HT setup or identical speakers all around?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Scott Stephens, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. Scott Stephens

    Scott Stephens Stunt Coordinator

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    Forgive me if this topic has been covered before. I currently have a Paradigm setup with fronts, a center channel, and direct radiators for surrounds. I've been reading Widescreen Review and they advocate, as many of you know I'm sure, identical speakers all around rather than "home theater" speakers (center channel, dipole surrounds, etc.).

    What does everyone here think of this? And does anyone have a setup like this? It would seem to me for a 5 or 7 speaker setup, it would be difficult to aquire an odd number of speakers since they are sold in pairs. I find this concept intriguing but would like to hear thoughts or experiences from anyone else. Thanks.
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    There a many different opinions on this subject. For SACD and DVD-A, most agree that having identical speakers all the way around is best. For home theater the opinions start to vary greatly. It comes down to what sounds good to you. If you get all identical speakers you will be able to easily localize all surround effects. If you like this, then this is a good avenue for you. If you like to be enveloped by effects, then dipoles/bipoles provide this effect.

    As for being able to buy an odd number of speakers this is usually not a problem. I would go out on a limb and say that most people who are looking at having identical speakers all around are probably looking at mid- to high-end speakers. These are very often sold per speaker instead of by the pair.
     
  3. Nick Breckon

    Nick Breckon Stunt Coordinator

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    Always sounded like a strange idea to me. I mean, rear speakers have different requirements than fronts, so why use the same speaker? I think as long as you stick with the same speaker line to match timbre, you're better off spending more money for capable front speakers than spending extra on surrounds that don't need bass drivers.
     
  4. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    First off, I have never owned dipolar or bipolar rear channels so can't personally comment on their advantages over direct radiators (i.e. "regular" speakers [​IMG] ) though in several properly set-up systems in audio stores I have spent time in they do seem to "disappear" into the background.

    That being said, I think that regular speakers can also disappear but this depends on how the movie's soundtrack is mixed.

    If you've ever heard multichannel music & the system being used consisted of five regular speakers all the way around the room, you know that some titles have discrete sounds emanating from a specific speaker while other albums have instruments that seemed to occupy an entire corner or wall of that listening room. This is possible simply because the album's engineer--and the movie soundtrack engineer too--can do this using various panning & specialized balance controls & various DSP equipment--so no bi/dipolar speakers are needed at the playback end. In fact, they probably aren't really wanted period because they will give all music an airy and slightly reverberant quality, no matter what the artist or engineer wanted you to hear. Now if YOU like this quality then go for it--all those fans of Mirage, Quad, Martin-Logan, Acoustat, Magnepan and old-skool Infinity's will back you up! Just be aware these types of speakers have quite specific placement requirements to create their intended sonic effects. I actually have wanted to buy a pair of Magnepans (especially these + a small sub) or Mirage OM series for a long time because of their realistic airy sound but for surround music use I honestly don't know if five of them might generate too much airiness. Maybe owners of these speakers will contribute their experiences in this area--I would like to know myself.

    And speaking of correct placement: di/bipolars also have to be placed correctly to get your money's worth. For some people with large open listening rooms this can be a very real problem and conventional speakers will have to be used as rears anyway.

    But if conventional speakers are placed near reflecting surfaces (an armoir, one or two walls, etc) these speakers can also generate some reasonably "jumbled up" direct and indirect sound to sort of roughly simulate a di/bipolar speaker's sound.

    To sum up: if you have the correct room, bi/dipolars will work nicely. But regular speakers can sound good too and when a rifle is fired from behind your left shoulder it will really originate from behind your left shoulder rather than from "over there somewhere". I doubt this will take much away from the realism of watching the movie itself but only you can decide this for yourself.

    LJ
     
  5. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    LanceJ,

    You handled a very controversial subject better than anyone I've ever seen, offering arguments on both sides of the issue fairly and evenly. Great Job!!!
     
  6. Bob*S

    Bob*S Stunt Coordinator

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    I am struggling with the dipolar/bipolar or monopolar issue myself.

    In my case, I think I am opting for a more diffuse soundfield since my listening room is small with only about 1.5 to 2 feet behind the listening position (and they must be wall-mounted to allow access to a closet. The mounting issue has me concerned about boundary issues, especially if the speakers are rear-ported. If I had the space, I think I'd opt for monopoles since I think they are better for multi-channel music.

    Bob
     
  7. John S

    John S Producer

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    I am in the same identical speaker all the way around, I have heard excellent setups that used both logics though.

    Diffferent rooms and general preference can become involved as well.


    Example,

    I use JBL s38's all the way around, they are near field studio monitor design, this makes 7 channel stereo all the rage with virtually no cancellation and phase effects.

    I would expect SACD / DVD-A to excel with this as well.
    Now in the HT environment, you may be best off with a great manufacture, who really designs a system to work together, making the center and surrounds work better for their intended task.

    When I install audio systems and they ask me for suggestions on equipment, I tend to have them get the same speakers all the way around. Kind of nice, as I have also been suggesting 6.1 setups most these days, and that allows one to buy three pair of the same exact bookshelf speaker, and be done with it.
     

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