You are here

Log in or register to post comments
jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
What's the future of multi-channel music?

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!"

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 27 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
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.


It has nothing to do with the formats but with the (lack of) musical sensitivity of the producers.


Quote:
Although my exposure has so far been limited to rock and jazz offerings,.........


I have found that classical recordings on most formats are more satisfying in their production but I am biased by the content.


Quote:
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?


They will be on whatever formats survive but there's no way to enforce good taste.

Kal

300Binary
300Binary's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 months 4 days ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 10:47am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

It seems probable that the finest recording in any format has not yet been made ... wax cylinders may enjoy a renaissance!

There is a future. We ain't there, yet

Dig the present!

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 27 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
Why do you autmatically think that pop multichannel mixes should mimic a live show? Some producers want to put you "inside" the mix, as if you were sitting in the recording studio in the middle of the musicians. Graham Nash explicitly stated that as his goal for his multichannel release "Songs For Survivors". Personally, I love agressive mixes and hate the boring mixes you seem to like. (I much prefer the old quadrophonic mix of DSOTM to the new one!)

Agreed. There's no reason why a production which is based almost completely on a synthetic studio construction has to adhere to traditional concert rules. How often has the live event suffered in comparison to the studio production for exactly this reason?

Kal Rubinson

jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
Why do you autmatically think that pop multichannel mixes should mimic a live show? Some producers want to put you "inside" the mix, as if you were sitting in the recording studio in the middle of the musicians. Graham Nash explicitly stated that as his goal for his multichannel release "Songs For Survivors". Personally, I love agressive mixes and hate the boring mixes you seem to like. (I much prefer the old quadrophonic mix of DSOTM to the new one!)

Oh, I don't think (studio) recordings should necessarily try to mimic a live show, although that is the very reason almost all good studio recordings add a measure of reverb (usually artificial) to the mix. It's more a case -maybe just my own personal preference- of finding aggressive surround mixes unnatural and distracting. And in most discs where a surround mix and a two-channel mix are available, I will always prefer the two-channel.

Believe me, I WANT to like multi-channel pop music, but it makes it hard to support the format, when every purchase is a crap shoot, mix wise, unless you can read a review prior to purchase that tells you what kind of mix is used. If the surrounds are used too much, then I'd just as soon save a few bucks and get the CD. Then, I can listen to that through DPL-II and hear something that makes some sonic sense!

Colnmary
Colnmary's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 3:32am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

I think it will go the way of multichannel music in the past. Nowhere!

In the early 70's I embraced Quadrophonics using a Sony SQ decoder amp. There were 4 competing surround sound formats, at the time QS, SQ,CD4? and another. There was Little software that Joe Average wanted to listen to.( software sells the hardware) Plus 4 Big loudspeakers took up a lot of space. I have yet to go to any rock concert that had speakers behind me. Now we have Subs as well.

I was listening to Amused to Death the other day by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, and its recorded in QS stereo. At times I heard people talking next to me. Dogs barking out my windows. Someone behind me and off to the right. All clear sounds that made my head turn to the direction in the TWO SPEAKER STEREO soundstage.

Maybe stereo is fine, we only have two ears!

ON fine recordings and good stereo replay gear, you are there. Right in the performance.

PLus Two Speakers is cheaper than 5.

jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

One point that always struck me: Even with "just" two channels, an audiophile can park his carcass smack-dab in the sweet spot and enjoy wonderfully exact, pin-point imaging precision if that is his desire - no need of multiple channels there! And everybody else, the normal, non-audiophiles don't care about imaging anyway, if they even know what it is! Most of them would truthfully be better off with mono.

BTW, did I miss something, Colin? Are you no longer in the horned camp?

jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

Equally valid point of view! It's just that many audiophiles get off on pinpoint imaging; being able to point to an exact point in space that an instrument or voice is coming from. Whether or not that has anything to do with fidelity to any original event is another issue all together. I tend to agree that the hyper-precise imaging that for some is the hi-fi holy grail practically never exists in any live music context. I tend to like a bit of balance; good imaging precision, but also a good measure of three-dimensionality to the sound, with life-size images.

