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Finally adding rear Atmos height speakers (SVS SoundPath TriBand + Elevation Prime speakers en route) (1 Viewer)

Carlo_M

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For this Cyber Monday, I figured I'd already invested heavily in a 5.1.2 Atmos signal chain (front heights + traditional 5.1 setup). I never added rear heights because back when I moved into this apartment it was a pain in the butt running rear wires under the carpet (I had this special tool to do it which was like a plumber's snake but for wire). I remember it being such a hassle and effort I never wanted to do that again. Since the front heights were on the same side as the receiver, running wires to them was easy. I've read more than a few testimonials saying adding the rear heights would improve overhead Atmos sounds significantly (including some testimonials saying if you couldn't do FH+RH it almost wasn't worth just doing FH).

Well with SVS's Cyber Monday sale, I saw that they had Elevation Prime in white on the Outlet Store, listed as No Damage, Full Warranty (which I assume means it was a customer return with no visible damage)...in fact I might have gotten the only pair as it's no longer listed...and also purchased the SoundPath TriBand wireless adapter. Since I live in a wifi-congested area I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry with regards to robust signal transmission. The transmitter and receiver will have unbroken line of sight and be about 15' apart. Fortunately I'm such a hoarder I have a couple of slightly older Pioneer Elite AVRs sitting around that can power the rear Atmos height speakers. Given how limited frequency the rear height speakers get in Atmos I'm not concerned about the power mismatch, especially after I run the calibration tool again to dial in the latency and levels.

One thing I am going to have to try and figure out is how to trigger that receiver to turn on when I have the main AVR turn on. If I can't accomplish that wirelessly/automatically I'll just have to remember to manually do it when I have an Atmos program running.

Looking forward to seeing if the hype of full .4 overheads really does improve the immersion of Atmos. I'm a huge sucker for MCU, Sci-fi, Fantasy and Action movies so I have no shortage of aggressive Atmos mixes I can use to put it through its paces.

Anyone else using SVS's SoundPath wireless transmitter? Any testimonials, or suggestions/advice you'd care to share with a first time owner? Thanks in advance!
 

Carlo_M

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Primes are installed in rear height, being driven by a surprisingly good SMSL DA-9 Class D amp that I got on sale at Amazon for around $220 during the Black Friday deals. To break in the new Primes, prior to install, I ran them on a tabletop, connected Apple Music from my phone via bluetooth to the DA-9...and was incredibly surprised at how good it sounded as a budget 2.0 system.

After a day's break in, I hooked up the TriBand SoundPath to the DA-9 and my AVR, with about a 15' line of sight connection, and then kept the Primes by my side on the couch. I ran several films in Atmos. I just wanted to hear how much activity rear-heights get. The answer is: more than I thought. Previously I had estimated they'd be active maybe 10% of a really action-oriented movie. After running The Matrix, The Batman, and a couple of MCU films...I have to up my estimate to maybe 30% or more. Sure, some of the sounds are more subtle than others. But they're definitely employed throughout a good portion of action movie mixes. A great use-case example I didn't think of: the rain scene in the Matrix where Neo is waiting to be picked up in a car to meet Morpheus for the first time. Sure, when he's out in the rain you'd expect the rain sound to come all of the height speakers (and they do). What I didn't expect was once he got into the car, the heights had the muffled sound of rain hitting the roof of your car, as heard from the inside of it. That's just a nice little bit of ambience that isn't going to make or break a movie experience, but definitely adds to it.

Now the small bit of bad news. I heard a bit of occasional static which I narrowed down to the SoundPath. I purchased the TriBand version because not only do I have a ton of wireless devices in my home (Apple Home ecosystem, home alarms, several wifi routers, etc.). But I also live in a very dense part of the city, in a college town. So when I am setting up a new wifi device and have to pick my router to connect...I literally see several dozen options to connect because all my building tenants and neighbors have tons of devices. This is clearly impacting the signal path of the SoundPath. This is not the fault of the SoundPath, I don't think many people who will use the device are in my living scenario.

