Alan Parsons quotes on 5.1 surround
Old 11th February 2012
  #1
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Alan Parsons quotes on 5.1 surround

Yes, I think it’s surprising that it hasn’t taken off. Back in the 1970s, the science of producing four channels of music for vinyl was very inadequate. Now that we have the technology to do 5.1 surround, I wish there was more interest in using it for music as well as film. Not enough music people are interested in it. Surround is to stereo what stereo was to mono; it makes a huge difference.

This is so true.... I used to mix into 5.1 surround on every new song... I've since abanded it because the downmix sounds terrible in comparison and no one else will hear my song in 5.1 so what's the point. I'm not famous.

However...if I was semi-famous like DeadMua5 or whomever...I'd burn my CD's all in dolby digital or DTS.

The people with even half way decent systems REALLY benefit from it. It's sad it's a standard in movies but as a music fad, it has pretty much faded into oblivion for no good reason.
Old 12th February 2012
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The main reasoning is lots of people like to sit down and watch a movie/TV, not many people will sit down just to listen to music.
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Old 12th February 2012
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Live concerts are great in 5.1
One thing I would like when buying an album Is more video content.
Video clips for all album trax..making of doco's..That would be a great way for music to jump into the world of 5.1 more
Old 12th February 2012
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I think downmixes will sound much better once the loudness war ends - when there is enough headroom for the two channels to accept all the information from the 5 channels, all you lose is some spaciality.
Old 12th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InternJesse View Post
The main reasoning is lots of people like to sit down and watch a movie/TV, not many people will sit down just to listen to music.
Well, before the onslaught of ipods and portable audio...the thing is...they did sit around and listen to music. The time came for 5.1 audio and since the failure of SACD...the 5.1 field kinda failed along with it. I know it exists but personally, I'd like to hear classic albums in 5.1 if it was possible. Good mixes like on Pearl Jams Ten for example. But it just won't ever come as far as I know, but it would be awesome.
Old 12th February 2012
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Originally Posted by danijel View Post
I think downmixes will sound much better once the loudness war ends - when there is enough headroom for the two channels to accept all the information from the 5 channels, all you lose is some spaciality.
Its the spaciality that makes the music different and much more an experience. Its interesting to be surrounded with sounds. But that is one part of the problem: most music doesn't really benefit from surround. There is nobody on the planet waiting for Rihanna's next album to come out in surround because it doesn't add any extra value to her music.

So that leaves certain genres/kinds of music available in surround. Genres which aren't really mainstream. Surround is still alive today, and some fantastic mixes are produced (listen for example to Steven Wilson's surround mixes) but the market is still some kind of niche because the music itself is niche.

And besides, we have lots of technology available. Starting with quad discs (a fair share of surround mixes where actually released in the 70ies), later moving on to DTS cd's, DVD-V/DVD-A and SACD and now Bluray. But its these formats (especially the dvda/sacd) that also withheld record companies from releasing. As long as there is no 'standard', record companies would like to play safe because it already is a niche product.
Old 12th February 2012
  #7
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The concept of popular music is based on stereo medium and it works well on stereo.
Unless the artist explicitly decides for a 5.1 playback, there's no point forcing it into a medium that is not intended for.
Old 13th February 2012
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mundox View Post
The concept of popular music is based on stereo medium and it works well on stereo.
Unless the artist explicitly decides for a 5.1 playback, there's no point forcing it into a medium that is not intended for.
Sorry, but with that mentality, we would probably still be stuck in mono - I have heard these arguments so many times, and nearly always from people who have never sat down & listened to a good surround mix on a decent system.

I'm also not at all sure I agree that the labels did not release 5.1 because of SACD/DVD-A - that whole mess was caused because certain people wanted to won all the patents and refused out of pique to adapt a universal format.

To my way of thinking, DVDA/V is the better option of the 2 previously mentioned as when authored properly it is compatible with every DVD player ever sold in one way or another whereas for SACD you need SACD 5.1 hardware. Audio_TS gives you the High Resolution stereo/surround (surround was never mandatory despite the common mis-perception it was) and the Video_TS gives you LPCM stereo & DTS 5.1 - no need to use Dolby Digital as I have yet to meet a surround fan who cannot decode a DTS stream at the very least.
Again, a properly set up disc also accesses all Video_TS content from the Audio Manager as well, allowing easy comparisons as well as video bonus or value added material. Replication costs are identical wether you add the Audio_TS or not - there is no difference, a DVD9 is a DVD9.