Ideally, centered sounds would stay centered as a listener moves to the left or right of the sweet spot. This is where multi-channel COULD have made a huge difference. Could have, but at least in the pop, rock and jazz multi-channel discs that I have, it hasn't. The producers pretty much ignore the center channel.

RGibran
RGibran's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

I would have to agree with Kal's simple one line summarys.

"It has nothing to do with the formats but with the (lack of) musical sensitivity of the producers."

I also agree with his additional comment tho I am not biased in the same direction.

"I have found that classical recordings on most formats are more satisfying in their production but I am biased by the content."

As far as the comments of "parking your rear in the sweet spot", in my experience it is only then that I find myself bothered at times by the misuse of the surrounds. When walking around and thru the room I generally am unaware of these localizations, instead finding the room wonderfully full of enjoyable music.

I have found multichannel pop music to be the larger misuser of the surrounds, but admit I own very few of these releases. I particulary don't like to hear a song start off in the surrounds as is done repeatedly in one pop release I own. I also own a jazz release of a three piece trio where all of the bass is in the center channel! What idiot thought this was a good idea for real world systems? Now if I owned a proper full range 5+ speaker system I might think them a genius but I suspect most don't. So we are back to Kal's summation. Still...overall I have come to prefer the full room filling sound of my mutli channel system, despite the warts of the available software.

Lastly, let me throw in a word for, god forbid, Dolby Digital 5.1. These DVD discs IMHO offer a tremendous value in terms of material quantity, sometimes twice as much as contained on the cd, as well as video enhancement should you desire. Based on the scarcity of some genres of music in high res multi channel formats, I have found several of these to offer tremendous value and quality musical sound enjoyment. These are not just reissues. Many new recently recorded projects specifically for this format are being produced, and some have suggested this may be the wave of the future for multi channel surround.

RG

windsurfer
windsurfer's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 8 2005 - 2:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

Well I think whether multi-channel makes any sense depends on what you listen to. I strongly suspect that most if not all Rock fans will be too satisfied with two channel reproduction to hanker for more.

Anyone accustomed to the sound of acoustic instruments played in a true acoustic environment such as a concert hall or church or jazz salon, will likely regard that as the "Absolute Sound" and that sound just simply cannot be reproduced by stereo.

Stereo may mean "solid" but that doesn't get around the fact that properly recorded multi-channel sound comes much closer to what one hears in a concert hall than stereo. Good stereo can give the illusion of "A window on the concert hall"; good multi-channel can give the listener the illusion of having been transported into the concert hall.

Stereo at any price simply cannot do that while even modest multi-channel systems can and do. At the very lowest level of investment but assuming correct setup, one may have the illusion of being in the concert hall wearing earmuffs but the illusion is still of being in the concert hall. The most expensive stereo fails to create the illusion of being transported into the hall. What it ususally winds up doing is focusing sharply on specific sounds in an unnatural way.

Although that focus is unnatural it is usually most enjoyable. I am thinking of recently hearing the truly excellent BIS SACD of Freddy Kempf and freinds playing the Beethoven Archduke trio. The sound of the piano bass notes was magnificent on the $20,000 dollar pair of loudspeakers we were listening to, but afterward on the way home my freind remarked on what I also noticed but did not say: The sound of that disc on my multi-channel system which cost maybe a fourth of the stereo we had just heard, is much more realistic in terms of what we hear in a concert hall.

The stereo was magnificent but it simply lacked the "bloom" one hears in a good hall. With the right source material, my multi-channel system produces that sound in spades. Further it doesn't provide unnatural focus on specific aspects of the sound. It doesn't matter if we are talking about unaccompanied violin played by Julia Fischer on Pentatone or the Mahler 1st on San Francisco Symphony Live, or Freddy Kempf and freinds playing the Archduke trio on BIS. In terms of realism, my multi-channel system beats out stereo systems costing at least four times as much, probably beats all stereo systems.