So I decided to pick up a 25' RCA cable from Best Buy. It instantly eliminated the static and occasional dropouts. But it introduced a barely (but still) audible high pitch whine primarily from the tweeters. And from all my speakers actually, not really audible from listening position but definitely from 2-3' away. Something about this cable (it was the standard house brand) was introducing noise on my setup. If I ever had any questions about "does analog cable quality matter", it does. I hooked up a much shorter 6' RCA shielded RCA cables from Monoprice and brought my DA-9/Elevations close to the receiver and plugged it in. Whine immediately disappeared. Plugged the Best Buy cables in. Whine reappeared (and like I said, not just from the Primes, but also in the L/C/R speakers). So I ordered a 25' RCA cable from Amazon that claims to be double shielded and it arrives today. Hopefully it will solve the whine issue. Since it spread to other speakers not connected to the cables, I can only surmise that the cheap RCAs were picking up electrical interference and impacting the entire audio signal path of the AVR. Did I mention I live in a high density wifi area?

Assuming the double shielded RCAs do the trick, the house brand RCA are going back to BB today, and sadly it looks like I'll be returning the SoundPath as well. I really wanted to run a wireless rear setup but my current environment is not conducive to that. Fortunately I know SVS is known for their customer service (Steve has been very helpful in chat answering my questions about both SoundPath and mounting options for my Primes). I've installed the wall mounts via drywall anchors and mounting them will be a breeze once I confirm the new cables are whine-free.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Sounds good. I'm assuming these are wall mounted and not ceiling mounted, yes? I've heard conflicting opinions about using high wall mounted speakers for the Atmos channels, ranging from "works fine" to "terrible". Looking forward to reading about your final installation.
 

Carlo_M

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Sounds good. I'm assuming these are wall mounted and not ceiling mounted, yes? I've heard conflicting opinions about using high wall mounted speakers for the Atmos channels, ranging from "works fine" to "terrible". Looking forward to reading about your final installation.
So I by total happenstance ended up in a unique situation where I can assess the benefit (or not) of these. Since I have the rear heights powered separately by the DA-9 which comes with a remote that has a handy mute feature, I went directly to the Matrix scene I mentioned above. Now when Neo's outside in the rain, the rear heights are more active with a louder volume of the rain sound, like you're standing in the storm. When he's in the car, the thump of rain on the car roof is much more muted and blends in more with the overall mix.

So when I play the scene and toggle mute on/off, during the parts of the scene where he's outside and rain is loud, it is very noticeable when I mute the rear heights. When he's in the car, it's less noticeable. However when he's going into the building and going up to meet Morpheus, there is a part of the violin soundtrack that is in the rear heights, because while the quieter roof thump of rain was hard to distinguish when I muted, while the music/violin soundtrack was playing when he's going up to see Morpheus, you could totally hear the impact on the violins in the soundtrack when the rear heights were muted.

By comparison, I also ran the Mach 10.0 scene in Top Gun and because that soundtrack is just so loud and visceral, I couldn't really tell when I muted the heights because my entire living room was just shaking with sound.

So in summary, I'd say the effectiveness is based solely on how much distinct info a mixer chooses to put in those channels, and during loud passages, even if there is info in there, it's just a small part of the overall sound.

With regards to "how does it compare with ceiling firing speakers" - I can't assess that as I do not live in a place that would allow me to ceiling mount anything (renting in a building).
 

Carlo_M

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So I've been replaying the scene a couple of times and been muting/unmuting. I've noticed something which may simultaneously validate/invalidate my experience.

Since I'm just randomly muting, I never mute the same passages twice. One thing I noticed on a subsequent run is that the thunder is also mapped to the RH channels. So when I muted, the thunder almost disappeared/reappeared.

But that's also because I'm locally muting while the AVR still thinks those channels are active. Whereas if I didn't have RH channels the AVR would map the distant thunder to the SB channels (I run 7.1.4).

