Can You Get Audiophile 2CH Sound from a Home Theater?

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Even a high-quality home theater can deliver underwhelming two-channel audio playback, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here we discuss some of the common problems that Audioholics founder Gene DellaSala has come across when helping others achieve audiophile level two-channel playback from their home theaters. We’ll also look at how to build a home theater around an existing two-channel system.

Topics of Discussion Include:
  1. Bad Speaker Positioning
  2. Excessive Room Treatments
  3. Bad Subwoofer Integration
  4. Bad Seating Locations
We also discuss how to expand an audiophile 2CH system into a great home theater.

hometheater.jpg


Read: Can You Get Audiophile 2CH Sound from a Home Theater?
 
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gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Can't Get Audiophile 2CH Sound From a Home Theater? - YouTube Discussion


How to Change an Audiophile's Mind Against Upmixing 2CH Music - YouTube Discussion
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
We can use the EXACT same speakers/amps (A) for 2CH (B) as we use for 5CH (C).

Of course, home theater can sound exactly the same as 2CH since:

A = B, A=C, and therefore B=C. :D
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic Samurai
We can use the EXACT same speakers/amps (A) for 2CH (B) as we use for 5CH (C).

Of course, home theater can sound exactly the same as 2CH since:

A = B, A=C, and therefore B=C. :D
Good article, placement is critical for L/R mains, alone with the other's that Gene mentioned.
 
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MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Senior Audioholic
I think more and more people have their 2 channel stereo (music listening) and home theater multi-channel setup coexisting. It's more someone who's well into this hobby that probably has more than one system dedicated to a different purpose. But the hobby will see entry of more and more people than the past 10 years probably as we move forward with better and better content at home (streaming).

I can't imagine anyone like that fussing about their stereo music system having to be separate from their home theater system. Most of these people do not have a dedicated room. Hard to put a number on that, but if you have an extra room for just audio, you're in the top 1% of an already niche hobby group, in terms of just how much you're able to dedicate from your home and from the people you share it with.

There's also the concept of if this is stereo listening for you or for multiple people in the room. It's a lot harder to have a nice stereo setup that covers several seats well. But it's much easier for a single seating location to have nearly all the best of it.

This is largely where I see the divide in theater vs stereo listening. A theater is generally meant for more than one person so there's more of an emphasis on being able to have similar experiences in each seat, which guides choices on what kind of speaker design to use with various dispersion characteristics and the room setup will reflect a lot more of trying to ensure all seats are on axis, etc. Where as a stereo setup for one person will be very different as it doesn't have to worry about any of that except for in one location.

Can the two be merged? Sure! Will it work with just any speaker? Maybe to a degree. But it depends on one's preference for how they prefer their stereo image and sound stage to be presented; such as how it is from very wide dispersion vs narrow dispersion (horizontally) designed speakers and whether you're directly on axis with them or toeing them a bit so that you're not directly on axis but still within a range to keep similar results but gain some separation from the other channel involved.

I have dedicated rooms for two systems; one is stereo and one is multi-channel (theater). I use my stereo systems more often, music, content, etc. We use the theater room for movies, shows and some gaming. The theater room is much more about even coverage in all seats and a big screen, placement is following dolby's guidelines and trying to avoid harmonic nulls in the room for seating positions. Definitely two different experiences. But I happily watch content on my stereo system, not just music. And we happily listen to stereo music on the theater system.

Overall, the majority of people do not have their speakers away from a wall (they're as close to the wall as possible due to limited room space, a big part of not having a dedicated room); and most people simply do not have room treatment at all (they either don't believe it matters enough because of knowledge gap or the look of it is not being approved or they're not willing to pay for it because they don't understand its importance because of their knowledge gap). Let alone worried about their stereo imaging and sound stage vs their home theater doing the same thing.

Very best,
 
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AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I think the #1 reason for having 2 or MORE systems is because you have more than one room and want to fill those rooms. :D

So my HT room is for HT, but my living room is for 2CH, not because 2CH sounds better for music. :D

If I had 1 HT room and 10 living rooms, there would be 1 HT room and 10 rooms with 2CH. :D
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Senior Audioholic
If I had 1 HT room and 10 living rooms, there would be 1 HT room and 10 rooms with 2CH. :D
This is my situation. I have a dedicated theater room. I have a dedicated 2 channel room (my office, where I have a stereo system setup for my personal listening and headphones for when I need absolute critical control on ambient). All other rooms in my house have 2 channel stereo setups, even if there's no display. Most of them are towers so that a sub is not essential on each setup.

