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Old 04-12-2021, 02:21 AM
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Default Looking for a primer on "surround" music

I hope that I'm on the right board, but I'd like to learn more about music recording formats that allow one to hear old favorites in surround.

Unfortunately, the more reading I do on the subject, the more confused I become. If anyone knows of a good source to learn the basics of surround music, I'd really appreciate the pointer.

Thank you kindly for your time...
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Old 04-12-2021, 06:14 AM
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Send a PM to Kal Rubinson - he's an expert on surround sound and can give you recommendations, including his own writing for Stereophile and Audiophile Style.
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Old 04-12-2021, 09:28 AM
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Kal Rubinson Kal Rubinson is offline
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I do not think that I can offer much help on "music recording formats that allow one to hear old favorites in surround." To me, this implies taking original stereo/mono recordings and up-mixing them to multichannel. I let the record companies do this but, personally, do not care for it.

I have little interest in anything other than discrete multichannel recordings made from discrete original tracks.

P.S. I write for Stereophile only. I do post here and on other forums for my personal entertainment.
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Old 04-12-2021, 03:28 PM
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Default A Subjective Subject

Needless to say, one's taste in a given recording format can be very subjective, so I'm not really polling for favorites here.

I've heard DTS 5.1 Surround Mixes of very old music, which I referred to in the original posts as "old favorites" that sound pretty good to these [admittedly] old ears. I've also heard DTS upmixes of old music that sounds pretty good, as well. I'm sure that these mixes aren't considered to be the "best" by many experts, but, once again, this is a very subjective subject.

In order to simplify things, I'd like to start at the novice level and learn the basics of surround recording formats and what each has to offer. We've enjoyed our stereo "rebook" CD collection for many years, but the slow addition of certain equipment, mainly audio/video in nature, has changed things for us.

When we finally lost our last tube TV (in 2016), we finally shopped for our first "flatscreen" television. After auditioning several brands, we noticed that they all had those funny looking rectangular "strips" running along the bottom, which introduced us to soundbars. Well, as it turned out, we purchased an OLED TV and a Samsung soundbar to go with it.

As we stay pretty busy making a living, the new OLED TV was initially mounted to a wall bracket as quickly as possible...but the soundbar system, on the other hand, stayed in its box, collecting dust, until early last year (2020). That's when "covid time" gave us the opportunity to pay more attention to our home entertainment devices. So we took the TV off of the wall and used the stand that it came with to place it onto the top of a cabinet, which gave us a nice flat surface to easily rest the soundbar on...but I digress. The point is that once we used the television to play some of our physical movie media -- with the soundbar employed -- we quickly discovered that all of the insane money being put into modern film productions also includes some pretty heavy duty sound engineering. In short, that soundbar, and the active subwoofer it came with, changed the way we listen to our own physical media...and once I heard something like "You're Gonna Miss Me" by The 13th Floor Elevators [read: a song recorded in early 1966] via a blu-ray disc, I started to wonder what else I've been missing for years.

We also experimented with our speaker placement and the settings on our Mac MX units and, eventually, ran into the surround phenomenon...so long story long, I've been very impressed with what's happened to music recording and engineering ever since we stumbled upon it in our own home. The fact that sound engineering can deliver a new take on those "old favorites" I mentioned is pretty exciting to me.

So, once again, if anyone knows of a good place to start learning about the development of surround recording, I'd really appreciate your advice.
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Last edited by 70sMac; 04-12-2021 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 04-12-2021, 03:49 PM
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Bill, I do enjoy "old favourites" in multichannel.
I own albums from The Beatles, Genesis, The Moody Blues, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd amongst (many) others.
Mostly in the DVD-A, Blu-ray and SACD format.
They are good fun.

That being said, I agree with Kal, that the most natural sounding ones are recorded in the last 2 decades, in discrete multichannel.
These include a couple of jazz albums, a lot of classical albums, and a few pop albums (mostly concerts).

Enjoy the journey!
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Old 04-13-2021, 01:31 AM
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Smile Thanks for the post

Quote:
Originally Posted by bart View Post
Bill, I do enjoy "old favourites" in multichannel.
I own albums from The Beatles, Genesis, The Moody Blues, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd amongst (many) others.
Mostly in the DVD-A, Blu-ray and SACD format.
They are good fun.

That being said, I agree with Kal, that the most natural sounding ones are recorded in the last 2 decades, in discrete multichannel.
These include a couple of jazz albums, a lot of classical albums, and a few pop albums (mostly concerts).

Enjoy the journey!
Hi, Bart, it's been a while...Now that I've gone from asking about surround equipment to asking about the music recordings themselves, would you kindly tell me which surround recording format you prefer?

I see that you listed DVD-A, Blu-ray and SACD as examples. When it comes to surround multichannel, is there one you would put your money into over another? Put another way, if all three surround recording formats were available for an album that you want for your collection, which one would you choose? I'd also really appreciate it if you would you give me an explanation as to why.

Thanks for posting and I hope to learn more from you about this confusing subject ~ Bill
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:56 AM
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Kal Rubinson Kal Rubinson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 70sMac View Post
I see that you listed DVD-A, Blu-ray and SACD as examples. When it comes to surround multichannel, is there one you would put your money into over another? Put another way, if all three surround recording formats were available for an album that you want for your collection, which one would you choose?
Not Bart but......................
1. Why is there a question of where "you would put your money into over another?" The equipment for playback can be a universal player that will do all.
2. AFAIK, DVD-A is dead and SACD is fading as physical formats.
3. Identical content is almost never available on all three (or even two) formats. Content among them will differ in availability as well as masterings.
4. Consequently, you should be able to play any and all formats so that you can get what content you want.
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Old 04-13-2021, 03:00 PM
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Not Kal but... ()

I will always prefer a good recording in 16/44.1 over a hi-res recording that was less well done.

I have quite a few SACDs from the Aliavox label (Jordi Savall's label) that I prefer in stereo over the version in 5.0. They're mostly older recordings (70s till 90s) that simply sound a bit artificial in surround. As Kal mentioned there are more examples of this.

SACD, DVD-A (I recently bought a new remaster that actually does sound good, a Moody Blues reissue, but new DVD-As are very rare) or Blu-ray audio: it depends on the recording!

Most of the best multichannel recordings of today are downloads.
I still own a universal disc player, also for my movies (mostly concert Blu-rays), but I see myself only downloading and streaming in the future.
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  #9  
Old 04-13-2021, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bart View Post
Most of the best multichannel recordings of today are downloads.
I still own a universal disc player, also for my movies (mostly concert Blu-rays), but I see myself only downloading and streaming in the future.
Amen.
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post
I do not think that I can offer much help on "music recording formats that allow one to hear old favorites in surround." To me, this implies taking original stereo/mono recordings and up-mixing them to multichannel. I let the record companies do this but, personally, do not care for it.

I have little interest in anything other than discrete multichannel recordings made from discrete original tracks.

P.S. I write for Stereophile only. I do post here and on other forums for my personal entertainment.
Interesting statement Kal. Would I be correct to assume that a catalog such as the Steve Wilson "Yes" remixes into multi-channel on Blu-Ray doesn't appeal to you?
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