Newbie Question: Can 7.1 Surround System also do 6.1 or 5.1 surround sound?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by kilroy0097, May 20, 2010.

  1. kilroy0097

    kilroy0097 Auditioning

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    Hello,


    First time poster and frankly first time potential buyer of an audio receiver that isn't a book shelf system.


    I have been looking around the internet for a few weeks now attempting to find a decent system that won't blow away the savings however I have certain requirements due to usable space in my living room. The room is 16x20ft and has multiple entry and exits since it's the center of the house. The 16ft span is where the entertainment center, coffee table and couch sits. The couch sits about 4ft away from the back wall and 8 ft from the 42" TV we have on the entertainment center.


    Due to positioning and entrances into the room a 7.1 surround system utilizing all 7 speakers is very difficult and simply not doable. I have looked into 6.1 systems but simply put companies do not seem to make 6.1 systems anymore. So I looked alternatively into 5.1 surround systems but many do not have the extras I would like to have such as more component and at least 4 HDMI connections and a few other things.


    I have narrowed down my search to the following two systems. One is much cheaper than the other one by about $250.


    Onkyo HT-S5300 - $500

    http://www.onkyousa.com/model.cfm?m=HT-S5300&class=Systems&p=i


    Onkyo HT-S7200 - $750

    http://www.onkyousa.com/model.cfm?m=HT-S7200&class=Systems&p=i


    But before I get a 7.1 surround sound system I need to know if I can use the speakers in a 6.1 or 5.1 surround sound schematic and not use the 7th speaker due to the flow of the room. I am not willing to do extreme wiring modding through the attic and in a wall just to get a proper 2 side surround speakers! So I would like to only put speakers behind the couch against or mounted to the back wall.


    Nothing I can find in the product descriptions from the Onkyo website or any of the other dealers have any information in if I can hook up the speakers in a 6.1 or 5.1 way and have it work correctly.


    I already plan on buying larger gauge speaker wires probably 18-Gauge


    So for someone who listens to music and likes to watch movies on DVD and in the near future blue-ray but for the most part watches mostly television shows digital and HD;


    Which of these systems would be the best bang for the buck and have the requirement of a 5.1 or 6.1 surround sound option?


    Thanks in advance for your advice.
     
  2. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    The first thing you should know before you plunk down your hard earned money, is that there are almost no movies being mixed in either 6.1 or 7.1 audio. 5.1 is the standard and that is the way that 99% of movies are mixed. There are almost no movie theaters set up to play back 6.1 or 7.1. Even films that claim to be remixed in 7.1 for home video, typically just have some reverb thrown into the extra channels an call it a day. They aren't a true 7.1 remix.


    5.1 is the standard now.....it will be the standard in the future. Just something to think about before you spend a lot of money.


    Doug
     
  3. kilroy0097

    kilroy0097 Auditioning

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    Yes I saw that in many other reviews and posts on here that when it comes to choosing 7.1 versus 5.1 that 5.1 is better due to it being all you really need and also that it's cheaper.


    However companies are not offering 5.1 receivers with the perks that they offer with the 7.1 receivers.


    Perks such as up conversion for analog, at least 4 HDMI inputs and other bonuses such as the IPOD dock and Graphical interface on the TV. To name a few.


    So taking those perks into account and my question if a 7.1 system can support a 6.1 or 5.1 speaker setup, which of these two would support my decision? If a 7.1 surround system can do 5.1 then I can check that worry off my list. Then I can just decided on perks and options between the two receivers.
     
  4. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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  5. SVTINSTALLERS

    SVTINSTALLERS Auditioning

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    I would suggest purchasing the 5.1 system since you don't have the room to add 7.1, and use dipole speakers for your surround so that you can get the feel of having back surround speakers. But to answer your question if you were to purchase a 7.1 receiver it automatically picks up if you have back speakers or not and configures what how many speakers you have whether it be 3 or 7.


    Also while most audio is encoded with 5.1, dolby trueHD and DolbyPLXII decode to 7.1 if you have those back speakers hooked up.
     
