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Speaker questions for a newbie in his first home!

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Hi, I've been a long time lurker. I recently moved to a new place and I'm putting together my first real home theatre system! I have a few questions regarding speaker placements. I have the Pioneer speakers designed by A.Jones that make up a 5.1 system, a Pioneer VSX-821-K receiver, and the sub is a Polk Audio PSW10.

450

450

Front speakers (Pioneer SP-FS51-LR)
These are currently sitting on the floor. I won't be raising them cause if I do that they'll cut into the projector image. Should I angle these slightly upwards though?

Subwoofer (Polk Audio PSW10)
As you can tell from the pictures, there isn't much space for this thing. It's a front firing sub so, from my understanding, they can be placed anywhere. Would it be ok if I put it on the wall between the front and surround speakers (the left wall if you imagine yourself sitting in the recliners)?

Surround speakers (Pioneer SP-BS21-LR)
These are the ones I'm having the most difficulty deciding the placement of. From my research, the speakers should be mounted at least 2' above ear level (or approximately ear level when I'm standing up). The problem is, these things are an EYESORE if they were mounted at that height, that is, at approximately 6' off the ground. Would it be bad if they were mounted higher?

Also, the wall mounts I have allow the speakers to be tilted up/down and rotated left/right. Assuming I mount them at ~2 ft above ear level, should I have the speakers more or less facing each other without any downward tilt?

What if I mounted them closer to the ceiling? Should I tilt and rotate them so they're aimed a little more at the listener?
post #2 of 50
I see many problems with your current setup, not the least of which is sitting with your head directly in front of a reflecting wall. Further, all speakers should be at ear level. More here:

How to set up a room

Only you can decide if you prefer your system to look good or sound good.

--Ethan
post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply. I can move my recliner another foot or two closer to the screen, that's not a problem. I've been looking into installing some sound absorbent panels on that wall so that might help a bit.

I was under the impression that the surround speakers have to be 2-3' above ear level. The Dolby guide says a minimum of 2' I believe. Is this incorrect? Is the best height actually ear level for all of the speakers?
post #4 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by xmai77 View Post

I can move my recliner another foot or two closer to the screen, that's not a problem. I've been looking into installing some sound absorbent panels on that wall so that might help a bit.

Yes, absorption will help a lot, not just a little.
Quote:
I was under the impression that the surround speakers have to be 2-3' above ear level. The Dolby guide says a minimum of 2' I believe. Is this incorrect?

Yes, that's incorrect. Read the short guide I linked to above. That's based on guidelines from NARAS, the recording arm of the Grammys, which is how the rooms used to mix movie soundtracks are set up.

--Ethan
post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Yes, absorption will help a lot, not just a little.
Yes, that's incorrect. Read the short guide I linked to above. That's based on guidelines from NARAS, the recording arm of the Grammys, which is how the rooms used to mix movie soundtracks are set up.
--Ethan

I have read the guide you linked. The article focuses more on sitting position rather than speaker position. It does say twice that the loudspeakers should be positioned such that the tweeters are at ear level, however, it seems to me like the article is referring to the front speakers. It doesn't say outright that it's talking about the surround speakers.

I don't mean to question your expertise and I'm not trying to argue, I'm just hoping for more opinions on this matter. Websites from Dolby, THX, and Crutchfield all say to mount the surround speakers 2 feet or higher above ear level.

In case this changes anything, this system is strictly for watching movies and not listening to music.

Edit: Maybe I should play around with the speaker heights to see what I like best, that's probably the best thing to do lol.
Edited by xmai77 - 7/17/12 at 12:23pm
post #6 of 50
the rears should be 2-3 ft above ear level slightly behind head ( measure to middle of speaker). so u need to raise them and put left one on wall slightly behind your head. I would try to find some kind of speaker stand or make something yourself for the right one. in youre room i would face rear speakers straight out would not angle them unless u put them really high never angle them directly at ears. the rears are for ambience so the guy in previous post is wrong movies and games are based on dolby digital. your fronts u would want to pull them out to edge off the right wall so that the baffle is inline on the right wall and angle them toward main listening position.

as for the sub place it at front of couch right up against it and play music with lots of low bass, walk around room until u find spot that sounds best i would probably squat down to ear hieght at sitting position to as ur doing this. that spot is where u want ur sub to be placed as long as its reasonable spot to put it if not compromise to the next best spot within listening area.
Edited by jb82 - 7/17/12 at 2:19pm
post #7 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by xmai77 View Post

I have read the guide you linked. The article focuses more on sitting position rather than speaker position. It does say twice that the loudspeakers should be positioned such that the tweeters are at ear level, however, it seems to me like the article is referring to the front speakers. It doesn't say outright that it's talking about the surround speakers.

