2.1 vs 3.1 vs 5.1

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by milanlad, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. milanlad

    milanlad
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    I'm currently using an Arcam Alpha 9 Integrated Amp with Monitor Audio Radius R360 Subwoofer and R90 Speakers in a 2.1 setup. The sound is pretty okay for both music and TV.

    Is there a massive difference in soundstage between a 2.1 and 3.1 setup? I assume I would have to buy an AV Amp or processor for 3.1

    Is there a big difference between 3.1 and 5.1?

    Thanks
     
  2. Andy98765

    Andy98765
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    I have 5.1 and would never go back to 2.0 as a stand alone. To totally emerse yourself in a movie with all the sound senses around you is excellent, something 2.0/2.1 would never give you. BUT I do go back to 2.0 for CD's.
     
  3. Member 96948

    Member 96948
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    Assuming you are sitting centrally, equidistant between the two main speakers, then no, there is very little difference in the soundstage between 2.1 and 3.1. The center speaker mostly benefits people sitting off axis, where it keeps dialogue in particular, locked to the screen, rather than to the speaker they are sitting nearest.

    5.1 on the other hand, makes a big difference. The expansion of the sound stage around you is massive and makes for an altogether more immersive experience, with sounds panning all around the room or the ambience of the scene being far more expansive.

    The down-side, is that an AV amp will cost a lot more than a good stereo amp to maintain the same quality.

    Russell
     
  4. Crustyloafer

    Crustyloafer
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    I have been without 5.1 for 2 months now and am really missing it. The sound I get from the front 3 and the subwoofer is good but it's nowhere near as immersive as when you have got some decent surround speakers. I hope my new rear speakers turn up soon.
     
  5. MannyMore

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    I totally agree once you get a 5.1 setup there's no going back !:)
     
  6. andyturner28

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    5.1 is still rubbish for CD's though. I always go back to 2.1 when listening to music unless i am listening to a music DVD with 5.1 soundtrack, which sound really good. It is a shame DVD Audio never took off as a good one makes it sound like you are actually at the concert.

    Andy.
     
  7. milanlad

    milanlad
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    So, am I correct in concluding that it's either 2.1/2.0 or 5.1 and there's no point in 3.1 setup?

    Thanks
     
  8. andyturner28

    andyturner28
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    Basically, yes. I can't see why you would ever want to watch a film in 3.1 as you would be missing out 80% of the soundtrack, as no amp i can think of dose 3.1. Probably because there is no point.
    You say in your first poste in this thread that you are using an Arcam Alpha 9, which i assume means you like your music. Your best bet would be to run your front speakers from the Arcam and run the rears from a 5.1 amp or reciever, which would retain good 2 channel sound for music and 5.1 duties for movies. That is what i did for years untill i stupidly sold my NAD C370. (i am regretting that decision big time now!)

    Andy.
     
  9. Bee-Man

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    Milan lad,

    For music - no question that a 2 channel stereo, or 2.1 is the way to go and hi fi recordings defaults to 2 channel stereo anyway.

    The AV receiver is something that you definately need for either 3 channel or 5 channel sound because it decodes the logic from your source material (DVD) via whatever processor technology you select (dts, dolby etc) into 5 or so channels etc..... and hi fi amps are not designed to do that.....which is most say to keep them separate.

    A little trick is watch a keynote scene with eyes closed (do it first) then with eyes open immediately after; most folks are surprised with how significant the visual is - which essentially defines the success of the music video :cool:

    Do it again, but in the reverse order, and you will without a doubt understand the connect between audio and visual.

    ...I am of the opinon that 80% of the sound comes from the front three, with three matched speakers (from the same manufacturer) and a good centre speaker will give you no less a soundstage than 5.1

    Before you all jump on me here - I run 3.1 and will so for a few months before going to 6.1 (moving apartment) but I really think the benefit of the rear speakers is primarily the sound effect - as oppposed to a better sound. And does that make for a better audio+visual experience.....certainly.

    Just my two cents....:hiya:
     
  10. Crustyloafer

    Crustyloafer
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    Almost every amp on the market can do 3.1, it's just a case of telling it there are only the front three speakers connected and a subwoofer. It will redirect the audio that would have gone to the rears to the front three speakers.

    As for missing out on 80% of the soundtrack, again very doubtful. How many movies have you watched that have 80% of the audio going to the rears? In most movie soundtrack the centre channel alone contributes about 70-80% of the audio.

    Having said that, I still agree that 5.1 is necessary to get the proper experience, otherwise you might as well just have a really good stereo setup.
     
  11. GW43

    GW43
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    I think it comes down to:

    Personal preference
    Budget
    Your domestic environment
    The people you share the two above items with!

    Put these in the order relevent to you.

    My personal preference is to spend my limited budget on 2 reasonable channels, and I don't want to clutter my domestic environment...





    ...and the missus probably wouldn't let me anyway:nono:
     
  12. NonPayingMember

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    The only device I would actually want to do 3.1 with would be a Meridian processor, and using the excellent Trifield mode (and near identical LCR speakers and amps - which I have :D ). It runs a 3.1 system whereby some load is eased off of the main two (mainly in the vocals department) so that the amps can have more drive for the low end, and the vocals are steered mainly through the centre speaker. Wider "sweet-spot" but also I think better dynamics. I wouldn't go out to buy it specifically, but since having it I make a lot of use of it.

    I just about never use 5.1 for music excepting the odd live recordings, which are usually buggered anyway (I'm thinking BBC Sessions - Led Zep, Jimmy, Eric) where DTS neo:6 Music actually delivers quite an immersive "as if you were there" sound.

    Inversely, I cannot watch even Neighbours in 2.0. Have been spoiled with at least 4.1 (derived) for almost 20 years now!!! I don't know what it's like to live in a house without cinema sound LOL LOL
     
  13. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes
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    All you show offs with your 2.1 and 3.1 stuff :mad:

    I am stuck with my sky box connected to the TV on an extension lead until the house is finished :suicide:

    only :beer: can improve the sound at the moment!

    To anyone who thinks the rear speakers are optional :nono:, try demoing some M&K Column Surrounds :lesson: ... unbelieveable :eek: :D

    Sorry, I couldn't fit any more smilies in :(
     
  14. andyturner28

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