  6. kilroy0097

    kilroy0097 Auditioning

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    So in short if I get what people are saying here is that the extra bells and whistles in the two HTIB options I have presented here are not worth the extra money?


    If that's what I'm getting then I have this 3rd option that I have been looking at as well.


    Onkyo HT-S3300 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker Package (Black)

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003BEDQR6/ref=cm_rdp_product


    Your thoughts?
     
  7. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    I believe Ken was referring to upconversion of analog video sources (component, composite) to output via HDMI. If one has any analog equipment (Nintendo Wii being a common example), having a receiver that can ouput ALL sources via HDMI is, IMO, an important convenience feature.


    To reinforce the other's answers to your original question, Ken, any 7.1 system can be set up as 5.1 or 6.1.
     
  8. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Ken, the 3300 is a decent system, but uses a passive subwoofer (connected with speaker wire, rather than a line-level coaxial cable).


    Between the 5300 and the 7200 is the 6200 system - it has the analog-to-digital video upconversion feature found on the 7200 but does not feature the "tallboy" speakers.


    If you don't have any analog video sources, then I think the 5300 is a better option than the 3300.
     
  9. kilroy0097

    kilroy0097 Auditioning

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    Thank you Jason for reinforcing the 7.1 using 5.1 setup question. Also yes the Analog To HDMI UpConversion was what I was referring to. Sorry that I wasn't very clear on that. I think it's nice to be able to hook up everything to my Receiver and only have to worry about a single video/audio HDMI cable going to my television. Reading about the S3300 that I put as a 3rd option they specifically show an example where if you use analog cables to the receiver that you must use analog cables also to the TV. While that's not necessarily a deal breaker it does mean I have an extra set of cables going to the TV. Since I have a VCR (yes people still use these) as well as a Wii I have two devices that are analog. Now my DVR and PS3 are both obviously digital and I plan on using HDMI for both I hope.


    So that's two HDMI inputs needed and two Analog inputs needed. I suppose I could just connect one HDMI cable to my TV and also connect one analog video/audio cables to my TV and just switch between inputs. I have to decide now if that S7200 is worth the extra $400 for simply this feature.


    So many factors. I'm glad forums like this exist to ask my stupid newbie questions.
     
  10. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Again your HDTV already does that.


    Doug
     
  11. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    I do agree that being able to use the receiver as a switcher is a good idea. However most receivers have analog connections, and even if you go to the TV via analog from the receiver, the TV will do the upconversion. A single HDMI connection from the receiver to the TV is a nice plus however.


    Doug
     
  12. kilroy0097

    kilroy0097 Auditioning

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    After taking everything we talked about and looking at the dollar value of all the systems I think I made up my mind.


    Going with the Onkyo HT-S5300 7.1 system.

    Here are 3 sites for further review if you would like.

    1. http://www.onkyousa.com/model.cfm?m=HT-S5300&class=Systems&p=i

    2. http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S5300-7-1-Channel-Theater-Receiver/dp/B003BEDQRG/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    3. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882120168&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Home+Theater+in+a+Box-_-Onkyo-_-82120168


    When it came right down to it I had to think, is $300 worth the analog UpConversion to HDMI.

    To me it as not and so I will save that money and instead spend it on things like 16 gauge speaker wire, HDMI cables and maybe even a Onkyo 6 disc DVD/CD player changer later on.


    Thanks for all you help on this decision. *thumbsup*


    Cheers.
     
  13. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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  14. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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  15. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Nice, Ken. You'll be happy with the new system - no doubt!


    For cables, however, I would suggest bumping up to 14 gauge speaker wire, and most definitely DO NOT get any cables/wire with the word "Monster" in the name. Totally overpriced and not worth it.


    A great resource for cables is Monoprice.com. Their "Premium" HDMI cables are higher quality than anything Monster makes and at a fraction of the price. Here's a five footer that would be an excellent choice. I use these cables exclusively, and if there's one knock against them it's that they are perhaps TOO thick and stiff so getting them to bend in tight spaces behind your gear can be a challenge - but with a reasonable amount of space you'll be fine.


    They also carry good speaker wire in long spools as well.


    Good luck and let us know your thoughts once it's all hooked up and running!
     

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