What are your thoughts about multichannel music?

What are your thoughts about multichannel music?
I'm committed to multichannel
32% (128 votes)
I'm very interested in it
15% (60 votes)
I have a slight interest in it
18% (74 votes)
I do not like multichannel
23% (94 votes)
I don't care
12% (47 votes)
Total votes: 403

Last week's results demonstrate the diversity of system approaches when it comes to handling both stereo and multichannel sources. But what are your thoughts about multichannel music itself?

macksman's picture

My dealer has provided high-end multichannel sessions for me and, for me, there is no "there" there. If I had all the money in the world, I would still have a two-channel system. I had a wonderful surround-sound experience this afternoon: sitting on the patio listening to the wind in the trees while reading And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. That's perfect sound forever.

waters's picture

Multichannel has its place in home theater and, if recorded properly, in audio-only systems. But some non mainstream systems like Tom Holman's 10.2 and Yamaha's soundspace generation are truely the way to the future. Systems that accurately define the soundspace.

Lars Ravn Jensen's picture

Two channels is enough for me, I only have two ears.

Eric Shook / 29 / Raleigh, NC's picture

You only have two ears.

dismord's picture

Probably the only thing that's prevented the so called high-end industry from going bankrupt. Sadly though, there's so much cheap multichannel crap out there I suspect it & MP3 etc have actually lowered people's expectations, rather than raised them.

Cesar's picture

When done tastefully, and with the right music, multichannel systems bring a new dimension to music appreciation.

Brankin's picture

My interest is slight only because I do 2.1 for movies. My music and enjoyment is perfectly fine in stereo and I have no need or desire for multichannel. I don't need sound coming from the sides or behind or from above or wherever. Maybe if they spent more time recording high quality stereo tracks and less time on what I consider gimmicks there would be some hope and more interest in music listening past background filler. Then maybe that's just society today and I'm the luddite. So be it and happily so. I've listened to MC in others homes and in "proper" dealer setups. No thanks.

Hans's picture

For me, movies = multichannel, music = two-channel.

Jim Dandy's picture

If utilized as ambient fill, hall reverberations, natural echo and the like, it can be teriffic. If utilized for "ping ponging" or any other sort of unrealistic audio gimick, it is extremely annoying. Back in the early days of stereo, instruments and voices were bounced or panned from left channel to right channel and back again. That sort of thing got really old, really fast. Is that what we want for multichannel?

Tom's picture

For digital playback there's nothing like multichannel sound for concert hall realism. Great for jazz and acoustic recordings as well.

Allen Zhao's picture

We already have SACD for multichannel music, and will keep on supporting it.

RM's picture

Going from stereo to multi is like going from mono to stereo.

Al Earzzzzz's picture

I will always keep the capability in my system. Some recordings reveal so much when divided into five speakers. Pink Floyd's DSOTM and Roxy Music's Avalon to name a few. Still want to listen in two-channel but on occasion I want to have the surround encompass me.

Sir Round Maybee's picture

I'm interested, but it just never seems to happen. It's always stuck somewhere between vaporware city and doofusville. It's either no good music available, or it's surround music done so unaturally that it's actually detrimental.

Pete's picture

As a classical music buff, I've enjoyed a number of well-recorded 5.1 SACDs (and some DVD concert videos) where multichannel has helped with imaging and a nice ambience. There are some 5.1 mixes that sound like they were recorded in a pool that have a decent hi-rez two-channel track (e.g., Zander's Telarc recording of Mahler 1).

Bill Corbett's picture

Hi-rez multichannel is the biggest improvment in sound I have experienced during my 35 years of being an audiophile.

Dave's picture

Isomike recordings were impressive, some pop music that has been mixed for it from the get-go is neat. Otherwise, not so much.

Micah F's picture

The theory sounds wonderful, but I've purchased a few multi-channel classical recordings (on Telarc, Hyperion, respected names) and not really noticed much difference. And I was using PSB speakers all around (a brand recommended many times by this magazine) and better-than-average ($100/m) cabling, with a multichannel amp that was definitely a step up from most budget electronics. I dream of the day when I'll have a basement so the home theater can go down there, and I can get a really nice two-channel integrated for the living room (as close as I'll ever come to a "listening" room).

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

Multichannel music is an oxymoron.

Shawn Dow's picture

In my opinion, based on my experience, multichannel sound is superior in terms of depth and realism and taking you to the venue the recording was made. The thing that is most disappointing is the reluctance of hi-fi dealers to acknowledge that a format like SACD could indeed be superior to traditional stereo listening. Many dealers refuse to promote or carry multichannel equipment or to endorse it. It is my impression that many of them simply repudiate the format as either unpopular or a gimmick. Why do labels like Pentatone, 2L, or Harmonia Mundi continue to create exceptional recordings in surround sound for SACD? I would like to see Stereophile take more initiative in promoting this format which many feel is superior to vinyl or the traditional Red Book Compact Disc. How about it Stereophile?

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

Great for movie sound. So far, I've not heard that much music in multichannel that took advantage of the extra channels.

John Bacon-Shone's picture

Multichannel provides a qualitative improvement over stereo if recorded well, such as many current SACD classical releases.

ACF's picture

After reading that a center channel properly implemented has the possibility of making music of higher fidelity, this is a development to be followed.

Dan W's picture

Listening to stereo after listening to well recorded multichannel is a letdown for me. I wish Kalman Rub​inson had more space in Stereophile.

René P's picture

I have a dedicated multichannel system that also play stereo in superb quality. It is a pity that record company's do not bring out more hi-rez. multichannel records.

Yoeri Geutskens's picture

The only problem I have with multichannel is there isn't more of it yet.

Bernd Zoellner's picture

Multichannel adds a new dimension to the music, brings you much closer in emotional terms.

Lila's picture

Sounds odd, non-musical. "Magic's" gone.

emo's picture

Its artificial and a gimmick.

Edwin Spel's picture

Good stereo is beautiful, but MC done well is can be overwhelmingly beautiful. I find MC music not very suited as background music, but if you install yourself to just experience the music, there is nothing better.