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Blu-Ray Audio: The latest gimmick? - Page 5

post #61 of 129

I think the problem of normal people being able to properly set up and tune a 5:1 system is an even bigger issue than the mixers. Speaker placement is critical, but wives are usually dead set against putting the speakers where they need to be. And I don't know many people who go to the effort to EQ and balance each channel individually. They depend on some rinky dink microphone to do it for them and it ends up sounding wonky.

post #62 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

I think the problem of normal people being able to properly set up and tune a 5:1 system is an even bigger issue than the mixers. Speaker placement is critical, but wives are usually dead set against putting the speakers where they need to be. And I don't know many people who go to the effort to EQ and balance each channel individually. They depend on some rinky dink microphone to do it for them and it ends up sounding wonky.

 

The way I see it, there are only two solutions. Stay single, or get a house big enough to contain a Man Cave.

 

Edit: Its not only this hobby. Most hobby-related forums I visit have the same complaint.


Edited by proton007 - 10/21/13 at 7:32pm
post #63 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

Perhaps I didn't understand. A few questions...

 

What non-gimmicked music did you listen to?

How long did you spend EQing and balancing your channels and how did you go about it?

What DSP did you use to convert from 2 channel to 5:1?

Did you experiment with synthesized environments?

 

I used various of the classical Telarc SACD's including the "Music of Ravel", Turina/Debussy "Iberia", Vaughn Williams "Sea Symphony", Orff "Carmina Burana", and the Beethoven 9, etc.

 

I didn't evaluate using any 2 channel to 5.1 conversions (though I did play with that with a Panasonic sa-xr 25 receiver, just for fun). I didn't think it was fair to evaluate using ersatz surround recordings, only recordings intended to be played back in surround.

 

I didn't experiment with "synthesized environments" as my goal with my music system is to, as far as I can, recreate actual environments.

 

The Lexicon player I use has calibration signals which I used to get a baseline for channel balance along with a SPL meter. I did experiment with my own adjustments.

 

My equipment did not at the time (and does not now) have EQ. Fortunately, my room is reasonable and measurements and listening showed a good result with the Magnepans. I could see the need for EQ in difficult situations and would not hesitate to employ it if it were necessary. I do not worry about bass below 40 hz since I do not use my audio system for video.

 

I did listen to DS of the Moon (of course) and some other surround rock albums and here the surround had a purpose (as it has for video). Fun listening, but to me not essential. Again, to me, the surround for the Classical non-gimmicked recording did not enhance my enjoyment and didn't result in a playback closer to the live concert hall experience. I do go to live classical music concerts, both here in NYC and on vacation (mostly in London), so I have something of a baseline for that.

 

So, you asked and get a serious response. Feeling good today, I guess. :cool:

post #64 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

My motto is, "There's one born every minute."

 

One other observation... Originally, when you were listing all the expensive brand names, you were doing it to show that you had heard a really good 5:1 system but it didn't sound good to you. Now, a few posts along in the thread, it's your own system and you selected it carefully for optimal sound quality... money is no object for good sound.

 

Interesting how these things change depending on the context.

Why are you wasting your time, on this individual ?

post #65 of 129

Careful there, buddy.

 

post #66 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by k3oxkjo View Post
 

I didn't evaluate using any 2 channel to 5.1 conversions (though I did play with that with a Panasonic sa-xr 25 receiver, just for fun). I didn't think it was fair to evaluate using ersatz surround recordings, only recordings intended to be played back in surround.

 

I didn't experiment with "synthesized environments" as my goal with my music system is to, as far as I can, recreate actual environments.

 

My equipment did not at the time (and does not now) have EQ.

 

OK. I totally understand why you weren't impressed now. Without EQing each channel, the various speakers don't mesh properly. The center channel needs to be perfectly matched to the mains, or the soundstage becomes a triangle instead of a smooth left to right handoff. The same is true of the rears. You can't get a phase mesh at your listening position unless the EQ is balanced all around. That's what made it sound like sound coming from all different directions to you. The channels aren't supposed to be separate. They're supposed to seamlessly integrate with each other, creating a clear sound field. Every room requires EQing for a 5:1 setup. No living room is the same acoustic in front as it is behind. The differences in furniture placement and location of walls make that impossible.

