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2 Receivers or 1...for Atmos (1 Viewer)

NTLKnight

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Hi there, I’m new’ish to the more advanced side of home theater setups and in particular, to Atmos…but I’m in the process of buying new hardware and I have some questions which I hope are not too long or cumbersome!
  • 2 CHEAP (old) AVRs vs 1 EXPENSIVE ONE? For the budget-minded, rather than buying one of the newer AVRs that offer all the channel outputs needed to have tons of speakers, could someone use 2 (older and cheaper) machines to power the same number of speakers…and still get proper Atmos configurations?

  • DO OLDER AVRs HAVE PROPER ATMOS OUTPUTS? There are used Denons selling online, like the AVR-3312Ci for around $100. While on the back it has 1 set of “Height” outputs, it doesn’t say Dolby Atmos on the machine. Are all “Height” outputs on older AVRs sending data properly to overhead speakers? The AVR-3312Ci does say Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD amongst other things, but not Atmos. Does a receiver *have to be* Atmos specific in order to pass the data/sound properly to the speakers that would be setup as ceiling/upwards-facing speakers (not to mention the ground-level speakers that Atmos communicates with)?

  • 2 AVR’s? —or 1 AVR + 1 AMPLIFIER? If the answer to question 1 is that yes, (you can buy a cheaper AVR to receive all the HDMI (and other) inputs from your sources…and if said AVR doesn’t have enough channel outputs to power 5-7 ground-level speakers AND 2-6 ceiling/upwards-facing speakers) …would one be able to use the pre outs to power an additional amplifier? —or would it need to be another AVR, to get the proper Atmos configured output to the speakers?

  • REGARDING THE SPEAKERS. If I put together the right AVR system (whether a single unit, or a combination of 2 or more) to power (up to) 7 ground-level speakers, plus 1 (2, or 3) sub-woofers, plus (up to) 6 ceiling (or upward-facing) speakers, can I mismatch different speakers and brands? For instance, I recently bought a set of Klipsch Reference Theater pack (before I knew about the Reference Cinema pack). If I keep the Theater pack and buy 2 more ground-level speakers…AS WELL as some overhead speakers (whether ceiling-mounted, or other) …could I shop around to add to this array, even if I end up getting cheap ceiling speakers? The ceiling speakers (round ones that install into the ceiling) seem pricey compared to the set 5.1 set I just bought. If I shop around and buy other brand speakers (whether the round ones made specifically for ceiling use or not), would that yield workable results?

  • KLIPSCH UPWARD-FACING vs CEILING SPEAKERS. Which are better? Would the Reference Cinema pack be a better option for having Atmos “ceiling sound” rather than using the Reference Theater pack and adding cheaper ceiling speakers (mounted on the ceilings and pointing down)?
Thank you in advance,
Nathan
 

Wardog555

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A receiver does need to support atmos to deliver it. Older receivers often do not. If atmos isn't listed then its not support.

Ceiling speakers 10 times better than those upfirng gimmick trash. This is a fact. You are guaranteed to have atmos from ceiling speakers. You are not guaranteed to hear anything above you with upfirng. You may get more sound and that's about it.
You also need perfect conditions for the effect to work. This means. Speaker positions. Angles. Seating distance aswell. Flat ceiling.

That klipisch set isn't a great option either. If you want the same brand. Klipish reference premier is the suggestion. And this is only if you like their sound signature.

Most of the time one receiver is sufficient for delivering atmos just as long as it's a model starting from 2016. That also includes HDR at a minimum for 4k content.

The times where a second receiver and or amp is needed when the main receiver doesnt power all channels eg some receivers have 9 channels amplification and 11 channels processing. External amplification is needed for the last two channels.
The other time is when you find the speakers don't have enough power.

And no. You don't need the same speaker everywhere and you can mix and match speakers. I have a different brand for my atmos speakers for example.
 

YANG

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old AVR is able reproduce ATMOS amplification... however, that would require an external preamp/processor of ATMOS to pass out decoded ATMOS channels to receiving AVR which is able to take in pre-out signals for multichannel amplification.

technics_sa-tx50_rear_panel.jpg
one of a hobbyist i knew had been looking for a 2nd Technics receiver to expand his multichannel setup which will complement to his recently acquired ToneWinner ATMOS preamp.
it would look cool to have ATMOS setup driven by 2 VU vintage amplifications.
 

