Height Channel

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by David-T, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. David-T

    David-T Extra

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    Just a little back ground about myself.

    I have been into stereo, since the early 70,s when my father was stationed in Japan. My first stereo was the Kenwood Model Eleven. I took the TV I own and disconnected the speaker and wired the output to my stereo. The sound may have been mono but what the heck, it was playing through two speakers.

    My next purchase was a Marantz Quadraphonic system, which was the old four-channel sound - and look what they have now done with the surround sound receiver or processor. Multi-channel is back again.

    My goals have been to fool around with the sound and make it sound like the sound is coming from a location that it isn’t (phantom image or sound). I play a lot of my music in stereo because that’s how I’ve trained my hearing.

    I will always put on a CD or LP and ask that person, which speakers are playing and they will point to the center and the surround speakers. Then instruct them to walk around the room and tell me which speakers are playing and they will always freak out when they realize it is only my left and right (main) speakers.

    Also did this to my surround speakers when it was only ProLogic and eventually 5.1. Again would ask the person where the surround sound was coming from and they would always point to the rear speakers, which I proceeded to lift up and show them that they weren’t even connected (dummy speakers in the rear).

    I would use Jurassic Park when it first came out in laser disc as my reference disk. I would go to the chapter were the jeep would drive over you. People would look up at my ceiling to see if there was a speaker. Mind you this was software recorded on laser disk in Dolby ProLogic.

    Each individual will have a different taste as far as what they like – mine is sound quality.

    When movies become available to the public I brought into the Video Tape, CED and laser disk. In fact my laser disk collection is so large that I ended up buying five extra laser disk players for backup or spare parts. Before ProLogic was popular the tapes and laser discs would say stereo on their jackets, but these had the surround channel embedded in them, since the ProLogic decoder was a matrix system, which brings me to my point that I can see how the height channel can play into this because it is matrixed. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Ever since they came out with the rear center channel (6.1 or 7.1) I felt as though the sound would jump to the back speaker from the surrounds, in certain movies. Debated whether to add a height channel, which is a speaker or speakers above the sweet spot. Purchased the Smart Device CS-3X processor sometime back and was doing research to make sure that this would not be a mistake, since I was hesitant in cutting a hole in my ceiling. Asked the question: if anyone had installed the height channel on this forum and there was one person who helped me greatly. Wanted to add this channel because was dissatisfied over how the sound would jump in some instances from the surround speakers when mounted on the side walls to the rear center speaker when a disk was encoded with either the EX or ES (6.1), instead of having a smooth transition (I always called this a hole in the sound). Finally took the plunge and installed a pair of speakers over the sweet spot. Since installing the overhead channel the room has taken on a whole new dimension as far as sound. At times it seems like there are no walls or how would you describe it, it seems like the room is much larger (spacious). The sound transitions smoothly to the rear center now. And yes, it sounds like things are going over your head when the need arises.

    I have listened to this setup for over two months playing the movies once again that sounded like the sound jump from the surround speakers to the rear speaker. Also hooked up the Xbox to my system and played a few games; in fact, liked it so much that I ended up having to buy another Xbox, after using my daughter’s. All I can say is playing games on this setup takes it to another level.

    Well, our neighbor across the street had never seen a movie on our setup, so we invited them over. My family and I will normally let the guests sit in the front row so we can watch their reactions. They ended up picking “Hidalgo. They were impressed with the picture, but when the locomotive train went over, that is when the WOW started and the laughing and “this is the best sound we have ever heard, it’s like your there”. And the best part was when the husband said at the end of the movie “this setup blows the movie theaters away”. This was the first time that any one has heard this setup with the height channel. When I hear comments as the one above, that is when I feel all my work has paid off, even though I have more to do. What I also like about this hobby is that it can be shared with others.

    So now I have a smooth transition to my rear center speaker plus the added benefit of things flying overhead. By the way this does not work with all movies, but when it does it is very impressive.

    Would like to thank Wes for all his help and saying go for it. You just have to hear this setup or experience it before you can say whether it will work or not for you.
     
