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In Reply to: RE: we are very different audiophiles ... posted by TBone on July 14, 2012 at 09:12:13
Most of what you have said about your system I (and many others) have said about my two channel system (including many visitors from this forum), but now even more so with multi-channel. But that really misses much of the point I have attempted to emphasize, especially in the last few posts of this discussion. That is, the emergence of stellar multi-channel software is what makes it incontrovertibly more palpable than with comparable 2 channel systems. The gear is what it is. The higher quality the gear the more it enhances home audio reproduction whether, especially in a hi-end system, multi-channel or two channel. But as I have stressed in previous posts it’s the *software*, far more than the *gear* which is the game change that is taking music reproduction potential in the home to unmatched pinnacles never before attained.
<< The point is no matter how good it is I'm sure your system *can* get better; way better.<<
You then said:
***Nope, not that I've heard!***
Within the context of a top tier system/room (regardless of the number of channels) I truly do believe you.
Your statement, however, reminds me of the history of the revered Porsche 911 (since you used a car analogy earlier, allow me). Beginning with its introduction in 1963 Porsche had done everything technically possible to improve the 911 with weight reductions, cutting edge cylinder bores, horsepower increases, SOTA fuel injection implementations, turbo charging, and literally *hundreds* of other improvements, large and small. But by 1968 Porsche had completely maxed out its flat 6 air-cooled 2 valves per cylinder engine. (Actually, the handwriting on the wall was first acknowledged in the 80s when an official corporate decision was made to phase out the 911 in favor of the 928. But heavy demand saved the 911). It is said that by 1998 Porsche could not eke out even a single additional horsepower from the platform. They had stiffly turned a nose up at new technology (which was not so new anymore) and, I dare say, even though it was the best Porsche 911 *ever* it had begun to fall behind the competition, including, I dare say, Honda. The technology Porsche spurned was 4 valves per cylinder.
But it was not 4 valves per cylinder technology Porsche actually spurned. The problem was far more fundamental. You can't add two additional valves per cylinder to an air-cooled engine. An engine must be water cooled (or in the case of my BMW motorcycle, oil-cooled which is far less effective in a stifling hot closed-in engine compartment) to accommodate 4 valves per cylinder. Porsche would have to swallow an entire new paradigm. It would have to scrap its fabled air-cooled engine and essentially start from scratch (the engine, not the entire car or concept) and develop a water-cooled 4 valve per cylinder design. This represented a completely different (and mega expensive) paradigm but opened the door to entirely new vistas that allowed the Porsche 911 (and Porsche itself) to not only to survive but also to thrive. The Porsche 911 would have withered away by now. Of course, that has not prevented the air cool purists from grumbling incessantly to this day.
This is certainly an imperfect analogy, especially since unlike with the 911, almost all technology from two-channel systems is fully and wholly transferable to a multi-channel system. And while two channel has begun to wither (although less so among audiophiles) its not going away anytime soon. Nevertheless, it was not until Porsche broke free of the air-cooled shackle and embraced new technology that the 911 was able to reach the pinnacle it has attained today.
It is understood that for you, personally, there is limited incentive for change, especially given the dearth of software of your preferred music choices. But understand also that for others here there is a substantial number of excellent multi-channel SACDs.I certainly have far more than a thousand, including more than 50 this year so far.(By the way, I have also purchased 7 or 8 remastered Lps and a bunch more than that at an estate sale, not to mention 2 channel SACDs during this time period).
Robert C. Lang
Robert, your are absolutely right that software is the key. But, the disconnect still exists between genres. The are just under 5,000 titles in classical at sa-cd.net, with a high proportion being in Mch. Meanwhile, there are about 600 in rock/pop, with a much lower proportion in Mch. At least, that is what I see. So, it is quite clear that classical is where the predominant emphasis is for Mch recordings, and for SACD, in general.
Then, we get to the engineering differences between rock and classical in terms of what they are trying to accomplish with Mch. Classical mostly tries to capture the natural ambience and space of the hall in live performances. Rock tends to use Mch for engineered effects on studio recordings, with instruments panned into the rear channels. The exception is the occasional closely miked live rock concert. Again, for tbone's benefit, this has nothing to do with the music and is not a put down of rock. I am not saying one is better than the other. It is just a description of what is.
