An Ending That's Also a Beginning

One of my biggest surprises since I became the editor of Stereophile—and so started focusing more on all things audiophile—is how often I find myself thinking about the ethics of this hobby. This is unusual for me: I dislike moralism and prefer aesthetics to ethics.

A small example: Recently, while I was writing an audio review, I started to type the phrase "pride of ownership." I don't know who coined it, but I know I've read it more than a few times, and I've probably written it myself. It's so common that it's practically a cliché.

But that's not why I didn't type it. Rather, as I lifted my fingers from the keyboard, I was thinking that "pride" isn't quite the right word. A person can be proud of having gleaming white teeth, or owning a gold-plated toilet, or earning loads of money doing despicable things. Sure, there are people who like to show off their stuff (including their audio stuff), but that's not our crowd, or at least I don't think so.

What I want from owning my audio system—what I think most audiophiles want—isn't pride, precisely. I want to feel unambiguously good about the whole experience. I want to feel that glow inside when I think about the music that awaits me at the end of a long day. That requires making good choices—choices consistent with not just my musical values but also my ethical values.

So pride isn't quite the right word— but then, what is? Affirmation? Equanimity? Simple pleasure? I welcome suggestions.

"Multichannel music is the future," wrote Kal Rubinson in his first Music in the Round column, published in the June 2003 issue of Stereophile. "The two-channel reproduction that we have enjoyed for the past four decades is but the first step from monophonic (single-source) sound to true stereophonic reproduction."

Kal's use of "stereophonic" here was intended to make a point. As he went on to explain, "stereo" doesn't mean two-channel—or at least it didn't in the 1920s, when Western Electric coined the word, well before two-channel sound was introduced and rose to prominence. "Stereo" goes back to Greek (stereós) and means "solid"—a characteristic usually regarded as requiring a third dimension. A stereo image might be just a bas relief and not a true 3D sculpture; what it's not is a projection on a flat screen. But I digress.

If two channels of information provide a glimpse of a 3D image, Kal argued in his inaugural column, then surely three channels would provide a better look, and four channels better still. Commercially, we made the transition from one channel to two— enthusiastically—nearly 70 years ago. So why stop at just two?

Kal wrote about his very first time hearing stereo sound, in the 1950s. It was, he wrote, a defining moment, but in retrospect he felt that "something was missing. . . . The performers were in one acoustic environment; I was in another. It was as if the listening room had grown a large, almost completely transparent window onto the performance space" (footnote 1). Much later, Kal climbed through that window. In his column, he has urged us to do the same and shown us how.

Home theater has established a significant beachhead, but multichannel music hardly made it past the first sandbar. The multichannel-audiophile community has remained a niche within a niche (perfectionist audiophiles) within a niche (committed music-lovers). It's a very small community.

Late last winter, shortly after my appointment as Stereophile's editor, I sat down with Kal at e's, a bar frequented by Columbia University students, to discuss Music in the Round. Kal surprised me. "I want to end my column at number 100," he told me.

This month's Music in the Round is that column. Kal's enthusiasm for multichannel music hasn't wavered, but its failure to catch on has presented challenges. Fewer and fewer perfectionist-quality multichannel components are released each year, so there is less and less to write about. It's hard to write something interesting on a regular schedule when there isn't much that's new.

Just last week, I attended a preview of the Anniversary Edition of the Beatles' Abbey Road at a screening room in Dolby's offices. Alongside a new stereo mix—they played all of side 2—they also played tracks from the Dolby Atmos mix. (By the time you read this, you'll likely own a copy of the reissue in one or another format; it drops September 27, more than a month before this magazine hits mailboxes and newsstands.) I preferred Giles Martin's new stereo mix, but the very existence of the Atmos mix—there's also a 5.1—was interesting. Apparently, multichannel music isn't over.

Stereophile's multichannel coverage isn't over, either. We're just taking it mainstream—or as mainstream as an obscure topic covered by an enthusiast mag like Stereophile can be. Whereas before you'd find multichannel coverage only in Kal's column, now you may find it anywhere in the magazine, from this first page to My Back Pages (footnote 2).

