Movies are different that music. In the case of movies, the idea is to immerse the viewer into the movie. With Stereophonic reproduction, the idea is to replicate the sound stage in your living room.
I don't believe it is the future but I can see where some rock concerts may use multichannel to put you in the audience. Likewise, in a symphony, you would hear clapping behind you and to the sides as well as the front. However, to get pure 3D sound, you do need at least three channels, something stereophonic systems don't have today.
This is why there is home theater and two channel audio for music. Completely different experiences.
While it is true live concert hall venues have reflections from the sides and behind… the degradation of signal by incorporating all those extra channels are generally not worth it. So two channel audio is by far the best for music… concerts.
Movies… bullets flying behind… 5 or more channels sound great. You are distracted by the video so you don’t knotice the poorer sound quality.
I have a separate 2 channel audio and home theater… you can see them under my UserID.
I tried for years to use a 5.1 system for stereo, spent big money on speakers and electronics (Macintosh-Anthem-Lexicon), that had "2-Channel Stereo" as an option, never sounded good unless video was playing. Finally gave up and got a nice two channel dedicated system for way less then what I paid for the 5.1 system. Glad I never tried to go up to 7.1 or 9.1 or whatever they are up to now to solve the problem.
Actually I went through the same song and dance until I bought an integrated amp with a home theatre bypass option. This allows a AVR that has the ability to pre out the front channels separately to use the integrated to power the front left and right speakers in a 5.1 system.
Best of both worlds.
When you get a system that replicates a live performance start a new thread. Until that happens it is ALL BS. Everyone buying it, everyone selling it KNOWS it ain't a live performance. It is simply how you like your BS served, with two speakers or 22, take your pick.
When you got 22 speakers you serve your BS in stereo, surround sound, or immersive. When you only got two speakers you got no options, take your BS straight up and that's all she wrote.
I get a glimmer of reality when my wife plays piano, beyond that LOL.
FWIW, I watch concerts recorded in high definition in Dolby Vision on my 120 inch screen while I am listening in 9.2.7 immersive audio and I still know its BS. Good luck with two speakers pointed at your head, you can smell that BS from a mile away with your eyes closed. At least I can see what they were doing when it wasn’t BS and an actual live performance.
It gets better with apps. There is an app called Plex (look it up) that serves up channels that play concerts (about 10 channels of various genres) FREE, 24/7. Some of the perfomances were recorded in the fifties (Lionel Hampton, Miles, sarah Vaughn, Louis Armstrong, etc) and it has stuff all the way through today. With two channel it would be flat, upmixed to immersive it is at least a little closer to a non BS environment. Qwest TV is also available on platforms like Roku. You should check it out for some free "glorified TV" BS:
A lot depends upon the recording. Some Multichannel mixes are done vey well, with just a bit of reflection in the rears with a significant gain in ambience. Try the Pittsburgh Symphony Brahms cycle led by Marek Janowski on the Pentatone label.
The RCA Living Stereo mixes are interesting in 3.0, because many times these are old familiar recordings that were originally recorded in3 channels and then down mixed to 2 channel.
Bingo, the recording, the engineer, the master tape, it all matters.
I can remaster stereo recordings in DSD using my Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC.
I can upmix any recording to immersive audio (atmos, auro-3D, DTS, etc) in my processor. I can't make steak out of hamburger but at least I can cook it the way I like, or even eat it raw. :)
I have found 5.1 can sound great for music, but only if the equipment is perfectly matched, and everything is perfectly set up and adjusted...otherwise it sounds terrible...whereas movies it's easy to get good sound, maybe hard to get great sound...but totally different
SACD 5.1 done right is great for music. Especially with orchestral, choral, live recordings. Best scenario with 5 floor standing speakers, 3 power amps, 3 preamps. All same. You can skip the sub, but not the cabling, requires accurate set up and the cost can get really high.
+1 on SACD, the roadblock is the recording. World of difference between a recording remastered for SACD vs one recorded for SACD. Smallish available catalog is another drawback along with cost.
There is a growing catalog of music mastered in atmos which is snowballing. Object based atmos mixes are backward compatible with 2, 5, or 7 channels if you don't have height speakers yet.You can even use headphones.
I guess you never saw Pink Floyd 50 years ago.
but nothing coming from the rear.
Well for a start that is entirely wrong. Unless of course you are out in an open field. There is always going to be sound reflected from the rear wall. You are just not aware of it.
That is exactly what Dolby surround creates from a stereo (so sorry, stereophonic) source. (Yes that bracket is sarcasm!)
Music is far more critical than movies, so you'll need a superior system. Start with similar speakers that produce a similar sound and all channels critically balanced.
If there is any harshness from the speakers, it will be even more evident with additional speakers. Perhaps that is the reason millercarbon called home theatre sound crap (his word, not mine).
It takes a lot of effort, but when you get there it was worth it.
Funny you should mention Pink Floyd, I use the same active speaker layout they used at Abbey Road when they mixed this (except the ceiling subs):
OP, you should watch this, the same team that did the ORIGINAL stereo mix are telling you that immersive (with height channels, NOT 7.1) blows every other format away.
Not funny. Floyd had speakers in the boxes and balconies. As opposed to the OP's limited experiences. Also try Love at The Mirage, speakers in the headrests...
My limited experiences include from some of the best concert halls in several countries. The very best stereo or multi-channel systems I have heard do not hold much of a candle to many live venues I have attended. From NYC to 26 states and several countries I have enjoyed live music beyond very expensive systems I have had (but i do appreciate the goal of "the absolute sound".
Do people remember what "the absolute sound" was referring to?
Many people are not looking for natural… or recreating live music… they are looking for adrenaline creating rush of sound… maybe great details or slam. I was strongly influenced by these things. But I found one genera of music would sound better at the expense of others.
This started me questioning what I was looking for (yes I remember the quest for the absolute sound). So, about 25 years ago I started listening to real instruments (acoustical) in all settings, and listening really carefully. It was not until I got season tickets to the symphony, and listened every couple weeks did I realize I was completely out in space.
This caused me to completely change course. I abandoned my planar speakers first and then my solid state equipment. Over this time my system’s character has changed completely… to natural and musical.
Unfortunately, the Oregon Symphony, which I have 8th row season tickets has implemented a sophisticated DSP sound system, and while my system sounded very close to the real orchestra… now my system sounds better. Hopefully symphony hall DSP sound systems will not become popular because it has destroyed the incredible sound of over a hundred wonderful musicians. Obviously I will not be renewing as my home system sounds better. Why would I want to pay $3K / year and drive down to hear an inferior sound system
Anyway, a tangent. But, it depends on what you value. Are you truly trying to create the real musical experience? Or a souped up driving sound spectacular?
Since I have achieved the endpoint I desired… all music genera sound great… and in getting here each benefited from each upgrade instead of one benefiting and others not.