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Basement wiring and speaker placement...please help

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#1 of 5 Guest__*

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Posted September 05 2009 - 05:23 AM

 I am new to this forum. I have been reading a lot of the threads and there is a lot of great advice here. I am currently trying to finish my basement and it is time to wire for my speakers. I am thinking about having a 5.1 system downstairs unless someone can tell me if it would be benefitial for my room to put a 6.1 or 7.1 system in. I really need help with the placement of my speakers though so I can wire my room and get it ready for sheet rock. The room is 12 ft wide and the total room is 24 ft. long. The seating for the theater part will be approx. 12-14ft from the TV. Behind the TV will be a poker table and kids toys. See the pictures below.  The ceilings are 8ft and a little over 7ft where it drops for the air ducts (how do I get around this for the surround speakers?).

My big questions are:
Should I put in-ceiling speakers, ceiling mounted satellite speakers, or should I install them on the walls?

Where should I place the surrounds since the ceiling drops on the left side of the room?

What size speaker wire should I get?

I really appreciate your help!

Thank you

View from the front!http://static.hometh...-IMG_2324.JPG">

View from the back of the room. Will the air duct on the left cause a problem? We will be putting all the components in the closet to the right of the TV and blankets in the closet to the left.

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#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted September 05 2009 - 01:38 PM

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A great resource to learn about the recommended speaker layouts for 5.1 and 7.1 systems can be found at the Dolby website.  While it's true that very few movies actually have 7.1 soundtracks, the fact is that speaker wire is cheap, and there's no drywall up yet.  I would definitely run some wires in the walls/ceilings for the extra two channels, even if you don't make good use of them yet.  You can simply leave some wire coiled up in the walls (remember where they are) or to be really neat and fancy, you can put in an electrical box with a blank cover plate.  Oh, and if you can, run at least 14 gauge wire, 12 if you can find a good deal.  Monoprice is your friend here.  They have great prices on all kinds of wire/cable.

As for your speakers, most folks here would probably recommend avoiding in-wall or in-ceiling speakers unless it's absolutely necessary.  Not only is the installation more involved, but upgrading becomes more difficult and most will agree that they won't perform as well as similarly priced "regular" speakers.

As per the Dolby recommendation, for a 5.1 system, the surround speakers should actually be placed on the sides of the room - only slightly behind the prime listening postion (conveniently enough, these will work for a 7.1 system, too).  They should be slightly above ear level, but not too high.  I think if the lower part of your ceiling is still 7' high you should be fine.  Surrounds are commonly placed about 5-6 feet from the floor.

Since the back of your room would be open, for the 7.1 rear speakers you'd need to consider ceiling mounts (unless you go in-ceiling).

I think placing your mains may be a bit tricker, actually.  The closets you mention are probably right where you'd ideally place the front speakers.  For a room this size, it's nice to try and widen the front soundstage a bit.  I could see some monitor-sized fronts on stands, perhaps in the corners, toed into the middle a bit, but you may not want them too close to the corners.

The only other thing I can think of is to try to insulate around the air ducts as much as possible.  I have a basement theater and unfortunately, the AC is a bit louder than I'd like it to be.

Good luck - it's a fantastic feeling when it all comes together and you sit down for that first movie.


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Posted September 06 2009 - 02:33 PM

 Jason - Thank you for your reply. That is all great information. I will be doing some reading on the Dolby site you recommended tonight so I can start the wiring tomorrow and possibly start on some insulation down there. When we planned the closets, I completely forgot about the placement for the front speakers. I should have thought about that first. I can't wait to post some more pictures as my theater progresses.


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Posted September 06 2009 - 03:16 PM


Do you think if I got some good speakers that would mount on the walls in the front that would work? The doors on the closets will open from the middle of the room out and since we plan on keeping the closets closed when we watch the movies, they it should be ok. I would just hate to keep moving the speakers back and forth when we want to watch movies. 

Should all the speakers be placed about the same height, that is what I am gathering from the Dolby site.

Also does the speaker wire length matter? for instance, if one of the front speakers has speaker wire that is only 2 feet long and the other has wire that is 12 feet long, will it make a difference?

Thanks again for your help.


#5 of 5 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted September 07 2009 - 12:36 PM

The rule of thumb for L/R front speaker height is to have the tweeters at ear level.  Most tower-style floorstanding speakers are set up this way, for bookshelf-sized speakers stands or other mounts are typically needed.  The center channel speaker by necessity has to be either high or low, but it can be gently aimed at the listener's ear.  I got a stand for my center channel that is angled upwards just right.

Different length speaker wires won't make a difference - the signal travels at the speed of light (or at least pretty close to it) so there's no worry at all about delays.

As far as the wall-mounted speakers go, it really would depend on the speakers you get.  Some speakers (and I'm thinking back to my old PSB Alpha speakers of 15 years ago) are actually rear-ported and work much better when there is some room between them and the wall.  There are low-profile speakers that are designed to complement a flat-panel television, but I've not heard any of them personally.  If you haven't yet decided on speakers, I would strongly suggest you start a thread in the speakers section of this forum.  There are a ton of great folks that frequent that section that can offer you much better and more specific advice than me.

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