How important (really..) are good surround speakers? - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
bizwiz41's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 360
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Hello All,

I'm not sure I would call myself a full blown audiophile, but I do have adequate knowledge and experience. After a few years, I am now wondering how important the quality of surround speakers (for now I'm referring to 5.1 set up) in the standard formats (DD, DTS, even Pro Logic).

It seems that no matter which speakers I use, the audio is weak. I generally increase the volume of the surround speakers in all my systems to add affect. I fully know that the surround channels are a "background" audio, but I now wonder "how good" these surround speakers have to be.

I'm interested in opinions and experiences, including beyond 5.1, and relating to other formats as well.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
bizwiz41 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 08:31 AM
Advanced Member
 
Newbie01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: North Wales, PA
Posts: 834
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 30
If you are using surrounds for 95% plus movies (not multi-channel music) then the answer is...not great.

That being said you want good enough quality it will not be jarring every time something plays through your surrounds.

Fortunately there are tons of inexpensive very good speakers that can be used as surrounds. I use the Ascend CBM-170SE at $349. I could have even used the HTM-200 SE Ascend for $300.00.

There are lots lots of good speakers in the 300-350 dollar range that are excellent surround speakers (short list)

HSU, Ascend, Aperion, EMP Tek, HTD Level 1, 2 or 3, Arx, PSB, Klipsch Referance, NHT, ..and I am sure others.

A few things that would help..budget range, what your front speakers are, size limitations, are you going to wall mount, are looks important?

Anyway...the bottom answer is there is inexpensive and too inexpensive... NHT Sub Zero's could be had for about 200 bucks and probably be excellent surrounds as they are sealed and are fairly flat.
Newbie01 is offline  
post #3 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 08:54 AM
AVS Special Member
 
caloyzki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,024
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 57 Post(s)
Liked: 41
How about the mordaunt short carnival 2 for surrounds? Are they good for surrounds?

AVR: Denon 2112CI
caloyzki is online now  
post #4 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 09:33 AM
Advanced Member
 
tsaville's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: DFW
Posts: 884
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked: 230
The idea that surround channels are only used for the occasional bird chirp, flyover, or gunshot and can be treated as an afterthought is archaic IMO. In many modern soundtracks, the surround channels are active for 90% of the film and are used to fully immerse you in the material. In this case, your old HTiB speakers from your college dorm days aren't going to cut it.

I understand that if you are on a limited budget, your LCR channels get first dibs. However, you're really limiting the quality of your HT experience if you don't eventually spend some decent coin on your surrounds.
tsaville is offline  
post #5 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 09:47 AM
Advanced Member
 
Robert Cook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Diego County, CA, USA
Posts: 985
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

After a few years, I am now wondering how important the quality of surround speakers (for now I'm referring to 5.1 set up) in the standard formats (DD, DTS, even Pro Logic).

As you probably expect, you will get different opinions and perspectives from different people. Personally, I think that the quality of surround speakers is important and meaningfully enhances the home theater experience, provided that they are properly set up, of course. I've used and helped install (for family, friends, and neighbors) a number of different systems over the years, and have found that there are advantages to having relatively large, high-quality surrounds, as well as timbre-matched surrounds (the latter is more subtle in most cases, though). That said, this is highly dependent on the specific movie. Just like there isn't always any surround content at any given moment (then again, the same goes for the front channels and subwoofer smile.gif), it isn't always of such full range and high fidelity that would take full advantage of quality surrounds. But when it is, I for one sure can appreciate it.

In relative terms, the quality of the surround speakers is still less important than that of the front speakers, the center in particular. But this hardly means that it's pointless, either. Compromise here first if you must, but don't compromise too much if you can help it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

It seems that no matter which speakers I use, the audio is weak. I generally increase the volume of the surround speakers in all my systems to add affect.

I level-match all of the channels as precisely as I can--with all of the channels calibrated to the same level--and I love the surround effect that I get even with my imperfect home theater layout. Some movies do seem to let the surround channels go to waste (or just don't need or want them, as an artistic choice), but there are others that make full use of them, to great effect. So for your issue there are several possible causes: suboptimal setup, inadequate speaker quality (I'm helping with such an instance on this forum as we speak), or maybe even coincidentally only ever watching movies that make weak use of the surrounds (or maybe a combination of these possibilities). Could you describe the relevant aspects of your system, including of course what surround speakers you are using and how they are set up?
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

I fully know that the surround channels are a "background" audio, but I now wonder "how good" these surround speakers have to be.