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 27 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

Bravo, Bruce!

Kal

RGibran
RGibran's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

I'll second, or third THAT!

RG

dcrowe
dcrowe's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:39am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:

Anyone accustomed to the sound of acoustic instruments played in a true acoustic environment such as a concert hall or church or jazz salon, will likely regard that as the "Absolute Sound" and that sound just simply cannot be reproduced by stereo.

I am a fan of mutlichannel, so don't misunderstand this comment, but a stereo pair of ears is all we have, and stereo can, in principle, give us a complete sonic picture. It does require either headphones or an anechoic chamber approximation to headphones with speakers, and a recording made, for example, with a dummy head containing two microphones at the ear locations. In an ordinary room with two speakers, and with mixed recordings, we do fall far short of a true stereo experience, so one brute force solution is to use multichannel recordings with multiple speakers. In many cases this can be a spectacular improvement, or at actually a spectacular alternative that differs from the original experience, but it is really quite different from the concert hall sound. It is fun and enjoyable, and it helps in real-world rooms, and I have muli-channel sound for all of those reasons, but it is not the "absolute sound".

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 27 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
I am a fan of mutlichannel, so don't misunderstand this comment, but a stereo pair of ears is all we have, and stereo can, in principle, give us a complete sonic picture. It does require either headphones or an anechoic chamber approximation to headphones with speakers, and a recording made, for example, with a dummy head containing two microphones at the ear locations. In an ordinary room with two speakers, and with mixed recordings, we do fall far short of a true stereo experience, so one brute force solution is to use multichannel recordings with multiple speakers. In many cases this can be a spectacular improvement, or at actually a spectacular alternative that differs from the original experience, but it is really quite different from the concert hall sound. It is fun and enjoyable, and it helps in real-world rooms, and I have muli-channel sound for all of those reasons, but it is not the "absolute sound".


In other words, there is another, but impractical, solution.

Kal

dcrowe
dcrowe's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:39am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:

Quote:
I am a fan of mutlichannel, so don't misunderstand this comment, but a stereo pair of ears is all we have, and stereo can, in principle, give us a complete sonic picture. It does require either headphones or an anechoic chamber approximation to headphones with speakers, and a recording made, for example, with a dummy head containing two microphones at the ear locations. In an ordinary room with two speakers, and with mixed recordings, we do fall far short of a true stereo experience, so one brute force solution is to use multichannel recordings with multiple speakers. In many cases this can be a spectacular improvement, or at actually a spectacular alternative that differs from the original experience, but it is really quite different from the concert hall sound. It is fun and enjoyable, and it helps in real-world rooms, and I have muli-channel sound for all of those reasons, but it is not the "absolute sound".


In other words, there is another, but impractical, solution.

Kal

Pardon my amusement, Kal, but the mutlichannel "solution" is to use microphones for each channel, then require every listener to install a decoder, multiple channels of amplification, multiple speakers with wiring or digital radio links to each one, in order to get a less accurate approximation than the "impractical solution" (which is much simpler and less expensive) of a two channel recording and headphones? Again, I use multichannel, but it is partly because I am not offered a simpler choice in the matter.

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 27 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:

Quote:
In other words, there is another, but impractical, solution.

Kal

Pardon my amusement, Kal, but the mutlichannel "solution" is to use microphones for each channel, then require every listener to install a decoder, multiple channels of amplification, multiple speakers with wiring or digital radio links to each one, in order to get a less accurate approximation than the "impractical solution" (which is much simpler and less expensive) of a two channel recording and headphones? Again, I use multichannel, but it is partly because I am not offered a simpler choice in the matter.

Well, your proposition is impractical because it requires (1) a set of headphones (an appliance I cannot abide for more than a few minutes) or (2) an anechoic chamber (an appliance very few have). While it may be conceptually and technologically simpler and more direct, it is not compatible with the life choices of the vast majority of consumers, even crazies like us. And that's the reason you are not given this choice.

