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A Discussion on Surround Sound Systems

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Old 08-09-2005, 03:23 AM   #16  
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At the end of the day, true sound is a bit like beauty. It is indeed in the (eye) ear of the beholder. We can rant and rave about what is correct and what is 'fidelity' but there are so many other personal factors that come into this. This however does not change the word fidelity!

Correct reproduction (fidelity) should be 'played as recorded', and with all the effects etc as it was recorded. However, this often is not the way we like to listen to music/movies. Let me give an extreme example. How many of us have heard a car go past with the sub-base pumped up 12 to 20db above the rest of the music? Some like to listen to sounds this way? I don't and I find it hard to fathom why others do, but this is just my opinion - (beauty in the ear of the beholder again).

THX gives us some 'measure' of correctness with regard to the replay of music/sounds recorded (with surround in mind) as the director or author of the sound intended. It gives us the belief that what we listen to is somewhat correct as the movie/recording should be, the impact is as it was designed and in keeping with the intent of the overall production (cd, dvd or otherwise).

I find much of the impact of a movie lies in the sound orchestration. The theme, acting and plot etc are paramount, but the sound adds to the movie and often compensates for heaps of other shortfalls . I hate to say this but sometimes the sound is the only reason for the movie (in particular some music videos - whose visuals are crap but the sound is great).

Many surround systems allow you to colour your surround system by way of enhancements etc. (mine does). This is a good thing, and it is also a bad thing. It is good in that you 'over you library' can set up your system so that the settings are as you like or that you can 'over your library' set them up so that they all sound all the same. If music/sound was supposed to be a 'one thing' the we could all go down to the shop and buy a box of 'one things' and be happy, all the music/movies would sound the same and the sales of 'one things' would soar.

Life is full of wonders and variety, thus so is music/sound and the ideas of movie directors with their sonic depictions of emotion, fright, impact, serenity, grace, distrubance.... need I go on.

I am all for a great surround system. I have one of the best myself. Surround is an enhancement over stereo and let us use it to gain a greater mood impact to the visual that we are presented with, but do it with forethought. Me, personally, I use my system on 'auto detect' and let it sort it self out according to the DVD or CD I insert (thus it becomes a decision of the director/sound editor not mine). If DTS, then DTS it is or PrologixII or whatever. If all else fails, I manually select Neo6 to get 'accross the board' and an acceptable sound that has reasonable fidelity and a good surround enhancement to make the movie/cd interesting.

...but these are just my thoughts...
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Old 08-09-2005, 07:36 PM   #17  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by advantex
At the end of the day, true sound is a bit like beauty. It is indeed in the (eye) ear of the beholder. We can rant and rave about what is correct and what is 'fidelity' but there are so many other personal factors that come into this. This however does not change the word fidelity!

Correct reproduction (fidelity) should be 'played as recorded', and with all the effects etc as it was recorded. However, this often is not the way we like to listen to music/movies. Let me give an extreme example. How many of us have heard a car go past with the sub-base pumped up 12 to 20db above the rest of the music? Some like to listen to sounds this way? I don't and I find it hard to fathom why others do, but this is just my opinion - (beauty in the ear of the beholder again).

THX gives us some 'measure' of correctness with regard to the replay of music/sounds recorded (with surround in mind) as the director or author of the sound intended. It gives us the belief that what we listen to is somewhat correct as the movie/recording should be, the impact is as it was designed and in keeping with the intent of the overall production (cd, dvd or otherwise).

I find much of the impact of a movie lies in the sound orchestration. The theme, acting and plot etc are paramount, but the sound adds to the movie and often compensates for heaps of other shortfalls . I hate to say this but sometimes the sound is the only reason for the movie (in particular some music videos - whose visuals are crap but the sound is great).

Many surround systems allow you to colour your surround system by way of enhancements etc. (mine does). This is a good thing, and it is also a bad thing. It is good in that you 'over you library' can set up your system so that the settings are as you like or that you can 'over your library' set them up so that they all sound all the same. If music/sound was supposed to be a 'one thing' the we could all go down to the shop and buy a box of 'one things' and be happy, all the music/movies would sound the same and the sales of 'one things' would soar.

Life is full of wonders and variety, thus so is music/sound and the ideas of movie directors with their sonic depictions of emotion, fright, impact, serenity, grace, distrubance.... need I go on.

I am all for a great surround system. I have one of the best myself. Surround is an enhancement over stereo and let us use it to gain a greater mood impact to the visual that we are presented with, but do it with forethought. Me, personally, I use my system on 'auto detect' and let it sort it self out according to the DVD or CD I insert (thus it becomes a decision of the director/sound editor not mine). If DTS, then DTS it is or PrologixII or whatever. If all else fails, I manually select Neo6 to get 'accross the board' and an acceptable sound that has reasonable fidelity and a good surround enhancement to make the movie/cd interesting.

