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New setup, not getting a suround effect (1 Viewer)


Mar 10, 2002

This is my first attempt at setting up a multi-channel system. I am using a Pioneer VSX-49TX reciever and

2 Paradigm Studio 100's,CC center, 2 ADP's on the sides , 2 Studio 40's in the rear and Servo 15 sub,

The room is 25'X25', which places the sides and rears about 12 from the main seating position and the fronts and center are about 9'away.

The front soundstage is all I had hoped for, but I am dissapointed in the "surrond effect" I am getting, (or the lack of).

I have adjusted the channel levels from one extreme to the other. I have tried all the listening modes,and went through the auto setup many times. And the distances that auto setup detects is accurate.

The only time I hear the side or rear speakers is during effects ie:gunshots,flyovers,etc.

But; if I walk around the room and get very close to the rear and side speakers I hear a constant soundtrack and dialoge.I have the sides up about 6' and I have even tried moving the rears to within 6' from the seating posistion,

with only a slight improvement.

As I stated ,the front 3 speakers sound great,but they are all I hear 99% of the time.Am I expecting too much from the other four?.

Thank You



Stunt Coordinator
Jan 8, 2000
That is precisely a sign of a good setup :).

My preferred way to demo Logic 7 is:

seat a visitor in sweet spot (BTW - I run phantom center);

plug in a nice CD; after a fw minutes, ask visitor to close eyes, tell him I am switching to 2 channel, and ask him to pinpoint speakers with closed eyes. Usually it is 30 deg miss.

Then we close eyes again, switch from 2 channel to Logic 7 (for you - DTS or DPL-II) and once again pinpoint speakers.

It is much easier to find voices and instruments than speakers.

If that is the impression you are getting, that is it - it is soundstage.

If you still doubt, calibrate levels first, and use Avia or AE to check phasing errors. Once you are done with them, pop in a nice music CD, listen, close your eyes, listen, switch DSP mode, listen...

A very good desription of such phenomenon was given to my ba great guy from JSAudio in DC:

A well set up 2 channel gives you an impression that you standing in a doorway into a fabulous concert hall - all the music is in front of you. When you switch to well set up 5.1 or 7.1 it is like you just walked 1/3 or 1/2 into the concert hall. Instruments are in front of you, but sound envelopes you.



Stunt Coordinator
Apr 1, 2002
You don't say what source you are listening to.

Is it a Dolby Digital DVD?

Have you connected the DVD player to the receiver with a digital audio cable?

Have you selected the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack instead of the Dolby Surround soundtrack on the DVD's menus? The Dolby Surround soundtrack is the default on many DVDS. This will use Pro Logic decoding which will not give you anywhere near the surround effect as the discrete 5.1 channel soundtrack.

Bob Sheen

Stunt Coordinator
Apr 14, 2002
Don't forget that the rears are not constantly active during movies. Some tracks hardly use the rears at all.

Rent a copy of Gladiator and see if your rears become alive.


Chris Tsutsui

Feb 1, 2002
"The only time I hear the side or rear speakers is during effects ie:gunshots,flyovers,etc."
What a coincidence, that's what I hear from my surrounds. :) The surround speakers play ambient sound (rainfall/traffic) and sound effects (bullets,sword clash). This helps put you in the middle of the action.
If you hear dialogue, and it is as crisp as the center channel then something might be wrong. The dialoge from surrounds should mostly be just echoes if any. Music sound tracks are often purposely played in surrounds so that's normal.
I'm sure you've been at a commercial theater.. Try to listen to the surrounds there and then compare it to your home theater. You might find that your home theater is setup very similar. (Not noticing the surrounds as much)


Mar 10, 2002
Thank you everyone for the advice.

I have selected DTS in the dvd's,and connected dvd player with a digital coax.

Viewed "PearlHarbor","FastAndTheFurious",and "Oh'BrotherWhere areThough". and a few others. In Pearl Harbor I do hear the planes fly from behond,and explosions are very good.

But;Is it ok for the surrounds to be farther away than the fronts? When I walk near the sides I hear the wall mounted ADP's very well but as I walk toward sweet spot the fronts grab my attention.

I do feel I am missing the some of the enveloping sound that Zbigniew mentioned and what I was hoping for.

I wonder though with such a square room if I would be better to mount speakers to ceiling and move them closer to sweet spot? I notice a lot of individuals HT's have long narrow rooms and mine is exactly opposite,my sides are farther away then my fronts.

With the advice everyone has given ,I will spend more time with setup.I probably need to get the Avia setup disc,and my dealer mentioned a DB. meter to set channel levels.

Thanks Agian to everyone for taking the time to help.



