Two-channel is inferior to multi-channel, no?


I think that 2 channel is inferior, though, of course, my ears and reason may be mistaken.

Feedback please!

The obvious reason, I am thinking, it is that two channels are less representative of infinity (live music) than 3, 5 or 7, etc. This is the case even if the transducers, amps & speakers, and room acoustics, are perfect (dream on...) in the 2-channel mode.

In my own system, two Revel M-20s as center channel, vertically arrayed, with Revel M-50s on either side, there is the occasional CD (jazz is my thing) that sounds better in stereo, than with 5.1 processed sound, but this is rare. Most sound better with the center channel prominent (either in Dolby Standard or Music modes).

It's possible that I simply need better equipment.

But then why do I find that the best sound (in my system) is from digital sources, e.g. DVD, Blu-Ray, SACD, whether the sound reproduces music or movies. Would better equipment neutralize (and even flip) this negative comparison of stereo to multi-channel reproduction? If so, what is the explanation?

What I find in particular (for music and movies) that is that digital sources in multi-channel mode give full breath and focus to the center channel, placing this important sound component exactly where it should be: precisely in the center of the room. And giving the other channels 'room' to shine (though, in my system, given the amplification available, this should not problem).

What am I missing in theory?
pmcneil
No, at least not in my opinion. Dollar for dollar I think two-channel offers better quality/value, and most people don't have large enough rooms to properly accomodate the extra channels. There is only a tiny percentage of well recorded multi-channel music available compared to well recorded two-channel music. But, if money and space aren't an issue, I suppose multi-channel could be superior.
Hi PMC neil.

You might want to take a look at the "What do you think" thread at the top of this page,

Mike
It took me a while to find it but here's a previous thread that has all the opinions you could ask for on the subject.
For the record though, I prefer two channel because it suits my room.
Most of the CD's you listen to are red book and recorded in 2 channels at 16/44.1. Most of the DVD & SACD & DVDA are not, they are typically 24/96 or higher. There is more information so yes they will sound better than most any CD. Vinyl in 2 channels sounds way better than most CD's IMHO. Vinyl has depth and space just for starters. Redbook CD's for me sound flat and uninvolving unless played on say a DCS type system. I do really like the new 24/96 or 196 from music servers with outboard DACs for 2 cannel, they are very involving.

The issue I have with multi channel is that a lot of them put you IN the band. Not listening to them in a seat say 7 rows back. I myself do not like being part the band, it does not seem real and would not happen in real life for most of us anyway. I do not want to hear instuments behind me unless it was meant to be by the artists.

For instance, I went to 2 Pink Floyd concerts along time ago. The sound effects were going all around and back and forth but not the instruments, they were all in front of me and sounded that way. The multi channel SACD of DSOTM sounds nothing like the live concert. Listening to the SACD I felt I was IN the band. I have listened to some multi-channel that do not do this but they have been few.
Hevac1...Being "in" the band or in the audience is usually a matter of taste. However, there is quite a lot of "Antiphonal" classical music that was composed for performance by instruments located in front and behind, and this simply cannot be properly reproduced by a two channel system. Personally, I enjoy classical chamber music and small jazz groups in the surround mode because this is how I have heard live performances (and performed in them long ago).

Are you aware than some DVDA allow you to select your preferred perspective? "Stage" or "Audiemce". We can all be happy.
I like both. They're so different. I admit to searching for new recordings on vinyl before other forms of media.

The best thing to happen to digital are Gordon Rankin's Wavelength USB DAC's. IMO Mr. Gordon's work in developing the TAS1020B firmware is a digital playback landmark. With more hi-res content showing up on the internet the future now has a chance of sounding much better.
Eldartford,
I have gone to many small jazz venues and I know of no place that lets you go and sit in the group unless you are part of it. Unless of course you want to get thrown out.
Or are you saying that the group of say 3 or 4 band members are in the seats and your in the middle of the club? I don't understand.

If you are in the group and it is using electronics most have ear plug so they hear in the correct time and so they can be in time with everyone else. If they listen from where they are instead of through the earphones with all the delays and echo's thier timing will be off. Is this not correct?

