Help Needed With Speaker Placement - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 07-28-2012, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello guys,

I recently purchased my first set of "decent" speakers. I could really use some help with speaker placement to get the best possible sound. I have done a lot of reading and experimenting already, but wanted to pull the collective wisdom of the forums as well. My room is a bit odd in that the left side is basically an open space, while the right side is a solid wall. A few facts:

Speakers:

Canton GLE 490.2 for the mains
Canton GLE 455.2 for the center
Canton GLE 430.2 for the rears
Canton Sub10 subwoofer

Receiver: Yamaha RX-A720 which is a new 7.1 channel AVR with 90 Watts/channel
TV: 55" Samsung LCD

Source Material: Hi-Fi music, home theater and HDTV. The most important thing to me is hi-fi music and home theater by far. TV is an afterthought. Hi-Fi music for me is any of my CD's that were ripped to Apple Lossless being streamed to the Yamaha directly via Airplay, and some hi fi format discs such as SACD and DVD-A.

The main listening position is a large fluffy couch along the rear wall area...I have experimented putting it in various places and distances from the back wall. I would love to get your opinions on how to best place my speakers. Mainly, I am just not sure about what distance to put the fronts from the front wall, how far to put the front left from that beam, how far the front right should be from the right wall, and also how far my couch should be from the back wall. Is having the front right speaker literally right next to the subwoofer OK?

Is the gaping huge open space on the left a big problem, and how might I deal with it.

Other room specifics: This is a finished basement. The walls you see in the diagram are dry wall. There is average flush carpet through the whole basement. The ceiling from the back wall to about halfway to the front wall is dropped and tiled with nice sound absorbing material. That part is about 7'6" high. The other half is dropped lower and is not tiled...it is like a dry wall type dropped ceiling and is about 7' high off the ground. Directly on the rear wall are 2 large windows. They have blinds over them and I have taped 2 large cardboard boxes over the windows....originally to stop light from getting in and shining glare on the TV, but now I figure it might also help with reflections off the windows.

Thanks for your thoughts and time guys!

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post #2 of 24 Old 07-29-2012, 04:01 PM
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I would put rear speaker on left side at font of side wall in the main den area where it recedes back a little at 2 foot up to middle of speaker from ear level. and the right one opposite of it on right side wall. put the couch right in front or little bit into the recession.

can not read some of your diagram
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post #3 of 24 Old 07-30-2012, 07:58 AM
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This situation is like asking your doctor to diagnose and prescribe treatment over the phone. There's no way to interact with the patient, examine him or perform tests. You are in the prime position to work the problem. There is no theoretical way to predict the best position other than the very basics, like stay as close as you can to the recommended 5.1 speaker positions (see Dolby, THX etc.), try to get the seating away from the back wall if you can and use a mirror to optically predict where early reflections (acoustic) might occur and place absorption there. If you can see a speaker in the mirror from your seat, fuzz the mirror's location.

Your sub position can be found using the subwoofer crawl method. Google it.
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post #4 of 24 Old 07-30-2012, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joey_corleone View Post

The main listening position is a large fluffy couch along the rear wall area.

Your current setup is far from ideal. You should put the TV in front of the 16'8" wall at the right of the photo, then follow the advice here:

How to set up a room

--Ethan

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post #5 of 24 Old 07-31-2012, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Your current setup is far from ideal. You should put the TV in front of the 16'8" wall at the right of the photo, then follow the advice here:
How to set up a room
--Ethan

Thank you so much for the feedback. I have read your article there quite a few times and most appreciate your knowledge on the topic. Unfortunately, the TV was mounted on the wall when I moved in way before I had any of the gear, and that position really can't change. I guess I am limited in that aspect. The other limiting aspect is the couch pretty much has to be within that 4' space towards the back per spousal concerns. With that information, is there anything else you might suggest?
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post #6 of 24 Old 07-31-2012, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joey_corleone View Post

With that information, is there anything else you might suggest?

At least pull your couch forward a bit, and put absorbers (or diffusers) on the rear wall behind the couch to tame those strong reflections.

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post #7 of 24 Old 07-31-2012, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello gentlemen,

I apologize, as my original drawing was done in a hurry on some scratch paper. I have just spent the morning drafting up a proper diagram of my basement. This should give a much more realistic view as to what is going on. I have been trying many various things, but would really like any input from the experts I can get.