But, I don't treat my non-dedicated rooms and the speakers are near walls (front ports). My dedicated rooms have treatment and are not up to the walls.

Very best,
 
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TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
Any system that has acceptable sound in only one location is a bad system period! This is all nonsense to think that an HT system can not be an excellent 2 channel system.

All my systems have a TV, so they are all AV systems. The theater has 7.2.4, but is also the best 2 channel system as you would expect.

I have a two channel system in the family room, and a 3.1 system in the great room. ALL of them deliver very good sound throughout their respective spaces.

As I have said many times here before, good speakers produce perfect tonal balance throughout the space, and even in adjacent rooms. If not, they are deficient.

This whole issue can be laid at the door of bad speakers, like most issues concerning poor performance of audio systems.
 
C

crtguy

Audiophyte
It's my understanding that seating should be at odd fractions of room length. Even fractions such as 1/4 produce increased nodes and troughs.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Ninja
Any system that has acceptable sound in only one location is a bad system period! This is all nonsense to think that an HT system can not be an excellent 2 channel system.

All my systems have a TV, so they are all AV systems. The theater has 7.2.4, but is also the best 2 channel system as you would expect.

I have a two channel system in the family room, and a 3.1 system in the great room. ALL of them deliver very good sound throughout their respective spaces.

As I have said many times here before, good speakers produce perfect tonal balance throughout the space, and even in adjacent rooms. If not, they are deficient.

This whole issue can be laid at the door of bad speakers, like most issues concerning poor performance of audio systems.
'whole issue' ? no, for good speakers can be poorly positioned in a poorly executed environment thus inviting bad sound.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
'whole issue' ? no, for good speakers can be poorly positioned in a poorly executed environment thus inviting bad sound.
Perhaps if you view speakers/positioning as separate things. Maybe waf?
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Senior Audioholic
It's my understanding that seating should be at odd fractions of room length. Even fractions such as 1/4 produce increased nodes and troughs.
Here's a room calc to see these harmonic orders:


It's not just a simple rule of thumb. You should calc for the first 4 harmonics so that you can see which bass frequencies can be handled if you're sitting in a null by simply having more subs and in positions to handle that null. You can't fix the other nulls in mids to treble, so you just don't sit in the worst nulls and instead put listening positions where the curves peak more closely together.

But it's specific to the room; so again, just see the calc.

Very best,
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Never been a particular problem for my multich setups, as they're always initially based on basic 2ch playback and go from there....I could see how some particular theaters/rooms might not be as suitable/friendly/waf acceptable etc....
 
S

sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
My 5.1 home theater/multi-channel 49727485498_1e01c8e803_c.jpgSACD system shares its amplification, front speakers, and sub with two 2.1 systems. My impression is that it is all good. In fact, I think the only thing I am missing right now is Dolby Atmos for music. I can add an Apple TV, speakers, and power amp to get Atmos from Spatial Audio streams to my OPPO-205 but I expect that route will require too much effort for proper integration thus I have not moved on that idea yet. At any rate, listening to the stream of the Top Gun Mavrick Theme Song in 2.1 from either of my 2.1 systems sounds great but not nearly as great as hearing that music at the theatre in Dolby Atmos. So, I think perhaps we should turn this question around, can an audiophile 2.1 system deliver all there is to get today or is a Multi-channel Dolby Atmos Home Theater System needed for a full experience, for example to get the impression of Heavenly Trumpets?
 
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JWildcat89

JWildcat89

Audiophyte
Even a high-quality home theater can deliver underwhelming two-channel audio playback, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here we discuss some of the common problems that Audioholics founder Gene DellaSala has come across when helping others achieve audiophile level two-channel playback from their home theaters. We’ll also look at how to build a home theater around an existing two-channel system.

Topics of Discussion Include:
  1. Bad Speaker Positioning
  2. Excessive Room Treatments
  3. Bad Subwoofer Integration
  4. Bad Seating Locations
We also discuss how to expand an audiophile 2CH system into a great home theater.

View attachment 56662

Read: Can You Get Audiophile 2CH Sound from a Home Theater?
I am guilty of integrating my 2-channel (actually 2.2) listening experience into my home theater. What I noticed in the article is that Gene says nothing about integrating subs into the 2-channel experience. Home theater bypass is great for allowing you to separate your main two speakers from your home theater and playing your audio sources through a high-quality signal path. I am looking at purchasing the Anthem STR Integrated Amp for this purpose. Anthem not only ticks many of the correct boxes, it also has room correction. However, I am still concerned about how to integrate my subs into the 2-channel experience.

