Dolby Atmos upward-firing module speakers - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2598 Old 10-08-2014, 08:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Dolby Atmos upward-firing module speakers

Dolby Atmos is all about adding sound from overhead/ceiling. There are already a number of threads dedicated to ceiling speakers. For those of you unable (or simply prefer not) to install ceiling speakers, you can also use "integrated" Dolby Atmos speakers where an upwards firing module is built in to the speaker (eg. Pioneer AJ SP-EBS73 (bookshelf) and SP-EFS73 (tower)) or you can use "add-on" modules where a dedicated speaker module is either placed directly on top of your existing Front/Surround/Surround Back speakers or within 3' of said speakers either on a stand or bookshelf or other flat surface. As most will already have existing speakers, use of the "add-on" modules is likely to be more common and is further discussed below.

From the Dolby white paper:

Quote:
Dolby Atmos enabled speakers produce slightly diffuse overhead audio that is quite lifelike and, in some cases, preferable to the sound that comes from ceiling speakers. If your ceiling is low or you have to mount your loudspeakers on overhead trusses or brackets, the overhead speakers will be closer to the listening position. The audio may be distracting because you’ll hear exactly which speaker is producing the sound instead of feeling immersed in an atmosphere in which sounds occur naturally overhead.

In this environment, Dolby Atmos enabled speakers may better reproduce the Dolby Atmos sound you would hear in a movie theatre,
where the overhead speakers are high in the auditorium, creating a more diffuse experience. Audio experts who have heard Dolby Atmos enabled speakers agree that the sound these produce can be preferable to the sound that ceiling speakers produce.

For the best sound, place your speakers at or slightly above the level of your ears when you’re seated. Don’t place the Dolby Atmos enabled speakers higher than half the height of your wall. Make sure the speakers are at least 3 feet (0.9 meter) away from you, ideally 5 feet (1.5 meters) or more. If you’re using add-on modules, place them either on top of your front and surround (ideally, rear surround) speakers or within 3 feet (0.9 meter) of those speakers.

Some available Atmos add-on module options which can either be placed on existing speakers or on a stand or bookshelf with open angled clearance to the ceiling/main listening position are listed below. Note that although matching speakers in the same family (ie. same main speaker and "add-on" module brand, eg. Def Tech/Def Tech) is ideal, it is not absolutely required as the AVR EQ should handle any timber mismatch:

(1) Atlantic Tech 44-DA which covers roughly a 9"x 9" square surface area, MSRP $499 (pr) - note that although designed to fit atop the Atlantic Tech 4400LR speakers, they can fit on any speaker (or bookshelf or stand) with enough flat surface area to support it.

http://www.atlantictechnology.com/pr...systems/44-da/

(2) Def Tech A60 which covers a 6"x 13" rectangular surface area, MSRP $499 (pr) - note that although designed to fit atop the Def Tech BP8060 speakers, they can fit on any speaker (or bookshelf or stand) with enough flat surface area to support it.

http://www.definitivetech.com/products/a60

(3) Onkyo SKH-410 which covers a 5"x 6" roughly square surface area, MSRP $249 (pr) - note that although designed to fit atop the Onkyo SKF-4800 speakers, they can fit on any speaker (or bookshelf or stand) with enough flat surface area to support it.

http://www.onkyousa.com/Products/mod...&class=Speaker

(4) KEF R50 which covers a 10.2" x 7.1" rectangular area, MSRP $1200 (pr)

http://www.kef.com/html/us/showroom/...r50/index.html

(5) Klipsch RP-140SA which covers a 11.25" x 6" rectangular area, MSRP $499 (pr) - in addition to being placed on top of tower or bookshelf speakers, these can also be mounted on the wall as Front/Rear heights or Surround/Surround back speakers.

http://www.klipsch.com/rp-140sa

(6) Pioneer SP-T22A-LR which covers 7 1/8" x 8 1/16" roughly square area, MSRP $199 (pr)