JohnRice

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Atmos requires a receiver or processor capable of Atmos processing. Period.

Receivers really aren't designed to be "stacked" or combined. They just aren't. Yes, there have been (extremely few) receivers that have line level amp inputs, which makes them capable of being used as external amps, but those are rare.

Of course, you need as many channels of amplification as you have speakers, not including subs. So, first, the receiver or processor has to be capable of processing that many channels. Generally, receiver up to nine channels will have internal amplification for all the channels. Once you go past that, they sometimes can process more channels than they can power. In that case, you have to add an external amp (not a receiver) to power the additional channels. Ideally, you get a more powerful amp and use it to power the L&R or front three, and leave the receiver to power the others.

There are a lot of options, but none of them is exactly cheap. Atmos simply isn't cheap.
 

NTLKnight

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Thank you guys so much for the great insight!

Even though I already bought the Klipsch Reference Theater Pack and they're on their way in the mail, I have since concluded that for our living room the Atmos setup we'll go for is a 5.2.4.

Any suggestions on the following items would be greatly appreciated:

• The AVR I'm thinking of getting would (really) be any Atmos 9.2 channel AVR. The 4 I've had my eye on after hours of reading today are; Denon AVR-X3600H or the X3700H...or the Onkyo TX-NR787, or the TX-RZ50. I get a feeling Marantz and other manufacturers may have similar offerings. Any opinions on these?

• If I keep the Klipsch Theater speakers (or as Wordog555 said, maybe upgrade to the Klipsch Premier speakers), I would only be adding 4 ceiling speakers to complete the setup. Any suggestions on what those should be? I don't mind mounting (or hanging) speakers from the ceiling (especially if there are thin ones that won't stand out too much). (Or are mounted overhead speakers meant to be placed differently (like all the way to the sides of the walls) than recesses in-ceiling speakers would be?) The in-ceiling offerings from Klipsch and other manufacturers seem rather pricey compared to the regular speakers or compared to these cheap Airmotiv Vaulta speakers https://tinyurl.com/5y7s6zee

Thank you again for your input, it is much appreciated!
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Welcome to HTF, Nathan!

You've already got lots of input for your original post... but maybe @Wardog555's very brief mention about the Klipsch (horn) sound (and whether it'd actually suit you) bears emphasizing some more since it might get glossed over w/out realizing. It's not a sound that everyone likes -- most (maybe nearly all?) audiophiles apparently do not like the Klipsch sound at all AFAIK, except maybe their top-of-the-line models perhaps. Of course, that's not to say you won't or shouldn't like it, but something worth keeping in mind, especially if you've never actually listened to any Klipsch speakers before -- and you did mention just mail-ordering these...

_Man_
 

NTLKnight

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Appreciate that, Man. Considering how little I knew about the playing field last week, I relied on Google searches which all showed the Klipsch Reference Theater pack as the top choice for 2023. Now that I realize I'll be spending about 5x that amount of money on a (used) AVR, I'm more than willing to spend more on the speakers, even if that means ditching the Klipsch pack...or upgrading as I go.

Considering I've produced music in my home studio for the last 30 years and have mixed and mastered hundreds of songs on a higher end Mackie speaker system, you'd think my living room setup would be a little more "audiophile" oriented...but nope. For the last 18 years I've had a $39 5.1 surround system I bought at Walmart...with red/white RCAs running from the TV (a 70" Vizio...with about 7 HDMI inputs...which all the sources are connected to directly) and from the TV's RCA outputs, going to the input on the sub woofer of the $39 unit. I think anything I get is going to sound better than what we've been used to!

I've always considered the screen to be a little bit more important than the sound...and I know that's not fair, or true to the viewing experience as a whole. If I can talk my wife into turning our living room into more of a home theater room, I'd turn all the furniture around going long-ways...and *then* I'd have the space to have a 7.x.6 system. If I had that many speakers it would only make sense (to me) to use a projector and go for the biggest viewing screen possible...or better yet, paint the full back wall (16'x9') and use it as the projector screen, not the 120" or 200" projector screens I see many using. Anyways.

Regarding the ceiling speakers, after seeing this guy on YouTube (Spec Of Tech https://tinyurl.com/59f9zc4d ) show how he uses Klipsch AW-650 and AW-400 speakers as his overheads, to me, that type of speaker made sense...with the mounting brackets they can be screwed into the ceiling rather easily and don't need to be recessed, etc. This guy on YT even says that they are probably an overkill for height speakers...which made me start looking at other similar speakers (indoor/outdoor with mounting brackets) that can be found quite cheap on eBay...used, like the KLH Audio HD53B, or the KLH Model S-PRO4, or the Jasco Model 411 or even some old JBL families of speakers, like the JBL SAT 20's ...am I crazy to be thinking this way?

