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A Channel too far?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by BadAss, Apr 27, 2001.

  1. BadAss

    BadAss
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    Looking at how home cinema follows in the steps of its big brother I can't help but wonder when it's going to hit a brick wall, literaly. Sound formats like DD and DTS had pushed home cinema to a level where every one was happy. It sounded good, a five speaker configuration was a nice way to arrange your speakers in your living room, all was good, when up jumps EX and ES to spoil the party.

    Why are the majority of people that go to the cinema who don't know the difference between prologic an dolby digital getting more channels? Why when most of the time in a cinema your seating position is never centred do we bother trying to hear where the sound effects are coming from? Unless your sitting dead centre the effect of multi channel surround sound are lost.

    Why when it takes only two speakers to send a sound from left to right or front to rear do we need anything in between? Take Red Planet for example when the robot is hunting down the surviving crew by sending out a propelled scout, you can hear its every movments as it flies around the room. Do we need any more speakers to do this? I think not.

    5 channels full range with quality speakers and a processor to direct the sound should be enough. Shouldn't it? Or should I get myself a sledge hammer? :mad:
     
  2. Sam

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    I don't agree, you might not get as good an effect, but you can still get a damn good one.

    However, the point about too many channels with ES/EX is certainly valid. Too many speakers without enough difference made IMO. I think we need a speaker or speakers up above to simulate the height of a sound, but adding speakers to the rear and side of us is making my room too cluttered! :mad:
     
  3. Guest

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    Despite having just 2 ears, the brain processes, and therefore we experience, sound in 3 dimensions.

    The absolute minimum of speakers to acheive this is 6, and these would only produce a spherical soundfield accurately for a single listener.

    The more complex the listening enviroment, the more difficult speaker location becomes.

    I can see the argument for adding a top sound channel, and have been impressed with demonstrations of EX/ES-matrix (I have yet to hear ES-discrete), though I doubt there is much use for a bottom channel!

    In total, for a 'standard' living room, 7 full range discrete channels should suffice. A sound pan utilising a theoretical top speaker is really the only effect debateably 'lacking' in current set-ups.
     
  4. Guest

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    I disagree, for me sound makes the movie. I attach far greater importance to sound quality than that of the picture (quality).

    Whether or not the sound is distracting is a moot point, that sound over your shoulder may be intended to distract you. As long as it is within context (one would not expect an RPG-7 grenade to come over one's shoulder during The Pickwick Papers) then sound can add more than a picture could ever hope to.

    [ 27-04-2001: Message edited by: Confucius on Holiday ]
     
  5. Sam

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    It's not the sound or the picture that's best - it's the combination.
     
  6. Guest

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    I don't believe I said that sound was the best, just that I attach greater importance to sound quality.
     
  7. Sam

    Sam
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    Ok, then I believe that neither one is more important than the other. Together, both sound and picture quality become greater than the sum of their parts and create a fulfilling atmosphere. ;)
     
  8. Guest

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    In which case we will have to agree to differ on a point slightly removed from that which started this thread :)
     
  9. Sam

    Sam
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    Agreed! :D
     
  10. Salem Saberhagen

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    Don't get a sledge hammer, just get a Denon AVC-A1SE and some more speakers and all will be revealled !!!
     
  11. KAO

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    An interesting point. Right now I'm happy with 5.1 until the 'itch' kicks in again!

    On a related note though, is it just me or do other people get distracted by too much sound? Don't get me wrong, I love a good surround sound movie. But sometimes I think that having crickets chirping behind my head or whatever adds absolutely nothing to the film per se, and can even be really distracting. Sometimes it's as if the sound engineer/director said 'Damn, we've got all these channels, we'd better use them!' without any real thought of the impact. Sometimes I just want to WATCH a movie, not be IN it!
     
  12. BadAss

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    Sam I gave U a five star rating how about you repay the favour, especialy as I started this post.

    Cheers.
     
  13. Stuart M. Robinson

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    BadAss wrote:

    “Why when it takes only two speakers to send a sound from left to right or front to rear do we need anything in between? Take Red Planet for example when the robot is hunting down the surviving crew by sending out a propelled scout, you can hear its every movments as it flies around the room. Do we need any more speakers to do this? I think not.”

    You’d actually be in the minority as there have been many psychoacoustic studies over the years into how many channels are required for seamless surround envelopment. To the best of my knowledge, all have concluded that more than two surround channels are required.

    The definitive work was published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society in April of 1977 by Theile and Plenge - “Lateralization of Phantom Sound Sources”.

    They conclusively demonstrated that because of the differences in the way we hear sounds originating from the side vs. the front, if we attempt to create phantom images at the sides using front and rear speakers, those phantom images are highly unstable. In the conclusion of their piece they write “…in the search for a loudspeaker arrangement that allows for all round ‘effect’, the directions right and left on the lateral (90 degrees) must be represented through real sources.”

    Basically, what this means is that the ideal system should comprise loudspeakers directly to the sides of the listener, and a further pair to the rear. This is in part, the basis for the use of dipoles in a THX system and the four surround loudspeakers in a Meridian or Lexicon Logic 7 installation. It’s also why true THX Surround EX requires a pair of surround back loudspeakers and why theatres use surround arrays, rather than single point sources.

    Of course, more speakers doesn’t guarantee improved results, especially if the additional loudspeakers are poorly placed.