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PU...ers/SP-T22A-LR

(7) Elac A4 which covers a 7.9" x 8.7" roughly square area, MSRP $230 (pr)

http://elac.com/product/debut-a4/

(8) NHT Atmos Mini which covers a 5.5" x 5" roughly square area, MSRP $200 (pr)

http://www.nhthifi.com/products/1655...add-on-speaker

(9) Martin Logan AFX which covers a 6.8" x 10" area, MSRP $599 (pr)

https://www.martinlogan.com/motionSe...s-speakers.php

(10) TRIAD In-Room Bronze Height Module which covers 7 9/16" x 9 1/4", MSRP $1000 (pr)

http://www.triadspeakers.com/product...height-module/


(11) TRIAD In-Room Silver Height Module which covers 8 3/4" x 9 9/16", MSRP $1500 (pr)

http://www.triadspeakers.com/product...height-module/

(12) Definitive Technology A90 are designed to fit on top of the new BP90X0 series speakers, MSRP $499(pr)

https://www.definitivetech.com/products/A90

(13) PSB Imagine XA are designed to fit on top of the Imagine X floorstanding and bookshelf speakers, MSRP $499 (pr)

http://www.psbspeakers.com/products/imagine/Imagine-XA

----------------------------

This is not an all inclusive list as more companies are designing Atmos enabled speakers now.
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post #2 of 2598 Old 10-08-2014, 08:52 AM
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A couple of questions... I checked the manufacturer product pages. The Atlantic Tech 44-DA lists a -3dB point at 150hz for its frequency response. For the Def Tech A60, it's 120hz. Are these values accurate? I would think the Atlantic Tech, with it's 5.25" woofer would be able to go lower. The Onkyo SKH-410 lower frequency threshold is 90hz. I guess I should take all these values with a grain of salt.

Also, how are these speakers secured to the top of the main speakers? Is there something in the design? Or do we simply use double-sided tape?
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post #3 of 2598 Old 10-08-2014, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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^^
As far as the Def Tech modules are concerned, there are 4 holes at the bottom of the A60, which once the top of the BP8060 is removed will reveal 4 nubs on the speaker in which to secure the A60. However, the module can also be placed on top of the nubs if using a smaller/larger Def Tech speaker or other speaker with a flat surface or even a dedicated speaker stand with Dolby's recommendation of placing the module no further than 3' from the primary speaker (ie. Front/Surround/Surround Back). I'm guessing the other brands will have a similar way to secure the module to the specific speaker in which it's designed. Regarding speaker specs, yes, with a grain of salt as it all depends on your room's dynamics.

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post #4 of 2598 Old 10-08-2014, 10:29 AM
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How about on-ceiling speakers? I find that more interesting.
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post #5 of 2598 Old 11-16-2014, 03:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I was able to demo a set of the Def Tech A60 modules as well as using a pair of Focal Sib speakers angled upwards and in both cases with my 8' popcorn ceiling, was unable to notice any audio that appeared to come from the ceiling, but rather were easily localized from the speakers themselves even with the speaker placed above my seated ear height. Not sure if the issue is the low height of the ceiling (although Dolby suggests 8'-12' should work) or the popcorn ceiling itself. The Atlantic Tech modules won't be released by the mfr until early December so will be interested on anyone's take on their effectiveness. A few other members have tried and subsequently returned the Def Tech modules as well. Has anyone else tried the Onkyo or Def Tech modules?
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post #6 of 2598 Old 11-16-2014, 05:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tezster View Post
A couple of questions... I checked the manufacturer product pages. The Atlantic Tech 44-DA lists a -3dB point at 150hz for its frequency response. For the Def Tech A60, it's 120hz. Are these values accurate? I would think the Atlantic Tech, with it's 5.25" woofer would be able to go lower. The Onkyo SKH-410 lower frequency threshold is 90hz. I guess I should take all these values with a grain of salt.

