Originally Posted by slugworth937
Like I said, I'm still not sure if we will do 5.1.2 or 7.1 -- is there a way to determine which will be best in my specific set up? I've heard people say a well placed 5.1 will be better than a poorly placed 7.1.x, but I'm not sure how to figure out which is better for my space. I can upload pictures / floorpan tomorrow if it'd help with that decision. Is $3k a good budget for these speakers, or should I spend more / less? I don't want to spend money for the sake of spending money... like to find where the diminishing returns start ramping up. For comparison sake, I plan on getting the JVC 500 series projector... maybe the Epson 5040 (though I haven't really looked at the new Sony 285 yet, so that may change!)
Originally Posted by slugworth937
The downside is that there isn't a back wall for true rear channel speakers. The magnolia tech suggested either putting the real channel speakers in the ceiling behind the 2nd row (I don't know how this would impact the placement of the atmos speakers, or steer us away from Atmos completely), or putting them at ear level in the wall as far back as we could. That would allow us to do the atmos speakers in the ceiling, but might not be ideal. If we did that, I think 7.x would be overkill since that would give us 7 ear level speakers. If we did them in the ceiling, maybe 7.x would be better than atmos, as we could still have 5 ear level speakers and then the 2 rear-channel in the ceiling?
On a related subject -- they want around $2k for install. Is that reasonable or ridiculous? Is that something I should plan on doing myself, or is that something I could potentially mess up on? has anyone ever paid for the $500 crutchfield 7 speaker installation service?
I really think you are shortchanging yourself looking at doing only 5.1 or even 7.1. Immersive 3D audio has come a long way with Dolby Atmos. Having the additional rear and overhead channels makes a BIG difference. Since 1995 my system has grown from 5.1 with laserdisc, to 7.1, then 9.1 and 11.1 with DVD and now 9.1.4 with Atmos on BluRay. Each addition sounded more immersive than the last. Why limit yourself to a 5.1 theater layout from 20 years ago when all the newer AVR's will do 7.1.4 or 9.1.2? Below is the scale blueprint of your theater with the recommended angles for Dolby base surround sound channels and Dolby Atmos height channels superimposed on top. Your room size of 20' 4" by 14' 4" is large enough to accommodate a 7.1 or 9.1 base channel layout. Using your 9 foot ceiling height, your can easily accommodate 4 overhead Atmos speakers placed at 55 degree elevation from seated ear level at approx 30" off the floor.
You have room for theater seating for eight people. Using 22" seats with 6" armrests will give you 30" clearance on either side with 24" clearance between front and back rows for access. Using the center of the front row as a point of reference and going by the Dolby guidelines for recommended speaker placement, you could do either 9 base channels with wide and side speakers or 7 base channels with two side channels in the wood columns.
I have also included either a 165" 2:35 screen or a 130" 16:9 screen in the diagram for perspective. A screen aspect ration of 16:9 is normally used for HDTV broadcast television. A screen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is normally used for widescreen movies on BluRay. Both screens share the same screen height of 64" with the 16:9 screen being 114" wide and the 2.35:1 screen being 152" wide. The projectors you are looking at both have lens memory. If you get a wider screen, you can accommodate both sizes of picture by saving the focus for a 16:9 image under one preset and the focus for a 2.35:1 image under a second preset. This is called a constant height theater because you can watch both HDTV and Widescreen movies on the same screen.
The way the speaker wire is already run to your wooden columns, means either narrow surface mount speakers on the columns or finding in wall speakers that will fit within the molding on the columns. As a general rule of thumb, surface mount speakers in a properly designed enclosure will always sound better than speakers mounted in wall with no enclosure. There are some very expensive speakers from companies like Triad that include a back box with their in-wall speakers. But at your $3k price point for a complete surround system, there are no in-walls with back boxes (especially ones narrow enough to fit in those wooden columns), so surface mount speakers are definitely the better sounding way to go.
As it turns out Golden Ear
makes an excellent SuperSat series of speakers that will fit nicely on those narrow columns, and are also reasonably priced. Sandy Goss is the designer behind Golden Ear and he's one of the legends on the audio community. First with Polk Audio, then with Definitive Technology, and finally with Golden ear, Sandy had always been at the forefront of performance to value. The SuperSats all have a folded ribbon tweeters and 4.5" cast-basket upper bass/midrange drivers mounted in a non-resonant marble-powder infused polymer cabinet with a cloth speaker cover. Golden Ear also had an Invisia series of in-ceiling speakers with the same folded ribbon tweeter and bass drivers. The important thing with 3D immersive audio is to make sure that all the speakers have matching timber and response. Go on line and check out the reviews for Golden Ear Atmos systems at the audio shows. Sandy always manages to get a best in show designation.
For subs my personal preference for performance/value is the 18" JTR 118HT, which is hard to beat. For about $300 less the new Monoprice 15" sub is also a good value. Although you can fit an a Golden Ear SuperSat 3 and Invisia 525 system within your $3k budget, I'd really recommend allocating more for audio so you can get Either SuperSat 50's or 60'for your main front speakers and Invisia HTR 7000's for overhead speakers. A room that large with an open rear wall to an even larger game room really calls for an 18" ported subwoofer to enjoy action adventure soundtracks. Because of the open rear wall, you're not going to get any appreciable room gain, so your subwoofer is doing all the LFE heavy lifting by itself. Immersive surround sound and epically a good subwoofer are critical to draw you into a film and an emotionally engaging experience. You'll be glad you spent the extra money on speakers and subs when you start enjoying the system and showing it off to friends.
As far as the quotes for installation you got, $2,000 sounds like a lot of money considering most of the hard work is already done with the speaker wire in the columns. My low voltage guy charges about $75 - $150 a drop for installing wire depending upon how complicated the situation. A good drywall guy won't cost more than a few hundred to patch the holes and paint the room. Mounting Golden Ear Superset speakers is easy, you can do it yourself and save some money. For the projector you are better off running 1" conduit because the HDMI standards keep changing every few years as projectors get better and better. For HDMI, I would only consider cable certified by DPL labs for the specific distance between your equipment rack and your projector. For projectors, both the models you listed are very nice, but I'd also check out the new Sony 4K projectors that just got released at CEDIA. The Sony VW385ES has true 4K resolution (not e-shift faux 4K like JVC and Epson) with HDR and lens memory.
Golden Ear SuperSat
Golden Ear Invisia
Monoprice 15" Ultra Sub
JTR 118HT Sub
Sony VW385ES 4K HDR projector