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Old 08-05-2014, 11:50 AM
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Default Stereo or Multi-channel?

Which do you prefer? When I first bought a multi-channel system, I was in love with the extra spaciousness and overall realism. However,I just hooked up my Sony XA5400ES via XLR and couldn't believe how good it sounds! I definitely prefer it in that mode to my Oppo 105--just sounds more natural and detailed. This experiment has also made me reconsider the advantages of multi-channel sound. Yes, it is more spacious, and if properly done, makes one feel like he's in a concert hall (for classical music, which comprises 99% of my listening), but now I'm starting realize that the extra spaciousness often comes at the expense of details and imaging. Mind blown! I think I'll use the Sony in stereo for RBCDs and SACDs, with the Oppo reserved for movies and Blu-ray audio discs. Now, if only I could talk my wife into a new Esoteric or Krell SACD player! (I had previously scoffed at super-high end players since most are stereo only.)
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Old 08-05-2014, 01:08 PM
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I might prefer multichannel if multi-channel preamps were generally of the same quality as 2-channel preamps. Even the best of the multi-channel preamps aren't as musically satisfying as their similarly-priced 2-channel counterparts. There is also the issue of having enough space to properly set up at least five speakers of the quality needed to equal or surpass a 2-channel system in the same room.

For the record, I am setup for multi-channel with SACD and DVD-Audio (a silly format that won't allow for navigation of the disc menu without a video screen) through my Oppo BDP-93 into an Integra DTC-9.8 and using my Bryston 28B-SST2s and Martin Logan Spires for 2 front channels thru cinema bypass, and a Theta Dreadnaught I multi-channel amp for a Martin Logan Theater center channel speaker and Onix Rocket RSS-330 surrounds. On a few discs multi-channel music sounds great in my room, but not as good as my 2-channel setup.

I admit that my 11.5' x 19' x 8' room is not optimal for multi-channel music, and I can imagine someone with a top-of-the-line Classe, Bryston, or Anthem multi-channel processor with commensurate components in an adequate room might prefer the multi-channel. Especially on live and concert hall recordings. But then would those multi-channel systems sound as good or better than their 2-channel counterparts in the same or similar rooms?
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Last edited by asindc; 08-05-2014 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 08-05-2014, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata View Post
Which do you prefer? When I first bought a multi-channel system, I was in love with the extra spaciousness and overall realism. However,I just hooked up my Sony XA5400ES via XLR and couldn't believe how good it sounds! I definitely prefer it in that mode to my Oppo 105--just sounds more natural and detailed. This experiment has also made me reconsider the advantages of multi-channel sound. Yes, it is more spacious, and if properly done, makes one feel like he's in a concert hall (for classical music, which comprises 99% of my listening), but now I'm starting realize that the extra spaciousness often comes at the expense of details and imaging. Mind blown! I think I'll use the Sony in stereo for RBCDs and SACDs, with the Oppo reserved for movies and Blu-ray audio discs. Now, if only I could talk my wife into a new Esoteric or Krell SACD player! (I had previously scoffed at super-high end players since most are stereo only.)
Interesting to hear this comment from you John since I know that you really enjoy the multi-channel classical SACDs.

I've never heard a good multi-channel system. but I can say that given the right recording, my two-channel system sounds very good for acoustic music and I don't feel like I'm missing surround sound. I figure that when I'm in a concert hall the sound comes mainly from the front.

You can get a Krell SACD Standard player for under $2,000. I had one and I really enjoyed its sound. However, these Krell players are getting dated now.
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Old 08-05-2014, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asindc View Post
I might prefer multichannel if multi-channel preamps were generally of the same quality as 2-channel preamps. Even the best of the multi-channel preamps aren't as musically satisfying as their similarly-priced 2-channel counterparts.
Of course, general satisfaction is based on multiple parameters and improving one thing or another will be assessed differently by different listeners. Which better is better?

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But then would those multi-channel systems sound as good or better than their 2-channel counterparts in the same or similar rooms?
Of course. Is there any non-practical downside to multichannel?
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Old 08-05-2014, 02:42 PM
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You can get a Krell SACD Standard player for under $2,000. I had one and I really enjoyed its sound. However, these Krell players are getting dated now.
Even the Cipher?

How does your Oppo compared to your Esoteric...or is there even any comparison?

Another issue that has been gnawing on me is having to settle for less than stellar performances/performers and artists I've never heard of in order to get a slight increase in sound quality. For instance, the Shostakovich 11th on BIS has amazing bass and dynamic range, and I generally liked the performance, but when I compared it to my Gennadi Rozhdestvensky version on JVC, which I had not listened to in a few years, the latter ate the BIS performance alive! The old Soviet recording is close and a bit coarse, but for me, the performance is more important. (Sticking with Shostakovich, I compared an RBCD and SACD of the 8th String Quartet this morning: the old Borodin Quartet pretty much trounces the Mandelring Qt! In stereo, there is not that much difference in sound, either.) I think the Sony does some sort of upscaling, so maybe that's why RBCDs sound so good. I guess my point is that there is plenty of life left in older CDs! I'm going to scale back my frequent purchases of SACDs unless the music is rarely recorded and/or is a truly superior performance than one can find on RBCD.