I know Ethan has chimed in and been very helpful on some recommendations, and thank you for that! I understand that in a perfect world, it might be better to flip my whole setup 90 degrees such that the TV is on the right wall...but that is a limitation. Here are the few limits I have per this diagram

1) The couch must be reasonably close to that 4' area towards the back, or the wife complains it is "in the middle of the room and looks ridiculous". The couch itself is about 3' deep so that doesn't give me much play there
2) The TV is mounted to the front wall. There is obviously a wall plate drilled into studs. Cable management goes behind the wall. Obviously, I have put holes into the wall, etc and the TV position can't change.

Other than that, I am open to ideas! One other quick note. The speakers currently are straight ahead with no toe in.

I love this forum thanks for all the help.

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post #8 of 24 Old 07-31-2012, 04:02 PM
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Would she compromise? Get a nice sofa table to go behind the couch, or a nice bookshelf to go on the wall behind it, and move it out as Ethan says.

Holes can be filled and moldings added for hiding cables...

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #9 of 24 Old 07-31-2012, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I can probably negotiate another 12" forward on the couch with my irresistable charm if it will make a difference. I read about the 1/3 and 1/5 rule and 38% rule but those numbers just dont work for my setup. Another detail -- there are 2 fairly large windows on that back wall, one on either side. A small are between the windows which is dead center of the couch is dry wall. A shelf might not be good there.

I currently have cardboard boxes flattened and covering the windows completely. In front of the cardboard are blinds. Any good suggestions for the windows ?
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post #10 of 24 Old 07-31-2012, 10:02 PM
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Unless the TV is huge the couch is too far for proper viewing; the rule of thumb is something like 2.5 to 3 times the screen diagonal to the viewing position. If this is the basement can you convince her to make it into a media area? The couch really needs to be closer to the TV, but I guess if 12" is all you can get take what you can.

Ethan sells absorbers and stands that can be placed behind the couch in front of the windows. There are special acoustic blinds you could get (the ones I have seen are either pleated and filled, or look like padded roller blinds; both cost a lot more than regular blinds, natch). There are also black-out blinds that are coated to block light. Ethan probably has other, better, suggestions. Cardboard will not do anything significant for the sound, though will block the light.

You are going to have a hard time getting a good image with the LF open on the side and RF having a wall on the side. Adding absorption at the first reflection points (wall, ceiling, floor) will help. If the ceiling is absorbent, and floor (rug -- you could add a heavy throw rug to help), then all you need is a panel on the right wall.

If you could pull the couch out 4' so the back is even with the wall it might help.

Is the mech room (HVAC) sealed? If it has a louvered door for air flow instead of outside ducting you won't be able to kill the noise... If it has a solid door and a hi/lo duct (or whatever) inside the HVAC room you may be able to use an exterior door with weather sealing and a threshold/seal at the bottom to deaden the HVAC a bit.

HTH - Don (waiting to see what else Ethan suggests)

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #11 of 24 Old 08-01-2012, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

Unless the TV is huge the couch is too far for proper viewing; the rule of thumb is something like 2.5 to 3 times the screen diagonal to the viewing position. If this is the basement can you convince her to make it into a media area? The couch really needs to be closer to the TV, but I guess if 12" is all you can get take what you can.
Ethan sells absorbers and stands that can be placed behind the couch in front of the windows. There are special acoustic blinds you could get (the ones I have seen are either pleated and filled, or look like padded roller blinds; both cost a lot more than regular blinds, natch). There are also black-out blinds that are coated to block light. Ethan probably has other, better, suggestions. Cardboard will not do anything significant for the sound, though will block the light.
You are going to have a hard time getting a good image with the LF open on the side and RF having a wall on the side. Adding absorption at the first reflection points (wall, ceiling, floor) will help. If the ceiling is absorbent, and floor (rug -- you could add a heavy throw rug to help), then all you need is a panel on the right wall.
If you could pull the couch out 4' so the back is even with the wall it might help.
Is the mech room (HVAC) sealed? If it has a louvered door for air flow instead of outside ducting you won't be able to kill the noise... If it has a solid door and a hi/lo duct (or whatever) inside the HVAC room you may be able to use an exterior door with weather sealing and a threshold/seal at the bottom to deaden the HVAC a bit.
HTH - Don (waiting to see what else Ethan suggests)

I think I am OK on the TV distance. The diagram is not EXACT. Let me explain. The TV is a 55" LCD. The front wall to the back wall is 16'8". The viewers head is physically probably about 2 feet off the back wall so now you are down to 14'8". Now, the TV is also mounted on a full swivel mount and pulled out about 3 feet off the wall, so we are down to 11'8". 55" x 3 is 165" which is roughly 13.75 Feet. Sounds pretty close.