Best Regards,
Nathan
 

NTLKnight

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Regarding Auro 3d

  • Can you use an Atmos AVR to play Auro 3D content?
  • Is there enough Auro 3D content (in the US) to consider going Auro 3d over Atmos?
  • Can an Auro 3D speaker setup (primarily the Voice of God overhead speaker...but also the side wall overheads vs the Atmos ceiling overheads) work for both Atmos and Auro 3d content?
  • If you were setting up your system from scratch, would you set up an Auro 3D system, or Atmos?--or somehow a hybrid of both?

Thank you
 

JohnRice

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Personally, I’d do an Atmos setup, since that’s by far the most common type of soundtrack. Some people do like Auro 3D processing with any soundtrack though. I don’t have it available to try out, but I do generally prefer not to use all sorts of extra processing.
 

Wardog555

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I don't touch auro 3d for a few reasons. Lack of content support. My receiver doesn't support it. Dolby atmos is the most widely used format in the Industry.

I setup as per Dolby specifications and I'm not going to comment about auro 3d as I've had 0 opportunities to try it.

you do need the receiver and the content to support it.
 

NTLKnight

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Thank you for these replies...sounds like Atmos is the way to go. I've heard that people like the auromatic upmixer, but that sounds like an after thought rather than a path to take to setup a system from scratch. I think I also just read a few days ago that Auro 3D filed for bankruptcy recently.
 

NTLKnight

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I just want to say how amazing it is to have such a wealth of information on this forum! I’ve immersed myself these past 2 weeks in reading threads and watching YT videos. Such a privilege to have all these resources to help keep us newbies from making too many mistakes!

The questions I still need to answer before moving forward are regarding the space I have to work with. I realize that I can’t be aiming to set up a dedicated home theater room since I’m working with our living room. I won’t be buying theater seating, but instead I’ll be using comfortable sofas that can double as regular sofas during the day and seating at night. The big question I have right now is whether to try and make a projector work in our space, or to upgrade our TV to 86”. Yes, I’ll install Atmos speakers and yes, I’ll upgrade the sound system with a decent AVR, but can our living room handle a projector setup?

At first when looking at some of the Dolby specs where they talk about the space needed to have a larger speaker setup, I thought our living room wasn’t big enough for a x.x.6 setup, then I saw many people setting up such configurations in spaces smaller than ours. I also thought a projector would need a certain amount of distance to use with larger screens, then I saw several setups on YT doing it with smaller spaces than ours. I’ve mapped out some designs of our living room space so that I could ask what you all might think would work best for us.

This is our current living room setup: 2023-03-29_04-56-40

If we don’t get a projector, we’d probably upgrade our TV to an 86” 4K TV and keep it in the same spot the current TV is. Regardless of the TV upgrade, we’d also upgrade our sound system to Atmos with either a 2nd set of surround speakers (or front wides…not sure which are better), or 6 Atmos speakers, like this: 2023-03-29_04-57-57

In keeping with the same layout for the living room—after seeing a few home theaters on YT with a space smaller than ours and using a projector—I thought I’d ask if you think it would actually work to have a projector screen setup something like this in our living room (and I'm supposing the projector screen in this configuration would be much less than 170"): 2023-03-29_05-01-22

The other more drastic change to our living room would be to turn it around long-ways and have a projector screen on the far wall (covering the fireplace). I’d move the piano out, or to the other side of the room. Funny thing about this configuration is that we could keep our existing TV where it is and use that for daytime viewing (which is about 15% of our viewing) …and at night watch most of our stuff on the projector. The AVR could power both the projector and the TV. I would want to use the majority of the wall for the projector screen (maybe 170'ish") and would lean towards building one myself (similar to this guy’s). You’ll notice in the following picture I have the L/R speakers pretty far out to the sides…because I would want the screen to be as big as possible and I’m not sure if I could have the screen to be away from the wall far enough to have the speakers behind it, given the length of the room: 2023-03-29_05-06-09

And finally, if we had a proper movie night with the whole family, or visitors, we could turn one of the sofas around…and maybe even make a portable riser for the back row that we could bring in. An alternative to a portable riser would be to get sofa cushions that are made to be used on the floor that would be lower than the rear sofa. (Notice how I moved the height speakers in this picture to look more normally-placed…even though they’re not lined up with the front L/R speakers in this picture): 2023-03-29_05-07-20

If I am not able to get a 13 channel AVR, what would you recommend for a speaker configuration; 6 Atmos speakers and 5 bed speakers, or 7 bed speakers and 4 Atmos? (If 7 bed speakers, are front wides better than having surround rears?)