Usually, but not always, which is analogous to the LFE channel, and few question the benefits of having a good subwoofer for that. If there were only ever reverberation effects and diffuse, "phasey" ambiance, then you probably wouldn't miss out on much with low-quality surround speakers, although I should point out that even in such an extreme hypothetical scenario, I still think that it would help to have decent high-frequency extension (airy speakers make for airy ambiance, if that is what's intended by the filmmakers).

But then of course there are soundtracks that have quite bombastic surround effects, such as those of war movies such as "Saving Private Ryan" and action movies such as "Master and Commander"--these movies would definitely benefit from having relatively large as well as high-quality surrounds. In addition, there are others such as "Ratatouille" and "Tangled" that have soundtracks that contain full-range, high-fidelity content such as music (the score as well as songs), directional or steered dialogue (in the surrounds), and very clear-sounding directional environmental effects--these soundtracks benefit tremendously from high-quality, matched surrounds. Try watching the movies I've mentioned if you haven't already--if you're not getting much out of your surrounds even with those, then something is probably wrong with your system (or your expectations are unrealistically sky-high, but with the surround content of these movies I doubt it).

Other examples at the opposite extremes include: multichannel music, much of which practically requires high-quality, matched surrounds; action-oriented video games that basically treat the surrounds like the real world treats environmental sounds around you, with directionality and high-fidelity; and finally "talking-head" dramas that couldn't care less about the surround channels (some do, at times, but others hardly if ever).
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

I'm interested in opinions and experiences, including beyond 5.1, and relating to other formats as well.

Regarding formats, I had modern discrete digital soundtrack formats that have stereo surround channels in mind while writing the above, and these have been around for quite some time now. Surrounds had historically been limited to a single channel in the vast majority of cases, whether they were discrete like in the 70mm and some 35mm film formats, or matrixed like in Dolby Stereo. The mono surround channel was almost always limited to ambiance back then, and was often (particularly in the case of Dolby Stereo) bandwidth-limited as well (no deep bass and not much content above 7 kHz). Well, things have changed a lot by now, and with the advent of Dolby Pro Logic II and similar matrix decoders even matrixed soundtracks can have surround content that takes advantage of quality surround speakers. Given today's stereo surround channel content, I would go even farther and say that "dipole" and "bipole" surround speakers, which were expressly designed to make a mono surround channel sound more spacious than it could on its own, are now obsolete; go ahead and use them if you personally like their effects anyway, but their original purpose has been obviated, and modern soundtracks are typically mixed in the studio using regular direct-radiating ("monopole") speakers, which means that is how they are intended to be heard.

And as for additional surround channels, I think that while unnecessary for most soundtracks, back surrounds add a nice sense of depth to the surround soundstage, although I prefer that they only be used with discrete 7.1 soundtracks or at least 5.1 soundtracks that were mixed with derived back surrounds in mind. Additional channels beyond those may add to the experience in certain even more limited cases, but the point of rapidly diminishing returns, in my opinion, starts with the standard 5.1 channel and speaker configurations (and some would argue even lower, such as 2.0).
Robert Cook is offline  
post #6 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 10:14 AM
Advanced Member
 
Robert Cook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Diego County, CA, USA
Posts: 985
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by caloyzki View Post

How about the mordaunt short carnival 2 for surrounds? Are they good for surrounds?

Sure, any good speaker would make for a good surround, and you can usually get away with using smaller ones than at the front, although large surrounds have advantages in some cases, too. My favorite recommendation is the Ascend Acoustics HTM-200 SE:
http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/htm200/htm200.html

My reasons are: it sounds great (very clear and detailed for its price); it is relatively compact, which is important for many people, but still can be crossed over at 80 Hz to minimize subwoofer localization; it is relatively easy to mount; it has very good output capability for its size (while most surround content is still ambiance even today, some surround effects are very loud and bassy); and when oriented vertically, as most people would be inclined to do, it has wide dispersion in the vertical plane that intersects the main seats of typical home theaters for the best sound quality (regular bookshelf speakers would actually work best as surrounds when oriented horizontally, which most people would not think of or be willing to do, but the HTM-200 SE works exceptionally well for this purpose when oriented vertically).

