Friday, March 21, 2008

FILLER FOR AUDIOPHILES -- 5.1 Surround Sound investment is worth every penny

I was recently doing what I do best with my exceptionally valuable time; perusing through the racks of a used CD store...what can I say, it's a pastime of mine.

While some old habits die hard, some other habits will never die...God willing.

For those of you who are new to the 5.1 Surround Sound format, you've all heard it in the theaters - especially if you're into sci-fi stuff like Star Wars. It's where the sound seems to journey around the room and spin around your head.

Some out there think the term "5.1" is some sort of secret industry code, as if it needs to be actually means "5 speakers, 1 sub woofer." Meaning 1 speaker at front center, 1 front right, 1 front left, 1 rear right, 1 rear left, and the sub usually goes to the side of the entertainment center (or even behind it if it's in the way).

Some of you may have heard it on a friend's home stereo; but again, it's been geared mainly towards the viewing of movies...your friend's media collection probably reflects that unless you know someone who is a total audiophile and has a collection of 5.1 Surround Sound music CDs (actually they're technically DVDs)...then why bother reading this article, right?

Uh, yeah...right. Sure. Yabetchya. Whatever.

Well it so happens that those DVD players that are set up for 5.1 Surround Sound movies will also play the music DVDs, which are set up the same way. That all being said, most consumers these days know to purchase a DVD disc player since it plays both DVDs and CDs... the only remaining question at the time of purchase, of course, being whether or not the unit also plays HDCDs, but that's "audiophile filler" for another day...

So at this time I have no 5.1 Surround Sound system set up at home, nor have I ever had one set up, period. Ever. I'm in the middle of packing the condo for a move into a house, which hopefully will occur sooner rather than later. The most hi-fi I'm getting is through an old bookshelf stereo system with one CD player and two cassette decks, my computer, a trusty 160GB iPod, a SwimP3 I use for doing laps at the pool (a very very cool little gizmo, made by Finis), a 6 CD changer in my 13 year-old vehicle with blown out speakers that occasionally bark at me, and the speakers of the standard television in the living room...a real hi-fi experience, I must say.

Completely apathetic for someone who dedicates a blog solely to the subject of music. meanwhile, back in the CD racks...this all being said, I decided to take an investment risk. I picked up a copy of Porcupine Tree's 2002 release In Absentia in a 5.1 Surround Sound DVD format. Remember, I don't have a 5.1 Surround Sound arrangement at home.

Yes, I'm a dummy.

I decided that when I move, the killer stereo setup is inevitable and therefore will happen; and when it does, looky here...I'll have a handful of discs that can play to the 5.1 format.

Actually, I'm a genius. Thank you very little.

Now that I think of it, so far I've purchased two 5.1 DVDs without ever having heard what a 5.1 DVD sounds like.

So scratch the genius thing, I'm back to being a dummy again.

A Circuit City was nearby the record store, so I decided to stop by there to play my new disc and see what it sounded like...and I was COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY!!!

5.1 Surround Sound is everything I've dreamt of, and more. It makes you feel like you're on stage with the band. I hear acoustic guitars coming out of the rear speakers, voices coming out of the front, and electric guitars in the middle with the drums...I have information coming at me from all over the room.

For you old school folks out there who once thought you were hearing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon on what was called "quadrophonic sound," this is essentially what that myth claimed to be... needless to say, I highly recommend this format, but only if you're set up for it... Unless, of course, you're going to be set up for it "soon," then go ahead and buy 5.1 Surround Sound music DVDs and haul your friggin' collection around audio stores and play them on friends systems around town.

Yeah, that's it!

Then you'll get raised eyebrows wherever you go, and they'll say: "Hey look, there goes the 5.1 Surround Sound Music Fairy." S

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