How can you not have multichannel system

I just finished listening to Allman Bros 'Live at the Fillmore East" on SACD, and cannot believe the 2-channel 'Luddites' who have shunned multichannel sound. They probably shun fuel injected engines as well. Oh well, their loss, but Kal has it right.
Easy. Have a room that is not conducive to placing the extra speakers and running the wire.

If the room is not a restriction, then there's probably not a good reason not to have multi channel capability.
Many paths to salvation,this is extremely old news.What other enlightening news do you have today we should know?....
Wow kinda sounds a bit arrogant and dueschebagish but if your happy thats all that matters......while you are surely happy you are onto something remember multichannel doesnt always sound right, hope you dont get too dispointed when you figure that out.
Just in case Mig007 hasn't counted, stereo *is* multi-channel. Mono is one, stereo is two and multi- means more than one.

BTW, my name is Frank Peel. Google my name and Luddites, then profess to tell me about them! ;-)

Happy New Year to everybody!
Frank, you are definitely an expert but I was totally uninterested. Sorry.

Mig007: You need to compare your SACD to the same thing on vinyl with a good table. You just might have a revelation? I run both 2 channel and 5.1. Different music for different moods. If you haven't experienced a great turntable, then you are missing a big part of audio...
I have a Lenco!
(Actually, I have "multi" Lencos.
It's a sickness.)
So true, Elevick. I now have all the formats working to my great satisfaction, and being able to choose different formats to suit my mood is invaluable to me. Integrating a dedicated two-channel system into a multi-channel system is somewhat more cumbersome, but to me, it's worth it. Fewer limitations=more music.

Didn't know Allmans live is on SACD.
I've seen it on DVD-A.
Waiting for Blu-Ray...

Happy New Year!
The Fillmore SACD IS done VERY right IMO. It's just that not all SACDs are done correctly. I think its something about the live stuff with the audience all around you that may make it seem more immersive...hence better. It is on par with the live Alison Krauss SACD
I remember when the 'Luddites' were stuck on monophonic, and said that stereo was a plot to make us buy more speakers. I like full (5 channel) multichannel, but I can see that for some people and music types the surround (rear) channels are non-essential. However, in the front you need three channels. This has been known since the earliest days of stereo.
Tried it, prefer two channel.
Not everyone is the same, and I'm thankful for that!
Isn't a two channel system multi-channel?
In the world of hi-fi, stereo is considered the basic sound setup, and from there up, it is multichannel. As a rough analogy, when the automobile was invented it was first referred to as a horseless carriage, in deference to the then basic form of transportation, the obvious horse-drawn carriage. Now, the automobile is the base form of transportation, and succeeding forms of transportation are the airplane, spaceship and the like. No one makes reference to horse-drawn carriages although they exist (see Amish communities) as no one truly uses monophonic hi-fi systems. Hence, stereophonic is not multichannel.
Tvad, you are correct and I am not advocating shoe horning multichannel system into spatially restricted rooms.
Sorry Usblues for boring you with subjects discussed in the past, but maybe buried under hundreds of succeeding threads. Other readers, however, were interested enough to post their thoughts. Maybe next time I'll start a thread debating the sound quality of blu-ray music discs.
Didn't mean to sound arrogant, but always liked Reggie Jackson's comment about being the straw that stirred the drink.
Mig007...Interestingly, when you close your eyes, a well set up nearfield multichannel system can transform a tiny room into a huge hall.
Elevick, I did try the vinyl route when it was making a surge in the late nineties (and continuing today), and assembled a decent front end, but could not get over my sensitivity to the crackle, pop side effects. In fact, I always been sensitive to those unrecorded noises and transferred my music to first, reel to reel tape, then beta tape and finally replaced my music in total to digital with all its pitfalls. I respect vinylophiles' opinions, but cannot join them because of that hearing sensitivity.
Eldartford, ironically you have described my experience. My sound system is located in what many would consider small. Yet, I employ Martin-Logan CLS IIz speakers in the front and Martin-Logan SL3s in the rear. Because the listener's seat is approximately 8 feet from the speakers, a nearfield sound effect is created, and it does exactly what you describe, especially with the right recording like the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East cd.
Dweller, I have yet to see it on dvd-audio. I tried the DTS one and that was a disaster. Have the deluxe edition version which is ok, but the sacd disc is without doubt the best, excluding the lp, which I originally had and made me mad seeking an equivalent in sound quality on digital.
Because 99.5% (make that 100%) of all the music I own is 2-channel, hence getting a 5-channel set up is a big waste of money for me. I suppose if I had a big collection of properly (key word) recorded multi-channel stuff I might think twice about making the leap, but I am perfectly happy with good 'ol stereo.
How much music is recorded in multi-channel format? I presume the original "Live At The Fillmore East" recording was not multi-channel. Was it reprocessed? Digitally enhanced? Or were the multi-channel tracks just rearranged to fit the SACD format?
Also, how many recordings are available in multi-channel formats, either remastered to fit or originally recorded multi-channel? Do I need to rebuy all my music?
01-01-09: Timrhu
How much music is recorded in multi-channel format?
This is at the heart of the matter.

