Surround Height Different Than Front Ok? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 71 Old 05-08-2009, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, this is probably the wrong forum for this, but as I posted earlier I bought brand new 2309ci. I'm so excited to get this thing hooked up in the next week.

Anyway, my question is do my surround speakers (5.1 setup btw) have to be at the same height as my fronts?

And that brings up another question... does the center channel have to be at the same height as front left and front right?

I will be hooking up 5 Mirage Nanosats (2 front, 2 surround, 1 center) and a Mirage sub. Unfortunately, due to the way my living room is configured, I won't be able to put my rear speaks at the same height as the front.

I think I heard if you mount the Nanosats over 6 feet, you should mount them upside down... or facing downward. So, I will be putting them roughly at 6feet... not over because mounting them the way the suggest when over 6 feet would look funny. However, my rear speakers will probably only be maybe like 3 feet or 4 feet. Will this cause a major problem?

I know some say ear level for the fronts, but I think that would look bad in my place. It would be great to mount them up high close the ceiling because this would look the best, but then you have to mount these mirages upside down or something stupid like that.

Thanks,
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post #2 of 71 Old 05-08-2009, 02:19 PM
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Ideally all 5 speakers would be the same speaker model (which it looks like you have) and of course all the same hight tweeter at ear level. Most people mistakenly buy a detected center when they could have just as easily used the same as the mains. Also many buy dipoles (some prefer the defused sound but I despise (no highs no lows must be dipoles)) without an understanding of the difference between them and monopoles.

You don't want to mount your fronts up high. This will be obviously an audio distraction and acoustics will suffer greatly.
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post #3 of 71 Old 05-08-2009, 03:08 PM
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Front LCR tweeters at ear level. If you have to place the center below, angle it up.

Surrounds should be about two feet above ear level.

Speaker placement is critical for a "surround effect".
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post #4 of 71 Old 05-09-2009, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougdude9 View Post

do my surround speakers (5.1 setup btw) have to be at the same height as my fronts? ... does the center channel have to be at the same height as front left and front right?

All speakers should be the same height, with the tweeters at ear level. Examples and explanation here:

How to set up a room

And the "standards" mix engineers follow (which you should follow too) are here:

Grammy surround standards

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post #5 of 71 Old 05-09-2009, 01:22 PM
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If you are mounting your fronts at 6ft, and provided the plane of your ears is probably ~half that, then I would mount them upside-down. But, honestly, they should be mounted closer to (or even below) ear-level and right-side-up. If you do that, your surrounds will end up mounted at or near the same height as your fronts. Otherwise, you can set things up however you like. Optimal placement is often not achievable and compromises must often be made. But be aware that mounting your surrounds considerably lower than your fronts is probably the least optimal situation. Equal height or a bit higher for the surround speakers is the norm.

Regarding the center speaker, assuming the fronts are at the correct height, identical height for all 3 speakers across the front is ideal. But this is often not doable. So, you do the best you can. If you must mount your center well above the plane of your ears, then I would mount it upside-down, too.

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post #6 of 71 Old 05-10-2009, 01:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

Ideally all 5 speakers would be the same speaker model (which it looks like you have) and of course all the same hight tweeter at ear level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

All speakers should be the same height, with the tweeters at ear level.

Surrounds at ear level

Since when?
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post #7 of 71 Old 05-10-2009, 02:56 AM
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The problem with tweeters at ear level is that if you are sitting at the edge on a sofa, the person who sits nearest a surround, that persons head is in the way for treble to propagate towards Me, who sits at the other end of the sofa.

Hope you understand what I mean. Im not against the idea of surrounds at the same level as the fronts, I just disagree that the tweeter will be heard properly.

Robert
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post #8 of 71 Old 05-10-2009, 04:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosh70 View Post

Surrounds at ear level

Since when?