  2. Allen_N

    Allen_N Stunt Coordinator

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    Can you give an example of what movies had the jumping of sound? Do you have a diagram of what your layout looks like? Did you put the speakers directly over the sweet spot like side surrounds or did you put it in the rear surround area? I'm guessing like side surrounds but just making sure.

    For the movies it doesn't work with, do you think it is worse than not having them or the same? Can you give examples of which movies it doesn't work with?

    Are you using PLII to simulate the sound on non-6.1 tracks?

    Sorry for all the questions, just interested in the setup [​IMG]
     
  3. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    I would also like to see a diagram of the setup. Is the Height speaker ever distracting where it may be playing rear sounds that really shouldn't be coming from overhead?
     
  4. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    David?
     
  5. David-T

    David-T Extra

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    Sorry for the delay. I am only able to access a computer at work since I have not set ours up in our home. The two movies off hand that sounded like it would jump from the surround sound to the rear speaker were “Star Wars The Attack Of The Clones” and the “Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers”. My room is 17.75' wide by 21' long. This is a dedicated theater room with a 110” Steward Firehawk screen. The projector is a Sony VPL-HS10 (LCD). My receiver is the Yamaha RX-Z1. I originally had the height channel wire up with the line output of the front and rear channel, but could hear some crosstalk so I ended up wiring them as Smart Device recommended. The ceiling speakers (height channel) are in line with my side surrounds and are four feet apart from each other over the sweet spot. After listening to them I should have spaced them two feet apart, which I will correct when I start tearing out the sheetrock in this room. The CS-3X has a dip switch that you can set the speakers to either stereo or monaural. I set my pair to monaural. All the speakers that I have except for the subs are Klipsch Reference Series 7. The pair of ceiling speakers (height channel) are the Klispch RCR-5.
    Near the beginning in “Star Wars The Attack Of The Clones”, when the ship appears from below, the height channel kicks in and it shouldn’t. But when this ship explodes on the platform the explosion envelops you, this scene use to jump to the rear center speaker and now fades nicely to the rear. On “Aliens” when the troop carrier goes into the complex its sounds like you are in a big complex. The walls seem to disappear in your room. You will be able to tell when the height channel kicks in, because the light on the CS-3X will be lit. On DVD music disk it adds another dimension to the music and feels like you are in a bubble of sound or should I say it gives it a three dimensional feeling. On the game “Halo” you will hear the Banchee fly over you and the sound brings you into the game even more. My neighbors will call up and ask if they can come over and play “Halo”. So there isn’t a weekend that doesn’t go by that we do not have someone over for movies or gaming.
    I always keep the height channel engaged at all times, since it gives the sound more dimension and fills in the holes. Another example is in the “Last Samurai” when they are out in the field, you can hear the rustling of the wind through the grass and the insects, this scene will feel as though you are right there with them, the walls will disappear. A good way to test this is to close your eyes so you have no visual cues.
    I am very pleased with the out come of this and wish that I had done it sooner instead of hesitating.
    I have never posted a drawing on the net, but if someone can walk me through it I will.
     
  6. Allen_N

    Allen_N Stunt Coordinator

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    How do you like the RCR-5 speakers? I'm probably going to use those as my back surrounds in my house. I'm just worried you will be able to tell that the sound is coming from the ceiling.

    Your experience sounds interesting, I might have to see if I can mock something up temporarily to see if I would like it or not.
     
  7. David-T

    David-T Extra

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    Allen, the tweeter can pivot, so you can reflect them off a wall to give them a more eveloping sound. Some people like the localized sound, but I find it kind of distracting, when your watching movies, since the action is on the screen. This is my personal choice. As with the ceiling speakers (height channel) I have the tweeter (horns) pointed towards the sweet spot, but a little to the back of my head, so I will not be able to localize them, but when there is height info you will defently hear them. The RCR-5 were a good match for my speakers. These speakers are bigger than my Speakercraft ceiling speakers that I install through out the house for ambient music. I had the house wired smart when we were getting it built and I knew more about the smart technology then the installers. I had to move everyone of the plastic boxes for the ceiling speaker because they had them way to close to walls, which were twelve total. I ran out of space in my OnQ box, so the dealer gave me a bigger box, no charge and threw in two programable thermostats for my trouble. The dealer also wanted to do the installation to my home theater room, but I told them that no one touches this room except for me. By the way the theater is not wired to the OnQ but is seperate. I guess I got a little off the subject sorry.
     