That said, I chose to use a larger bookshelf speaker--the Ascend CBM-170 SE, now oriented horizontally in my home theater--for my surrounds because I can wink.gif, and the HTM-200 SE wasn't available at the time anyway.
Robert Cook is offline  
post #7 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 10:33 AM
Advanced Member
 
Newbie01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: North Wales, PA
Posts: 834
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsaville View Post

The idea that surround channels are only used for the occasional bird chirp, flyover, or gunshot and can be treated as an afterthought is archaic IMO. In many modern soundtracks, the surround channels are active for 90% of the film and are used to fully immerse you in the material. In this case, your old HTiB speakers from your college dorm days aren't going to cut it.

I understand that if you are on a limited budget, your LCR channels get first dibs. However, you're really limiting the quality of your HT experience if you don't eventually spend some decent coin on your surrounds.

You do understand that 95% of all statistics are made up... (Including this one..)

Where did you dig 90% number from?

One of the most respected speaker makers and cross over designers around recommended to me to get NHT Absolute Zero's for surrounds. That is after I went to him to buy his Monitors. He told me straight out it was over kill to use his monitors as surrounds.

You can go pretty darn cheap (if it is the right speaker) and have no discernible negative effect on sound quality.

In a perfect world you would have 5 or more speakers of the exact same type (not same line, not same model...exact same)... Everything less than this is compromise. Where you compromise is important and you hit greatly diminishing returns at some point.

With X as a budget for a 5.1 system.... There are places you want to go all out..and places you want to conserve. It is perfectly acceptable to go with good but more inexpensive surround speakers for 5.1 movies or even 7.1, 9.1 or 11.1.
Newbie01 is offline  
post #8 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 10:35 AM
Advanced Member
 
Newbie01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: North Wales, PA
Posts: 834
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by caloyzki View Post

How about the mordaunt short carnival 2 for surrounds? Are they good for surrounds?

They should be fine...
Newbie01 is offline  
post #9 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 10:45 AM
Advanced Member
 
tsaville's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: DFW
Posts: 884
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked: 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

You do understand that 95% of all statistics are made up... (Including this one..)

Where did you dig 90% number from?

One of the most respected speaker makers and cross over designers around recommended to me to get NHT Absolute Zero's for surrounds. That is after I went to him to buy his Monitors. He told me straight out it was over kill to use his monitors as surrounds.

You can go pretty darn cheap (if it is the right speaker) and have no discernible negative effect on sound quality.

In a perfect world you would have 5 or more speakers of the exact same type (not same line, not same model...exact same)... Everything less than this is compromise. Where you compromise is important and you hit greatly diminishing returns at some point.

With X as a budget for a 5.1 system.... There are places you want to go all out..and places you want to conserve. It is perfectly acceptable to go with good but more inexpensive surround speakers for 5.1 movies or even 7.1, 9.1 or 11.1.

The 90% number comes from personal experience (I own some movies that are probably closer to 100%). I also own some older movies where it's close to 0%. The point being that modern soundtracks (IME) utilize the surround channels far more than older movies did. Therefore, I think it's a bad idea to go super-cheap on surrounds. Your NHT surrounds don't fit my definition of super-cheap. I read on here all the time where people have crappy old HTiB speakers they plan to use as surrounds, and I think it's doing them a disservice to say they will be perfectly adequate.
tsaville is offline  
post #10 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 10:52 AM
AVS Special Member
 
caloyzki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,024
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 57 Post(s)
Liked: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

They should be fine...
ok thanks, i thought i need to upgrade my surrounds again. smile.gif

AVR: Denon 2112CI
caloyzki is online now  
post #11 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 11:42 AM
Advanced Member
 
Robert Cook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Diego County, CA, USA
Posts: 985
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

One of the most respected speaker makers and cross over designers around recommended to me to get NHT Absolute Zero's for surrounds. That is after I went to him to buy his Monitors. He told me straight out it was over kill to use his monitors as surrounds.

I don't want to go deep into this particular debate here (almost did but deleted it--too distracting), but let's just say that the Absolute Zero is a pretty nice speaker for use as surrounds, even if it would be a compromise in your case (being of lower quality than your fronts). Some people out there are using grossly deficient surround speakers, however, and those are mainly the audience that I want to address.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

You can go pretty darn cheap (if it is the right speaker) and have no discernible negative effect on sound quality.

In many cases, this is true enough for the surrounds, but in some cases it is not. A similar argument could be made for having an adequately powerful subwoofer--in many cases and most of the time, it makes no difference whatsoever, but sometimes it does matter, and when it does we'll benefit from having good equipment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

In a perfect world you would have 5 or more speakers of the exact same type (not same line, not same model...exact same)... Everything less than this is compromise. Where you compromise is important and you hit greatly diminishing returns at some point.