Live shows do work well in 5.1 when done well - far too many just throw reverb in the rears, forget the centre channel altogether & call it "5.1" when it is essentially what I like to think of as "big stereo". I agree whole heartedly with santibanks comments about Steven Wilson's mixes too - that is one seriously talented guy, and if I had half his ability I would be happy - surely a grammy cannot be too far away now with his third nomination up this year for the excellent "Grace For Drowning" (although he should have got it for Porcupine Tree's "Fear Of A Blank Planet" which is simply astoundingly good).
Old 13th February 2012
  #9
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Philips blew it. I asked Philips to grant me the right to print a 5.1. and a cd mix on a combined DVD-A/CD disk, wich the disk company would make for me if Philips would allow it. They didn't. Really sad. It was my end project for the SAE.
Old 13th February 2012
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There are no standards (or best practices) for mixing music in surround like in film, in particular for non-life music. What goes to the center channel? What to the surrounds? and LFE?
How does it downmix? it is all a question of taste and what sounds great at the studio may sound awful in a home setup.
Most people I know often end up making a "pumped-up" 4.0 to avoid problems later.

I wish there was something like a channel agnostic 3D audio format, where the receiver would "render" the audio according to the particular listening environment.
Cheers!
Old 14th February 2012
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
Sorry, but with that mentality, we would probably still be stuck in mono - I have heard these arguments so many times, and nearly always from people who have never sat down & listened to a good surround mix on a decent system.
Mono was not good enough to reproduce popular music. Stereo is. That is why people don't need to venture out.
I am not saying I wouldn't enjoy a well made 5.1 mix.
(I do have a decent system in my studio) Again, it would have to be done with 5.1 in mind from the get go.
For instance, I recorded a jazz band live in a triangle formation with blumlein in the middle. This was mixed stereo.
But later on I decided to play with it in 5.1 and placed myself in the middle of the room. It sounded amazing. But it remained solely for my enjoyment.

Where most music is listened to on earbuds, I reckon 5.1 will remain as a niche market for the connoisseur.
Old 14th February 2012
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
surely a grammy cannot be too far away now with his third nomination up this year for the excellent "Grace For Drowning" (although he should have got it for Porcupine Tree's "Fear Of A Blank Planet" which is simply astoundingly good).
He always gets nominated, he never wins it… Such a shame…

And indeed I agree that DVD would be the best format to deliver (and in the future when its widely adopted and available BluRay)

However, I don't think that its a matter of what is suitable to reproduce popular music. Its more what the audience wants. Most people who listen to music don't care for it, even if you put them in the middle of an audiophile 5.1 set with a superb 5.1 mix playing over it. Not even when its their favourite music. Most people don't see the value in it, especially compared to the cost. I find 5.1 still something thats only for the 'real' music lovers, not the general public: they just don't care and never will…
This makes it not really commercial viable and in a certain way pointless. Why should an artist care if his/her audience doesn't care?
It takes a certain kind of self indulgence to go for surround and take the step. Most artists don't have that kind of vision I think…
Old 28th December 2012
  #13
The Azimuth Co-ordinator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is turning in its grave.

I reckon one of the main reasons why 5.1 for music hasn't taken off is because so few pro music studios have got that monitoring or mixing system installed.

The chicken & egg situation hasn't been helped by the collapse of the commercial music industry, a fate they cooked up for themselves by taking rent-seeking luddite positions since the late '70s.

At this point it's pretty absurd that a lot of people are listening to vinyl or CD, when it should really be 5.1 DSD.

The other reason we're still on stereo is simple. Many people listen to music on headphones.

Have you heard of 22.2? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/22.2_surround_sound

Whole different ballgame. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g_msgq455M
Old 28th December 2012
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Actually....22.2 is not much compared to what Alan Howarth designed. I cannot find the video but he had a room that was nothing but speakers. The idea is that every sound is simply not compressed and you can place any sound in any speaker. Literally a wall of sound that could go all around you. It's not at all practical for movies simply because the cost of putting it into a theater would be ridiculous.

There is more to the sound , I just can't recall all the details. I know it's uncompressed wav files. Probably 24-bit 48k at least....Maybe connected to a computer mixer of unlimited tracks on a huge hard drive. That might be correct. He said it's actually easier to run because there is no need for compression or mixdowns...you leave it mixed the way you mixed it in the studio except each track would be put into a channel of it's own.

