These days it’s 5.1 channels at least, right? And if 5.1 is good, 7.1 is better, 11.2 is… you get the idea. There are clear advantages and even necessities in real multi-channel audio systems, particularly when playing film soundtracks where are now almost all mastered in 5.1 channels. And frankly, Audyssey DSX with the height and width speakers is flat-out amazing.
There’s just one problem: music. As much as I wished for it since I engineered a multichannel demo for the IAMM conference in 1997, multichannel-music hasn’t really gotten off the ground. Every recording is released in stereo, with 5.1 mixes being added to a very few releases. My thirst for 5.1 music remains largely unsatiated.
So with all that two-channel music around, and us with our 5.1+ channel systems, whatever will we do? We have a couple of choices:
1. Let our receivers process stereo into faux-5.1. Depending on how the recording gets along with receiver’s processing algorithms, this can work out quite well, or be a total disaster, or anywhere in the midst. But it’s hardly a “set & forget” process.
2. We can tell our system to play only two channels directly to our L and R speakers. Good, and authentic, and faithful to the original intention, but could be fairly unsatisfying. Good stereo requires much more of a system