As one who gleefully anticipated the arrival of SACD and DVD-A, mostly for the multi-channel capability, I have to now admit that both formats are a huge disappointment, and mostly because of the way those multiple channels have been used, misused and underused.
Although my exposure has so far been limited to rock and jazz offerings, almost everything I've heard, with the exception of Dark Side Of The Moon has been hideously mishandled as far as the surround mixes go. Although the new Elton John re-releases sound the best I've ever heard them, I can only listen to the two-channel tracks, because the SACD's multi-channel mix makes the common mistake of placing WAY too much music in the surround channels, and not enough in the center.
Of course, I can understand the producer's fear of the center channel, as most people have small, horizontally oriented center speakers, sitting either below or above a big ol' TV of some kind -not the hot set-up for quality sound! But why lean on the surrounds so much? Talk about unnatural. When I'm at a live concert, the only thing I'm surrounded by is echo, reverb and crowd/ambient noise. So why shouldn't the recording mimic this, instead of that wacked out, guitar-over-the-shoulder experience that someone seems to think the public is clamouring for? When I hear these freaky mixes, I think "gee that's good playing, but why doesn't the player come on up on stage and sit WITH THE BAND? Isn't music supposed to be a harmonious blending together of sound? I don't think this disjointed sound-around is at all musical in most cases.
So, although the issue may be nearly dead at this point anyway, is there still hope for musically consonant multi-channel recordings? If so, will they be on SACD, DVD-A, DVD-Video or what?
Maybe the mistake was giving the record industry too much rope in the very beginning of hi-rez. If they would have just followed the movie industries lead, and relegated the surround channels to ambience, and used the center to anchor central images, so as to expand the sweet spot...
Oh well, as Dandy Don Meredith used to say, "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a merry Christmas we would have!"