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5.1 Vs 2.1

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Does listening to Movies / Music in a 2.1 system result in the loss of parts of the audio when compared to listening to a 5.1 system?

To rephrase. Many (if not most) movies are produced these days with 5.1 in mind. When you choose to listen to a movie that is intended to be 5.1 through a 2.1 system are there parts of the audio track that are not played because you are "missing" three other speakers? Is there a loss of quality due to this processing?
post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know about this?
post #3 of 24
The signals are not lost. The back and center channels are simply moved to the front speakers when you are using less speakers. You will hear everything, but it can sound a bit wrong because some sounds are coming from the wrong place.
post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuoppi View Post
The signals are not lost. The back and center channels are simply moved to the front speakers when you are using less speakers. You will hear everything, but it can sound a bit wrong because some sounds are coming from the wrong place.
Keep in mind, though, if you are using a 5.1 chain with 5.1 outputs and only connecting the left & right front speakers, you will lose the other sounds. I don't know if this is what the OP was talking about or not. It depends on your setup. I don't know if there are any huge differences between systems, assuming it all gets mixed to 2.1 before getting played.
post #5 of 24
True. I was only thinking a scenario where you use a digital output from the player to the receiver.

Most (not all mind you) players with 5.1 out have the speaker settings built in or atleast they should have a stereo mode where it downmixes the sound.
post #6 of 24
It depends entirely on how the audio is processed by your receiver. Most AV receivers have a 2.1 mode where the other channels in a 5.1 soundtrack will be "matrixed" together into your 2.1 speakers. However, if you have your receiver set on a 5.1 surround mode and you only connect 2 speakers and a subwoofer, the other 3 channels of sound will be lost.

I am assuming you are talking about an AV receiver? Or are you talking about a sound card on your computer?
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwhitakr View Post
I am assuming you are talking about an AV receiver? Or are you talking about a sound card on your computer?
I was talking about a reciever. This comes from a debate I am having with a friend of mine. I prefer 2.1 setups, but he prefers 5.1. He was saying that a 5.1 is superior because most studios create music to be played through a 5.1 setup and when the audio is (as you said) "matrixed" to make 2.1 there is a loss of quality and there could be loss of some parts of the audio.

So does this conversion from 5.1 to 2.1 result in a loss of quality?
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Jester View Post
I was talking about a reciever. This comes from a debate I am having with a friend of mine. I prefer 2.1 setups, but he prefers 5.1. He was saying that a 5.1 is superior because most studios create music to be played through a 5.1 setup and when the audio is (as you said) "matrixed" to make 2.1 there is a loss of quality and there could be loss of some parts of the audio.

So does this conversion from 5.1 to 2.1 result in a loss of quality?
It would not result in a loss of fidelity, it would only affect the directionality of the audio, since the discrete channels from the rear would be matrixed into the front two speakers, and so no sound would be coming from behind you. All the information is still there.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks Soup. So by extension that means that a 2.1 in a "perfect" space is equivalent to a 5.1 in a "perfect" space. All that is lost is the 3D effect of 5.1?
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Jester View Post
Thanks Soup. So by extension that means that a 2.1 in a "perfect" space is equivalent to a 5.1 in a "perfect" space. All that is lost is the 3D effect of 5.1?
i dont really understand the beginning of your statement, but yes, the only thing that would be lost is the 3D ness of it. I actually ran a similar setup in my room for quite a while using Paradigm monitor 7's and my Yamaha DSP-A1, at least till i got my emotica ERM1's and my epik sentinel and i still use a phantom center channel, no need for a center inmy tiny little room.
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks Soup, anyone else like me and prefer 2.1? I seem to be the only person around my neck of the woods who does not prefer 5.1.
post #12 of 24
It depends on the system and the source material. If you're a big action movie/home theater fan, you're going to want to have 5.1. For music its completely useless unless you have a lot of 5.1 SACD or DVD-As.

Concert DVDs are where the question gets more difficult. Most concert DVD's have a well produced Dolby Stereo option that sounds great on 2.1 systems. On a few discs though, the full 5.1 Dolby or DTS mix sounds better.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post
...If you're a big action movie/home theater fan, you're going to want to have 5.1
Funny thing is that I am a big movie fan, but personally prefer the sound to appear to come from what you are looking at, not like 5.1 which puts sounds behind you... I find that distracting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post
...On a few discs though, the full 5.1 Dolby or DTS mix sounds better.
Interesting that you say that because the quality of the 5.1 mix is part of what I was referring to in my previous posts. I was questioning if the 5.1 audio track may be better than the stereo track. Although, it seems from what others are saying that if you put the 5.1 track through a proper 2.1 reciever setup that you do not lose fidelity.
post #14 of 24

For all the avid movie watchers. Is 5.1 sound in animated movies useless or does it actually make the movie sound a lot better than a 2.1 audio?

post #15 of 24

Was never a fan of surround sound myself.  From memory when you use 5.1 Dolby Digital / DTS in order to get all that extra data down the SPDIF connection the sample rate of the channels is reduced and then compressed with a lossy codec. yuck.  I always stuck with pure uncompressed two channel PCM audio via the same digital link.

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