I will definitely look into the absorbers and blackout blinds for the windows. Anybody know of a good place to get the blackout blinds? The imaging seems suprisingly OK to my ears so far. Since the front right is close to the right wall, I decided on toe-in. I was listening to some early Dylan and Beatles mono records last night and you would swear the sound is coming out of the center channel. Is that considered "good imaging"?

4' out will be completely out of the question, as that puts the front of the couch 7' in which is basically in the middle of the room unfortunately. The HVAC room has two wooden doors almost like a closet. There is of course some sound when then AC or Furnace is kicking but overall it is not too too bad.

The floor is carpeted and the ceiling is a half and half thing...the front half is dropped drywall at about 7' from the ground. That part is almost like a popcorn type drywall texture. The other half from the middle to the back is dropped ceiling tile at about 8'. The ceiling tile I believe does have some good qualities for absorbing sound.

After reading Ethan's material, it is quite apparent that my biggest problem has been bass response. I am convinced my ceiling might have something to do with this. Allow me to explain. Remember I said part of the ceiling is 7ft popcorn drywall, and the other part is 8 ft. dropped ceiling tile? So basically if you start from the front of the room at some point near the couch the ceiling gets a foot higher...now once it gets higher up to 8 feet, that goes for probably 3 more feet towards the rear wall and at that point there is a large horizontal structural beam that hangs down to about 7 feet, equal with the front. That support beam is almost directly above the couch. So essentially there is a little rectangle of "sound hole" happening there between where the ceiling goes from 7 to 8 feet and where the support beam hangs down What I THINK may be happening is that the bass is hitting that horizontal beam, being reflected back and giving me some standing bass waves that cancel each other...that is in addition to whatever is happening off my largely reflective rear wall. What can I do for the horizontal beam if that indeed is a concern?

Here is what I have gathered I might be able to do based on Ethan's knowledge and everybody's feedback so far.

1) Move the couch up as much as I can get away with and keep my marriage happy
2) Blackout blinds for the rear windows. I'm glad you guys said that because even with the cardboard and blinds, light is still a minor issue as well.
3) Traps for the rear walls. I would probably need 3 panels -- One for each window and one in the middle where it is just bare drywall
4) Hi/mid trap on the right wall at first reflection point of the front right speaker
5) Bass traps for the front / rear right corners and the rear left corner
6) Something for this horizontal support beam.

Thanks for all your time and expertise!
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post #12 of 24 Old 08-01-2012, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joey_corleone View Post

1) The couch must be reasonably close to that 4' area towards the back, or the wife complains it is "in the middle of the room and looks ridiculous". The couch itself is about 3' deep so that doesn't give me much play there.

Interesting, my wife told me sofas should not be against a wall anymore. That changed with the century.

With today's focus on multi-media rooms, it is quite common to have the seating area in the middle of a room.

You can do what my wife does, move the furniture without asking, and see the reaction. I am glad now we have a sectionall sofa in the main living room, she cannot move it. smile.gif
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post #13 of 24 Old 08-01-2012, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

You are going to have a hard time getting a good image with the LF open on the side and RF having a wall on the side. Adding absorption at the first reflection points (wall, ceiling, floor) will help. If the ceiling is absorbent, and floor (rug -- you could add a heavy throw rug to help), then all you need is a panel on the right wall.

Yes to all of that.

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post #14 of 24 Old 08-01-2012, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Interesting, my wife told me sofas should not be against a wall anymore. That changed with the century.
With today's focus on multi-media rooms, it is quite common to have the seating area in the middle of a room.
You can do what my wife does, move the furniture without asking, and see the reaction. I am glad now we have a sectionall sofa in the main living room, she cannot move it. smile.gif

Hahahahaha...that is classic....sigh. An SPL meter was the best thing I have bought for these types of "women" type answers. We agreed on a volume that was "reasonable" for me to play the system so that it did not disturb her watching TV upstairs directly above this room....now when it is "too loud" for whatever unknown reason, I can just say "Hey the meter doesn't lie" lol
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post #15 of 24 Old 08-01-2012, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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OK ...so a picture paints a thousand words. Since you have all been following my thread here and taking your valuable time to look at my questions and diagrams I figured I might as well provide some pictures. Specifically, these should show the "weird" bit of my ceiling I was trying to explain and give a better overall idea of what it actually looks like. Hope it helps!

