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Thread: 5.1 vs 2 Channel Audio

  1. #1
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    5.1 vs 2 Channel Audio

    Im setting up a new carpc install, and have been going bananas in finding amps and speakers. There is so much out there. The specific speed bump I am hitting is whether to go 5.1/7.1 or 2 channel audio. I wont be watching movies in my car very often, and I love HQ audio.. I don't care for crazy bass, sound quality will always win out for me.

    I have a sound card that outputs 7.1 or 5.1 if I want to, but I am not sure if car audio will sound better in surround sound mode, or if I just hook up the amp and speakers in a basic stereo fashion?

    Also, if anyone has any ideas on how (or even if it is worth it) to wire things up so that I can use surround for movies and stereo for music... I cant figure out how stereo would work if I attach each speaker to its own amp channel which relates to its own sound card output (fl/fr/rr/rl/center/sub)???

    Thanks!

    -- I am using Cetrafuse with an external Vantec USB sound card (2/5.1/7.1 channel options)

  2. #2
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    The number of discrete channel signals present in the audio source will determine what will come out of your speakers (without help from you audio drivers) . MP3 files will be (mostly) in stereo. So in order to produce sound in 4 (or more) speakers, your audio driver is going to have to synthesize the additional channels. This is sometimes referred to as "fill" for the rear channels. I'm not familiar with your sound card, but most Realtek motherboard drivers have a check box for this feature.

    For movies (or other audio sources) that contain the discrete 5.1 or 7.1 audio signals, your drivers should detect that and send the appropriate signal to the appropriate channel.

    Cheers!

    VegasGuy

  3. #3
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    Thanks VegasGuy!

    So, barring the non existence of the 'fill' feature (I will play around and see what happens with my sound card), I should hook up the car for 5.1 surround (or 7.1, but I think 5.1 is more than fine) and let the sound card figure out how to slice and dice the stereo signal.

    Will this make the sound quality of the music I am listening to worse than if it was stereo all the way and the amps were just making the front and rear lefts the same (off of the stereo left signal) and vice versa for the right? Just writing this makes me think its pretty much 6 of one 1/2 dozen of the other (in terms of who (amp or sound card) that is doing the splitting?)

    Thanks!

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    You stated you did not want to watch movies, just wanted SQ audio. Very little audio is coded above 2 channels so you you, MIO, more than that would be a waste. The audio guys out there competing in SQ competitions only ever run 2 channels and very few even add "fill" with rear speakers. 2 channels allows you to get better imaging on you soundstage the way the music was intended to be heard.
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

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    PhilG,

    Interesting post.. Sent me off on a google-spiral about the value of rear speakers to the soundstage in a car... From what I am reading though, I might be able to have my cake and eat it too, by installing a mutli channel capable system, and having the source help control the balance and fader for those rare times when I do want to watch or listen to a 5.1 piece... but point well taken, I will focus my time and $$$ on the front soundstage as thats where I will be living most of the time.

  6. #6
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    i agree with philg--

    i don't run rear speakers..

    part of my reasoning is that the rear speakers in my car are 6" from my head, so there really isn't much that they help with, other then pulling imaging away from the front soundstage.. though, overall, this makes it much easier to setup everything.

    there is also a slight theory that this allows you to spend more on better parts for a couple locations, then to spend less on parts for more locations.

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    I have a 2002 MB ML320 SUV so I need something in the rear or rear passengers will get a weaker experience.

    I am tempted to ask about good amps on this post and the need for crossovers, but I will no muddy the waters... Thanks!!

  8. #8
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    'good' amps are the ones that will best power the speakers-- i prefer to use ones slightly higher then the rated rms of he speakers.

    what kind of crossovers are you considering? i currently run active crossovers in the computer, but did build some very simple 6db/oct x-overs for my last car with plans to build some 12/18db versions later...

  9. #9
    FLAC PhilG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MindWire View Post
    PhilG,

    Interesting post.. Sent me off on a google-spiral about the value of rear speakers to the soundstage in a car... From what I am reading though, I might be able to have my cake and eat it too, by installing a mutli channel capable system, and having the source help control the balance and fader for those rare times when I do want to watch or listen to a 5.1 piece... but point well taken, I will focus my time and $$$ on the front soundstage as thats where I will be living most of the time.
    Thats basically what I am doing. I am setting up 5.1 for movies and the just the experience of 5.1 in a vehicle but I will use a default profile of 2.1 from the front stage most of the time for music.
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

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