As for the Antiphonal. Q auduio has recorded roger waters and others and the sound come from every where even though only 2 speakers are used. I have some DVDA that allow stage or audience but cannot find SACDs that allow it. As far as I am aware of SACD's are still made in 2 channel and multi but not DVDA in other than 2 channel.

I just want to know if what I have learned is incorrect.
Hevac1..."Sound from everywhere" describes the "difuse and directionless" effect which you get when a two channel signal is out of phase between channels. It is sometimes nice, but in no way equivalent to the precisely located rear sounds of a multichannel system.

IMHO, Jazz is best heard in the form of a jam session in someone's living room. No ear plugs permitted. Chamber music is also often performed in a private residence where you can sit really close, if not in the group. I did once play in a group, so I like that perspective best.
Hevac1,

This is how jazz should be enjoyed. Jeff Beck with Imogen Heap at Ronnnie Scott's Jazz Club

No need for in ear monitors...
I have enjoyed small venues like that but in no way is that 5.1 audio. The entertainers and speakers are in front not in back of the audience. I see noone that is not in the band sitting with the band or in back of the band. It is also live which none of us can duplicate in our homes, with 2 or 7.1 channels. Like I said I have heard few multichannel that only us it for ambience. I am not saying it cannot be done correctly with multichannel. I am saying they don't do it right.
Sure, they do, but in classical music for the most part. The vast majority of classical 5.1 is with the traditional arrangement of performers up front but with an immmersive ambiance.

Kal
Stereo, mono, 5 channels, a zillion channels, it's all an illusion. There is no way to recreate a concert hall, or club performance at home. And studio recordings are another can of worms, which for the most part, have completely artificial acoustics and arbitrary placement of performers in a contrived 'soundstage.'

The question is: How is the illusion created? Provided that a recording has captured all the necessary auditory cues, it's going to take more than two channels to accurately deliver all those cues to our ears.

Here's an interesting link on the subject: ambiophonics
And, don't forget that with multichannel you get a center (as well as the surrounds). A discrete center. All playback, even that recorded with only two channels, sounds better with a center (derived). This has been known since the earliest days of stereo.
I have enjoyed small venues like that but in no way is that 5.1 audio.

Well what about the ambient venue energy (from behind and sides) and the sounds of people behind you. The particular recording I linked to is available on DVD and on BD and it is an excellent 5.1 mix - very realistic. They applause is all around you - just as it would be if you had seats close to the front.
Shadorne...I just looked at your Jeff Beck video. Sorry, but I can't see having all that electronic processing and amplification with the audience in such close proximity. You might as well listen to a recording.
Sorry, but I can't see having all that electronic processing and amplification with the audience in such close proximity.

I hear ya. But I don't have a problem with "electronic processing and amplification" being all part and parcel of modern music and just an extension of the instruments themselves these days.
Shadorne...I like the old fashoned acoustic instruments. In fact, I prefer a French Horn without stops. Such a horn plays only "natural" notes which are so sweet sounding.
Eldartford

"A discrete center. All playback, even that recorded with only two channels, sounds better with a center (derived). This has been known since the earliest days of stereo."

On my 2 channel system I can hear voices at exact positions in the center - how you can improve on that? I had impression that center channel was introduced for the home theater in order to widen sweet listening spot for voices (or center fuzzy image created by cheap plastic L/R speakers).
Kijanki...What you are hearing is the very interesting illusion of a "phantom" centered sound source from two speakers reproducing a mono signal. But however interesting, it's an illusion. Real is better.

As I mentioned, the benefit of a center speaker, playing a LEFT-plus-RIGHT signal, was recognized more than fifty years before home theatre was invented.
ELdartford - I'm just trying to understand what gets better. My system is far from perfect but I can here "illusion" of person standing/speaking exactly in the center. It cannot get any more exact - if this means "better". I was suspecting that in the theater environment where more people listens sitting often far from the center it is important to widen sweet listening spot. Another suspicion I have is that home theater contains often inexpensive L/R speakers with less than perfect imaging and center channel fixes it (mono for voices?).