Speaking of afterlives: In his final column, Kal reviews the Merging+Anubis, a pro-audio device he has cleverly integrated into his multichannel music system. Elsewhere in this issue, Ken Micallef considers a very different product: the Trenner & Friedl Osiris loudspeaker.

Anubis and Osiris: This, then, is surely the first time that both Egyptian gods of the underworld have been examined in the same issue of Stereophile.

Happy reading.—Jim Austin

Footnote 1: Curiously, elsewhere in this issue, Michael Fremer uses similar language to describe his experience listening to darTZeel designer Hervé Deléltraz's Klipschorn-based system. Listening to those vintage speakers was, he wrote, "like listening through an open window."

Footnote 2: Old-fashioned two-channel 3D sound will remain our highest priority. But when there's a compelling multichannel story to tell, we'll tell it.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Avalon Acoustics also makes an expensive Osiris speakers ....... Must be a popular god :-) .......

volvic's picture

At the very least keep chiming in on these pages Kal, your comments are always sobering and well thought out.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Try and stop me. ;-)

volvic's picture

Keep em coming! :)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Don't Stop Believin' " :-) ........

Jim Austin's picture

I think the article makes it pretty clear that Kal isn't going anywhere.

Jim Austin, Editor

rt66indierock's picture

I enjoyed our conversations at shows. Please stay in touch and if you ever get to the Copper State let me know.

Jim C.'s picture

Then I'm all for it. His review of the Squeezebox Touch changed my life.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Mine, too. Look where it took me!

pmadsen's picture

Kal's articles became the first ones I looked for with increasing frequency. With the Beatle's remasters including surround sound on Blu-Ray I have become much more interested in this delivery mode. I'll miss those articles - and will have to hunt for new resources of information.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The new beginning :-) .......

tonykaz's picture

It's having a Music System and all the interesting music in the World, then using it to sweeten up the ambient atmosphere in our immediate surroundings without disturbing the Harmony of anyone else.

A nice little music System can play "any" obscure "request" of any bystander and bring endless smiles and joy.

Music is one of "our" most treasured possessions, sharing it is one of Life's greatest Joys. The better music systems can easily release dopamine in people's brains.

I sold pricy Audio Gear for 3 years. There certainly is an abundance of Pride in owning a Krell Amp with Gold Plated Screws. Electrocompaniet was simple Black Anodizing that mostly disappears under Room Dust ( but sings like an Angel ).

I acknowledge that prices over PS Audio Gear are driven by Status and Ego.

Stereophile recognizes the outrageously priced Status & Ego Products but has it's best writers & writing covering mainstream greatness.

Red Anodized Mono Amps seem like Eye Candy for a Magazine Cover, a semi-apologizing reviewer tries to justify the extravagant Prices. It somehow says Pride with it's Price showing us it's rude finger. ( but I still bought this beautiful Magazine, didn't I ? ) People I know with that kind of money are having a Thousand Hour Rebuild on their Beachcraft Baron with a reupholster & up-grade of Radio Navigation Systems. I fly Spirit.

Kal, oh dear, please don't disappear to the high-deserts of New Mexico to live near Tyll.

Tony in Venice

Kal Rubinson's picture

Kal, oh dear, please don't disappear to the high-deserts of New Mexico to live near Tyll.

Not this city boy.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"....... you were born in the city ..... concrete under your feet ...... " :-) .......

jimtavegia's picture

certainly applies to the audio, automotive, housing, and the musical instrument industries. How about watches? If you don't think that someone who owns a Steinway D isn't proud, then I guess any piano would do? Hardly. Pretty hard to miss a 9 foot elephant in the room. Our consumerism is based on this.

As far a multi-channel goes, it may not be audiophiles who are into MC, but mainstream America sure is. Go into a big box store and you will see more MC receivers than just stereo items. I'm feel confident that if more people heard either of DR. Kal's systems the tide might change, but so will the cost. More always costs more.

