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Bob Belden: A Second Chance for Surround?

Producer/arranger/saxophonist Bob Belden argues that surround sound is ready for another opportunity

Bob Belden (photo: Jimmy Katz)

Surround sound was supposed to deliver an incomparable experience. It was supposed to get more people excited about music. It was supposed to bring new life to cherished classic recordings. And it was supposed to counteract the trend toward illegal downloads.

None of that happened. DVD-Audio, one of the two formats created to deliver music in surround sound, is all but dead. SACD, the other format, survives primarily as a stereo medium. But Bob Belden—one of jazz’s most accomplished arrangers and composers, and former head of A&R for Blue Note Records—thinks it deserves a second chance. Indeed, he feels it’s an essential technology for moving jazz into the future. “Everybody’s stuck making 20th-century recordings,” Belden comments during a phone interview from his Manhattan apartment. “Many of the jazz recordings made today sound essentially the same: piano left, sax right, everything else in the middle. You’re painting over a gray house with gray paint.

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Originally Published

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth has been a professional audio journalist since 1989, and has evaluated and measured thousands of audio products. He is currently a writer at Wirecutter and editor of the SoundStage Solo headphone site; served as an editor at such magazines as Sound & Vision and Home Theater; and worked as marketing director for Dolby Laboratories. He also plays double bass with several jazz groups in Los Angeles.