Thank you again,
Nathan
 

Wardog555

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Your current layout limits you to 5.1.2 maxium

Here's what I'd do differently. Sit at 2/3 room distance. Position the speakers correctly and then you can enjoy it as intended without the negatives of sitting too close to walls.

This way we can look at achieving 7.1.4
I've planned for this myself in my theater.

Plan the room out using sketchup or other software and use a protractor to figure out the angles.

Then youbcan start enjoying!
 

NTLKnight

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ManW_TheUncool

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Ok, I guess you'd be willing to sacrifice the audio for daytime viewing w/ the old TV w/ the mixed/blended setup you're considering?

Seems generally doable.

I wouldn't want those front speakers spread out that far apart though and also be so close to the corners of the room, if you can avoid that -- closeness to walls/corners (even adjacent/behind) are generally not good/ideal for speaker acoustics, except for the (real) subwoofers.

Also, going that big w/ the screen can be problematic for most PJ's light output capabilities, especially if you also want the most possible HDR capability, which is always already quite limited w/ any PJ setup (at least w/ current available tech).

Might be more realistic to aim for something w/ a width equiv to max of 150" 16x9, if going for 2.4:1 CIH setup -- that would be ~130" wide. A 140" 2.4:1 screen would get you that and still be able to provide a 16x9 image of ~110" diagonal.

IF you really want to push the size larger for 2.4:1 CIH, you'll probably need to go w/ a (rather expensive) PJ setup that includes anamorphic lens to make the most of the PJ's light output. As it is, going 2.4:1 CIH would probably mean spending upwards of ~$2K for a PJ that includes good light output and DR, motorized lens memory, etc. Going anamorphic would probably more than double that cost, if not triple it (or more).

_Man_
 

NTLKnight

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Ok, I guess you'd be willing to sacrifice the audio for daytime viewing w/ the old TV w/ the mixed/blended setup you're considering?
Short answer: Yes. Little fact, yesterday the Klipsch Reference Theater Pack 5.1 arrived in the mail. Since I haven’t yet purchased an AVR, I thought I’d see if I could use the sub-woofer from the 18-year-old $39 5.1 system I bought at Walmart. The tiny sub it came with has some sort of built-in amp as all 5 speakers plug into it. Surprisingly it powered the 5 new (Klipsch) speakers quite well (not using the Klipsch sub that came with the "Pack", but using the tiny sub the Walmart system came with). We watched Puss in Boots last night (Atmos...but on the 5.1 setup) and the surround sound was quite an upgrade to what we had before. I've been playing (loud) music in the living room on the speakers all morning and it's filling the whole (6 bedroom) house up...coming from the living room. I'm guessing that with a decent AVR powering these little Klipsch speakers, they'll sound even better? All that to say that I could reserve these Klipsch (Theater Pack) speakers for the "daytime" TV setup...even if that means bypassing the AVR for the "TV setup" audio and using the outputs on the TV straight to the Klipsch (or to an amp that would power the Klipsch) Theater Pack.

I wouldn't want those front speakers spread out that far apart though and also be so close to the corners of the room, if you can avoid that -- closeness to walls/corners (even adjacent/behind) are generally not good/ideal for speaker acoustics, except for the (real) subwoofers.
Yes, I'm sure you're right...those L/R speakers in my picture look way too far apart. Since I'm not sure how far away the projector would *need* to be from the screen (to cast on to a big screen size), I'm not sure if I can hang the screen away from the wall a bit. If there are "thin" speakers that would fit in a 1-2' space between the wall and the screen, I could put the L/C/R behind the projector screen and solve that problem (but that would cut the room size down by a bit). Unless of course the speakers could somehow fit underneath the screen (but as I understand it, they *need to be* at ear level). Excuse the messy living room, but here is a picture I just took of the living room to show you the fireplace that I would put the projector screen in front of. The fireplace itself provides a nice cavity for something like a sub, but I'm not sure it goes high enough to fit at least the center speaker in as well. (I would take the ceiling fan down if we go with a projector).

