I have been a long believer in the potential superiority of multi-channel music playback and have taken a few paths down that road over the years with a nice Sony ES SACD player, a lesser quality but still nice sounding DVD-A/SACD player (SONY DVP-NS999ES), with various pre/processors, home theater receivers, stereo and multi-channel amps. Each of the travels ended in various degrees of success. For the most part, I have gotten to the point where I still believe it offers more potential than stereo, but the implementations have been flawed in one way or another, especially in the attempts to convert 2 channel programming to multi-channel. When I had the opportunity to review the Involve Audio Surround Master, I jumped at the chance for a couple of reasons. First, while not the best writer, I do enjoy playing around with anything audio related and discussing audio on forums like Audiokarma.org. Second, I was interested if a new attempt at 2 channel to multi-channel conversion would be more successful than prior attempts. I implemented this in two systems in the house with a couple of different approaches. First, in the family room system with an older HK AVR 80 mkII HT receiver and also in the living room with a couple of different 2 channel front ends and various amplifiers. Equipment used: Family Room System: Harman Kardon AVR 80 mkII Receiver Sony DVP-NS999ES SACD/CD NHT SuperTwos, NHT SuperZeros and NHT SuperCenter and a NHT Sub2 subwoofer. Nintendo WII (Just for fun) Main Listening Room System: Amplifiers: Parasound Halo A52 (borrowed from a friend), Adcom GFA-535 (x2), Fisher 500C (x2), Sima W-2002. Sources: Yamaha YP-701 turntable with a Grado Gold Cartridge, Roksan Kandy MkIII CD Player, Onkyo ND-S1 with iPhone 3GS playing through an Entech Number Cruncher 205.2 DAC. Speakers: DIY Speakers with Unity Horns and Lambda TD15M woofers, DIY Adire Audio HE10.1, and DIY Murphy Blaster MBOW1 2 ways running active with HiVi W12 12” woofers. I received the Involve Audio Surround Master a couple of weeks back and my first reaction was surprise with how small it is. It come well packaged with clear instructions and a large assortment of various power connectors. There are no frills with the Surround Master, I hoped that this would be a situation where the focus was placed on the sound rather than the packaging and we’ll find out more about that later. I decided that it would be easiest to get it connected to the family room system. I’ve read in other reviews that the Surround Master excels with 4.1 channel and decided that would be as good of a starting point as any. I arranged the speakers as advised in the manual and grabbed the stack of CDs and a couple of SACDs that I had set aside. The Shins – Port Of Morrow: This is one of my favorite CDs in recent memory and I was looking forward to hearing what the Surround Master would do to add or subtract from the performance. My first reaction…wow. The Surround Master is *not* subtle. This is total immersion into the recording. One of the tracks that never ceases to make me tap my toe is ‘Simple Song’. Guitars were coming from everywhere and unlike some surround formats I’ve heard, it wasn’t losing any of the detail I normally would expect. Mad Season – Above. The immersion I sensed in Port of Morrow made me grab Mad Season’s Above, next. I skipped right to November Hotel. It’s one of the great unknown rock instrumental tracks with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready going on what seems like an endless solo on his guitar with drummer Barrett Martin putting on a drumming exhibition. Since I was looking for that being in the music feeling, I wasn’t disappointed. To be continued in a day or two with more impressions of the Surround Master.