I agree, and could, if you wanted me to, point out numerous examples where I decided to recommend relatively cheap surrounds, an inadequate subwoofer (better than nothing), or even no center speaker at all, usually because of a combination of budgetary restrictions and the specific requirements of the people I was trying to help. So I can certainly compromise, but where I disagree is that quality is not so discernible in the surrounds--with some movies, of which I gave several examples earlier (including two that are fine examples of multichannel music), it most certainly is discernible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

With X as a budget for a 5.1 system.... There are places you want to go all out..and places you want to conserve. It is perfectly acceptable to go with good but more inexpensive surround speakers for 5.1 movies or even 7.1, 9.1 or 11.1.

This depends on what you mean by inexpensive--inexpensive for you is way too expensive for some people wink.gif, and inexpensive for them is inadequate even for surrounds.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsaville View Post

The 90% number comes from personal experience (I own some movies that are probably closer to 100%). I also own some older movies where it's close to 0%. The point being that modern soundtracks (IME) utilize the surround channels far more than older movies did.

I agree, and I think that the benefit of high-fidelity in the surrounds, which not only means using quality speakers but setting them up just right for the best sound quality, has been increasing and will continue to do so.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsaville View Post

Therefore, I think it's a bad idea to go super-cheap on surrounds. Your NHT surrounds don't fit my definition of super-cheap. I read on here all the time where people have crappy old HTiB speakers they plan to use as surrounds, and I think it's doing them a disservice to say they will be perfectly adequate.

That's the other extreme. I've done this myself in the past, and even way back then upgrading to half-decent speakers for my surrounds was a revelation. Doing this now would be only more so--but not at the expense of using overly cheap speakers at the front, as the severely limited budgets of some folks would force them to do.
Robert Cook is offline  
post #12 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 01:34 PM
AVS Special Member
 
sdg4vfx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Southern CA
Posts: 1,318
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked: 94
Avoiding the "theory" portion of the thread ; )

I would second the HTM-200 SE as an excellent surround for all the reasons Mr. Cook mentioned in his post. They are $300 a pair.

Another, less expensive, recommendation would be the Cambridge Audio S30. At $220 a pair (half the cost of the Absolute Zero) they are an excellent speaker for the price. To me the only disadvantage compared to the HTM-200 is that the S30's are physically a little larger and rear-ported. But sound quality wise I think they are just as good, or might even have the advantage. (There is a dedicated thread.)
sdg4vfx is offline  
post #13 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
bizwiz41's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 360
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 17
As the OP, perhaps my expectation is a more "dynamic" sound out of the surround channels. By this, I mean more in line with the sound emitted by the front speakers. Overall, I feel my living room system is adequate, and set up as optimum as I can reasonably achieve. Visitors always do comment on the "awesome surround sound", and comment "how they feel like they're in the middle of it". So, perhaps my problem is my expectations of what my surround speakers should be putting out, and not the actual speakers.

Let me add some (requested) details to my question:

First, (today!) my "surrounds" are Infinity Primus Satellites, I just changed them to experiment with the sound. Previously I had Polk T15s (lower end) connected. As for the fronts & center, I have Boston Acoustic CR 9s, and a BIC Venturi DV62CLR. I am very happy with these speakers and tonal qualities.

As for settings I run the fronts & center at 0.0, the surrounds are set a +0.5dB. FYI, the sub is a Polk PSW50. I do have the surrounds mounted adjacent to the listening position, about 6-7 feet from a mid point. They are also slightly above ear level.

As for usage, 85% is watching TV, usually in DD 5.1 on HD channels. Movies are generally in DTS format (Blu-Ray), but also in DD 5.1 for regular DVDs. I now listen to music in Pro Logic II (music), as I have come to like the "immersion" effect. However, I must add that I feel a good center speaker is essential for music listening in PLII.

So, I am the very first to admit my surround speakers are "lower end'. Like many of us here, I do have other speakers that I "could connect"; PSB400, PSB Image 2B, PSB Alphas, Paradigm Atoms. For a true comparison, I could even connect the BA CR9s as surrounds to compare tonal qualities and effect. However, now we are entering into the "wife factor", who would kill me if I started setting up "huge" speakers around the sitting area of the living room. Of course then we get into the "wire running" factor as well!

