How does Symfonium handle 5.1 surround mixes?

Issue description:

I’m just starting to get into 5.1 mixes of some albums since I got a new home theater system, I’m loving it, it’s really amazing to hear it for the first time. And because of that, I’m also starting to learn about 5.1 “downmix” to stereo. So I’m wondering how Symfonium handles 5.1 tracks? Is it worth loading those 5.1 mixed albums into Symfonium and removing the stereo version or should I keep the proper stereo mix? I’d rather have 1 version of the album in my library which is why I would just get rid of the stereo version if the 5.1 version is properly downmixed to stereo.

Please share your experience if you’ve ever dealt with 5.1 mixes on stereo systems.


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Whatever Symfonium or any other app handle it, it will be done via raw math applied to the channels.

While a normal stereo only album have very precise handling by the person in charge of that.

So IMO they are 2 different things for 2 different purposes.

I see, so Downmix is something that’s done by Android itself rather than Symfonium or any other music app, correct?

I’m reading online that depending on the way different systems are downmixing, it can have major influence on how it will sound.

It depends on your settings, but as I said whatever solution is used for the downmix, it won’t sound the same as a studio stereo record since math only can’t guess what the person who mixed the stereo master applied to all the actual recording channels.

Are you refering to “Prefer internal decoder” toggle in the app?

And I’m aware it will definitely not sound the same. But people are saying that sometimes 5.1 downmix played on stereo system can sound even better than an original stereo mix in terms of dymanics. Or it can sound worse, depending on the downmix.

And some people says that a 1500€ / meter network cable will make the sound better too :slight_smile:

People says a lot of things, but only your ears can actually tell what you will ear, so just try and find what you prefer, not what a random bunch of people tells about generic things that may be completely irrelevant to your case.

Yes I want to do some testing of my own to see what this whole thing is all about. I’m just entering the world of 5.1 music and downmixes.

So I can test by turning on the “Prefer internal decoder” toggle, correct?

There’s also hires option, offload, it depends on source format too and the DSP applied and your phone and many other factors.

Just keep the app as you configured it to listen to stereo and enjoy, and if you don’t then keep the stereo record.

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There are usually 2 ways to go about it.
Either you listen to both the 5.1 and the stereo version on both a 5.1 device as well as a stereo device, decide for yourself which sounds better to you and only keep that version.

Or you just keep both versions and listen to the appropriate version on the device type it was intended for. 5.1 on 5.1 devices and stereo on the rest. That’s what I personally recommend as 5.1 mixes and stereo mixes are like Tolriq already said mixed specifically for the respective channel count and downmixing or upmixing is usually a crutch, intended for making something “useable” on a device it was not mixed for.

It’s pretty much the same question as with original master vs. remaster. Some keep both versions (that’s what I do), some listen to both and then only keep the version they like better.

Ignoring that is impossible to saywhat sounds “better” (than what, for whom, in which environment?), I dare to say it is generally recommended to listen to the mix that is appropriate for the listening device, because then you listen to the best appropriation of what the artist (or producer or engineer) intended you to listen to. Listening to a multichannel mix on less channels than it was mixed for leaves the playback device in charge of what you hear. Also, many surround mixes are crappy or cheaply made, and if they are well made, then because they sound good in a surround setup.

On stereo devices, listen to stereo mixes. Trust the sound engineer, they are professionals, and you are not. Similarly, do not upmix stereo mixes onto surround speakers. You do not hear more, because there is no more.

I fully agree with these points. Although, I’ve been doing some testing for example with Dark side of the moon 5.1 mix but played on stereo setup and I have to say, I prefer it over the original stereo mix version. I can hear many more details and it’s generally louder and clearer. It’s just been very interesting for me as I’m getting into this new world.

Humans generally perceive “louder” as “better” (because of the Fletcher-Munson curve). That is how they sell you expensive equipment in stores: just turn the volume up by 3 or 6 dB and in comparison you will think the louder one is better. Just be aware of that.

Apart from that it is of course ok to experiment and experience the differences in the different mixes - but that is what they are: it is different content, differently emphasized, sometimes even different parts added to the recording for the surround mix. That are the details you perceive (and of course a remix done 30 to 50 years later will sound differently due to new sound ideals and technological options). They might or might not be in the stereo mix, but usually for a reason - often enough to not distract from the overall musical work.

If you don’t know it yet, QuadraphonicQuad is forum of surround sound enthusiasts with a very friendly general tone in the discussions. If you want to loose your savings on more or less obscure but really well-made surround recordings, then definitely go over there and investigate :wink: The 1970s were way more adventurous in surround sound productions, there is so much to discover…

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Will definitely check that forum out, exactly what I needed! Thanks.

Also, thanks to all of you here, I think it will be best to keep both a 5.1 and a stereo version. 5.1 downmix to stereo sounds significantly different than actual stereo mix from what I’ve experienced till now.

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That’s the reason why releases like this one exist. For enthusiasts who want to experience their favorite albums in a variety of different interpretations and on different device types. It’s an absolute pain to rip and tag but the results are rewarding if you care about such things.