Has anyone looked at the speaker placement in the HTF picture area?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ManojM, Mar 22, 2002.

  1. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    I just ended up in the area where HT forum members post pictures of their theaters. I was surprised to see how many had fairly poor placement of their speakers. Examples of what I saw:

    1. Main Speakers placed right up against the side of an RPTV.

    2. Main speakers shoved back into a corner with equipment to one side of them, and a wall to the other side.

    3. Speakers with almost no toe in at all but rather pointing straight out into the room.

    I would figure with the amount of information on this forum, with the amount of time people spend here, that those dedicated enough with their home theaters to put up pictures would have thought out such a basic part of their HT design... I would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this. Obviously there is a lack of discussion on this topic...
     
  2. Gregory S

    Gregory S Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, if your asking me, some people are not blessed with ideal dimensions, floor plans or a spouse willing to put up with some of the constraints. Of course, you probably shouldn't waste your money on the best equipment either, unless money is not an issue - then go ahead. Sure, if you're going to set-up a dedicated home theater then you should really pay attention to as many of the details as possible.

    Even if you can't take advantage of all of the proper ways of setting up your home theater or just don't want too (maybe other parameters of your life style are more important), why should someone be deprived of a home theater experience. Maybe, it's the best they can do or it's just plain good enough.

    For myself, I'm trying to get the best that I can with some constraints. The best wall for my speakers, also is shared by a corner fireplace - I'm not moving that fireplace for nothing. I could, but it's just not worth it. Enjoying my cozy family room with a fire going in the winter is equally as important as a nice home theater. I think I'm blending the two together nicely. My wife is happy...and many know that's a good thing!

    Greg
     
  3. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree that no matter what, a poorly set up home theater is better than none at all. A home theater is just a wonderful thing to have, and is almost always enjoyed by even those who are slightly less obsessed by it than we at HTF are. My point simply is that we spend a lot of time talking about equipment, and maybe not enough about how to best take advantage of it.

    For example, those speakers that are squished into a corner caught between equipment and the wall would do much better if just bought six to 12 inches out of the corner (out of the "box"), and toed in slightly. The imaging and soundstage would improve greatly, and the cosmetic consequence would be minimal. Second, there was one picture of a home theater with an RPTV with speakers placed directly alongside it, yet there was plenty of space to either side to place the speakers. Moving the speakers out even a foot to each side would greatly increase the soundstage and the imaging. Just some food for thought...
     
  4. Neil N

    Neil N Stunt Coordinator

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  5. Jason Watson

    Jason Watson Stunt Coordinator

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  6. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    My dimensions are placed pretty well.. [​IMG] My Mains (paradigms) are toed in, but placed ontop of my Music speaks coz i dont have speaker stands...
     
  7. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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    This is the weakest link in over 95% of all Home Theaters. The thread I started (mentioned by Neil) is HERE in the archive area.
    Mike
     
  8. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    LOL.....speaking of speakers that keep somehow walking out from the wall.... mine do a tap dance in the middle of the room .... especially when I get close to reference level!

    Such a lively step that I renamed them "Astairs"......
     
  9. Rich G

    Rich G Stunt Coordinator

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    Just a note. I generally agree with spreading speakers and giving them room to "breathe." However, did you ever notice...say a car going from left to right. The car can enter the screen but the sound is farther to the left. The sound is not where the action is. I don't know if I am making sence or not, but I have noticed this on many movies. It is more noticeable on arrival of a sceen/sound vs. the decay of the sceen/sound.
     
  10. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    Rich, what you describe definitely makes sense. It occurs when the main speakers are set too far apart and is very distracting, because the object will be partially on the screen, but the sound is coming from the far side of the room.
     
  11. Dave Schofield

    Dave Schofield Second Unit

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    Rich, but if the front soundstage is only 5-6 feet wide you are compressing all of that information into a tiny area. Why have a center channel if the mains are that close together?
     