Since always. Your ears are externally good at determining the direction sound comes from. So if the sound is above or below your ears you will be able to perceive that and it will be unnatural (especially listening to music). If you use dipoles (what a terrible design for HT) then you can get away with placement a little more because of the out of phase diffused nature of the sound.


EDIT: Oddly I gust clicked on YOUR My HT link and your surrounds appear to be on OEM stands and the same hight as your mains (rears about the same hight too). So since your setup with surrounds (and rears) are at ear hight why are you questioning it?
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post #9 of 71 Old 05-10-2009, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

Since always.

Exactly. Program material like DVDs meant for viewing in a home theater have the correct frequency response and ambience etc built into the sound track. If a speaker is substantially above ear height you will not get the correct frequency response.

Also, the idea that the rear of a home theater room should add its own ambience to that of the surround channels is misguided. DVDs are mixed in rooms that are mostly dead, with the speakers setup as described in the Grammy doc I linked above. If you want to hear what the mix engineers intended, you should set up your room the same way.

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post #10 of 71 Old 05-11-2009, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

Ideally all 5 speakers would be the same speaker model (which it looks like you have) and of course all the same hight tweeter at ear level. Most people mistakenly buy a detected center when they could have just as easily used the same as the mains. Also many buy dipoles (some prefer the defused sound but I despise (no highs no lows must be dipoles)) without an understanding of the difference between them and monopoles.

You don't want to mount your fronts up high. This will be obviously an audio distraction and acoustics will suffer greatly.

What is a detected center?

Just kidding. I think you must have meant dedicated.
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post #11 of 71 Old 05-11-2009, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

Since always. Your ears are externally good at determining the direction sound comes from. So if the sound is above or below your ears you will be able to perceive that and it will be unnatural (especially listening to music). If you use dipoles (what a terrible design for HT) then you can get away with placement a little more because of the out of phase diffused nature of the sound.

So if you angle them downward toward your listening position that should work too?

FWIW, I have never been to a movie theater that has had surround speakers at ear height.
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post #12 of 71 Old 05-11-2009, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

Since always. Your ears are externally good at determining the direction sound comes from. So if the sound is above or below your ears you will be able to perceive that and it will be unnatural (especially listening to music). If you use dipoles (what a terrible design for HT) then you can get away with placement a little more because of the out of phase diffused nature of the sound.


EDIT: Oddly I gust clicked on YOUR My HT link and your surrounds appear to be on OEM stands and the same hight as your mains (rears about the same hight too). So since your setup with surrounds (and rears) are at ear hight why are you questioning it?

If I am not mistaken, both Dolby and THX recommend them above ear-height
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post #13 of 71 Old 05-11-2009, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by hd_newbie View Post

If I am not mistaken, both Dolby and THX recommend them above ear-height

THX recommends that they be 2 feet or higher above the listener.

http://www.thx.com/home/setup/speakers/51.html
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post #14 of 71 Old 05-11-2009, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie View Post

If I am not mistaken, both Dolby and THX recommend them above ear-height

Which just goes to show that even experts can disagree. None the less, the logic behind having all speakers the same height, at ear level, is undeniable.

I believe the idea for having surrounds higher comes from the early days of Dolby in large theaters (venues, not home theaters). Back then there was only one mono surround channel, so putting speakers up high on the rear wall of the theater added a sense of space. But that space derived from the theater's own large room. This does not apply today with 5.1 discrete channels in a small room that's mostly dead sounding. These days movies are mixed with 5.1 channels in mind, and all ambience is already present in the mixes.

Again, the key point is you want the flattest response from your speakers, which means you must be on-axis with the tweeters, which means at ear level. Surround channels don't only have ambience! If all we cared about was ambience effects, then losing the extreme highs would not be a big loss. If you play the THX intro from a DVD you'll hear all sorts of stuff flying around the room!

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post #15 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Which just goes to show that even experts can disagree. None the less, the logic behind having all speakers the same height, at ear level, is undeniable.

