Surround sound

As a dedicated two channel person I see the latest Wagner/Solti Ring is being issued in all the regular formats plus Surround Sound. I know this is not a new topic but what might I be missing? If anthing?

I have no idea, Douglas. I have one of the fairly short-lived Naim AV-1 rear sound producers in my system, which (with an additional power amp and an extra pair of loudspeakers) produces sound from behind, as well as in front of, the listening position. It produces rather wonderful sound in my (fairly smal, shoebox-shaped) listening room.

I have pre-ordered the ‘new’ Decca ‘Ring’, but the stereo version, as I hadn’t heard of the Surround Sound version. I think that I’ll leave well alone, unless someone posts something extraordinary about this other version.

graham55. Watch this space? I have never found when listening to my system I need more in relation to my post above.
A close neighbour with a big room, pojector and all the bits can make a modern film sound brilliant from speakers around the room. Films and me are not a priority.
Amazon look to be the first with the latest Solti. Reinvent the wheel.

The effect of using the rear sound processor is subtle, as the rear sound is akin to an echo, or perhaps enhanced reverberation, in the room. It certainly all sounds very one-dimensional (if stereo sound can be described as that) when the AV-1 is turned off.

There’s not a lot of point in trying to describe it - you have to hear it. What I can say is that the sound experience is greatly diminished if the AV-1 is switched off half-way through music that you’re playing - where the hell did all that lovely sound go?

I do wonder how many AV-1 units Naim ever sold. I had never heard of it when I bought mine from eBay, and discovered that the seller was none other than my own dealer at the time, Grahams HiFi. It certainly seems to be one of Naim’s least commercially successful products. Very unfairly so, in my opinion, as it’s a fantastic, and very unusual, piece of kit.

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Presumably you use AV bypass when adding the extra channels but if you have a 552 (say) as your pre are you losing all, some or none of its benefits when the multichannel pre is controlling the volume?

If you aren’t an audiophile and have a surround system that is also your hifi (all speakers of the same range and quality), then it is probably a very good step forward. Or even if you are an audiophile but your surround system is really top end and it’s stereo only performance is truly first class.

But if you have a very good stereo and a surround system that is mismatched (bolted on at a lower grade), then it is almost certainly a massive step backwards.

The SACD version of the remastered Solti Ring has Dolby Atmos encoding. The writer of the review article in Gramophone this month comments that it sounds fantastic on headphones, giving a real sense of vertical discrimination as well as left - right.

But you would need an SACD player to hear that. A CD player will play the CD layer from the SACD and will just get normal stereo of course. And the vinyl is Dolby Atmos free!

That was always my suspicion, I even wonder if we’ve over complicated things with stereo. When I first got into music it was with my father’s radiogram.


Not his but the very model I grew up with, when it died it was replaced by a Japanese stereo music centre but the speakers were just put where they’d fit in the room and the result was disappointing.

It’s a lot easier to position one speaker in a domestic environment than to optimise two, you also get a larger listening area with only a small loss of the top end if going off axis rather than a collapse of the stereo image. The music is intact and can still give an impression of scale. In most homes where the living room isn’t set up with the hifi as the first priority I’d wager mono could give a more satisfying experience than poorly setup stereo. The spacial aspects of stereo are nice to have but not essential to enjoying music. How much effort is multichannel worth?

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A hi-fi friend (he has an LP12) says I am lucky to have a pair of B & W 802s each side of the fireplace. He was referring to my wife’s acceptance of them I think.
A recent lady visitor said “aren’t they lovely”. First time anybody said that!

I almost bought an AV-1 years ago when Graham’s had one on sale for a song, wish I had taken the plunge just to sate my curiosity.

Just read your later post ---- YOU bought it!!

Hi @Douglas ,

When DVD-A was all the rage I took the plunge. Non of the 5.1 surround mixes worked for me. When I ripped them a few years later I only bothered with the stereo. That might be due to years of conditioning, but I think it was damned odd mastering. A bit like early stereo, interesting choices were made.

It seems very likely that this is so. It’s a fantastic thing!!

You know I did think about that for thirty seconds, but as I have a Dirac system already I’ll stick to stereo for my ‘proper’ listening :wink:

I am very slightly tempted by the LP first opera. £85 or so for three discs but not in Surround Sound. OK. Neither will my CD555 with no SACD do SS.
Just have to be content with what what I am used to. No bad thing?

It really depenfs on the intent of the actual performance. Bear in mind the objective of stereo and surround are exact opposites.

The purpose of surround is to delete the room around you and place you where the action is. The purpose of stereo is to leave you where you are and put the action in your room.

Hence, the purpose of the mastering intent means everything here.

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Hi feeling…zen.
Thank’s for your concise explanation between the two formats.

Or stream via Tidal on a suitable player incl iphone

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