Need help with surround sound planning and speakers - AVS Forum
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Need help with surround sound planning and speakers

Hey everyone,

I am planning on putting in surround sound in our family room and I need some advice, suggestions, input. Attached is a picture of our entertainment center. We currently have a sound bar, which sounds great, but it's just not surround sound. I'm going to move that to a bedroom. This room has tile floor and opens up to our kitchen.

There are several friends in our community that have their surround sound with speakers in the ceiling. It's nice because the speakers are really hidden, but I realize you compromise some sound quality and they point down, not at your while you are watching TV. I should mention that I am not an audiophile, but I do like immersive sound. We plan to watch movies, TV, and we play quite a bit of music too.

I was thinking about doing speakers in the ceiling. Some houses have 3 up front and 2 in the back, and some I've seen just have 4 in the ceiling in the corners. Any suggestions? Also, what about doing 4 in the corners (2 front, 2 back) and then doing a center speaker under the TV where the soundbar is currently -- something like http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001PZ674C/...3H748APDUVKT0? Or should I just do the 5 speakers in the ceiling?

Anyone have any thoughts about doing the speakers in the ceiling vs. somewhere else?

Also, in terms of the sub, I'm not sure where to put it. Inside the cabinet under the TV is very easy in terms of wiring and it's totally hidden, but I'm concerned that the sound is not going to be good. I could use a 50' subwoofer cable to run up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the wall to the right side of the fireplace -- would that be good? Is it worth that time to do that vs. just putting it in the cabinet?

I'm open to all suggestions and ideas. I'm trying to do a bit of research and plan out what I want to do before I buy anything and start.

I was thinking of these for the ceiling speakers if I go that route: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000O3TFWW/...I10RPXCQ5QKC9H

I had them before in my old house (only for music though, no TV) and they sounded great to me. But I didn't have them for surround sound...

Thanks!!
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Old 08-14-2014, 04:04 PM
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You didn't give any info about budget?
How much vertical space is on that shelf below the TV? Can the shelf be moved up for a larger center?

Standard in-wall / in-ceiling speakers are really only good for background music - the same amount of sound from the front is also radiated into the wall or ceiling (can be heard upstairs or in adjacent rooms) and with any amount of volume the sheet rock vibrates and makes the sound "muddy". You could do the front speakers in the ceiling and a real center speaker under the TV, but the three front speakers would sound so different that any sound moving from one speaker to another would totally change in character and direction. That center speaker may fit your location, but I wouldn't recommend it - four 2.5" "woofers" are not going to give you any kind of mid-bass (that is where male voices live). And a standard in-wall speaker in the ceiling for a center channel will be far less than optimal - and may make it hard to understand dialog.

Now if you can install "back boxes" behind these ceiling speakers to prevent the back wave sound and get some in-wall speakers that have tweeters that can be aimed toward the listening position - you might get a decent sounding system. Standard in-wall speakers work surprisingly well for the two surround speakers - they should be located directly to the sides of the listening position (90 degrees as recommended by Dolby) no closer than 1 -2 feet from any side wall and point straight down - again a "back box" will make them sound much better.

There are true home theater in-ceiling speakers with built-in speaker cabinets that sound great - these are angled downward toward the listening position and will sound a LOT better than the average ceiling speaker and will not transmit sound into the attic / adjacent rooms - but these are VERY expensive and require specialized installation:

Triad InCeiling Bronze/8 LCR



Definitive Technology UIW RCS III


Subwoofer placement isn't something you can plan ahead for - there are probably a couple of optimal sub locations in your room and those two that you mentioned may or may not be one of them. Search AVS for "sub placement" or "sub crawl" - this is done when you already have the sub and try different locations to determine the best placement.

Real speakers are going to sound better, play louder, be easier to mount, and have less issues overall. This is what I would recommend:

Fronts: NHT Absolute Zero Bookshelf Speaker - White - $187 ea (on sale right now) - mount these on the wall to the sides of the entertainment center, or even one on the mantel (right) / one on a matching shelf (left)

Center: NHT Absolute Center Channel Speaker - $329

Surrounds: Standard in-ceiling speakers
Sub: Dayton 1200 from Parts Express (about $130) or SVS PB-1000 ($499)

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2 / Paradigm Signature S4 v.2 (L/R), (2) SVS SB12-NSD (Subs)
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD
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Old 08-15-2014, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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This is good info, thank you. My budget is around $2k. The shelf is only 6 in tall and it cannot be moved. I'm thinking of adding a cabinet door on it if I don't put a center speaker there - it'll depend on what setup I go with. Couple of follow up questions:

- Looks like a great sub you suggested. What about getting the wireless version? http://www.parts-express.com/12-wire...b-lin--300-583
How are those working out - any issues with wireless? We don't use cordless phones in our house, I can't think of what else would interfere. It would certainly save a huge headache trying to run a cord in the room wherever is the best placement.

