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October 2003 Editorial

The great multichannel swindle :-)

Author: Lucio Cadeddu
Published: October, 2003

Dear friends,
this my first editorial after the loooooong Summer break so I have a couple of things and toughts to share with you.
While spending my vacation at the seaside (rented a nice house somewhere in the South of Sardinia) I've had the time to recollect some ideas and make plans for the next months. First of all, how's our We Support Real Stereo campaign going on? Considering the level of interest among audiophiles and professionals I'd say it is going pretty well.
During the last Top Audio Show in Milan, an Italian distributor (Audiomani.it) was using our "We Support Real Stereo" logo on his brochure and was giving free and very nice "We Support Real Stereo" badges to the audiophiles visiting his room at the Show. At least someone, among the professionals, isn't 100% convinced by the multichannel(ed) future of Music reproduction at home. A good starting point, I think.
While the vast majority of audio publications (be it online or not) is pushing the multichannel envelope as hard as they can, in order to praise (what else?) the big names in the audio industry, we continue to think at the multichannel experience as a pure nonsense.

Firstly, all the letters we receive from you dear readers have something in common: problems with correct speakers placement into a living room. The vast majority of our readers finds it very hard to properly install 2 speakers, either because of room limitations or because of the ubiquitous WAF factor.
Secondly, do not forget the problem caused by cables (interconnects and speaker cables): these are wives' worst enemies. While we'd like to have HUGE and kaleidoscopic anacondas crossing our living rooms, our relevant second others would like to have those wires as invisible as possible, thin as a piece of dental floss and mimetic as they can (not) be.
These are TWO big problems (and limitations) for a proper stereophonic installation and listening enjoyment.
Now imagine to multiply these difficulties by a factor of 3: you get 6 speakers, 6 speaker wires that cross the living room chaotically and a wife (or mother or whatever) who is 3-times as angry. Not a funny pic, uh?
But this is not enough...as the Godfathers of the audio industry - insanely supported by the chorus of the audio mags - would like to convince us that more channels = better sound. Hence, why should one limit its listening experience to just 6 (5.1) channels? Let's make these become 7.1 ...and even worse.
I can't even imagine how chaotic can become a living room with 8+ speakers that need to be placed correctly. A real nightmare. In a situation this complicated the WAF factor isn't a real problem...because... _ I _ do not want to trasform my living room into a dealer's room, with speakers and wires everywhere...that would be simply ridiculous. All this...for what? For listening to old stereophonic recordings transformed into multichannel junk? No, thanks!
We all want NEW good Music not just the same old stuff remastered N-times to satisfy the industry credo (Lust for Money). We all know well - don't we? - how much damage has been done to good analogue masterpieces when some digital guru decided time was come to "improve" these. Personally, I've heard good masters definitely destroyed and trashed by ridiculous remastering processes performed by deaf sound engineers.
I can only - barely - imagine how much damage can the same engineers do to good 2-channel masters when transforming these into a multichannel medium.
So, please, produce new Music with as many channels as you want but please leave the good old stuff untouched. Following the same argument why shouldn't we paint Monna Lisa's hairs in blonde? Those black hairs look soooo old-fashioned...let's add some life!

If people really feel the need to be surrounded by speakers and wires, the multichannel stuff will take off. You'd better be doubtful, though, as more channels mean - for a given amount of money - less quality for each channel, and this is true both for speakers, amplifiers and wires.

For these reasons we at TNT-Audio will continue to support Real Stereo and, why not?, even real analogue sources. We continue to test record players, arms, cartridges and phono preamps till these will be available on the market. We are also working on a DIY arm project!
Perhaps we are totally crazy, perhaps we will remain alone, while the other mags will make big $$$ of advertising thanks to the new multichannel era...who knows? Or maybe not, the whole thing may remain just a toy one can use to impress his friends and 2-channels Music will survive among real Music Lovers.
Stay tuned!

© Copyright 2003 Lucio Cadeddu - www.tnt-audio.com

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