5.1 surround sound music

I recently found out that some of my favorite albums have been mixed in 5.1 surround sound. I’m wondering if anyone has any experience with hearing this stuff and what you think.

I haven’t really given surround sound much thought because I only have two ears but it would be curious to hear albums that were intended to be mixed in surround.

5.1 surround music can sound fantastic! I personally really enjoy well recorded/well mixed surround music. :grinning::+1:

1 Like

Sure. I have been writing about this for 16 years: https://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round/

(Silly remark ignored.) Why not?

I find listening to a good 5.1 mix, very enjoyable.
In fact, much nicer than a good stereo mix. Less congestion in the mix, often very spacious or ‘exciting’, things impossible in stereo are now possible.

This doesn’t need to be a ‘wild’, ‘dramatic’ mix. Even simple, well recorded church organ is…quite a positive change in realism, in surround.

Problem is : there aren’t that many good 5.1 mixes. The market is crammed with crappy mixes, upmixes, or mixes that add no value whatsoever to the regular stereo mix.

If interested, I highly recommend to check out the forums on https://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/index.php
Surely check out the Surround Polls there; listings of the all-time best surround releases.

In other repertoire, there are. In fact, the concept of “mix” is pretty much anathema in classical recordings. Mic setup is the key. “Mixes” are reserved for multitrack recordings that were not originally created for multichannel.

Yeah, I saw a 5.1 Kind of Blue but wasn’t that originally mono? Seems strange to remix it in surround…

Hi @mitr,
Well, even in the most minimalistic approach : Even these recordings are multi-track by nature.Someone has to decide that Mic1 should be routed to the left front channel, Mic 4 to the right rear channel, and to balance out their levels. Microphones don’t know these things by themselves ;-).
This is normally done on devices called Mixing consoles.
If you don’t like to call this process ‘mixing’, that’s fine with me. But I think you understood what I meant, right ?

Upmixing something from mono to multichannel is often indeed not very useful. Especially for ‘acoustical’ events like Kind of Blue.

However : even a mono recording can have multi-tracks as a source. (Seperate bass, separate trumpet, etc).
A good engineer can do wonderful things to such a mix.
(Especially with more ‘electronic’ music, where there is no such thing as ‘staying close to the original event’).

I do understand those terms as they are generally used but I was trying to make a distinction between simply the channel balancing for a discrete multichannel recording (in which there is a 1:1 correlation between microphone and channel) and the mixing of multiple microphone and other inputs into a recording of any number of channels.

What do you recommend for getting into 5.1 without breaking the bank? Are those 5.1 headphones any good?

Smyth Realiser A8 (https://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-45) and the new A16 if you want more channels and Atmos.

There is a sound source that Queen’s The Prophet Song made 5.1 channel by Brian May.
That must have been in the sampler with DTS.
But it should be linear PCM.

That isn’t really an inexpensive solution. But what you’re saying is that those sub-$500 headphones that advertise themselves as 5.1 aren’t any good?

I am not saying that. What I might say is that my doubts about them are so high, that I have never tried them.

I’ve read the Stereophile article where you recommend the Merging Anubis.
Far too complicated in my opinion, no remote control for volume, and did not understand which mch protocols are supported (dts?).
Would it be possible to use a central channel?
I guess that a good Av processor it’s a best overall choice.

Yup but not for everyone.

No dts, no Dolby and no other codecs either. It is for PCM or DSD files.

Sure, I did. You can have the usual 5.1 as I did.

Yes but not for the same purposes.