Also, going that big w/ the screen can be problematic for most PJ's light output capabilities...

Might be more realistic to aim for something w/ a width equiv to max of 150" 16x9, if going for 2.4:1 CIH setup -- that would be ~130" wide. A 140" 2.4:1 screen would get you that and still be able to provide a 16x9 image of ~110" diagonal.

IF you really want to push the size larger for 2.4:1 CIH, you'll probably need to go w/ a (rather expensive) PJ setup that includes anamorphic lens to make the most of the PJ's light output. As it is, going 2.4:1 CIH would probably mean spending upwards of ~$2K for a PJ that includes good light output and DR, motorized lens memory, etc. Going anamorphic would probably more than double that cost, if not triple it (or more).
I might have a bit of a rosy-colored idea of how easy it is to go big with the projector screen...in part because my parents have a film studio on their property and as an afterthought they put up a cheap ($800'ish) projector and bought a projector screen that they simply hang on the back wall (wrinkles and all) when they're not filming (they used to simply cast the projector on to the back white wall...which worked quite well, actually). When we go and visit, we watch movies every night in their studio with simple audio (4 speakers, 2 L and 2 R) and a 1080p projector which I'm guessing is casting onto about a 200'ish" portion of the huge white screen hanging down (in 16:9). Here are a couple pictures that don't do justice, but just to show how even a cheap projector gets away quite nicely casting onto a huge screen. Once you're watching, it trumps everything else (in a way)...and you get lost in the visuals as it feels like an iMAX experience, it's so big.

Since we prefer movies over TV shows, I'm drawn towards the 2.35:1 aspect ratio (is that the same as the 2.4:1 you mentioned?)...and I notice that many shows come out in in CIH format also. I am a bit confused what happens when a CIH format movie/show has the subtitles turned on. We had the subtitles on for the last episode of The Mandalorian...and they display in the black bar area at the bottom of our 16:9 TV. Where would those subtitles project to if we were watching on a 2.4:1 aspect ratio screen? (And are there other related issues when browsing through menu data of streaming services like Netflix/Amazon/etc if they are set up for 16:9 ratios?--does a part of their menu cut off or cast to the wall beyond a 2.4:1 screen?

So, going with a 2.4:1 screen size will automatically mean a better projector?--or is the final size of the screen's width what determines how good the projector needs to be? I'd be willing to buy a used/refurbished projector if that would bring the price within reach. Also, how close to the screen would the projector need to be? I realize there might be 3 "ranges" of projectors; close, mid and far. If you have a few models you could suggest for our room size, I will start looking into them.

Thank you so much!
 

Wardog555

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What I mean is your too close to the back walls to accommodate 4 atmos and rear speakers as intended and that's why I always state sit away from walls.

Seating Back wall.jpg
 

NTLKnight

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JohnRice

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Last night I pulled our back sofa out from the wall by nearly 2 feet and placed the Klipsch surrounds about 3 feet away from our listening area before watching The Mandalorian. The surround sounded much better. How far away *should* you, or *can* you pull the back seats away from the wall to work for basic surround in a 5.1? And also, how far away should you pull the seats away from the wall to have a 7.1 setup with surrounds *and* rear surrounds?

Thank you,
Nathan
To be honest, I think a lot of rooms just don't work well for rear surrounds. My living room is an example of that, which is why it just has a 5.1 setup. It can facilitate a 5.x.2 setup just fine and probably would be OK for 5.x.4, but if you are close to the rear wall, I doubt it will ever work especially well. One benefit in that room is the main viewing position is 6' from the right surround and 12' from the left surround, plus vaulted ceiling all results in a very immersive experience, with just with 5.1.

In my HT, there is 7' behind the viewing position to the rear wall, and the rear surrounds are 9-10' away, and the sides are 8-12' away. I can do that because the room is dedicated to media and I laid it out entirely with the priority of the best surround sound. I'm fortunate that the room allows this, because one of the best ways to get immersive surround sound is to have distance between the surround speakers and viewer.

So, how far away should they be? In my book, as far as they can be, within reason.

I will also toss in that I believe the official Dolby specs for angles of Atmos speakers is a little extreme. I suspect most people will get better results by reducing their roughly +/-45 degree spec to more like +/- 25-30 degrees.
 

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