  8. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    What does wired smart mean? I can't quite interpret what you said about what signal is sent to the height channel. Is it the left and right surround? don't you find it odd when you have a surround sound that should be coming from beneth but it is coming from the ceiling?
     
  9. David-T

    David-T Extra

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    Hi Peter,

    Wired smart means that I have structure wiring installed in my house that goes to a central location, such as your sub panel for your electrical does. The wires that run to this box are mainly fiber optics, coax and cat-5E and I heard they have cat-7 now. Then you install certain modules to do the functions you want. I have modules installed in the box for telephone, cameras, alarm, smoke detector, networking, video and ambient music. I can call the house and check the status, turn on or off the alarm, turn on certain lights and open the garage door and when I have my computer up and running I will be able to pan the camera inside the house and do the other functions that I do by phone right know.
    When you get into this technology you will find that you will have to mix and match things to get it to work right or the company may not offer what you really want or one of their product line is not up to par. As long as you have the wiring installed it is easier to install the devices you need. You can go to smarthome.com to see the different choices they have or to onqhome.com, which is the system I have. For opening your door or garage door you can go to pagealock.com. There are also numerous other companies out there that offer structure wiring packages or smart technology.

    Q: I can't quite interpret what you said about what signal is sent to the height channel. Is it the left and right surround?

    A: I am taking the line output of the right and left surround and feeding it into CS-3X. The processed signal is then fed to an external amplifier.

    Q: don't you find it odd when you have a surround sound that should be coming from beneth but it is coming from the ceiling?

    A: Yes I do but the added benefits of this channel out weighs some of its nuances. I can remember back in the laser disk days on the movie ET that the right and left main channels were reversed I think it was the special edition box set if I am not mistaken. So studios can goof to. And most people will probably not notice this as much as I do since I am more critical or should you call it nit picky.

    Here is the layout of the speakers in my home theater. Click or copy and paste the link below. The front effects, center rear, right and left surround are Klipsch RS-7 wide dispersion speakers. I was using the RB-75 for the rear center but did not like how it sounded, so I ended up purchasing another RS-7. I like my surround speakers to envelop me in sound, but when the need arises that you have to localize a sound such as a gun shot or planes flying by they are cable of doing this.


     
  10. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    I see you're into photography. Nice Pictures [​IMG]
    I was wondering why don't you use 2 rears instead of just 1? I have not heard the difference myself but supposedly it sounds better. [​IMG]
     
  11. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    http://htstuff.8k.com/photo2.html
    Here is a new link to David’s layout drawing and an image til my free server finds it and blocks it.


    I have done essentially the same thing as David but using a old Prologic receiver to process the Surrounds, the EX/ES and the Over-Head (Envelope) channel as seen in my drawing here.
    http://prosteering.8k.com/custom.html

    Wes
     
  12. David-T

    David-T Extra

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    Peter, the picture you seen is Wes, theater not mine. His theater is neatly done were mine has wires running across the floor, with my receiver on a piece of wood. This is all temporary until next year, when I start tearing out the sheet rock to add the sound proofing material and running the electrical from the theater to our guess bedroom closet, so the components can be installed there. Home Theater Builder magazine wants me to take pictures of each step so they can put it into their magazine. It will probably take me around two years to complete this project. The Home Theater store and High Fidelity knows how I am about my theater (that no one touches it). I do all the work myself. My theater is also not connected to the OnQ box, but is separate from it, including the satellite feed. The one rear speaker is also temporary, there will be a pair.
     
