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Bipole or Dipole - Which is right for me?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I have Energy CR-10 (http://www.energy-speakers.com/na-en...r-10-overview/) surround speakers in a 5.1 configuration. They can be set to bipole or dipole via a switch. I'm wondering which is the better option for me.

They are aimed directly (90 degrees) inward toward my couch, about 6.5 feet in the air (as high as they can go without touching the ceiling) and sit slightly behind my couch. (You can see this in the attached diagram.) The entire setup sits a little off-center in the room, because I have drums and a child's play area on the left.

As you can see in the link, the surrounds have a driver aimed upward towards the ceiling and another towards the floor. I understand that bipole puts the drivers in phase and dipole puts them out of phase.

I have a Denon AVR-1712, calibrated with Audyssey XT. I have a Tivo HD sending audio to it via HDMI, as well as a PS3 also connected via HDMI. I'd say that 70% of my usage is HD TV channels through my Tivo, 20% is bluray movies, and 8% is video games, and 2% is listening to music.

I know I should listen and decide what sounds best to me, but I'm very indecisive and I'm not confident in my listening skills. Hence, I'm seeking advice. I'm currently watching movies with the speakers set to bipole. By the time I flip the bipole/dipole switch, and recalibrate the receiver with Audyssey, I'm not sure I'll clearly remember what I originally heard enough to be able to do a full comparison.
LL
post #2 of 5
in a Dolby Labs 5.1 setup, the "monopole" speakers are really sides (slightly over the shoulder and behind the listener) aimed at the prime listening position. Since you already have bi/dipole speakers, I would set them to bi-pole so some of the sound is directed towards the listening position
post #3 of 5
Calibrate your A/V receiver with 2-presets, one-preset for your rears in bi-pole mode and one-preset for them in di-pole mode. Pick a movie scene with plenty of surround action that you are familiar with. Pick a normal listening volume that you would use when watching the movie. Play the scene (or part of it) then switch both the speaker and A/V Receiver preset. Listen to both. And score the result.

Next, take an ambient surround film, which uses very few surround effects but does so for subtlety and emotional queues. Watch an entire movie with both modes and make sure you "get lost in the movie" each time. When both playbacks are done, ask yourself. Which sound setting provoked the most emotional response from me as a viewer?

Finally, take a soundtrack which pans a very recognizable sound around the speakers. Listen for character, depth of space, ask yourself if it's imaging in space properly. Score for each area of sound on this test. Tonality match to the front speakers, proper depth of space (how far outside your room the image seems to go) and proper position within that space. There are blu-ray discs that have test-sounds which allow you to score the proper position within space with static sound (do not use this to score tonality as even if you used exactly the same speakers they will sound different due to their position in the room).

Depending on how you score these diffferent criteria, you will likely find your setting. Either one can be used but it's the one which sounds more real and/or moving.

You might hit a hard decision and find the dipole setting disappears better and is more "moving" an experience, yet the bipole setting may sound more "real/clear" but draw too much attention to itself. This is why I favor direct AND reflected sound in combination (more reflected than direct if possible). The best surround speakers I've heard are the Mirage Omnipolar models. I don't own them, but will buy a set for my next theater setup in a few years.
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by ed3120 View Post

Hence, I'm seeking advice. I’m currently watching movies with the speakers set to bipole. By the time I flip the bipole/dipole switch, and recalibrate the receiver with Audyssey, I’m not sure I’ll clearly remember what I originally heard enough to be able to do a full comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy91 View Post

Calibrate your A/V receiver with 2-presets, one-preset for your rears in bi-pole mode and one-preset for them in di-pole mode. Pick a movie scene with plenty of surround action that you are familiar with. Pick a normal listening volume that you would use when watching the movie. Play the scene (or part of it) then switch both the speaker and A/V Receiver preset. Listen to both. And score the result.

Next, take an ambient surround film, which uses very few surround effects but does so for subtlety and emotional queues. Watch an entire movie with both modes and make sure you "get lost in the movie" each time. When both playbacks are done, ask yourself. Which sound setting provoked the most emotional response from me as a viewer?

Finally, take a soundtrack which pans a very recognizable sound around the speakers. Listen for character, depth of space, ask yourself if it's imaging in space properly. Score for each area of sound on this test. Tonality match to the front speakers, proper depth of space (how far outside your room the image seems to go) and proper position within that space. There are blu-ray discs that have test-sounds which allow you to score the proper position within space with static sound (do not use this to score tonality as even if you used exactly the same speakers they will sound different due to their position in the room).

Depending on how you score these diffferent criteria, you will likely find your setting. Either one can be used but it's the one which sounds more real and/or moving.

Timothy's advice is excellent, and is ultimately the best way to determine your preferences. However, I understand your reticence to be constantly re-doing your Audyssey calibration when switching between bipole and dipole. I suggest you calibrate your system with Audyssey, then shut off the EQ portions of Audyssey, and then proceed with your evaluation of bipoles vs. dipoles as described by Timothy. Once you've determined which alignment *you* prefer, then re-run Audyssey with your preferred setting and you're good to go.

Your surrounds are pretty unique in that they use the ceiling and floor for the reflective surfaces instead of the front and rear walls, which is the more "standard" alignment for bi/dipole surrounds. With those speakers, you'll want to ensure that your floor and ceiling are, in fact, reflective. IOW, you don't want a dropped acoustic ceiling above the speakers, and you don't want a thick, heavily padded carpet on the floor. If you have those types of surfaces above and/or below those speakers, you may want to re-think your choice of surround speakers.

In terms of positioning those speakers, your manual says:

Quote:
The best mounting position for a 5.1 system is the Side Wall position, as it makes use of the rooms' ceiling, rear walls, and side walls. It will create a lifelike surround effect and make the room sound larger than it is. In this position, try to mount the speaker so that it is beside you or lightly behind you. The height should be above ear level, at approximately 2/3 of the height of the wall. 6 feet off of the ground is typically a good starting point, and the speaker should be 2 feet above your head when seated. These general guidelines should aid in positioning choices.

(The manual can be downloaded here:
http://www.energy-speakers.com/na-en...r-10-overview/
and the instructions are on Page 3.)

I like the concept of using the floor and ceiling instead of the front and rear walls. The close proximity of the floor and ceiling will provide an earlier and stronger reflection and should improve localization, (for when localization is needed), while still providing spaciousness and ambiance, (when spaciousness and ambiance are needed.) Although I have never heard those speakers, I suspect *I* would prefer them in bipole mode, mounted as described in your manual.

I would be interested to hear your impressions after you've done some experimentation.

Craig
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post

With those speakers, you'll want to ensure that your floor and ceiling are, in fact, reflective.

Thanks for the advice, everyone.

The ceiling is sheetrock. The floor is tile, but with area rugs and covering a large portion of the floor. I guess that would lean in favor towards the bipoles.

Are there any audio test discs that you can recommend? I'm a renter, not a buyer, so I don't have any blu-rays lying around for testing.
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