There is plenty of "bling" in the audio world, and some of it sounds amazing and looks it. There is nothing wrong with it. It is better to love people than stuff.

The PBS special Now Hear This talked about a Stradivari violin up for sale for $16 million. Who would not be proud to be able to own that? It may be that the person who buys it can't play it, but just want to own it. I am sure that if someone buys it they will be glad to tell their friends they now own it.

Anton's picture

I'm proud to be an audiophile, proud to have my audiophile friends and I am fine with people being proud of their systems.

An audiophile's system is something that he/she has assembled from the chaos of the marketplace and curated to present music in a way that that audiophile finds pleasing. Every system offers a unique interpretation of our hobby. I can see being proud of one's audio 'creation.'

Plus, this pride is budget independent (for most,) is fungible, and gives us a glimpse into a person's inner workings and priorities. Being invited to hear another audiophile's system is a compliment shared between enthusiasts. ( Caveat: With pride, we do risk 'shame.' The odds of system failure skyrocket when another audiophile enters one's home. ;-P)

Pride is completely fine by me! Hell, we could have a day/week/or month to honor the term and that is even more great!

I found a 99 dollar amp on Amazon that is the sweetest thing in town driving high efficiency speakers. I'm proud to play it for people. Audiophiles can even be proud that something sounds better than the price would make you expect, as well!

I am proud to carry around the latest issue of Stereophile for thew world to see, too! I've met two long term fabulous friends that way!

Anton's picture

Eventually, we will be able to go full wireless and people will be able to toss a bunch of speakers into any room, fit the placement to the decor rather than requiring optimum placement for sonics, choose any number of speakers, and the system will equalize itself and make surround sound part of everyday life.

Then, they can simply tell Alexa, or whoever, whether they will be watching TV, having a party, listening for an 'environmental immersions,' etc.

It's gonna be great.

For surround to succeed on a large scale, we have to get past the tweaking, 400 page set up guides, and critical speaker placement paradigm.

Imagine a dozen wireless speakers all talking to each other and equalizing themselves together for whatever the listener is interested in at a given moment.

Heck, with technology screaming along, these set ups will likely most quickly get established with VR gamers who want the sound in the room to match the visuals and even alter the sound based on where they go in the room. Then, it will move on to us more primitive sit and listen audio types.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Everything you mention is possible with current technology (although I do not think that all of it is necessary). Where is the marketing motivation?

Anton's picture

I haven't run into any demos at shows or seen product marketing that makes any meaningful attempt to portray what I think I was mentioning.

If it already exists, then an "F" to the marketing geniuses ignoring me and my money.

As to necessary, the whole hobby is not necessary, so I will leave it at: "It would be fun if..." for what I was chatting about.

Audio, computers, tech stuff.... all those things should be designed by people who hate the set up part of those same things.

I don't wanna plug in mics, have to hook up a damned computer, manage speaker wire all over the damned place, or read a damned book to make this thing play. But, I'd be happy to pop a dozen small Ohm-styl speakers around a room and let them figure out the acoustics and other sonic parameters. If you have that, Kal, hook a fella up!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Get 5 or more Lexicon SL-1 speakers and, all what you are saying could come true right now :-) ........

Kal Rubinson's picture

Sorry. What I meant was that each of the elements you list are, individually, doable. The closest might be WiSa.

Doctor Fine's picture

Multichannel music didn't "catch on" because the formats needed to use it were not adopted as a new industry standard.
SACD and DVD Audio multichannel are pretty much old news but they were replaced by formats that ARE real and will last...
Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio are EVERYWHERE and play nicely at high res rates.
So we NOW don't need useless new standards as the ones we have work perfect.
I can only hope more concert and live music footage is done in multichannel.
It sounds great.
Meet the new boss.
Same as the old boss.
Don't get fooled again.
It's already fixed.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio are EVERYWHERE and play nicely at high res rates.

