After some diversions, back to the main thread topic (warning -- long post). This was the agenda:
-- What's wrong with this HT room?
-- Why this HT room works so well.
-- My thoughts on working with a vaulted ceiling for "immersive" audio. (I'm always open to input.)
-- Some ideas about this room as a really great music listening room.
I list these topics together here because the last three are all part of accounting for the first. Listed below are the problems with my thoughts about each -- beginning with yet another key "fault". This again is the layout, a pic below shows the first three Problems. Room at widest is 18', length 28', highest point 16'.
Problem 1 -- the screen is too small
This is where I run into difficulties -- my wife doesn't agree. If I choose to keep the wall unit (which I do AND which I really have no say over), then there are limits. (Going the projector/screen route is not an option -- cost, room aesthetics and the added factor of wife detemine that.) The wall unit is expandable -- my wall space only minimally so. Between the two, I've already determined that I can replace my 55" tv with a 65". For a large screen enthusiast, that's still not much, but it's more than 18% larger, would work well for this installation and is right for this room. The major issue I will have to deal with is the subwoofer on the right (look just outside the RF tower). That will entail at least another sub-crawl.
While looking at that pic, notice that the new ELAC A4s can just be seen on the wall unit, outside the house gargoyles, above and just inside the front tower position. Remember that the ceiling reflected sound appears to come from about 11' up and IN FRONT of those towers -- keeps the "bubble". (The speaker placement diagram is repeated below for easy reference.)
Problem 2 -- the vaulted ceiling (at least for Atmos)
The vaulted ceiling is, in my opinion, actually a major plus. Keep in mind that my major use of this system is for music. My previous house also had vaulted ceilings and they showed me the benefits of a "music hall" environment which the sloped ceilings provide. Granted, I still have to deal with the ceiling for home theater (which came years after design), with Atmos enabled speakers like the A4s, I can orient them so that the reflected sound comes to the MLP properly, so the sloped ceiling is either irrelevant or a benefit. For the RP, I have to revert to a standard 8' ceiling solution in the dining room behind MLP. As I write, I'm waiting for the RSL C34Es to be delivered.
Problem 3 -- that ceiling has many odd angles within the ceiling itself
It's really hard to decide just how the ceiling angles and nooks affect the sound. It "looks" potentially odd from an audio perspective, but those varied surfaces seem to help absorb the sound and minimize echos and bouncing -- I don't get standing wave cancellation because there are few parallel hard surfaces. Not much else to say.
Problem 4 -- the more than 6000 cu ft size
The negative of this is the difficulty in filling that space both with sound and also with getting solid bass. That's where the six powered subs come in
. But consider that a large open space also naturally allows sound to expand and be absorbed. In addition, the sloped ceiling helps minimize reflections and directs the sound out. Also, sound which goes up into the loft tends to be trapped there. And at the back right (behind the MLP) is also an open hallway that runs back into an entryway and a bath. Sound pushed back there just doesn't come back to the listening room. (I like to think of this as a folded horn.
) Because of the size of the space, speakers can be placed without crowding walls.
Now, did I plan all this when designing my house and this area. Yes and no. I wanted a vaulted ceiling. I knew this was my listening room. As I modified my house plans 25 years ago, I actually did consider how each aspect of the floor plan/walls would affect sound. Planning and luck, what can I say?
Problem 5 -- the hard surfaces all around (window wall, floors, etc.)
As a plus, standing waves between ceiling and hard floor are eliminated because of the vaulted ceiling. The windows are deeply recessed because the house has 6-inch walls. (We planned for a technically correct passive solar home to minimize energy costs after retirement. Hence the windows, the greater than normal insulation and even the tile floor which is a floating slab of 3 1/2 inch concrete.) On the floor we have added a small carpet, but frankly that was recent and the hard floor has never seemed t affect sound -- there are just no standing waves and cancellation. The right side wall (from MLP), is broken up with a staircase and also has other large wall units. Finally, we have hex-cell, insulating blinds that can be lowered over the windows. Again, I've never noticed a major difference in sound with or without the blinds lowered. Finally, most of our furniture is of the large over-stuffed style that also absorbs sound.
Problem 6 -- the odd angles from the offset side walls
This has been covered -- bascically reflection is minimized and this just isn't an issue.
Problem 7 -- the wide spread listening positions
Yes, this is a living room and my wife really does deserve to have her house look the way she wants. She has been more than flexible to allow all the speakers, subs and even room orientation to suit the home theater. So I end up with an ideal MLP and three other somewhat less than ideal seats. (The pic shows the MLP in the lower left, another recliner is to it's left and the sofa is seen on the right. I also can roll another dining room chair to the space beside the MLP. That is actually the second best theater seat. Refer back to Post #3
for pics that show the seating.) With YPAO, I use multi-position for 4 locations. The two outside positions certainly aren't ideal, but the listeners can still hear the full effect of Atmos -- the directed sound still comes from around the "bubble". I'd like to move the leftmost recliner to a more side-by-side with the MLP, but my wife still likes her seat right where it is. (And besides, a nice recliner next to the windows overlooking the deck, the yard and the forest? What's not to like?
Problem 8 -- it's a living room, not a dedicated home theater
Again, I think I really have already discussed this one. What is, is.
Problem 9 -- no options for traditional sound treatments
Sometimes I think it might be nice to try out sound absorbing treatments, but see back one item. Also, the room honestly does not appear to need treatments. Years back, I had an audio consultant in to help decide what I could do at that point to improve my sound (for music). After spending about 3 hours with me and running the gamut of my liquor cabinet, my music and a few movies (long pre-bluray, let along Atmos), his only suggestion was to replace my main subs with two larger subs for about $4000. As I told him, at that point extra saving for retirement was much more important to me than pushing more bass. Today, with the bass management capabilities of the A3060 and six subwoofers, that suggestion is totally irrelevant. My subs reach 20Hz or less and I cannot use the maximum bass output from the A3060 -- it's just way too overpowering. Instead, I can tweak the various bass management options for best output without over-driving any.
So that's a pretty complete picture of my home theater. I still have some tweaking to do with the ELAC A4s and the RSL C34Es haven't even arrived yet. But I feel REALLY good about this room and have some thoughts for continued improvement. I hope some of you others may have additional ideas. (Which I will have to filter through my wife.