 

Secondly, when I'm talking about 5:1 for music, I'm talking about 2 channel recordings run through a 5:1 DSP. That accounts for 90% of my music listening. SACDs and blu-ray audio is fine, but that isn't what most people are going to listen to all the time. The 7:1/stereo DSP on my Yamaha receiver makes a bigger improvement in sound than anything else in my system. It takes the normal 2 channel stereo spread and adds an ambience to it that widens the soundstage, gives it three dimensional depth and fills in the rear with just enough sound to feel live, but not so much you can hear it. The ambience fills in the room and makes the sound good from any listening position, not just the main listening position.

 

Even with a 5:1 recording, there are multiple DSPs for processing the multichannel information. It isn't a "one size fits all" thing. Synthesized environments are *real* environments. My Yamaha has a dozen different ambiences that were taken from measurements of the acoustic in real world venues. It's not a reverb. It's a way to make the acoustics of your living room match those of a real concert hall or nightclub. I have the Toscanini box set, and if you are familiar with his recordings, you know that they have been criticized for boxy flat sound. I can take them and adjust the DSPs to find a setting that completely corrects that problem. For historical recordings of classical music, it's a godsend.

 

On my receiver, I have a switch called "Direct" that bypasses all the circuitry for equalization and DSPs and patches the 2 channel sound directly unaltered. When I flick that switch back and forth from bypass to multichannel/EQ/DSP, it's like a light bulb switching on and off. The processing provides a MASSIVE improvement. It isn't subtle, and it isn't sounds coming from all sides. Your description of what 5:1 sounds like to you isn't even close to what I experience every time I sit down to listen. The reason for that is because when you were experimenting, you didn't even scratch the surface of what 5:1 is capable of.

 

I totally understand how hard it is to find out how to properly set up a 5:1 system. When I was putting mine together, I went online and googled, and all I found were home theater types talking about multiple subwoofers pumping out tons of subaudible frequencies and home theater in a box setups. None of it applied to what I was trying to do... create the ultimate music system. I had to figure it out by experimentation and trial and error, and that has took a year to get to the point I was totally happy with it. Most people aren't going to invest that kind of time and effort, so most people aren't going to know what a really good 5:1 music system sounds like. But I can tell you this... All the work I put into it was totally worth it. In 40 years of being a hifi nut, I've never ever had a system sound this good.


Edited by bigshot - 10/22/13 at 10:49am
post #67 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

OK. I totally understand why you weren't impressed now.

 

Actually, you don't.

 

Without EQing each channel, the various speakers don't mesh properly. The center channel needs to be perfectly matched to the mains, or the soundstage becomes a triangle instead of a smooth left to right handoff. The same is true of the rears. You can't get a phase mesh at your listening position unless the EQ is balanced all around. That's what made it sound like sound coming from all different directions to you. The channels aren't supposed to be separate. They're supposed to seamlessly integrate with each other, creating a clear sound field. Every room requires EQing for a 5:1 setup. No living room is the same acoustic in front as it is behind. The differences in furniture placement and location of walls make that impossible.

 

It didn't sound like it was "coming from all different directions" to me and I didn't say that. But for the record, I have heard systems with 5 identical speakers and with speakers designed to work together and professionally EQ'ed. For music, my conclusions mostly stand. Mostly? I heard a couple of surround systems in quite large rooms where the effect (with recordings properly recorded for surround reproduction) was useful because one could sit far enough away from the sound sources (like in a concert hall, no?). But those were nowhere near domestic settings. If I ever get a house with a room the size of a ballroom or small theatre (doubtful), I might revist surround for music.

 

Secondly, when I'm talking about 5:1 for music, I'm talking about 2 channel recordings run through a 5:1 DSP. That accounts for 90% of my music listening. SACDs and blu-ray audio is fine, but that isn't what most people are going to listen to all the time. The 7:1/stereo DSP on my Yamaha receiver makes a bigger improvement in sound than anything else in my system.

 

I won't say it, it's too easy and obvious.

