I have some space constraints, but I've got the speakers and I've got the receiver, so I'm thinking about hooking everything up. Why not?
What would normally be my rear surround speakers will be to the left and right of the listening position, and what would normally be the side surrounds will be parallel to those, about 4 feet closer to the TV. Does that make sense?
FR . . . . . Center . . . . . FL
SR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SL
RR . . . . . . me . . . . . . RL
Is this weird? Any truly compelling reasons not to do this?
I would probably just stick with 5.1. You are making a huge compromise with the side surrounds that far forward to cram in 7.1. Most movies and TV shows are only 5.1 anyway, so I would move the side surrounds to the proper place and go from there.
Okay, well that was fun while it lasted. This will save me the hassle of installation.
I guess I'll go looking for a new house now.
Question though: If a source is mixed in 5.1, how does that output to 7.1? Do all 4 surrounds just play whatever would be in the 2 surrounds in a 5.1 setup?
You need a receiver that can matrix the audio to 7.1. Something like Dolby PL2X. Keep in mind this is just splitting the surround sound. The movie was ultimately mixed to be 5.1 not 7.1. I have played around with matrixing in my 7.2 setup and my preference it to not matrix 5.1 to 7.1 and only listen to 7.1 when the movie has been encoded by the audio mixer for a 7.1 track.
Does your receiver support Dolby/Audessey/Neo Wide channels? If so, you could setup a traditional 5.1 setup and use the extra speakers as wides. It would be very close to the configuration you've suggested but be an actual supported layout that would give you an improvement in immersion.