I promised to stop talking about the setup, so I won’t tell you
about the set of cables I just ordered from monoprice.com. Except to
mention that the solution to not having enough TOSLink sockets
is to get a TOSLink
switch. And that I’m still insecure on round 4 of ordering
cables whether I have enough of the right kind.
But I have had a chance to listen to a fair number of different
programs in surround sound, so I’ll tell you about what I’m
getting for the several hundred dollars I spent.
For just music recorded in stereo, it doesn’t really get you
much. The music still comes out of the stereo speakers, which
are still in the same place and the same quality.
For programs like movies and TV shows, it really does
make a difference, though, because the dialog is coming out of
the center channel, and the background music is coming out of
the other speakers, so it really does come through as
background, and doesn’t make the dialog hard to understand.
The FM radio is by default pushed through all the speakers, and
that’s a bit of a disadvantage for the way I use the radio,
because I have the volume down in the living room because of 5
speakers instead of two, but then when I go into the kitchen it
isn’t loud enough to hear.
And the sports programs really are a bit more exciting when you
feel surrounded by the crowd noise. I thought that was a bit
hokey when I first heard it, but now I miss it if I hit a
program like that which isn’t in surround.
I still haven’t listened to a real music DVD that’s been mixed
for surround sound. I moved the Werner Herzog Lohengrin up on
my Netflix queue, so I’ll let you know how that worked out.
There’s also a blu-ray Lohengrin, but I want to see what Herzog
does with it. I’ll tell you some time about the live production I saw
once — it’s an opera that needs a stage director.