Last edited by Toccata; 08-05-2014 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 08-05-2014, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Toccata View Post
Even the Cipher?

How does your Oppo compared to your Esoteric...or is there even any comparison?

Another issue that has been gnawing on me is having to settle for less than stellar performances/performers and artists I've never heard of in order to get a slight increase in sound quality. For instance, the Shostakovich 11th on BIS has amazing bass and dynamic range, and I generally liked the performance, but when I compared it to my Gennadi Rozhdestvensky version on JVC, which I had not listened to in a few years, the latter ate the BIS performance alive! The old Soviet recording is close and a bit coarse, but for me, the performance is more important. (Sticking with Shostakovich, I compared an RBCD and SACD of the 8th String Quartet this morning: the old Borodin Quartet pretty much trounces the Mandelring Qt! In stereo, there is not that much difference in sound, either.) I think the Sony does some sort of upscaling, so maybe that's why RBCDs sound so good. I guess my point is that there is plenty of life left in older CDs! I'm going to scale back my frequent purchases of SACDs unless the music is rarely recorded and/or is a truly superior performance than one can find on RBCD.
John - I think the Cipher might be around $5000. At that price you may want to go with a used Esoteric K-03.

In terms of the Oppo/K-03 comparison, I did the experiment because I was thinking of trading up to the XA100.8 Pass Labs amps using the K-03 for a trade it, but after trying the Oppo by itself (in my normal configuration I use the Oppo transport to feed the K-03 DAC for most listening so I don't wear out the K-03 transport) I missed the density of information and harmonic richness that the Esoteric offers. So for me, I cannot part with the K-03 and just use the Oppo after I've experienced the K-03 for over a year.

I find well recorded RBCD every bit as good as SACDs in terms of sound quality (see my top 20 disc list elsewhere), so in my view is best to have both options available.

My 20 best sounding albums all formats

Last edited by cma29; 08-05-2014 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 08-05-2014, 04:21 PM
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A month or so ago, I broke my two channel's right speaker. While being repaired I used my HT/surround sound/spare stereo system. Since this system is primarily composed of two channel hand-me downs, it sounds pretty good. Although I sold the SACD player (Sony XA-5400ES) in that system, I can use my Oppo 103 to convert SACD to PCM, and play my multi-channel SACDs. Anyway, other than DSOTM, I do not remember any SACDs being all that much better in multi-channel mode versus stereo.

However, the point here is that while playing the system, I kept cycling through the various derived multi-chanel formats the Onkyo SC5509 pre offered. Interestingly, I found myself enjoying those modes. Personally, I would love to have a multi-chanel system on par to my two channel, but it would require a bigger room than I have now, since I would want the speakers all equi-distant from the listening spot.
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Old 08-05-2014, 04:51 PM
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I have tried multi channel a few times I think I will stick with 2 channel from now on.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:12 AM
Mr_Sukebe Mr_Sukebe is offline
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In general, I find a lot of multi-channel recordings a little "odd".
I can't remember ever seeing a live band where the vocalist and drums were middle, and I had say a guitarist sat behind my right shoulder. Just doesn't feel natural to me.

Where I've enjoyed multi-channel is where:
- The rears have been used to add in say concert noise
- In the example of Meridian's trifield mode, where additional data is added to give additional feel of "depth" to a recording. In general, seems to work pretty well, though I will sometimes find recordings that I simply prefer in stereo. Just not consistent
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Sukebe View Post
In general, I find a lot of multi-channel recordings a little "odd".
I can't remember ever seeing a live band where the vocalist and drums were middle, and I had say a guitarist sat behind my right shoulder. Just doesn't feel natural to me.

Where I've enjoyed multi-channel is where:
- The rears have been used to add in say concert noise
- In the example of Meridian's trifield mode, where additional data is added to give additional feel of "depth" to a recording. In general, seems to work pretty well, though I will sometimes find recordings that I simply prefer in stereo. Just not consistent
I agree. In fact, more so than the concerns I raised earlier in the thread are the problems with the recordings that you allude to. I also find that the availability of music I want to hear in multi-channel is sparse (similar to RtoR), to say the least, and simply not worth it for me to invest in multi-channel audio.
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Analog: VPI CLASSIC 2/Dynavector 20xM>> Wireworld Plat. Eclipse 7 tonearm cable>> Parasound JC3>> WW Gold Eclipse 6>>>> //// Digital: MacMini(Amarra~AIFF)>> Berkeley Alpha USB converter>> CARY 306 SACD PRO>> WW Platinum Eclipse 6>>>> --- Cary SLP-05>> WW Gold Eclipse 7>> Parasound JC1s>> WW Silver Eclipse 7>> MARTIN LOGAN VANTAGE

Last edited by asindc; 08-06-2014 at 10:47 PM.
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