So the real question is: would there be a noticeable difference between RH channels in a 7.1.4 vs no RH in a 7.1.2 with the rear effects properly redirected to the SB channels.

That I cannot answer as I'd have to mute/remove the RH channels quickly at the receiver level and there's no way to do that in a Denon 4500h (I have to deactivate the RH channels via the setup menu). This is likely the case with most AVRs.
 

Carlo_M

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Sounds good. I'm assuming these are wall mounted and not ceiling mounted, yes? I've heard conflicting opinions about using high wall mounted speakers for the Atmos channels, ranging from "works fine" to "terrible". Looking forward to reading about your final installation.
Okay I've been living with it for nearly two weeks and I'll say I'm thrilled with it. Ironically (or maybe fittingly, since we know Google/YouTube just has all of our browsing data) this showed up in my recommended videos today and made me remember to come back and add to this thread. This guy has gone the extra mile to compare upward firing, wall-near-the-ceiling mounted (what I'm doing with my Prime Elevations), and in-ceiling Atmos speakers. I can't do in-ceiling because I'm in an apartment, but I used to have ceiling bounce Atmos and I can say my experience matches his when comparing ceiling bounce vs. my current Prime Elevation setup.

I found what he said about the difference between wall/ceiling and in-ceiling very interesting.

While I haven't gone the extra mile of disconnecting all of my floor speakers just to listen to Atmos, I can say that when I play Atmos movies with aggressive Atmos mixes, I definitely do get the sensation of sounds from overhead with elements of directionality (front to back, left to right, etc.), Would I get a bit more precise directionality with in-ceiling? Probably. But without having experienced that, I have zero regrets and only positive things to say about Prime Elevations mounted on your front/rear walls near the ceiling.
 

Wardog555

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The only concern about the front and rear heights is having enough elevation angle.

Was there any thought or planning of any kind when it comes to angles from mlp or did you just place the speakers anywhere and believe it's the right spot?

9 times out of ten the front Atmos speakers are on the ceiling. You can get away with the heights depending on distance from the walls.

People always make unacceptable excuses to avoid optimal placement and this impacts the whole experience significantly.

I'm just concerned there's a large hole above you where there is supposed to be sounds overhead rather than sounds high on a wall in front and or behind. And not hearing anything directly above you.

Best of luck!
 

Carlo_M

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Oct 31, 1997
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Three weeks in and I can put my thoughts down fairly confidently.
  • I still believe that the "biggest bang for buck" first upgrade from 5.1 would be 7.1
  • That said, now with the four height channels (corner of ceiling and wall) levels dialed in with SPL measurements and distances calculated via Audyssey, I will say that the overhead effects of Atmos are noticeable when the movie soundtrack makes use of them
  • I moved my other 15" sub from the bedroom to the main room, and that too has had a tremendous positive effect. Not in overall SPL (I run my system at reasonable volumes) but in even bass performance throughout the room. I took some time to make setting tweaks on each sub (they aren't identical, but they're both 15" drivers running sealed, a Hsu VTF3-MK5 and a PSA S15) and it definitely lessened the effects of any peaks and nodes in the room.
Again, since this is a multipurpose room (living room and HT) I don't have the flexibility to go all out with placement and treatment as if I had a dedicated HT room. But I will say I'm now pretty confident I've got my 7.2.4 system nailed down in terms of hardware, so now I'm taking a small step into room treatment that is still aesthetically acceptable in a living room setting. Because of the width and additional furnishings of the room, I don't have much sidewall reflectivity. But I do have a big blank spot on the back wall. So I bought four 36" x 24" x 2" ATS acoustic absorption panels which are scheduled to arrive next week some time. I can't put anything on the popcorn ceiling because being a building from I believe the 1970s it likely has asbestos in it, so disturbing it in any way is a no-go. We'll see if these panels make an appreciable sonic improvement.
 

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