Why Do Most 5.1 Concert Discs Default to 2.0 Stereo?

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Q Most movies on DVD and Blu-ray default to 5.1 surround sound, but most concert videos default to 2.0 stereo, and the viewer has to manually select 5.1 surround when playing the disc. What’s the reason for this? —John Kellam / Tucson, AZ

My guess as to why stereo is the default audio option for music Blu-rays and DVDs instead of 5.1 surround is that the target consumer for music video titles isn’t necessarily a home theater enthusiast. Disc producers are playing it safe in assuming that the end user is watching/listening on a TV that isn’t hooked up to a 5.1-channel audio system. That said, be glad that many music discs do have 5.1—and in some cases, 7.1-channel—soundtracks. Having to manually select the multichannel option in a disc menu ultimately isn’t such a big deal.

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COMMENTS
Ropro's picture

1. Switch system on.
2. Switch off speakers.
3. Plug in a decent pair of headphones.
4. Insert any concert dvd or blu ray.
5. By listening to available audio tracks, experience so far has shown me that, if one wants to hear what signals actually show up at the mixing board BEFORE various voodoo remedies are applied to simulate atmosphere, the 2.0 track offers what I would consider the most faithfull reproduction of what the artists delivered. Listening via headphones only makes things more obvious; listening to 2.0 tracks via speakers still replicates what was played more faithfully.
Naturally, since there is no set guideline, the consumer can expect the good, the bad and the really ugly (I'm still fuming over the flipped audio of the Little Feat Rockpalast dvd - grrr).

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