My system currently drives B&W CDM 9NT towers, but I have Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V towers on order. They will go down to 34Hz, but I'm not exactly sure if that will be enough bass to satisfy me. I have been listening to my system with two integrated subs for over two years, and have gotten quite used to that solid foundation and the harmonics you get with a nicely integrated pair of subs.

Any ideas on how to get the best of both worlds? Should I just get a switch box so both the Denon x3700h AND the Anthem STR can do bass management independent of one another? That would require me to physically switch between sources any time I want to switch modes from stereo to home theater, but would it work?
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
I am guilty of integrating my 2-channel (actually 2.2) listening experience into my home theater. What I noticed in the article is that Gene says nothing about integrating subs into the 2-channel experience. Home theater bypass is great for allowing you to separate your main two speakers from your home theater and playing your audio sources through a high-quality signal path. I am looking at purchasing the Anthem STR Integrated Amp for this purpose. Anthem not only ticks many of the correct boxes, it also has room correction. However, I am still concerned about how to integrate my subs into the 2-channel experience.

My system currently drives B&W CDM 9NT towers, but I have Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V towers on order. They will go down to 34Hz, but I'm not exactly sure if that will be enough bass to satisfy me. I have been listening to my system with two integrated subs for over two years, and have gotten quite used to that solid foundation and the harmonics you get with a nicely integrated pair of subs.

Any ideas on how to get the best of both worlds? Should I just get a switch box so both the Denon x3700h AND the Anthem STR can do bass management independent of one another? That would require me to physically switch between sources any time I want to switch modes from stereo to home theater, but would it work?
I think you have raised the fundamental issue. The crossover between subs and the rest of the system, and especially the mains, is to all intense and purposes an "off the shelf" crossover. The likelihood of a bad result is much higher than a good one. If you have three way main speakers, when you add a sub you have a four way system, and if two way mains you have a three way system. That means speakers and sub need to be designed as a single system from the start. That has always been my approach, and it is an absolutely crucial issue in my opinion.

Sigberg audio seem to agree. They are designing their subs as a total system. That is the correct approach.

Look at their sub integration. The crossover execution is superb.



I find the Sigberg design approach refreshing. In many ways, it is because they a going down many of the same roads I have travelled for years, sans the cardioid venting. However to return to the issue. That is how the cross to a sub needs to look!
 
JWildcat89

JWildcat89

Audiophyte
I think you have raised the fundamental issue. The crossover between subs and the rest of the system, and especially the mains, is to all intense and purposes an "off the shelf" crossover. The likelihood of a bad result is much higher than a good one. If you have three way main speakers, when you add a sub you have a four way system, and if two way mains you have a three way system. That means speakers and sub need to be designed as a single system from the start. That has always been my approach, and it is an absolutely crucial issue in my opinion.

Sigberg audio seem to agree. They are designing their subs as a total system. That is the correct approach.

Look at their sub integration. The crossover execution is superb.



I find the Sigberg design approach refreshing. In many ways, it is because they a going down many of the same roads I have travelled for years, sans the cardioid venting. However to return to the issue. That is how the cross to a sub needs to look!
I just went to my local audio store. They recommended using an active crossover (specifically the JL Audio CR-1). This is very expensive, but should do the trick. Any other recommendations?
 
C

crtguy

Audiophyte
I just went to my local audio store. They recommended using an active crossover (specifically the JL Audio CR-1). This is very expensive, but should do the trick. Any other recommendations?
I believe the JL will only work if you have separate balanced and unbalanced outputs from your two preamps into the JL. I looked into this but was unwilling to give up one of my two balanced outputs. Does that make sense. Download the manual from JL to see if it will work for you.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
I just went to my local audio store. They recommended using an active crossover (specifically the JL Audio CR-1). This is very expensive, but should do the trick. Any other recommendations?
That is a ridiculous expense. In the end it will be a badly organized system with poor architecture. It will be bad value for money.

For the cost of that crossover you can buy yourself a very nice AV pre/pro. So put the Anthem preamp and Denon up for sale on eBay, and get yourself a sub and the AV pre/pro. Marantz is your best bet in that price range.

It is absolute nonsense that an AV system is in any way inferior to a two channel one. You need one good system that gives you a picture and good sound.

There is so much nonsense on all this on the Net, that result in Frankenstein, awkward and unreliable systems.
Start to develop good BS sensors and then you will put together superior and ergonomic systems.
 
M

Mark of Cenla

Full Audioholic
I do not care for any kind of surround sound. Now I am using two different AVR's in two different rooms, a Yamaha and a SONY. Both of them are in 2.1 mode, and both of them sound good to us. Peace and goodwill.
 
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