Like Atmos.

Doctor Fine's picture

Dolby "Atmos" strikes me as yet another annoying marketing ploy to make hobbyists unhappy with their suddenly outdated 5.1 rig.
A few years ago I decided to goof around with Audyssey DSX by adding front wide and "height" loudspeakers for a 9 speaker (plus dual subs) system.
Went out and got me one of those new wacky "state of the art" Audyssey DSX recievers and boxes full of new loudspeakers to festoon my room.
What a waste of time.
Nothing is recorded in this format.
Dolby "Atmos" seems to be a sort of pseudo-surround designed especially to fit on a tacked-on "soundbar' speaker setup for TV.
Helicopters flying overhead?
Better SOUND? Not so much.
More "gotta have the latest and greatest" garbage? Probably.
The big advantage of good old 5.1 in my experience is that you have some ambiance in the rear AND you have the pin point specificity of THREE front speakers to help nail down the clearly defined center feed and improve imaging across the front.
And this is a format that actually EXISTS and is an industry standard.
Please spare me from more diversions such as "Atmos."
If all you have is a TV and you crave goofy sounding "sound effects"---then knock yourself out.
I realize the electronics industry would LOVE to find a way to excite television buyers to go out and buy a NEW TV.
I do appreciate better contrast and color depth (Dolby Vision and HDR10).
And 4K video will look super duper on my 95" 2:35 cineamascope wide screen projector setup---if and when a native 4K projector comes on the market for less than 3 grand. With motorized lens and "lens memory" for widescreen movies.
What I get MAD at is more useless audio formats that do not improve quality time listening to AUDIO.
And after selling and using TV audio for 50 years I still believe the identical qualities needed for audio work perfectly with television.
To wit: I just want clear dialog, a wide precisely focused front soundstage and MAYBE a little bit of ambiance from the side-back "filler" channels.
Dolby Atmos is just a marketing gimmick and I predict it will fade away along with Audyssey DSX.
It is simply designed to add "fake surround sound" to a front mounted sound bar on a TV set.
That is NOT my bag.
But good luck with that there Dolby Atmos thingie...
Meanwhile I have ditched the extra four speakers for Audyssey DSX and returned to tried and true 5.1.
Just getting THAT right is more than enough for the moment.

Doctor Fine's picture

Jim Austin asked for help replacing the word choice "pride of ownership" or "Affirmation" with a newer BETTER way to describe what your home audio system should supply.
How about "Intoxicating"?
I really do get "drunk" on the textural three dimensional "you are there" "they are HERE" qualities of truly GREAT audio.
"Pride of ownership" doesn't even come CLOSE.
Flagrantly, outrageously DRUNK is more like it.
I mean that in a GOOD way of course.
The proverbial "happy drunk" is very much the effect I am talking about.
Or maybe I am nuts and wrong about all this stuff.
But don't wake me up if I am.
It's too cool for school being an audiophile the way I do it.
Those artists and musicians that made all this stuff are what's cool.
And I dig it the most...

tomthepm's picture

I would call it enthusiasm rather than pride. I'm proud of my kids, I'm proud of being the totally awesomest dad. I'm proud that I worked hard to be able to afford these silly luxuries. The pride isn't in the "thing". To me the pride is in what that "thing" represents and the joy that it brings me to use and when I expose it to others.

BTW, what is wrong with soundbars? I am quite biased as my job is to build/ship soundbars.

I made this same argument a long time ago at a conference...If the audio community spent more energy/time/money evangelizing how improved audio reproduction enhances the music/movie/voice experience, rather than complaining about "kids these days don't appreciate blah blah blah", and putting down products and features that aren't "purist", that 25 year old who buys a soundbar today can be the purist in 15 years.

I will use myself as an example. My first pair of upgraded headphones cost $20. Then I went to $50, then $100, then $200, then $300 and now $400. I'm forcing myself not to buy our dedicated Headphone DAC/AMP with our $900 offering (our employee discounts are wonderful).