I'm just trying to understand since I've never had more than two speakers. I can see need for rear speakers and subwoofer but center channel always puzzled me.
FWIW, I have truly enjoyed front 3 channel demonstrations, but, have never heard (and at any price) rear channels that didn't sound gimmicky.
Kijanki...If you analyse the typical stereo signals you will find that most of the power is "common mode". In other words the Left and Right signals are mostly equal to each other. This common mode signal "deserves" its own speaker, if anything, a better one than the Left and Right.
With true discrete multichannel all the speakers are important. Skimping on the center and surrounds is a common mistake which accounts for much disapointment about MC.
And, don't forget that with multichannel you get a center (as well as the surrounds). A discrete center. All playback, even that recorded with only two channels, sounds better with a center (derived). This has been known since the earliest days of stereo.

i'm not so sure. just like how we now hear much more information from Lps cut in the 50's and 60's due to dramatically better gear, the potential performance of 2-channel stereo is now much better due to better acoustics and gear. tests made in the 40's and 50's comparing 2 and 3 channels don't 'necessarily' still hold up.

when a room is completely purpose designed for 2-channel playback and the system is optimized for 2-channel i'm not convinced that a center channel adds as much as it detracts. i would agree that in a typical room that a center channel likely is a benefit if the music was recorded in 3-channel.

when i added multi-channel to my 2-channel room there were things i liked about it; but a year later i removed it because ultimately it did not satisfy for music to the degree that i looked forward to listening to multi-channel. i do have a completely separate Home Theatre 7.1 system in a separate room with front projector and all that for film.

the best of my 2-channel software (Lps and RTR tapes) out 'multi-channel' my multi-channel in terms of musical involvement. more real space, things are where they should be, and there is more ease and naturalness. of course; my room is optimized for 2-channel listening in terms of diffusion and live-ness.

i used a phantom center in my multi-channel music setup. however; i have been involved with comparing a center channel to a phantom center and personally i prefer the phantom center (using the 3-channel RCA SACD's) for music. for film i prefer a center channel for dialog.
Mikelavigne - Does center channel improve sweet spot? Can you hear voice more anchored in the center when sitting far off-axis?
Does center channel improve sweet spot?

not in my room (based on my personal perceptions).

in normal, semi-treated rooms a center channel can add additional dynamics and energy to the playback more than what it detracks in speaker interaction. there is no doubt a center channel speaker does somewhat detrack from 2 channel listening by it mass and reflectivity. as 11,500 of my 12,000 pieces of music software (25 15ips RTR tapes, 7500 Lps, 3200 CD's, and 800 SACD's) are 2-channel that becomes a real issue. i hardly want to move a 73" tall, 575 pound center channel out of the way when i listen to 2-channel.

Can you hear voice more anchored in the center when sitting far off-axis?

clearly a center channel does improve voice anchoring for off axis listening. but as i listen 100% of the time in the sweet spot when in my 2-channel room this is not a benefit which has merit for music listening in my room.

on a related issue; i much prefer 'Quad' as a surround sound music format to 5.1, 7.1 or 3-channel. the very best music surround i have heard has been in quad....much more balanced and natural sounding to me.

in my Home Theatre room voice anchoring off-axis is important.
Question to you all?

Anyone here have experience with this product?

How about with Dolby Labs Virtual Dolby?

I'm wondering on thoughts about if one wants a simple home audio system for mostly stereo music playback but to also be able to get satisfactory results using 2 speakers and a sub with Virtual Dolby on movie watching? Satisfactory results from a typical 3 seater couch listening position for movie watching in a room that is about 10x20 with about 9 ft ceilings?

Thoughts on this receiver for vinyl, tape and cd music playback too especially including using it as a preamp to a tube amp which I have?

But again any thoughts on how good Virtual Dolby sounds for general movie playback.

In reality I watch t.v. only with my Hitachi LCD projection t.v. on and it has decent sound and effects using its speakers, SRS and BBE expansion. Good enough for general t.v. watching but for movies I have run my 5.1 set up but in reality I mostly use my system for stereo music only.

Thanks in advance.
BTW the gear is a Harman Kardon HK 3490 Stereo Receiver with Dolby Virtual surround.

Thanks.
My $.02: I am not a fan of adding a center with L+R info for 2 channels sources unless the L/R setup is suboptimum, such as with too wide spacing.

OTOH, with a real phase/timing-correct and discrete center signal, the overall quality of the entire frontal soundstage is improved. As I have often said, try comparing some of the RCA Living Stereo SACDs by switching between the 2channel DSD track and the 3channel DSD track to hear the difference. Another test is to compare the quality/stability of a mono recording on a 2channel L/R playback to a mono playback only on the center channel and realize that the same thing is happening to the center image on stereo vs. mch recordings.

