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5.1 Vs 2.1 - Page 2

post #16 of 24

I much prefer 2.1  in my small room I think you need a large room and proper speaker placement to take full advantage of 5.1, in a smaller room I think a 2.1 set-up is a better choice.

post #17 of 24

@Audio Jester what they are getting at in losing the directionality of the sound is that you don't end up in the center of the scene with 2.1, even if you don't lose any actual sound as they are sent to the front channels. For example if you're watching anything with dogfights, and in part of it you have the perspective of one pilot and then the other pilot buzzes over his cockpit from rear to front. In a 5.1 set up the surrounds will play the jet's SFX first, slowly transitioning to the front, so it will be like you were in that same cockpit. If an alien fighter buzzes across Will Smith's FA-18 cockpit towards the rear, then you'd hear it from the front right to the front left then to the rear left. When Darth Vader shoots at the rebel X-Wings from the rear, the rear channels will play the SFX of his beam weapons firing, but when he misses and hits the Death Star instead, the front channel will play that - basically making it feel like you were in that X-Wing cockpit.

 

There's also a scene in The Grey (if I remember correctly) where Liam Neeson is stalking the other guy, messing with his head as the taunting voice comes from one part, then he looks in that direction and Neeson isn't there, etc - on a 7.1 set-up you'll hear Liam Neeson's voice around your head, coming from all directions, and even if all the lines were there you won't get effect of being surrounded in a downmixed 2.1 set-up.  Also the scenes where the Orcs formed up outside the fortress at Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith - the individual sound effects of each Orc warrior (wheezing, sneezing, moving and the armor makes some clunking sound, etc) would be all around you, like you were the commander reviewing the horde.

post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by moviefan1 View Post
 

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?

 

I attended a screening of The Incredibles at the Frank Wells Theater on the Disney lot once. It may be the best digital theater in the world. I was struck by the incredible vibrance and clarity of the image, and the ability to place sounds anywhere in the room, even in the middle of the audience. That experience is what convinced me to build something like that in my home.

 

Most "home theater" installations aren't tweaked to sound good with music. But if you do achieve a balanced frequency response, everything sounds better in 5:1, even mono and 2 channel stereo recordings.

post #19 of 24

Most DVDs will have multiple soundtracks, including separate ones for stereo and surround.

post #20 of 24

Funny - why has no one mentioned that when listening to a movie/video/television in 5.1 rather than 2.1 in addition to the rear channels the 5.1 channel mix also includes the front center channel. When listening to a movie/video/television in 5.1 the center channel is perhaps the most important channel since that is usually the channel that features the most dialog. For example when watching a television of a sporting event (e.g. football/hockey/basketball/baseball game) the sound breakdown for the 5.1 channels goes something like this:

 

subwoofer - low frequencies (since low frequencies are not as directional as high frequencies the subwoofer in a 5.1 system is basically getting the same signal as the subwoofer in a 2.1 system)

 

Rear channels - mostly crowd noise, usually at a lower volume than the front speakers

 

front left and right speakers - music and other sounds

 

center channel - dialog, i.e. the announcers and commentators

 

By the way this can be easily checked - just disconnect the center channel speaker and there will be almost no dialog

 

For music listening the difference between 5.1 and 2.1 is less striking but still exists. However the degree of difference differs from recording to recording and is not as clear cut as when listening to movie/video/television.

post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphp@optonline View Post
 

Funny - why has no one mentioned that when listening to a movie/video/television in 5.1 rather than 2.1 in addition to the rear channels the 5.1 channel mix also includes the front center channel. When listening to a movie/video/television in 5.1 the center channel is perhaps the most important channel since that is usually the channel that features the most dialog. For example when watching a television of a sporting event (e.g. football/hockey/basketball/baseball game) the sound breakdown for the 5.1 channels goes something like this:

 

