Did you convert your system to multichannel audio? Has it stuck with you? Why or why not?

During the SACD and DVD-Audio heyday, multichannel audio was finding new converts. Did you convert? Has it stuck with you? Why or why not?

Did you convert your system to multichannel audio? Has it stuck with you? Why or why not?
Yes, I've got 6 or more channels going
6% (11 votes)
Yes, I've got a 5 or 5.1 channel system
16% (28 votes)
Yes, I've got a 4 or 4.1 channel system
4% (7 votes)
Kind of, I've got a 3 or 3.1 channel system
2% (3 votes)
No, I'm still at 2 channels
73% (130 votes)
No, I'm still mono
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 179

Paul Matwiy's picture

Can't go back to two channels. Sounds too unnatural.

Jim G.'s picture

$x.xx/5.1 vs $x.xx/2. Two channel results in more money to spend per channel. Quality vs quanity. Also, the more channels, the harder the integration with the room. I have not heard a multichannel setup in a real person's house that sounded good. The only ones I have heard sounded like a lot of mediocre equipment. My two channel system sounds like music.

Selim's picture

I still like music presented to me much like a concert. I don't like being immerced in sound. Having it all around me is unnatural.

Sol S.'s picture

A good two-channel system will image in the middle, provide instrument placement, and create a feeling of space, so there is no need for a center channel or rear channels. I generally prefer being in the audience, not on the stage.

Russ's picture

After years of two-channel listening, I recently went 5.1 using an all EAD front end. It was lovely, for a while. But now I just listen to the front speakers only. I don't think, I'll be utilizing the multichannel option of my set up unless I start collecting SACD or DVD-A discs in the future. With the way these formats appear to be evolving (or a lack thereof), I may have three speakers left inactive for a long time to come.

Bubba in SF's picture

Two-channel in the living room and in the family room for movies. The speakers on the TV act as center channel. After quad and VHS vs beta in the 70's I am not inclined to jump on the latest format to become obsolete. How about HD-DVD vs Blu-ray or SACD vs DVD-A or Sony's Micro Disc or Digital Audio Cassettes or what's next? I do have an iPod and music on my computers so I can be portable but, I much rather listen to two-channel in the living room. Let me know when symphonies can figure out surround sound. I'll go for it.

audio-sleuth's picture

More than 2 channels and your the sales previntion department.

Andrew Maher's picture

I can't afford the same quality in several channels that I enjoy in two. In my small living room, there would not be enough room for me with more speakers in there! I still Llove SACD and DVD-A for the lack of distortion in quieter music.

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.  View, CA's picture

I just added the rear channel stuff to my already 2.1 sound system. It is hardly ideal for movies, but good enough. The (front) 2.1 channel system is what I am picky about. After all, it is for music: the explosions, bullet and airplane noises from the rear channels is not all that musical and demanding.

J Chisholm's picture

Had to get a new CD player. I opted for the multi-standard Pioneer DVD player with SACD—with brilliant results. Added two wireless rear speakers and bingo: multichannel sound. Pentatone Classics are releasing the old quadrophonic Philips recordings of the seventies and they too are brilliant in SACD.

Daniel Emerson's picture

Not quite multichannel, but recently I've been running two rear speakers out of phase, as described by the likes of Hafler and Gerzon. It doesn't always give a good result, but I can switch them out of the circuit. In many circumstances, though, it can enhance the stereo experience, especially when there's an enveloping ambience as part of the recording.

Woody Battle's picture

Getting the same quality in a multichannel setup costs more than twice as much. I have a limited budget and can barely afford the quality of two-channel gear that I want.

Peter's picture

Most of us own a large collection of treasured two-channel music carriers and even the current industry's back-catalogue is mainly two-channel. High quality lables such as Classic Records increasingly re-release mono recordings and mono itself is certainly (but slowly) regaining popularity. One or two (for the money) highest possible quality speakers will therefor make more sense and will more directly communicate the musical message.