Kal

dcrowe
dcrowe's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:39am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
In other words, there is another, but impractical, solution.
Kal

Pardon my amusement, Kal, but the mutlichannel "solution" is to use microphones for each channel, then require every listener to install a decoder, multiple channels of amplification, multiple speakers with wiring or digital radio links to each one, in order to get a less accurate approximation than the "impractical solution" (which is much simpler and less expensive) of a two channel recording and headphones? Again, I use multichannel, but it is partly because I am not offered a simpler choice in the matter.

Well, your proposition is impractical because it requires (1) a set of headphones (an appliance I cannot abide for more than a few minutes) or (2) an anechoic chamber (an appliance very few have). While it may be conceptually and technologically simpler and more direct, it is not compatible with the life choices of the vast majority of consumers, even crazies like us. And that's the reason you are not given this choice.

Kal

It is interesting that I just did a Google search and there are a large number of samples that are recorded with dummy heads (and sometimes real heads with microphones in the ears!). There are also dummy heads with microphones available. If anyone has an interest, here are a few of the many links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_recording

http://www9.dw-world.de/rtc/infotheque/stereo/stereo_rec1.html

http://www.noogenesis.com/binaural/binaural.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_head_recording

http://www.holophonic.ch/en/index.htm

http://www9.dw-world.de/rtc/infotheque/stereo/stereo_recording.pdf

http://www.jacksmusicstore.com/catalog/pro-audio/microphones/neumann/pro-mic-nmn-h~KU_100

http://www.binaural.com/binfaq.html

http://www.binaural.com/binbb.html

http://www.binaural.com/SunBinArticle.html

windsurfer
windsurfer's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 8 2005 - 2:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

I think Devon's "stereo" is what I think of as "binaural" and was probably so named to distinguish it from stereo with speakers in front of the room. I used to long for the realization of that: Binaural recordings issued simultaneously with the "stereo". But that was upwards of thirty years ago. Maybe 20 years ago I foolishly overloaded my Stax headphones and they need to be repaired. (I wasn't wearing them at the time) I never bothered to have them repaired because of just what Kal alludes to. Can't share it and my ears get hot and uncomfortable after only a little while.

As to the "absolute sound" I was referring to the sound of acoustic music being played live in a somewhat reverberant setting. Symphony Hall in Boston is a prime example. All sound reproduction is an illusion. Multi-channel creates the illusion for me of being transported into the concert hall. Stereo as we know it, not binaural, offers the illusion of having a window opened on the concert hall. I would rather enjoy the illusion of actually being in there rather than the illusion of being on the outside looking (and listening) in.

This is important only because there are a lot of folks who do not understand multi-channel reproduction.

Now for my RANT!

Unfortunately several of them write for Stereophile. Sam Tellig: "I'm a two channel kind of guy". Art Dudley somewhere in a review of an SACD player mentioned that he wasn't interested in the multi-channel aspects of it. Dudley of course has already declared that he isn't interested in accurately reproducing concert hall sound. He obviously likes the spatial distortions engendered by stereo. But could it actually be possible that he doesn't know what he is talking about? Does he ever get to places like Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall or the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall? I live in Albany NY. I am maybe an hour closer to Boston and maybe to Manhattan. The Troy Music Hall is only about 15 minutes from me. But I know its close enough that Art could make it there if he wanted to. My message to Art would be: "Come hear some live music Art; subscribe to the Albany Symphony series in Troy, then come to my house and listen to my multi channel system and then tell me why you aren't interested in multi-channel
sound."

My message to Sam: "Sam, I think you are probably hopeless. I think you'd prefer to blather on with clever prose than face reality. As a result you are probably doing huge damage to the best thing that has ever come to the audiophile who loves classical music. Early on you asked whether the either SACD or DVD-A would survive. Was it Heisenberg who proclaimed that you cannot ask a question without biasing the answer? Well Sam, I think you have deliberately and at every opportunity, (some of which you manufactured) tried to bias the public against SACD and particularly multi-channel. I used to be a big fan of yours, but now I don't even read your column. You are a fool in an unfortunate position of power."

