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Multichannel System for Music - Standards, Setup, Thoughts, etc.

BigVU's

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#81
I just read a post somewhere by someone named Ken Rockwell about having 2 subs for HT and stereo. Apparently something to do with the audio engineers mixing for bass in stereo since the 80's but audio equipment would reproduce it in mono. Apparently Phono players didn't like low freqs as it made the needle jump or something to that effect. Thinking the experts here could validate this https://kenrockwell.com/audio/stereo-subwoofers.htm


For what little I know of the science, I do know I like the sub as part of the stereo mode for sound. I am thinking 2 subs in stereo paired to the two fronts in stereo would be a good way to save some on the speakers - like these... https://www.ebay.com/itm/California...238822?hash=item3b366dd7e6:g:uHcAAOSwwXdc7~f4 - Really? Holy Moly of all Sanity!
 
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Sal1950

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#82
My PC with NAS is all that I could require. Best sound of my life. My library is in DSD depending on source format, and even to PCM as needed. I convert all to PCM, for Dirac Live on the fly.
Hi Fitz,, good to hear from you!

For what little I know of the science, I do know I like the sub as part of the stereo mode for sound.
Dual (or more) subs are much better utilized using positioning and DSP to get smooth in-room bass response than being used as stereo channel augmentation.
 

andrew

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#83
The multi-channel music idea is really appealing and I’ve now go the set-up from NAS / JRiver to multi-channel USB DAC to FL, FR, SL, SR plus 2 x subs working. That said, the surround speakers are quite different to the front speakers and I don’t have a centre speaker. The option of replicating the FL / FR speakers for SL, SR, Centre isn’t viable in terms of cost and space so I’m seeing two options: (a) sell existing speakers and spread budget over 5 identical speakers or (b) find affordable SL / SR speakers that are similar in nature to front speakers acknowledging that this means no centre channel.

My assumption is that the right path depends on the importance of stereo vs multi-channel music with, if both are important, one going down the path that isn’t an option to me of 5 identical hi-end speakers. I get that it’s a judgement call but it’d be good to get any insights on where to land on the 5 identical speaker option for multi-channel music. So, by way of example, does the inherent nature of the format give great results with, say, 5 x JBL 308 Mk 2 speakers? I guess that I see this as an option given that the format solves issues such as sound-stage and envelopment.
 

rwortman

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#84
Multiple subs can make it possible to level out room modes and the best position is usually not right next to the front LR. If you are mostly listening alone like I am, a single sub can be equalized at the listening position and placed almost anywhere. It is best if the surround speakers are similar in tonality to the mains and my set up is all PSB Imagine (T2 LR, Mini for surrounds and a Mini center) but with a little work you can use EQ to match any decent quality speaker to any other reasonably well. 5 identical speakers for most people would require them to all be pretty small unless you have a huge theater or don't use video at all. For stereo listening I prefer full range towers to mini-monitors and a sub. A tower speaker sticking up in front of my display isn't going to work. 5 powered monitors as you suggested will work but keep in mind you have to run interconnects and power to them all. Speaker wires are easier. I haven't heard the 308's but my 305's, as lovely as they are to listen to, will not play loud enough to be anything more than near field monitors. I vote for getting surrounds that are similar to the mains and getting a center channel too. However. a virtual center from good sounding LR's is better than a crappy sounding center channel speaker
 

cshake

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#85
I recently decided to tweak my home theater system to improve the sound quality, after reading the REQ tutorials. Dug out an old laptop to run it, figured the setup mic that came with my Onkyo TX-NR656 AVR would work, and got to measuring. Ran into issues with the HDMI drivers not recognizing anything beyond stereo, had problems with gain structure from the mic, screwed up and measured more than one channel at once, wondered why it was measuring mostly flat on the first try, then realized I'd left the AVR room EQ enabled the whole time. :facepalm:

Decided to just go with the AccuEQ correction since it's apparently not entirely horrible, then got to the sub crawl. Put the sub in my preferred couch seat, ran the 10-200Hz annotated sweep from audiocheck.net on repeat, went to the 5 or so possible sub locations in the living room, and realized the response was most even where the sub had already been for the last two years... right behind the sectional, in the middle of the long wall. ( :facepalm: #2)

Then I put on the low frequency localization tracks, and discovered my threshold is about 70Hz in this room. I then ran AccuEQ setup one more time, tweaked the crossovers, tried to remember what they had been before, and realized that the afternoon's work had left me almost exactly where I'd started. ( :facepalm: #3!) Apparently the basic guidelines I'd followed when first setting it all up had been decent.

