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#202042 - 03/26/08 04:25 PM PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Music
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
WARNING: Before going any further, let me first clarify something: this is NOT a review about the superiority or inferiority of an algorithm over another.

CONTEXT: For many months now, I have been playing a lot with the following three (not L7, unfortunately!) multichannel algorithms: PLIIx Music, Neo:6 Music and Neural THX 7.1. I was changing from one to the other, sometimes happily (at least for a while) and sometimes unhappily (for a while) and without settling on any one officially (although more frequently on PLIIx). This post is about the results of those many months of experiments. I did not post this earlier, because I wanted to try it out on a few visitors first, which happened a lot last week as my neighbors were on vacation for a week (yippee!).

ISSUE AND GOAL: My problem was that I sometimes felt one was better than the others (or that something was slightly wrong). But it was not consistent. The obious solution of trying them all everytime I wanted to listen to something to find the "most appropriate to my taste" was not flying with me as I much prefer listening to music than messing about. Therefore I was looking for a mean to "predict" which program to use in advance. Several hundreads (no kidding) of CDs later (and a whole month using the rules below with success so far), here is my little "Guide to select between PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Music".

PRECISIONS: 1) I only tried the 3 mentioned and not the tons of THX variations. 2) It is also important that this only applies to classical music. 3) It is also important to note that room accoustic may change results for various people and their setups.

METHOD: I used two different methods (spread over a long period of time). NB: to avoid extra posts, I prefer to say right away that, NO, this was not done with blind testing as I was (am) not trying to prove anything but rather trying to derive a guideline that I could use for my own benefits. That being said, the first method was using CDs (streamed from lossless rips) and switching between all 3 methods with or without restarting the tracks. I litterally did this for hundreads of tracks since December.

The second method was comparing between the ambiance of a multi-channel SACD and the re-created ambiance of the CD-layer of the same SACD (this is NOT a comparison of sound quality between the two formats, just of multi-channel recreation for the 3 algos). So, I would play bits of the SACD while the ripped CD-layer was availble through my Soundbrige. I would then try to match which of the 3 algo was re-creating the most accurately the native "ambiance" of the SACD. I did that for about 25 SACDs, once the table below was already partially formed (so it helped me having a more representative sample).

RESULTS: The results are stated both in styles and also in what I think (with hindsight) is the cause. The "winners" below are not declared with borderline 60-40 type-of-results, but more like 95%+. I really needed a CLEAR way to anticipate which program to use for my needs.

A) For anything with one or two instruments (pipe organ is excluded here), Neo:6 is the clear winner (again, for MY ears at least), providing an intimacy that is really nice and without the impression of facing a 20-foot wide piano! This includes solo piano, solo violon, solo cello... And also duos (2 pianos, piano-violon, and so on) and lieders (singer + piano).

B) For small ensemble (trio, quartets...), PLIIx is the winner, providing a soundstage that is more realist (physically). I have put small ensemble apart orchestra, because I have a hunch that the distance between the speakers and the listeners (wide in my case) may influence this group more. It is not impossible that, for example, trios would be better with Neo:6 if my speakers were less apart. But, this is pure speculation right now.

C) For orchestral work, PLIIx is the clear winner, providing a sturdy presence that makes you feel in a concert hall (not a church or a opera house) with an appropriately distributed orchestra. This includes anything from 8 to 120 musicians, symphonies and stuff.

D) Opera, Sacred Music + Pipe Organ, Neural 7.1 is the clear winner, providing a lot of surround presence. This includes live recordings of opera, anything recorded inside a church. Concert arias are a harder one to determine between Neural and PLII

CONCLUSION: For a good month now, I am following the guidelines I just exposed and the more I go, the less I ever feel compelled to "try the other ones" because I feel something is not quite right. For some records, being played with the right algo increases its quality tremendously (and I could have chosen a stronger word) and I revisit many works with greater pleasure.

I hope I did not bore anyone. I wanted to post this as I would really have loved to have some guidance when I started to use these algos and never knew what to use and that often there was something not-quite-right with the recordings.
_________________________
E = MC2 = ((2M80 + VP180 + 4QS8)/(EP800 + EP500))^(ADA1500 x D2v)
Audiobytes! 2M22! 2VP150!

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#202050 - 03/26/08 05:41 PM Re: PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Music [Re: EFalardeau]
Mojo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 3292
Interesting, Eric. Thanks.

I only have PLII and Neo and I find that Neo is not as effective for music or movies.

