Originally Posted by spider9
not sure if I got a clear picture of what you're suggesting. Are you suggesting 9.2?
9.2 speakers for 7.2 audio channels would be the most ideal option, yes.
Originally Posted by spider9
I'm not sure if I have the budget to add 2 extra surround speakers.
In that case, with such a deep seating area you'll have to choose from among several different compromises:
1) If the front row has priority, in your view, then you could place the surrounds directly to the sides of the front row (on the ceiling). The back row will simply have to settle for the surrounds coming from in front, albeit from wider and higher than the front speakers.
2) You could place the surrounds to the sides of the back row (on the ceiling), which would improve things for the back row but obviously compromise the front row. Then you'd have to decide which row gets the proper surround levels, or maybe you could calibrate for the front row and direct the speakers toward the front row in order to reduce the effective loudness for the back. With the latter, both rows would be compromised in different ways--the front row will effectively have four back surrounds, while the back row will have less fidelity in the surrounds.
3) You could place the surrounds just in front of and inside the columns, directed toward one another. This would be less of a compromise for the front row than #2, but the surrounds would be in front of the back row, just like with #1, so I'm thinking that you might as well go with #1.
4) You could buy less expensive surrounds so that you could have an extra pair of left & right surrounds (playing the same two surround channels, either using an additional stereo amplifier or simply wiring them in series), and each row could have their own pair, as I had recommended earlier. There would be some compromise to surround sound quality, I suppose, but whether it would be significant depends on what speakers you intend to use and what the potential alternatives are.
5) You could go with #1 or #2 for now, but put the wiring in for both rows while you're at it, allowing you to buy an additional pair of surround speakers later, if you feel by then that it is necessary. The total cost would be more, but you wouldn't need to buy everything right away.
By the way, I realize that recommending two pairs of side surrounds must seem a bit unorthodox, but it's not unlike commercial movie theaters using multiple surround speakers (playing the same content) for their deep seating areas. I've experimented (as in hands-on) with many speaker configurations and types (including bipoles and dipoles) for two separated rows in the course of helping others in the past, and in my opinion nothing works better than using an extra pair of surround speakers. I'm not saying that you couldn't cope with more of a compromise, but this is the best configuration that I can recommend. About the only other recommendation that I could make, besides this one and the others above, is for you to experiment for yourself, temporarily rigging up speakers (borrow them from somebody if you have to) in any manner that you can--use ladders or tie a string to them and hang them from something (I've done both before).