  13. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    PeterK I leave my Overhead channel on almost all the time during movies with 5.1 and 6.1 mixes. There has only been a few times when I have heard sounds that did not quite fit up above. For the most part it steers the sounds correctly or will not put any sound up there. For the most part it just creates a seamless transition from front to back. I do not feel it ever is over bearing or stands out like a sore thumb. The Envelope channel (as I like to call it) does not create overhead sounds on all 5.1 DVD's.

    Here are some discs I have demoed and was impressed with include:

    WWS (Worked)
    SPR dts (Worked)
    Godzilla (Excellent)
    LOTR DD (Just OK)
    Pearl Harbor dts (Worked)
    Master and Commander (Exellent)
    Return of the Kings DD (Exellent)
    Black Hawk Down (Exellent)
    Twister DD (Exellent)

    If there are other disc's you would like to know if it creates a Envelope channel just let me know and I'll test it.

    Wes
     
  14. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    How does the height channel not make overhead sounds on some dvd's. If they are wired to the surround speakers then they will play everything that the surrounds play right?
     
  15. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    Yes but no, the processor creates the Hight channel out of the two 5.1 surround channels. If you look at my drawing the Prologic receiver decodes the two side surrounds and the rear center EX/ES from the front channels of the Prologic receiver, then the old mono Surround channel creates the new overhead Envelope channel. The Smart unit does the same thing as it was designed to create ES/EX from 5.1 sources but Smart was smart by leaving the capability to process that old Surround mono channel. I believe they add a additional process to make that old channel stereo just like if I were to use a new receiver that had PLIIx instead of just Prologic (which I want to do).

    There may be sound ever so slightly coming from the new channel just like the old Dolby Surrounds did but you will not notice it with all the other speakers firing. And I do get a bit of hiss which I think/hope would be eliminated with a new PLIIx receiver.

    Wes
     
  16. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    wow that is such a good idea. Have a prologic reciever to run the surround. [​IMG] Awsome [​IMG] Unfortunately I cant do that. My reciever has no preouts. But it is 6.1 How would i best go about adding a height channel? could I wire the height channel to both the rear and surround channels to create the best height channel. One more question, What does a preout jack look like. is it speaker wire or RCA jack or something else?
     
  17. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    Could you, in theory, have a prologic reciever on each surround channel so you could create 8 distinct surround channels? That would be awsome. I am definatly doing that.
    How does the prologic reciever know which channels are supposed to be rear or surround or height though. how does it split up the surround channel properly?
     
  18. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    Peter you do need Surround preamp outs (RCA's) from a 5.1 receiver in order to do this. You might be able to have them installed in your existing receiver if you wanted to go that route!

    There are many possibilities of decoding processes but not sure what you would end up getting out of it sound wise. But had I not tried running a DPL receiver on my 5.1 receiver back in 1999 when EX/ES was just being talked about I might still be without EX/ES.

    Wes
     
  19. David-T

    David-T Extra

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    You can go to Smart Device web page and read about the CS-3X Jr. processor, which is the one that I am using to derive the height channel. Most people think that this channel is strictly for height information and that is not the case. This channel will envelop you with sound, bringing you into the action on the screen. If you click on the CS-3X Jr. under PROCESSOR on the far left it will take you to the page that has info, such as reviews, hookup and etc. You can order this processor directly from Smart Device. Remember you will also have to purchase an amplifier to drive the speakers. Copy and paste the link below.

    http://smartdev.com/smartht.html

    Here is a link for the height channel hookup for the CS-3X Jr.

    http://smartdev.com/pdf/cs3x-rcvr.pdf
     
  20. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    David, This weekend I am helping a co-worker put together a new EX/ES system with a two speaker PLII processed Stereo Over Head "Envelope" channel.

    He will be using a Pioneer VSX1014 as the main EX/ES 7.1 processing and a Pioneer VSX711 as the PLII overhead "Envelope" channel processor.

    I will let you know how it turns out.

    Wes
     

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