7.1 Speaker placement/setup - is this doable and worthwhile?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Jim.M, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. Jim.M

    Jim.M Extra

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    Hi guys. I currently have a 5.1 setup with the surrounds mounted high on the back wall to either side of the listening position, the couch. Unfortunately, b/c of room constraints, I cannot move the couch away from the wall and in adding the "rear back" speakers I would have to place them on the wall almost directly above the listening position. Is this a stupid idea? Should I just stick with 5.1 or can I get away with this 7.1 setup by angling the rear backs toward the ceiling?, the side walls?, somewhere where i would see a benefit from the additional 2 speakers? BTW, I have not purchased the rear surrounds (rear backs) yet, so if you think using bi or dipole speakers would help things, I could go that direction. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

    PS Where should my current surrounds be aimed?

    Jim
     
  2. John S

    John S Producer

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    I would still say yes, but you should move your current surrounds more to the sides if you do this. Also 6.1 with one cetner rear speaker may also make more sense with the space limitations.
     
  3. Jim.M

    Jim.M Extra

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    Thanks John -- would you advise a bipole/dipole speaker like energy's switchable CR-3? (I say energy b/c it would timbre match my current energy speakers). Or do you think one of the take 2.2 sats would work for the back surround?
     
  4. John S

    John S Producer

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    Well of course the audiphile in me says the Timber matched one, but really anything decent you have lay'n around would work. Knowing the space or lack there of, I'd probably go with the smaller of possibilities over timber matching. lol
     
  5. Jon_Liu

    Jon_Liu Stunt Coordinator

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    Jim,

    I was in the same predicament when I moved into my apartment here. I had a 6.1 set up at that time and was having trouble putting my center back speaker in the right positioning. Because of my room layout I was only able to move my couch out far enough to put the center back speaker behind the couch. That seemed to work fine.

    Now, I just recently upgraded to a 7.1 set up which I just removed the center back speaker and replaced them with two bi-pole/di-pole speakers. This works great.

    I have 4 Polk FXi30 speakers set to di-pole for my surrounds. All are about 2.5 feet above ear level.

    The set up as it is now, I pushed the couch back flush against the back wall, the side surround speakers are about 6.5 feet from the the listener, and the surround back left and right speakers are pretty much above the listener. Granted in this situation the surr. back l/r speakers are closer together almost defeating the whole purpose of 7.1 over 6.1, but I can tell you I have noticed a great amount of difference.

    The surround stage, while more expansive, still seemed to collapse a bit into each of the speakers with a 6.1 speaker set up. The sound panning was a big step up from 5.1 in adding a level of depth to the listener, but still had a little bit of trouble with speaker transitioning. Directional ques were quite good with 6.1 and quite a bit better than 5.1.

    Now, with 7.1 I noticed that the sound stage seems just that much more expansive over 6.1. The difference wasn't HUGE (relatively speaking), but it was definitely a very noticeable and an appreciable difference. Panning sounds just that much more fluid while directionality still remains top-notch as well.

    Anyway, it's definitely doable to have 6.1 or 7.1 with your situation!

    Regards,
    Jon Liu
     
  6. John S

    John S Producer

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    Yep, exactly what Jon_Liu posted above me here...
     
  7. Chris_C

    Chris_C Agent

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    Jon,

    Do you use stands with your rear center surrounds? Did you then place them behind your couch? How close to your seating area are they?

    I am also in this situation and have contemplated moving to a 7.1 setup.

    Thanks
     
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    You may find this link which takes you to a set of papers by Floyd Toole to be helpful.
     
  9. Jim.M

    Jim.M Extra

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    Great link Chu. Thanks for the info. There are clearly some things in there that will help make my room sound better.

    That said, I still have a question... b/c of the SAF (spousal approval factor), my back rear channels (6 and 7 of 7.1) will have to be placed high on the wall behind the couch maybe a half a foot behind the listening position. My surrounds are direct radiators (want to keep em that way for SACD/DVD-A) high up on the side walls. If placing direct radiating speakers high on the back wall for the 6th & 7th channel, where should they be aimed? Down at listener? Off at another wall? Or should I get bipole/dipole speakers for the back channels if they need to be placed in this manner?

    Thanks again guys.

    Jim
     
  10. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well I don't know exactly how the SAF factors in here, but in a 7.1 setup I think you should give some thought to a slightly improved set up with regards to your listening/speaker positions. Depending upon the size of your room, I think matters could be improved by increasing the spacing between the rears and where you're sitting. Let me give you my take on this.

    You're looking for rear speakers I presume to finally flesh out your Home Theater. While sound is important, the primary purpose of HT is the picture and you want to be able to focus on that without having your rear speakers be so aggressive in their presentation that your focus becomes not what is in front of you, but rather behind. The speakers should complement the scene allowing you to visually take in what you're seeing with some sense of acoustic realism which serves to enhance the visual presentation creating a greater sense of realism and believability.
    In a small room with direct firing speakers, especially if they're close to the listener may well allow for too much pin point placement of sound. This detracts from what you're watching. In fact it will tend to limit where you and others can sit as small movements can have profound effects on the overall sound. However, as the spacing between the listeners and speakers increasing, the relative problems of direct radiating speakers diminishes. Multi directional speakers on the other hand permit a greater ability to create the ambience from the rears so you don't have to constantly feel like some one is slapping you upside the head pointing out where that gunshot is. That's distracting as far as I'm concerned. So while the localization will be a bit worse with direct radiating speakers, the overall enhancement to the sound will be proportionally greater.

    Like anything, you've got to work on placement with your speakers to get your best subjective sound and a bad or compromised placement will defeat the best of speakers. For a single set of surrounds, as you have right now, optimal placement will be somewhere to the sides of where you're listening and about one to two feet above your ears. While many have used direct radiating speakers in that scenario, I give a slight edge to multi directional speakers. With four surrounds then the second pair could be direct raditating. Those would be placed on the wall behind you, same height as your side surrounds, and about 1/3 in from the side walls.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  11. Jon_Liu

    Jon_Liu Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris,

    When I had a Center Surround back, I placed it on a speaker stand and actually found it best pointed up. This gave the sound a really nice diffused sound while being non-overbearing since the speaker was so close behind the couch. My couch, then, was far enough from the wall so the center back speaker could fit there with the stand.

    I'd still recommend 7.1 over 6.1 in this situation because there is a lot more room for changing things around with 7.1.

    Anyway, that's my two cents...

    Regards,
    Jon
     

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