Question about rear surround & receiver options

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by AndrewBD, May 15, 2003.

  1. AndrewBD

    AndrewBD Auditioning

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    Hi ...

    My wife and I just completed refinishing and rearranging our basement/family room, in which dwells our home theater set-up. For reasons that are too long to go into (and won't really help the story much) I find myself with the following equipment, and not sure how best to make use of it:

    Yamaha 795 5.1 receiver
    Definitive BP2000 C/L/R
    Definitive BP floor standing surrounds
    (right now, these are the 5 speakers attached for home theater use)
    Cambridge SW in-wall speakers upstairs (connected to "B" speaker terminals)

    I also have a pair of Cambridge in-wall speakers which, after the re-arranging, are now in the "rear" of the room, about 12 feet behind the viewing position.

    So here's the questions:
    - Are the in-wall speakers in the rear of my room suitable for use as rear surrounds (or are they too far away, too small in comparison to the Definitive surrounds, etc.)
    - Obviously my Yamaha doesn't work with 6.1, 7.1, etc. decoding; is the addition of the rear surround field worth upgrading for (I know, VERY subjective question!)
    - If the answer to the first two questions is yes, can you recommend a receiver that will enable me to use BOTH the 7 speakers in my home theater room and the two speakers upstairs (for dinner music, etc.) - it doesn't have to be capable of sending a different source upstairs (e.g., playing a CD upstairs while watching a DVD downstairs), but that certainly wouldn't be bad either.
    - Currently, my TV is S-video capable but not component; however, since the next upgrade (after the receiver) will be an HD-ready TV, I'd like the receiver to be able to do component video switching.

    Sorry for the long post - your thoughts would be greatly appreciated....
     
  2. Jim_P

    Jim_P Stunt Coordinator

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    How far apart are the in wall speakers mounted??

    What is the distance to TV from the primary viewing position?
     
  3. AndrewBD

    AndrewBD Auditioning

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    The in wall speakers are about 15 feet apart, about 12 feet (directly) behind the bi-polar surrounds.

    The primary viewing spot is about 7 feet from the TV, with the L/R speakers about 4 feet on either side.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Theoretically, back surround speakers are supposed to be placed fairly close to each other, a yard or two apart.

    In your case I think they will be ok where they are as they are so far back from your seating position. Just put the regular surrounds directly to the side of your viewing position.

    3 very popular receivers that will fit your needs would be the Sony 4ES, Denon 3803, and Pioneer VSX45TX.
     
  5. Jim_P

    Jim_P Stunt Coordinator

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    Andrew:

    You may have lucked out.

    As I understand the geometry of speaker placement, your rear center speakers in a 6.1 or 7.1 would need to be about 4 feet apart when they're 1/2 the distance behind you relative to the front speakers. With front speakers 7 feet from you, then they would need to be 3 to 4 feet behind you. With them 12 feet behind you, being 15 feet apart might position them about right. My only concern would be that you might loose localization in the matrixed formats that don't truely have discete signals for the rear center speakers. Furthermore, it might require some equalization to make them match the other speakers in your system.

    This is where a little experimentation goes a long way.

    Explain to your retailer what you are trying to do with a clear understanding that you can return the receiver for a full cash refund (not store credit or any restocking fees)if it simply doesn't work out.

    When you put the system together, listen for a fuller ambient soundstage for prologic type signals, non mushed up sound in 6.1/7.1 signals where you loose localization of left/right signals and that sonically that your rear centers aren't so different from the rest of your speakers that they stand out. (That last one can be corrected up to a point with an equalizer, but unless your some kind of gearhead like the rest of us, you might want to leave it alone. lol)

    Sounds like a nice project for this weekend.
     
  6. AndrewBD

    AndrewBD Auditioning

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    Jim/Steve ....

    Thanks for your input. I appreciate you taking the time to help. I wish I could pull the trigger this weekend, but it will have to wait a couple of weeks at least. I will, however, definitely take your advice and buy from a dealer who will allow an in-home test drive.

    After comparing the features and cost of the models suggested, I am leaning toward the Denon (it seems like the most future-proof of the bunch).

    Any thoughts on good source material for calibrating and testing the rear surrounds?

    Thanks!
     
  7. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I don't know of any test discs for 6/7.1 calibration. One could use the test tones generated by the receiver and an SPL meter (Radio Shack Analog SPL meter).

    One very cool feature of the Pioneer VSX45TX (I have one of these) is MCACC auto calibration.

    The receiver comes with a microphone on a 20 foot cord. You plug the mike into the front of the receiver, select "auto setup" on the onscreen menu, and the speakers make weird noises for about 6 minutes. It automatically sets each speaker's individual level, delay, and does a 5 band equalization to compensate for uneven speaker frequency response due to speaker design or placement.

    It really works. I've set up several systems with the AVIA disc and RS meter, and double checked the auto setup using them--the Pioneer was extremely accurate and the eq really improved the sound of my speakers.

    The 45TX won't do the video upconversion that the 3803 does, but that wasn't a big enough drawback for me to give up that auto-calibration/eq.
     

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