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When Less Is More

The conventional wisdom has it that consumers buy surround sound systems for their immersive effect. While that’s no doubt overwhelmingly true, the Consumerist offers another sales hook:

If you are sick and tired of listening to Vitale, and you are fortunate enough to have access to an audio receiver + surround sound speakers, here is an easy and 100% effective way to eliminate Vitale and Patrick from your viewing experience. If the game is being broadcast in Dolby Digital 5.1 (not sure if that means the game has to be in high def or not, the audiophiles on the board can correct me), the audio is divided up such that the rear channels are only the ambient crowd and stadium noises.

On a whim during the Indiana game, I muted the front-left, front-center, front-right, and subwoofer — leaving only my rear channels. To my delight, the only sound remaining was that of Cameron: sneakers squeaking on the hard wood, the crowd shouting and the occasional PA announcement.

I’m sold.

Of course, a better solution would be to allow consumers to choose whether they want play-by-play commentary on or off (like director’s commentary on a DVD). This way, you won’t have to sacrifice the full surround sound effect just to escape your least-favorite announcer. At a minimum, it would be interesting to see what people prefer when given the choice.