Same with my system at home. Started with an entry level Onkyo AVR with entry level JBL speakers. Then I went to a Pioneer Elite and Golden Ears. Now I have one of our high end AVRs and our upgraded speakers. (have you figured out where I work, yet? Our products have been reviewed many times on these pages)

Another example, since I work in soundbars, I have lots of old samples laying around my office. I gave a retail $200 mini soundbar + wireless sub to my neighbor as a beta tester. He is 50, and has never had an upgraded audio system of any kind. He and his wife were gushing about how they never realized how much more audio content was in a movie that they have seen a dozen times and in the the music they have dance parties to with their kids.

When I upgraded from my JBLs to my Golden Ears, even my wife, who is far from being an enthusiast and asked why I was spending $3000 on a set of speakers, said "Wow, I can actually hear what they are saying now!"

That, to me, is our responsibility as audio enthusiasts. To expose more people to the joy of improved audio. Not denigrate a wonder of engineering that is a derived surround or height channel (unless it is one of our competitors, then you can denigrate them all you want :^)

Lastly, to end my rant, I'm with Kal. I prefer listening to music in multi-channel stereo, even it is derived. Yes, I know it isn't what was recorded, but I don't care. I like being enveloped in sound.

I need to get back to work on planning our next set of soundbars.

Doctor Fine's picture

The problem as I see it is that Atmos is likely to divert attention from 24/192 5.1 multichannel PCM audio.
We only RECENTLY got this 24/192 5.1 higher resolution and over at MY house high res multichannel is the BOMB.
It is ONE format that works for both MUSIC and MOVIES.
Now along come "soundbars" and suddenly television is lurching AWAY from high fidelity 5.1 and getting involved in TV speaker considerations.
I am sick of spreading the formats that matter---so thin---that they die.
I would buy a soundbar but I don't want to support a format that is less than ideal.
Glad you have a job.
I'm NOT in favor of your FORMAT however...
Not if it takes momentum away from 5.1 24/192 PCM.
If I hadn't already seen SACD multi and DVD-Audio multi die on the vine I might not feel this way.
But too many formats seems to always result in a LOWERING of standards.
I'm not having it.

Kal Rubinson's picture

The problem as I see it is that Atmos is likely to divert attention from 24/192 5.1 multichannel PCM audio................................
.................If I hadn't already seen SACD multi and DVD-Audio multi die on the vine I might not feel this way.

So....if you think it is dead, why do you think that Atmos will have a negative effect?

Doctor Fine's picture

I'll explain it once more since it is not clear apparently...
High Resolution Multi Channel is FABULOUS and both SACD multichannel and DVD-Audio Multichannel worked fine and DIED ON THE VINE.
These formats were just not standardised AND it took special gear to use them.
DOLBY True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio takes NOTHING SPECIAL to run them---practically every DAC made in the last 15 years can do 24/192. Practically every receiver made in the last 5 years can do these formats AUTOMATICALLY.
Dolby True HD and DTS-Master Audio come along maybe five years ago or so---and FINALLY were adopted en mass by the audio and TV industry thus giving us TRUE HIGH RESOLUTION MULTICHANNEL. YAY!
BOTH sounds BRILLIANT in 5.1.
BOTH are not LOSSY.
Both go up to 24/192 resolution.
BOTH replace SACD and DVD-Audio multichannel High Resolution QUITE NICELY!
Finally movies sound amazing and clear and sweet and pure.
As does MUSIC.
And NOW you guys want ANOTHER competing format war!!!!!
No. No. No. No.
Get it?

Kal Rubinson's picture

DOLBY True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio takes NOTHING SPECIAL to run them---practically every DAC made in the last 15 years can do 24/192. Practically every receiver made in the last 5 years can do these formats AUTOMATICALLY.
Dolby True HD and DTS-Master Audio come along maybe five years ago or so---and FINALLY were adopted en mass by the audio and TV industry thus giving us TRUE HIGH RESOLUTION MULTICHANNEL. YAY!

