I think indeed all these things can have played a role.Maybe it's because those music tracks weren't recorded that way initially but re-processed into an Atmos track for the demo. Maybe it's because the demo room was open and people were talking loudly during my calibration and demo (no joke, I had to ask the person doing my calibration to shoo one guy away so I could get a quieter environment). Maybe it's because the monitors were set up at a distance and angle great for listening to movies, but way closer than I would normally set up any stereo setup of my own.
I think that is very likely. But even if it is not sure, you can't know the opposite until you tried it. That's why I was a bit stunned by your conclusion:Perhaps if they had a 2 channel demo track AND had a pair of stereo tower speakers meant for music (no HT overlap for the sound signature) AND had those set up for a more traditional stereo listening experience, it would have had a different impression on me.
Of course I don't say you should have bought it, not being sure if it can do what you want it to do, only in all honesty I think it is a little bit unfair to judge the A16 not based on trying it the way you want to use it: measure a high quality stereo system and compare that system to it's simulation over the A16.I walked in to the room ready to preorder, but left the room confident in my decision that for my own purposes (strictly 2 channel stereo reproduction), this device would only detract and not add anything benefial for me.
I think one of the strongest points of the A16 is that you can do so many different things with it. You could create a collection of PRIRs of many different kind of real systems (stereo, multichannel, traditional speakers, dipoles, line sources, point sources, etc. etc.), you can do certain improvements like using direct bass, decrease reverberation. Create a high end surround PRIR using only a high end stereo set-up. Do special "manipulated" measurements like for creating cross-talk free, or reduced cross-talk PRIRs. And use what seems most appropiate, or sounds best for every recording you listen to. OK this is a bit extreme, a lot of work to do all those things, but I think there must be something for everyone in the sheer endless posibilities.