Very frustrated -- is 7.1 really worth the trouble??

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by STLMIKE, Feb 1, 2003.

  1. STLMIKE

    STLMIKE Stunt Coordinator

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    I have an HK 525 7.1 capable receiver, but a room that makes 7.1 VERY difficult to achieve. I'm in the process of trying to mount side surrounds, and really don't have any good way to do it.

    The left side of my living room home theater is a wide open space shared w/the kitchen, with an appx. 1 foot high space right at the ceiling where I could mount a side surround.

    In addition to running my wires (which is a real pain in and of itself), that 1 foot area is very difficult to mount anything onto. My right surround would mount right above a picture window, again with about 1 foot of clearance. On the other hand, I have a very wide rear wall and would easily have enough room for 3 rear speakers and a 6.1 setup.

    Since all 7.1 is simulated from either 5.1 or 6.1 encoded discs, is this really going to be worth the trouble? Or should I wait until I build a house and build in a dedicated HT room? I don't plan on staying in this house for more than a year or 2.

    One other thing re: 6.1, am I right in assuming that all 3 rear speakers should be at the same height? How far in front of the surrounds should the primary seating area be?

    Thanks, Mike
     
  2. marc paolella

    marc paolella Auditioning

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    A 6.1 setup only has 1 centrally mounted rear speaker. A 7.1 setup has 2 rear speakers mounted rear left and rear right.

    Presently, the most advanced DVD's with DVD-ES or DD-EX (sp?) are only capable of 6.1. Rear left and rear right are not discretely encoded at the present time. However, your H/K will send sound to both rears.

    An advantage to setting up for 7.1 when 6.1 is the present state of the art is that some listeners report an adverse acoustic "front-to-back" effect when using a 6.1 setup. Sounds from the front center sound like their coming from the rear for brief instances. Anyway, some claim that using 2 rear speakers alleviates this problem. Besides, if you have to hang 1, how much trouble is it to hang one more?

    Anyway, to address your other issues:

    I have a similar difficult setup situation. I'm in a condo where the kitchen and living room are open to each other, creating a speaker placement challenge. I also have the H/K 525 (which I love BTW). I actually placed my left surround speaker in the kitchen on top of the cabinets.

    The easiest way to wire everything up is to use cup hooks. Just screw them into the sheet rock along the wall-ceiling seam. They are fairly discrete. Then run your wires along the seams. It's really quite easy. I did my whole 7.1 setup in 2-3 hours. If your speakers can't be placed perfectly, you can adjust your levels with the 525 to compensate. Perfection isn't possible, but "wow, that sounds great" is easily within reach.

    Is it worth it? I think so.

    Of course a $200,000 dedicated media room would be better, but I don't believe in waiting. You can get 70% to 80% of the performance out of a somewhat sub-optimal setup and the hardware these days is relatively cheap.

    There are no 7.1 DVD's and few 6.1 DVD's, but the few that there are sound great. Gladiator and Lord of the Rings come to mind.

    I'm sure more and more movies will be released in 6.1 as time goes on. Meanwhile, get your butt on the ladder and get those speakers hung. You won't regret it.

    -Marc
     
  3. STLMIKE

    STLMIKE Stunt Coordinator

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    Marc, thanks for the reply.

    It's not only the wire, but I really don't have the room to mount the left side speaker to the 1 foot dropdown from my ceiling in between the living room and the kitchen. There are no studs, it's just a boxed in drywall area.

    I've decided to go 6.1, and wouldn't mind if you took a look at my HELP post regarding setting up my 7.1 HK 525 for 6.1...

    Mike
     
  4. GregLee

    GregLee Stunt Coordinator

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    Maybe I'm misinterpreting, but it sounds like you think you don't need side surrounds in a 6.1 or 7.1 setup. But you do. Only the back surround(s) go at the back.
     
  5. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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    I say don't go through all that trouble. Whatever happened to good ol' 5.1 anyways??? [​IMG]
     
  6. craig_d_can

    craig_d_can Extra

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    The money spent in adding a 2 channel amp, and 2 more speakers, would be better spent upgrading your current 5.1 system...what speakers are you using?
     
  7. STLMIKE

    STLMIKE Stunt Coordinator

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    It is an entirely new system consisting of an HK 525 and Infinity Interlude 150W center & bookshelf speakers and the matching 12" sub.

    I was going to use an old set of Infinity Quadropoles as my side surrounds, as they are wall-mountable, front ported, and provide a diffuse sound field.

    However, I have decided to just use a 6.1 setup for now (and have ordered a 3rd pair of Interlude 10 bookshelfs), keep the extra bookshelf and stand in reserve, and go to 7.1 at such time that I have a more conducive room.

    My current room is fairly wide, so using a rear center should prevent there being a "hole" in the rear soundfield.

    I have the system set up for 5.1 now, and am looking forward for my stands and the 3rd set of speakers to arrive. I got the Infinity RABOS kit, as well, and still need to calibrate my sub.

