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SPLchamp

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Hello all.

I am new to the site, and this is my first post on HTF. So thanks in advance for any and all feedback, My apologies if this is not the right area to post this topic.

I am finishing my basement and have decided to put in a dedicated home theater room. The decision came to me a couple weeks ago when I stumbled across an Onkyo TX-RZ630 9.2-Channel receiver on sale for $365. I was surprised. I didn't know 11-channel receivers had come down that far in price. Since I'm not that familiar with the Onkyo name, I decided to look for other (more familiar) brands to see what they were selling for. A few quick keystrokes revealed that the Pioneer Elite VSXLX303 (9.2 -channel) was also available for under $400. So I felt fairly confident with going with one of those two.

Here's the situation... I stream most of my movies. After doing a quick bit of research, I found out that the only streaming services (that I use) that support Dolby Atmos are the Netflix and Vudu UHD services. And they stream their content using 7.1 encoding. If that's the case, am I wasting my money spending the extra for a 9.2-channel receiver? In the case of a 7.1 Atmos signal feeding a 9.2 receiver, what happens with those extra two speakers? Are they just dead? Does the receiver somehow 'upscale' the signal to utilize all its connected speakers? Or is my thinking way off... and Atmos is just Atmos (meaning it doesn't matter the # of inputs vs. outputs)? I really like the idea of having the 7 ear-level surround speakers, plus the 4 ceiling-height speakers. If I can get achieve this for under $400 (not including the price of the speakers) then I think that's well worth it.
 

JohnRice

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I’ll just try to dispel your major confusions, but there’s a lot more to go into.

First, a 9.2 channel receiver won’t drive a 7.x.4 system. It drives 9 channels, not counting subwoofer (the middle number) so 7.x.4 requires a receiver that can at least process 11 channels. You’ll never get that, even refurbished, for anything near $400. I’d have to double check that the receivers you listed can even do 9 channels.

To answer your main question, there are actually multiple answers, but receivers allow you to matrix more channels. So, you choose if or how it creates more channels. Oh yeah, there’s no such thing as Atmos that’s only 7.1 channels. It’s more complicated than that, but....
 

JohnRice

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Something I didn’t explain well that seems to be the source of confusion. The second number (there can be two or three numbers designating a surround setup) is subwoofers, which don’t “count” as regular channels. A 9.2 receiver has nine surround channels, not 11.
 

SPLchamp

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Thank you John. I see your point, I misinterpreted the ',2' part. And you're right... I can't even find an 11-channel receiver for DOUBLE the price I was originally thinking. So here's my new question. Are there such things as inexpensive pre-amp sound processors that will convert the Atmos signal into individual channels, so that I can buy amplifiers for the independent channels?
 

Wayne_j

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Receivers often have built in pre-amp outputs. I'm not powering any speakers with the receivers, all separately amped from the pre-outs on the receiver.
 

JohnRice

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No...

Separates, which is what you describe, has many advantages, but low price of acquisition is not one of them. I have systems running both ways, btw.
 

SPLchamp

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I think the price of that Denon means I will have to give up on the idea of 11 channels for right now. So that part of the conundrum is done. I'm back to 9 channels. But my original confusion remains. If the Netflix UHD streaming service is 7.1, Is there a benefit to having a 9.2 receiver?
 

John Dirk

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But my original confusion remains. If the Netflix UHD streaming service is 7.1, Is there a benefit to having a 9.2 receiver?

Where are you seeing that? As far as I know, Netflix is still using Dolby Digital Plus and limited to 5.1 channels in the main stream. What they are calling "Atmos" is likely achieved via a sub stream and meta data but it is not native 7.1. Sadly, it can still technically be referred to as Atmos. Substreams in DD Plus can add channels but they are mainly used for additional languages, etc. To achieve a true Dolby Atmos experience you need a Dolby True HD "bed." By that I mean a source that includes a Dolby True HD track [Netflix does not] and then equipment capable of decoding and reproducing it. There's also speaker placement which is critically important if you want to enjoy properly encoded content as intended by the filmmakers.

In summary, True Atmos is not easily obtained but it is worth the effort, at least in my opinion.

If you want to get started, read this.
https://www.dolby.com/us/en/technol...tmos-home-theater-installation-guidelines.pdf

The below is from Netflix's own FAQ's. Notice there's no mention of 7.1.

upload_2019-11-3_18-22-26.png
 
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Dave Moritz

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Are there such things as inexpensive pre-amp sound processors that will convert the Atmos signal into individual channels, so that I can buy amplifiers for the independent channels?

Dolby Atmos core depending on what source your using has a basic surround sound core. For streaming services it may be Dolby Digital + and for 4K UHD Blu-ray it most likely is Dolby True HD. You can play Atmos content on a receiver or preamp/processor without Atmos and still get surround sound. So it really doesn't convert Atmos it just doesn't see the Atmos extension and just plays the 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound core. One thing to look out for on receivers which may or may not be an issue with budget preamp/processors is many of the budget models do not out put enough to dive many amplifiers to full volume and many of them clip at 1.5 volts! Just make sure the preamp outs output enough to drive a power amp to full volume.
 

Stephen_J_H

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The question here for Atmos is, how many overhead channels do you want? If you want 4, with this receiver you're limited to a 5.2.4 setup. If you can get by with 2 overheads, you can do a 7.2.2 setup. Consider the size of your room and do what's best for you. I used to have a 7.1 setup, but found the back surrounds really didn't add anything in my smallish room. so when I upgraded to an Onkyo Dolby Atmos/DTS:X receiver, it was an easy decision to go with a 5.1.2 setup. Mine supports two subwoofers, but again, the room is too small for such power.
 

SPLchamp

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Okay. Maybe the way I went about this post was wrong in the beginning. I started out with an assumption, and asked you guys to uphold or remove it. I think that's caused some confusion. So let me start over. This time I will start out telling you guys what I want to accomplish, and see if you can help me with a clear path.

I would like to conceptualize a 7.1.4 setup. However, I am on a budget. It's not crazy-restrictive, but it's not a free-for-all. I don't see myself spending $1,100 on a receiver. However, for about $500, I have found a few 9.2-channel receivers which (when used with an external 2-channel amplifier) will give me the 11 channels (plus sub) that I need. The Onkyo TX-RZ730 and Pioneer VSX-LX503 are a couple examples. I an not a big fan of discs. I don't buy/rent blu rays. I stream most of my content. I have access to Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube TV. Do any of these services stream in a format that would allow me to make use of a 7.1.4 Atmos setup?
 

JohnRice

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Sorry to go in circles, but I’m not aware of any receivers in the $500 price range, even close out or refurbished, that process 11 channels, external amp or not. I will double check the models you specified, though. $900 is the cheapest I’ve ever seen for a receiver that has 11 channel processing.
 

JohnRice

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OK, yeah, the Pioneer seems to be half price, and it processes 11 channels. I don’t know why it’s available for 1/2 price.
 

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