Ever switch from dipoles/bipoles to monopoles for surrounds/rears?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Kevin C Brown, Jan 6, 2003.

  1. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    The typical advice for surround speakers is: dipole speakers, 24-30" above your ears. Just wondering if anyone had ever listened to a setup like this vs direct radiators, and then maybe even at ear level.

    I saw an interesting comment on another forum, where a person had switched from dipoles high up to monopoles at ear level, and his comment was that he was surprised by how much detail he been missing from the channels previously. The speakers might be more localizeable, but he liked the "direct" soundfield beter anyway...
     
  2. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    That guy might have been me! Well, actually it could have been any number of people but I did the exact same thing. I went from directs to dipole/bipoles then back to directs. I played with many different configurations for the di-bipoles, going from ear level on stands to mounted on the wall at about 9 feet high. When I tried directs again, set up slightly behind the listening position, firing parallel to the listening plane and elevated about 2 feet above the ears, I noticed a big and preferable difference. First, sounds that were meant to be localized stayed that way by not being diffused by the double pole configuration. And when it came to diffuse sounds, I realized monopoles can do it just fine because diffusion is an effect created by the sound engineer. I know there are some who are proponents of dipoles, so I now offer the cop-out statement that monopoles are ultimately what sound best to me and you should decide based on your preferences [​IMG]
     
  3. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Cameron- You're awesome dude! What did your final setup end up to be? Monopoles pointed at the listeners or straight ahead?

    I saw the post on that SMR-forum. Another dude said that he thought that monopoles, directly to the sides of the listening area, slightly elevated from ear level (maybe 12" higher?), pointed at the listeners, sounded the best to him. That slight elevation created enough diffusion for his listening environs.

    I currently have bipole towers, more or less at at ear level, but I think there's a problem with them getting "over" the back of my futon. If I went to book shelf monopoles, it would be easier to slightly elevate them.

    And then I'd just use the same speakers for rears for a 7.1 setup.
     
  4. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I have the surrounds pointing directly into the room at a 90 degree angle, so basically the speakers are facing each other from across the room. They are also about two feet behind the listening area, all of which helps with diffusion. Basically it is the same configuration as what is described on the Dolby website.

    I have a vaulted ceiling so I sometimes wonder how the sounds that seem to come from over my head would be in a conventional boxy room. As it is the sounds seem to come from pretty high up, I'm guessing because of the ceiling height (the full height of the ceiling is at least twice the height of the speakers).

    I also had a problem finding (inexpensive) speaker stands taller than 42 inches. To get the extra height I placed the stands on 14 inch modular cubes you can buy at Target. The whole stack reminds me of a lamppost but I think it looks okay. I would have mounted them on the wall at the proper height but I have this strange and useless outcropping on one side of the room, so one speaker would have been basically in a corner while the other was not. One of my friends who has done home remodeling suggested I just rip out the outcropping, but I'm really not into that (right now).
     
  5. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Coolness. It actually would be a little bit easier for me to put the surrounds a foot or two in back of the listening area rather than exactly adjacent to it.
    You know those metal shelf things you can get different size poles, and shelves, and stuff for? Organized Living has them (couldn't find them on their web site though), and sometimes Target. That's what I'm looking at. I can either go really high, and be able to put the speakers high or on a adjustable shelf lower, or just try and choose the height I think I want, and go from there.
    Me thinks you get better sound with them away from walls anyway. [​IMG]
    Thanks!
     
  6. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

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    It's funny you should mention this. Just today I received a set of Diva R3 dipole surround speakers, which replaced the direct-radiating Diva 2.1s I previously used for my surround channels. Read on to learn what my initial thoughts are regarding the switch.

    First off, I should mention that I still need to find the studs in the walls before I can hang them up. Thus, I didn't have a chance to get them 100% properly placed yet. Nevertheless, I rigged up a temporary set up, just to hear them. The speakers aren't placed at the optimal height, nor do they even sit at the same height above the ground. Still it will do... for now. I should also mention that I did a quick and dirty calibration, just to have them match with the other speakers. Again, it's good enough for now.

    One final thing I should mention before I go any further is that when I had the 2.1s, I placed them off the to side, just behind my couch at ear height. The speakers sat directly across from each other on opposite sides of the room and faced each other. As a result, sound emanating from the surround channels were very easily localized, and rarely did I ever hear any sound as if it were coming from directly behind me.

    I primarily listened to various chapters from two movies: The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. What can I say? I'm a Star Wars freak. I started off by listening to the main title on Clones. The first thing I noticed was how the music sounded more directed toward the front soundstage than before. With the Diva 2.1s, I felt more engulfed by the music, with trumpets blasting at me from all four corners of the room. Now, I felt as if the orchestra was seated in the front of the room, with some stuff reverberating toward the back.

    In other scenes, I noticed that directional effects could still be localized toward the location of the speakers. Yet ambient sound effects could not. For instance, when the Pod Racers flew past the camera in The Phantom Menace, I could still tell that the racers were going into the left rear or right rear channels. Of course, this is okay, because the sound designer intended for you to hear those sounds specifically in those channels.

    Conversely, when I watched the exterior scenes on the planet Kamino in Episode II, the ocean surrounded me in a way like it never did before. Now, I could hear the roar of the water and the fury of the storm everywhere, even directly behind me. This phenomenon became even more apparent with the preview of Monsters, Inc. on the Toy Story 2 DVD. Those of you familiar with this trailer know that at the end, you hear a dog growling in the rear center channel (for those of you with 6.1 or 7.1 systems). Again, I could never get that sound to come from behind me with the 2.1s. Now, much to my delight, I can. Sure, it wasn't a true 6.1 set up (or 7.1 for that matter), but for someone who will probably be stuck in the antiquated world of 5.1 for a while, it will do.

    Overall, I'm very happy with the change, and I can't wait to get the speakers properly set up. Naturally, I'll have to play a kick-ass movie with a killer soundtrack this weekend and crank up the sound in order to celebrate the new arrivals. I can't wait!
     
  7. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I also have Swans Divas, but with the 2.1s in the rear channels. My previous speaker system had dipole rears.

    Perhaps it's because mine's a "music-first" system, but on-balance I prefer the monopole sound for movies. My setup is very similar to Cameron's -- it's the "ITU standard" or whatever for multichannel, high resolution audio (SACD and DVD-A), with the rear speakers on 40" stands (tweeters at approx. 54") placed 2-3 feet behind the listening position and angled toward the listener. Compared to my previous dipole setup, I now get much-improved imaging to the sides and rears and a far more cohesive soundstage. And I greatly prefer the rear imaging from this setup, and I previously was using a 6.1 channel array. Discrete effects directly to the rear are far more natural and localizable in my current setup.

    But monopoles are not as good as dipoles for highly ambient sounds like rainstorms, wind and traffic noise. But for music, they are much much superior (and note that even DVDs place a large amount of music info in the rear channels, so this is hardly just an SACD consideration).
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Coolness. All this is echoing what I've been seeing elsewhere. I'm not worried about more localization from the surrounds if I do go with monopoles, because the tradeoff is that you do get more detail. Plus, for 5.1 to 7.1 with 4 monopoles in the back, the simple presence of the extra 2 speakers back there makes each one less localizeable...
    I'm going to have to try this. I have an extra set of bookshelf speakers on hand, and 2 maneuverable cat trees with "ledges" at about 40" heights each. [​IMG] (Until I'd spring for real stands if it does get me some improvement in the sound.)
     

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