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Quality Assessment of Multichannel Sound Recordings

Five discrete channels of sound (3-front, 2-surround), accompanying visuals or working alone, are expected to produce dramatic improvements in the quality of viewing and listening experience over conventional matrixed Dolby Surround productions. However, the discrete multichannel productions thus far presented have failed to convincingly impress listeners. This paper reviews some of the factors which may be responsible for this lack of audible improvement and explores avenues for improving the perceptual quality of multichannel recordings. The improvements are dependent on the attributes of auditory image a multichannel sound is capable of invoking. Topics to be discussed include the spatial imaging restrictions of proposed loudspeaker configurations; increased capacity for image fusion, separation, and diffusion; the problems of compatibility with stereo; the difficulties in matching the audio and video image; the need for multichannel mixing tools; and the variability in consumer and professional monitoring setups.

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