 

It takes the normal 2 channel stereo spread and adds an ambience to it that widens the soundstage, gives it three dimensional depth and fills in the rear with just enough sound to feel live, but not so much you can hear it. The ambience fills in the room and makes the sound good from any listening position, not just the main listening position.

 

Even with a 5:1 recording, there are multiple DSPs for processing the multichannel information. It isn't a "one size fits all" thing. Synthesized environments are *real* environments. My Yamaha has a dozen different ambiences that were taken from measurements of the acoustic in real world venues. It's not a reverb. It's a way to make the acoustics of your living room match those of a real concert hall or nightclub.

 

But not THE concert hall or nightclub the recording was made in.  I would be more impressed if your Yamaha Receiver had thousands of different ambiences taken at most of the major venues where recordings have been made. Of course, you could just use the actual ambience of the particular hall as captured on the recording...

 

I have the Toscanini box set, and if you are familiar with his recordings, you know that they have been criticized for boxy flat sound. I can take them and adjust the DSPs to find a setting that completely corrects that problem. For historical recordings of classical music, it's a godsend.

 

They ARE boxy flat recordings because they were recorded in Mono in a studio (8H) rather than a concert hall. And that's how the Toscanini Collection sounds. My aquaintance Seth Winner, who did the original transfers for CD, did the best he could with what he had to work with. Personally, I vote for reproduction. But if it works for you, knock yourself out.

 

On my receiver, I have a switch called "Direct" that bypasses all the circuitry for equalization and DSPs and patches the 2 channel sound directly unaltered.

 

Actually, been there, done that on many dozens of surround systems.

 

When I flick that switch back and forth from bypass to multichannel/EQ/DSP, it's like a light bulb switching on and off. The processing provides a MASSIVE improvement. It isn't subtle, and it isn't sounds coming from all sides. Your description of what 5:1 sounds like to you isn't even close to what I experience every time I sit down to listen. The reason for that is because when you were experimenting, you didn't even scratch the surface of what 5:1 is capable of.

 

Hey, you like sound effects, that's fine. I like to try and reproduce the original sound as much as is practical. We just have a fundimental difference in our musical goals.

 

 

post #68 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

I think the problem of normal people being able to properly set up and tune a 5:1 system is an even bigger issue than the mixers. Speaker placement is critical, but wives are usually dead set against putting the speakers where they need to be. And I don't know many people who go to the effort to EQ and balance each channel individually. They depend on some rinky dink microphone to do it for them and it ends up sounding wonky.

 

So does this mean you EQ by ear? Each channel individually or all at the same time?

post #69 of 129

I started with the auto EQ feature on my receiver. That did OK with EQ, but the volume levels of the channels were all wonky. Next I fine tuned by ear using good classical music recordings. I adjusted everything in sweeps, not all at once. I started with the relative volume levels of the channels, then I adjusted EQ on the mains, then the center, then the rears. EQing changed the overall volume levels, so I swept through that again. Then back to EQing. Back and forth, because each adjustment affected all the other adjustments. I would go through tweaking all the channels, then listen to a variety of recordings for a few days. When I figured out what needed work, I would tweak that and go back to listening. It took dozens and dozens of go rounds over a period of several months with progressively smaller and smaller corrections. Kind of like parallel parking. Lastly, I fine tuned the levels of the 7:1 stereo DSP relative to discrete 5:1 content, found the best multichannel decoder for movies, and worked with the level of the sub to get it to hand off smoothly. It was a very long process. Now that I have it where I want it, I need to go through all the menus and photograph the settings so I can recreate it if the amp loses the settings.

 

What it started out sounding like, and what it ended up sounding like was quite different. Now, just about anything I play sounds good, and the sub never blows the roof off when I put on a modern action movie. The soundstage across the front is very defined, evenly spread across the three channels, and feels like it has depth. When I play a 5:1 movie, the dialogue is perfectly balanced and the rears don't jump out.

 

I have better speakers that I plan to swap in for my rears, but I have to figure out how to mount them on the wall so they won't come crashing down in an earthquake. When I put those in, I suspect it will require a good amount of rebalancing.