- You showed me 2 subs, one is considerably cheaper. Reviews look good -- any need for me to bump up to the $500 vs. going with the cheaper one? I couldn't tell you the difference most likely...So I'm guessing the dayton is good for me?

- Basically, I'm hearing that in ceiling aren't going to give me great surround sound. I should go with typical bookshelf speakers. What if I found smaller one and mounted them in the corners of the ceiling pointing down at the couch - these other ones seems big and I'm not sure where to put them.

- Any suggestions on a receiver? Costco has a blutooth sony one for $399 or something - but the reviews online are so-so. I'm kinda of a basic guy with this stuff, don't need a ton of bells and whistles and dont' like it too complicated.
Thanks!
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Old 08-16-2014, 06:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck27p View Post
Any suggestions on a receiver? Costco has a blutooth sony one for $399 or something - but the reviews online are so-so. I'm kinda of a basic guy with this stuff, don't need a ton of bells and whistles and dont' like it too complicated.
Thanks!
I would skip the Sony in favor of a Denon - much better AVR and you can get a better price as well - which one you get depends on the features and how many channels you need - I would suspect that a basic 5.1 AVR would meet your needs:

Denon AVR-E300 5.1 Channel 3D Pass Through and Networking Home Theater AV Receiver with AirPlay - $250 free ship

Much better AVR still less than $400:
Denon AVR-X2000 IN-Command 7.1-channel home theater receiver with Apple® AirPlay® - $399 free ship

If you don't mind refurbished with only one year warranty, there are great deals here:
http://www.accessories4less.com/make...ceivers/1.html

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2 / Paradigm Signature S4 v.2 (L/R), (2) SVS SB12-NSD (Subs)
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD

Last edited by mtn-tech; 08-16-2014 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 08-16-2014, 07:21 AM
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If you are willing to put some on-wall speakers to the sides of the TV and remove that shelf to make height for a matching center (speakers like these) you could get a well matched front three that sound much better, if not, ceiling mount or in-ceiling may be your only option.

These are taller than previous suggestion, but only 4" deep and are designed for wall mount
Fronts: NHT Absolute Wall Speaker - White - $219 ea
Center: NHT Absolute Center Channel Speaker - $329

Or some thinner on-wall speakers - this as small as I would recommend
Fronts / center: BOSTON ACOUSTICS P442 LCR (Left,Right,Center) Speaker Black New - $200 Each

Yes, you could mount speakers on the ceiling pointed toward you listening position, but I wouldn't recommend anything any smaller than a 5" mid driver - a 4" woofer cannot produce enough mid-bass to blend with a sub and you get a mid-bass hole (like a Bose system). Another suggestion - 5 of these, 3 across the front and 2 to the sides for surround:

Definitive Technology Pro Monitor 1000 - you can listen to these at a Best Buy / Magnolia store

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2 / Paradigm Signature S4 v.2 (L/R), (2) SVS SB12-NSD (Subs)
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD
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Old 08-16-2014, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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More great info, very helpful, thanks! Couple more questions...

- do you think a wireless sub is ok? Will it consistently work, or will i regret not running a long cable through the walls and ceiling?
- i came across these bose in wall / ceiling speakers http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/...kers/index.jsp
they are enclosed in a box, but considerably cheaper than the ones you suggested (not sure I am willing to drop $600 per speaker). what do you think of these bose ones in the wall/ceiling in terms of blocking the sound in the room above this one?

thanks again for all the help!
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Old 08-16-2014, 11:04 AM
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Those Bose speakers have 2.5" "drivers", have worse performance, and cost 3 times as much - again don't even consider Bose including their in-wall "speakers"

Quote:
I wouldn't recommend anything any smaller than a 5" mid driver - a 4" woofer cannot produce enough mid-bass to blend with a sub and you get a mid-bass hole (like a Bose system)
I would bet that if you checked with a stud finder that there are 10" or bigger spaces on each side of that entertainment nook and that you could mount in-wall speakers on each side. Add a real center and some in-ceiling for surround.

