Stereo or surround sound – an evening's discussion that even my Awards hangover couldn't keep me away from

Fri, 26 Sep 2008, 2:54pm

Last night, I attended a recorded panel discussion organised by speaker manufacturer B&W. The  discussion was about surround sound and its importance to listeners, and it will be posted on the B&W website at the beginning of October. So, just one day after the fabled What Hi-Fi Sound And Vision Awards ceremony, I dragged my weary, tired body – and the attendant hangover that loomed over me like Javier Bardem in a foul mood – down to the Strongroom Studios in Hoxton.

 Danny Haikin of B&W provided the room (along with beer and cocktail sausages), while the opinions were provided by the following:

Martyn Ware chaired the discussion. Martyn is a musician, artist and record producer. He was a founding member of both Heaven 17 and The Human League, and through his company, Illustrious, is the designer and developer of revolutionary new surround systems. Andrew Walter is the Surround Sound mastering engineer at Abbey Road Studios. Verbally sparring with these lumninaries were three journalists: David Price, John Bamford, and yours truly.

 It was a fascinating and enjoyable evening: Martyn and Andrew banged the drum for surround sound in all its forms, while David Price and I expressed a certain sceptcism about whether the public is yet genuinely enthused by the idea of multichannel music.

But we all agreed that surround sound points to a future of genuinely immersive listening, and if there's enough appropriate content available (and hardware, and all of it at the right price),  then multichannel music might take off a a great deal more than it has already.

 As I say, the podcast will be up on the B&W website in a week, so head over there around the first of October to listen to the discussion in full. In the meantime, what do you think? Do you use your surround system just for movies, or do you use it for music, too? Is music simply better in stereo? Or do some genres of music suit multichannel while others get turned into a dog's dinner by the transfer into 5.1?

Let us know what you think.



I have been won over by listening / enjoying the surround mode in my lounge.

As people sit in different places I find that one gets greater detail and clarity at lower volumes to the music in a far wider area. This increased the enjoyment for everyone and even allows for the girls to occasionally talk. (I know, but anything for a quite life!)

having had dvdaudio hi res and sacd both really good playing in two channel stereo the muli channel option for me was more involving as music carrier try war of the words on sacd also dvda eagles hotel california two of the best surround discs i have heard i have now sold most dvda discs on ebay as the dvdaudio format is dead and gone --- now i have moved to blu ray and have some very good discs legends of jazz really good in surround and tony bennett is another blu ray disc to try-- my fav disc on blu ray is celine dion live in las vegas all these disc are good in two channel but listen in surround is so much more enjoyable to me -

Hi there, Shaun from B&W here.

If you are looking for the podcast of the surround sound debate Dom enjoyed taking part in so much, it will be available in 'The Lab' of the Society of Sound section of the B&W website from 10th October.

Sorry about the delay, but it will be worth the wait!