Some posters referenced certain movies and media content; I have viewed many of these movies (both Blu Ray & DVD), as well as music. I do notice defined differences in many movies as related to "surround channels". For instance, Disney Nature's "African Cats" is almost eerie as to the realism using surround. As for the "dynamic" end of the scale, "The Hunger Games" was definitely a work out for my system.

So....what would be "good speakers" that are say smaller bookshelf size? Or perhaps are "great for their size? I'd like some ideas to go and test listen, if at the least to better calibrate my ears and expectations.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
bizwiz41 is offline  
post #14 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 03:02 PM
AVS Special Member
 
LastButNotLeast's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: 08077
Posts: 4,465
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 128 Post(s)
Liked: 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post
Some posters referenced certain movies and media content; I have viewed many of these movies (both Blu Ray & DVD), as well as music. I do notice defined differences in many movies as related to "surround channels". For instance, Disney Nature's "African Cats" is almost eerie as to the realism using surround. As for the "dynamic" end of the scale, "The Hunger Games" was definitely a work out for my system.
 

So here's an idea for a great new thread: movies with great surround effects. 

There's a surround section on ScubaSteve's and Superleo's discs.

Anyone?


Downloadable FREE demo discs:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1475769/de...ently-authored 

Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
LastButNotLeast is offline  
post #15 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 03:49 PM
Senior Member
 
Skytrooper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Baden, Pa.
Posts: 479
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 35 Post(s)
Liked: 81
Put most of your money in the fronts, center and subwoofer. The surrounds are just for effects. The majority of action is up front.

And yes, a new thread on movies with great surround effects would be a great idea LastButNotLeast. It would be nice to have one thread on 5.1 and another on 7.1

(LCD - Sony KDL - XBR4) (Receiver - Sony STR-DA4ES)(Blu Ray - Oppo BDP-83) (PS3)( Dish Hopper DVR With Sling) Speakers (L & R - Paradigm Studio 20) (Center -Paradigm CC-470) (Surrounds & Back Surrounds - Paradigm SA-15R in walls) (Subwoofer 1 - Sunfire HRS-12) (Subwoofer 2 - Paradigm PW-2100)
Skytrooper is online now  
post #16 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
bizwiz41's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 360
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by LastButNotLeast View Post

So here's an idea for a great new thread: movies with great surround effects. 
There's a surround section on ScubaSteve's and Superleo's discs.
Anyone?

I agree this would be a great new thread; very educational and great for comparing systems.

I must add that my original post was based on my experiences over the years with several systems. This observation spanned many different receivers, speakers, set ups and speaker positons.

As a note to this post, I'm currently watching "Taken", which seems to have great surround sound. The gun shots are very evident and realistic. At times, the surround sound out does the front/center.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
bizwiz41 is offline  
post #17 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 05:49 PM
Advanced Member
 
Newbie01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: North Wales, PA
Posts: 834
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 30
Since I am still getting used to my new system I watched Lord of the Rings today on DVD. I think most people would consider this a "reference level" Blu-Ray for both sound and video...

Anyway... I wanted to say it hit the mark at about 20 to maybe 30 percent surround sound.

I will listen to some more but I think the 90% mark is really high.
Newbie01 is offline  
post #18 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 06:20 PM
AVS Special Member
 
caloyzki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,024
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 57 Post(s)
Liked: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

Since I am still getting used to my new system I watched Lord of the Rings today on DVD. I think most people would consider this a "reference level" Blu-Ray for both sound and video...

Anyway... I wanted to say it hit the mark at about 20 to maybe 30 percent surround sound.

I will listen to some more but I think the 90% mark is really high.

when you say reference level what does it mean sir?

AVR: Denon 2112CI
caloyzki is online now  
post #19 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 07:14 PM
Advanced Member
 
Robert Cook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Diego County, CA, USA
Posts: 985
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

Since I am still getting used to my new system I watched Lord of the Rings today on DVD. I think most people would consider this a "reference level" Blu-Ray for both sound and video...

Anyway... I wanted to say it hit the mark at about 20 to maybe 30 percent surround sound.

What would be the percentage for substantial subwoofer action? It couldn't be higher than that of the surrounds. Perhaps you should start a thread in the Subwoofers, Bass, and Transducers forum warning people about spending too much on their subwoofers, given the low percentage. I'm sure they'd appreciate that a lot. wink.gif
Robert Cook is offline  
post #20 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 07:21 PM
AVS Club Gold
 
craig john's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Lancaster, PA
Posts: 10,282
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked: 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

One of the most respected speaker makers and cross over designers around recommended to me to get NHT Absolute Zero's for surrounds. That is after I went to him to buy his Monitors. He told me straight out it was over kill to use his monitors as surrounds.
Your "expert" is clearly a 2-channel guy, and he has no interest in MC music or surround sound for movies. He trivializes it. He trivializes the CC, and I'm sure he values the surrounds even less. It is inappropriate to take advice about surround sound systems from a dedicated 2-channel "expert".