Now, this isn't a particularly (or even slightly, by audiophile standards) expensive setup - just 5.1 out of that budget AVR with the center, front floorstanding, surround bookshelf, and sub from the Pioneer Andrew Jones line, connected with 12ga wire from CableMatters and decent banana plugs (maybe $2000 all-in). However, playing some of my favorite music through Plex up-mixed with Dolby Surround sounds very enjoyable to me (or even, gasp, with all-channel stereo). The Dream Theater Live at Budokan Blu-ray with native 5.1 was excellent the other night as well.

Of course there are things I'd like to change - like adding a second sub (vetoed by my wife at least until we renovate the bathrooms), separating the fronts to the appropriate width (impossible without putting one in the middle of the walking path), or maybe adding some height speakers just to see what that sounds like. But for a system in a living room with lots of bookshelves and upholstered furniture, used primary for watching TV and movies, I'm quite happy. Maybe I can't call myself a "true audiophile" yet if I'm 90%+ satisfied for less than the price of a few mortgage payments. ;)
 

rwortman

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#86
In my last house I had a speaker partially blocking a doorway. People always asked why it was there. I just said because that's where it sounds best. I not only up mix stereo to surround, I have one of the higher end Yamaha AVR's and I added the front presence speakers high on the wall and I sometimes use the space simulations. The front presence speakers allow the artificial reflections to be disconnected from the front L/R speakers. On some jazz recordings, putting them into the virtual NYC jazz club is very nice to listen to. Putting a choral recording into one of the cathedral spaces can be good too. Messing with the artist's intent? Who cares, it's my house, not his studio and he almost assuredly used artificial reverb spaces too.
 
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Sal1950

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#87
So, by way of example, does the inherent nature of the format give great results with, say, 5 x JBL 308 Mk 2 speakers? I guess that I see this as an option given that the format solves issues such as sound-stage and envelopment.
There's a lot of subjective opinions on the 308s here and elsewhere, never heard them myself. Ray put up some measurements that on a whole showed great results. I imagine 5 of them plus a good sub or two would compromise a fantastic multich rig that would be very hard to beat for the money.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/jbl-lsr-308-in-the-house.1066/
Of course there are things I'd like to change - like adding a second sub (vetoed by my wife at least until we renovate the bathrooms), separating the fronts to the appropriate width (impossible without putting one in the middle of the walking path), or maybe adding some height speakers just to see what that sounds like. But for a system in a living room with lots of bookshelves and upholstered furniture, used primary for watching TV and movies, I'm quite happy. Maybe I can't call myself a "true audiophile" yet if I'm 90%+ satisfied for less than the price of a few mortgage payments.
I like the "sound" of the system you have. ;) You've taken steps at measurements, etc; that go far beyond what many who consider themselves "real" audiophiles have ever done. Good show! BTW I've got my FR speaker right in the middle of my hallways walking path, far, far, far from ideal. But we have to do the best we can with what we have. I walk around it but I don't have a OL to complain. LOL
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/sals-system.614/
On some jazz recordings, putting them into the virtual NYC jazz club is very nice to listen too. Putting a choral recording into one of the cathedral spaces can be good too. Messing with the artist's intent? Who cares, it's my house, not his studio and he almost assuredly used artificial reverb spaces too.
AMEN ;)
 

StevenEleven

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#90
Re. adding center and surround speakers to an already good stereo system. First, they need to be of comparably high timbral accuracy. If not, the added speakers draw attention to themselves, thereby damaging the subtle directional and spatial effects that one intends to add. This requirement may or may not cost additional money, but it does require careful choice. A surround system of comparably timbrally neutral speakers is a treat. If not, disappointment is almost assured. For a single listener or small audience, conventional forward firing speakers are recommended. Absolutely avoid dipole surrounds, but well-designed bipoles are OK.

The sound from the surrounds should arrive later than that from the fronts, and such delays are often embedded in the upmix algorithm. Most processors allow for timing (distance) adjustments which should compensate for modest digital latencies.
I am interested in whether Dr. Toole, or anyone else, would know if there would be a significant audible difference between a 5.1 upmix of a lossless stereo audio stream as opposed to a Dolby 5.1 upmix of a relatively high quality stereo lossy stream, such as 256 AAC or 320 Ogg Vorbis. Is there a known or easily derived answer, or is the answer, as it is so often, “it depends”?
 