Sure but where is the repertoire? They do little or nothing for me because, except for live concerts with video, I don't see any significant music offerings.

Doctor Fine's picture

There are many hundreds if not thousands of terrific sounding high res DTS-Master HD and Dolby True HD Audio MOVIES and CONCERTS and AUDIO ONLY soundtracks out there already.
I'm beginning to understand why the multichannel high resolution column was cancelled by Stereophile.
You guys apparently don't know what is going on.
You are not supporting DTS-Master HD or Dolby True HD.
The easiest, simplest way to get true high resolution audio into your miserable little lives.
It COMES with most receivers the last ten years.
It has been IGNORED by Stereophile?
You claim there is nothing here in these formats?
Well, THAT is what I call a self fullfilling phrophecy if there ever WAS one.
At this point you are doinng a jam up job of killing THIS format.
And now you want to move ON to SOUNDBARS?
I'm pissed.
(Can you tell?)

Kal Rubinson's picture

I'm pissed.(Can you tell?)

That's apparent so I will respond as calmly as I can.
1. It was my decision to end MITR because I no longer wanted to bear the burden of the work schedule. It was not the Editor's decision and, I believe, he was disappointed in my decision. Therefore, it is not related to any general policy or policy change.
2. I do enjoy and have commented on DTS-Master HD and Dolby True HD Audio in the past. I wish there was more of it to feed my music desires but there is not.
3. I am not a fan of MQA and have said so in print.
4. I am not a fan of soundbars and I do not understand how you can impute that I or any other Stereophile writer is.
5. The core issue, imho, is that high end audiophiles, in general, have failed to appreciate the quality and the enjoyment derived from HD multichannel reproduction. I'm pissed off at that and I suspect that you feel that way, too.
6. I will continue to do whatever I can to promote HD multichannel audio.

Doctor Fine's picture

Fair enough.
As for ALL high res multichannel NOT being appreciated by audiophiles?
How COULD we appreciate SACD and DVD-Audio when they both took special players just to use them?
DTS-Master HD and Dolby True HD take NO SPECIAL EQUIPMENT.
Every receiver the last ten years has been able to handle these formats of multichannel super high quality audio.
They are "built in".
They already COME with your receiver!
Get a Blu-Ray player (which you need anyway) and some HDMI and you are good to go!
I bet the "audio" industry has its collective head so far up its a** that they are all out chasing MQA and soundbar "special effects" low res compressed audio (Dolby Atmos).
These are new multichannel and stereo formats that require special new speakers and special players.
On the one hand we NOW have (with DTS-Master Audio HD and Dolby True HD) TRUE high resolution audio to make our movies AND music sound terrific.
But there is no concerted push to review releases, review new preamp processors and talk about setting up rooms to the ultimate using these EXISTING formats.
Instead there is a push on to SWITCH formats to lower res Dolby Atmos so that soundbar TV can have a new "gadget" to sell a few more TV sets.
As for getting more recording companies to put out more MUSIC ONLY recordings in high res multichannel---what do you expect?
The recordings get no support from the industry.
You can't even find mention on the discs themselves as to which ones have high res and which ones DON'T.
And Amazona and Netflix and all the rest---are AVOIDING streming multichannel uncompressed audio for the most part.
Too may widgets.
Too much "confusion" in the industry.
Too many formats.
Too hard.
What a shame.
Everything an audiophile NEEDS for true high performance audio and movie multichannel is HERE but everybody went HOME.
I'm not mad at YOU, Kal.
I'm mad at this whole ridiculous state of affairs.
Apparently everybody in the industry is content to kill off high res and give us what? Low res compressed Dolby Atmos?
Low res compressed Dolby Digital?

romath's picture

Just a comment about your opening paragraph: "This is unusual for me: I dislike moralism and prefer aesthetics to ethics."

