Surround Master v2: Thoughts and Impressions

Help Support QuadraphonicQuad:

jaybird100

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
QQ Supporter
Joined
Apr 27, 2006
Messages
1,438
Location
Pembroke Pines, FL
It's not necessarily a good thing either. Most home theater setups are not using full range speakers. That's the entire point of bass management. Now my mains in my home theater are rated down to 35Hz, which is usually fine for music (Carver system upstairs plays down to 26Hz without a sub), but my REW graphs do show a significant improvement in overall room response using Audyssey room correction (+/- 2.5dB at the MLP which goes to more like +/- 5dB without it. That's not horrible given most speakers are +/- 3dB at best (My PSB speakers are rated +/- 1.5dB over most of the range), but it's still up to a 10dB difference in frequencies, which isn't exactly small (double/half the perceived volume possible between frequencies). It would be nice if receivers had an ADC section and offered all their modes with analog signals, but most don't since in 2021, almost all signals are digital save perhaps the "comeback" of the LP.



Marantz receivers like my 7012 still have 7.1 analog inputs on them (one of the significant differences between them and Denon models despite the same parent company these days). Most receivers have dumped them due to most people having no use for them. They were originally designed to allow receivers to be used with Dolby Digital and DTS decoders that were just starting to become available in the 1990s and were "5.1 Ready" (and later 7.1 ready), which was a bit like early HDTVs not having built-in tuners and were "HD Ready". There weren't many external 7.1 decoders made. I actually bought one to use with my Yamaha AVR which was from 2006 and didn't have HDMI inputs and of course it bypassed its own room correction system (which was never very good) and bass management, but soundtracks already have LFE so the bass thing wasn't quite as big of a deal, particularly if the surround decoder already had bass management built-in (like my old Technics DD/DTS unit I still have connected to my Carver system for occasional surround use (with Klipsch surround speakers). With KODI, it basically works with everything as KODI will generate a Dolby Digital signal from everything including Atmos sources.

I suppose the SM could offer similar conversion for optical digital output (which would work with receivers bass management and room correction and most of them still offer Optical/Coax inputs), but 5.1 is then no longer "lossless" and despite decent 640kbps rates sounding pretty good to my ears (transparent most of the time), there is of course a stigma associated with all forms of "lossy" by the industry (even when they shoot themselves in the foot towards streaming needs now) regardless if it's audible or not because like audiophile equipment, marketing lossless as "better" (whether you can hear it or not) is a marketing strategy to sell more crap (ironic as they want to ditch disc formats).
You want to add Dolby Digital and/or DTS encoding to the Surround Master? That's going to make it more expensive. Also, the other reason for using the analog multichannel inputs would be with universal BD/DVD players that have the DSD and MLP processing built in. As for ATMOS, I'm too old to care about that.
 

MagnumX

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2020
Messages
227
Location
Ohio
You want to add Dolby Digital and/or DTS encoding to the Surround Master? That's going to make it more expensive.
Not necessarily. I just want a way to engage room correction, bass management and Neural X (which are more beneficial than lossy/lossless, IMO). Any way to get there, really.

It's already expensive. What's another $50 if it solves the issue?

Also, the other reason for using the analog multichannel inputs would be with universal BD/DVD players that have the DSD and MLP processing built in. As for ATMOS, I'm too old to care about that.
Too old for Atmos? No such thing.

As for SACD or DVD-Audio, better to dump them to a hard drive and convert to FLAC. Then you can play them with full room correction and bass management.
 
Last edited:

MagnumX

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2020
Messages
227
Location
Ohio
Plenty of component to HDMI adapters with two channel audio support, but none with 5.1 or 7.1 support.

There's several people out there asking for such a thing too and people either blowing them off or telling them to buy another receiver or SACD player, neither of which solves SM to receiver with full digital support modes.

