Wednesday, January 13, 2010

False Expectations - The Problem with Surround Sound

This blog is NOT plagiarized but I must admit that another blog inspired me to write it. I can't even remember which one it is but much thanks to inspiring this tirade against to many speakers.

Lately, there have been an explosion of surround systems and production programs that produce surround sound recordings. Beyond that, there have been musical exhibits that utilize several speakers and in fact, this practice goes back to those like Alvin Lucier in the early days of electronic music. While interesting, ultimately the artist has to get his sound to the listener. So the relevant question, perhaps the most relevant of all if, where is the listener.

Now perhaps some see their listeners in front of great surround systems distracted by nothing and sitting down to a night of critical listening. I am a musician/composer and I listen to most of my music on the stereo system that came with my car. To be honest, a great Bach Fugue or even great Tangerine Dream music sounds pretty good on at least a decent system. Now I don't use an MP3 player, yes I know I am backward, but how many people listen to music while jogging or on the job somewhere? So sure, you can compose a work to be played on the most high tech system in the world with speakers hanging from the rafters but that is not what the listener has.

So sure, surround is interesting but for me, I will stick with stereo, its worked for decades now and while spoil a good thing.

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