Also, how are these speakers secured to the top of the main speakers? Is there something in the design? Or do we simply use double-sided tape?
The 150Hz lower limit is because you can't control low frequency dispersion, it literally sprays everywhere. They're trying to prevent forward radiation in those and get most of the energy to the ceiling. It's deliberate, and actually part of the Dolby spec. Limiting the LF response helps keep dispersion under control.
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post #7 of 2598 Old 11-16-2014, 06:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
I was able to demo a set of the Def Tech A60 modules as well as using a pair of Focal Sib speakers angled upwards and in both cases with my 8' popcorn ceiling, was unable to notice any audio that appeared to come from the ceiling, but rather were easily localized from the speakers themselves even with the speaker placed above my seated ear height. Not sure if the issue is the low height of the ceiling (although Dolby suggests 8'-12' should work) or the popcorn ceiling itself. The Atlantic Tech modules won't be released by the mfr until early December so will be interested on anyone's take on their effectiveness. A few other members have tried and subsequently returned the Def Tech modules as well. Has anyone else tried the Onkyo or Def Tech modules?
There could be a number of reasons, but the popcorn ceiling probably isn't one of them. All the popcorn does is add a little diffusion at very high frequencies. The reflection should still be there unless the corn is very dense, thick and fluffy. The low height could be one issue, if it affects the reflected coverage angle. But this is not a problem with the concept, it does work, so think even better than actual ceiling speakers. Assuming auto-cal has been run, levels are right, I think troubleshooting this is an on-site thing.
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post #8 of 2598 Old 11-16-2014, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Speaker cal was done using Audyssey as well as speaker height and listener distance adjustments made with no noticeable improvement. Unfortunately ceiling speakers are not an option in this room.
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post #9 of 2598 Old 11-16-2014, 06:46 AM
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I appreciate the thread topic. I realize that the growth of "3d audio" is somewhat a moving target with potential other formats in the near future. I am hesitant to start cutting holes in my ceiling. With the moving target, I am viewing my first foray as audio version. 1.0 in my house. I was hoping that the atmos modules would be the answer, but it seems the atmos modules don't hold up as a decent alternative.

There maybe an exception in the Atlantic tech speakers. I started a thread on them and linked a couple of industry articles sighting positive demos of their speakers. Atlantic Technology's 44-DA Atmos-enabled Speaker

But in the end I keep coming back to in ceiling speakers as the only real alternative at this time.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
Speaker cal was done using Audyssey as well as speaker height and listener distance adjustments made with no noticeable improvement. Unfortunately ceiling speakers are not an option in this room.
I'm going to amend my original reply. The consensus of generic "popcorn" ceilings is that they're as reflective as a flat drywall ceiling. But I did find an exception. It's a sprayed-on "popcorn" like acoustic treatment designed to be absorptive. If it's thick enough, like 1" or so, it'll pretty much kill any reflection from a few hundred Hz and up. The stuff is soft-ish enough you should be able to stick a pin into it easily, and fairly porous. Probably it shouldn't be painted unless you want to make it reflective at higher frequencies again. Might try the pin test, see if that's what's up there.

Otherwise it's fairly rare that the reflecting speakers don't work at all. Many actually prefer them, and with good reason. With the specified dispersion a reflected speaker will evenly cover a much larger listening area than ceiling speakers. And, conversely, ceiling speakers with Dolby's specified wide dispersion angles haven't really become available yet. Conventional ceiling speakers, or ceiling mounted speakers, are much to beamy to work well, even the aiimable tweeter versions.
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post #11 of 2598 Old 11-17-2014, 11:21 AM
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If you're going to be placing the speakers on stands, are there any rules on the height of the modules. My speakers are fairly tall, so if I placed the atmos modules on stands they are going to be significantly lower height then if placed on the top of the speakers.

