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Strongarm
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Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hello,

I'm new to the forum, so please excuse me if I'm running over well-trodden ground with this question.

I have recently purchased a Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista SACD with matching integrated amp and Sonus Faber Grand Piano Domus speakers. To my ears, the system sounds absolutely marvelous with both CD and SACD.

As I've purchased more SACDs I've noticed that many are multi-channel. However the Tri-Vista SACD is a stereo only player. I know there seem to be many audiophiles who advocate two channels only for music, but I'm kind of curious as to what I'm missing out on with all those extra tracks on my SACDs.

Wondering whether anyone else has had their curiousity piqued by multi-channel, and what listeners consider to be the advantages/disadvantages of stereo vs multi-channel for music.

I know the Tri-Vista can be used as a DAC in conjunction with separate transport, but can it handle multi-channel sources?

Thanks & regards,

Grant

Yiangos
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hi Strongarm and welcome to the forum.I am not against multi-channel reproduction but the are two problems.Problem A,most multi-channel music technicians,manufacturers , manufacturers,call them whtever you like,mix the channels in a very weird way.Let me give you an example.How would you feel listening to a classical piece with the violins coming from the rear speakers?Problem B , even with good recordings,unless you have an accurately setup surround system,there is absolutely no way to enjoy or rather get that "being there" feeling surround is suppososed to produce.As for your Tri-vista , when you play multi-channel discs on it,internally,there is a system that "downmixes" the channels in just two,hence,stereo.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???


Quote:
Hi Strongarm and welcome to the forum.I am not against multi-channel reproduction but the are two problems.Problem A,most multi-channel music technicians,manufacturers , manufacturers,call them whtever you like,mix the channels in a very weird way.Let me give you an example.How would you feel listening to a classical piece with the violins coming from the rear speakers?


??? Aside from some experimental stuff, this does not happen. I have about 1500 MCH discs and fewer than a dozen are as you describe. These are clearly marked as such so the buyer can be warned (or encouraged).


Quote:
Problem B , even with good recordings,unless you have an accurately setup surround system,there is absolutely no way to enjoy or rather get that "being there" feeling surround is suppososed to produce.


One can say the same about stereo with, of course, the limitation that stereo cannot approach the "being there" feeling obtainable from good multichannel. True, more channels means more complexity and, unfortunately, more $$$ but it also means more performance capability.

Kal (who has discussed all this in the MITR column)

Strongarm
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hi Yiangos,

Thanks for the welcome. It would indeed be strange having instruments coming from the rear speakers. Probably not to my taste for classical music, but I guess this could be interesting for modern music!

Regarding your second point, is this to do with the sensitivity of the placement of the speakers? i.e., is it that much more difficult to achieve a stereo image with more than two speakers?

Thanks for tip on the Tri-Vista, I hadn't realized it would "down-mix" multi-channel into stereo. (Is there a way of directing the multi-channel into an amp before down-mixing occurs?)

Regards,

Grant

Yiangos
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hi again !

As Kal pointed out,not all recording are being made this way,although i still believe most are.Perhaps classical recording are "immune" to this but pop and rock ?
Strongarm,make no mistake.I am not a technical person.I just love music.Now,my English is not that good and probably your Greek (i'm from Cyprus)are worse than my English,so.i'll try to make this as simple as i can.
From what i understand,it is almost impossible to have a great surround system that can play stereo music too.The reason is,as you quessed,speaker placement.The "arc" of the front speakers (you do understand what i am saying,right?) is greater than the "arc" we all use for normal stereo listening.That's because a center speaker is involved in surround sound and because of this,a "hole" in the soundstage is being felt when using a surround sound for stereo music reproduction.Of course,one could argue that there are multi-channel systems that sound superb.Well,do not confuse dedicate "home theater" systems with dedicated "surround sound" music systems.These are quite different animals although i still believe plain stereo is not their forte.You'd get better results from a plain stereo system,in stereo that is.In plain,yes,with a multi channel system is more difficult to achive a stereo image.
What do you mean when you say "is there a way of directing the m/s into an amp...) For what purpose? from the tri-vista into an amp? And which amp ?