So basically, from the front to where the height change happens is about 7'6". Between that point and the support beam is about 8'6". From the support beam to the back wall is again 7'6". So essentially thre is this large part of the ceiling that is a hole....not sure if that is good bad or indifferent.

View from behind the couch




View from the front of the room



View from the open left side


Showing the ceiling rise back up between the back wall and support beam
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post #16 of 24 Old 08-01-2012, 09:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I am back for another followup! WOW -- That's all I can say about tonight's testing. I took as much of the advice from you guys as I could with regards to positioning and here are my breakthrough's:

I got home from work and threw in The Captiol Albums Volume 1 version of "Meet The Beatles" on my existing configuration. The treble was so horrific coming off the right wall it hurt my ears...something had to be done!

- I ended up moving the speakers WAY closer together....I did enjoy the wider presentation, but the sound quality difference I am getting with them tighter is REMARKABLE. The speakers are now 2' off the back wall and over 3' off the side walls. They are still a bit over 9' apart from each other. In addition to that, I toed them in slightly to avoid that nasty first reflection off the right wall more. This alone made a profound impact on the sound for me.

- Then I put it all on the line and pulled the couch up without permission (oh boy) from the wife. She's actually sick at the moment and refuses to come down so....if it's that bad I guess I will hear about it later : ) I pulled it out as far as I could without for sure getting my head taken off later...the back of the couch WAS actually only 11" off the back wall. It is now 28" so I gained almost a foot and a half there. Since the couch itself is so deep that puts the listener about 4 feet off the back wall

Just doing those 2 things have helped a great deal. Naturally, here are two pictures of the updates setup. The first one is from behind the couch and the second one from sitting on the couch in the dead center.

I'm still very curious about what it would be like with some bass traps in the corners and perhaps some absorbing panels on the right wall and behind the couch. Maybe for a time soon to come?! I do have a "theory" question on that as well. I understand that bass traps essentially capture bass frequencies, therefore preventing them from reflecting back to the source and causing cancelling standing waves. That makes sense to me for the corners on my back wall behind the couch. What about the corners on the front wall, and especially the one where the subwoofer is now? Do you actually WANT the bass coming out of the sub to hit the walls in the corner it is in and use those reflections to produce better bass? I am unsure on that topic. I know the articles I read say to put them in all the corners, I am just trying to understand more why

Thanks for all your help guys!


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post #17 of 24 Old 08-01-2012, 09:18 PM
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Glad things are working out -- hope your wife gets well (and is OK with the revised setup!)

Most "bass traps" are actually broadband absorbers so would help tame the treble as well as bass. It takes a lot of thickness to help in the low frequencies. Front and rear corners would help smooth the bass response, if you need it. Some bass traps include a membrane that reflects higher frequencies so the room does not sound so "dead". Proper placement and getting the required number and type for your room is something Ethan or another pro can help with (my acoustics background is decent but I am not up on the latest tricks of the trade). I would read up on REW and see about taking some measurements if you want to learn more. Actually, start by wading through the articles on Ethan's site for a primer.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #18 of 24 Old 08-02-2012, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Give and take gentlemen, give and take...win some lose some. That seems to be what is going on for me. After countless hours moving, testing and listening I came up with something I was relatively happy with for music last night by moving the speakers much further out from the side walls and moving my couch up significantly off the back wall as suggested. 2 channel music was sounding much much better as I explained previously. Everything was great! .... then I played a blu-ray hehe

The newest fun issue to play with -- Now my LFE is freaking DEAD. I mean dead dead from the listening position. The sub is in the front right corner where I always had good response before. Check out this picture:



That is the view from off to the open left side. See that area on the ceiling between the beams that is 1 ft. higher? It seems like that general area is some sort of horrific bass dead zone....naturally that is where my couch is now as a result of last nights changes.