...but these are just my thoughts...
You make some valid points, to be sure. But the thing I notice most about surround sound is that it "envelopes" you. To state the obvious, you are "surrounded" as opposed the having sound come at you from in front. I believe the change from stereo to surround is much more dramatic than going from monoaural to stereo. And it's not just that the highs are higher, the lows are lower, and the decibels can knock down china off the walls; it's the dimensional effect that makes you become part of the event or movie. It's not quite as impressive as going from analog video to HDTV, but it's close. There's no doubt that if I could only have either HD video plus single channel audio vs. analog video plus 5.1 Dolby surround sound, I would definitely take the great video with so-so audio. But fortunately, we can have both. And I would recommend to anyone that if budget is an issue, scale back a little on your choice for an HDTV and leave enough for some 5.1 DD home theater audio, even if it is just entry level. Try it and you'll be glad you did, and will likely never go back to "regular" listening again. IMHO.....


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Old 08-09-2005, 08:24 PM   #18  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatManDoo
You make some valid points, to be sure. But the thing I notice most about surround sound is that it "envelopes" you. To state the obvious, you are "surrounded" as opposed the having sound come at you from in front. I believe the change from stereo to surround is much more dramatic than going from monoaural to stereo. And it's not just that the highs are higher, the lows are lower, and the decibels can knock down china off the walls; it's the dimensional effect that makes you become part of the event or movie. It's not quite as impressive as going from analog video to HDTV, but it's close. There's no doubt that if I could only have either HD video plus single channel audio vs. analog video plus 5.1 Dolby surround sound, I would definitely take the great video with so-so audio. But fortunately, we can have both. And I would recommend to anyone that if budget is an issue, scale back a little on your choice for an HDTV and leave enough for some 5.1 DD home theater audio, even if it is just entry level. Try it and you'll be glad you did, and will likely never go back to "regular" listening again. IMHO.....

For movies and some sports and other entertainment venue, nothing beats a good 5.1 system. They have 6.1 and 7.1 and even talk about 10.1...but for most of us a quality 5.1 system is basic.
I am not totally enthralled with surround for music. But I have heard some excellent examples. Maybe I have not listened to enough multichannel music, but to me I don't think there are that many DVD-Audio or SACD that fully rise to the occassion.
Some of the concerts in Dolby 5.1 or DTS can be very good. The Eagles Hotel California, and a couple of Diana Krall's recordings are certainly memorable.
The key with any sound system, is it has to have superior 2 channel sound to start with. That's fundamental, especially is you want to use it for music listening as well as home theater use.
And speakers that sound great for music, can also sound very good for HT. It all depends on the design, and it's expandability.
But not all speakers that sound great for HT are necessarily that great for music.
It's a balance sometimes. I would lean a bit toward good sounding music, since that's generally more crtical.
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Old 08-10-2005, 03:31 AM   #19  
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"But the thing I notice most about surround sound is that it "envelopes" you. To state the obvious, you are "surrounded" as opposed ..."

and this indeed is the purpose and impact of surround sound. I agree totally. There is a need to impress upon people, that ALL the senses - in particular eyes & ears (thus basic emotions) - need to be involved when selecting any sort of entertainment system of value. To get visual without sound or sound without visual is to cut your experiences short of what could be.

Its funny, (but to give another obsurd example) if you hate the aesthetic look of you system, you will never be impressed with the performance of it, even if it was total state of the art. The reverse is also true, perhaps even more so. People think that because it looks great, it sounds great/performs great visually. The mind can trick the senses much more easily than the senses can trick the mind.
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Old 08-10-2005, 11:09 AM   #20  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by advantex
"But the thing I notice most about surround sound is that it "envelopes" you. To state the obvious, you are "surrounded" as opposed ..."

and this indeed is the purpose and impact of surround sound. I agree totally. There is a need to impress upon people, that ALL the senses - in particular eyes & ears (thus basic emotions) - need to be involved when selecting any sort of entertainment system of value. To get visual without sound or sound without visual is to cut your experiences short of what could be.

Its funny, (but to give another obsurd example) if you hate the aesthetic look of you system, you will never be impressed with the performance of it, even if it was total state of the art. The reverse is also true, perhaps even more so. People think that because it looks great, it sounds great/performs great visually. The mind can trick the senses much more easily than the senses can trick the mind.
Funny thing is I tried 6 LG 44SZ63D DLP HDTVs because I loved the cabinet design, but in the end, I couldn't live with the PQ with anything other than HD signals. It had a lot of video noise in dark sceens, and on a couple of them the noise was so bad it looked like x-ray when the source was DVD or SD cable signals.