Also, the reference to the necessity for a center channel predates HT and does not refer to a synthesized L+R center but to a discrete one.

None of these comments directly relate to on-axis vs. off-axis listeners.

Kal
Hevec asks, "If you are in the group and it is using electronics most have ear plug so they hear in the correct time and so they can be in time with everyone else. If they listen from where they are instead of through the earphones with all the delays and echo's their timing will be off. Is this not correct?"

More no than yes. As a working Double Bassist ear monitoring can be a wonderful tool when your working with a touring sound technician and the room is difficult. It takes a great deal of time getting the instrumentation balances correct (each player selects different balances) which usually takes place during rehearsals. Even then I prefer to hear my instrument and the drums without monitoring. At a casual small club situation it's usually a distraction because of the poor monitoring set up and less need for it.

Yoshi's Oakland is a great venue. As great as it is the best audience sound is up front at the stage and under the house sound. Yoshi's reinforcement was designed by an affiliate of Meyer Sound. The week it opened I heard the best sound reinforcement ever in every part of the room. Today it's all mucked up by people who simply don't get it.

The technology available to the sound reinforcement industry is amazing, unfortunately only a few truly know how to implement it.

You would be amazed by just how good your home system would sound if you had access to pre production media.

Its been a very long time since I've posted here. This subject has drown me back yet again.

Contrary to previous postings. 2 Channel is NOT inferior to multichannel yet its the corner of it. You can't have a great MC setup without an equally impressive 2 channel setup. If your 2 channel is off, so will your MC.

IMO, if you can pinpoint your center or surround channels, they aren't setup right. The center should help anchor the image not create it. The holographic creation is done with the "2channel" setup and the center channel, in essence, helps to solidify the depth and image of the soundstage, etc. However, to get the center right, it has to gel with the surrounds as well. I know its all greek to some and gibberish to others, but its reality for me and has been for quite some time.

The concept of surround SHOULD be modeled after the concept of stereo: multiple speakers working as one. If you can't grasp that concept then its all for not.
Cdwallace3 - I'm not sure how center channel would help in my system where I have center images right on the spot and midrange is very clear but I suspect it helps a lot with center image and voice presence on cheap satellite home theater system and widens sweet spot for multi-seat home theater environment.

2 channel might be better same way 100W amp might be better than 200w amp - for the same money you can get better quality/sound (in case of an amp only 20% less perceived loudness)
Well, all other things being equal, two-channel is certainly cheaper and more compact than multichannel. ;-)

Kal
Kal, You are correct indeed. MC has its tradeoffs when you talk budget.
"Cdwallace3 - I'm not sure how center channel would help in my system where I have center images right on the spot and midrange is very clear but I suspect it helps a lot with center image and voice presence on cheap satellite home theater system and widens sweet spot for multi-seat home theater environment."

I didn't think we were talking cheap home theater. The center channel performance has no direct bearing on the quality of your system, per se. Cheap equals cheap with or without the center channel. However, your image an be spot on with crystal clear midrange; if you implement a matching speaker (I'm not a huge fan of center channel speakers) for the center channel and apply the correct processing, your image and soundstage will improve. Yes, your system will get better. If it doesn't, blame it on user error. But you're in the right place; audiogon can help. Even with a comparably "bad" processor you can make improvements. Hate to break it to you but your system still has potential that can be unlocked.

"2 channel might be better same way 100W amp might be better than 200w amp - for the same money you can get better quality/sound (in case of an amp only 20% less perceived loudness)"

Not sure how that applies, but sure, we'll go with that. Just keep in mind that there are always those finds that will produce something that is less expensive than the competition but build better and is better quality.
Cdwallace - Not only that my system has potential to be unlocked but any system has this potential. I know we're not talking cheap home theater but that is where center channel helps the most. In my system imaging is close to perfect and sweet spot is wide enough for me.

My brother was helping his sister-in-law to get better sound from TV. Obvious route was to buy something like Bose Acoustimas and be done with it but he bought good integrated and speakers on sale - 2 channel only for the same amount. Sound is so much better (including better imaging).