Gosh, Do I sound bitter?!!

My message to Atkinson: I receive the Audiophile Voice as a subscription fulfillment to guess what? Yeah the late and much lamented by me, at any rate, Listener Magazine. In the last issue of Audiophile Voice, Gene Pitts mentioned that he purchased six inexpensive multi-channel players and gave them (mostly) to his music reviewers. Wake up Atkinson! You said you support hi rez but the most important support you could give is to see that your music reviewers are reviewing SACDs (and as available, DVD-As) They certainly should be reviewing the multi-channel layer as well as the stereo and noting the differences between them. It would hardly drive Kal out of business - there are over 1500 classical SACDs out there right now. How many has Stereophile reviewed? How many have stereophile's regular music reviewers reviewed? With the exception of Baird's review of Area 31, which is hardly mainstream classical, (I own the disc and am not at all putting it down.) I believe the answer is none! For example David Patrick Stearns gave a glowing review of Hilary Hahn's Brahms violin concerto. He reviewed the CD, never the SACD. Yes, I know the SACD release followed the CD by a couple months.

But how nice it would have been to have DPS follow-up with a review of the multi-channel SACD. You folks do equipment follow-ups why not music follow-ups? The fact that the multi-channel layer sounds nothing like the CD is good reason for doing so.

Hint: On that disc, going from stereo to multi-channel truly gives the illusion that the side walls of the listening space have moved out 25 to 30 feet on each side, and that the back wall is at least 100 ft behind you. It sounds remarkably like being in a concert hall. Not doing these reveiws is a huge FAILURE on the part of the magazine!

END OF RANT

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 27 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

I don't want to come off as a churl but the title of this thread says it is about the future of multichannel. First, the term multichannel seems to presume multiple channels (more than 2) and not how one can use 2 channels to create a surround experience. Second, the term future sort of demands that we consider what will likely be happening and not what other avenues the technology might have taken. For example, if one was to hedge on both points, one should consider ambisonics which continues as an underground favorite. And an effective one, too.

Kal

dcrowe
dcrowe's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:39am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
I don't want to come off as a churl but the title of this thread says it is about the future of multichannel. First, the term multichannel seems to presume multiple channels (more than 2) and not how one can use 2 channels to create a surround experience. Second, the term future sort of demands that we consider what will likely be happening and not what other avenues the technology might have taken. For example, if one was to hedge on both points, one should consider ambisonics which continues as an underground favorite. And an effective one, too.

Kal

Yes, Kal, my only comment was that a previous post stated one could not get a true experience with "stereo", which I now understand may have been meant to exclude binaural. I agree that multichannel is a good thing. And I have posted some time ago about the hope for the future of wavefront reconstruction, which "ambisonics" usually undersamples, but appears to go in that direction.

Cheers,
Devon

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

It seems this debate is more about the old argument: Live VS recorded. Bose thought they did it with the 901 speaker system which the audiophile community never embraced as an accurate medium.

If you are talking about true multichannel how many mics and channels do we need to satisfy your requirements? We have a quartet: piano, bass, drums, guitar, all in an arc on the stage. We mic the drum kit with 6 mics, one for the bass, 2 for the piano, and run a direct box ( or do you want to mic the guitar speaker cab?). Is this accurate? Depends upon where you were sitting during the performance.

Maybe we should just put two high quality omni's at ear height where you might sit and see what we capture? (2 ears-2 mics) The direct and reflected sound will arrive at some time interval and give you some sense of space in the venue. We do know that once we start going back from the performance the bass suffers.

5,6, or 7 channel home theater is a manipulation of the live sound for specific purposes. SQ did somewhat of the same thing. Listen to Roger Waters Amused To Death. This 2 channel presentation is pretty neat. If you want the sound of someone sneaking in behind in the movies you have the Foley artist put the sound of a door in your right rear speaker.

For me the 2,3,and 5.1 presentation of music in SACD is good enough for me. I really prefer the 2 and 3 channel (RCA RED Seal) presentations the most. Music from in back of me just does not sound natural to me. Listen to K622 in CD, DSD, or LP.