I don't know the answer, but I'm guessing it's less than 5%.
I believe all music issued as stereo can be reissued as multichannel because of the original process of recording multitracks and then down mixing them into two tracks. For example, the Live at Filmore East was originally released in stereo, and with the advent of sacd and higher resolutions, the original multitrack tapes were, so to speak, taken out of the vault and re-engineered using the new formats. I believe any recordings that originated from multi tracks can be transformed as well, although, some recordings lend themselves more to the surround effect like live concerts. As to those recordings not revisited one has to use the different processes that have been included in surround sound processors such as Trifield, Dolby Prologic IIx, and Lexicon's. Although, not discrete, those processes extract enough surround sound to expand or fill in without destroying the soundstage. It's more subtle, but its analogous to listening to 256kb mp3 sound vs 364(?) mp3. A well setup multichannel system (meaning quality of the processing and matching of rear and front speakers, but not necessarily cost) is extremely important to realize the sound effect. Those who prefer 2 channel may do so because the quality of their front speakers maybe is so great as to render any rear speaker other than those of similar make unable to seemlessly integrate. For example, although price is not a primary concern, Wilson speakers or those of similar cost and unique design could be hard to match. Take a Vandersteen or Audio Physics, although well designed, is easier to integrate if not with the same make but with similar design.
If i may add to the above, the emphasis is to integrate the surrounds with the fronts, and that is mostly in the hands of the sound engineers. The dts version of Allman Bros Live at the Fillmore East is virtually unlistenable either because of the dts process or mediocre sound egineering, or both. Take the sacd version, using the same tapes, and its sound quality is universally acclaimed. Take the deluxe version in stereo form, but remastered, and quality processes such as Trifield can extract those ambient sounds and render a superb surround experience. I believe different personnel were used in making those three versions.
Faithful reproduction of the event is at the core of the audiophile experience.

A stereo recording processed into multi channel is a illusion...beyond
what was originally intended during the recording.

Processed multi channel may be fun to hear, but it's not a faithful reproduction
of an event, as is a stereo recording played back in stereo or a multi channel
recording played back in multi channel as it was intended.
perhaps the issue is not 2 channel vs multi channel, but rather two speakers vs more than 2 speakers.

i have heard a stereo system featuring 4 pair of quad 57 which creates a very natural, timbrally realistic presentation.pace, i would bet that 4 pair of say apogee duetta signatures, or other decent panel speakers is preferable to one pair.

any fans of 4 pair of speakers ? anyone set up 4 pair of speakers ?

