Based on some reviews in the Jan. issue by Kal Rubinson I thought I'd give some Blu Ray "music only" discs a try.
I have a decent multi-channel setup with a Marantz amp, Epos M12.2s for front channels, an Epos ELS center channel, and OK sub and rear side and back channels by Cambridge Soundworks. It's set up for as good as home theater as I can afford, and it's been a good second system for parties and just hanging out with an iPod as a source (soon to have a Wadia dock feeding the Marantz's excellent DAC). Anyway, I got a Blu Ray player recently and was curious when I read that HD music discs were starting to appear, especially one's recorded specifically for high definition multichannel sound. The Blu Ray spec. calls for the ability to stream up to 7 channels of fully uncompressed digital sound (at least CD quality, but maybe better). BTW- this not the new Blu Ray CD that is coming out, which is basically a better made Redbook CD. What I am refering to is a Blu Ray multichannel music DVD.
So far I got a Mozart piano concerto with small symphony and it sounded pretty nice I have to say. Not looking to switch from my analogue-centric system by a long shot, but for this type of recording/space, it did give something extra to have the kind of spacial presentation and ambiance a 7.1 system can do. It had a nice punch to it with all those speakers working in unison when the whole symphony kicked in and definitely made me think twice about what multichannel could be for music.
The cool thing is that since the hardware is for actually for movies I'm not having to invest in a niche market trend; it's more a side bonus. I'd certainly venture to guess if you put serious full range speakers up front and very high quality book shelf monitors in the surround channels you could have quite a compelling argument.
But again- this recording was MADE for this purpose. No way would I put on a stereo recording and have my processor fake it- that way just does nothing but screw things up. No matter what I've tried for various music processing it never sounds right and I always go back to direct stereo mode and the front two speakers (even if it's for parties or whatever).
Anyway- I DO see a little of what Kal has been talking about all this time, and thought I'd throw out my perspective. Amazon a listing of the some of the available discs: BluRay Music discs