I do enjoy watching movies in surround sound, but not my music generally. I generally have the rear channels set very, very low. The visual is in charge here.

I probably need to start attending some live acoustic music concerts again to refresh my sonic memory. I need to make sure I am pursuing the holy grail of sound.

FeisalK
FeisalK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 11 2005 - 6:40pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

In the accompanying audio commentary to his Jarre in China DVD he says (and I paraphrase)

"ever since I started writing, the music has always been conceived in 3D.

jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
I think Devon's "stereo" is what I think of as "binaural" and was probably so named to distinguish it from stereo with speakers in front of the room. I used to long for the realization of that: Binaural recordings issued simultaneously with the "stereo". But that was upwards of thirty years ago. Maybe 20 years ago I foolishly overloaded my Stax headphones and they need to be repaired. (I wasn't wearing them at the time) I never bothered to have them repaired because of just what Kal alludes to. Can't share it and my ears get hot and uncomfortable after only a little while.

As to the "absolute sound" I was referring to the sound of acoustic music being played live in a somewhat reverberant setting. Symphony Hall in Boston is a prime example. All sound reproduction is an illusion. Multi-channel creates the illusion for me of being transported into the concert hall. Stereo as we know it, not binaural, offers the illusion of having a window opened on the concert hall. I would rather enjoy the illusion of actually being in there rather than the illusion of being on the outside looking (and listening) in.

This is important only because there are a lot of folks who do not understand multi-channel reproduction.

Now for my RANT!

Unfortunately several of them write for Stereophile. Sam Tellig: "I'm a two channel kind of guy". Art Dudley somewhere in a review of an SACD player mentioned that he wasn't interested in the multi-channel aspects of it. Dudley of course has already declared that he isn't interested in accurately reproducing concert hall sound. He obviously likes the spatial distortions engendered by stereo. But could it actually be possible that he doesn't know what he is talking about? Does he ever get to places like Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall or the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall? I live in Albany NY. I am maybe an hour closer to Boston and maybe to Manhattan. The Troy Music Hall is only about 15 minutes from me. But I know its close enough that Art could make it there if he wanted to. My message to Art would be: "Come hear some live music Art; subscribe to the Albany Symphony series in Troy, then come to my house and listen to my multi channel system and then tell me why you aren't interested in multi-channel
sound."

My message to Sam: "Sam, I think you are probably hopeless. I think you'd prefer to blather on with clever prose than face reality. As a result you are probably doing huge damage to the best thing that has ever come to the audiophile who loves classical music. Early on you asked whether the either SACD or DVD-A would survive. Was it Heisenberg who proclaimed that you cannot ask a question without biasing the answer? Well Sam, I think you have deliberately and at every opportunity, (some of which you manufactured) tried to bias the public against SACD and particularly multi-channel. I used to be a big fan of yours, but now I don't even read your column. You are a fool in an unfortunate position of power."

Gosh, Do I sound bitter?!!

My message to Atkinson: I receive the Audiophile Voice as a subscription fulfillment to guess what? Yeah the late and much lamented by me, at any rate, Listener Magazine. In the last issue of Audiophile Voice, Gene Pitts mentioned that he purchased six inexpensive multi-channel players and gave them (mostly) to his music reviewers. Wake up Atkinson! You said you support hi rez but the most important support you could give is to see that your music reviewers are reviewing SACDs (and as available, DVD-As) They certainly should be reviewing the multi-channel layer as well as the stereo and noting the differences between them. It would hardly drive Kal out of business - there are over 1500 classical SACDs out there right now. How many has Stereophile reviewed? How many have stereophile's regular music reviewers reviewed? With the exception of Baird's review of Area 31, which is hardly mainstream classical, (I own the disc and am not at all putting it down.) I believe the answer is none! For example David Patrick Stearns gave a glowing review of Hilary Hahn's Brahms violin concerto. He reviewed the CD, never the SACD. Yes, I know the SACD release followed the CD by a couple months.

