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Playing stereo music out of a 5 channel soundbar

Hello, I'm new here and this is my first post. I have a newb question: if I play stereo music out of a five channel soundbar (two right channels, two left channels, and a center channel) will it sound worse than if I played the music out of a soundbar with only a left and right channel? Will the imaging be worse? I mean I understand that the imaging isn't going to be very good with a soundbar either way, but will a soundbar have better imaging for music if it has only two channels rather than five?

Re: Playing stereo music out of a 5 channel soundbar

Reply #1
It should be OK.   Generally all of this stuff is stereo (and mono) compatible and you should be able to get normal 2-channel stereo out of it.

How are you connected? 

i.e.  If your soundbar is plugged into a home theater receiver there will be a regular stereo option plus various optional "soundfields" or enhancements to take advantage of all 5 channels.     That may make it sound better or worse depending on your preferences.    (For stereo music I have mine set-up for a little reverb from the rear speakers.   But, I've got rear speakers...  I don't have a soundbar.)

Surround sound from a soundbar (or headphones) is a bit of a gimmick unless it really fools your ears/brain into hearing sounds coming from behind. 

 

Re: Playing stereo music out of a 5 channel soundbar

Reply #2
I emailed Focal (the company that makes the soundbar) and this is what they said:

"If you’re playing in stereo the 2 left most channels will play the left side of your stereo mix and the same for the 2 right most, they will play the right side of the mix. The center channel will play a mix."

Is this bad for music?


Re: Playing stereo music out of a 5 channel soundbar

Reply #4
I suppose I should be more clear. My question is "is such a system bad for stereo music compared to a soundbar that has two channels?"

I don't have a two channel soundbar to compare it too but I'm thinking of getting one if the answer is "yes."

Re: Playing stereo music out of a 5 channel soundbar

Reply #5
There's no easy answer....

Quote
"If you’re playing in stereo the 2 left most channels will play the left side of your stereo mix and the same for the 2 right most, they will play the right side of the mix. The center channel will play a mix."
If you're a purist, you'd want only 2-speakers.    The goal of high fidelity is to faithfully reproduce the recording (as it was heard live or as it was heard in the studio.) 

But, some people (maybe most people) don't like the "dead" sound of a studio (with no sound reflections).     And, most people don't have  treated dead-sounding rooms   Some people like to boost the bass.   I like the added rear-channel reverb, etc.  Or, some people like to listen very-quiet or very-loud.    Music is for enjoyment so it comes-down to what you like!!!

The two-left and two-right speakers working together might give you more bass because it generally takes big-woofers (or more-woofers) to make good low-frequency sound.  (I'm assuming you don't have a separate subwoofer.)  But, tweeters side-by-side can be a problem because of the way the shorter wavelengths combine in-and-out of phase as you move around.  

The "center mix" just seems a little weird to me, especially with the left & right speakers close together in the same enclosure.  But, maybe you'd like it...  Maybe I'd like it???

Quote
I suppose I should be more clear. My question is "is such a system bad for stereo music compared to a soundbar that has two channels?"
If they are otherwise identical the one with two speakers is more accurate.  In the real world they probably are not identical and the one that's better-made is probably going to sound better.      And you might not like it accurate...   You might like it "enhanced". 




Re: Playing stereo music out of a 5 channel soundbar

Reply #6
From what Focal told him, his soundbar is basically acting as a L-C-R setup, not surround, in this case

So when he inputs 2 channel, it's upmixing to 3 channel.  The C channel contains a blend of L+R.  It should work fine.  If anything, it allows more leeway for what constitutes a 'sweet spot', as the image will be anchored by the center channel

I upmix virtually *everything* 2channel to 5 channel  (DPLIIx,, 5 identical loudspeakers, plus sub), and I can  testify that 'it works'.   I.e, it's not 'true to the source' but it sounds 'more real' *to me*. 

Re: Playing stereo music out of a 5 channel soundbar

Reply #7
I wouldn't worry about it. If you look at Hi-Fi speaker systems that cost a fortune, they don't use only two speakers. They have these towers with like 6 speakers on each tower. So to me it seems that the amount of speakers is not very important.

With that being said, I would assume that a speaker system specifically made for stereo music would sound better for music than a surround soundbar made for movies (and vice versa, of course.)

 
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