So, as a practical matter, I fully understand that rock listeners may prefer stereo to Mch, and I do not think there is any convincing him or others. What he hears with rock and what we hear with classical are two entirely different things, beyond the music, even, given the engineering tendencies of the recordings. And, neither his findings from listening to rock nor ours to classical are truly universal. But, you and I know quite well that against the standard of classical live performance, Mch is exponentially better at capturing the sound of the live event than is stereo. That may also be true for the small numbers of jazz recordings in Mch.
I believe that SACD and SACD multi-channel have missed the boat with the paucity of this genre to the detriment and demise of the format itself. For sure classical music listeners have always benefited first and most from cutting edge audio technology. Classical music ushered in LP, CD, and SACD and SACD multi-channel. But Sony screwed up big time by giving short shrift to rock, pop, and R&B when launching SACD. The Sony catalog alone is flush with these entire genres much recorded during the multi-channel (quad) era. All music lovers, including classical music lovers have been collateral victims of this miscalculation.
While I am a classical music listener foremost my formative music experiences are firmly rooted in R&B with generous helpings of jazz, pop, and some rock. And as a videographer I have been to numerous rock concerts and rock venues. I will be attending one on July 31 in support of my son’s best friend who is a drummer in an up and coming local hard rock group.
Classical music listeners benefit most from multi-channel due to the more realistic capturing and reproduction of an actual venue “space”. The same applies for jazz......big time. I think rock’s chief benefit, though, from multi-channel is from the “artist creativity” aspects of the final product. Multi-channel unleashes the creative shackles, for better or for worse, of the artist and the engineer. We both appreciate the huge difference in the listening experience between stereo and multi-channel classical music. But it pales by comparison when talking about a rock recording. I have done on-the-fly A/B comparisons with much, if not all, the MC rock in my collection and the differences are astonishing.....for some listeners maybe too much of a good thing. And this is usually done without “abusing” the technology. So, artistically, you get the sense that this (MC) was what the artist was attempting to do all along but could not pull it off in stereo. But sonically, there is, too, a tremendous upside with multi-channel rock. It is simply far more “open” than that same disc could possibly be when played in the same system.
Capturing a live event whether rock concert or classical music concert have far more spatial similarities than differences. And so multi-channel unmistakably enhances the palpability of a live R&B or rock concert. A few years ago I submitted a review at SA-CD.net of a live Earth, Wind and Fire concert, “Gratitude” which at the time gave me the most “you are there” experience of any disc I had heard to date.(Whoa! I see that the asking price for that SACD is $181.12 used at Amazon.com).
So, I can’t see how a rock listener would “prefer” stereo over multi-channel when listening to the same disc in the same system., just as they would not prefer mono over stereo. Sure, there may be individual discs where the listener my disagree with what the artist and/or engineer intended, but on the whole 5 channels is *far* superior than 2 in the same system that is implemented to do both well. Of course, given the dearth of rock titles I understand why most rock listeners have voted with their feet and left SACD.
Robert C. Lang
I have no interest whatever in Rock or Pop music but the economics means that they dominate marketing considerations. So, unless those genres and their fans are incorporated and successful, efforts at new formats will fail (as they have been).
I also have no interest in Rock & Pop and wonder why you are bothering to review Patrica Barber latest BD disc due to rave comments of PB I bought 'cafe blue'found it to be a load of rubbish and a waste of money I suppose you assume that if the PB BD disc gets a rave review this will help to subsidise Classical recordings ? I see now you are only doing to compare various formats ,what a waste of time.
I was asked to contribute comments on the sound quality of the Patricia Barber BD as an adjunct to a more complete music review because, perhaps, the music reviewer does not have a suitable multichannel system or as much multichannel experience. All this is to provide information to our readers, some of whom like and enjoy the music.
You can dismiss this as a waste of time but your perceptions are not shared by everyone.
I do not think many rock & pop enthusiasts would appreciate mch SACD ,or stereo only SACD especially as most people have never heard of it.The problem is as told to me by the manager of a large HMV record store in Oxford St London long ago is that Rock & Pop etc is financially supporting Classical recordings however Robert C Lang is correct when he says Sony's failure to support an abundance of Rock etc on SACD is the cause of the problem of SACD missing the boat.
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