But how nice it would have been to have DPS follow-up with a review of the multi-channel SACD. You folks do equipment follow-ups why not music follow-ups? The fact that the multi-channel layer sounds nothing like the CD is good reason for doing so.

Hint: On that disc, going from stereo to multi-channel truly gives the illusion that the side walls of the listening space have moved out 25 to 30 feet on each side, and that the back wall is at least 100 ft behind you. It sounds remarkably like being in a concert hall. Not doing these reveiws is a huge FAILURE on the part of the magazine!

END OF RANT

Very well said. I agree on most points. Still, I understand Stereophiles mission is not to promote any particular new technology, but primarily to sell magazines. And considering the majority of their readers and advertisers alike are very much about two-channel reproduction, it is hardly surprising that it's hard to budge the focus off of that. Still, it would seem to me that Stereophile's higher mission should be promoting the advancement of the "audiophile arts", regardless of how that may upset the status quo.

windsurfer
windsurfer's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 8 2005 - 2:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

Well JA, sometime ago, said the policy of Stereophile was to support the new "Hi-Rez" formats. Now let me quote something from Grammophone, I think it was the last issue:

jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
Well JA, sometime ago, said the policy of Stereophile was to support the new "Hi-Rez" formats. Now let me quote something from Grammophone, I think it was the last issue:
windsurfer
windsurfer's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 8 2005 - 2:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

I think its too early to throw in the towel (for classical music anyway). Pentatone, for example, is doing some great stuff and has plans for more new recordings. What we need the magazines (listen up Stereophile) to actually DO is inform its public what great recordings are already out there via its normal review channels whose personel probably need to be brought up to date equipment wise. And as far as Stereophile gos there aren't nearly enough record reviews!

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

All that is fine accept the portabilty of SACD and DVD is pretty remakable. Take a disc, any disc to your friends house for all to enjoy one evening...Brilliant!!! I am not sure I want to carry my HD music server. Once we see SACD downloads then I buy into the HD server. Sony will never let those bits fly out in space. Not unless tied to a sleigh with 8 tiny DRM's tied to it.

windsurfer
windsurfer's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 8 2005 - 2:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

Anonymous,

With respect to your saying you are disappointed with SACD for the same reason Tellig is, take a look at:

http://sa-cd.net/titles/1/0/date/5/1

I find there are so many titles that I simply don't have enough money to keep up with them. When I buy 10 at a pop thats $200 and that good and well depletes my discretionary income for a month. but then I am only a retired wildlife biologist, not particulary well heeled. Nevertheless I bet if I bought 15-20 each month, there would still be more I wanted to get.

jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
I don't know why it is so hard for people to grasp the fact that multi-channel music does not necessarily mean that music should come from behind, or that the listener is sitting in the midst of the orchestra/band?!
It is up to the producer/sound engineer where he/she wants to place the sonic image. It is an interference pattern that can be positioned entirely in front of the listener. Only it is a more complex pattern than the counterpart generated in a stereo set-up. And this sonic image can be blurry or sharp, again depending on the quality of sound post-production.
Not to mention the possibility of increasing - with a good multi-channel recording - the listener's sweet spot...

Maybe it's hard to grasp because it is so seldom experienced any other way than the dreaded "stage perspective".

It's so frustrating to see (hear?) what may prove to be multi-channel's last good opportunity in the market for who knows how long, squandered on unnatural, gimmicky mixes. Even though according to good testimony, there are many tasteful, intelligent surround mixes of classical music, classical music won't sell the format, will it?

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

I believe what most of us want is the holographic image that a great stereo system CAN provide. It cannot be done on the cheap, and that is where the rub lies, If the masses will not spend $2K on a great set of speakers, $1K on a good CD player and another $1500 on a Class A "Phile" integrated amp then the manufacturers decided...we will fake it with a number of small crummy speakers and really show'em! It worked! 5,6,7.1 and more coming on the way.

