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

rwortman

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I see. I might not pay for a CD quality streaming service were it not for Tidal offering a military discount. I get the HiFi stream for $12/mo. I have about another 6 months to decide if Roon is worth it. I do really like it.
 
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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? :)
+1

I had a Onkyo 676E, now i have a Onkyo RZ830. Speaker system i have an Teulel Ultima 40 MK2 - 5.1 system.

Usually, I listen from Spotify, directly from the receiver, so at 320kbps. I have a few Flac's, 16-24 bits and i can't listen to the difference (unless i am focused 100% on the music and on very specific very demanding parts), so i'm absolutely please with and the audio chain.

I also use the Dolby Surround upscaler, since the DTS Neural X, makes some weird dips and bumps between 120 and 200 Hz.
 

andrew

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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.
So, over time, I'm finding that whilst up-mixing stereo to multi-channel provides some nice ambience it is, ultimately, is less compelling that stereo for me a result of the lack of focus on the front sound-stage. I'm not sure if this is a result of the specific up-mixing algorithm (JRiver JRSS), lack of a centre channel, music or other factors .... That said, the native multi-channel music samples that I've tried are a whole different ball game
 
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Any advice on currently players for ripping SACD / DVD-A?
For SACDs: The thread at HiFi Haven is an excellent resource: https://hifihaven.org/index.php?threads/rip-sacd-with-a-blu-ray-player.3652/ Using the information given there makes SACD ripping a pretty easy and streamlined process. [Edit: I just remembered that I originally found that resource via @Kal Rubinson’s column, so as with so much other information about mch, credit to him!.]

For DVD-A: DVD Audio Extractor is often used for this (together with an optical disc player capable of reading DVD-As -- probably best to get one that can also read blu-rays ). A web search on DVD Audio Extractor should provide information on how to use.

So, over time, I'm finding that whilst up-mixing stereo to multi-channel provides some nice ambience it is, ultimately, is less compelling that stereo for me a result of the lack of focus on the front sound-stage. I'm not sure if this is a result of the specific up-mixing algorithm (JRiver JRSS), lack of a centre channel, music or other factors .... That said, the native multi-channel music samples that I've tried are a whole different ball game
From my experience so far, a good center channel adds greatly to the front soundstage, both when upmixing stereo and when playing discrete mch. I would think the lack of center channel could be contributing significantly to what you're experiencing.
 
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Hipper

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Thank you for this thread.

A question please:

Is it fair to say that up mixing stereo CDs is unlikely to be worth the trouble if the source is studio bound pop music but more likely useful if using well recorded classical (most of my music is 70s pop which is rarely available in multi channel format).

My investment to date has been in stereo with lots of room treatment. Room size 14' x 13' x 8' high.
 

DonH56

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Kal would be the guy to answer. In my limited experience I have found it seems to depend more upon the mix than the genre. Sometimes 70's rock bands sound good to me using Neural or whatever to upmix, while orchestra recordings may sound "wrong" because you lose sense of where the stage is and the image gets smeared all around the room. Impressive at first listen, but to me quickly becomes artificial and unnatural. Of course, when I am on stage, it's always at the back, so maybe I am just not used to having the band or orchestra all around me. ;) I guess I think of pop music as more "artificial" to begin with (in the sense of imaging and effects) so don't have a problem with upmixing it (or rarely).

IMO - Don
 

StevenEleven

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If I recall correctly Dr. Floyd Toole @Floyd Toole has said that he prefers to upmix from stereo to surround sound, and that stereo is an inherently limited format. (He is free to correct me if I am mischaracterizing his view.)

Subjectively, in the great majority of instances I far prefer a stereo upmix to 5.1 to vanilla stereo. I’ve been going that way for a good while now.

Of course this gets you away from “exactly what the mastering engineer heard” in stereo when he completed the project (which in my view is nigh impossible to replicate in the home setting anyway) so I could see philosophically how someone might be reluctant to upmix from stereo.

I usually prefer straight-up Dolby Surround 5.1. For me DTS Neural seems to pull too much stuff to the middle channel.

My two cents, YMMV, IIRC, IMHO, I’m no expert, & etc.
 

gene_stl

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Along similar lines, has anyone ever seen any good information on center channel derivation from just regular stereo sources.
I would imagine that might be available as an upmixing option in various home theater systems. Back in the day there were some recommendations for some center channel arrangements which used various summing networks. I actually did try that once using vinyl and FM radio as sources. The results weren't exciting enough to keep the arrangement. (I did'nt like the different middle speaker which was ugly.) This was way back in the early seventies.

The home theater people talk about bringing up the center channel so that dialogue is audible. I would be interested in trying to improve "imaging" if there is any possibility of doing that.
 
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Along similar lines, has anyone ever seen any good information on center channel derivation from just regular stereo sources.
You could look into trinaural. But, according to JB, to do it right you would use one great speaker in the center and lesser ones for L/R. Most AV people put the best speakers L/R with a lesser one in the center. Still, a possibility.
 