[color="Red"]The logical thing to do is have the speakers on axis. Not necessarily at ear level.COLOR]


I believe the idea for having surrounds higher comes from the early days of Dolby in large theaters (venues, not home theaters). Back then there was only one mono surround channel, so putting speakers up high on the rear wall of the theater added a sense of space. But that space derived from the theater's own large room. This does not apply today with 5.1 discrete channels in a small room that's mostly dead sounding. These days movies are mixed with 5.1 channels in mind, and all ambience is already present in the mixes.

This sounds more like an opinion against multi-pole speakers. I agree with this one.

Again, the key point is you want the flattest response from your speakers, which means you must be on-axis with the tweeters, which means at ear level. Surround channels don't only have ambience! If all we cared about was ambience effects, then losing the extreme highs would not be a big loss. If you play the THX intro from a DVD you'll hear all sorts of stuff flying around the room!

--Ethan

There is nothing at all wrong with following THX and dolby's recommendations and positioning speakers above ear level and having them angled slightly downward toward the listening position. The same thing can be accomplished as far as ambience, spatial cues and directional cues that would be accomplished with speakers at ear level, without having one blaring into your ears from as little as a foot away by mounting them higher than your listening position.
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post #16 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 06:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easyaspie View Post

There is nothing at all wrong with following THX and dolby's recommendations and positioning speakers above ear level and having them angled slightly downward toward the listening position...

Dolby does not recommend this. Dolby recommends monopoles at ear level.

THX is for the theater and all their home recommendations and settings are adapted for a large venue theater and not really applicable (or good for a HT). The object of using dipoles mounted above the seats is to try and offer a semi "sweet spot" to everyone in the theater. This is not necessary in a properly designed HT. Also I'm interested in one super "sweet spot" instead of a bunch of semi "sweet spots".
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post #17 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 07:26 AM
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I can't get that Dolby link to show anything when I click the 5.1 system. But the THX site I linked to abve clearly states at least 2 feet above the listener.

This site suggests putting them "slightly to the rear of the listener and above head height facing inwards towards the listening area".

In principal I agree with you about using mono-poles, that is what I have found to work best for me. Your comments about THX show that you don't understand what it is they are trying to accomplish. They want people to be able to expirience what sound engineers hear in the larger venues, in your own HT. That being said I have never been in a THX certified theater and I know that my own HT sounds better than what I have ever heard at a theater. Maybe a THX theater would sound better, I don't know.

This site also recommends surrounds be above ear level.

Audioholics recommends at least 2 feet above ear level.
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post #18 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 07:47 AM
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Optimum surround height will vary with the room.

It is important that each listener can see each tweeter in the system when all seats are occupied. I do not find surrounds being mounted high to be a big disadvantage in theater sound. While too low, too close or too far forward can be a huge disadvantage.
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post #19 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by umr View Post

Optimum surround height will vary with the room.

It is important that each listener can see each tweeter in the system when all seats are occupied. I do not find surrounds being mounted high to be a big disadvantage in theater sound. While too low, too close or too far forward can be a huge disadvantage.

'nuff said.
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post #20 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Easyaspie View Post

I can't get that Dolby link to show anything when I click the 5.1 system...

Here you go. It also looks like Dolby recommends B&W 800 series.
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post #21 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by William View Post

Here you go. It also looks like Dolby recommends B&W 800 series.

Where in this document does it speak about surround height? I couldn't find it.
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post #22 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 11:30 AM
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Thanks William.

HD-newbie: it doesn't, the diagram just shows them at ear level.
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post #23 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easyaspie View Post

There is nothing at all wrong with ... positioning speakers above ear level and having them angled slightly downward toward the listening position.

Having speakers not at ear level and making up for that with angling has its own set of problems. The frequency response will vary as you lean forward and back when your ears go in and out of being on-axis. How bad this will be depends on how far you are from the speakers.

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post #24 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie View Post

Where in this document does it speak about surround height? I couldn't find it.