There are people who believe that amount of gear speaks of the quality and keep buying multichannel amps, speakers, equalizers and others. If objective is to have special effects for the movies it is different story but for music alone 2 channel system with better speakers and amplifier will deliver more thrilling sound.

You're not sure how 100W vs 200W amp applies here? Simply - don't get 200W amp if you don't need it and get better 100W amp instead as well as get better imaging and better midrange 2 channel system instead of fixing worse system with third channel IMHO.
"I know we're not talking cheap home theater but that is where center channel helps the most. In my system imaging is close to perfect and sweet spot is wide enough for me."

I beg to differ. If you haven't heard it for yourself, you can't attest to it. The center channels holds more than what your implied limitations are. If you don't know then you don't know. As for imaging, if close to perfect and wide enough are criteria you're willing to settle for, then welcome to the holy grail of audio.

Bose Acoustimas...used as a comparison...well, I'll just leave that alone altogether.

"There are people who believe that amount of gear speaks of the quality and keep buying multichannel amps, speakers, equalizers and others. If objective is to have special effects for the movies it is different story but for music alone 2 channel system with better speakers and amplifier will deliver more thrilling sound."

Never mentioned anything about amount of gear and its relation to MC. More specifically, I never mentioned the common novice audiophile misconception. Special effects, music alone, 2 channel does it better....its all regurgitated postings. Far from original in content and a bit off topic.

Lastly, who says you can't get the best of your 100w amp in the 200w version? We're not discussing application needs or which amp is better, we're talking how the center channel can improve your soundstage.

"better imaging and better midrange 2 channel system instead of fixing worse system with third channel IMHO."

Two words: User Error. If you don't know how to incorporate a center channel, don't blame it. Besides, if your building that bad of a system, one should be doing more reading and learning here on audiogon.
If the music is mastered in proper and thoughtful multi-channel sound than it will be a superb sound reproduction vehicle. Taking your stereo Redbook CD or a vinyl LP and turning on one of your processor's DSP, multi-channel Codecs may not give you the audio results you like. But some do a pretty good job. My Onkyo TX-SR806 with THX Music Cinema employed does make regular stereo recordings sound, meh pretty good. But take a hi rez digital disc properly mixed into multi-channel sound such as those Blu-ray audio discs offered by AIX Records, any Oppo BDP-83(se) user has a sampler disc in and WOW, OH WOW, OH WOW can it sound credible and lifelike.
I have mixed feelings about this... I have been using a HT based system for about 6 years - B&K Ref 50, BAT & Sherbourn amps, Dynaudio Countours for 7 channels, Rel Studio connected both high level & line level in a Rives Audio designed room optimized 50/50 for HT and stereo listening. Recently I bought a BAT 31SE here on Agon. Hooked up my B&K system thru the BAT in HT bypass mode, but also connected my Pioneer BDP-09FD directly to the BAT. I was shocked at how wonerful some of these DVDs & Blu-rays sound in 2 Ch, admittedly better than the 7.1 set up - and it was quite easy to do A-B testing by switching inputs on the BAT. Points of reference here were Roger Waters 'In the Flesh', Killers 'Live at Royal Albert Hall', U2 'Vertigo in Chicago', G3 (Satriani, Johnson, Vai). Perhaps some other media may sound better in 7.1, but musically, the stereo listening with these aforementioned DVDs just oozes with smoothness, clarity, weight, etc.
More thoughts,

If there is only one listener sitting inside the stereo sweet spot, a stereo recorded album, (CD, LP, Tape etc.) then likely stereo is going to give you the best compromise in sound quality via recorded music. If you have multiple listeners, I find after much auditioning/testing of my system that engaging a DSP such as Dolby Digital Music, DTS Music or if you have the THX choices to each above will give a better compromise presentation for all listeners in room. I find that even DSP Stereo with Audessy eq. sounds better for all if you have multiple listeners in room.

If the disc was properly engineered in multichannel surround then in a properly setup home system it will sound superior to the stereo alternative if said disc has both to for you to choose from.
"The obvious reason, I am thinking, it is that two channels are less representative of infinity (live music) than 3, 5 or 7, etc."