I have 2 5.* systems, one for movies and TV that is more for my wife and 11 year old son. His playstation will also hook up to it as well. The 5.1 speaker system from Elac sold for just under $1K and is nice, but it is not high end audio. I know what it is and movies on it are just swellaton. It is powered by a Pioneer Elite receiver.

My other system is 5.0 and is mainly for stereo, lp, cd, and SACD with NO video. That's why I like SACD. It has air, depth, detail and 3D which is excellent. The main speakers and the center channel are Class B "Phile". I really like the 3 ch RCA Red Seal SACD releasees of classical music. Diane and Nick love the sound of it, but would never buy it on their own. It is just there for them to enjoy once in a while. I generally have Christmas music playing on it throughout the day during this holiday season. They like it.

I was listening to TV through my stereos all through the early 70's. I set up the same for many friends after they heard mine. Why would you not do this?

Most audiophiles I think will admit that movies on a decent 5.1 system are enjoyable. I also have a vintage
70's system in my home office of Hafler amp and preamp, my old trusty AR 58's and a Project One/DR220 turntable with a Stanton 881S with an old NAD cassette deck and a Sony DAT I still use for location recording. Once in a great while I will watch a DVD movie or concert in 2ch/PCM which is still enjoyable. That system reminds me why I love this hobby so much...it still sounds very good to me. I try not to get to snobby about this hobby. The ARs are clear and go down decently to 35 hz in my room. It is a very nice computer playback rig.

If I would upgrade anything it would be the amps in my 5.0 room and maybe ???? add a good sub. 2006 has possibilities. If the masses would spend the equivilent of their Direct TV bill each year on audio equipment there would not be as much 5.1 around. A $5K to $10K 2ch system is breathtaking. I don't care how you mix and match the gear. And it is not obsolete. Is the turntable dead? I think not!

eugenius
eugenius's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jan 6 2006 - 12:01pm
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?


Quote:
I'll chime in...

I absolutely LOVE music in multi-channel DVD-Audio and SACD! Heck, I'll even use DualDiscs so long as the DVD side has DVD-Audio at 48/24 or better in all channels.

And I love all varieties of surround mixes. I think there is room enough for both the more experimental mixes as well as the more ambient mixes.

Honestly, though, I just don't know what the future holds. Perhaps DualDisc is still multi-channel's best means for survival. True enough, though, that most DualDiscs don't even have a surround tracklist. But the medium, itself, seems to be catching on. So maybe every now and then we'll get a new release with surround?

Or maybe we'll see the artists releasing small batches of DVD-Audio albums themselves. If I understand correctly, Porcupine Tree will soon be selling some of their older albums as newly remixed multichannel DVD-Audio discs to be sold exclusively through some outlet that, I think, is connected to the band's website.

Or I'd love to see some old quad stuff licensed for a limited run for a specialty market, but I've read posts that indicate the costs to do this have gone up dramatically since the 90s when Brad Miller and others were working to get some of those DTS CDs out there.

Or maybe we'll see a few releases of some sort once HD-DVD and BluRay hit the market. Dolby TrueHD, perhaps?

Whatever it is, I'll probably end up buying into it because I seemingly can't resist listening to music in surround! However, at this point, I'd be surprised if future releases---regardless of format---amounted to anything more than a trickle. But that's OK. Just give me enough to keep me going. It's all good!

Oops! This was my post. (Still a little new around here and, apparently, I haven't quite sussed it all out. I'll get the hang of it soon. Promise!)

jdm56
jdm56's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 5 2005 - 2:03am
Re: What's the future of multi-channel music?

Well, multi-channel is still hanging on! The "Living Stereo" releases are very encouraging. I'm anxiously awaiting a couple to arrive in the mail as I write this! Also, I just bought the new release of Dire Strait's "Bothers In Arms" on DualDisc -now that's more like it! The focus is kept up front, but the surrounds do have a little action too -- it is a studio recording, after all! And I see the classic Moody Blues recordings are being put out in SACD -it's about time, I'd say! I do hope they sound good. Now, those are recordings that, like DSotM, CAN benefit from creative use of the surround channels.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading