Questions about 5.1, why surround sound.

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by GMav, Oct 13, 2004.

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  1. GMav

    GMav Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Salem, Oregon, USA
    Maybe someone can explain something to me?

    Why is it so many people are excited to hear older recordings in 5.1, surround sound?

    Let's take the Beatles, for example. I am going to go out on a limb here, and assume that, back in the 60's, the Beatles did not enter the studio with the idea of recording music with the intent of having it presented to the world in surround sound. I guess, when you think about it, it is up to engineers and producers during the mixing process to determine which sounds go where in the soundstage.

    I remember when Quadraphonic was trying to gain popularity, and I heard people saying that it should sound great but you would need 4 ears to effectively hear the 4 distinct channels.
    But I digress...............

    Anyway............the way I remember hearing the Beatles.........was in Mono, Duophonic and various levels of multitrack Stereo. In my opinion, it should be left that way. Why should I have to take somebody else's idea of where things should be in the mix? It certainly wasn't the Beatles idea to create surround sound mixes.............nor was it George Martin's, or other engineers.

    In my opinion, what the catalog needs (and deserves), is a thorough REMASTERING, not remixing, in some high resolution format (SACD, DVD-A, etc. etc.)

    In another thread, someone mentioned that George Harrison thought that all their stuff should be released in 5.1 I remember him saying that. I also remember him mentioning that he enjoyed it when their music was played back through 1 speaker, and that stereo sound through 2 speakers craeted a whole new set of problems and issues. Maybe that is one reason why the Beatles preferred their recordings in Mono?

    To me, the original mixes should be left alone. Left as the Beatles intended. That's how I remember them, and I wish them to remain that way.

    Like I said.............with 5.1.surround, all you are going to get is someone else's idea of what something should sound like, based on their opinion.

    Any comments on this would be welcome, and appreciated. Thanks in advance...........and


  2. PMC7027

    PMC7027 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Welcome, Greg.

    Not only do I agree with you about The Beatles, but I personally do not like 5.1 surround sound for anything other than live recordings. To me the rear channels can help create a sense of the space of the recording venue, but I do not want to be places within a band.

    When The Beatles were in India sitting around strumming their acoustic guitars they may have surrounded a few people with sound, but certainly not when they were in the recording studio.
  3. TommyTunes

    TommyTunes Senior Member

    If you could only get the album in 5.1 and the original mix was no longer available, I would agree with you whole heartedly. However if the original mix was also on the disc then I look at the 5.1 mix as a new way to hear a favorite recording. 5.1 releases no doubt unearth things that were buried in the stereo version. I like hearing a multi channel release for the same reasons that I enjoy Sgt. Pepper in Stereo and in the original Mono mix, simply put it gives a different perspective.
  4. JonUrban

    JonUrban SHF Member #497

  5. Tomcw

    Tomcw Forum Resident

    That's all you get with ANY recording, someone else's idea of what the artist should sound like.

    As for me, make mine multichannel, please! I enjoy the wide soundstage a good 5.1 mix creates.

  6. proufo

    proufo Forum Resident

    At this point I believe Beatle fans care way more about the Beatles' music than the Apple suits and surviving relatives (ASSR) and heirs.

    5.1, even in lo-rez, is clearly an opportunity to get huge revenues.

    I also believe that ASSRs have no interest in a definitive issue as it would hugely impact revenues. Many would stop buying after that and huge sales are not guaranteed as a lot of people are satisfied with their existing CDs.

    It's a business and the Beatles catalog should be exploited to the utmost.

    Re 5.1 mixes, the least said the better.
  7. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    We've gone over this one many times before. If it's suitable for 5.1 remixing, why not? Just leave the original stereo out there for those who want it and, anyway, 5.1 audio is still a niche things on DVD-A and SACD, no danger of being overrun by either in the near future(pity).

  8. Captain Groovy

    Captain Groovy Senior Member

    Freedonia, USA
    I think 5.1 is more revelatory. I like listening to session tapes. I like the process. You can hear the different instruments and tracks better in surround. And you get to be in the center of the music. It envelopes you. But it all boils down to personal taste.

    At home, I no longer listen to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" in stereo - only 5.1.

    But like anything else, a mix can be done badly. But there's a lot of good surround mixes out there.

    It's a cool effect - I enjoy being in the center of the music.

    Again, it's a personal choice - I hate mono. I think everything should AT LEAST be remixed to stereo - I listen to most music with headphones and hate the sound of music coming from a pinpoint in the center of my head.

    So 5.1 has a much wider birth (sp?) - it's like breathing out of a paper bag as opposed to breathing in the great wide open.

  9. lennonfan

    lennonfan New Member

    baltimore maryland
    love surround, love mono, love stereo. the more the merrier.
    I also believe surround sound may have been discussed at some point in the later years but obviously it wasn't presented to the general public until 1970.

    I adore Only a Northern Song in 5.1 on the yellow sub dvd.
  10. Lord Hawthorne

    Lord Hawthorne Currently Untitled

    Portland, Oregon
    If the Beatles came to play in your living room, they would be positioned in an array, not in a tight pack against one wall, with an audience tightly packed against the far wall. That's why the "concert mix" doesn't work for surround sound at home, at least for me. I want my surround mix to sound like the band is here, not "there".
  11. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Spain (EU)
    My point of view is quite in line with yours, Jeffbonie.

    While explaining 5.1 recently Jean Michel Jarre said something along the lines of it being like listening to music on headphones for the first time, just that it sounds in 3D.

    I believe that being as experimental as the Beatles were, especially in the latter part of their career, if they had had 5.1 technology they would have used it. I think that they did mono because that's all there was back then.
  12. I agree with Jeff. 5.1 is another option, that's all. I enjoy the increased clarity, and I especially like to hear different elements isolated. It's a different way of hearing a recording you've already heard in its "proper" mix thousands of times. It doesn't replace the original, so no harm. I'd just die to hear "All Things Must Pass" in 5.1, but I readily admit I have about 6 CDs worth of sessions from that album already (that most would "pass" on), but I listen to them eagerly. I'm the kind of guy who bugs the magician to show me how he did the trick.
  13. RetroSmith

    RetroSmith Forum Hall Of Fame<br>(Formerly Mikey5967)

    East Coast
    Paul Macca HIMSELF said "If We as The Beatles Had 5.1 in 1966, we would have used It".

    So much for "They never intended for their music to be in surround".
  14. dwmann

    dwmann Well-Known Member

    Houston TX
    I couldn't stand quad, and I can't stand most 5.1 mixes, unless the rears are used strictly for ambience - which can sound incredible, but isn't what we usually get, or what most people want.

    I HATE radical 5.1 remixes of concert films like The Last Waltz. I made it through a couple of songs in 5.1 and it sounded pretty good until the drums started to come from behind my head. Then I switched to the stereo track, and have never even listened to the 5.1 mix again.

    As for The Beatles, I PREFER most of their stuff in mono. I don't like the early isolated vocal tracks, and in later releases like Sgt. Pepper or MMT, I sometimes find even the stereo effects distracting - although I used to love that stuff back in the day, and originally got into hifi equipment because of how far out the stereo mixes of these LPs sounded after growing up with mono. Sometimes these days I think you almost have to be very young or very stoned to appreciate a gimicky mix in STEREO, much less 5.1. HOWEVER, these days I'm running large, expensive full-range floorstanders that can create an unbelievably life-like stereo image with the right (subtle) source material and (almost) overpower the room they're in. If I were still listening to my old bookshelfs (which NEVER created a realistic soundstage no matter WHAT I did) or a satellite system, I might still like the more radical mixes or 5.1, because of the APPEARANCE of a "bigger" sound.

    At this point, I have NO interest in hearing The Beatles in 5.1, thank you very much, even after hearing the Anthology surrond mix. I WOULD like to see a GOOD remastering of the entire catalog, MONO and STEREO, either by Steve (unlikely) or at least someone who cares enough to play the tapes back on tube equipment and who won't add a lot of weird eq or NR. Otherwise we may as well stick with what we have on CD now and the original LPs.

    With all that said, if they can fit a 5.1 mix in and still provide both the mono and stereo versions, you've got something for everybody. That's what I PERSONALLY would like to see - and let everyone enjoy this great music as they see fit.
  15. Captain Groovy

    Captain Groovy Senior Member

    Freedonia, USA
    Wow. I didn't know he said that. Good for him. Shouldn't be such a surprise since we've gotten the quad mixes of "Band On The Run" and "Venus and Mars."

    I'd love to hear The Beatles in 5.1!

    So why doesn't Macca releases a 5.1 mix of his new albums?...

    "Flaming Pie" would sound especially cool.

  16. JohnG

    JohnG PROG Nation!

    New York, NY

    Brian May of Queen has also said that if they had this technology back in the 70's.....Freddie would have loved it!

    The Beatles in 5.1 would have been awsome. It was not to be so stereo Beatles is fine with me.
  17. JonUrban

    JonUrban SHF Member #497

    More proof:

    Attached Files:

  18. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    And as ANTHOLOGY should have made clear, if the surviving Fabs didn't want it used for that box set, we wouldn't have any 5.1 on it. Well, we do, so.....

  19. proufo

    proufo Forum Resident

    A writer in Crawdaddy magazine 30 years ago published a piece called "Why Quad should reunite the Beatles".

    The point was that talented acts such as them would create music that HAD to be listened in Quad.
  20. markl

    markl New Member

    I look forward to the day when artists conceive and execute their music natively in 5.1 as a total experience and artistic statement from the start. Imagine the 5.1 Dark Side of the Moons of the future that will make full use of every channel, conceived by people who *think* in 5.1, not stereo. Such recordings will be a big disappointment in stereo, and people raised on 5.1 will scratch their heads wondering how we all got along with "crummy" ol' stereo in the olden days, just like stereophiles wonder how people ever made do with mono (monophiles here excepted of course! ;) ) .

    Alas, we are a long long way from that day. :shake: In the meantime, we have people trying to figure out how to take 2 channel reordings and make them into 5.1 after the fact, which can lead to some questionable choices. Also, just like early stereo sucked (i.e. early Beatles) so too, I suspect does early 5.1. I feel it will take a few years for mixers to figure it out.
  21. lennonfan

    lennonfan New Member

    baltimore maryland
    I think psych music benefits greatly from surround. Floyds' Wish You Were Here album I will -only- listen to in quad. With most of the material I have, I prefer the surround version if I have it (and it's a good mix) but mono stereo is ok too. I surround myself with mono and stereo by foldback to the rears of the front channel material and I really like being in the middle of it.
  22. fyrfytrhoges

    fyrfytrhoges New Member

    i consider most here to be more informed than i when it comes to the technical side of music but my two cents says that i enjoy 5.1 mixes of albums like the flaming lips yoshimi. however it seems to me that the bands of today can now think in terms of 5.1 whereas the bands of yesteryear could think only in terms of mono, stereo, or the quad format which never seemed to take off. but i believe in the end if the band thinks of recording using the 5.1 format from conception of the album it could work for the best. as i said i love yoshimi using 5.1 headphones even though it has its faults and roger waters in the flesh isnt bad either, but neither are perfect, but a step in the right direction, imo of course. however i would not want to see all of the albums i grew up with formatted in 5.1 ignoring its stereo roots, if any album that goes 5.1 retains a stereo mix, i'm okay with it.
  23. GaryW

    GaryW New Member

    Salt Lake City, UT
    That's the key right there. As long as the original mix remains available where is the problem with remixing or doing whatever you want to with the original(as long as you got all the proper permission to do so). If you don't like surround mixes fine, terrific, more power to you, DON'T BUY THEM!! But to go around with your nose in the air stating crap like "shouldn't mess with the artists' original intent" , blah, blah, blah, is being extremely closed-minded and intolerant not to mention just plain STUPID. But that's just my opinion, though if you disagree, you're wrong. :)
  24. GMav

    GMav Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Salem, Oregon, USA
    Well............I can see that I opened this up for quite a discusion.

    Some observations.

    GaryW: Yep, I guess I must be close-minded, intolerant and just plain STUPID. I like the mixes the way they are. I do agree that others are entitled to their opinions, and I don't have to resort to be-little people who don't see things my way.

    Mikey5967: Paul probably did say that, and had it been available back then, the majority of artists may have used it, not just the Beatles, and none of us would be having this discusion now. But the fact remains, that it wasn't available, therefore they didn't use it.

    Tomcw: You are right. That IS all you get with any recording. And in this case (the Beatles) what we got was THEIR idea of what they wanted, given the technology of the day. I believe the Beatles were involved with the mono mixes (from a "being there" standpoint), and the stereo was left up to George Martin and various engineers. I would rather have the Beatles and Co. involved than someone else 30+ years down the road.

    Once again....just my opinion

    If they decide to change the mix, so be it. I just hope that mono and stereo mixes remain. It would be real sad if they didn't. But the "historical significance" issue is another can of worms for a different thread.

  25. Veech

    Veech Space In Sounds

    Los Angeles, CA
    It's already been figured out. Let me tell you, when it works it's awesome, when it doesn't it can be pretty dreadful. The Beatles did such weird things in their mixes, their tracks are so ripe for 5.1. I mean, if the drums can be mixed totally into the L channel, why not have them mixed totally in the rear, only in stereo between sL and sR? It's deconstructing the performance. Hearing the studio chatter, the goofs, the anomalies, getting *this much* closer to the genesis of the performances, and inside their heads.

    5.1 is an opportunity to listen to the isolated version of George's lead guitar track in SPLHCB, and get a chance to study the nuances in his playing. You can clearly hear things that remain buried in the stereo or mono mix. You'll also hear things that *aren't* buried, but you never noticed before. 5.1 is an opportunity any serious listener of popular music should be excited about, whether it's Beatles or Beck.
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