It's like taking advice on setting up a car for road racing... from a Top Fueled Dragster driver:

"I want the car to handle really well, with no understeer and very controllable oversteer."

"Meh... All you need are the big rear wheels and tires. You don't need to put money into the front wheels and tires. A couple of these tiny little things are all you need. It'll handle just fine." eek.gif



Sure, it'll handle just fine... in a straight line. But you want to go fast around the turns. That vehicle will flip over if you try to go fast around the turns.

Similarly, a multi-speaker system that is optimized for just 2 of the speakers and minimized for the rest of the speakers will "flip over" if you asked it to "go fast around the turns." A multi-channel speaker system is a *SYSTEM* and like all systems, is only as good as the weakest part.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

You can go pretty darn cheap (if it is the right speaker) and have no discernible negative effect on sound quality.
As I said in the other "discussion", I think it is very beneficial to ensure a good timbre and output match between the surrounds and the fronts, especially if MC music is a priority. Even if it's *just* for movies, there is a significant benefit. Obviously, the bulk of the budget should be focused on the front THREE, (not TWO), but once the front soundstage is optimized, addressing the capabilities and timbre-match of the surrounds will have a major impact.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

In a perfect world you would have 5 or more speakers of the exact same type (not same line, not same model...exact same)... Everything less than this is compromise. Where you compromise is important and you hit greatly diminishing returns at some point.
Yes, 5 or 7 or 9 or 11 of the exact same speaker is "ideal."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

With X as a budget for a 5.1 system.... There are places you want to go all out..and places you want to conserve. It is perfectly acceptable to go with good but more inexpensive surround speakers for 5.1 movies or even 7.1, 9.1 or 11.1.
If "Surround Sound" is the priority of the system, then I believe it is important to optimize the entire surround sound system. This "urban-myth" belief that the surrounds are unimportant and low priority is wrong-headed thinking, in spite of what the 2-channel experts blather, IMO and IME.

Craig

Lombardi said it:
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

My System

craig john is offline  
post #21 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 07:23 PM
AVS Club Gold
 
craig john's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Lancaster, PA
Posts: 10,282
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked: 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by caloyzki View Post

when you say reference level what does it mean sir?
The best explanation of Reference Level ever written on AVS was done by JHaz here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1426079/understanding-sub-test-results#post_22340519

Craig

Lombardi said it:
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

My System

craig john is offline  
post #22 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 07:54 PM
AVS Special Member
 
sdg4vfx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Southern CA
Posts: 1,318
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked: 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by LastButNotLeast View Post

So here's an idea for a great new thread: movies with great surround effects. 
There's a surround section on ScubaSteve's and Superleo's discs.
Anyone?

+1 The sub forum has a thread identifying great sections of blu-rays for testing/setting-up subs. A similar thread for surrounds would be great ; )
sdg4vfx is offline  
post #23 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 07:57 PM
AVS Special Member
 
caloyzki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,024
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 57 Post(s)
Liked: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

+1 The sub forum has a thread identifying great sections of blu-rays for testing/setting-up subs. A similar thread for surrounds would be great ; )
Any link for that?

AVR: Denon 2112CI
caloyzki is online now  
post #24 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 08:03 PM
AVS Special Member
 
sdg4vfx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Southern CA
Posts: 1,318
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked: 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

As the OP, perhaps my expectation is a more "dynamic" sound out of the surround channels. By this, I mean more in line with the sound emitted by the front speakers.

... As for the fronts & center, I have Boston Acoustic CR 9s, and a BIC Venturi DV62CLR. I am very happy with these speakers and tonal qualities.

... I have come to like the "immersion" effect. However, I must add that I feel a good center speaker is essential for music listening in PLII.

... we are entering into the "wife factor", who would kill me if I started setting up "huge" speakers around the sitting area of the living room. Of course then we get into the "wire running" factor as well!

....what would be "good speakers" that are say smaller bookshelf size? Or perhaps are "great for their size? I'd like some ideas to go and test listen, if at the least to better calibrate my ears and expectations.

