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Simplistic stereo set up, multichannel electronic set up


Well-known Member
Not sure if this is the right forum or the right title.

Please bear with me.

When setting up to listen to music in stereo the advice seems to follow the lines of source, amp, speakers. Position the speakers in the best position that the manufacturer and your ears decide upon. All being well audio nirvana.

When setting up for multichannel follow the above initial set up as above, using the 6 speakers instead of 2. However then the advice seems to be to go through a process of measuring and in crude terms use electronic bass, mid and treble controls to adjust the sound. Then all being well Audio nirvana.

Then people seem when listening in 2 channel seem to switch all the electronics off and go source direct or whatever you AV receiver calls.

Also the advice seems to be to add a stereo amp in for 2 channel instead of the AV receiver. I have tried this with a Marantz amp I have and in my instance got no improvement.

I tend to listen to 2 channel with the Sub added into the mix with my main 2 speakers.

I do not like the result the MCACC from my Pioneer gives me as it sounds too "aggressive" with it on so have put in the distances and levels manually.

So I guess my question is why the minimalist route with stereo and the complex route with multichannel, would the simplistic stereo set up benefit multichannel or would the complex multichannel set up benefit the stereo set up



Distinguished Member
Multi-channel comes in as a single stream of data, that must them be decoded into multi-channels of analog sound. That is complex, because it really is complex. Then we compound that by having to reasonably calibrate and balance multiple channels.

Analog Audio on the other hand comes in as two separate analog voltage streams and merely needs to be amplified. Stereo in minimalist because there really is minimal, or no, processing that needs to be done beyond amplification.

In my highly biased opinion, if your emphasis is on music, then get a much better Stereo system for your money, and use it to listen to music and watch movies.

If movies are the priority, then perhaps Surround Sound really is the best choice.

But be aware, that for a fix amount of money, you will get a much better Stereo than you will a surround sound. With £500 for the amp, that is £250 per amp channel for stereo. The same £500, when you consider all the additional electronics, comes out to £62 per amp channel for a typical AV Receiver. Which do you suppose sounds better, a £250 amp or a £62 amp?

The same with speakers, you weigh a fixed budget for two speakers against that same budget for 6 speakers, one of which is a very expensive Subwoofer. In my view two good speakers win out over 6 so-so speakers.

Though I confess from your equipment list, you do have a pretty nice system.

But then for me music is the top priority, it would take a massive pile of money in my pocket before I would even remotely consider a Surround Sound system, and I do watch a lot of moves, they are just lower priority than music.

Also, with a good AVR, the SETUP program is pretty reliable, assuming the person setting it up is equally reliable. How and where you place the microphone can make a big difference. If it is blocked by, say, the arm of a chair, or it is place on or near reflective surfaces, that is going to throw it off. The mic centered on a sofa, will give better results than the mic placed in the center of an armchair. A soft fabric chair is going to give better results than a reflective Leather or vinyl chair. These little details matter when considering the results you get from SETUP.

To coin a phrase - the operation can never be better than the operator.

For what it is worth.

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Distinguished Member
Then people seem when listening in 2 channel seem to switch all the electronics off and go source direct or whatever you AV receiver calls.
So I guess my question is why the minimalist route with stereo and the complex route with multichannel, would the simplistic stereo set up benefit multichannel or would the complex multichannel set up benefit the stereo set up?
The "complex" route is needed because with different (if "matching") speakers all around you, at different distances and with different audio characteristics, electronic compensation is necessary if it isn't to sound wrong. This is carried out digitally, so all analogue signals must be converted to digital, processed, and converted back to analogue.

The stereo route doesn't have any of these issues. The only thing that ever happens with two (symmetrically) identical speakers is that you might be seated off-centre, which can be handled by a simple balance control. Hence stereo doesn't need any digital processing.

Of course, the above omits any room equalization, which in your case you found to be detrimental. I do though suspect that experience to be a consequence of setup issues, as correctly parameterized room equalization is incapable of negatively affecting the sound. If the room is already perfect, the setup process will set up the parameters as a "do nothing" digital process. Steve said the same thing in different words. Of course, the greater the room's effects, the more you gain by using room equalization, even for stereo, to compensate. Needless to say, improving the room's sonic characeristics would yield the most.

I use the full scale multichannel set up in all circumstances: it clearly and unmistakably benefits stereo replay. However, especially on lower budget receivers, the cost of going through all the extra analogue - digital - analogue conversion can have a detrimental effect on the sound. Similarly, the high frequency video signal processing, which some stereo direct modes shut down, can negatively affect the audio signal.

As Steve points out, many people purchase a separate analogue stereo system to gain better stereo replay. This is a financial consideration: getting the same performance from a 7.1 channel system is logically going to cost 4 times as much, but most people plan on spending similar money on both. You can appreciate that logically spending four times as much on analogue stereo replay is going to be yielding better quality equipment.

Of course, when multichannel SACD replay is a requirement, a separate stereo setup is of no benefit, and you need to spend decent money to achieve decent multichannel replay.
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Well-known Member
Thanks as ever for your thoughts.

I guess the multichannel audio is more complex and hence the set up is more complex with multiple sources of sound.

Most of our Tv watching is with the stereo in the lounge.

Listening to music is done as mentioned before.

Turning to surround the HD DTS master audio mixes on some films can be sublime, not just the bangs and crashes but the more atmospheric moments, the sound coming from behind etc can be quite amazing. This simply cannot be done with stereo.

Interesting comments on the set up for the Receiver as we have a leather sofa. I have always followed the instructions and placed the mic as suggested but I guess there must be reflections from the sofa, not there when I am sitting there.

I may well give it another go with a rug over the sofa




Well-known Member
Thank you for your reply, you must have been typing when I replied to Steve.

I think I will try a measurement or 2 today and see how it sounds, interesting on your thoughts about multichannel music, I think my rears are not as good as The fronts so maybe detrimental to the sound.

Always when I have carried out the EQ it sounds too bright to me.

Thanks again


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