Perhaps a poor choice of words, but there's a big difference between morality and moralism. Moralism is ideology, such as expressed in some religious beliefs or in the current realm of political correctness or absolute right and wrong. Morality has to do with what you value, stand for and wish to achieve, and means for getting there which are consistent with those. I think about morality and integrity, not ethics, which afaict is academic and religious stuff for the wishy washy.

Jim Austin's picture

I consider myself ethical; it's not like I'm sacrificing puppies to pagan gods or anything. (Not--and I'm serious--that I have a problem with pagan gods. I do have a problem with sacrificing puppies.)

Some people seem preoccupied with the ethical aspects of things. For them it's all about judging others and being morally indignant about society's shortcomings. I find such preoccupations boring at best. It's a longstanding characteristic going way back, to high school at least. I've long disliked highly moralistic art and literature, for example. Just give me a morally ambiguous slice of life and keep the preaching, thank you very much. And I don't enjoy being around people for whom the world is a series of moral conundrums. It's overly reductive. There's something to that: Aesthetics allows for more complexity than ethics does, at least as its typically practiced.

Any day, I'll take a sunset or a good piece of music over a feeling of moral superiority. A person can live an ethical life without dwelling on ethical offense. It might even make it easier.

Jim Austin, Editor

dronepunkFPV's picture

You can have morals and live with ethics without being preachy.
When is the last time you have heard of a “anonymous donation”
Today’s society wants the pat on the back for everything.
Hell, I feel like a Hypocrite with this post....

romath's picture

Appreciate the reply, Jim. For me, ethical is a more specific practical question referring to a situation, while I focus more generally maintaining integrity, which I believe is indivisible.

By the way, on the topic of ethics, someone who recently sold his PrimaLuna Dialogue dac in favor of a VTL 5.5 II, suggested yesterday that I follow suit (or get a 2.5i). At least with the 5.5, I'd have to buy used because of cost. Looking up about VTL customer service, I find two very disturbing forum threads, especially about their apparently disdainful treatment of those who have purchased used. Don't know if this comment site takes links, so I'll quote the titles: on Audiogon, there's one going from 2001-2017 called "VTL Service ??" And on Steve Hoffman's forum, a search will find one called "Trying To Get Customer Service From VTL Is Like Trying To Get Blood From A Stone!" (It's not clear what VTL thinks original purchasers should do with their VTL equipment when they want to change -- throw it in the garbage?). I also noticed in watching Stereophile's Jason Victor Serinus' YouTube visit to VTL that it's a two person operation, i.e., no separate customer support staff, which is strange for a company doing as well as they are now. It would help readers if magazines such as TAS and Stereophile don't follow up on the customer support end of the operation (they are not alone in this). There might be some ad loss initially, but it would be made up when recalcitrants cleaned up their acts.

Doctor Fine's picture

Stereophile won't support DTS-Master HD or Dolby True HD high res audio.
You guys will go absolutely APE over MQA lossy two channel.
No wonder the multichannl high res reporting has died on the vine at the magazine.
Sometimes sarcasm is what it takes to make a point.

Doctor Fine's picture

I don't really mind that there aren't too many 5.1 high res "music only" Blu-Rays out there to pick from.
The poor consumer has been subjected to all the false starts involved in DVD-Audio high res surround and DSD SACD high res surround---both which failed miserably and required new gear and new purchase of old music in a new format (once again!).
As long as the industry continues Blu-Ray high res surround for movies there will be soundtracks and project albums featuring surround sound music on Blu-Ray in high res occasionally.
That's all I care about.
'Til they kill off discs entirely and high res Blu-Ray is GONE.
Will they EVER stream it on the web?
Sorry that Kal is bailing out on high end multi channel 24/192 as we need more folks to hear just how amazing this sounds.
I grant you the marketplace doesn't listen to surround music much in any event after the SACD and DVD-Audio debacle.
But some is better than none.I suggest we all pile on heavy with DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD.
This will allow for best sound with movies AND the occasional special project 5.1 music recordings.
That's a LOT better than having NOTHING.

AJ's picture

Can't help but think SPhile founder JG Holt would have been pleased..