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Anyone ditched 5.1 in favour of stereo?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by dynamic turtle, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Hi Forumers,

    Just wanted to know if any of you had seriously considered ditching 5.1 for movies and music and focusing on high quality 2 channel (or 2.1) instead?

    My reasoning is this:

    I can ditch the rear surrounds & centre and maybe even the sub, (if I can get enough bass from the floorstanders), saving loads of space and money on cabling, speakers & amplification.

    A) Is a centre channel really that neccesary? I've NEVER liked the centre dialog channel - what's the point when the stereo fronts can produce exactly the same effect? You could argue that it allows the fronts to be wider apart in order to disperse more effectively I guess....

    B) Anyone find the exponential increase in the number of rear channels needed to enjoy "surround" sound a bit worrying? We've gone from one channel with pro-logic, to FOUR with the latest Pro-Logic IIx & DTS extended formats!! Where is it going to end?

    Looking at the flagship offering from Yamaha (called the Z1 or something), we'll have 9.2 in 5 years' time. I mean, come on folks, how many channels do we really need? I can see "thumper" pyscho-acoustic channels and flat ceiling/floor speakers by 2010. My living room is already covered head-to-toe in speakers (my interior designer flatmates are *furious* with me :devil: ). Why, and more importantly, WHERE am I going to put all these damn speakers???

    c) The expense of the speakers, cabling them, and powering them is high enough in 5/6.1 . I can't imagine how much its going to cost to get GOOD QUALITY 8/9.2???

    Let's see sir, a 9.2 integrated amp, 9 channel power amp, 300ft of silver plated bi-wire, 9 speakers and two subs, (stands not included), a thumper and pair of supertweeters to attract bats to your loft. A bargain at £12k!!!!

    OK, I'm exaggerating, but you see my point.

    How about going pure stereo? I can enjoy high-fidelity music the way it should be (including 2 channel hi-res - IMHO multi-channel is gimmicky and a difficult listen), and listen to all my other sources in Hi-fi too (naturally, depending on the quality of that source).

    OK, I might want to keep a sub for low-end oomph for movies, but that's all. Can you imagine how good your 2 channel system would be if you spent all that multi-channel money on it? I reckon it would sound awesome!!

    There are some pretty good "wrap-around" formats for those with stereo-only home cinema capabilities. They are fairly convincing too, IMO. Just looks at Kef's new KIT - 2.1 channel home cinema solution using dual concentric & nxt technology to wrap the action around you. Could be the start of a new trend......

    DT
     
  2. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    This is a tricky one (and one that I'm not fully able to answer as I retain a dedicated stereo which I love) but I think some things are clear.

    Amp channels are proliferating. However the number of encoded channels has stayed put at 6. I'm retaining 5 channels for as long as I'm in this house.
    If amp manufacturers didn't tell you that 9 channels was the way forward, you'd never upgrade.

    If I had to choose between my two systems, I'd be living without a telly and DVD player tomorrow but in the meantime I'll keep an eye on technology and for the most part ignore it.
     
  3. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Dynamic

    Speaking as an early adopter of a DVD-V player (I bought my 717 new) and as an audiophile more interested in stereo I can honestly that I have never really been tempted to get into 5.1, Ive heard plenty of AV 5.1 rigs and some of them do fine, but they are a compromise in stereo terms at all costs IMHO, Im not doubting peoples 5.1 systems sounds great to them, I just think personally if music is your bag, then concentrating on 2 speaker playback is the best scenario. Ie CD & TT, SACD & DVD-A muddy the waters IMHO as their surround sound (mix engineering) is not even liked in a lot of cases with 5.1 using audiophiles. I also personally find listening to my DVD-V player doing movies in 5.1 > 2 channel downmix as actually quite stunning via my DAC, this again has stifled any attempt to see what a 5.1 system would do for me, FWIW I also enjoy loads of DVD-V material in both 16/48 Linear PCM & 5.1 mixes downmixed to stereo on my hifi rig. Live concerts DVD-Vs are a case in point I buy them for stereo playback and have not been dissapointed.

    There is a clear distinction IMHO of someone concentrating on stereo replay and 5.1 replay its evident in a lot of posts here with people not liking the playback of their system. Music is more of a concern for me, Ie I listen to music a hell of a lot more than I watch DVD-Vs so that to me is where Ive headed, I feel sorry for some dudes having concentrated on a decent 5.1 system to find that music is there bag and a rethink is needed down the line.

    9.2 are you being serious ? and music wise I thought 7.1 was daft as a brush.
     