- Is that ceiling layout an actualy concern or do I just think it is? I really have no evidence or knowledge to say definitely but it seems that way
- Is there anything I can do for that without moving the listening position again?
- I'm thinking of trying the sub behind the couch in the middle of the wall. Thoughts?
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post #19 of 24 Old 08-02-2012, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow -- Today's lunch hour was a revelation. I wanted to keep the couch and speakers the way I loved them last night, but try and address the deep subwoofer bass problem. So bizarre...if I moved back about 1 foot I had good bass. If I moved forward about a foot it was good...of course in my room neither one of those is an option. Basically if your head is underneath the general area of that horizontal beam by the back wall it was DEAD. I experimented a bit and found a great place for the sub that gets me the best of both worlds.

It might sound a little crazy, but I put the subwoofer in the dead center of the rear wall, behind the couch with the speaker firing directly towards the front of the room. WOW. I didn't have to move the couch again and I am now back to getting awesome bass. It is still a delicate seating position...if you lean forward a foot or backward a foot the bass sound COMPLETELY changes in a dramatic fashion. From rough measurements, it would vary up to 7 or 8 db on an SPL meter.

Well, I'm happy (for now) ...I wonder what I will tinker with next haha

Is the subwoofer in the middle of the rear wall a totally whacko configuration?!
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post #20 of 24 Old 08-02-2012, 02:00 PM
 
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Congrats...

You have discovered low frequency 'room modes'.
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post #21 of 24 Old 08-03-2012, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joey_corleone View Post

It is still a delicate seating position...if you lean forward a foot or backward a foot the bass sound COMPLETELY changes in a dramatic fashion.

Yes, and when you play music in a different key it all changes again. The good news is that bass trap reduce this effect.

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post #22 of 24 Old 08-03-2012, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joey_corleone View Post

- I ended up moving the speakers WAY closer together....I did enjoy the wider presentation, but the sound quality difference I am getting with them tighter is REMARKABLE. The speakers are now 2' off the back wall and over 3' off the side walls. They are still a bit over 9' apart from each other. In addition to that, I toed them in slightly to avoid that nasty first reflection off the right wall more.

You're well on your way.
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Originally Posted by joey_corleone View Post

This alone made a profound impact on the sound for me.

Nice, really nice.


----

Bass trapping aside, so often we see this. Mains pushed back against wall, pushed wide apart, .. all too close to side walls,....this is textbook stuff, with very predictable positive results.

Best of luck

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post #23 of 24 Old 08-03-2012, 11:47 AM
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Something else to throw into the mix... the surrounds look like they are way too close to the sofa. It will probably be fine foe somebody sitting in the center, but people on the left or right side of the sofa are going to get an earful from the surround speaker being so close. Ambient noise coming from a surround will sound possibly louder than the sound from the fronts to the person sitting next to the surround.

If you can't move the sofa to the center, perhaps consider mounting dipoles a bit higher on the side walls next to the sofa for your surrounds. Unfortunately, looks like Canton doesn't make dipole surrounds. You may be able to get away with a different brand of dipoles for use as the surrounds. It's not as important that the surrounds be tonally matched to the fronts as it is with the center. And I would think some tonal mismatch would be preferable to an earful of sound from a speaker 12" from my ear.

As for what to do with your current surrounds... does your reciever support front wide or presence speakers? A Yamaha receiver I had included a "dialogue lift" function where you would mount front height speakers, and it would "lift" the center channel into the screen.

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post #24 of 24 Old 08-03-2012, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DanLW View Post

Something else to throw into the mix... the surrounds look like they are way too close to the sofa. It will probably be fine foe somebody sitting in the center, but people on the left or right side of the sofa are going to get an earful from the surround speaker being so close. Ambient noise coming from a surround will sound possibly louder than the sound from the fronts to the person sitting next to the surround.
If you can't move the sofa to the center, perhaps consider mounting dipoles a bit higher on the side walls next to the sofa for your surrounds. Unfortunately, looks like Canton doesn't make dipole surrounds. You may be able to get away with a different brand of dipoles for use as the surrounds. It's not as important that the surrounds be tonally matched to the fronts as it is with the center. And I would think some tonal mismatch would be preferable to an earful of sound from a speaker 12" from my ear.
As for what to do with your current surrounds... does your reciever support front wide or presence speakers? A Yamaha receiver I had included a "dialogue lift" function where you would mount front height speakers, and it would "lift" the center channel into the screen.

Hey Dan -- You are absolutely right, they were too close to the couch. The pix you are looking at there were from before the couch move. At the moment, each rear is 6' from the center of the couch. Sure if I am sitting on either side of the couch I get more of the rear channel on that one side, but overall I am happy with it.
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