Surround Sound on Retro Video Game Consoles

TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
@BMXTRIX Ok I just had a thought, what do you think about this...?

I'm actually setting up two rooms - a gaming room, which is what I've been talking about so far, and a small home cinema room (which is going to have a large TV, a modern AVR and either a 7.2.2 or a 7.2.4 speaker setup).

Now that I've actually looked into it, fewer than 100 games across PC and XBox Series X actually support Atmos and none on PS5, and none on the older consoles I like.

I have the opportunity to get this AVR (https://www.crutchfield.com/S-bv7q8jl0v3p/p_022RXA1030/Yamaha-AVENTAGE-RX-A1030.html) for a really good price - about €250 and it seems to handle every format except DTS:X and Atmos. And it could easily handle a 7.1 setup in the gaming office (both rooms are similar in size - about 12 feet wide x 12 feet long).

I'm thinking I could use the RX-A1030 in the gaming room for anything except Atmos (including Pro Logic decoding), and for the cinema room, I would just get the best AVR I can afford, and not worry about older formats for that room. And if I felt the need to actually game in Atmos, it would be a relatively simple matter to distribute the Series X/PC source data to the cinema room.
As someone who has seen 70 years plus of audio development now, I have to say you have some misconceptions.

First there were no discrete digital formats until 1997 except magnetic tape. Before that, all the surround coded formats were analog formats. That includes Dolby pro Logic.

The earliest attempts to market "Quadraphonic Sound" to the public started in the seventies and was slow to catch on. The first to catch on was the Columbia SQ system and its derivatives. This was also slow to catch on, but started to have a vogue in the late 80s and during the 90s. as manufacturers introduced Quadraphonic decoders, with four power amps and an SQ decoder of some type. Below is an example.



For individuals like myself who disliked receivers, there were outboard decoders, that went between the preamp and the four power amps. I had a high end Electrovoice decoder, that could handle SQ and its variants. It is boxed up somewhere in my collection of obsolete equipment.

These systems were not over impressive, and front to back isolation was far from perfect. But I do still have some quadraphonic LPs from that era.

In addition there were four track discreet four channel tapes, and four channel reel to reel recorders to play them back. I never got into that as Studer Revox wisely avoided it. I never owned a Japanese reel to reel machine and have always regarded them significantly inferior to their European counter parts.



So before discovering this thread, it so happened that last night I played a Colombia SQ LP of antiphonal Brass via the Dolby DD Sur upmixer in my Marantz 7705 AVP.
The results were actually better then I remembered from the old matrix decoders.

Now the speaker arrangement was not as now. There was no center channel and the four speakers were in the four corners of the room.

The LP I played was of antiphonal Italian brass music, with a total of four brass choirs, one in each corner. The front left to right separation and localization was excellent. The front to rear localization was fair, the rear left right discrimination was pretty much absent. Most of the rear power went to the surrounds, but a significant amount to the rear backs. So that meant that the sound was emanating essentially from the corners.

The firm Pentatone have released an number of these Quadraphonic masters on SACD. I have some of those, an obviously the four channels are kept discreet.

So I suspect those games used the SQ matrix or a variant of it. So, I would recommend that you play all this Matrix early surround recordings, including Dolby Pro Logic using the Dolby DD Sur. upmixer. I think that will do the best rendering for you.

In my researches I found that these Quadraphonic recordings, were made with modifications of the Decca tree mic arrangement. I find this interesting as that is having a renewed interest for Atmos recordings.
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Ninja
Actually, AC-3(Dolby Digital 5.1) tracks appeared on laserdisc in 1995. Remember AC-3 RF demodulators?
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
Actually, AC-3(Dolby Digital 5.1) tracks appeared on laserdisc in 1995. Remember AC-3 RF demodulators?
No I don't I was never into Laser discs. My first AV system using multichannel audio I started designing in 2005 and installed it in 2006, and it went live, April 2005.
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Ninja
Yikes, did I spend a fortune on laserdiscs! I couldn’t resist the amazing box sets.
 
C

cosman874

Audiophyte
Good day.
First time posting here. How is the setup coming? I have been doing something similar so I will try to be as helpful as I can. First regarding your original question about how it will sound. Modern receivers have dropped support for legacy pro logic decoders and have simply rebranded as Dolby Audio so your idea about 2 setups is the same I came up with. For example Final Fantasy 9 has a nice Dolby surround hype branding on the back. This is a reference to legacy pro logic decoding. The game will natively play in stereo or mono from inside the menu options. It is your job to select stereo and make sure you are using the correct decoder. (some early games do have a baked in surround option in the menu always good to check.) I currently have FF9 going into an Onkyo tx sr605 which is circa 2009 and an Onkyo nr7100 circa 2022. The sr605 takes the stereo left and right and I select pro logic ii game mode as a “listening mode”. It will matrix the stereo out to a 5.1 setup which is an upgrade over the original 4.1 pro logic decoders. ( some amps can switch between the decoders if you wanted to go back to OG pro logic but this one doesn’t). The same stereo signal going into the modern Onkyo nr7100 has no pro logic option at all. It can however upmix using the previously mentioned Dolby audio and I end up with a 5.1.4 mix. So all this to say Yes. It will definitely change how the game sounds compared to how it did back in 2000. Feel free to message me directly about your setup as I have 3 “discrete” setups and can offer some guidance. A 5.1 up to dolby digital/DTS era on a CRT. A 7.1 up to Dolby true hd/DTS master audio on 42 inch plasma. And a 5.1.4 dolby Atmos/DTS X on an ultra short throw projector. It’s sort of like walking through time. Cheers
 
T

Twenyjarry

Audiophyte
Your setup sounds like a dream for any retro gaming enthusiast! The idea of experiencing surround sound on classic consoles like the Super Nintendo and PlayStation 1 is really intriguing. It adds a whole new dimension to the gaming experience, immersing you even further into those nostalgic worlds.
On a different note, if you're ever in the mood for something new to complement your gaming setup, have you considered checking out bingo cash review? It's a fun way to unwind and relax between gaming sessions. It's a great way to mix things up a bit.
 
Last edited:
newsletter

  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top