Because in a 2.1 you just phantom a center channel, and it will still be in the same place, and just as clear provided you have clear speakers? Also as much as a lot of people claim the center is the most important in a surround set-up, the design of mainstream center speakers pose their own problem. That is, speakers tend to have a horizontal dispersion pattern with the tweeters and midrange on top of each other or in MTM; and if you put one down on its side, and it ends up with a dispersion pattern that is vertical, resulting in some speakers in a lot of rooms having a very narrow center image. It's not a problem if you're watching alone or if your couch accomodates four people max and the room is large enough that the left and right are farther apart and you are all still in the direct path of the center speaker, but if you have your buddies over for a geeky movie marathon, it can be a problem for the ones at the sides and rear sides made worse if they're chewing on Tostitos or pork rinds. I've listened to a few of these, and in these cases the center image is sometimes done a little bit better using a phantom center channel off the mains, but less toe-in. The more expensive center channels orient the tweeters on top of the midwoofers, and maybe midrange speakers between them, but these are expensive like the Mirage, on top of their size although they do try to conform to a form factor that will still fit below an HDTV.

 

In one set-up I've seen, which was also in a smaller room, he got around it by using the same kind of stand mount speakers in the entire set-up - so somewhere in his house is an unused partner of what he uses as his center (I think he swaps them out from time to time), which was still cheaper than an actual center channel speaker dispersing in the wrong direction. In another, the owner did the same thing, but this time with tower speakers.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 3/18/14 at 9:43am
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Because in a 2.1 you just phantom a center channel, and it will still be in the same place, and just as clear provided you have clear speakers? Also as much as a lot of people claim the center is the most important in a surround set-up, the design of mainstream center speakers pose their own problem. That is, speakers tend to have a horizontal dispersion pattern with the tweeters and midrange on top of each other or in MTM; and if you put one down on its side, and it ends up with a dispersion pattern that is vertical, resulting in some speakers in a lot of rooms having a very narrow center image. It's not a problem if you're watching alone or if your couch accomodates four people max and the room is large enough that the left and right are farther apart and you are all still in the direct path of the center speaker, but if you have your buddies over for a geeky movie marathon, it can be a problem for the ones at the sides and rear sides made worse if they're chewing on Tostitos or pork rinds. I've listened to a few of these, and in these cases the center image is sometimes done a little bit better using a phantom center channel off the mains, but less toe-in. The more expensive center channels orient the tweeters on top of the midwoofers, and maybe midrange speakers between them, but these are expensive like the Mirage, on top of their size although they do try to conform to a form factor that will still fit below an HDTV.

Everything you wrote is basically true, however this is just a bit of overkill. Sure if one sitting way off to the side the sound mix will have some problems but then again so will the picture :o

 

What I was referring to in my previous post was a properly set up 5.1 channel system in a dedicated room.

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphp@optonline View Post
 

Everything you wrote is basically true, however this is just a bit of overkill. Sure if one sitting way off to the side the sound mix will have some problems but then again so will the picture :o

 

What I was referring to in my previous post was a properly set up 5.1 channel system in a dedicated room.

 

Yes of course it was about being in a proper room; I'm just saying that in this 2.1 vs 5.1 discussion, the 2 rear channels got more attention than the center because technically, in a 2.1 system, it's a phantom center, and regardless of whether it is physical or phantom center (2ch or 4ch doesn't matter in this case) the sound will still be in the front, unlike surrounds where in a downmixed or dedicated two channel mix, will get sent to the front.

post #24 of 24
With music (as opposed to movies) the center channel is used to allow you to broaden the width and scale of your soundstage. If you just have stereo and are using the phantom center to fill out the soundstage, you can't place your speakers further apart than 8 feet or so without the middle dropping out. With typical speakers, this means that the aural size of the soundstage is less than 12 feet across. If you are listening to a string quartet, the height of the musicians would be about three feet tall.

Adding the center channel allows you to double the distance between your speakers, doubling the width of the soundstage and doubling the aural size of the performers. 5:1 recordings of string quartets and small jazz groups sound particularly good because the scale of the sound matches the scale of live performances. For orchestral recordings, the same doubling of size approximates around 15th row center in a typical concert hall, which is the sweet spot for live perfomances.
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