    PLUS, my stress has vanished! Thanks for everyone's comments.

    Mike
     
  8. Alex Dydula

    Alex Dydula Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello,

    I have had a 5.1 system for 6 months now and its pretty decent and I have now watched a hundred plus movies on it and have a fairly good understanding of what is out there for source material in the various formats...

    Yesterday I hung my 6.1 single rear center and I am glad I did. It was a real pain in the you know what but its done and sounds ok. Not GREAT,but just ok.

    I have a comparatively small room. The room over the garage, ie about 18 feet long by 12-14 ft wide, with a changing roof line that causes my ceilings to have several angles ...

    I have a 7.1 receiver, so its like having a gun loaded ready to go, but you need a target, ie the 6th and/or 7th speaker .....5.1 with the surround sides is awesome, but the nagging question is how would it sound if I added those surround rears...

    When you find out there aint that much DISCRETE 6.1 material, you start thinking is this good or bad, should I invest in hundreds of more dollars and re-wiring ???

    My room simply is not wide enough for two rears, so only one center rear is it.

    I would highly suggest you beg, borrow at least one rear speaker and place it on a stand or shelf in the approximate area that you would be able to mount a rear 6.1. Wire it up over the carpet, get it calibrated and play some stuff...watch LOTR , Gladiator, Goldmember (6.1 stuff) and lisen and make your decision.

    You can also try ATOC and Dolby EX - Matrix. If I had a room big enough I would definitely go the two speaker rear route, but I dont see any real reversal problem in my room...

    Several 'experts' told me you dont have to spend lots of bucks on these surround rears....good advice. One or two small bookshelfs would do just find for most of us.

    Good luck in your experimenting!
    Alex
     
  9. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    I still think a solid 5.1 set-up with a great subwoofer is fine for most people.

    Adding more and more speakers are for the wealthy and the hardcore enthusiast. If your able to do a 7.1 well, god bless.

    Even though I've had a 5.1 set-up since the Pro-Logic days, I'm still impressed with the sound of these now simple set-ups.
    Actually the most important speaker in the set-up still remains the center channel speaker since most movies are dialog driven.
    All the surround stuff is mainly ambience in many movies.
    Now the sub [​IMG] , that can be something else too!
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    That's how I would view it too: if you have the space, the $$, and the desire to do it right, 7.1 can provide real benefits over 5.1. But if you like the sound you get with 5.1, don't sweat it. [​IMG]
     
  11. STLMIKE

    STLMIKE Stunt Coordinator

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    That's one of the reasons why I decided to forego 7.1 for the time being and go w/6.1.

    I have a relatively square room, and my seating placement dictates that my surrounds go in the corners. By adding a center surround, it should fill in any gaps in the soundfield.

    Mike
     
  12. Haru

    Haru Stunt Coordinator

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    I found 7.1 very frustrating (but no more than 6.1). difficult to get a symmetric positioning for 4 equal height direct radiating speakers. However, once done, the rewards are intense. the panning of sound from front to back, from side to side, is superb. The sound field is very precise and yet very thorougly enveloping. Its worth it. But thats only if you're able to set it up correctly. if you won't be able to because of limitations in speaker position options, stick with 5.1.

    don't be fooled by the idea that 7.1 isn't worth it because the source is only 5.1. With two speakers, the panning from the side to the rear surrounds is much smoother, with the little "jumping" from speaker to speaker as a signal flows from one channel to another. And my denon atleast can create very convincing 7.1 from 5.1 sources. of course genuine 6.1 discs sounds incredible.
     
  13. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Haru- I found the identical thing. Tough to setup, but once you're there? Nirvana... [​IMG]

    One image I have in my head, is a mechanical device to keep your head at the same height, and lateral position, locked in place, to get the absolute best sound! [​IMG] I have a tendency to swap sitting up straight, slouching, and leaning to the left (where the end of my futon is) while watching flics...

    In reality, I actually think that 7.1 is a little bit more forgiving than 6.1. I think you have to move *further* laterally in a 7.1 sound field than in 6.1 to shift where the *image* of the rear channel(s) is/are.
     
  14. Craig Woodhall

    Craig Woodhall Supporting Actor

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  15. Christopher~O

    Christopher~O Stunt Coordinator

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    I got into 7.1 almost by accident. I had 4 Mirage AVR200's from the 6 peice AVR set I bought (front L&R, rear L&R). When I got my HK 525 I moved my towers to the Front L&R position and was wondering what to do with the extra mini's I had.

    I almost flogged them on E-bay when I got a flash of inspiriation to use them for the extra outputs from the receiver.

    Glad I kept them! Are they worth going out and spending a whack of $ to get? Only you can answer that, I am however very happy that I kept them and do enjoy the extra presense they add to titles with output that support them.

    Cheers,
    Chris
     

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