Kal Rubinson

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Is it fair to say that up mixing stereo CDs is unlikely to be worth the trouble if the source is studio bound pop music but more likely useful if using well recorded classical (most of my music is 70s pop which is rarely available in multi channel format).
My subjective experience is the opposite but I am very critical about classical and less so about pop. With the former, there is a virtual reference to a real-world concert situation while the latter is most often synthesized from many elements into a result that can be pleasing/impressive. The latter would seem more amenable to further attempts to increase enjoyment in ways that the former is not.
Along similar lines, has anyone ever seen any good information on center channel derivation from just regular stereo sources.
Cool idea. I am a big fan of the 3 channel RCA/Mercury SACDs and I can "synthesize" a center with JRiver. Mebbe I'll try it when I have time.
Most AV people put the best speakers L/R with a lesser one in the center. Still, a possibility.
I believe in equality.
 

gene_stl

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You could look into trinaural. But, according to JB, to do it right you would use one great speaker in the center and lesser ones for L/R. Most AV people put the best speakers L/R with a lesser one in the center. Still, a possibility.
The page linked to the TrinAural processor quotes Kal Rubinson. Did you like it as well as they say you did?
I wonder how it works. EDIT Found your review. Do you still use it?
 
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Sal1950

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Is it fair to say that up mixing stereo CDs is unlikely to be worth the trouble if the source is studio bound pop music but more likely useful if using well recorded classical (most of my music is 70s pop which is rarely available in multi channel format).
The situation is that it's a world of almost unlimited variation of options. Today there are 3 main players in the upmixing game Dolby Surround, DTS-Neural, and Auro, all three can do a multichannel 2D mix or a 3D mix using overhead speakers. Step back just a couple years and Dolby/DTS offerings sounded quite a bit different. If your looking to do a basic ambience enhancement the Logic 7 codec does some of the best I've heard.
Then depending on the recording, how each will perform compared to another will vary tremendously.
There just isn't any hard answer to your original question.
Personally my music interests lies completely in the Blues,Rock,Country genre. I now use some type of upmixing on just about everything I play, can't remember the last time I switched all processing off. But then again, not only does it vary with the recording I'm playing but also with the mood I'm in, at times a minor ambience enhancement, others something more dramatic. The best news is depending on your system front end, all the options are available with the push of a remote button.
I like it, YMMV

I usually prefer straight-up Dolby Surround 5.1. For me DTS Neural seems to pull too much stuff to the middle channel.
They both pull pretty hard to the center, but Auro does so in a dramatically less manner, and it also has a couple of switchable options in that area.

The home theater people talk about bringing up the center channel so that dialogue is audible. I would be interested in trying to improve "imaging" if there is any possibility of doing that.
Hard one. Place to start is just with a lot of experimentation with the stereo speaker positioning and some room treatments to limit side reflections, etc.
You also might look into DSP room correction. It can have a powerful effect on imaging.
 
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Kal Rubinson

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The page linked to the TrinAural processor quotes Kal Rubinson. Did you like it as well as they say you did?
I wonder how it works. EDIT Found your review. Do you still use it?
No. I never kept it. My memory about it is foggy but I think that I found it somewhat incompatible with my setup/preferences. It did do what it claimed.
 
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I just saw this thread and I am so happy it.
I see 2 branches of multichannel:
- using Mch to recreate the ambiance of the recording, just like the original 5.1 idea recreated the ambience of the DeathStar. That works probably best for classical concerts in churches.
- having 5 discrete channels each one carrying its own content, allowing for a listening experience that is different to any other, like standing on the stage amongst the musicians ( but then without the hall)

It was often said, that mono sound from a single speaker is much more demanding for the speaker, while stereo, distributing the sound, is more forgiving. I believe that this observation can be extended to a 5 speaker system.

The surround branch blends nicely with video creating a great experience. I believe anyway that sound reproduction without seeing the musicians will in hundred years be looked at as an early misguided implementation of the Edison invention.

I started surround with Laserdiscs that where at one point a good media for that. Early Dolby or Circle surround Cd where a good start, and still having an analog Dolby circuit helps there. I then bought everything there was jazz wise on DVDA as this could be played on a PC. This collection stand next to my direct-to- disc collection: same thing. A lucky streak in audiophile time that needed to be grasped.
Lately I stocked up on SACD Mch Jazz before that dries out too.

Blu-ray is good as it ends the format war and seems to do good for all formats. I do hope so much that discrete Mch Jazz mixes will continue to be issued. Again, spreading the music to 5 speakers is for me the best audiophile thing to do, squeezing instruments into two boxes seems a step back. Listening to live Jazz without loudspeakers shows how important it is to be able to hear instrument individually.

I am following the links given to look for more Mch music. I hope that Mch downloads will increase and am happy for hints.
The new Amazon Echo Studio might open a new chapter. Amazon spearheading Mch Sound calling it 3D might give Mch the audience and punch it needs. Will be great to see how 2xStudios playing a 3D mix will compare to a 20k$ 5.0 setup.
 
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Hipper

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A question please:

Is it fair to say that up mixing stereo CDs is unlikely to be worth the trouble if the source is studio bound pop music but more likely useful if using well recorded classical (most of my music is 70s pop which is rarely available in multi channel format).

My investment to date has been in stereo with lots of room treatment. Room size 14' x 13' x 8' high.
Thank you for all the replies to my question.

The only way I'm going to find out is to listen then!

Is room treatment (bass traps etc.) useful for multi channel listening or is it redundant?
 

DonH56

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Thank you for all the replies to my question.

The only way I'm going to find out is to listen then!

Is room treatment (bass traps etc.) useful for multi channel listening or is it redundant?
Room treatment is to reduce, or at least change, the effect room boundaries have on the sound. IMO they are as important (or not) for multichannel as for stereo. Having additional sound sources arguably means more chance for room reflections to influence the sound for better or worse. E.g. now you have first reflections interacting from a multitude of speakers instead of two. Personally I favor letting the ambience in the mix shine through, since that is the benefit of multichannel, and minimize the impact my room has on it.

But, you'll probably get 11 opinions by asking 10 people. :)
 

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