 

I can go into more detail on my balancing process if you're interested. I learned an awful lot about how 5:1 and the various DSPs work.

post #70 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by k3oxkjo View Post
But not THE concert hall or nightclub the recording was made in.  I would be more impressed if your Yamaha Receiver had thousands of different ambiences taken at most of the major venues where recordings have been made. Of course, you could just use the actual ambience of the particular hall as captured on the recording...

 

Actually, it does include many of those. Yamaha has settings for the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic halls, as well as several clubs and small theaters like the Bottom Line, The Roxy, etc.

 

No "real" music performance space has all the sounds of the musicians coming from two wooden boxes set ten feet apart. That's basically 2 dimensional sound. Adding rears allows you to create a sound field that allows a 3 dimensional feel. A center channel lets you open up the soundstage wider than just ten feet. That is MUCH more "real" than just 2 channel stereo. Also, any home audio presentation is an approximation, and processing of one sort or another is required to make the presentation as real as possible. It's how you pick and choose how you apply that processing that makes the difference. Yamaha's 7:1 Stereo DSP makes regular stereo sound like a live performance, and that's the ultimate goal I would think.

 

Just taking a stereo signal and patching direct through an amp to two speakers doesn't guarantee realism. That's a mechanical and dogmatic way of thinking about sound and it just doesn't work for a dozen different reasons. However, multichannel audio is MUCH more difficult to set up and tweak, and it requires a larger space. If a 5:1 system isn't properly set up, it can sound worse than 2 channel stereo. That appears to be what you've heard before.


Edited by bigshot - 10/22/13 at 3:33pm
post #71 of 129

The effect might be great for classical, but something on a smaller level like club style jazz

wouldn't sound right. Less all around sound and more direct front facing sound.

In fact, simple is good for that kind of music. Good two way bookshelf speakers

seem to excel at jazz. At one time I had 7 sets of speakers (too many great deals on craigslist)

and I had a a set of Hales bookshelves that were great at jazz. I finally came back to my senses and

cleared them all out. There was a set of old Snell type E's I really miss, but the current set have

a lot better WAF than the Snells.

post #72 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

 Also, any home audio presentation is an approximation, and processing of one sort or another is required to make the presentation as real as possible. It's how you pick and choose how you apply that processing that makes the difference.

 
+1 on this.

 

Are you using a separate hardware parametric/graphic EQ per channel? Or does your Yamaha have built in EQ for each channel?

post #73 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktm View Post
 

The effect might be great for classical, but something on a smaller level like club style jazz

wouldn't sound right. Less all around sound and more direct front facing sound.

In fact, simple is good for that kind of music.

 

What I'm describing is front facing sound. The soundstage is in front of you, the same as with 2 channel. The difference is the phase around you that gives you a feeling of live space. I listen to a lot of jazz. It sounds incredible on 5:1 too, especially modern jazz recorded in mono. It totally takes the curse off the sound of mono and gives it depth. All types of music benefit from this.

 

I think you have to hear a good 5:1 system playing stereo through a DSP to really understand, and it seems very few people have heard that.


Edited by bigshot - 10/22/13 at 7:04pm
post #74 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by White Lotus View Post
 

Are you using a separate hardware parametric/graphic EQ per channel? Or does your Yamaha have built in EQ for each channel?

 

Man! I wish I could use an outboard EQ, but there's no way to do that with more than one source. I use a Mac Mini and a Blu-Ray player. I could patch between one of them, but to do both with an external equalizer I'd have to add an additional manual optical switcher. That would make it a royal pain to switch back and forth from the couch. Right now, I can control all my remotes from my iPhone.

 

The Yamaha has built in 5 band parametric equalizers for each channel. It's not enough bands to get small bumps, but I can finesse the overall curve and fix the bump at the crossover between the mains and the subwoofer. That's enough for now. I would really like a 10 band parametric or a 5 band parameteric plus an additional 32 band graphic.

post #75 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

The Yamaha has built in 5 band parametric equalizers for each channel.

 

That's a pretty neat feature - a lot of receivers don't have this. Cherish it!

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