5.1 Bi-amped or 6.1 and no bi amping on Onkyo TX SR806

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Dave>h, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. Dave>h

    Dave>h Second Unit

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    HI, I am curious if any forum members have wrestled with this dilemma (if you can call it that). I am currently running my 806 in bi amp mode and bi amping my Paradigm Studio 100 v5's. For information purposes, I have the Paradigm studio center v2 and paradigm studio dipoles for surrounds in a 5.1 configuration. I don't use a sub. I like the set up and think it sounds fine although admittedly, it has never really blown me away. This may have to do with the diffused nature of the surround sound created by the di pole speakers. I think my previous 5.1 configuration using regular speakers for surround gave better placement for surround effects and provider better placement of objects in the "phantom zone" between front and rear. Having said that, I have moved house and my current set up is in a different room with different accoustics, different set up all together so I am not really comparing like to like. But I still would like to be blown away by how good i think the system should sound. I have some very nice equipment and I think the result are fine but not great. So at long last we come to the point... which is, would a non bi amped (I can only bi amp in the 5.1 configuration) 6.1 configuration with a rear surround speaker sound better, give me better sound localization and better imaging in the "phantom zone" than my current bi amped 5.1 configuration? I do not currently have a 6th speaker with which to test the theory but I am wondering if some intrepid home theater enthusiast may have already done this and could convey the results. If someone would like to chime in with anecdotal information I would accept that too!! Thanks for the responses! Dave
     
  2. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    I use a 5.1 in both of my locations and never felt the need to move to 6.1/7.1 but this is what I've gathered over the years. Bi-pole/di-poles are better suited as side-surrounds (sometimes referred to as rear surrounds) with the listener situated in the middle of the drivers. Monitor style speakers are better for the back surrounds. Try moving the di-poles to the side and see (hear) what happens. I think most people are pretty happy with a good 5.1 setup. In fact, HTF did a survey a while back asking what type of setup everyone was using and as I recall a majority said 5.1. I think you need a fairly large room to really get the benefit of 6 or 7 speakers. And why 6.1 instead of 7.1? Just asking. Also, supposedly bi-amping with a receiver offers no real benefit to running the speaker off of one channel. Someone explained why it doesn't really work and it did make sense to me at the time but I have completerly forgotten the theory behind it. But apparently you need two separate power supplies to see any increase in power and/or sound quality, not two channels using the same power supply.
     
  3. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Why are you not using a subwoofer? I've never heard a measurable improvement through biamping, but I KNOW that adding a subwoofer will make a world of difference. Certainly a bigger difference than adding any more speakers to the system (either a back center or rear surrounds).


    Just my two cents.
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Bi-amping really is a complete waste with this type of equipment. In fact, I suspect that it may lead to less actual power being available for audio reproduction. As Jason said, using a good sub and properly setting it up (in short, setting all speakers to small and crossing them over at a reasonable point, not their low end limit) will, without a doubt, give REAL power and audio benefits. I keep meaning to run my thoughts regarding bi-amping actually reducing real-world power by an Electrical Engineer friend. I'm pretty sure it is valid, though. Anyway, several months ago I went to 7.1 and it did make a difference, but I wouldn't say it is night and day. I had already spent years improving the system in other ways. I've had dipole surrounds on the sides for years, like Gene described, and that setup gives very nice results. My HT is also set up in a fairly ideal way, with room behind and to the sides of the viewing position. You can't have any speaker too close. I will say, one thing seems to have a real benefit, and that is power. By power, I mean massive power you can't touch with any receiver. I now have 300-500 watts for each channel. 500 each to the L&R and 300 to all the others. Yeah, it's overkill, but it made a bigger difference than the move to 7.1. So, I would make a good powered subwoofer the #1 priority.
     
  5. John Brill

    John Brill Supporting Actor

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    How to explain this simply... Most receivers will have power listings such as 100 watts/channel all 5 channels driven or 200 watts/channel 2 channels driven... or some such thing. The main reason is that most multi-channel receivers use large 'power modules' to split and then feed power to all of the various speakers. Few have what I'd call discrete power outputs stages with discrete power transistors for each channel (let alone separate storage (capacitance), or transformers per channel). Therefore, by "engaging" the 2 "not-used" channel to bi-amp your speakers, you are simply drawing from the reserve of the other channels which will result in zero or no benefit in most receivers made today. As others have said, if you want to hear a dramatic improvement, get a 12" powered subwoofer to take the bass load off the receiver which will free up headroom power to your speakers. Another option after you get a subwoofer and if you have pre-outs, get a 2 channel amp to power your L/R fronts. JB
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    John, the thing that occurred to me is this. If you bi-amp, then you have one amp channel per speaker that is dedicated to the tweeter. That channel is still powering a full range signal (or relatively full range if you are using a sub) and consuming a lot of power from the supply, but the majority of the "power" isn't used, since the tweeter only actually uses a small portion of the entire spectrum and high frequencies require very little power. So, I suspect that unused (lower frequency) power simply turns to heat and is lost. If you are already stressing the power supply, it seems that waste would actually reduce the power available for usable sound. If receivers were designed to drive all channels simultaneously at full power, this shouldn't happen, but they aren't designed that way. The main problem is people assume they are doubling their power when they bi-amp, but it just doesn't work that way. Over and over I try to get them to simply use a more powerful single amp, but nobody listens. I have no idea why they are so fixated on bi-amping.
     
  7. Dave>h

    Dave>h Second Unit

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    Thanks guys, A very interesting discussion on the pros and cons of bi amping. I am not an electrical engineer, I just followed along with what the Onkyo instructions said for bi amping but the argument that bi amping is simply pulling from the same source in an integrated amplifier makes sense. I don't use a sub mostly because I think the paradigm studio 100's provide ample bass response. I had a powered sub (Sunfire) in a previous iteration of my system and it did sound great but the neighbors (even a couple of houses away) didn't like it! However, if budget allows, I will consider that option at some point in the future. I recalibrated they system using my SPL (as opposed to using the audyses (sp?) system in the amp) and adjusted the speaker levels accordingly and that actually made some difference. Surprising as I would have thought the amps calibration would be better than I could do myself but i think it sounds better now that I have done it. Thanks very much for the responses and ideas!! Dave
     
  8. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    Audyssey tries to make your system "reference". Your changes made it your 'preference". I suggest letting Audyssey do its thing and adjusting to your 'preference' afterwards. This way you start with a correctly setup system (correctly as in how it would be in a mixing room) and you can make it your own from there. Check out the guide in my sig for some good tips on using Audyssey.
     
  9. Dave>h

    Dave>h Second Unit

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    David, I do not understand the comment about audysses in your signature? If you have a guide or something, i really would liek to see it. Dave
     
  10. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    There's a link to a pdf in my signature. The pdf was created with the help of Chris (CEO at Audyssey) and a bunch of other enthusiasts.
     

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