Polk in-wall speakers are a great deal and with the amiable tweeters you can customize them for less than ideal locations - as long you don't expect too much volume you will be OK

Front: Polk Audio RC65i 2-Way In-Wall Speakers (Pair, White)

Center: Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker (Single, Black)

Surround: Polk Audio RC60i 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers (Pair, White)


The reviews for that sub indicate that the wireless part seems to work fine

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2 / Paradigm Signature S4 v.2 (L/R), (2) SVS SB12-NSD (Subs)
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD
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Old 08-16-2014, 11:28 AM
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To the OP, if you are considering in ceiling speakers here is the advice I would share. If you are planning on either a 5.1 or 7.1 I personally would only use in ceiling speakers for the surround left and right, but I would not use them for the surround rear speakers. You could install the speakers close enough to the primary seating position that an in ceiling speaker would certainly do the job. MTN-tech showed some Triad and DefTech in ceiling enclosures, but as he stated those are expensive and are a greater undertaking for installation. I would recommend either the DefTech DI 6.5R or the Paradigm SA-10R speakers for your project. The Paradigm's cost a bit more, but most people would claim that they will provide "better" sound. The DefTech speakers are good speakers in the same class as the Paradigm's, and you might want to see if you can find the DefTech's at a store to see them in person. Those in ceiling speakers have some of the stealthiest covers you will find on an in ceiling speaker.

I would not place a sub in the audio cabinet because that would likely result in a lot of reverberation in that cabinet. You can find subwoofers that are in-wall installation, but of course these come with a higher price tag and more effort for installation.

JR

Packing a lot of sound into a small room.
266 square feet/2128 cubic feet
7.2 with 9 driven speakers
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Old 08-16-2014, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Great, no bose.

Awesome suggestion with the Polk. So a center under the tv, 2 in wall on the right and left of the built in, and 2 ceiling for rear?

Because of the fireplace, I think the in wall would be higher then your ears when sitting. Probably the top of the speakers would line up with the top of the TV. I know it's not ideal, but will it work and sound ok? I'm assuming better than ceiling
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Old 08-16-2014, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Also, the built in is off center because of the fireplace, so the speaker will be off center of the room when put on the right and left of the built in. Still ok?
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Old 08-16-2014, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck27p View Post
Awesome suggestion with the Polk. So a center under the tv, 2 in wall on the right and left of the built in, and 2 ceiling for rear?

Because of the fireplace, I think the in wall would be higher then your ears when sitting. Probably the top of the speakers would line up with the top of the TV. I know it's not ideal, but will it work and sound ok? I'm assuming better than ceiling
I agree, the Polk in-wall speakers are a great deal - I used them for my whole house audio system. I'm sure that some other brands might have slightly better drivers / tweeters, but if there are no speaker enclosures behind them it won't make much difference. What I do know - a Polk with a "back box" will sound better than a Paradigm without one.

Ideal placement would be all front three tweeters at ear level but those of us with standard TVs can't typically do this - the center is usually under or over. Your placement to the sides should be OK and will actually be better for background music. Try to put your center above so it is closer to the fronts. And two ceiling speakers directly to the sides pointing straight down work well for surround.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck27p View Post
Also, the built in is off center because of the fireplace, so the speaker will be off center of the room when put on the right and left of the built in. Still ok?
Better to center the speakers with the TV. Even though walls closer on one side which will change their sound slightly, it won't make that much difference. Very few people have a perfectly symmetrical room and we still set up the system centered on the TV.

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2 / Paradigm Signature S4 v.2 (L/R), (2) SVS SB12-NSD (Subs)
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD

Last edited by mtn-tech; 08-16-2014 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 08-26-2014, 12:50 PM
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I'm using Polks RCi80 which is the 8" version in ceiling speakers for my surround and front height speakers in my 7.1 setup. The Polk 15c is my center channel which very similar to the CS10, I just got a killer deal on it from eBay for $65. Center Channel the most important speaker you can have for surround because like 80% of the sound come through it. I did use the RCi80's as my front mains for like a month until I bought a pair of Polk Monitor 65t for the L/R.
My RCi80s are slightly of center in my setup and they are fine like that because audessy in my Denon AVR X3000 adjust for the difference in the distance. Here's how my room is arranged.
The RCi line of speakers do have tweeters that you can aim to direct sound towards your MLP so that helps.
When installing them make sure you get speaker wire that is for in wall use.
I also have a polk PSW505 sub which is not bad for a $200 sub but it doesn't fill my room so I'm going to replace it.



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Old 08-26-2014, 12:54 PM
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Need help with surround sound planning and speakers

The only reason I have the left speakers where they are was to keep them in line with lights in the ceiling. That's more aesthetically pleasing and helped with WAF. [emoji3]


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