Sal1950

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#91
I am interested in whether Dr. Toole, or anyone else, would know if there would be a significant audible difference between a 5.1 upmix of a lossless stereo audio stream as opposed to a Dolby 5.1 upmix of a relatively high quality stereo lossy stream, such as 256 AAC or 320 Ogg Vorbis. Is there a known or easily derived answer, or is the answer, as it is so often, “it depends”?
I'm not really sure I understand your question here. Are you asking if there would be any difference in the sound of 5.1 upmixed files between loseless and lossy files? Then I could only answer the upmixed files would simply reflect the quality or lack of, in the original file.
Again I'm not really following the question or exactly why your asking it, Knowing what you wish to accomplish might help.
 

StevenEleven

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#92
I'm not really sure I understand your question here. Are you asking if there would be any difference in the sound of 5.1 upmixed files between loseless and lossy files? Then I could only answer the upmixed files would simply reflect the quality or lack of, in the original file.
Again I'm not really following the question or exactly why your asking it, Knowing what you wish to accomplish might help.
Hi Sal—thanks for the reply.

I’m a pretty simple guy. For me stereo 256 AAC (Apple Music) or 320 Ogg Vorbis (Spotify) sounds plenty good.

However, I like to upmix stereo to 5.1 sometimes. I know some people don’t like doing that but I do. I’m wondering if upmixing to 5.1 might work better with a lossless bitrate. I am wondering if the quality of upmixing might be more sensitive to whether I am using a lossy or lossless codec. If so I might get a streaming service with a lossless stream. Does that make sense?
 
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StevenEleven

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#93
I recently decided to tweak my home theater system to improve the sound quality, after reading the REQ tutorials. Dug out an old laptop to run it, figured the setup mic that came with my Onkyo TX-NR656 AVR would work, and got to measuring. Ran into issues with the HDMI drivers not recognizing anything beyond stereo, had problems with gain structure from the mic, screwed up and measured more than one channel at once, wondered why it was measuring mostly flat on the first try, then realized I'd left the AVR room EQ enabled the whole time. :facepalm:

Decided to just go with the AccuEQ correction since it's apparently not entirely horrible, then got to the sub crawl. Put the sub in my preferred couch seat, ran the 10-200Hz annotated sweep from audiocheck.net on repeat, went to the 5 or so possible sub locations in the living room, and realized the response was most even where the sub had already been for the last two years... right behind the sectional, in the middle of the long wall. ( :facepalm: #2)

Then I put on the low frequency localization tracks, and discovered my threshold is about 70Hz in this room. I then ran AccuEQ setup one more time, tweaked the crossovers, tried to remember what they had been before, and realized that the afternoon's work had left me almost exactly where I'd started. ( :facepalm: #3!) Apparently the basic guidelines I'd followed when first setting it all up had been decent.

Now, this isn't a particularly (or even slightly, by audiophile standards) expensive setup - just 5.1 out of that budget AVR with the center, front floorstanding, surround bookshelf, and sub from the Pioneer Andrew Jones line, connected with 12ga wire from CableMatters and decent banana plugs (maybe $2000 all-in). However, playing some of my favorite music through Plex up-mixed with Dolby Surround sounds very enjoyable to me (or even, gasp, with all-channel stereo). The Dream Theater Live at Budokan Blu-ray with native 5.1 was excellent the other night as well.

Of course there are things I'd like to change - like adding a second sub (vetoed by my wife at least until we renovate the bathrooms), separating the fronts to the appropriate width (impossible without putting one in the middle of the walking path), or maybe adding some height speakers just to see what that sounds like. But for a system in a living room with lots of bookshelves and upholstered furniture, used primary for watching TV and movies, I'm quite happy. Maybe I can't call myself a "true audiophile" yet if I'm 90%+ satisfied for less than the price of a few mortgage payments. ;)

We have extremely similar setups—probably the same Pioneer floorstanders and surrounds, and my Onkyo receiver is probably just a little later incarnation of yours. I agree—sounds wonderful for not a real big cash outlay. I do have the two subwoofers though—it does seem to make a good bit of difference. Can’t you buy a second one and just tell your wife it’s a new coffee table? :)
 

Sal1950

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#94
Hi Sal—thanks for the reply.

I’m a pretty simple guy. For me stereo 256 AAC (Apple Music) or 320 Ogg Vorbis (Spotify) sounds plenty good.

