Group: Super Admins
Joined: Dec. 1999
||Posted: Sep. 23 2003, 16:35
I personally think that the new formats are in for something of a struggle.
I know a lot of people who own stereo systems of various descriptions - just about everyone in the western world does. The vast majority of those people don't have their loudspeakers arranged to form the 'stereo triangle' needed for proper stereo imaging. These are people who don't really care about what direction the music comes from (as is evidenced by the way they simply sit their speakers wherever convenient - one on the floor, one on top of a cupboard, and so on), and I think they represent the 'average' music listeners, for the simple fact that there seem to be a lot like them. I'm not convinced that these people feel they need multichannel audio, or indeed high resolution audio, and so I suspect that high resolution multichannel formats may remain a specialist thing for a good while.
There's then the question of how many want to pay extra to have six speakers when two will do the job for them...it depends on how it's all marketed to them, I suppose, but I suspect that there is some resistance in that area.
The 5.1 mix of Ommadawn could be a potentially interesting development, but it does all depend on how it's handled and of course, mixing the album with a modern digital mixing desk, digital reverb and so on is going to lend it a different sound, which listeners may see as an improvement or as a degradation...
I think fans' concerns over instruments whizzing around are quite well grounded - Mike has expressed a liking for that happening, after all, and from what I remember, the 5.1 mix of Introduction had far more motion in it than the stereo one. It can work, and it can also sound gimmicky, just as heavy panning in stereo can.
Considering that 7.1 systems are already upon us, I don't think that question where things go next are irrelevant at all. We do have to question where it stops being a genuinely welcome improvement to the listening experience and where it becomes a chance to sell us more hifi equipment and remixes of all the albums in our record collections. We maybe shouldn't forget that the owners of several of the major record labels (Sony, Matsushita and Philips - the latter two own MCA and Polygram respectively) also have interests in the consumer electronics industries...