Sound Fidelity vs Directionality

Discussion in 'High Definition' started by dave13, Oct 14, 2017.

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Which would you choose?

  1. Standard definition audio but spread across 5.1 channels

    4 vote(s)
    100.0%
  2. High definition audio but limited to a single soundbar

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    I have a conundrum at home, and I'd be curious to know members' opinion on this: I have two sound systems in my house (along with two decent sized tv's and two areas in which to watch things - ain't life swell?). One is a 5.1 Panasonic surround system circa 2005. It's capable of handling DTS 5.1 via HDMI or optical audio cable. The other is a fairly recent Samsung soundbar that supports HD audio. So what's the superior option? Which one should I use as my primary, and which as my secondary sound system? What's more important to you? Sound directionality or fidelity? In this situation, which would you choose?
     
  2. Paff

    Paff Super Moderator

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    This is hi fi. High Fidelity. This means it's the highest quality......fidelity. Two things, very important to have.

    Honestly, I didn't even know what "HD Audio" is, and I did audio for a living. Turns out it's just a higher bit rate than standard digital audio (yet, still not as good as plain ol' analog audio...). But to answer your question, "sound directionality" is nothing more than a gimmick, and often too much becomes distracting. I'd rather have nice clean left and right, a good center for movie dialogue, couple of surrounds for ambient effects, and a sub for the lows. I.E., 5.1 sound.
     
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  3. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    Are you saying that the effect of...say...hearing a plane whoosh past your head from back to front is a gimmick, while using the different channels of a 5.1 system to separate different elements (dialogue, ambient sounds, score, etc) is a better use? Ok. That makes sense. I guess I used that word incorrectly...I should have just said "separation" or something. So you don't think that HD audio is much of a big deal? Given the choice, you'd rather listen to a DTS or Dolby track in 5.1 rather than a DTS-HD or Dolby HD track on a soundbar?
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  4. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn’t want either. You don’t get true stereo through a soundbar (even if the sound is divided between two speakers they are too close together to deliver a benefit), and a stereo signal spread across 5.1 diffuses it even worse. I don’t think that “HD” audio actually exists. It’s just that people are so used to listening to music through crappy equipment nowadays that “HD” sounds better by comparison. Most of it is still based off of brickwalled masters and sounds worse than what we heard 30-40 years ago.

    I realize that you are referring to movie sound rather than music, but I think my opinion still largely applies, because in either case I am more than content with a simple 2.0 setup with a pair of decent bookshelf speakers. When I had surround I didn’t hear a difference between DTS or Dolby. I think that its all a gimmick.
     
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  5. sinister

    sinister Member

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    I'd go with the 5.1 setup if it has reasonable speakers and they're positioned fairly well in the room, that's most likely how the movie was created and intended to be heard.

    I never noticed any difference between normal AC3/DTS and HD audio either and I have a decent setup.

    For music, pure stereo every time though.
     
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  6. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I'll be honest, that really wasn't the kind of response I was expecting to hear, but it's certainly given me something to think about. I'm not an audiophile, but I was under the impression that so-called HD audio was something that people were happy with. I guess I was wrong.

    I should add that I usually try to listen to whatever audio track is closest to the one used during a films original exhibition. So when I talk about 5.1, I'm considering something like Lord of the Rings...not something like Jaws.
     
  7. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Yeah, certainly with newer movies, the original intent of the surround sound is something I want to consider.

    My music listening is done pretty much exclusively in the car, I'm afraid.
     
  8. shape22

    shape22 Well-Known Member

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    There's no competition between a mid-range 5.1 (5 speakers plus a subwoofer) setup and any kind of soundbar. Keep in mind that you need an appropriate room, you need to do some research before you mount your speakers, and you need a digital receiver that allows for EQ and individual channel balancing. Research is the key pretty much across the board, as details as small as the gauge of your speaker wire will impact what you hear. You don't have to break the bank to get excellent sound, but spending a few extra bucks on speakers is never a bad idea. You'll hear the difference between the budget speakers they package with low-end receivers and mid-range speakers.

    I purchased a mid-range Denon receiver with Audyssey a few years back, and I wonder how I got by before I picked it up. Calibration is as simple as plugging in the required microphone, then moving it around your listening area as test signals are sent out by the unit. After calibration, channel separation was much more dramatic, and everything sounded cleaner and more dramatic. I can also recommend Denon receivers for the variety of output options they provide. My receiver includes output options for regular stereo (2 speakers), 4-speaker stereo (left and right channels outputted through both the front and back surround channels), true mono (center speaker only), all of the expected Dolby Pro-Logic configurations, and a substantial number of more exotic (and artificial-sounding) options that you'll probably never use.

    Options are the key. If you have a good receiver, you can listen to anything the way it sounds best to you.
     
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  9. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    Don’t get me wrong, if you have the capability to go with HD then go with HD. All that I’m really saying is that, for instance if you listen to radio and you have access to the HD stations, those HD stations are comparable to what I remember hearing as a kid because regular stations are clearly compressing their signals to digital now. Honestly I don’t know how anybody can stand it because to me it all sounds like glass.
     
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  10. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    I would always go with a good receiver + multi-speaker set-up over a soundbar. A soundbar can certainly sound very good, but is essentially just "faking" the surround by various methods and generally with a smaller footprint of speaker elements.
     
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  11. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    I kind of took that for granted, what I was curious about (and it seems like i've got my answer) is whether the ability to play HD audio outweighed the soundbar's limitations.
     
  12. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    Define "HD audio" which is a rather broad term which dates back many years.
     
  13. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    I mean the audio tracks on Blu rays that are called HD. Like DTS-HD Master Audio and stuff like that. I recognize that "high definition" is technically a relative term, but for the purposes of home video, it usually means 1080p. I assumed the same was true for audio and things like DTS vs DTS-HD.
     
  14. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    Well yeah, but there is also "HD Audio" on computers in various formats such as DSD and DXD Audio. Those can go up to 32-bit resolution and 352,000 hz.

    If you get a good new receiver, it should easily handle DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD formats. It's just things like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X that are really cheaper and easier to just go with a Soundbar, since you don't need to add a bunch of extra speakers installed for them.
     
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