Try their website. They have a white paper on the setups.
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I've heard the 2+2+2 setup several times in Europe, and it has sounded very good in the large convention rooms I've heard it in. Your description is accurate; the two front height channels have been set up about 8-10 feet above the front mains, using smaller bookshelf sized speakers. There are some who think height channels are most effective in large high-ceiling rooms but less effective in domestic rooms. If you try it, please post your results, it would be very interesting.
This is the reference on the MDG site. Click on the menu item for 2+2+2 room setup. I saw only the German version; if there isn't a translator on the URL and you can't readit, you can copy it and run it through a translator.
Flex...Thankyou...I have enough amps and small but decent speakers to try this out. Alas, my room does not have a high ceiling. Someday I will build a large room with cathedral ceiling where my Magneplanar speakers can be suspended well off the floor: a setup that I have always liked.
If this kind of 6-channel speaker configuration were to become common my bigest problem would be figuring out how to switch back and forth between normal 5.1 multichannel and 2+2+2.
That's what Chesky proposed, but seems will not be delivering in SACD. I used a JVC ambiance processor for years with a six speaker set-up. Seems the most logical way to me when dealing with music. The speakers at the front, behind and outside of the main pair, are the way to go to recreate the early reflections around the stage and open up the sound to a very great extent. Unfortunately, since the software and hardware manufacturers want MC audio to piggyback unto HT, we wind up with this centre channel + sub at the front affair. Too bad.
Chesky's version is different though. The two height channels are at the sides of the room, between the listener and the main channels, whereas the European 2+2+2 has the height channels in the front of the room. The two formats aren't strictly interchangeable, since the microphone placement and mixing was done assuming one speaker configuration or the other.
You are right about the differences between the Chesky and MDG setups. The Telarc, too, is different in that it has a single height channel multiplexed with the LFE channel. I also agree with PBB that it was unfortunate that compatibility with HT 5.1 took precedence over considerations for optimum music reproduction.
Almost everyone who cares about multichannel audio agrees on the point about the problems of 5.1. But there are just so few people with audio-only multichannel systems that its hard to make the case for profitability of non-HT compatible formats. The eventual answer would be hierarchically processed multichannel data which can be configured by your player/receiver to whatever speaker arrangement exists in your home, for HT as well as for audio. But this is still a research area and years away from being a reality or a recording standard.
The 2+2+2 ideas could work if the mains and rears were at the same angles as in 5.1; then the additional 2 could be switched in or out depending on the format of the recording.
It seems to me that above the fronts would likely be the best place for "height" channels. However, I am all bent out of shape about loosing the center channel, which I have always considered most important, even for stereo, where it is easily derived from ther 2-channel source.
I don't know why the center channel speaker gets such criticism in audiophile circles. Examination of the signal characteristics of stereo recordings will show that common-mode modulation dominates, and this is center material. In particular, solo performers are usually recorded equally in both channels, and isolate nicely in the center channel. I know that two good speakers will image the soloist between them, but this effect depends stronly on listener position, which is not the case where a center channel speaker is used. Other advantages are a wider soundstage because the left and right speakers can be further apart, and reduced speaker power for a given room sound volume level. Of course it goes with my philosophy that the center speaker and amplification should be as good or better than the left and right. Perhaps the minimalist center channel speakers that are commonly used for movie dialog may be responsible for the bad rap for music.
Eldartford, I read you on the advantage of having a centre channel. That this channel should use the same model speaker as the main l/r and same amplification makes sense to me. Have always been intrigued, however, on whether the ITU's recommendation that all five speakers be identical "full-range" and use identical amps is not first, premised on what the ITU considers to be "full-range" (I have never gotten an answer on that one, but think they see speakers used in the home as way smaller than what a lot of audiophiles use) and secondly, on some sound if rather impractical notion of uniformity. I am now thinking of putting together a multi-channel system as a second system using what I have on hand (Sony SCD XE 670, Yamaha MX-35 amp, four small Infinity speakers and two small Mission speakers) and getting low priced equipment to fill in those other spots (sub and centre channel) while things get sorted out in the marketplace.
I have to agree on the center channel bad rap issue Eldartford, My system sounds much better with my center channel in the picture..I do understand that someone with a TV and small, poorly matched center channel stuck in the middle of things could come to this opinion. Keep us posted on your findings. I also have extra amps and speakers and may play around with this type of setup myself, winter will soon be in Michigan and audio will be moved to the front burner.
Unsound...Although a discrete center channel signal is best a logic-assisted matrix center channel can be darned good. Getting four channels out of two was too much to expect, but three out of two is quite reasonable. My surround sound processor has a 3-channel mode which I use when playing 2-channel material. Of course this involves digital processing, but when I am already working with digital inputs from a CD I don't see this as a problem. Although I have not heard it there is a purely analog three-channel decoder available.
Eldartford, I'm glad your happy with it. As for me I haven't heard one example that wasn't disappointing. It is of no concern to me whether its done digital or analog, though I suspect it would be easier to do well with digital. Sogood51's post had me thinking about speaker placement for 3 channels for the first time ever. I'm surprised at myself. I really didn't think I ever would, at least not for a long time. Please let us know what results you have with the 2+2+2 set up.
Unsound...For matrix multichannel, very few recordings work well, and you probably never heard them. It's easy for me to understand your skepticism. Also, note my comment that it's a lot easier (and better) to get three channels out of two than four.
One of the best, IMHO, was not advertised as multichannel.
It's the LP version of Judy Collins singing "Amazing Grace". (The CD version is not so good). Judy is solidly front and center while a church congregation is around you. When it ends, as the reverberance dies away, you can hear people behind you putting hymn books back into the wooden racks. Scary! On the same record is "Farewell to Tiwathe" (a song about whaling) where the recorded sound of whales float all around the room while Judy sings. You are underwater with the whales!
You could check this out by just bridging your stereo amp with a couple a odd speakers in series (to keep the impedance up).
I don't know how well I can evaluate the 2+2+2 scheme, as my regular speakers are Magneplanars, and it just isn't possible to mount a high speaker above them exactly as specified for 2+2+2. I am going to give it a try with some box speakers, but the results may be inconclusive. Also, I am looking into the possibility of stacked MMG magneplanar speakers. (See other thread). For evaluation of the 2+2+2 scheme I think that a set of the tiny Bose cubes (yes, those)would be best. Remember we are evaluating the spatial effects, not audio quality, and the tiny size would facilitate optimum positioning and should help make the difference vs 5.1 apparent.
Eldartford, my gut instincts tell me that you are right on about 3 channels working better than other multiples over 2. I have to admit that a 2 channel LP having that abilty would be a huge surprise to me. Sounds very interesting. I have never owned panels (though I almost bought Maggies). I always wondered what would happen if you put two pairs of panels back to back. It sounds like you have the capability. Have you tried it? Would you consider trying it?
There is an interesting article posted this month at the Audiophile Audition website on non-5.1 music surround formats. It's not on 2+2+2, but it has much discussion on the problems of 5.1 for music listening and what might be better in the future: