Stay with 7.1, or go to 5.1? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-23-2014, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Stay with 7.1, or go to 5.1?

So when I built my house last year, I prewired for 7.1 in the theater room. At the time it was cheap to add 2 channels since I was using Polk RC65i's for the surrounds to match the Monitor 70 towers. But over the past few weeks I've been upgrading to the MartinLogan Motion series (40s up front, Electromotion IWs for surrounds), and now going from 5.1 to 7.1 is $900 rather than an easy $150, some I'm questioning if I should.

I've attached images of the back of the room. Problem is, that my seating is almost against the wall and I know that is a no no when it comes to 7.1. On the other hand, I have heard that the point of 7.1 is to be able to do overhead pans, and I have some height on the speakers. Anyways, I was wondering if a few experts could take a look and give me their opinion on the setup. Oh and I should mention that I'm optimizing for the center seat. 95% of the use of that theater is myself.

Thanks in advanced!
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-24-2014, 08:36 AM
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Timbre matching is not as important for surround sound, as it is for LCR channels. Either use the Polks for Rear surround, or forgo until you have more $ and run the ML as 5.1.

If you already have the speakers, then try both, see what appeals to you the most. I suspect, that due to how close the rear speakers are in relation to each other, you would not detect much of a difference, however, your room, your ears, only you will be able to decide what sounds best.
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-24-2014, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I have the ML's in the 5.1 setup and I've been testing without the rears on. Have to say I'm definitely hearing things as though they are directly behind my head. I know what you're saying about timbre matching, but the Polks were so different than the MLs that it was very noticeable. Huge improvement in spatial blending with the ML surrounds. I guess what I can do is do some A/B testing with the Polk rears and see what difference they make in terms of what I can hear.
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-26-2014, 07:17 PM
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On a pure nontechnical guess I would go 5.1 with the surrounds a bit further apart then the speakers directly behind the seats. If I was to upgrade per se I would add front presence speakers. I was using 7.2 and moved the rear surrounds to presence speakers and couldn't be happier. The surrounds (I moved them a bit more towards the rear of the room) still put me in the middle of the action and the presence speakers really add dimension creating a much broader front stage.

At this point if I had to lose two speakers I would drop the surrounds and keep the front presence speakers... that's how much I like them.
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-30-2014, 12:37 AM
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A good, carefully placed 5.1 setup beats a similarly priced 7.1 setup of lesser speakers, to stay in budget. I also think the "need" for 7.1 becomes more and more sketchy for people with only one row of seating. It does however more evenly disperse the sound for a larger number of audience viewers when there are two or more rows of seats.
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In A/V reproduction accuracy, there is no concept of "accounting for taste". We don't "pick" the level of bass any more than we get to pick the ending of a play. High fidelity is an unbiased, neutral, exact copy (or "reproduction") of the original source's tonal balance, timing, dynamics, etc..

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post #6 of 6 Old 07-31-2014, 04:04 AM
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....and push the upgrade cycle for those selling AV equipment. Even if 7.1, 7.2, 9.1, 9.2...x.x weren't better, companies would be marketing them anyways.
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