However, I like to upmix stereo to 5.1 sometimes. I know some people don’t like doing that but I do. I’m wondering if upmixing to 5.1 might work better with a lossless bitrate. I am wondering if the quality of upmixing might be more sensitive to whether I am using a lossy or lossless codec. If so I might get a streaming service with a lossless stream. Does that make sense?
We're quite a bit alike, I use Spotify for streaming and find it sounds just fine for day to day use. I ran a 2 month test against Qobuz hi-rez streams and didn't hear anything I couldn't live without for the extra cost. For the music I really love and want to be secure in the knowledge I have the best possible stereo source, I'll buy the CD or an occasion a download. I can buy 3-4 used CD's a month for the difference in streamer cost. When one of the streamers starts offering multichannel streams I'll jump on that service, now there's a difference you can seriously hear.
I also upmix the vast majority of my stereo sources to 5.1 or one of the 5.1.4 immersive codexs so again we're in the same boat there.
To go back then to your original question, I don't hear any difference in the way Spotify 320 or 24/196 files upmix based solely on their data rate, and wouldn't expect to.
But how each different recording responds to the different upmixers like Dolby Surround, DTS Neural X, or Auro varies and which one you might choose to use is a matter of taste.
Don't stress too much, if you enjoy the results you get, roll with it. If not, do some experimentation.
 

Kal Rubinson

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#95
I am interested in whether Dr. Toole, or anyone else, would know if there would be a significant audible difference between a 5.1 upmix of a lossless stereo audio stream as opposed to a Dolby 5.1 upmix of a relatively high quality stereo lossy stream, such as 256 AAC or 320 Ogg Vorbis. Is there a known or easily derived answer, or is the answer, as it is so often, “it depends”?
The answer is implicit in the proposition. Do you find the "lossy stream" audibly inferior to the "lossless stream" without upmixing? If not, it is that upmixing the lossy stream will be OK and possibly equal to you. OTOH, the lossy stream is already relatively corrupted and the upmixing can only add some spatial enhancements at the potential cost of further corruption in other parameters. (Comments from someone who abjures lossy streams. I also generally avoid upmixing. Auro, if necessary. ;))
 

cshake

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#96
I am interested in whether Dr. Toole, or anyone else, would know if there would be a significant audible difference between a 5.1 upmix of a lossless stereo audio stream as opposed to a Dolby 5.1 upmix of a relatively high quality stereo lossy stream, such as 256 AAC or 320 Ogg Vorbis. Is there a known or easily derived answer, or is the answer, as it is so often, “it depends”?
IANAAE (I am not an audio engineer), but I think it's a very strong bet that the upmixing happens after the decoding has happened from whatever the original source was, such that it's working just on PCM. This has to be true for a stereo signal fed from an external device to the AVR which will send it as raw PCM over the HDMI/USB/SPDIF/Toslink cable, and I'd be very surprised if the developers would want to write an entire different upmixer implementation if you're feeding the encoded file directly to the AVR instead of just putting the upmixer after the decoder.

In this case, the question boils down to "does the upmixer perform differently with less complicated music or less high frequency content", or whatever else the lossy encoding omits. Since we're talking about audibly transparent lossy compression, I'd naively expect it to have an audibly transparent upmixed output. On the other hand, it's possible that some of the high-frequency content (beyond our hearing) could be used by the upmixer to determine where to place parts of the sound, and therefore lack of that content in the file could lead to a less immersive experience, but someone far more knowledgeable would know more (i.e. someone who knows some of the proprietary details of the upmixer).
 

rwortman

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#97
I think that the upmixed result might be a bit different for lossy compression. Not because of some high frequency content but because the perceptual compression algorithm will permanently remove stuff deemed masked and inaudible that the upmix algorithm might use for steering if it was there. The question is interesting, can be answered with a test if one has the equipment, time, and desire, but why bother? Listen, if you like the way it sounds, listen some more. I don't listen to lossy codecs except for in the car because in my house there is no reason to. No reason to put 10lbs of music in a 5lb bag when I have plenty enough 10lb bags.
 

Sal1950

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Disk space is pretty cheap
I refereed more to the cost of the media provider. In this case it was Spotify over Qobuz or 320mbps vs CD or better at 2 - 3 times as much per month.
I live on a monthly income of SSI and a bit more from investments but not much. The costs of entertainment media today has gone insane, add up some form of TV provider, (cable and all of it's various tiers, Netflix, internet, cell phones, music streamers, on and on and on.) Personally I have to make some compromises, I can't afford everything and the top tiers of it all, so I balance against where I see the most value.
YMMV
 

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