If they can make a $12 box that does it for 2-channel to HDMI, I'm guessing a 5.1 version could be built for well under $100. Lots of newer receivers without 5.1/7.1 inputs so it's not like there's zero market beyond what I'm looking for. Three basic 2-channel ADC chip outputs channeled to the correct lines on an HDMI cable instead of two is all that's really needed to be added to the existing designs, I think.
 

Soundfield

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Messages
1,193
Location
Essex, UK
There might be some augment for adding other decoding formats to Involve's projected Surround Pre-Amp (although I'm not convinced) however, to add all kinds of superfluous / expensive stuff to the SM rather misses the point of the device. Some people have very unrealistic views about the real world costs of R&D and of small scale quality manufacturing.
 

MagnumX

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2020
Messages
227
Location
Ohio
There might be some augment for adding other decoding formats to Involve's projected Surround Pre-Amp (although I'm not convinced) however, to add all kinds of superfluous / expensive stuff to the SM rather misses the point of the device. Some people have very unrealistic views about the real world costs of R&D and of small scale quality manufacturing.
I don't think that's really a fair statement. I never said anything about the overall cost needing to be lower. I only said it was already an expensive device (which it is; greater than half the cost of my 11.2 AVR) and that I'd be willing to pay EVEN MORE if it meant I could keep my bass management and room correction system active. Pardon me for wanting to keep +/- 2.5dB overall frequency response (with room correction) instead of +/- 5dB without it. Trying to get the room response to that level of precision with room treatments alone would be an exercise in frustration. Getting flat 20Hz bass response without a subwoofer and correction would at the very least entail replacing the main speakers with larger towers at considerable cost as well.

I wasn't implying a converter had to be included in the SM. I'd be perfectly happy with a 3rd party analog-to-digital converter. There are 2-channel + video versions galore out there, but 5.1 analog surround is obviously too much of a niche so they didn't bother including it in their designs. Most people are trying to go the other way around (DAC). I didn't realize reporting my attempts to locate an external analog to digital converter was offensive to people. The shortcoming is the receiver which does not digitize the analog inputs so that its own vast processing (from Audyssey to surround modes) can be applied. I know of a couple of AVRs that did offer that option, but that was some time ago and they were high-end products.

Whether the SM device itself is worth it to me in the end or not will depend on what it does for 2-channel stereo music. I haven't found surround modes for 2-channel to be convincing thus far (meaning Dolby Surround or DTS modes used with 2-channel music in particular), but the raves about this product has me willing to buy/try one, but that doesn't mean I welcome the implied criticisms for simply looking for a way to keep bass management and Audyssey working, even if with an external ADC device.

The fact most of the systems I've seen in use with this device look more like the 1970s than the 2020s implies perhaps I'm simply the wrong customer in general. I don't currently own any 1970s Quad LPs to play (not that I wouldn't be interested in trying some). I'm simply looking for a surround mode for music specifically that is more interesting than Dolby Pro Logic IIx or DSU, neither of which I found very interesting for most music as the separation is poor at best while dismantling the traditional soundstage (a half effort at best between true discrete and traditional stereo). My feeling is that if you're going to move things into the surround speakers, actually move them rather than "blur" them half-way, which is often what I feel Dolby does to 2-channel music unless the music has very strong out-of-phase material in it. Most of the reviews of SM suggested far more envelopment than something like PLIIx, which is what piqued my interest in the device. DSU is worse than PLIIx for 2-channel music, IMO. DSU and Neural X are excellent for upgrading 5.1 music a bit further, IMO so clearly if the SM works extremely well, it'd be interesting to see what height expansion could possibly add (maybe nothing at all, but that's just my curiosity, but it won't work with the analog input mode either).
 