Ehh...something like that.
Old 28th December 2012
  #15
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Quote:
Surround is to stereo what stereo was to mono; it makes a huge difference.
The problem is that when studios moved to stereo, the artists composed to the format. i.e.: adding double tracks and the like to pan to the stereo fields. They arranged and composed to take advantage of the stereo format.

Most popular music released in 5.1 is just re-hashed mixes of stereo recording sessions. If the artists themselves don't care about surround, why should the fans? (not talking about live discs, here.)

Here's something to ponder: do "remastered" stereo releases of old music really sound much better than the original mono recordings? IMO, the "fake" stereo versions sound washy and forged. Just like when Alan Parsons or some other producer takes tracks originally tracked and mixed with a stereo field in mind and pushes them to the rears (or worse, make shit fly around the surround field!).

New music isn't much better, as the surround mix seems to be more of an afterthought, only to be considered long after the tracking is finished; it's a "bonus feature" pushed by the label rather than a product of artist involvement.

Until artists themselves begin composing and arranging with surround in mind, there is little point in discussing mass market acceptance of surround music. Expect it to remain a niche product...
Old 11th January 2013
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopdante View Post
At this point it's pretty absurd that a lot of people are listening to vinyl or CD, when it should really be 5.1 DSD.

NEVER!!
DSD is horrendous - 24/96 PCM is far, far better.
No ultrasonic garbage for one thing.
Old 13th January 2013
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
NEVER!!
DSD is horrendous - 24/96 PCM is far, far better.
No ultrasonic garbage for one thing.
Indeed. DSD is inferior to PCM audio. DSD is outdated 1 bit technology. You know, like those 90's CD players that said 1-bit on the front. We have long moved on to multi-bit converters because they are simply better and more linear.

The related SACD format was Sony's last ditch effort to come up with a format for after the CD patent ran out. SACD was doomed to die because it is a marketing format intended to fill pockets rather than provide better technology. (Not that other technologies are not intended to fill pockets but if there is no balance, it won't succeed).

Alistair
Old 15th January 2013
  #18
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5.1 Surround Mixing event

Hi, I'm new here.

Between the discussion here on 5.1 (to which I believe video game audio has a lot of potential to move forward in the consumer space) and the Alan Parsons event banners on this website, I find it interesting to note the Alan Parsons training event in Las Vegas will feature a discussion and practice of 5.1 surround sound mixing. Perhaps there will be some great insight shared. If I go to the event, I will report back with tasty tidbits from the experience.

Disclaimer: I helped out with the Alan Parsons ASSR video series.
Old 15th January 2013
  #19
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Could it be as simple as the average person does not have 5.1 playback system?
Or the knowlege to set the system up?
Old 15th January 2013
  #20
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I've been discussing this for years and it seems pretty obvious why 5.1 is not an acceptable popular music format. It's INCONVENIENT. People will not pay more money to listen to music and be forced to stay in one place to do so. Where do people listen to music? In the car, on the train, while jogging, on the move. People are driven more and more by simplicity with their technology every year. If my niece can't use a device to bring up Bieber at any time she feels like it anywhere she is then it sucks to her. It's not that my niece is being a spoiled brat, she is a darling, it is just the way things are now, she is whom the bigwigs and marketing departments are looking at. If there isn't an affordable convenient 5.1 playback system that is as mobile as the average person is in a fashionable style there will be no market for this.

Does that mean 5.1 is doomed? Well Maybe, but I see one hope for it. 5.1 in vehicle. It is starting to pop up in luxury vehicles. If this becomes standard practice for vehicles then we can pray that 5.1 music will become standard a practice. Once Deadmou5 or Rihanna or whoever is popular at that time drops their debut 5.1 album and anyone can listen to it while stuck in traffic and be transported to a new aural space, everyone will want to do it. The benefit is obvious. Anyone that doesn't think music sounds good in 5.1 hasn't heard a good mix. It is amazing and I for one hope the car manufacturers make this happen. They are our only hope.
Old 15th January 2013
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmoeding View Post
I've been discussing this for years and it seems pretty obvious why 5.1 is not an acceptable popular music format. It's INCONVENIENT. People will not pay more money to listen to music and be forced to stay in one place to do so. Where do people listen to music? In the car, on the train, while jogging, on the move. People are driven more and more by simplicity with their technology every year. If my niece can't use a device to bring up Bieber at any time she feels like it anywhere she is then it sucks to her. It's not that my niece is being a spoiled brat, she is a darling, it is just the way things are now, she is whom the bigwigs and marketing departments are looking at. If there isn't an affordable convenient 5.1 playback system that is as mobile as the average person is in a fashionable style there will be no market for this.