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post #12 of 2598 Old 11-17-2014, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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The Dolby "optimal" guidelines is they should be within 3' of the primary speaker (ie. front, surround, surround back), situated above your seated ear height but no higher than 1/2 the height of the ceiling. What it boils down to is to simply experiment to find the most effective height in your room based on your seating distance.
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post #13 of 2598 Old 11-17-2014, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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The first report of the Atlantic Tech 44-DA speakers is in and appears to be positive as noted by the following member's post. Note too he has them placed somewhat lower than his FL/FR speakers on the media cabinet.

The official Dolby Atmos thread (home theater version)
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post #14 of 2598 Old 03-09-2015, 07:24 PM
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Hi,

I've got some SKH-410s too. I'm in the midst of just getting my system up and running. Having just downloaded some Atmos demos, today I tried setting up the upfiring Atmos enabled speakers. My modest system is in a basement rec room with a low 7' 2" ceiling. Room is 16 W x 22 L. Standard construction with 1/2" drywall. Seating position is 12' from the screen. There's a 40" wide bulkhead running across the top of the room that cuts another 10" of headroom out of the room across the center. The seating position is under that bulkhead. I'm only 5' 9" so I fit, lol. I put 1 pair of the 410s on the front L/R and one pair on the rear surrounds. They just don't work under that bulkhead.

I lifted my L/R speakers up about 16" to get them centered around ear level, but the 410s do not work well up there on top, only 2 feet from the ceiling. I realy don't get any overhead sound presence. I put them on the floor, but then I can hear them directly. After much messing around I found the best spot. Raised to about ear level (top 45") and about 3 feet closer to listeners and level raised +7 dB.

At the back they were also too high. I put them at the same height as the front and placed them beside the rear surrounds. Levels back there were dropped -3 dB, otherwise all above sound was also behind me slightly.

I figured all that out by repeatedly watching the demos with only the upfiring 410 speakers connected.

Having gone through all that, I'm still not convinced the low ceiling gives the 410s the room they need to work right. I may try to find some decent in-ceiling speakers to try as top front and top rear height speakers instead, but that risks creating localized hot spot sound. I might not win this one.

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Is anyone running 7.2.4 with the Onkyo SKH-410s? Having just moved, I am in the process of building the new theater. Here I thought I was through pulling wires and then just found out about Atmos. My move put me out of home theater and off of AVS since last July. My Room has 9 ft hard surface ceilings so I am thinking the SKH410s would be ideal and fit my budget. My mains are M&K S150 for LCR and SS150 Tripoles for surround and JBL in ceilings that were already in the house in the rear. There is also a pair in the front ceiling but am not planning to use them. Theater is upstairs with attic above so access is pretty good. The front left and right sit on stands and the top of the stands are 39". My big decision will be which receiver. 7.2.4 pushes me to the Onkyo TX-NR1030. My question is how significant is 7.2.4 vs 7.2.2. I haven't heard a demo yet. Possibly the local Frys here in the Sacramento area will have a setup and they do sell the Onkyo Atmos receivers and speakers.

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post #16 of 2598 Old 04-04-2015, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Why not use the existing in ceiling speakers as they would likely provide a more beneficial "height" audio experience than the upward firing speakers? Also, just because you are considering using the Onkyo upward firing speakers does not mean you have to necessarily go with an Onkyo AVR. Also you will want to consider that placement of these speakers is not always "idea"l on top of existing speakers, rather more often when placed on their own dedicated speaker stands 2-3' forward of the main front/rear floor speakers. You will need to experiment to determine the best location in your room to include speaker height placement as well. And lastly, as many of those members who have posted in the various Dolby Atmos AVR threads have reported going from X.X.2 to X.X.4 provides a much better "height" experience as you would likely expect with forward <--> rear height audio as opposed to just a single "height" location.