Would need to know your budget range!

The three speakers already mentioned - Ascend HTM-200 ($300), Cambridge Audio S30 ($220) and NHT Absolute Zero ($440) - are all excellent choices at their respective price points. (Though my personal preference/experience would be that NHT is not quite as good a "value" as the other two.)
sdg4vfx is offline  
post #25 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 08:15 PM
AVS Special Member
 
LastButNotLeast's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: 08077
Posts: 4,465
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 128 Post(s)
Liked: 230
Quote:
Originally Posted by caloyzki View Post


Any link for that?

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1333462/the-new-master-list-of-bass-in-movies-with-frequency-charts

 

So where would a similar thread for surround belong?


Downloadable FREE demo discs:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1475769/de...ently-authored 

Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
LastButNotLeast is offline  
post #26 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 08:45 PM
Advanced Member
 
Robert Cook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Diego County, CA, USA
Posts: 985
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

As the OP, perhaps my expectation is a more "dynamic" sound out of the surround channels. By this, I mean more in line with the sound emitted by the front speakers. Overall, I feel my living room system is adequate, and set up as optimum as I can reasonably achieve. Visitors always do comment on the "awesome surround sound", and comment "how they feel like they're in the middle of it". So, perhaps my problem is my expectations of what my surround speakers should be putting out, and not the actual speakers.

It may be that you expect dynamic content to be more common or prevalent than it currently is. While that appears to be the continuing trend, I think there are limits to how much the various channels can vie for your attention without becoming a distraction. Dynamics aside, I'd also like to point out that the other trend toward high-fidelity surround content also benefits greatly from using quality surround speakers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Let me add some (requested) details to my question:

First, (today!) my "surrounds" are Infinity Primus Satellites, I just changed them to experiment with the sound. Previously I had Polk T15s (lower end) connected.

Be sure to let us know how they compare, in your opinion. I've installed and previously used the Polk R15 (basically the same speaker) as surrounds myself, and let's just say that it's not the most dynamic that I've ever come across. Neither are the Infinity Primus speakers, for that matter, but it should be interesting to learn what difference they'll make for you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

As for settings I run the fronts & center at 0.0, the surrounds are set a +0.5dB. FYI, the sub is a Polk PSW50. I do have the surrounds mounted adjacent to the listening position, about 6-7 feet from a mid point. They are also slightly above ear level.

Your placement seems fine, although I don't know what those levels mean in practice in your room. Are you still running your surrounds hot? (as measured with test tones)
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

As for usage, 85% is watching TV, usually in DD 5.1 on HD channels. Movies are generally in DTS format (Blu-Ray), but also in DD 5.1 for regular DVDs. I now listen to music in Pro Logic II (music), as I have come to like the "immersion" effect. However, I must add that I feel a good center speaker is essential for music listening in PLII.

You could always set the center width to maximum in order to minimize the usage of the center speaker.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

So, I am the very first to admit my surround speakers are "lower end'. Like many of us here, I do have other speakers that I "could connect"; PSB400, PSB Image 2B, PSB Alphas, Paradigm Atoms. For a true comparison, I could even connect the BA CR9s as surrounds to compare tonal qualities and effect. However, now we are entering into the "wife factor", who would kill me if I started setting up "huge" speakers around the sitting area of the living room. Of course then we get into the "wire running" factor as well!

Go all the way and try the CR9 or the Image 2B. How else are you going to know whether it's your speakers or your expectations? All I can tell you is that my current surround speakers are noticeably better as surrounds than the R15 (T15)--much better sound quality and dynamics. Maybe you could try some PA speakers later on to find out whether anything could give you the surround dynamics that you so crave. wink.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Some posters referenced certain movies and media content; I have viewed many of these movies (both Blu Ray & DVD), as well as music. I do notice defined differences in many movies as related to "surround channels". For instance, Disney Nature's "African Cats" is almost eerie as to the realism using surround. As for the "dynamic" end of the scale, "The Hunger Games" was definitely a work out for my system.

I'll watch "The Hunger Games" again when I get a chance, this time at regular volume (had to watch it quietly before for some reason). Then I'll switch to more modest surround speakers to hear what difference this makes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

So....what would be "good speakers" that are say smaller bookshelf size? Or perhaps are "great for their size? I'd like some ideas to go and test listen, if at the least to better calibrate my ears and expectations.