Does that mean 5.1 is doomed? Well Maybe, but I see one hope for it. 5.1 in vehicle. It is starting to pop up in luxury vehicles. If this becomes standard practice for vehicles then we can pray that 5.1 music will become standard a practice. Once Deadmou5 or Rihanna or whoever is popular at that time drops their debut 5.1 album and anyone can listen to it while stuck in traffic and be transported to a new aural space, everyone will want to do it. The benefit is obvious. Anyone that doesn't think music sounds good in 5.1 hasn't heard a good mix. It is amazing and I for one hope the car manufacturers make this happen. They are our only hope.
How do you optimize the car space for 5.1? For the driver? Back seat? I know I do not like listening to "stereo" from my drivers position. The balance is off. Isn't 5.1 mixed for a sweet spot? Every vehicle would present a huge challenge. I would want to sit in the sweet spot. How do I drive from there? Curious on opinions about how the car system would be set to really get the 5.1 sound right.
Old 15th January 2013
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by brightshine View Post
How do you optimize the car space for 5.1? For the driver? Back seat? I know I do not like listening to "stereo" from my drivers position. The balance is off. Isn't 5.1 mixed for a sweet spot? Every vehicle would present a huge challenge. I would want to sit in the sweet spot. How do I drive from there? Curious on opinions about how the car system would be set to really get the 5.1 sound right.
I could point you in the direction of many happy Acura owners with their ELS Surround systems installed who think that their car is a fine place to listen to surround.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmoeding View Post
I've been discussing this for years and it seems pretty obvious why 5.1 is not an acceptable popular music format. It's INCONVENIENT. People will not pay more money to listen to music and be forced to stay in one place to do so. Where do people listen to music? In the car, on the train, while jogging, on the move. People are driven more and more by simplicity with their technology every year. If my niece can't use a device to bring up Bieber at any time she feels like it anywhere she is then it sucks to her. It's not that my niece is being a spoiled brat, she is a darling, it is just the way things are now, she is whom the bigwigs and marketing departments are looking at. If there isn't an affordable convenient 5.1 playback system that is as mobile as the average person is in a fashionable style there will be no market for this.
Please do not tell me you actually BELIEVE this? Of COURSE you cannot play 5.1 on a mobile device - it's axiomatic. Big Clue - how do you carry a surround system with you? Furthermore, the idiot who decided telephones make good playback systems needs to be hung, drawn & quartered.

As for the statement that "nobody sits down in one place to listen any more", well that is their loss. I used to do this all the time - in stereo - and when any of us got a new album we used to do the rounds with it, and go visit lots of others, taking this with us - and people sat down to LISTEN. This is what you are supposed to do with music - listen to it. It is not, and should never be treated as - a background noised to mask traffic, and the industry concentrating on the "mobile market" in this manner has sown the seeds of it's own destruction. It is an art form, not a throwaway distraction & should be treated as such. Moving swiftly onwards, we recently arranged a 5.1 playback event for a new release where the 5.1 was extremely limited and the afternoon playback was to a very cynical industry audience and we were worried, I admit it. However, during the playback of 55 minutes, not a person so much as twitched, every cellphone was off & the vast majority of the audience all said the same thing - how nice it was to sit down and listen to the music with no visuals and just get into it again as they used to do. People will listen to music how the marketing people tell them to as 90% of them are sheep - nobody NEEDS iPads, but Apple market them aggressively & so they sell. Market 5.1 as the next big "must have" item and it will sell.

Portability? High Fidelity Stereo was not and still is not portable. To claim that it will only work with a portable, fashionable system is pandering to the current attitude and not very helpful either.

Sorry to go on about this, but it is something I feel very strongly about and it is apparent the labels simply do not understand it, so they ignore it.
Old 15th January 2013
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brightshine View Post
Curious on opinions about how the car system would be set to really get the 5.1 sound right.
I don't think it can. The same applies to most people's home setups. Very few people have a dedicated listening room with a nice sweet spot for surround. It just isn't reality. Which means that surround is a compromise 99% of the time. IMO good stereo beats mediocre surround any day.

I also don't like anything but stereo for (live) gigs because of the timing delay between speakers. It just becomes a big mess. (Unless of course the venue is so small that it doesn't matter but then there are usually other issues anyway).

So although surround music is a nice idea in theory, in practise it is nearly always inferior to stereo.

