Wow, Andante, you and I are definitely on opposite sides of the fence on the idea of surround sound.
First, there's a lot of difference between reverberation and echo, although they have similarities. To be sure, a distinct echo in a concert hall would be distracting, but a reverberation (which sounds something like a sustained sound as the energy bounces around the room, slowly dissipating) can add quite a degree of fullness to the listening experience.
If it were possible to reproduce the acoustic environment of a good hall in your living room (it would take more area than my half-acre lot) then I would agree that the idea of surround sound, in order to reproduce a theatrical listening experience, would be unnecessary. As I have noted here before, the best sound I ever heard was in a little brick church in Venice, Italy. Lots of reverberation, but absolutely stunning sound!
I still actively collect quadraphonic records, and can play them in my audio/video room quite nicely, thank you. They sound much more full than the stereo versions do. It's quite noticeable to anyone who cares to compare. There are many reasons for the failure of quad in the marketplace, and not having four ears isn't on that list. There was a mishmash of competing formats, one of the formats (CD-4) started off being subject to groove wear very early, and the records sold at a premium.
Surround sound is returning, and with a vengeance. Most DVDs are recorded in 5 channel sound (even for people with only two ears), and that product is one of the most successful in the history of consumer electronics.
Further, tests have shown (it may take me a while to find the papers that the Audio Engineering Society published) that people can easily distinguish the location of sounds from behind them. It appears to have a lot to do with how the shape of your ears shapes the spectrum of the sound being heard. I've seen a paper on a headphone adapter that treats the rear channels with equalization in order to make them sound like they are behind you, even though the transducer is directly to the side of the ear.
Calling surround audio "hogwash" is itching for a fight (I'm doing my best to be polite, in spite of your infuriating tone).