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#202062 - 03/26/08 06:45 PM Re: PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Music [Re: Mojo]
doormat Offline
devotee

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 395
Loc: Cold Lake, AB
I concur that PLII works very well for most of my classical as well as 'Ambient' electronica (CD and digital music channels). Hadn't really felt the need to experiment with the other algorithms. I shall now have to try the Neo6 for the solo violin/piano stuff I have.
_________________________
M80s/VP160/QS8s/EP350; M22s; M3s.

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#202087 - 03/26/08 09:59 PM Re: PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Music [Re: EFalardeau]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10359
Very interesting, Eric. I also have those three ambience processing modes available and in the past have investigated them comparatively, but in a much more casual manner than what you did. The result was that I use the DPLII nearly all the time for everything, but do make some adjustments on the center width and dimension parameters. You didn't comment on those, so I wonder if they were part of your DPLII analysis.

Your report re Neo:6 and solo instruments probably will inspire me to check out that particular combination more closely. I listen to a lot of solo piano, and I'll fire up my favorite Albeniz Iberia and some Debussy Images when I get a little time.
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Enjoy the music, not the equipment.



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#202118 - 03/27/08 07:09 AM Re: PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Music [Re: JohnK]
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
 Originally Posted By: JohnK
adjustments on the center width and dimension parameters. You didn't comment on those, so I wonder if they were part of your DPLII analysis.

They were part of it until January, I would say. I like those settings if only for the fact that it is nice once in a while to sort of "change the shape of the room". But I ended up setting them all to defaults. The biggest change came when I installed my dual centers. After that, the PLII settings seems to always diminish the enjoyment. It is possible that when I felt the need to touch them, it was caused by the slight uneasiness I was having with a lightly skewed Z-axis soundstage.

That doesn't mean I won't start experimenting with these settings in a few weeks or months!

BTW, don't hesitate to give a try to Neural THX 7.1 for anything recorded in a church or where there is an orchestra pit and a stage (opera, for example). You may be surprised!

Also, I am interested to see to what extent room accoustics changes the cards.
_________________________
E = MC2 = ((2M80 + VP180 + 4QS8)/(EP800 + EP500))^(ADA1500 x D2v)
Audiobytes! 2M22! 2VP150!

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#202123 - 03/27/08 08:53 AM Re: PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Musi [Re: EFalardeau]
Murph Offline
axiomite

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 6730
Loc: PEI, Canada
Thanks for sharing your experiment Eric. It is very interesting.

I'd like to recommend a quartete recording for your experimentation.

Isla Rosada by the Este Mundo. Este Mundo

I mention this one because it was recorded in the Indian River Church. A building renowned for it's exceptional accoustics and Summer Music Festival. It therefore has a very 'feels like you are right there' sound in just stereo. I normally prefer music down in the 5.1 HT room.

I enjoy this one the most in Stereo mode in my living room. Maybe because it has vaulted ceilings, beams on the roof and a catwalk in the upper rear. (In other words, I never realized how church like this room turned out to be until it was done.) In stereo mode, I get an amazing illusion of surround sound from this particular CD that sounds better than my 5.1 system in my smaller square HT room. Most other music I own sounds richer when I take it down to become converted to 5.1 and have the EP500 thrown in.

I'd be curious for you to apply your testing to this or a similar type recording. Of course room acoustics may play a big part in this one but it might be an interesting test for you.

A note in case you take a liking to their music: At the time of this recording, they were a quartet but they have since lost the Cello player and remain a trio. They are still exceptional guitar players but I feel their newer music has really lost some depth.
_________________________
With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.

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#202264 - 03/28/08 07:33 AM Re: PLIIx, Neo:6 and Neural 7.1 for Classical Musi [Re: Murph]
EFalardeau Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 3270
Loc: Laval, Quebec, Canada
 Originally Posted By: Murph
Isla Rosada by the Este Mundo. Este Mundo

I mention this one because it was recorded in the Indian River Church. A building renowned for it's exceptional accoustics and Summer Music Festival. It therefore has a very 'feels like you are right there' sound in just stereo. I normally prefer music down in the 5.1 HT room.

I have added a link to this post for future reference. According to my "guide", I would tend to use Neural for this, but would try PLII. In general, I feel that, whenever there is a lot of "audible" ambiance in a stereo recording, Neural 7.1 seems to have had the upper hand. I have not taken those notes down systematically so on that particular point, I'm not too sure. \:\)
_________________________
E = MC2 = ((2M80 + VP180 + 4QS8)/(EP800 + EP500))^(ADA1500 x D2v)
Audiobytes! 2M22! 2VP150!

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