S.  Chapman's picture

Although I have a five-channel Sony SACD player as part of my home theater system, I seldom use it for that, even though I own a fairly large SACD collection. I never converted my two-channel music system to multichannel for the usual reasons: not enough space, not enough money, and not nearly enough interest. Also, I have to add that I think Stereophile does audiophiles an injustice be stressing SACD's multichannel capability instead its superior two-channel sound quality.

DAN WILSON's picture


Mike Agee's picture

I am still a two channel guy and have no desire to go multichannel. It's kind of like asking if I'd rather commute in a Ford F250 and an empty horse trailer or a Cooper Mini. The sonic variables and the practical impediments (expense, floorspace, and a life outside audio) far outweigh the apparent benefits, for me at least. Besides, for all but the richest among us money is the limiting factor - better to devote X$ to two channels than 5.1.

Al Earz's picture

I am forced to do so by budget. Someday I would like to have a seperate two-channel system. I actually could do 7.1 if I wanted to purchase two more speakers, but the 5.1 seems to be plenty. Maybe as BluRay progresses.

Edw.A.Roth's picture

Odd, but I've heard "multichannel" and I find it not quite a natural presentation. No doubt some thought the same about two-channel stereo when it arrived. For me, the jury is still out on this one. It seems David Hafler came up with a scheme of ambience extraction (two-rear speakers across two positive outputs,if I remember correctly...) that works very well.

tuffy's picture

Glad that I did, there some great classical,jazz and rock recordings made—such as the soundtrack from Love.

Nodaker's picture

Can't afford the extra speakers, don't want the extra equipment.. Two channels are just fine for music. I do have a six channels on my TV rig, but that is a much different (less expensive) setup that seldom gets used. Long live stereo!

EG's picture

Two ears, two channels. Forever.

Al Marcy's picture

More on the TV - anything to liven up those DVDs ...

DFS - Milwaukee's picture

My significant other's strong interest in movies led me to convert to a 5.0 (no sub) system. Via the straightforward application of a briefcase full of cash, I managed to produce a 5.0 system with little, if any, performance penalty compared to a two-channel rig costing kilobucks less. The downsides are that the optimal speaker placement for surround sound effects doesn't always match that for 2.0 music, and if my significant other wishes to watch Dancing with the Stars, I'm stuck in the basement with the second system. Major upsides are that the processor contains a very respectable DAC, and the individual who asked for surround sound has been forced to become accustomed to the really large black boxes, lots of cables, complex operation, etc. that this required. Turns out there really aren't that many movies that make any important use of surround sound, so if I were to do it again I'd stick with 2.0 and save the extra kilobucks for retirement or a motorcycle or something...

df's picture

I've been running five channels for about that many years now, and love it. Despite their failure in the market place, I've got a growing collection of DVD-Audio and SACD and other discreet multi-channel music formats. And since adding three speakers, I listen to all stereo music in simulated multichannel thanks to Yamaha's very good DSP six channel stereo mode.

Stan's picture

I tried it for a short time. I found it irratating and immediatly returned to two-channel.

Peder's picture

It should say that, I'm back with two channels after years of multichannel. These days I even enjoy watching movies in stereo, more natural sound to me. No more multichannel

Mauro Metallo's picture

I don't believe there is a person in this world Lless interested than me in multichannel audio.

djl's picture

I've only got the living room system set up as multichannel. My main listening system are still two-channel stereo. Doubtful I'll ever get into Super Audio discs or other surround since very few artists I listen to are doing multichannel discs. If it catches on as a mainstream medium and all the new releases are in that format, then perhaps I'll buy the hardware. Till then, forget it!

Gerald Neily's picture

The more surround channels you have, the less critical each one becomes. That is true sonic liberation. I have pure analogue signals going to my left, center and right front channels, then I have digitally processed signals going to 7 other surround channels (upper front left and right, upper rear left and right, upper rear center and lower rear left and right) for a total of 10 channels. SACD is still strong enough for classical music, but it's a bit weak for rock except the new Genesis reissues.

Steve C.'s picture

If you are listening to music, what's the point of multichannel? If you want to be more immersed in the sound field, just sit closer to the speakers, preferably on a lower seat. This is leaving aside the extremely poor quality of 95% of all multichannel releases and the difficulty of arranging multiple speakers in a home.