A picture is worth a thousand words. ...and since there are two pictures showing them at ear level then I guess it's worth two thousand words.
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post #25 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 01:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Having speakers not at ear level and making up for that with angling has its own set of problems. The frequency response will vary as you lean forward and back when your ears go in and out of being on-axis. How bad this will be depends on how far you are from the speakers.

--Ethan

Okay now I've heard it all. You think that frequency response varys by leaning forward and backward only when the speaker is mounted above ear level and angled downward? That will happen anytime the speaker is on your side, regardless of height.

You're right about one thing though, how bad it will be depends on how far from the speakers you are. The closer to a speaker you are, any movements will result in being more off axis than if you were farther away.

Easy cure for that? Mount the speakers above ear level.
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post #26 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

A picture is worth a thousand words. ...and since there are two pictures showing them at ear level then I guess it's worth two thousand words.

well. In Dolby's website itself it says: "These speakers are designed to be just above ear level".

Clink on the link below and select 7.1:

http://www.dolby.com/consumer/home_e...ide/index.html
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post #27 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie View Post

well. In Dolby's website itself it says: "These speakers are designed to be just above ear level".

Clink on the link below and select 7.1:

http://www.dolby.com/consumer/home_e...ide/index.html

I agree with just above ear level is fine and better than below since the back of the chair would hinder the sound. It's hanging them several feet above your ears that's not a good idea as was asked by the OP and suggested by others. My mains and rears are about 1" to 3" above my listening ear level (depending on how much alcohol is involved). Too bad my center is stuck 2' below.
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post #28 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 03:18 PM
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To the OP: Lots of great information was posted for you to chew on. But please keep in mind several points: everyone has different preferences; what sounds good in your room may not sound good in mine; and the specs (be it Dolby, THX, etc) are just guidelines. My advice is, after getting all the info from AVSForum, experiment with speaker heights, angles, tilting, etc.

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post #29 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

I agree with just above ear level is fine and better than below since the back of the chair would hinder the sound. It's hanging them several feet above your ears that's not a good idea as was asked by the OP and suggested by others. My mains and rears are about 1" to 3" above my listening ear level (depending on how much alcohol is involved). Too bad my center is stuck 2' below.

Regarding my surrounds, all 4 tweeters are above ear level. My side surrounds are mounted on stands with 4'' wooden risers underneath to raise them to an acceptable level.

So now you're backtracking saying that "just above" is fine.....yet you said that its ideal to have the surround tweeters at ear level. And who mentioned anything about "below ear level"?

It doesnt matter....Dolby recommends above to create more "ambiance" and I would think less localization. THX recommends it as well. So I think I'll stick with their guidelines. If it was just for MC music or DVD-A, then yes, that is a different story but for HT, above ear level is the way to go.
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post #30 of 71 Old 05-12-2009, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosh70 View Post

...So now you're backtracking saying that "just above" is fine.....yet you said that its ideal to have the surround tweeters at ear level. And who mentioned anything about "below ear level"?....

First you should read what the OP was wanting to do:
Quote:
Originally Posted by dougdude9 View Post

...It would be great to mount them up high close the ceiling...

Now you can split hairs and imply that by saying ear level that I must be talking about using a laser level to get the tweeters to .5" or less of my ear. That is not what I meant I deeply apologize for not using the phrase "about ear hight" and for being so imprecise that you couldn't understand what I was saying to the OP.

So here is a better explanation of what I was trying to convey to the OP and I hope l will pass your strict litmus test:

By placing the tweeter slightly (please interpret the world slightly as just above and not up near the ceiling) you also put the midrange closer to ear level and end up with a more balanced and will blended sound directed towards your ear.

So I will rephrase my response to you. Your speakers are not mounted up high on the wall (like so may do with dipoles and THX recommends). Your speakers are mounted near or about ear level (like Dolby recommends and I have also).
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