surround speaker placement....who here has experimented with a 5.1 setup?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Todd smith, Feb 24, 2003.

  1. Todd smith

    Todd smith Supporting Actor

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    Just wondering what the best place is to place the surround speakers in a 5.1 setup. Is it best to place them facing each other on the sides of the listener (like dolby recomends) or to put them facing the front speakers behind the listener? My room is a rectangle at 23' x 10' and I have about 7 feet of space behind my chair so I can place them comfortably in either position. What would be the optimum height for the surround speakers? Do I want them higher than the front speakers (which I have read should have the tweater at ear level)?
     
  2. TommyL

    TommyL Supporting Actor

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    facing each other seems to work well...I think you'd have a good setup if you did it that way. Put them about 2-3 feet above you...mains tweeter at ear level in the listening position.
     
  3. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    The dolby recommended is at the sides, 2-3' above ear level. They should be mounted level rather than aimed down at your ears. The goal is a diffuse, enveloping soundfield with only general directionality (for movies).

    Sounds like you have them set right already.
     
  4. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    The dolby recommended is at the sides, 2-3' above ear level. They should be mounted level rather than aimed down at your ears. The goal is a diffuse, enveloping soundfield with only general directionality (for movies).

    Sounds like you have them set right already.
     
  5. Todd smith

    Todd smith Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the replys. This is the way I was leaning toward putting the rears.

    Have you guys or anyone else experienced both ways and prefered the facing each other method?
     
  6. BrentPollard

    BrentPollard Second Unit

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    I don't know what type of speakers you have but if you have 7' of space behind you I would suggest trying experimenting with them farther back and toed in. I have my speakers setup so that all 7 of them are equadistant from the listening position (all speakers being abiut 10' from the sweet spot. I like it, but I do have 7 pretty big speakers.
    PSB Stratus Silver's Fnt L&R
    PSB Stratus C-6 centre
    PSB Stratus Mini's Across the rear.[​IMG]
     
  7. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    I would suggest you toe them in towards the listening area as Brent prescribed. I have mine toed in and the two occasions you would have them facing each other is for dolby surround prologic (not DPLII) or when the seating is affixed directly under and in between the two surround speakers.
     
  8. PaulDF

    PaulDF Second Unit

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    I have my rear towers 6 feet behind me, and toed in. Seems to work just fine, even though they are situated too low.
     
  9. BrianWoerndle

    BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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    I have had them set up both ways. Dolby's way of pointing them towards each other works great, but has a very small sweet spot. If you get out of the line between them, you lose a lot of the effect. Putting them behind you gives you a bigger listening area, but is not as accurate. But since you have so much distance behind you, you can put them a ways back, and the sound should be more difuse by the time it reaches the listening area.
     
  10. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  11. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Todd, I've experimented extensively with various 5.1 placements (and 6.1). Ultimately, what works in your room will be slightly different than in another room, and the process of "dialing in" that perfect soundstage will be an incremental one. Tiny changes can have large effects.

    But we can give you a good starting point!

    There's one extremely important element that will all but answer your basic question that no one has yet raised: what type of surround speakers are you using? That is, are they dipole/bipole or monopole?

    The Dolby Labs setup that Phil and others have described presumes you're using dipole/bipole speakers. But if you're not using dipole/bipole speakers, then this setup will be inapt.

    Why? Dipole/bipole speakers disperse sound laterally, either in or out-of-phase. When placed to the sides pointing directly at the listening position, they create a "null" zone where the listener is seated, and send diffuse sound waves all around the room to create a highly ambient soundfield. However, if you place monopole (direct radiating speakers) in that position, you will not have a null zone at the listening position, but rather just the opposite: your speakers will be focused directly at the listener! This is not at all what Dolby Labs intends with their setup (which, remember, presumes that you're using dipole/bipoles in the surrounds).

    If, however, your surround speakers are monopolar, then the recommended placement is in accordance with the "International Telecommunications Union" (ITU) Standard. All you'll need to know about this type of setup can be found here: http://timefordvd.com/ref/ITU.shtml

    This standard was developed specifically for high-resolution, surround music sources, which are reproduced much better with monopole speakers all around. Though Dolby Labs doesn't recommend it, many of us also prefer the very precise imaging of monopole speakers for movie soundtracks, as well as for music. Whether you'll prefer one or the other is a subjective decision, but proper placement depends to a large degree on what type of speakers you're using.

    BTW, I also recommend that you put the rear speakers at least a foot above ear level. Some surround music fans prefer the rears at ear level like the fronts, but I find that I prefer them above my ears (about 2 ft in my setup, measuring from my ear to the tweeter).
     
  12. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    in my particular setup, my couch is flush against my back wall so i ended up mounting my speakers beside my couch (at about shoulder level) facing straight up.

    i've also experimented with mounting them directly above my head firing straight out, but i didn't really like that - the sound just shot straight above my head. i also tried having them beside the couch toed in, but the sound was too directional.

    so, you really just need to experiment with different setups and find what works best for you.

    [edit] next time, i may lower the height of my speakers and see how that sounds. i tell ya - a ht geek's work is never done....
     
  13. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  14. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    As Phil illustrates, Dolby states that it's the preferred set up, but once again notice the postioning of the listener. Directly under the two surround speakers works very well, but if your set up places your couch or chair 7 feet in front of the surround speakers, then it's like Brian said, you lose sound information.
     
  15. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Wow, my mistake, Phil! All this time, I thought Dolby Labs recommended (*even dictated) that dipole speakers be used for the rears.

    FWIW, I agree that monopoles are, on-balance, the better choice, though dipoles do better on highly ambient sounds (wind, rain, traffic noise, etc.).
     
  16. Todd smith

    Todd smith Supporting Actor

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    Wow! You guys are awesome! Thanks for all the info. I am using a setup similar to yours Phil. I have 4 jbl s-38's for front and rear duty (I assume these are monopole?). I am also using the s-center. I just need to find some stands to elevate these s-38's to 5-6 feet as they are quite large.
     
  17. WarnerL

    WarnerL Agent

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    Have you guys seen this site by a woman named Wendy Carlos (who is a composer, musician, and recording engineer)? She talks about the ideal surround sound speaker placement, then scroll down to the worst surround sound setup for 5 channels (which has the surround speakers behind the listener) and then scroll down further to read her explanation on why the left and right surround speakers should not be behind the listener.

    http://wendycarlos.com/surround/surround.html#main5.2

    Be sure to read the last paragraph on that page.

    What do you think?

    Warner
     
  18. matt_kelty

    matt_kelty Agent

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    Help me here.... where should the surrounds be placed for bipolar speakers like these Fluance BP2


    thanks
     

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