Going to 7.1: Do Surrounds need to be at ear level?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    surround.jpg
    Rough picture of my listening area above.​
    Notice the two Atlantic Technology 2400SRs mounted on stands at either side of couch.​
    They are mounted higher than ear level due to lamps being in the way.​
    I am adding two additional 2400SRs directly behind the couch, on stands.​
    Will not be able to put them at ear level because they would hit the back of the listener's head.​
    This is a bedroom converted to a home theater, so it's not perfect as far as optimal mounting is concerned.​
    So my question is...​
    Is it okay for my surrounds to be higher than ear level?
    Will it be okay to fit the two additional speakers behind the couch (for 7.1) but raise them high on stands?
    Everything I have read in receiver calibration manuals say that speakers need to be at ear level.​
    Yet, my dumb reasoning is that in a movie theater, you don't have surround speakers at ear level. They are mounted high.​
     
  2. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    Yes they should be ear height.Unless you move that couch off the wall...forget traditional 7.1.I would add height/wide in this room, with the current seating.
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    It's too late. Already ordered the additional speakers which are being shipped as I speak.

    The couch is being moved forward, but not by much.

    Ultimately, I will probably have to go higher than ear level.

    Hope that won't be too much of a problem.
     
  4. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    You can buy wall mounts that will aim them downward, but that adds critical distance off the wall...

    It might be best to just buy a bigger house.
     
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  5. schan1269

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    Why is it "too late" for IIz or DSX?Before committing to 7.1, try one of the other as well.Been a while since I've seen that AVR Ron, but I think you can run 7.1 and height(or wide) at the same time...switch on the fly.
     
  6. schan1269

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    Is it the 3312?If so, you can connect 6/7HeightWideAll at once...switch on the fly.But yeah...that would be 11 speakers...5/7 used at a time.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    So, you guys are saying that -absolutely- having those surround sound speakers
    inches above the listening area will ruin the experience?

    I already ordered the speakers through a contact. Got a good deal. Would hate
    to have to return them.

    Would rather. Pull the couch forward a few inches and put the 7.1 speakers directly
    behind above ear level -- but if at your instance -- at ear level.
     
  8. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    You could move the other speakers slightly forward with the couch and try the rear speakers behind your head, it's best to have the couch off the back wall for the subwoofer bass too, if you could move that forward just a few feet it would work.
     
  9. schan1269

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    That is why I keep mentioning height/wide.
     
  10. Jason Charlton

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    It's not just the distance above ear level (height) that will lessen the experience (most of us have surround speakers that are above ear level), it's the general proximity to the listener.

    The benefit of 7.1 is most apparent when there are several feet of distance between the listener and the rear surround speakers. Again, speaking in "ideal" terms - the ideal is for the listener to be equidistant from the fronts and rears - but that's hardly practical for most rooms.

    If your couch is as close to the rear wall as it appears to be in the picture, then you won't gain much by going traditional 7.1.

    I've not experienced width or highs in person, but I would imagine the tangible benefit from either of those options would be more apparent given your room configuration.
     
  11. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    I don't think it's being above ear level that's going to be the biggest issue (your other surrounds are already above ear level), like the others have said, it's the proximity to the listener that's the problem. And, having four speakers all mounted/placed on the back wall. If the side surrounds were actually on the side it would all work better together. But like most of us, compromises have to be made.

    I like that framed dvd collage you have hanging on the wall. Folk art? Flea market find? DIY? Someone else did it for you? Pretty cool.
     
  12. DavidJ

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    THX recommends the surround LR be placed above the ear. It used to be 3 feet and now they say 2 feet or higher. And yes surround backs should be several feet behind the listening position.
     
  13. JohnRice

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    Ron, I'm surprised to hear comments that surrounds are supposed to be at ear height. I always understood the ideal is what DavidJ said. I have my side and rear surrounds all the exact height, about 2 feet above ear level. Of course, they are about 9 ft. from the listening position, so the angle is fairly shallow. It's also my experience that the surrounds are best a decent distance from the listening area. Have you ever tried moving the ones you have now further to the side? It just makes it less critical if you aren't exactly centered between them.

    I had very similar room limitations many years ago, and I tend to agree that you might at least try the new speakers as front/height rather than rear.
     
  14. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Have you ever tried moving the ones you have now further to the side? It just makes it less critical if you aren't exactly centered between them.
    What you can't see in that picture are bookcases on either side of the room wall
    filled with Blu-rays/DVDs. There is only a couple inches of walking space past those
    side speakers.
    I am unfortunately in a position where I am going to have to slide my couch forward
    a few inches and put the two additional rears behind it, close to the listening position.
    It's an awful compromise, I know, but the best I can accommodate for 7.1 in that kind
    of room.
    I very much appreciate the help.
    It was a gift from Fox during their first several years of DVD output.
     
  15. schan1269

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    About ear height...I tend to recommend tower speakers in all positions (obviously, not center or height).Because of my typical recommendation, ITU is what I tend to follow.It doesn't help there is no concise guide and everybody wants their own twist. There isn't even a concise speaker angle between DD, DTS and THX.
     
  16. DavidJ

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    No, there's not, but even Dolby says slightly above ear height for the surrounds. THX just recommends higher. The ITU recommendation has the surround LR behind the listening position at an angle. My rooms layout wouldn't really allow for that configuration, but I could see some advantages to it.
     
  17. Ronald Epstein

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    surround.jpg
    (Original Photo from first post)​
    surround2.jpg
    (New Photo of rear channels)​
    I realize I am not going to get any praise for what I have done.​
    I am basically forced to deal with room size and what options are available to me without drilling holes into the wall, etc.​
    I am waiting for two additional Atlantic Technology 2400SRs to arrive.​
    However, I disconnected the side speakers that you saw in the top (original) photo above.​
    I moved the couch forward about a foot, and put the speakers behind and above the listening area.​
    My THX calibrator is telling me that they should be 18-24" above ear level, which they are.​
    Once the two new speakers arrive on Monday, I will move them further to the side than you saw in the original photo. This should at least create more distance between the sides and rears for better panning effect.​
    I will then recalibrate my Denon receiver using the Audyssey microphone. I am hoping that calibration will sense the closeness of the rear channels so that it doesn't make it as loud as the other channels. ​
     
  18. Robert Crawford

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    Ron,

    Which 7.1 BD are you going to watch first?
     
  19. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Don't laugh.

    CHICAGO

    Only reason is that it arrived over the past few days. It's sitting here on my desk.

    If you have any other recommendations, I'd love to have them.

    Won't be until Wednesday that I can set up the two new speakers on the side atop
    new pole stands that I ordered.

    I just hope I haven't made a mistake. I mean, I am certain I will love the improvement
    in 7.1. I just jumped the gun and ordered those speakers without even thinking about
    the fact that my room configuration really isn't designed for it.

    I really did a half-ass job putting something in place, but something tells me it will be
    much better than the 5.1 setup I already have.
     
  20. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Ron,

    It might not be an optimal set up, but it will still be an improvement over your current one.

    As far as which title, nothing wrong with Chicago, but I just emailed you a link if you want something else or even to check out for future viewings.
     

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