  4. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    Agree absolutely. I listen to all my music in stereo. BUT I couldn't imagine watching a really good "bombs and bullets" action movie again, like Black Hawk Down, in stereo after hearing it in all it's 5.1 glory. :nono:
     
  5. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    And therein lies the quandry, sacrificing that perfect stereo balance & quality for those special DTS moments....

    Oh, what to do :suicide:

    DT
     
  6. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    No problem dude, your system is geared to having 5.1 surround effects which you enjoy from bombs & bullets ie AV 5.1, this though effects your ability to have a superior music / stereo replay system IMHO for the same budget ie you are choosing AV over music, many people are happy to make that sacrifice FWIW and hear decent sounds, but without casting aspertions on you dude though : your are not then concentrating on music. That’s where ditching the 5.1 scenario comes into play IMHO. I cant think of any price range where it can be argued that a 5.1 system offers quality near too / close to the same budget on a stereo rig.

    For those of you brave enough to brave the 5.1 withdrawal symptons and go back to stereo this may be a good read :

    http://www.tnt-audio.com/topics/realstereo_e.html

    Power to stereo brothers !! IMHO of course :rotfl: .
     
  7. karkus30

    karkus30
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    Heretics :D

    I have just tried out the multi channel SACD format, using Dark Side of the Moon. It was interesting for about 3 tracks, then became wearing. So, it looks like the system will be used for film only. Its not a patch on my hifi set up for music.

    When Yamaha engineered the first DSP modes, I did the Church Hall/stadium/arena bit. Then switched them all off, though I have friends who swear by the Arena sound :confused: I swear at it.

    Oh yeah and Ive added my name to TNTs list.
     
  8. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    Not me! I use an Arcam AVR200 and seperate CD player for my tunes. :clap: For surround the Arcam isn't top of the heap in its class anymore (ever?), but is more than capable of doing a good dual-role for me. :)
     
  9. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    “Arcam AVR200” :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

    Yes dude you are concentrating on music/stereo first ahhhhum I can see that :clap: , tell yourself whatever you want dude, but you are living one huge lie – be honest with yourself now – renouce the satan of 5.1 and be cleansed !!. For the same money rrp of the AVR200 you could have bought something which is in another performance league stereo wise and well you know it, even one of Arcam hifi amps I would wager.
     
  10. SOUNDSTYLE

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    I watch all films in 5.1, but from the start, never liked music in 5.1 so have stuck to a decicated stereo hifi system for that.
     
  11. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    One thing I think I would consider in future Dynamic is to have a universal player (when the formats sort themselves out) that allows me to tap into stereo SACD (on every SACD disc IIRC) and the hi-res stereo portion of DVD-A, simply using the Front L&R output into a spare input on the amp. Then send a digital signal from the universal to my DAC for CD & DVD-V use, simple stereo usage from both formats into a stereo amplifier.

    Again to me using a sub off your stereo amps speaker terminals (hi-level) connections wil still give low end rumble on DVD-V movies, and depending on sub used its would also contribute to stereo playback.

    So an existing 5.1 user only needs to do the following to ehance stereo playback quite a bit IMHO :

    Sell centre & rear speakers
    Sell AV amp

    Buy a dedicated stereo amp
    Re-use sub if hi-level connection is possible

    A very suitable 2ch system to me with an eye on AV effects (ie rumble from sub) and primarlity geared for stereo enjoyment (CD, TT, SACD & DVDA ready) now thats a system that music/stereo orientated with DVD-V visual usage as a bonus.
     
  12. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    I suppose the other way of looking at this, is does an insistence on making multichannel set ups have any stereo or musical ability impinge on their ability to do film sountracks correctly?
     
  13. Ovation

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    I should think not, if you value speakers as accurate transducers. Accurate for music should also be accurate for movies. I have experienced the reverse, however, as my initial 5.1 speakers seemed quite adequate for movies. Whenever I listened to music, however, and wasn't distracted by the visuals, the shortcomings of the speaker set became glaringly obvious. In my new setup (the old one still serves in the living room) I chose speakers based on their musical quality first (auditioned them only with music) with the belief that if they performed well musically, they would be more than sufficient at movie soundtracks as well. Unlike others in this thread, I am intrigued and (so far) pleased with many (though not all) m/c mixes that I've heard, so I have no intention of returning to stereo only at this time. If budget and space allow for it in the future, I plan to set up a two channel listening room where I can cycle through various pairs of speakers (maybe a year or two at a time) to get a different listening experience--this is, however, very much a "like to have" future project that may never happen (though I've got my fingers crossed).
     
  14. Londondecca

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    Have a look at http://www.zerogain.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4952&page=3&pp=15

    To my mind, at the moment, AV and stereo are not that compatible, they simply do different things.