    Stuart M. Robinson
    SMR Group – http://www.smr-group.co.uk/
     
  14. RMCF

    RMCF
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    BadAss

    I tend to agree with you. I think that DD and DTS are perfectly good for HC, but of course companies will always pander to people's want for better and better technology, even if it isn't needed. There are too many people out there (and in this forum?) who are technofreaks - the sort who would buy a 50 speaker system if it was on sale. And the great marketing men will make us believe that we all need it.

    By the way, whats wrong with your ass?
     
  15. BadAss

    BadAss
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    The name BadAss stems from a game called Counter-Strike which I play over the net. Films like the Rock or Face/Off can only take you so far no matter how good your Home Cinema is. You sit, you watch, you wait for the next blockbuster to be released.

    How would you like to be a Terrorist for the day and blow some **** up?! Counter-Strike lets you do it. Or be in a team of Counter Terrorists on an oilrig and help a V.I.P evade the bad guys and escape to the Chopper waiting on the helipad?

    Okay I'm off, that trigger fingers twitching again!
     
  16. Guest

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    This months HCC has a very interesting Fade To Black peice where Melanie Garrett talks about some VERy similar things as though mentioned above with regards to what makes a movie..the sound or the picture?

    She also suggests an interesting test to perform. Allthough I have not tried it myself I would be interested to hear if anyone else has and what their findings were.
     
  17. Guest

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    I'll have a look at that piece when I get home.

    Ta!
     
  18. Guest

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    I have been tempted to try it myself but I just can't think of a movie that I havn't seen and know NOTHING about :confused:
     
  19. RMCF

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    Jason,

    Any chance of telling us about the experiment - I have not got the latest copy, and I would like to try it out.

    BadAss,

    You ask if I fancied being a terrorist for a day - look at where I'm from !!
     
  20. Guest

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    Here are the basics of what she suggests.

    "Get hold of two films you have never seen before, and ideally that you dont know much about.Then gather together a panel of judges. Watch film for about 5 to 10 mins with the sound off and make a few notes about what is happening.
    Ask yourself what the storyline is all about. Who are the main characters? Where are they from? What is their emotional state? What is their relationship to the other characters?

    Once youve got a bit of a feel for what is happeneing rewind it and, without confering with the other judges, watch it again with the sound as loud as usual. How much of the story and characterisation were you able to pick up without the sound? Would you say it was more or less than 50%?

    Now repeat the exercise with film B but this time start with the picture off and the sound on."

    There is a LOT more to the peice than what I have put above and I do urge you to read it if possible...this Months HCC is the best in ages for incitefull and interesting articles like this one
     
  21. RMCF

    RMCF
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    Jason

    Thanks for taking the time to repost. Sounds like an interesting concept.
     
  22. MarkB

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    I suppose that EX and ES is something that has to be heard for the difference between it and a 5.1 source to be properly appreciated. I don't know anyone that has a 7 channel system that has posted to say (on this or any other forum) that they prefer the 5.1 systems, I don't. At least the EX and ES systems are fully compatible with those that do prefer the 5.1 systems.
    I don't personally think there is much need for an overhead channel; the surround backs in an EX system are normally positioned quite high though.

    Mark
    PS I believe that dts has the ability to carry 8 discreet channels, so perhaps we may see another channel yet!

    [ 30-04-2001: Message edited by: MarkB ]
     
  23. bighairy

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    I haven't yet had a chance to see if a sixth speaker at the back is really useful but there is one dimension that nobody has looked at: up! (and down...)

    While at Uni (Leeds) I took part as a guinea pig in a number of psycho-acoustic tests. One was to determine how good human perception of out of plane sound is. Subjects (me!) sat in a chair with their head at a fixed height in front of a vertically arranged bank of five speakers. Two below the head, one at head height and two above. The speakers were also mounted on a curved arm to keep their distance to the subject's head pretty much the same. There was also a control experiment which turned the arm around and gave a lateral spread.

    We had to identify the source of bursts of pink or white noise (I forget which) by saying which speaker they came from. Most subjects scored fairly well on the lateral control (I got 100% I was told later :) but then failed to detect much in the way of detail about vertical source. I (unfortunately for the researchers) bucked the trend by unconsciously twisting my head to one side and then scoring about 80%. Pure chance would suggest a score between 10% and 30%.

    Owls manage to have two axis sound localisation because their ears are not mounted on a level. Human brains do not (generally) perform these out of plane calculations but if you turn your head sideways slightly (which you might even do unconsciously) then you can easily tell if sound is above or below.

    As far as I know, nobody has yet proposed centre ceiling speakers for that true helicopter in sky sound. I know it would muck up my living room!
     
  24. AVMAN

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    ALL YOU LOT THINK THAT ALL THESE SPEAKERS FOR 6.1 IS A HEAD ACHE THEN WAIT UNTILL 10.2 COMES OUT WHICH I HAVE HEARD IS BEING PUSHED BY LEXICON.
    2 FRONTS
    1 CENTRE
    2 REAR CENTRE
    2 REARS
    2 SIDE DIPOLES
    AND A SPEAKER IN THE CELING
    2 SUBS
    AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH I CANT COPE WITH ALL THESE SPEAKERS THE MAGNETICK WAVES ARE SPINNING ME.
     

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