i agree 100 percent with tvad, namely, to try to create some semblance of reality, consistent with your budget, room and cleverness.
Your comment is incorrect and suggests you have not heard certain multichannel sacd recordings. Blood on the Tracks was released in the mid 70's; Live at the Fillmore East released in the early 70's. Both released in stereo format only. Yet, both were re-released this decade as multi-channel sacd discs. Listening to the front and surround channels one hears 4 discrete channels. Obviously, the original sound engineers could not foresee the successful creation of multi-channel recordings as represented by sacd and dvd-audio. The latter were not processed from the stereo releases. To achieve those 4 or 5 discrete channels sound engineers had to gather all the tracks originally put down by the musicians and then re-mixed to create those extra multichannels (meaning more than the then stereo final mix). How can you say that is an illusion when the engineers recombined the original 4 or more tracks to create 4 or 5 discrete channels instead of two. Are you saying the surround channels contain music not originally recorded and somehow are mutations of the stereo release. If so, your comprehension of how multichannel discs of older music are made is sorely lacking. That multichannel sacd disc of Blood on the Tracks is more of a faithful reproduction of the music than anything else you can hear on any other recorded medium of the same. It is no different than using a video card with 128kbs and comparing it to a video card employing 512kbs. Obviously, you are going to see many more colors, and shadings of those colors on the monitor using the latter video card. Based on your analysis, the colors on the 512kb card are illusionary.
Sorry Mrtennis, but you lose 40 love, or 3 sets to none with your doubles partner, tvad, on knowledge of multichannel setups and music. Furthermore, what you described with four speakers in a stereo system is a two channel preamp split to send the same stereo signal to four channels. That same result can be duplicated by a multichannel preamp sending the stereo signal to the surround channels and call it simply 5 channel music, or, as some manufacturers have named it, party mix. The stereo channels are redistributed in toto to the surround channels with no effort to extract ambient sound.
Your video analogy is absurd unless you have eyes in the back of your head.
I can understand the live event being issued in multi-channel as the effect of crowd noise surrounding the listener is true to the event. Remixing "Blood On The Tracks" is another matter. If you prefer the mix that's fine but the original intent of the engineers who mastered the tapes is absent. The event is reinterpreted by a new mix master. If that's your preference, fine.
I have never heard this interpretation so I can't judge. Does this mix put you in Bob Dylan's chair, surrounded by the accompanying musicians? Or what exactly is the listener's perspective in the mix?
01-01-09: Mig007
Your comment is incorrect and suggests you have not heard certain multichannel sacd recordings. Blood on the Tracks was released in the mid 70's; Live at the Fillmore East released in the early 70's. Both released in stereo format only. Yet, both were re-released this decade as multi-channel sacd discs.

No. Sorry. My comment is absolutely correct. You need to reread my comment more carefully. In fact, your example illustrates my point perfectly. "Blood" and "Fillmore" were stereo recordings reprocessed into multi channel recordings. They were not originally recorded or mixed as multi channel recordings (with for example mics placed in the rear of the hall specifically to record the ambient sound far from the stage). Their original tracks have been remixed to create the illusion of a multi channel recording, but in fact they are not so. Were we fortunate to hear a true multi channel recording of "Fillmore" we would hear somthing more faithful to the original event, and we would detect the difference easily.

There are some multi channel recordings of orchestral music. If possible, you might pick up one of these and compare with its stereo counterpart. This would be the best illustration of the point I am making.

Your video card illustration is an example of higher resolution versus lower resolution, i.e. SACD versus CD. It is entirely different from a discussion of multiple channels. High resolution exists in both stereo and multi channel formats. Multiple channels does not make a high resolution recording higher resolution. Stereo versions of high resolution SACD recordings are the same resolution as their multi channel counterparts. 24bit/192kHz resolution is the same whether stereo or multi channel.
Sorry Mrtennis, but you lose 40 love
Mig007, your knowledge of tennis is suspect. At 40 love the game is not finished.
In my opinion, the video analogy is right on, if you understand multichannel re-mixing of stereo discs. What is so hard to understand that when you take the original tracks and remix them over 5 channels instead of two, the instruments and vocals are going to sound fuller and more distinct, as opposed to remixing all the instruments and vocals over two channels. Isn't a highway with 4 lanes less congested than a highway with 3 (unless you live in Los Angeles). Actually, forget about the stereo disc. The sacd engineers will build on the intent of the original engineers and use the additional tracks to allow the sounds greater space. Not every multichannel sacd or dvd audio recording is a success. Again, its based on the talents of the sound engineers and the original tracks, garbage in garbage out.
Mig007, I fully understand the point you are attempting to make. You hear additional details in the music when it's divided among five (or more) separate channels. This has nothing to do with increased resolution as your video card example attempts to describe, and the example is misapplied.

More homework is in order to better make your case.
Maybe things have somehow changed over the years, but as far back as I can remember (and was at all involved) there was actually very, very little that was ever recorded in stereo. The vast majority of true "recorded in stereo" titles that I ever knew of were classical offerings. Practically everything else was recorded to a number of tracks (4, 8, 16, etc.) and then post-processed (mixed and produced) to construct the final product. With the notable exceptions of stuff like the Beach Boys (mostly mono) the non-classical stereo releases from about the mid-to-late 60's and on were "stereo constructions". The source material was all pretty much discrete and they were built/mixed from some number of these discrete source tracks - it really was all kind of a trick and often not at all a record of a single coherent performance.