Stunt Coordinator
Feb 14, 2002
Selma, AL
Real Name
John Hester
Sounds like you want more of a "Home Theater" sound than a "Movie Theater" sound like me.

Calibrating a system and placing speakers in the correct positions for Movie Theater is the norm - I guess. I have personally been to friends houses with this type of setup and it sounds good to me: just like a movie theater. However, I personally like "in your face (ear?)" sound yet still hold to proper speaker placement and calibration rules. I call it the "VERY best seat in the theater" not just the one in the center where the surrounds are more for everyone in the room and not just me.

If I am not mistaken, your receiver can "auto-calibrate" and I think that is COOL. I must use a sound meter. Maybe you should too (with out changing anything else). Use it from where you set in the room. Of course this would envolve measuring the distances from the speakers to your seating position, etc. Give that a try first. The pink noise is suppose to read 75 dB on the sound meter from where you are seated at reference level. However; my speakers are VERY close in my small room, so I set mine around 70-71 dBs. Just one example of how there is a "rule" that is good but that can be bent a little. When I set mine this way I can turn my Onkyo receiver to 'reference' level (the volume indicator changes from a number to "Ref") without being driven out of the room. You simply do what you think sound best for you because that is the most important thing. Damn a rule or specification if it causes something not to sound good to you with equipment you've purchased with your hard earned money.

If that works then great if not then continue on . . .

Technically the surrond speakers are suppose to be: dipole/bipole; on either side of the main seating area and at least three feet above your ears. The back surround are suppose to be: direct; several feet behind the main seating area at about 30-degress off center and the same height as the surrounds. Of course this information will be debated and is infact presented differently by different manufacturers of both speakers and receivers. Of course all of that is in a perfect world too where your room is or near the perfect dimensions. I personally do not have the room to place my back surrounds "several feet" behind my couch because it's against a wall and would put the speakers outside my house! Also I don't have (and perfer not to) dipole/bipole speakers as my surrounds, I have direct radiators. This gives me more of the kind of surround I'm looking for (any maybe you too). It doesn't sound as good or just like a movie theater -- it sounds better in my opinion. I'm not trying to recreate a movie theater in my room, that's not what I personally am going for. I don't want that large theater/surround for everyone sound. I want to be totally enveloped in more "personal" sound period. Also note that I have the tweeters of my surrounds and main speakers near ear level and not several feet above them. This gives the surrounds a much better personal presence in my opinion. Of course I keep it within limits: I've properly set the speakers' levels and distances within my receiver. As for the back surrounds they are at the same height as the surrounds as mentioned above. They a pretty much right behind my head - not by choice mind you, I just don't have the room to position them properly. However I think they sound great anyway when properly calibrated and do what I believe all back surrounds do best in home theater setups and that is to give more people in different seating positions besides the "sweet spot" more surround sound and envolvement in the movie. Also in that frame of mind of "giving everyone in the room some surround" I have my left/right surrounds turned about 30-degrees forward and not pointing directly at the sweet spot to give more surround to the whole room and I guess it kind of diffuses the sound somewhat like a true dipole/tripole surround would do. Still surround sound that is suppose to sound as if it is coming from behind still sounds that way with this setup. I'm not recommended you do exactly what I've done but I hope it gives you the "bug" to experiment more.

Also note that I measure the speaker distances and sound levels in my system from the center of the soundstage and not my primary listening seat. I do this to "spread the wealth" so to speak to give everyone in the room a good sound. Of course doing this makes the surrounds "louder" for those at the back of the room and the main listening area too. However, I prefer the sound and others seem to enjoy it too. Also not that due to the dimensions of my room that I have to turn my main left/right speakers out about 10-degrees to get good left/right positioning since I can't place them where I know the "rules" say to.

Please note that is took several years (off and on); many upgrades and alot of experimentation to get the sound (especially the surround sound) just the way *I* like it and still be able to feel it is all set reasonable within the foundations of standards governing speaker placement; receiver setup and general rules of thumb.
Apr 19, 2002
I got myself an Avia disc this weekend and calibrated the output of my speakers. It made a huge difference. I didnt realize the output of the center was lower then the sides and one of the sides was a little louder than the other.

Maybe you might want to get one of these discs and calibrate the output of your speakers from your listening position. It would get your output the balanced no matter where the rears are.

Give it a shot and report the results, I bet you'll be pleased.


Mar 10, 2002
Thanks again to all , I realize now,like most hobbys, you just can,t throw money at it and expect instant results.

I do appreciate the help.

I'll post again after I try what has been suggested.

Feb 12, 2002
Hi Johnny-

I live in Hickory, NC and would be glad to stop by and check out your setup. Did your receiver come from Tri-City Electronics, by chance? I got my Yamaha there. Just e-mail me directly if you still need any help.

-Tommy Rodgers

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