Putting aside issues of whether surround sound can be considered audiophile, I’d argue that my system comes close to providing 8-speaker audiophile surround sound within my budget. Living in a typical NYC apartment, I don’t have a room to spare for both home theater and audio listening. I have 2 front speakers, 2 front elevation speakers 2 surround speakers and 2 back speakers, all of them KEF LS50’s with Parasound amps. The surround sound processor is from Yamaha - I would have spent more if I had the budget for it.
I have some 5 channel PCM and DSD music files downloaded from NativeDSD. Initially, I tried streaming them over DLNA to the Yamaha, but Audirvana correctly identified the Yamaha as a stereo unit. The Yamaha isn’t capable of multichannel playback over DLNA or even via USB. It can only process multichannel sources over HDMI, so I ran a 10-meter HDMI cable from my iMac to the Yamaha, using a Thunderbolt to HDMI converter, and it works. It sounds amazingly good. However, Audirvana now correctly identifies the Yamaha as a 7.1 channel surround sound processor, and so it outputs 5-channel audio to only the front and surround speakers. The back speakers are silent. The Yamaha will simulate 7.1 surround sound when given a 5.1 channel source, but Audirvana is providing 7.1 input to the Yamaha, with silent back speakers. I’d rather not have the Yamaha simulate anything, but it would be better than having silence, which sounds unnatural in such a large room.
Is there a way to get Audirvana to either send the Yamaha a 5.1 surround sound signal instead of a 7.1 channel signal with silent rear channels? Otherwise, is there a plug-in or other way to have Audirvana simulate rear channels? Even just attenuated versions of the surround channels would be an improvement, but attenuated and slightly delayed versions would be better.