At least a couple of them have been mentioned, namely the Ascend Acoustics HTM-200 SE and the Cambridge Audio S30 (and I wonder about the smaller S20, which I have not heard myself--maybe it's too small, I don't know). The problem with small speakers is that typically no matter what their specs may say they still sound like small speakers. The S30 does seem to sound much bigger than it is, though, but I couldn't tell you how well it holds up at loud volumes. It works very well as a front speaker in small rooms, so I presume that it would do well as a surround even in larger rooms, but I have not tried this myself. The HTM-200 SE doesn't sound quite as big (and it is somewhat smaller physically), but as a surround it does stand up to loud volumes in large rooms just fine in practice. I've always had an eye out for small speakers that can provide relatively big sound (more for others than for myself), and have continually been disappointed, except for these two, in my experience thus far.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

The three speakers already mentioned - Ascend HTM-200 ($300), Cambridge Audio S30 ($220) and NHT Absolute Zero ($440) - are all excellent choices at their respective price points. (Though my personal preference/experience would be that NHT is not quite as good a "value" as the other two.)

The Absolute Zero would also generally be a good choice, but I'm not sure that it could quite keep up with the other two. When I last listened to a pair, it sounded great as all NHTs do, in my opinion (very neutral and transparent for its class), but it seemed a bit "constrained" when I turned up the volume (as do most other small speakers). Maybe I was hearing things--I can't be 100% sure just based on that. If I could only spend all the time that I wanted with every known speaker.... wink.gif
Robert Cook is offline  
post #27 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 09:08 PM
AVS Special Member
 
sdg4vfx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Southern CA
Posts: 1,318
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked: 94
Surround speakers are almost always much closer to the listeners than the front LCR speakers. So by virtue of proximity surrounds speakers probably don't actually have to play as loud (volume) as LR mains to still "sound" loud to the listener.

If this is the case then a speaker like the S30, which has a big "sound" would work well as a surround speaker at louder listening levels.
sdg4vfx is offline  
post #28 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 09:18 PM
AVS Special Member
 
kiwi2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1,629
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skytrooper View Post

Put most of your money in the fronts, center and subwoofer. The surrounds are just for effects. The majority of action is up front.

No one told this guy

"Just for effects" is a pretty narrow minded viewpoint.
kiwi2 is offline  
post #29 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 09:55 PM
Advanced Member
 
Newbie01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: North Wales, PA
Posts: 834
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

No one told this guy

"Just for effects" is a pretty narrow minded viewpoint.

Lol! That was ripped from one of my deranged dreams after surfing these forums for too long.

I can only imagine the cost... I keep telling my wife we should go 11.8!
Newbie01 is offline  
post #30 of 90 Old 03-24-2013, 10:04 PM
Advanced Member
 
Newbie01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: North Wales, PA
Posts: 834
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

What would be the percentage for substantial subwoofer action? It couldn't be higher than that of the surrounds. Perhaps you should start a thread in the Subwoofers, Bass, and Transducers forum warning people about spending too much on their subwoofers, given the low percentage. I'm sure they'd appreciate that a lot. wink.gif

Oh for sure there is a point of diminishing returns on subs too. If you went in there and said look... I want 4 S2 subs for music in a 2.4 system. I think the bass fiends would even tell you...most music instruments don't go low enough to justify that. Unless your into Pipe Organ music.

I did listen to Lord of Rings again and would say my number was low...I would go to 40% of the time I heard sound out of my surrounds.

Taking the fun of the debate out of this... I think Rob and I both use 170SE from Ascend for surrounds. They cost about 1/10th of what my L/R cost. I am perfectly happy over all with their ability. I am only using Ascend here as an example because we both own them. There are many many other good speakers that I may not want as my mains but work perfectly fine as surrounds.

I think we all tend to agree on the general answer... Surrounds are important in a 5.1 etc setup...don't get too cheap but there are plenty of speakers in the 250-350 price range that you will be happy with as surrounds. Best advice I can give...make sure the place has a good return policy...aim low and go up from there (if your not happy).

The rest of this discussion is pretty much us just having "fun" in the debate....which is not a new debate.

Reference Quality means that it is an example of "5 star" audio in a movie. They rate movies in the Blu-Ray section and will tell you if it is reference level for music, video or both. Then they will tell you if the movie was any good too biggrin.gif

So yes...something can be Reference Quality and the movie itself blows. Someone mentioned in the Sub forum that there is an inverse relationship of good low frequency sound effects to the quality of the movie story line. tongue.gif
Newbie01 is offline  
Reply Speakers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off