Yiangos
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Strongarm,although our views differ,listen to Kal too.He is an experienced reviewer and one i come to respect.I never botherer with m/s music,just movies.Perhaps my system needs more "work".

Yiangos (who never discussed this anywhere)

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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???


Quote:
Thanks for tip on the Tri-Vista, I hadn't realized it would "down-mix" multi-channel into stereo. (Is there a way of directing the multi-channel into an amp before down-mixing occurs?)

I would imagine that the MF SACD player will select the hi-rez 2 channel stereo mix on the SACD by default, given that it only plays in 2 channel stereo. Aside from a handful of SACD titles, all SACD also contain a dedicated 2 hi-rez channel stereo (or mono) mix; no downmixing going on there.

Yiangos
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hiya , are you sure about that ?I allways thought "downmixing" was involved ! And how about that 2-channel dedicated mix.Do all sacd contain that?And if not,how is soundboy supposed to listen to a sacd when he only has a a channel player?The companies(software) don't make this very clear.I've allways though that when i pressed the "stereo" button on my dvd player,it was "downmixing" the m/s into stereo ! If i am wrong about this,appologies for misleading you,Soundboy.

soundboy
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???


Quote:
Hiya , are you sure about that ?I allways thought "downmixing" was involved ! And how about that 2-channel dedicated mix.Do all sacd contain that?And if not,how is soundboy supposed to listen to a sacd when he only has a a channel player?The companies(software) don't make this very clear.I've allways though that when i pressed the "stereo" button on my dvd player,it was "downmixing" the m/s into stereo ! If i am wrong about this,appologies for misleading you,Soundboy.

Technically, Sony/Philips mandated that all SACD must carry a dedicated 2-channel stereo or a mono hi-rez mix. However, they are a handful of titles out there that don't conform to Sony/Philips' specs....for example, "Ray Charles Live at the Olympia 2000". Multi-channel surround sound is purely optional on SACD. When you select "stereo" while playing a SACD, the player's laser is actually going to another area of the disc to playback the stereo hi-rez mix instead of "creating" a 2 channel mix from the multi-channel mix. Check out this entry for SACD at Wikipedia.com for more information.

Yiangos
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Oops !

Sorry,my "appologies" should be adressed to strongarm.
Thanks for the info soundboy.I'll check that site.

Strongarm
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hi Yiangos,

Thanks for taking the time to provide your comments.

With the Tri-Vista I thought there might have been a way to access the multi-channel tracks on SACDs, but from what SoundBoy is saying it will only read the stereo mix.

Incidentally, as someone who hasn't experienced multi-channel music, what sounds come from the rear speakers in a normal concert recording? Is it audience sounds, or reflections from the walls of the venue? Is it low in volume?

Regards,

Strongarm

Yiangos
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hi Strongarm
I thought you knew that ! tri-vista is a stereo only player.
Well...multi-channel (m/s) music is a ummmmm how shall i put this...like analoque vs digital.Some ppl like the one and others hate it. My personal opinion and trust me,i have a quite good system both in stereo and m/s to say this,is that most music is recorded with certain sounds coming from the rear speakers.Sounds that should be coming only from the front.Again,in my opinion,m/s format should only be used to enchance music,to add "ambience" etc.
Unless you are a die-hard audiophile,that is,listening only to audiophile music and/or labels,you'll find yourself,just as i did,listening to those discs in plain stereo.And yo answer your 2 last questions,yes,most is audience sound and/or reflections from the walls of the venued BUT this is how a recording should be,only most aren't lol
Why don't you go to a good hi-fi shop near you a give it a try?Who knows,you might like what you hear ! Just consider the following.You are using a M.F. Tri-vista.Where would you go for m/s sound ? I doubt you'll find a m/s player to satisfy you,soundwise.Then comes the amplfication.If you are using a tr-vista,that means you have a quite good pre/power or integrated amp.Which surround processor or amp are you going to use to satisfy your ears ?Then comes the speakers,subwoofers,room etc etc etc These are questions only YOU can answer.Again,find a good m/s system,have a listen to it,prefferably with sacds you are familiar with (some of your own?) and then we can talk again.
Have fun !