7 channels of louder volume doesn't equate to better volume. I believe so often in this hobby one equates different as necessarily better. Of course, if I've invested into mass amounts of gear I'm of course having to justify that purchase so in my mind I'm convincing myself this has to be better. I'd leave better out of it. It's just different sound. A decent 2 channel rig will always sound as good as a multichannel one, but in the end what matters most is what satisfies you the listener...or the short version is, whatever floats your boat.
I have had some pretty expensive two channel systems in my past. And I definitely appreciate the refinement of what I can get from a 2 channel rig, readily. Truely, there certainly is a lot of gear out there, which can make the most of what is available from 2 channel source material, radio, cd's, vinyl, what have you. And it is likely easier to best setup 2 speakers in a room than it is many loudspeakers.
And, as for music, it's mostly definitely true that superior quantities of quality recordings can be found in the two channel format. So, on that merit alone, when considering music only, I think it's pretty difficult to argue against two channel for music. There's simply more quality content, and more gear that's designed to maximize that format. If you take 2 channel sources, and process them through a multi-channel system, you're already gunna lose something in the quality category. If you're into sound coming from all around you, and don't mind the overall refinement of the recording likely deteriorated a bit, I don't think you have much to stand on in this argument. At least, most will disagree with your position here.
When it comes to movies - and, more specifically, digital movie superiority as of late - I think it's going to fall into what's originally in the mix - multichannel. Down-conversion is your only option in this case and, as I stand with the 2 channel into multi-channel processing, I think you can't really argue against keeping things original in purity. Here, multi-channel is going to get the vote from the majority.
So, I think, if you're a music aficionado, then 2 channel setup is your weapon of choice. If movies, you're gunna favor multi-channel for what it's obviously designed for.
I really can't see anyone who's only into 2 channel sources, saying they think playing stereo into a Logic seven, or PLIIz, er what not, will walk all over a 2 channel rig for stereo sources. I just don't see it (er, hear it, rather). And, movie buffs, the same.
If at all, a hand full of die-hard 2 channel guys who like movies on their 2 channel rig as a preference, perhaps. Beyond that, the votes will all stack in favor of what I mentioned above I believe.
That's my take basically.
Avgoround wrote: If you're into sound coming from all around you, and don't mind the overall refinement of the recording likely deteriorated a bit, I don't think you have much to stand on in this argument.
You offer that same specious argument about sound coming from all around as an attack on multichannel. First, ambience does come from all around you at any live music event. Second, having instruments coming from all around you is not a feature of multichannel; it is a feature of BAD multichannel.

Avgoround wrote: So, I think, if you're a music aficionado, then 2 channel setup is your weapon of choice.
However, you completely ignore the existence of real, discrete multichannel music in all your arguments. FWIW.

Kal
I haven't read all comments, but the 'antis' I have surprize me. Apparently they haven't heard good MC sound. I have a great-sounding MC system that's based on a great-sounding 2-channel system--NOT the one listed in this site. Adding some subtle ambient information extracted from the 2-channel signal merely makes the sound more realistic, more spacious. I keep centerchannel levels quite low in MC with both discrete and recreated signals. Just as in 2-channel, one key to great sound is an intelligent listener who has adjusted his/her system correctly.

Two-channel music sounds small to me; MC doesn't.
.
Live music is a monaural+venue experience.

Proper analog two channel playback can come uncannily close to some multi channel SACD recordings. Attaining this level is not a matter of expensive equipment but rather proper setup and tuning. The sonic superiority of many LP's, for one reason or another, simply didn't come across when mastered for CD. The refinement and availability of high resolution 24/192 downloads and or music BluRay (if that ever happens) will defiantly narrow the gap between two channel LP and multi channel digital.

Some are satisfied with the two channel quality they get with a multi channel setup. Putting another speaker between my stereo pair has a drastic effect on two channel sound staging in my system. The cost of five or seven matching high quality speakers and amplification is out of my range and lesser equipment is a definite downgrade which would make multi channel inferior to me. With enough money and the right space I guess one could reach that goal and claim equality between the two, if you can get past the center speaker being in the way.

I do own a separate 7.1 HT BluRay system and while SACD's and multi channel media sound good they simply lack the sonic finesse that my two channel system provides. The two channel system lacks the ability to play a multi channel recordings. Frankly, I like both for their differences.