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post #17 of 2598 Old 04-04-2015, 05:39 PM
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Thanks for the input. I was pretty sure that the difference between 7.2.2 and 7.2.4 was significant so again I appreciate the confirmation. I also think I am moving off of the Onkyo and leaning a bit more to the Denon X5200. The fact that the AccuEQ doesn't deal with the front speakers or sub strikes me as a problem. The outboard Amp is not a problem as I have both a Hafler 2 channel and a B&K 5 channel sitting on a shelf waiting to be pressed into service.
Since the in Ceiling speakers are already there I will give them a try but they are all the way up front on the ceiling. Probably 45 degrees from my seating position but aimed straight down.
At this point I will be pulling the extra speaker wires into the attic in case I go with In-Ceiling speakers.
Probably another month before I am ready to buy the receiver and start experimenting with speaker configurations.
Wife has been doing enough changes in the house that I should be able to slip these through.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tezster View Post
A couple of questions... I checked the manufacturer product pages. The Atlantic Tech 44-DA lists a -3dB point at 150hz for its frequency response. For the Def Tech A60, it's 120hz. Are these values accurate? I would think the Atlantic Tech, with it's 5.25" woofer would be able to go lower. The Onkyo SKH-410 lower frequency threshold is 90hz. I guess I should take all these values with a grain of salt.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
Regarding speaker specs, yes, with a grain of salt as it all depends on your room's dynamics.
Quote:
Originally Posted by audio2xs View Post
The 150Hz lower limit is because you can't control low frequency dispersion, it literally sprays everywhere. They're trying to prevent forward radiation in those and get most of the energy to the ceiling. It's deliberate, and actually part of the Dolby spec. Limiting the LF response helps keep dispersion under control.
If I'm understanding this correctly, Dolby Atmos Enabled (upward firing) speakers intentionally limit the LF response (i.e. 90hz-150hz). For obvious reasons then, overhead (ceiling mounted) speakers would not have the same limitation. Would the assumption be then that Atmos encoded objects/effects/material not go below these LF limitations? Or am I missing something here?

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^^
In both instances, the sub is still going to handle the frequencies below crossover settings.
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post #20 of 2598 Old 04-04-2015, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoyleS View Post
Thanks for the input. I was pretty sure that the difference between 7.2.2 and 7.2.4 was significant so again I appreciate the confirmation. I also think I am moving off of the Onkyo and leaning a bit more to the Denon X5200. The fact that the AccuEQ doesn't deal with the front speakers or sub strikes me as a problem. The outboard Amp is not a problem as I have both a Hafler 2 channel and a B&K 5 channel sitting on a shelf waiting to be pressed into service.
Since the in Ceiling speakers are already there I will give them a try but they are all the way up front on the ceiling. Probably 45 degrees from my seating position but aimed straight down.
At this point I will be pulling the extra speaker wires into the attic in case I go with In-Ceiling speakers.
Probably another month before I am ready to buy the receiver and start experimenting with speaker configurations.
Wife has been doing enough changes in the house that I should be able to slip these through.
Perhaps you can replace them with ceiling speakers that have aimable tweeters, otherwise, they would not be ideal although certainly still worth giving a try.
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post #21 of 2598 Old 04-04-2015, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
^^
In both instances, the sub is still going to handle the frequencies below crossover settings.
But wouldn't that defeat the purpose of Atmos speakers (TF, TM, TR)....placing objects accurately in 3D space...at least for the frequencies in question? For example if the XO = 80hz and the lower limit of the Atmos speaker is 150hz...what can be expected of the objects that are encoded in between?

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post #22 of 2598 Old 04-04-2015, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
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^^
A speaker's -3db point is passed to the AVR to set the speaker crossover. If that point is 150Hz, then that is the proper crossover to the sub.
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post #23 of 2598 Old 04-04-2015, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
^^
A speaker's -3db point is passed to the AVR to set the speaker crossover. If that point is 150Hz, then that is the proper crossover to the sub.
Yes,.,of course...I'm off on a tangent. What I am attempting to understand is...if it's passed to the sub at 150hz, wouldn't that tend to localize the intended sound element to the sub rather than the Atmos speaker?