The vast majority of material released over those decades was mixed to stereo and that's what the vast majority of us grew up with and what we acquired our gear for. That's what we're used to (so that must be the best?). Quite a few of the multi-channel releases (SACDs,etc.) aren't any real improvement over the original stereo release - they lack the original's fresh emotional impact and aren't new and compelling ('cause we already heard 'em in stereo). However, if you ever do get a chance to hear offerings like this ABB SACD then y'all might understand Mig007's reaction. There really is a whole lot of older stuff that was just not just all that well done for the original (stereo) release. Some of those (like the Fillmore East, Layla, etc.) really do get more of the mix they deserve in their latest incarnations - and they just happen to be on multi-channel SACDs. If the same care had gone into all those original stereo constructions the differences probably would not have been so striking (and this thread might never have started).

Do you prefer all your movies in stereo? Some only really need a center channel, but some only truly come alive with the multi-channel treatment. I just like mine well-done - stereo or multi, as appropriate.
Easy, don't want to spend the money on what is essentially limited in what I would listen to. Yes I have listened to a few Higher end surrounds, and depending on the the source it is OK. But for again the limited amount of music available, and not much hope of seeing more in masses why bother. I do not watch enough DVD to justify either. This has been going on for years, but in the end most people went to Best Buy and bought surround in a box, and placed the boomy little speaker all around them the to hear the explosions on Star Wars, while little Seth and Magen sat in the corner listening to some mp3 download crap through ear buds and could care less. That is why quality digital stereo SACD, DVD-A, and surround music in general is today.
My final comment here: I completely understand the OP's reaction. Mr_hosehead
makes an excellent point about multi track recording and how it potentially
translates to multi channel format.

My answer to the original question, " How can you not have multichannel
system?", remains the same.

If one has a room conducive to the installation of a multi channel system with
the extra speakers, wire and necessary electronics, and if one wants to invest
the money and time to optimize multi channel, then go for it.

Personally, I find it quite easy to not have multi channel, and I don't feel I'm
missing out, but I have factors that preclude installing a good, not half-assed,
multi channel system, so it's a moot point.
Relax dude, everyone can like what they like, and decide for're not the straw stirring the drink, just someone talking loudly about his preferences...
I guess I should add my "wall of sound" in stereo SACD, DVD-A and plain old stereo digital and analog does a pretty good job across the board. This does allow me to spend more money on the products and speakers then I would be able to buying surround. But also, I appreciate your involvement in your system, and that you enjoy it.
if the purpose of a stereo system is to recreate , as close as possible, the experience of attending a live music event, 4 pairs of appropriate speakers, e.g., electrostatics, may be preferable to 1 pair.

if one is concerned with the elements of music, pitch, timbre and harmonics, i fail to see how "additional channels" can reduce errors in reproduction of timbre.

spatial effects are not components of music. it would seem that additional channels can provide spatial cues, but a tenor sax should still sound like a tenor, not an alto.
Tvad...You don't like "audio tricks"? What do you suppose the phantom center channel of a stereo rig is? Everything except mono is an audio trick.
Tvad, not to argue so dont take it that way but when you say multi channel is a trick or illusion, we strive to find 2 channel recordings that create the illusion of a performance in a definable space with depth, air and other factors so why is that so different with MC material?
I am not a MC music guy but sometimes its done very well and I dont mean making it up by going Pro-Logic I mean SACD and DVDA multi channel tracks...........but many of it doesnt make sonic sense so I threw in the towel.
To me the only real multi channel I like is the ambience and sense of the space its performed in and accoustic music usually is what does this best, I feel no desire to hear a synthesizers buzzing around the room,,,,cheers
01-02-09: Eldartford
Tvad...You don't like "audio tricks"? What do you suppose the
phantom center channel of a stereo rig is?

You and Chadnliz are right. I never should have written the phrase "a
trick". I considered editing that post, and decided to leave it even
though I knew it'd come back to bite me.

Let me be more precise in my language. In my example I was trying to make
a point about a stereo recording played back in stereo versus the same
recording reprocessed into multichannel.

Consider a pure stereo recording (binaural) using only two mics, not
processed beyond the recording, and then played back in stereo. What you
hear is what the mics "heard". Now, consider the same recording played back
in multi channel after having been reprocessed. What you hear will not be
what the mics heard.

In this example, the multi channel version is a trick, and the stereo version is
true to the recording session.

The trick concept can be applied to any recording made initially as a stereo
release. In almost all cases, each mic was specifically placed to pick up a
specific instrument or voice...and almost always positioned closely to the
source. This would not be in keeping with a multi channel recording session
in which additional mics would be placed in the recording studio with the
sole purpose of recording room ambience from the back of the room.

Hope that clears things up.

