Moving from Surround to Stereo - Opinions

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
£12,000. £20.000 and £18.000.

For the processors alone.

Add in comparable fortunes for suitably stratospheric power amps and speakers and the least expensive of the bunch comes out at at least 28 to 30 thousand pounds.

And then on up to fifty grand or so.

Therefore not realistic for, at a rough guess, around 92.7654% of the population.
The question wasn't for a recommendation with a budget, it was about obtaining what could be achieved using surround sound equipment. For "top class" stereo, I would expect the same stratospheric manufacturers to be listed. Or put another way, if I were to list say a Yamaha or Marantz processor the response would be a post that the performance was nothing like that you'd get from a McIntosh, Lyngdorf or Bryston stereo setup. As can be seen from my sig, I too cannot aspire to this level.

That said, anybody prepared to spend, say, £1K on a stereo preamplifier must expect to pay £4K for an 8 channel equivalent. Seen in that light, USD 8K for the 15 channel McIntosh MX123 (i.e. ca. USD 500 per channel) doesn't seem all that ridiculous (not that I understand why that works out to GBP 10K, but that's a different question; over here it goes for CHF 10,400 - also too high, but not as bad as UK).
 

Dave Weystoner

Active Member
I ditched my Arcam/B & W 5.1 system last year as part of a lounge refurb, and now use a Sonos Beam for TV and M10/Iota Alpha for stereo. The main reasons for the change were to free up room for other furniture, and that SWMBO never liked the loud sound effects from 5.1, so it was rarely used to its full potential. I'm very happy with the result and glad I'm out of the 5.1/7.1/11.1 channel rat-race. Having said that I do sometimes miss the ambience and grandeur of good surround sound.
 

imazed

Active Member
If you still want to try surround and stereo I’d strongly suggest an a Anthem AVR.

ARC is a superb room correction solution. Much better than Audyssey for instance.

But even without ARC, the stereo performance is top class (better with it though).

The best bit about the Anthems is their excellence with simple stereo, either 2.0 or 2.1(2).

If you are interested more in excellent 5.1 than more channels then I’d buy this,


It should go for around the £500 mark. (New: £1150).

You won’t be disappointed in either its surround or, especially it’s stereo performance.

If you find, unlikely in my opinion, that it’s not for you, you will get your money back almost to the penny putting it back on eBay.

It’s certainly worth a try, especially if you’d like to keep both surround and have top class stereo.
I replied toPaul "that I would not try surround again" but I am having second thoughts, at least about 2.1. Last night I was watching an episode of Breaking Bad and having great difficulty with sound levels. Loud enough to hear dialogue produced deafening levels of car engines etc. The remote volume control will get worn out if I watch much more!
Has anyone set up a 2.1 system which delivered a better balance?

Paul, regretting that I did not follow up your Anthem MRX 510 suggestion, so keeping a lookout for one. As you say if it doesn't suite it would be a low cost experiment after I sell it again.
 
Last edited:

imazed

Active Member
I ditched my Arcam/B & W 5.1 system last year as part of a lounge refurb, and now use a Sonos Beam for TV and M10/Iota Alpha for stereo. The main reasons for the change were to free up room for other furniture, and that SWMBO never liked the loud sound effects from 5.1, so it was rarely used to its full potential. I'm very happy with the result and glad I'm out of the 5.1/7.1/11.1 channel rat-race. Having said that I do sometimes miss the ambience and grandeur of good surround sound.
It is great when someone like you points out the obvious. There is no real need to integrate TV and Stereo if you can get acceptable sound without cluttering up your living space with speakers. I design and build speakers as a hobby so my new project is a quality sound bar - Thanks
 

New Forester

Active Member
Another former 5.1 user. Very happy with less boxes and wires. Love my stereo sound for music and for concert DVDs and films through Sugden amps and Spendor speakers.
 

imazed

Active Member
An Update.
After a lot more experimentation and research. I decided to take the advice from Paul7777x and buy an Anthem MRX510, which I did this morning. I have scrapped the soundbar idea (for now).
What made the difference to my thinking is this, from the Anthem ARC manual:

DIALOG NORMALIZATION
Dolby Digital program material contains non-audio data which the receiver uses to adjust
playback level, when necessary, so volume variations between movies and programs are
eliminated. Without Dialog Normalization, movies not encoded at standardized levels for
the dialog could lose dynamic range – higher levels can result in distorted peaks, lower
levels can result in quiet sounds disappearing into the noise floor.