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post #24 of 2598 Old 04-04-2015, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, but more than likely the mixer will pass very little at those lower frequencies for that very reason.
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post #25 of 2598 Old 04-09-2015, 11:38 AM
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Question for those of you who have tried these up-firing speakers. I currently have my eye on a pair of SKH-410, but I'm a bit confused about the placement. Do they have to be near the front speakers? Would they work if placed near the surround speakers instead? I have velvet on the ceiling near the screen (from the screen wall to about 5 feet out), so I'm not sure if I will get any reflected sound if I put the speakers up front.
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post #26 of 2598 Old 04-09-2015, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, you can place them near the surround speakers. The upward firing speakers can be placed in one (or two if using 2 sets) of 3 different locations depending on the model of AVR ... (1) paired with FL/FR speakers, (2) paired with SL/SR speakers, or (3) paired with SBL/SBR speakers.
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post #27 of 2598 Old 04-10-2015, 08:12 AM
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I currently have a 2-year old 7.2 channel AVR (with a 5.2 speaker setup) that I really like and, with UHD standards in constant flux for the next year or two, am not ready to upgrade to an Atmos-capable receiver, yet. However, I am trying to plan my speaker upgrades and layout ahead of time since that is an area where I don't have to worry about obsolescence. In my case, I am fairly certain that I will end up going the route of upfiring Atmos-enabled speakers/add-on modules.

With the above in mind, has anyone tried using a pair of upfiring Atmos-enabled add-on modules with a nonAtmos-capable 7.2 or 9.2 channel AVR running in DPL IIz mode, essentially using the upfiring speakers as Front Heights? I'm curious whether there would be any benefit to buying the speakers now and using them with my current AVR until I am ready to upgrade.
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post #28 of 2598 Old 04-11-2015, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Don't see why they wouldn't work as Front Height speakers. AV Science has an "open box" set of the Atlantic Tech 44-DA speakers available at reduced cost. Call if interested.
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post #29 of 2598 Old 06-23-2015, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
I was able to demo a set of the Def Tech A60 modules as well as using a pair of Focal Sib speakers angled upwards and in both cases with my 8' popcorn ceiling, was unable to notice any audio that appeared to come from the ceiling, but rather were easily localized from the speakers themselves even with the speaker placed above my seated ear height. Not sure if the issue is the low height of the ceiling (although Dolby suggests 8'-12' should work) or the popcorn ceiling itself. The Atlantic Tech modules won't be released by the mfr until early December so will be interested on anyone's take on their effectiveness. A few other members have tried and subsequently returned the Def Tech modules as well. Has anyone else tried the Onkyo or Def Tech modules?
I'm going to try 5.1.4 atmos in a 12x10x9 room and deciding between focal sib and onkyo 410 for the 4 atmos upward firing speakers. They would be placed on top of my mains (LCR are focal solo 6be) and rears (energy rc10s, these can be replaced by speakers that better timbre match the other speakers).

Is the sib's angle adjustable? If so how much angle? The sib seems to have more future flexibility in that they can be wall or ceiling mounted.

LIVING ROOM (Atmos 7.2.4): Marantz 7702 prepro and 8003 & 7055 amps, NHT Classic 3 mains, 3C center, 8 Focal Sib speakers, NHT B12 12" sub, Earthquake 15" sub, Panasonic 65VT50 plasma, Marantz UD7007, Roku 3

MAN CAVE (5.1): Denon avr4520, 3 Focal Solo6 Be (LCR), Definitive Tech BP8 rears, NHT U1 12" sub, Samsung PN60F5500 plasma, HTPC, PS3 Slim, Denon dvd-2500dbci
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post #30 of 2598 Old 06-24-2015, 02:52 AM - Thread Starter
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The Focal Sibs can be angled up although I don't recall the angle but it was sufficient enough to test at various angles. When using upward firing modules (eg. Onkyo), you'll likely find you must place a wedge behind them to increase their angle, otherwise without angling them, some have found the ideal spot to only be about 4-5' forward of their location.
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