Is it ok to have surrounds at ear level?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Jeremy_R, Oct 29, 2004.

  1. Jeremy_R

    Jeremy_R Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 4, 2004
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    I just setup my surround speakers for my 5.1 setup and they are directly to the left and right of my couch about 6-7 feet from the center of the couch which sounds really good. They are on 24" speaker stands which puts the tweeters at ear level.

    I noticed that dolby recommends that your surround speakers be 2-3 feet above ear level. How important is that? Should I sell my 24" stands and go for some 40" stands?
  2. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Aug 5, 1999
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    Katy, TX
    Real Name:
    The only problem with that height and distance (your’s, not Dolby’s) is that they’ll be pretty easy to localize. If that doesn’t bother you, then no problem. If it does, just reduce the treble to the rears some – that will help.


    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
  3. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

    Jul 8, 1998
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    IMHO, for MC Music, it is better to have them at ear level, but I don't think you want to aim them straight at your ears.

    I run my rears on stands, outboard of the couch (about 5 feet from my ears), a bit behind my seated position, but firing straight forward. As such, I am pretty far off axis when in the center of the couch, which means that the highs are pretty rolled off when they reach my ears.

    But thats tends to help WRT Movies where ambience is a requirement, and it takes the edge off of MC music when there are discrete instruments in the rears.

    And since this is about the only configuration my room allows, I am happy that I am happy with it[​IMG]

    As for Dolby, if you take a look at their site, there is a white paper pertaining to setting up a MC Music mixing system. They call for all channels to be at or very close to seated ear height.

    So, if you are going for a dual use system (Film and MC Music) lower is better, IMHO.

    One final point...

    In another thread on the topic, someone offered the opinion that you do want the rears a bit above ear height, otherwise, those in the center of the couch would have the sound blocked by those on the ends. True enough!

    But in my rig, I want it optimized for when I am listening to MC music alone. When we do watch a film as a family, having the surrounds low does not detract enough from the experience to bother anyone.

    But, if you do not care about MC music, and want to optimise for film, then yes, they want to go higher up on the side and /or rear walls.

    YMMV, AFAIC, IMHO.....

  4. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    May 22, 1999
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    I am a big fan of having the tweeters of all your speakers at ear height.

    Dolby recommeds the rears be 3-4 feet above - but this is left-over from the days when they were pushing ProLogic and telling sound-engineers to only put vague, non-locatable sounds like wind/rain/rumbles on the rear channels.

    In many, many movies - the producers WANT the sounds to swirl around you at the same level. And to my mind - it sounds funny for a car to move past the action in a scene, then move upwards over your head as it fades. (What? Are we to think the sound is reflecting from the open sky?)

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