Conceptually, multichannel audio makes abundant sense. Practically, however, it has failed with a critical mass of listeners. Quadrasonic sound, circa 1971, was the first setback. While modern analysis of optimal multichannel reproduction now reveals the unfavorable placement of the rear channels, its primary undoing was the intractable challenge of lifting four high-quality discrete channels off a vinyl record.
Ten years ago, the industry tried again with optical disc media. A format war, coupled with the need for special equipment, resulted in little consumer interest, which was already a crowded space with the advent of home theater and portable MP3 players. The Blu-ray audio disc is the new promising third iteration owing to its seamless compatibility with home theater installations.
The audiophile and videophile have not merged into one species........This three-part series outlines the general concepts of an audiophile-friendly third-generation multichannel audio system.