A perfect description of my issues. I can easily get good stereo with a decent amp, but this is poor on film.
Altrenatively, using an AVR I get understandable dialogue but hopeless musical performance. So any DAC which is not able to handle the Dolby encoding properly is not going to be any good. and there is nothing a stereo amplifier can do about it.

Maybe those Canadian Phds at Anthem do really know what they are talking about.

My MRX510 should be with me for the weekend, so looking forward to that!
Thanks Paul

My original question asked for opinions, because I needed to know if it was just me that could not find an affordable solution for Good Music and Good Dialogue. If the Anthem doesn't work out then I will simply have to live with two systems.


 

Paul7777x

Member
An Update.
After a lot more experimentation and research. I decided to take the advice from Paul7777x and buy an Anthem MRX510, which I did this morning. I have scrapped the soundbar idea (for now).
What made the difference to my thinking is this, from the Anthem ARC manual:

DIALOG NORMALIZATION
Dolby Digital program material contains non-audio data which the receiver uses to adjust
playback level, when necessary, so volume variations between movies and programs are
eliminated. Without Dialog Normalization, movies not encoded at standardized levels for
the dialog could lose dynamic range – higher levels can result in distorted peaks, lower
levels can result in quiet sounds disappearing into the noise floor.


A perfect description of my issues. I can easily get good stereo with a decent amp, but this is poor on film.
Altrenatively, using an AVR I get understandable dialogue but hopeless musical performance. So any DAC which is not able to handle the Dolby encoding properly is not going to be any good. and there is nothing a stereo amplifier can do about it.

Maybe those Canadian Phds at Anthem do really know what they are talking about.

My MRX510 should be with me for the weekend, so looking forward to that!
Thanks Paul

My original question asked for opinions, because I needed to know if it was just me that could not find an affordable solution for Good Music and Good Dialogue. If the Anthem doesn't work out then I will simply have to live with two systems.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think about the fine beast sir..
 

imazed

Active Member
The fine beast is indeed fine at first hearing.
Only running stereo at the moment as I had disposed of my surround speakers. Also cannot run ARC because the downloaded, installed version for 64bit Windows appears to be missing a dll file.
However, listening to Shostakovich 8th Symphony 3rd movement as I write. This piece has really strident brass, heavy drums, and almost silent woodwind. All coming across well from my transmission line speakers.
Thanks for the tip
 

Paul7777x

Member
They are mighty fine at making music.

And better again with ARC. Once you get the W10 repaired a little experimenting with the ARC should be beneficial.
 

tonic

Standard Member
I find surround on movies to be excellent providing a fuller sound screen and an aground more immersive experience. For music though I much prefer stereo. I think it is because music comes from a central soundstage not all around a room. Generally it is mixed to that frame and stereo with a good sub brings out the best.
 

newbie1

Distinguished Member
For me, stereo for music and surround for movies to have the sound effects.
 

imazed

Active Member
I think it is because music comes from a central soundstage not all around a room.
You are right for most music, but the only reason I am still considering multichannel is because more music, particularly concerts, is being recorded that way.
 

Hianholland

Active Member
My priority has shifted to try to get the best stereo sound whilst maintaining a reasonable set up for Movies/gaming. These days 2 channel music makes up the largest proportion of listening & is the priority.
I found the constant quest for more channels, latest codecs etc tedious for multichannel. For me, the average room/listener doesn't need more than 5.1 for a decent surround experience. Unless you're building a large dedicated HT room, it's just a waste of resources.
 

tonic

Standard Member
5.1 used to be good but with atmos the sound can go over rather than around... from simple rain on the roof to spaceships flying over from behind. Atmos brings a new dimension so 5.4.1 is my next move... though if I win a small lottery I will go +2 for the sides
 

imazed

Active Member
After living with the Anthem for a while, I am now totally convinced that I do not want a multichannel system. This is not the fault of the Anthem which performed well and, as claimed, handles music better than most AVRs but all to do with production techniques and artificial sounds from film and blu-ray audio. In a couple of the latter the objective seemed to be "place the listener in the band" which is not how anyone listens in a live situation.
All extra speakers and the Anthem are now going to help fund the best Stereo system I can configure.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Hisense A7G, Zidoo Z1000 & Kudos Cardea C10 Reviews + Movie News and Reviews
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom