel because the way most dvds are not optimized for stereo and the backround music is louder than the dialog. I will probably use the rears as surrounds.

    Now for the original poster, do you and your wife listen to and like similar music? If so, like anything in mariage, compromise. (if not, the mariage will never work) Give her her time her way and designate time for a Real Listening Session. I was just playing with all the settings you can choose to warp the sound from just 2 channels. I came right back to the Surround Off setting as it had the best sound. Maybe for backround noise it may be ok.

    Enjoy the music!

    Hyfi

  25. #25
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    So DD or DTS in a movie,is that a novelty? Just ask'n.
    That's totally different. DD or DTS in a movie is there from the beginning..it's recorded that way. It's not a digital alteration added to the top after the fact, which is what 5 channel stereo is.

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