  12. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    Try toeing in your speakers a bit more, so the image from both front speakers overlaps in the sweet spot. I find that this is best done listening to two channel music. If you can hear each speaker distinctly when you listen to 2 channel, then your speakers are not properly set up. Toe them in, and find the placement where the music seems to be coming from the center channel speaker. You will then find objects will pan better across the front channel.
     
  13. keir

    keir Stunt Coordinator

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  14. Jim A. Banville

    Jim A. Banville Supporting Actor

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    I think I said this in an older thread, but here goes again... I COMPLETELY agree in the equilateral triangle setup for main speakers in a MUSIC setup, but NOT for a MOVIE setup. The reason is this - where are the left and right main speakers in a theater? Answer, behind the screen, albeit on the far ends of the screen. While it may not be "common", imagine a character is speaking (or any other sound - glass breaking, phone ringing, etc.) while standing on the far left side of the frame of a film shot in a very wide aspect ratio. Where should his voice(sound) come from in the theater? In my opinion it should come from the left main speaker placed behind the screen? Since it is pretty rare that the average home theater is going to have the front speakers placed behind an acoustically transparent screen, I'd say the voice should be re-mixed on the home video release to come from an area between the center speaker and left main speaker(but slightly closer to the left speaker), in which case you may or may not be okay with a "wide"(i.e., equilateral) speaker setup depending on exactly how "wide" your front speakers are spread apart. But what if the sound engineer left it alone? What if the voice/sound was coming from the left speaker set WAY out to the left of the TV screen? I'd think you are neglecting the same logic that created the center speaker in a home theater setup, which was to place sounds coming from the TV screen, TO the TV screen, except you'd be making sounds meant for the left side of the screen appear way out to the left side of the room. Understand? Now, I'm in NO way a sound engineer, so I may be TOTALLY off base on this one, but it seems to make perfect sense to me. But in the end it is whatever sounds best to the HT owner, although speaker placement as far as "acoustical placement" in the room (such as the old rules of 3rd's and 5th's) must also be taken into some consideration [​IMG] In a nutshell - speaker placement in a MUSIC setup needs to take both soundstage(imaging) and room acoustics into account, but for a MOVIE setup, speaker position in relation to screen size and location should weighs as heavily. This is a good segue(sp?) into the topic of a thread I started a week or so ago... has anyone used any of the various speaker placement (for room acoustics) programs such as Visual Ears by Sitting Duck software?
     
  15. John Sully

    John Sully Stunt Coordinator

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    I have my system set up in a fairly small apartment living room. Although I do not have a WAF to consider, I do have a SAF (Space Acceptence Factor) to consider. My mains are about 2 feet from the front wall and about 1 foot to the sides of my TW40X81. This is about the best I can do in my space.

    Also, my experience tells me that not all speakers need to be toed in. The main factor to consider here are the dispersion characteristics of the speaker. Speakers with poor dispersion characteristics will need to be toed in to create an acceptable center image in the sweet spot. Speakers with good dispersion do not need it to nearly as great a degree. As an example, my current Boston CR9s produce a solid center image on music w/o requiring any toe in. My previous DCM TF500s required a slight bit of toe in to solidify the center image. Older speakers I have owned (Celestion 3s, for example) needed considerable toe in to provide a focused central image.

    Basically, my message is this: speaker placement guidelines are just that, guidelines. You need to experiment with placement in your room and general guidlines are a good place to start. I do agree with Jim that toe in is less desireable for HT than for music. This is because of the presence of the center channel which helps to firm up the center image. Since HT, unlike music, is typically not a solo experience, having no toe in for HT mains provides better imaging for those not in the sweet spot.
     