Anyway, nits are being picked. If you like multichannel, go for it and have fun.
The question I asked remains unanswered; what listening perspective do you get with multi-channel playback? As stated before, it makes perfect sense for recordings made at a live concert where listeners are surrounded by crowd noise. But what is gained by using rear speakers for a studio recording? Is the listener sitting in the middle of the players? Mig007, you mentioned "Blood On The Tracks," and I am seriously curious as to what is presented in the rear channels.
I understand the analogy of getting higher resolution with SACD but disagree that that would be enhanced with more speakers. In fact I think it would be more difficult to discern different instruments unless they are specifically mixed to emanate from one speaker. That would sound strange.
My system for "serious" listening is in a small room which is not conducive to having rear speakers so stereo is where I'll stay but I'm curious as to what perspective the listener is in.
Understandable for video, which I have zero interest in, but I don't see it for audio. I don't doubt that good multi-channel system with a well engineered recording can sound wonderful but I know a good resolving stereo system, setup in a properly treated room, can present sonic nirvana.
Tvad...A few decades ago I messed around with various forms of "derived" multichannel, including some circuitry of my own design. In general I agree with you that the typical stereo recording doesn't work well in full surround.

However, some particular recordings do work very well. Few recordings are made with just two mics. There is usually an ambience mic at the back of the hall, and when its signal is mixed in out-of-phase between the two channels it will, upon playback, emerge from the rear, exactly where it belongs. One Judy Collins cut, "Amazing Grace" is exceptional. She sings in a church, at first solo, but then the congregation comes in all around you. At the end, as the sound decays you can hear people behind you putting their Hymnals back into the wooden racks! Spooky!

But usually four channels from two is overreach. However, three from two (center) always works well. I play stereo material that way on my multichannel system. I have used a center channel for about forty years using various ways to derive it.

Now, for true multichannel, I have some recordings of classical chamber music where each channel has one instrument isolated in it. When you play back such a recording you are not "transported" to the studio, but rather the performers are transported to your listing room. The realism is amazing.
Eldartford, each of your examples is a better illustration of what I have been
attempting to explain. Thanks.

BTW, I agree three channel from two channel works well, but I don't believe this
is what the OP had in mind when he started the multi channel thread.
I have been a part of many string quartets, and have never heard that. I remember in the early days of stereo, I had a recording of a ping pong ball bouncing left and right. This is even worse.
For me, two reasons:
1. It may be thrilling to feel like you're surrounded by other concert goers at a live event, and hear some extra reverb cues from the hall, but it adds little to that actual art that is occurring on the stage. As for older stereo recordings mixed to several new channels, to what end?? Unless it's a special sound effect like a pink floyd helicopter, what does it add to the performer/composer's original art to pretend that some of the musicians are behind or beside you (or that some manufactured resonances are added for feeling)?
2. In the name of high fidelity, that is the reasonably realistic repro of clean, dynamic transients, etc. at nice levels, the $X,000.0 that I have to spend on 2 channels of amplification and 2 speakers is going to be of much higher quality that 6X of each.

This goes for movies for me too, though they're not really my hobby like music. But unless it's Star Wars, or some other special effect type movie, I don't miss much with 2 channels.
Music recorded for 5.1 or more by recording engineers who understand the media will sound best.
Rechanneled stereo will sound like colorized movies look.

If I can ever build a HT room, it will be for movie/sound in 5.1 or better. My current room would be a nightmare to convert, having 8 sides and a vaulted ceiling.

Like Eldartford, I experimented w/'4 channel' back when you had 'derived' and the various Matrix schemes....QS, SQ, which I suppose were just phase shift. I never bought any of this gear, but using by brothers stereo cob'd one together by wiring the back channel speakers in series from + to + on there own amp. When I listened to a proper LIVE album, you were right in the MIDDLE of the crowd.
...because the vast majority of music I like to listen to has not been released in surround, or even high-resolution digital (pick your flavor) for that matter. Of course I have surround for movies, but that's a different story. -jz
I forgot to mention, and many people don't know, that there is a large body of "antiphonal" music...composed for two or more choirs or orchestras front and rear as well as side to side. Mono and stereo playback equipment is completely incapable of properly reproducing antiphonal music. Much well-known music is actually antiphonal, but is unknown today except in a "mixed-down" form. I have one SACD "J. S. Bach, The Four Great Toccatas and Fugues played by E Power Biggs on the Four Antiphonal Organs of the Cathedral of Freiburg" that clearly illustrates the benefits of multichannel. Once you hear this music played in antiphonal manner you will never again be satisfied with a stereo rendition.