Mcallister

300 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
308
Location
Dayton, Ohio
I don't think that's really a fair statement. I never said anything about the overall cost needing to be lower. I only said it was already an expensive device (which it is; greater than half the cost of my 11.2 AVR) and that I'd be willing to pay EVEN MORE if it meant I could keep my bass management and room correction system active. Pardon me for wanting to keep +/- 2.5dB overall frequency response (with room correction) instead of +/- 5dB without it. Trying to get the room response to that level of precision with room treatments alone would be an exercise in frustration. Getting flat 20Hz bass response without a subwoofer and correction would at the very least entail replacing the main speakers with larger towers at considerable cost as well.

I wasn't implying a converter had to be included in the SM. I'd be perfectly happy with a 3rd party analog-to-digital converter. There are 2-channel + video versions galore out there, but 5.1 analog surround is obviously too much of a niche so they didn't bother including it in their designs. Most people are trying to go the other way around (DAC). I didn't realize reporting my attempts to locate an external analog to digital converter was offensive to people. The shortcoming is the receiver which does not digitize the analog inputs so that its own vast processing (from Audyssey to surround modes) can be applied. I know of a couple of AVRs that did offer that option, but that was some time ago and they were high-end products.

Whether the SM device itself is worth it to me in the end or not will depend on what it does for 2-channel stereo music. I haven't found surround modes for 2-channel to be convincing thus far (meaning Dolby Surround or DTS modes used with 2-channel music in particular), but the raves about this product has me willing to buy/try one, but that doesn't mean I welcome the implied criticisms for simply looking for a way to keep bass management and Audyssey working, even if with an external ADC device.

The fact most of the systems I've seen in use with this device look more like the 1970s than the 2020s implies perhaps I'm simply the wrong customer in general. I don't currently own any 1970s Quad LPs to play (not that I wouldn't be interested in trying some). I'm simply looking for a surround mode for music specifically that is more interesting than Dolby Pro Logic IIx or DSU, neither of which I found very interesting for most music as the separation is poor at best while dismantling the traditional soundstage (a half effort at best between true discrete and traditional stereo). My feeling is that if you're going to move things into the surround speakers, actually move them rather than "blur" them half-way, which is often what I feel Dolby does to 2-channel music unless the music has very strong out-of-phase material in it. Most of the reviews of SM suggested far more envelopment than something like PLIIx, which is what piqued my interest in the device. DSU is worse than PLIIx for 2-channel music, IMO. DSU and Neural X are excellent for upgrading 5.1 music a bit further, IMO so clearly if the SM works extremely well, it'd be interesting to see what height expansion could possibly add (maybe nothing at all, but that's just my curiosity, but it won't work with the analog input mode either).
I don't think that's really a fair statement. I never said anything about the overall cost needing to be lower. I only said it was already an expensive device (which it is; greater than half the cost of my 11.2 AVR) and that I'd be willing to pay EVEN MORE if it meant I could keep my bass management and room correction system active. Pardon me for wanting to keep +/- 2.5dB overall frequency response (with room correction) instead of +/- 5dB without it. Trying to get the room response to that level of precision with room treatments alone would be an exercise in frustration. Getting flat 20Hz bass response without a subwoofer and correction would at the very least entail replacing the main speakers with larger towers at considerable cost as well.

I wasn't implying a converter had to be included in the SM. I'd be perfectly happy with a 3rd party analog-to-digital converter. There are 2-channel + video versions galore out there, but 5.1 analog surround is obviously too much of a niche so they didn't bother including it in their designs. Most people are trying to go the other way around (DAC). I didn't realize reporting my attempts to locate an external analog to digital converter was offensive to people. The shortcoming is the receiver which does not digitize the analog inputs so that its own vast processing (from Audyssey to surround modes) can be applied. I know of a couple of AVRs that did offer that option, but that was some time ago and they were high-end products.

Whether the SM device itself is worth it to me in the end or not will depend on what it does for 2-channel stereo music. I haven't found surround modes for 2-channel to be convincing thus far (meaning Dolby Surround or DTS modes used with 2-channel music in particular), but the raves about this product has me willing to buy/try one, but that doesn't mean I welcome the implied criticisms for simply looking for a way to keep bass management and Audyssey working, even if with an external ADC device.