    I would argue that a properly set up subwoofer can help my stereo systems as well as AV.

    Stereo has had decades to reach a very high level of quality, AV has only a few years.
     
  15. MartinImber

    MartinImber
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    I could not abandon 5.1 it is so immersive, myu AV system is not bad at stereo but not brilliant.

    The thing which saves it is the decent speakers
     
  16. Dean

    Dean
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    I love stereo as much as 5.1 which is why i kept my stereo amp and added a yamaha processor, but no 2ch set up can match a good and properly calibrated 5.1 system, sure it sounds good but the soundtrack never really convinces you like in a 5.1 system. Jst try listening to the Omaha beach landing from saving private ryan in stereo and then listen to it in 5.1 and the point becomes clear lol. However if you have no interest in movie 5.1 playback at all and only want to listen to music then fair enough, stick with stereo although 5.1 for music is improving all the time.
     
  17. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Seems to be a fair bit of validation from some 5.1 system users that their systems sound fine in stereo, but I think you guys are missing the point of the thread ie if stereo is your main concern then you would not have a 5.1 system, I hear & agree that a 2 channel stereo system will not compete with a 5.1 system in AV mode ie film watching or for enjoying a soundtrack via 5.1 from a film, but we are talking of music lovers here, ie you come home at night you want to hear the best quality reproduction from your extensive CD & Vinyl collection, 5.1 rigs do not offer that pure & simple (and a huge number of people find MC music from DVD-A & SACD gimmicky and ill mixed). I would also say that listening to say the soundtrack (for arguments sake Saving Private Ryan) on normal CD will bring you closer to the music than wathcing the film and listening to the DD 5.1 mix. (He says listening to "Meet Joe Black OST" by Thomas Newman on HDCD as I wrire)

    Surely no argument dudes ? Come on dudes its easy to admit isnt it ?

    Same money - 2 sets of priorities means a compromise for one of your passions, I easily admit I have compromsied my AV sound system to concentrate on stereo can the 5.1 brigade also do so ?
     
  18. nikyzf

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    I brought up this topic in another thread, questioning the point of centre speakers in particular. We get a good stereo image from just TWO good speakers, so why bung an inferior speaker on/under your TV/screen for AV when you have 2 front speakers already? I was told that the centre channel in 5/6.1 contains 80% of the sound info, so you must have a centre, but that doesn't work for me:-
    1. If we MUST have a centre speaker because of the 80%, then surely this should be the MAIN speaker, not an afterthought.
    2. How come 2-channel stereo work so well?

    I have a fairly good stereo setup: Linn LP12 Lingo/Ekos/Arkiv, Kairn, Klout, & Isobariks, with Arcam DV79 doubling up for CD as well as DVD. Music sounds good, as you would expect, but movies sound good too (no sub required with Isobariks!). No surround affects, but so what? I see lots of movies in the cinema and honestly rarely notice/care about the surround affects. What matters is clarity, dynamics, and frequency response, same as for music.

    To make this really simple, why have 5/6 mediocre channels when you can have 2 great ones for the same money?
     
  19. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    My point exactly!

    I think the centre channel was created in order to allow the front left & right channels to be placed wider apart in order to help with the dispersion of front surround effects (like the rear surrounds in reverse).

    As you know, when you're speakers are placed too far apart, a gap in the soundstage occurs - hence the need for a centre to plug the gap.

    DT
     
  20. suzywong

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    Run separate stereo and 5.1 systems in the lounge......like we do!:D

    Only downside is that the lounge looks like a Hi fi dealer's shop!:laugh:
     
  21. nikyzf

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    I take your point, in which case surely the centre speaker needs to be at least as good as the L/R fronts? I suspect this is not usually the case, especially when it comes to placement/mounting. How many have centre speakers on spiked stands, for instance?
     
  22. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Yep, like I said, my interior-designer flatmates HATE the way it looks now (and to be honest, if I don't find it particularly easy on the eye - it all clashes horribly).

    I sort of have separate systems, though in realilty my Hi-Fi kit also acts as a secondary 5.1 system for dvds & games.

    "I take your point, in which case surely the centre speaker needs to be at least as good as the L/R fronts? I suspect this is not usually the case, especially when it comes to placement/mounting. How many have centre speakers on spiked stands, for instance?"

    True. I think you can get some pretty good centres these days though! Don't forget, the floorstander is about 40 years old (correct me if I'm wrong), whereas the (non-cinema) centre channel concept is about 10-15 years-old. I wouldn't expect them to be quite as advanced in development terms just yet.

    Still don't like the way they sound though ;)

    DT
     
  23. Stereo Steve

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    Multi channel music has messed it up for me. If I was just after stereo I would get a great integrated amp and a good CD/SACD player and have a cheapo 5.1 receiver for movies working through the stero amp.