Strongarm
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Hi Yiangos,

Thanks again.

I think I'll wait until I'm ready to upgrade my AV system before experimenting with multi-channel sound, and simply enjoy the Tri-Vista in stereo.

Regards,

Grant

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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

I recently purchased a universal DVD player. It has the capability to play SACD, so I bought a highly-rated disc (Mahler 3, Ricardo Chailly) to test it. The difference between the SACD and regular CD layers seems to me to be very minimal. Almost nothing came from the rear and center chanels. What I did hear was so quiet that I needed to approach the speakers to make sure music was coming out at all! You are not missing out on anything. 2 channel SACD sounds better on my music stereo than 5.1 channel SACD on my home theater setup (which is also quite high-end).

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???


Quote:
I recently purchased a universal DVD player. It has the capability to play SACD, so I bought a highly-rated disc (Mahler 3, Ricardo Chailly) to test it. The difference between the SACD and regular CD layers seems to me to be very minimal. Almost nothing came from the rear and center chanels. What I did hear was so quiet that I needed to approach the speakers to make sure music was coming out at all! You are not missing out on anything. 2 channel SACD sounds better on my music stereo than 5.1 channel SACD on my home theater setup (which is also quite high-end).


Basing your conclusion about the entire medium from one recording is hardly reasonable. I won't comment on this because I have not (yet) heard this recording but, if your system is set up correctly, there are many outstanding demonstrations of the medium's capabilities in advance of 2 channel.

Kal

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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

The Cd layer on a Hybrid SACD is not a "regular" Cd layer, it also gets the enhancement due to DSD processing. Compare the Cd layer to a STANDARD CD of exactly the same recording, then say there is no difference. Every SACD I have sounds dramatically better than the old Cd version. Why don't they just make all future discs SACD/Hybrids, eventually as CD players die, ya just get a player that does SACD/CD(for old discs), DVD etc...Universal players are now mislabled with teh introduction of Blu-Ray, they won't play them will they? They better start putting DISClaimers on them, they are not truly universal are they? Kinda Universal-

RGibran
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

Well that's a new one on me! Yes, there is a two channel SACD layer on SACD Multichannel hybrids, but it has been my understanding that the standard redbook CD layer is exactly the same as the original, thus enabling it to be played on any standard redbook player.

RG

Yiangos
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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???

I agree with rgibran not to mention that some insist the cd layer of a sacd is delibaretly made to sound worse than the actual cd to promote the sacd. How on earth,Dup,did you come to the conclusion that the cd layer of sacds is THAT good ?

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Re: Multi-channel SACD - what am I missing out on???


Quote:
I agree with rgibran not to mention that some insist the cd layer of a sacd is delibaretly made to sound worse than the actual cd to promote the sacd. How on earth,Dup,did you come to the conclusion that the cd layer of sacds is THAT good ?

Joy! Conspiracy theorists unite...Sony purposefully made the CD layer worse than the actual CD to boost SACD sales. Wow. Okay, now for the news that is fit to print: According to Sony/Philips, "Even the SACD's 16-bit layer can sound better, if it's based on a Direct Stream Digital studio master. The Super Bit Mapping Direct process can be used to downconvert to the 16-bit CD format, which enables you to hear more of the original master."
On the CDs I've compared with the CD layer from a hybrid SACD, yes there is a subtle difference for the better, although some CDs exhibit this better than others. Of course Sony is only claiming a difference on newer recordings that utilize the DSD recording format, and as these are the only SACDs I own I cannot make comparisons otherwise.
Cheers

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