  16. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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    While the center speaker carries most of the dialog, it is the left and right speakers that create the front "soundstage" in a film soundtrack. You may not need to toe the speakers in (but I would bet that you should) to get a realistic "soundfield", but you do need to have proper room placement of the L/R speakers.
    Imaging is much, much more than simply having a solid phantom center. As in music, a film soundtrack has objects placed in the soundfield that are at varuious heights, depths and widths. Without proper placement, the L/R speakers cannot place these things in proper perspective.
    Do not underestimate the importance of the L/R speakers in a home theater. What you should be trying to do is make a large soundfield, not one the size of your screen. That works in a theater because the theater (and the screen) is very wide. It will sound hollow and restricted in your home, like the sound is being choked to death.
    You can (and should) use 2 channel music guidelines to adjust your L/R theater speakers correctly for home theater use. The same basic principals are used to create the soundfield in film as it is in stereo audio. In a film soundtrack Most of the front "field" (ambience) is created by the L/R speakers. Dont believe me? Try running your soundtrack with the L/R unplugged.
    Look closely at the image below. It shows a soundfield created by poorly set up L/R speakers...
    [​IMG]
    Notice how all the instruments are on top of each other and are mostly on the same horizontal plane. There are sounds coming directly from the speakers and can be located by the listener to them.
    Now look at the stage that a properly set up L/R can produce
    [​IMG]
    Imagine that the instruments here are objects on the screen in the film you are watching, like a jackhammer or a traffic cops whistle etc. Suddenly the soundfield has depth and space.
    Set your speakers up to achieve this field for your 2 channel audio and you will have done a great service to your film soundtracks as well.
    Enjoy.
    Mike
     
  17. Keir H

    Keir H Second Unit

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    THanks Mike! One more question, is there a rule of thumb as far as setting up L/R speakers? How far apart, distance from side walls, rear wall? Toe in angle? Also, can the center be place out in front of the mains a little? Just looking for something as a guide to get the most out of my BP-30's which are bipole. thanks again everyone.
     
  18. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Keir: I'll step in and try to answer a few of your question. (Mike: feel free to step in and catch my mistakes [​IMG] )
    Center Speaker: The center speaker is usually already closer to you than the L/R. You CAN pull it closer, but just use the time-delay feature of your receiver and a SPL meter to compensate for the difference.
    If your center is on top of the TV, some good suggestions are to put little feet under the center to decouple the speaker cabinent from the TV. (Rubber door wedges are a popular item.) Pull the center forward so the face over-hangs the TV face by about 1/4 inch or the sound could couple to the face of the TV. (Think of sound as water dripping off the face of the speaker - pulling it forward keeps the water from smearing down the front of the TV).
    Toe In: There are 2 reasons for toe-in
    - Reduce side-wall reflections
    - Create a center image (more important for music than HT)
    Use a inexpensive laser pointer alongside the speaker to see where it is pointing. Imagine adjusting the toe-in on the speakers so the beam from both intersect:
    Option A: 1-2 feet in front of the central listener (This is the traditional 2-channel Music adjustment).
    Option B: Exactly on the central listener
    Option C: 1-2 feet behind the central listener.
    You just have to experiement with your system and decide which option works for you. (My DefTech bipolars tend to sound best with Option C [​IMG] )
    Note: roll the laser-pointer on a flat surface with the beam on. Look at the spot on the wall. If the spot moves back & forth, the beam is aligned with the body and is a good tool to use. If the spot makes circles, dont use this laser-pointer to align things.
    Bipolar Placement: All speakers sound better if they are pulled into the room a few feet away from reflecting surfaces. To take advantage of bipolars, you really want 3-4 feet of space BEHIND the speaker.
    Try it for an experiement, then que up a scene that bounces indoor/outdoor. You might be suprised at the effect.
    Important Note: When playing with speaker positions, it is very important to use a SPL meter and check the levels with each adjustment. Speakers throw a sound pattern like a D-cell flashlight - very intense in the center with a sudden drop off. Without the SPL meter, you might reject a superior adjustment just because it got a little quieter.
    Hope this helps.
     

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