Alistair
Old 15th January 2013
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post

So although surround music is a nice idea in theory, in practise it is nearly always inferior to stereo.

Alistair
Twaddle.
Old 15th January 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
Twaddle.
So where are all these great surround for music setups that all these people own? Ah no, they don't exist.

It is nice to have a dream but it is unhealthy to confuse that dream with reality.

Alistair
Old 15th January 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
Please do not tell me you actually BELIEVE this? Of COURSE you cannot play 5.1 on a mobile device - it's axiomatic.
DTS just demoed at CES a surround simulator that works on headphones; at least according to their promo video, it went over well. Headphones marketed towards video gamers have had similar design goals for a while (no comment on the actual results).

Quote:
Big Clue - how do you carry a surround system with you? Furthermore, the idiot who decided telephones make good playback systems needs to be hung, drawn & quartered.
They're not really telephones at this point. They're pocket computers which can also make phone calls.


Quote:
Sorry to go on about this, but it is something I feel very strongly about and it is apparent the labels simply do not understand it, so they ignore it.
You're arguing that they should ignore what the market is demanding.

-Dan.
Old 16th January 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
NEVER!!
DSD is horrendous - 24/96 PCM is far, far better.
No ultrasonic garbage for one thing.
This is humor? You mean the high end DAC manufacturers who are just now putting out DSD compatible units are wrong?

Mind you with no DSD capabilities in my system - I'm happy to hear this. But it is quite contrary to the "audiophile" press opinion.
Old 16th January 2013
  #28
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Sweet insight

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmoeding View Post
I've been discussing this for years and it seems pretty obvious why 5.1 is not an acceptable popular music format. It's INCONVENIENT. People will not pay more money to listen to music and be forced to stay in one place to do so. Where do people listen to music? In the car, on the train, while jogging, on the move. People are driven more and more by simplicity with their technology every year. If my niece can't use a device to bring up Bieber at any time she feels like it anywhere she is then it sucks to her. It's not that my niece is being a spoiled brat, she is a darling, it is just the way things are now, she is whom the bigwigs and marketing departments are looking at. If there isn't an affordable convenient 5.1 playback system that is as mobile as the average person is in a fashionable style there will be no market for this.

Does that mean 5.1 is doomed? Well Maybe, but I see one hope for it. 5.1 in vehicle. It is starting to pop up in luxury vehicles. If this becomes standard practice for vehicles then we can pray that 5.1 music will become standard a practice. Once Deadmou5 or Rihanna or whoever is popular at that time drops their debut 5.1 album and anyone can listen to it while stuck in traffic and be transported to a new aural space, everyone will want to do it. The benefit is obvious. Anyone that doesn't think music sounds good in 5.1 hasn't heard a good mix. It is amazing and I for one hope the car manufacturers make this happen. They are our only hope.
I really enjoy your points. Obviously 5.1 relies upon spatial context - and with the pocket-ization and miniaturization of consumer technology - it seems as though 5.1 surround is literally running out of room in today's consumer market. However, mass adoption of 5.1 surround by today's car manufacturers would be amazing. It reminds me of this old interview clip with producer Eliot Scheiner.
With all the recent CES talk about self-driving cars, it would be a dream to just relax during a drive and listen to a well-mixed 5.1 album of the week. I love your phrase "drop into an aural space" as that suggests an immersive experience that today's generations are clamoring for.
Old 16th January 2013
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkorten View Post
This is humor? You mean the high end DAC manufacturers who are just now putting out DSD compatible units are wrong?
It is marketing pure and simple. (There is a LOT of this kind of thing going on and as the markets get ever more saturated but disposable income doesn't follow, it will just get worse).

Quote:
Mind you with no DSD capabilities in my system - I'm happy to hear this. But it is quite contrary to the "audiophile" press opinion.
Reading the audiophile press to learn something about audio is like reading the bible to learn something about science.

Alistair
Old 16th January 2013
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
Please do not tell me you actually BELIEVE this? Of COURSE you cannot play 5.1 on a mobile device - it's axiomatic. Big Clue - how do you carry a surround system with you?
Thats my point. This is why I said 5.1 in vehicle is the only venue of possibility.


Quote:
Originally Posted by neilwilkes View Post
Portability? High Fidelity Stereo was not and still is not portable. To claim that it will only work with a portable, fashionable system is pandering to the current attitude and not very helpful either.
Hard cold truth. I think its very helpful to look at things from an objective point of view. Vehicles are portable and fashionable.
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