Listening is never monaural unless you put a finger in one ear. You always listen with both ears even to a single sound source. What you might be talking about is monophonic (meaning one source) + ambiance but, even then, that applies to a tiny proportion of real events.
Yeah! That's it. Thanks
I just find that multi channel sound provides a flat sound stage with very little depth compaired to two channel system. At least that is what I hear in my system.
"I just find that multi channel sound provides a flat sound stage with very little depth compaired to two channel system. At least that is what I hear in my system."

Incredible. Must be something seriously wrong with your MCH setup.

Kal
MC that is flat w/no depth ?? Is your processor broke ?? This is exactly what I use my center channel for....to create extra depth, dimension, AND HEIGHT. I cannot stand some recordings where the singer's voice is coming out of the baseboards of my room. It gives me a sense of being in the nose-bleed seats....looking down at the performance. My center channel speaker is located @ 5 1/2 feet off the ground. This raises the recording's height to start with. Then I tell my processor that it is located three feet closer than it actually is......so it will delay the center channel's arrival time. This creates great stage depth and ambience. It seems to stretch the depth of the stage, so I get better seperation between the singer.....and say the drum kit. Sometimes it sounds like the singer is directly in the drum set ?? Once I have a synergy between these three speakers, I begin to add ambience w/ my surrounds. I use the left surround and right surround speakers as "height left and right speakers". They are located to the far right, and far left of my main L/R speakers, near the front wall corners. Their sound must come from a height higher than the mains. This creates an illusion of more depth and dimension for your sound stage. My back surround L/R speakers are located above ear height (4-5 feet)......just slightly behind my listening position. I point them just a bit behind my head, so they are not directly on axis to my ears.
My center channel volume is @ 10% to 20% less than my L/R main speakers. I spent a long time dialing in this center channel volume and distance. It is the most important part of getting multichannel music right. Again, you must get the three L/C/R speakers sounding perfect, before introducing the L/R surrounds, and L/R back surrounds. All surrounds are run at a volume 30% to 60% less than my L/R/C mains. I have them set to a volume where you cannot realize their location. All these volumes depend on the surround mode you decide to use.
I will usually tell the processor that my sub is located one to two feet farther than it actually is, so it will allow for an earlier arrival time. This depends on the speed of your sub. This correction seems to keep my sub in time w/ my other speakers. I use the actual distances on all my surrounds.
You have to spend alot of time dialing in these distances, and volumes. If a speaker is allowing you to hear its location......it is not set right. Ocassionally I can hear my left or right main kinda standout, if there is a hard L/R pan in the mix. But I do have my main L/R speakers spread apart by almost 10 feet. So it does happen sometimes.
I use this set-up for my red-book 2 channel music, as well as my surround. My Oppo BDP-83 SE decodes all SACD, multichannel DVD-A, BluRay, etc. 2-channel music is recorded onto Flash Drives, and played through my Bryston BDP-1 player, and decoded thru Neo-6 on my Krell S-1000.
I can honestly say 2 channel sounds anemic, and not nearly as robust.....if not processed now.
As a few others have stated, the center channel must be of equal or higher quality, than your main L/R speakers. Your center channel amplifer must also be of equal sound quality to the mains. Your surround speakers can be of lesser quality in my opinion......but not junk.
All of the varibles I have mentioned above are severely affected by your room acoustics/dimensions. Distances and volumes must be experimented with, before you find the magic.
I have given up trying to obtain that "being there" sound quality. After owning a live music venue for over 20 years, I find stereo systems fail to produce the dynamics of a live performance. Acoustic events can be duplicated more easily. But in my opinion, the recording process fails to deliver the "live music event". So if the source is incorrect, there is very little hope to re-create such.
And I wish more recordings would put the bass player either to the left, or the right of the artist. That is reality in almost all stage sets. Too many recordings have the singer and the bass player standing "inside" the bass drum doing their thing.....or so it sounds ??
Of course all of this is my opinion, and what works for me. Many audiofiles hear my system, and think I have one of the most kick-ass 2-channel systems they have ever heard. They do not realize it is multi-channel I have switched on. I for one will never look back to 2-channel again.....
Nope - Nothing wrong with my setup. In trifield or any surround mode the sound always a little flatter than in Stereo. Just my opinion.