2 channel vs. Home theatre for a multi-purpose system.


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2 channel vs. Home theatre for a multi-purpose system.

  • I certainly have my own opinion on the subject, but I wonder what you all think?

     Can you get top quality 2 channel sound from a home theatre system?

    Can you get awesome home cinema sound from a 2 channel system?

     I talk to people everyday who have separate systems each with a 2 channel music or home theatre specialty in their homes. Most of us though (like the folks in my tax bracket) are lucky to have one or the other. Which would you rather have? The feeling is that a properly built home theatre system will produce less than satisfying music, and that movie soundtracks are just boring if not in surround. I disagree, but I want to understand more clearly where those with opposite opinions are coming from - what leads you to believe this? How have your opinions on the matter been formed? It does seem to be a rather dominant position, but I'm used to finding myself in the minority!



  • I'm not into home audio at all, but I think you can strike a good compromise i.e.

    Start with a good home theater system, add good main speakers for music listening.  Later upgrade the receiver.

    or ....

    Start with a good two-channel system - upgrade the receiver to A/V capability, and add small surround speakers.

    When you are done, you should have the best of both systems.

    Hope This Helps!!!

    Anyone else have suggestions?

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Given a limited budget, I'd opt for a 2-channel system every time. A low-budget surround sound system will shortchange music more than a good 2-channel system will shortchange movie soundtracks. If I watched movies more often, I might have a different outlook.

    Having said that, I did purchase a nice surround sound receiver lately. When finances allow, I plan to purchase a bigger TV and a full set of good speakers. For now, I'm using the two good speakers I already own.   

    Jim Richardson

  • I'm a movie lover and a music lover. I'm also a musician. I got the best of both worlds when I had the cash to do so. I bought a home theater setup from a reputable 2-channel speaker manufacturer known for accurate reproduction of music AND I got a high-current home theater receiver that has direct mode.

    I'd easily recommend this type of set up for the HiFi listener who's also interested in surround. And to satisfy the budget, you don't have to start with the full HT compliment -- with a component setup you can buy what you can afford as you go along. 2-channel movie listening is great if you have the right speakers and recevier to begin with.

    Community Manager

  • I've always had a surround setup, but I've always done music in 2 channel. Lately I'm finding that music is far more important to me and I don't think I'd lose any sleep if I ditched the surround setup. While it's certainly nice for movies and TV (24 sounded pretty awesome tonight), I don't think I'd miss it too much if I upgraded to an integrated amplifier or something along those lines.

    Receiver - Onkyo TX-SR502 | CD - Marantz CD5003 | Speakers - Wharfedale Evo2-10; going two channel for a while | Pics here

  • Thanks tons for the great feedback. I think a good system is a good system is a good system. Systems can't know whether or not they're playing movies or music, so if you build one to be as accurate as you're able within budget and other concerns it should be great for either.



  • No offense, Gary, but I think that's an oversimplification - depending on how you set things up.

    If your source is 2-channel, you really want only the left and right speakers playing.  If your source is 7.1 or 5.1, you really need the surround speakers to experience it properly.

    If you intended that with your reply, my apologies, but I took it as either a good 2-channel or a good 7.1 channel system should work fine for either with no adjustments.

    (Now what I don't know since I've been out of home audio for so long is whether a receiver can tell the source - i.e. if I put in a CD it plays from my main speakers and if I put a movie in the DVD player it turns on the surrounds as well.

    Hope This Helps!!!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Hi TigerHeli, No offense taken at all. Thanks for the thoughtful conversation!

    I am totally with you. 5.1 sources are best heard unadulterated through a 5.1 speaker system, 7.1 through a 7.1 system, and 2 channel through a 2 channel. For me, it's all about reproducing the original intent of those that produced the content.

    Thankfully, most modern receivers have "direct" modes that will indeed only play the channels intended. So, if you put a CD in your DVD player, you can have your receiver configured so that the CD is not automatically "upmixed" by Dolby Pro Logic II or Neo:6 or something. 

    Though, purist that I am, I will admit that sometimes upmixing CDs into multichannel can be fun and interesting.


  • You know, as much as I enjoy technology and the advancement of it. I have to say that two channel audio cannot be beat. Even my humble Infinity speakers sound massive and responsive to what they are driven to play when in two channel mode. Sure the sub woofer sounds great but I don't want my center channel to handle the task of what some woofers are meant to do. Man do my speakers come alive when I evoke the two channel mode, and my receiver sure as hell pushes them to their best performance.

    Home Theater gear Samsung UN65JS8500F, Sony STR-DA1800ES,  Xbox One | Infinity RS4 Front/Rear/Center Infinity PS8 Subwoofer