With Receivers Packing 9.2 Performance - How Many Channels of Surround Are Too Many?

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Mainstream consumers got their first real look at surround sound in the 1970s with quadraphonic systems that took audiophilia to a new era but never really caught on with the masses. Dolby Pro Logic in the 1980s significantly laid the groundwork for over two decades of boom times in the home theater market. 5.1 discrete surround sound had less and less compression in the form of Dolby Digital (AC3) and DTS fueled the popularity of DVD-Video all through the 1990s. In the mid-2000s 7.1 surround sound, complete with its side channel surround speakers, eked its way into the feature-laden receiver market and consumers sighed. HDMI never worked correctly and 7.1 only added more complications but over time most home theater enthusiasts couldn't live without 1080p video and literally uncompressed 5.1 and or 7.1 surround sound in the form of DTS-HD Master Audio and/or Dolby TrueHD - so they upgraded again. Today, the latest and greatest receivers are promoting 9.2 channels of surround sound including height channels as well as stereo subwoofers. In the midst of a nasty recession, consumers and reviewers alike are asking - when is enough enough when it comes to surround sound?

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Dealers love new features in receivers. I am not saying they love HDMI because they don't, but if it worked it would have been what the computer industry likes to call "the killer application." When it comes to 9.2 surround sound - new receivers have more of a good thing to sell to consumers. Consumers get more for their receiver dollar. They ultimately buy more speakers. Customers have more ways to realize the potential of Blu-ray in most home theater environments. This, for AV retailers, is something very compelling to sell even if consumers are getting a little wary of the upgrade path.

Read more about 9.2 performance on Page 2.


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