I tortured myself for 2 months just for that stinking cabinet which looked better than anyone elses, so I lived what you are saying.
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Old 08-15-2005, 11:56 AM   #21  
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Default Surround Sound System

I tried to recreate the effect you get at the movie theatre. IMO what I created sounds better than being at the movie theatre.
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Old 08-15-2005, 03:13 PM   #22  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrm64
I tried to recreate the effect you get at the movie theatre. IMO what I created sounds better than being at the movie theatre.
That's becoming more common. Once we wanted to emulate a theater, now we ARE a theater.
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Old 08-16-2005, 12:45 AM   #23  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daleb
That's becoming more common. Once we wanted to emulate a theater, now we ARE a theater.
So true!

Everyone who hears my system thinks it sounds much better than ANY theater they have been in. I hate to go to theaters anymore because I don't think they sound that great anymore in comparison. Not to mention the high cost, rude movie goers, no pause for bathroom breaks, etc. etc.

I can buy the DVD for less than it costs for just two of my 6 family members to go even if they buy no drinks or snacks.
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Old 09-30-2005, 09:32 AM   #24  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbinck
Letís Talk Surround

Then in 1966 Dolby Labs came out with a breakthrough in sound processing, the Dolby A-type noise reduction system. This would finally allow the optical audio on films to carry a stereo sound track.
Dolby A is strictly a noise reduction system used for 2" analog and 1/2 track recorder/reproducers. An extremely sophisticated system which splits the signal into 4 discrete bands and uses the principles of compression and mirror expansion to reduce the noise floor of analog tape on the way up, and raises the signal (decode) on the way down thereby eliminating tape hiss. thus the mirror image double D logo which has existed for years. this is an extremely basic explanation of the workings of dolby A, which has absolutely nothing to do with encoding stereo tracks on film.

originally dolby labs had nothing to do with film and invested all of their energies into high end studio recording. some years back they made a stategic move to develop a discrete multi channel system that was code named "AC3" which stood for audio code number 3, it's developmental name. while the original dolby type "A" systems are still in use with world class recordings that you hear every day, today the name dolby has a completely different connotation and is inseparable from the film industry.

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Old 12-15-2005, 08:42 PM   #25  
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Surround is great for sports, especially with a big HD screen. Last week's football games felt like being there - with the obvious exception that I stayed warm, and didn't have to drink my beer from 2-quart paper cups
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Old 12-15-2005, 09:58 PM   #26  
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Akira,
Dolby labs does not agree with you. From their history at http://www.dolby.com/about/who_we_are/history_1.html
Quote:
While at first glance noise reduction (NR) appears to be an esoteric invention with limited applications, its effects on the audio industry have been profound. The multitrack recording techniques that blossomed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, came about only because of Dolby A-type NR. Without it, the high tape hiss resulting from the combination of narrow tracks and multiple mixdowns would have been intolerable. And when applied to consumer formats and motion picture sound, the results were to be even more far-reaching.
The piont is without the first noise reduction (Dolby A) to allow the narrow optical tracks to be doubled, there would have been no stereo and thus no ProLogic surround. Without the noise reduction, the analog decoders would have been impossible to make.

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Old 12-22-2005, 07:04 PM   #27  
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Hmmm please say that again...If I hook up the left and right surround channels to my old dolby prologic reciever I can then get a mono rear center channel? So what happens to the side surround channels. Forgive me for inquiring but I think Im missing something. But soemthing tells me you r right...

OOPS!!!! Im new here as you can tell. I typed this to a statement about using an old dolby prologic receiver for rear center surroound and it showed up here. Sorry Guys..I think I need a lil grace till I can figure this forum out..

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Old 01-14-2006, 06:21 PM   #28  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatManDoo
With so much focus on the video portion of home theater, the audio portion seems to get left out. But going from regular stereo sound out of your tv to 5.1 or better Dolby is almost (but not quite) as dramatic as the jump from SD to HD. I love it, and I wonder what percentage of people in this Forum use a receiver with surround sound to maximize the home viewing/listening experience???
Hey Cat, been using DD 5.1 for a few years now. I got my surround system when I bought my first big screen...a Sony 53" V series. I now have incorporated it into my bedroom with my 37" plasma...awesome. One good example is on the Matrix, the hallway shootout screen, and Neo firing the big cannon out of the chopper. How about saving Private Ryan? Surround sound truly did bring the theatre home.
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Old 01-19-2006, 04:12 PM   #29  
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5.1 is a thing of beauty. But I made the jump to 6.1. And its even better. Try Pirates of the Carribean, or Underworld. They have a discrete rear center channel. A few more are out there.
One poster said they were not sure about surround for music only. Watch the Cream DVD from Albert Hall. Amazing sound. Anyone thinking of these new "sound bars"...forget it. You have to move air. And separate speakers do that.
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Old 02-10-2006, 04:18 PM   #30  
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Question looking for honest opinion

Any expert opinions on the yamaha ysp-1000, 800 or ysp-1 series.
Have not seen any owner reviews.
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