    However, I find some multi channel SACD's sound just so superb on my system. DVD-A I do not like apart from the hi res stereo soundtrack. The mixing seems wrong on 99% of them, like they are playing with a new toy. It sounds gimmicky.

    I was actually ready to get a good integrated and head for stereo but I tried my Arcam A7SE and a Roksan (a mates) stereo amp against my AX5/757 combo and can honestly say I prefered my AV amp for stereo CD when using iLink.

    Let's not forget that stereo is not how it was meant to be. What about mono and the original idea of 3 speakers across the front?
     
  24. Londondecca

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    It would be unfair to blame AV as a concept if some speaker manufactures do not produce decent speakers. Equally, a lot of the equipment is difficult to compare directly with the stereo systems. Spending a £1000 on a stereo amp should buy a reasonable good sounding amp, whereas a £1000 AV amp would have 6 or 7 internal amplifiers feed off one power supply. There is no way the AV amp could ever sound as good. To find its equivalent would mean spending many thousands.

    As for centre speakers on spikes etc, this one has confused me for a long time. I have had many demos in the last few years where the dealer will put the LR speakers on spiked stands to improve the sound quality but would simply place the centre speaker on top of a TV - very strange.

    Another possible reason why stereo will tend to sound better is down to acoustics. It can be difficult enough to set up a pair of speakers to drive a room but to get 7 or more speakers to work together is very very hard.

    The rate of progress for AV is however, truly amazing
     
  25. Pavel

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    Funnily enough, I was thinking about this too as I'm currently on a stereo setup but about to add my first large display. Maybe what we need is the option of 3.0 (rather than 5/6/7.1), especially where the speakers don't need the help of a subwoofer (which is also the case for me). By 3.0 I mean;

    • No subwoofer
    • Bass is fed to two side speakers
    • Centre channel is fed to high quality, but smaller speaker that matches the stereo pair acoustically

    Anyone know if this is possible from an AV amp?

    Paul
     
  26. Dean

    Dean
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    I do, makes a big difference too :D
     
  27. tom_nieto

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    I think that was something called Dolby 3. That's seriously old skool stuff.

    As far as 5.1 goes my sound setup is a bit ridiculous for watching movies on my computer screen, although when the time comes for a projector I'll have to move the fronts wider apart and I'll probably need a centre for dialogue. Having said that, I get a very nice movie experience with my current setup.

    When I upgraded my setup recently I was having a dilemma over whether to use my existing mission m72s as rears and even go the whole hog and have 6.1 with the m7c2 too (argh, just reminded myself that I need to sell it!). I decided that there was no point in having huge speakers as the rears as I'm not going to be able to afford a multichannel music player in the near future, and in movies most of the stuff that comes out of the rears are effects. I tried both, and I've got my small pooey sony satellites on the wall now. They're just so much more discreet. I can also sell my other speakers. I did try some 5 channel stereo with the mission rears but frankly music sounds way better in stereo anyway. If I wanted to be surrounded by music I'd invest in something similar to what they have in restaurants and shops.

    I was quite tied to (and still am in a way with the computer) AV receivers because of the digital inputs, and so I was using them for stereo. I kicked myself so hard when I spent less on a cyrus 3 amp than my Denon 3802 (both second hand) and saw the difference in quality. CDs have never sounded so good.

    I am considering selling my current centre speaker, but it matches, and now it's here I might as well keep it.

    Stereo all the way!
     
  28. Stereo Steve

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    It's a good point. My centre is a fairly good one (Ruark Dialogue ref) but placement is always a problem. I have played with positioning of my L/R for a long time and have acheived a good soundstage to the point where they 'dissapear' and sometimes you could swear blind that the centre was on.

    So, I guess it begs the question of why I need it? My floorstanders are quite capable and the living room would look far better without the centre.

    Maybe I'll have play. Set up the system for no centre and see how it compares.
     
  29. davehk

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    I just added a processor/3ch amp (DPS800E) and centre/surround/sub to my existing stereo (ARCAM/REGA/NAD/MISSION) system. For stereo the processor and DVD player are irrelevant and I use the high level inputs on the sub (REL Strata) which integrates well with the Missions (they go to 35Hz anyway)

    I've also tried CD playback from my DVD player (Pioneer 656) into the NAD, but the ARCAM CD player sounds better (even though it's much older).
     
  30. nikyzf

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    That's the first time I've heard of anyone doing that. As the centre needs to be pretty much where the screen is, how have you arranged that? I can only imagine you have it on a tall stand peeping from behind (over the top of) the screen. :)
     

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