Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, surround-sound music looked like the next big thing, but in the intervening decade and a half, precious little rock, jazz, or world music has been recorded in surround. True, in the early days of SACD and DVD-Audio formats there were hundreds of remixes of older stereo recordings, and some were recycled on Blu-ray, but the number of newly recorded 5.1 titles remains paltry. Looking back, the early 2000s should have been an ideal time to launch surround music; multichannel home theater was peaking, so there was a large number of households … Read more
Quadraphonic was the first music surround format, and the first to bite the dust. That was in the 1970s. The SACD and DVD-A formats debuted at the dawn of the century, promising vastly improved sound quality over the CD, and both formats flopped. Their futures looked bright, so why did they fail?
Of course the record labels knew selling a new format on the basis of sound quality was a risky business, so they tacked on 5.1 surround sound. There were millions of households in the early 2000s with multichannel home theaters, so selling new music surround formats looked … Read more
Oppo's new BDP-83 player spins just about every type of "silver" disc under the sun: CD, SACD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and Blu-ray. Cool!
I brought a stack of SACDs and DVD-A discs to the CNET listening room to check out the BDP-83 with our Denon AVR-3808CI receiver and Aperion Intimus 4T Hybrid SD 5.1 speaker/subwoofer system. I'll cover the high-resolution audio performance of the Oppo here, read Matthew Moskovciak's full CNET review for the rest of the story.
"The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East," recorded on March 12 and 13, 1971, was a trip. Sure, the original mix was stereo, but I loved the way the SACD's 5.1 mix opened up and clarified the sound, especially the band's two drummers, Jai Johanny Johanson and Butch Trucks. The entire rhythm section's dynamics and pulse came alive on SACD, it's more in the background on CD.
On one hand the 5.1 mix is fairly subtle, but the sound's open quality and spaciousness was remarkable. The sense of being in the 2,000 seat concert hall was a thrill that you can't get with stereo. And no, you can't get there by playing stereo in Dolby Pro Logic II, a discrete 5.1 channel mix, if it's any good, will always sound better.
Led Zeppelin's "How the West Was Won" double DVD-A set was very different. How? The band's dynamic energy was even more present and the front three speakers soundstage depth and dimensionality were better than the Allman Brothers' disc. Too bad the bass was thicker and muddier, which was probably the way it sounded at the 1972 Zep shows. I didn't like the surround mix much, mostly because I couldn't understand why Jimmy Page's guitar was sometimes coming out of the surround speakers. Strange. But it's still the best sounding Zeppelin disc I own.… Read more
It's interesting. Tens of millions of homes are equipped with multichannel home theater systems, but multichannel music is a dead issue. Stereo rules the roost, for going on 50 years.
Ten years ago it looked like stereo's days were numbered--the two new multichannel formats, SACD and DVD-Audio, were on track to be the next big things. Funny, it didn't work out that way. I cover the subject in detail in my "Whatever happened to 5.1-channel music?" article that appeared in the July issue of Stereophile magazine.
Obviously, 5.1-channel sound makes sense for movies and home theater, mostly because 5.1 was an outgrowth of theatrical film-sound technologies stretching all the way back to the 1950s.
Every attempt to bring surround music into the home without video has flopped, big time. Are you old enough to remember the rise and fall of quadraphonic in the 1970s? What was needed was a surround format that didn't require music lovers to invest in new playback gear. Surely such a format would prove the viability of music surround...wouldn't it?… Read more