The fact most of the systems I've seen in use with this device look more like the 1970s than the 2020s implies perhaps I'm simply the wrong customer in general. I don't currently own any 1970s Quad LPs to play (not that I wouldn't be interested in trying some). I'm simply looking for a surround mode for music specifically that is more interesting than Dolby Pro Logic IIx or DSU, neither of which I found very interesting for most music as the separation is poor at best while dismantling the traditional soundstage (a half effort at best between true discrete and traditional stereo). My feeling is that if you're going to move things into the surround speakers, actually move them rather than "blur" them half-way, which is often what I feel Dolby does to 2-channel music unless the music has very strong out-of-phase material in it. Most of the reviews of SM suggested far more envelopment than something like PLIIx, which is what piqued my interest in the device. DSU is worse than PLIIx for 2-channel music, IMO. DSU and Neural X are excellent for upgrading 5.1 music a bit further, IMO so clearly if the SM works extremely well, it'd be interesting to see what height expansion could possibly add (maybe nothing at all, but that's just my curiosity, but it won't work with the analog input mode either).
Magnum where in Ohio are you at? I’m in Dayton
 

chucky3042

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
1,795
I don't think that's really a fair statement. I never said anything about the overall cost needing to be lower. I only said it was already an expensive device (which it is; greater than half the cost of my 11.2 AVR) and that I'd be willing to pay EVEN MORE if it meant I could keep my bass management and room correction system active. Pardon me for wanting to keep +/- 2.5dB overall frequency response (with room correction) instead of +/- 5dB without it. Trying to get the room response to that level of precision with room treatments alone would be an exercise in frustration. Getting flat 20Hz bass response without a subwoofer and correction would at the very least entail replacing the main speakers with larger towers at considerable cost as well.

I wasn't implying a converter had to be included in the SM. I'd be perfectly happy with a 3rd party analog-to-digital converter. There are 2-channel + video versions galore out there, but 5.1 analog surround is obviously too much of a niche so they didn't bother including it in their designs. Most people are trying to go the other way around (DAC). I didn't realize reporting my attempts to locate an external analog to digital converter was offensive to people. The shortcoming is the receiver which does not digitize the analog inputs so that its own vast processing (from Audyssey to surround modes) can be applied. I know of a couple of AVRs that did offer that option, but that was some time ago and they were high-end products.

Whether the SM device itself is worth it to me in the end or not will depend on what it does for 2-channel stereo music. I haven't found surround modes for 2-channel to be convincing thus far (meaning Dolby Surround or DTS modes used with 2-channel music in particular), but the raves about this product has me willing to buy/try one, but that doesn't mean I welcome the implied criticisms for simply looking for a way to keep bass management and Audyssey working, even if with an external ADC device.

The fact most of the systems I've seen in use with this device look more like the 1970s than the 2020s implies perhaps I'm simply the wrong customer in general. I don't currently own any 1970s Quad LPs to play (not that I wouldn't be interested in trying some). I'm simply looking for a surround mode for music specifically that is more interesting than Dolby Pro Logic IIx or DSU, neither of which I found very interesting for most music as the separation is poor at best while dismantling the traditional soundstage (a half effort at best between true discrete and traditional stereo). My feeling is that if you're going to move things into the surround speakers, actually move them rather than "blur" them half-way, which is often what I feel Dolby does to 2-channel music unless the music has very strong out-of-phase material in it. Most of the reviews of SM suggested far more envelopment than something like PLIIx, which is what piqued my interest in the device. DSU is worse than PLIIx for 2-channel music, IMO. DSU and Neural X are excellent for upgrading 5.1 music a bit further, IMO so clearly if the SM works extremely well, it'd be interesting to see what height expansion could possibly add (maybe nothing at all, but that's just my curiosity, but it won't work with the analog input mode either).
Hi Magnumx

Just one biased comment for your needs, we decode Dolby way better than they do for movies
 
Top