Stereo vs Downmixed Surround. Can you please help me understand?

gdourado

Standard Member
Hello, how are you?
I have a few doubts about this and I would really like to understand.
Let’s take two examples.
One is an integrated stereo amp with digital optical input and a built in Dac.
The other is an AVR running only 2 speakers.

Both connected to a TV. The integrated with the optical out of the tv and the AVR with the hdmi arc.

if I play a movie on the TV that has a 5.1 or 7.1 soundtrack, what will each setup be playing?
From what I understand, the AVR receives the full 5.1 soundtrack information and it is the AVR that does the down mixing of that 5.1 signal to 2 channel stereo and plays it.

what about the integrated. It only receives a stereo signal, so it is the TV that is doing the downsizing, correct?
does this mean different audio results?
I read on some sources, that having a stereo amp playing a 5.1 signal will result in imbalanced audio, with dialog either too loud or not loud enough and such issues.
Also the LFE information is lost.

is this true?
Does playing a 5.1 movie on a stereo amp result in different audio than playing the same source on an AVR running in 2 channel stereo mode?

thank you for your help.
Best wishes!
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
And of course you could have a Source device do the down mixing (rather than the TV) and you have to also factor in what the 'Broadcasters' are dong with the signal before it gets to your TV.

I have 'stereo' systems with the ability to 'down mix' inc. the LFE channel and others without - both produce very enjoyable and consistent quality.

I also have surround sound options - though I mostly use my stereo system(s).

Plenty of folk have problems with dialogue levels on a 'surround' sound system - there is no simple answer to your question as there are so many variables at play.

Joe
 

gdourado

Standard Member
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
I already learned a few interesting things.
Looking at the hardware side, and on a similar price point, taking for example a stereo integrated amp like the Denon PMA-800NE and an AVR like the Denon X1600H, for driving two speakers, is the PMA that much better?
The PMA is rated at 50W at 8 Ohms and the AVR is rated at 80W.
So the AVR has all the AV functions and inputs and more power.
What makes the integrated better? Got really confused looking at both specs.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Specifications, esp. power figures, tell you little or nothing about how a system will sound.

Given the same spend on a two channel amp vs. a multi channel amp you will generally find the two channel amp sounds better when you are using both in a 2.0 or 2.1 system.

A thousand small design differences delivers the performance differences between the stereo and multi channel processing and amplification.

Joe
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
I already learned a few interesting things.
Looking at the hardware side, and on a similar price point, taking for example a stereo integrated amp like the Denon PMA-800NE and an AVR like the Denon X1600H, for driving two speakers, is the PMA that much better?
The PMA is rated at 50W at 8 Ohms and the AVR is rated at 80W.
So the AVR has all the AV functions and inputs and more power.
What makes the integrated better? Got really confused looking at both specs.


There is good options for music listening with av-receivers. Sony, Yamaha and Marantz are often liked. See below link where member found out the Sony 1080 sounded as good/better? as the Denon PMA-800NE.

AV-receiver has bigger power supply cause it has to power more channels. For a normal lounge use i wouldn´t worry about those wattage ratings what ever you buy. People stress too much about them in first place.

Not sure what your plans are for future. Stick with pair of speakers or add more? It shouldn´t come as suprise that with certain type movies/series 2.1 sounds quite anemic compared to 5.1 / 7.1 / 5.1.2 assuming you can keep same quality and got the room for it. If you have front speakers close each other / doesn´t have space for center channel you can opt for 4.1 /4.1.2 system which still spanks 2.1 stereo system. :) Decisions.

PS. I would consider slightly more expensive receiver with preouts, this would give you option to add that integrated stereo amp (with HT by-pass feature) in future if you ever wished so. Yamaha RX-V6A or the slimline Marantz NR1510/NR1710 has one for main channels. I would wait until June-July to see if the prices would finally start to drop, if you decide on av-receiver.
 

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