You are correct, so I just added this to my article to clarify:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Room Setup Article 
Note that the tweeters in the rear surround speakers should also be at ear height. Some people recommend placing the surround speakers high up on the side or rear walls, mimicking the setup of some commercial movie theaters. But that's a throwback to years past, when a single rear channel contained the surround information rather than separate channels as in today's 5.1 soundtracks. Back then, some movie theaters placed one or more speakers high up on the rear wall to increase ambience by including the room's natural reverb. But that was long ago, and in theaters much larger than anyone's living room.

I don't take your post as arguing at all, and I know that some people suggest placing surrounds higher. Hopefully the added paragraph explains why this is sometimes suggested. I should have linked to the NARAS / Grammys document, because (again) this defines how surround speakers are to be setup by the folks that actually mix the sound tracks:

Grammy Surround Standards

--Ethan
post #8 of 50
ok figured it out

The only international standard is from ITU. The music industry is making up stuff that is not based on science. That whole document is full of errors. Please ignore it. The ITU recommendation for 5.1 monitoring is ITU-R BS 775. It says that fronts should be at ±30° and surrounds at ±110° (if they are direct radiators) or ±90° if they are dipoles.
The rest is internet babble...

Thats from Chris Kyriakakis at Audyssey
post #9 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jb82 View Post

ok figured it out
The only international standard is from ITU. The music industry is making up stuff that is not based on science. That whole document is full of errors. Please ignore it. The ITU recommendation for 5.1 monitoring is ITU-R BS 775. It says that fronts should be at ±30° and surrounds at ±110° (if they are direct radiators) or ±90° if they are dipoles.
The rest is internet babble...
Thats from Chris Kyriakakis at Audyssey

What about the height of the speakers? Any mention of height or is that really just trial and error since room configurations have such a big effect on the sound?
post #10 of 50
I would assume the height is correct to like I said I have mine 2 foot above ear level measured to middle of speaker. get it as close as possible to the recommendations thats all you can do. the fronts tweeter should be at ear level if possible. center best to angle it up or down towards ears if possible.

I played with angle of my rear speakers had them pointing towards ears sounds to directional bothered me big time once i put them straight out from wall and very very slightly toward front it made much more sense and could be assured what i was hearing from rears was in fact from the rear
Edited by jb82 - 7/19/12 at 10:38am
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

You are correct, so I just added this to my article to clarify:
I don't take your post as arguing at all, and I know that some people suggest placing surrounds higher. Hopefully the added paragraph explains why this is sometimes suggested. I should have linked to the NARAS / Grammys document, because (again) this defines how surround speakers are to be setup by the folks that actually mix the sound tracks:
Grammy Surround Standards
--Ethan
The guidelines for music reproduction, (Grammys), are different than the guidelines for Home Theater surround sound. I got the impression that the OP's system was a home theater, not a surround music listening environment. Dolby, (Home Theater), recommends surround placement at 90 to 110 degrees, with the surrounds slightly above ear level. http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/setup/connection-guide/home-theater-speaker-guide/index.html

Craig
post #12 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post

The guidelines for music reproduction, (Grammys), are different than the guidelines for Home Theater surround sound.

The document I linked to covers HT setups.

Look, what really matters is the logic behind why one should place speakers here or there. I understand that it's easier to pick an expert - whether Dolby, Audyssey, me, or whomever - and blindly follow what they say rather than think it through personally to determine what makes sense. I'm here to educate and get people thinking, not to argue. Logically speaking, if the people who are mixing the soundtracks have all speakers at ear level, then their balance decisions take that into account. When you put your speakers two feet higher, sound that should have gone toward you instead bounces aimlessly around the room losing impact. That also yields a poor frequency response because you're so far off axis.

Anyone who prefers to have their speakers high up should do that. I'm more concerned about the people who honestly ask what to do and why.

--Ethan
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post

Dolby, (Home Theater), recommends surround placement at 90 to 110 degrees, with the surrounds slightly above ear level. http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/setup/connection-guide/home-theater-speaker-guide/index.html

That guide says "just above ear level" and shows speaker stands that are basically at ear level. This is a far cry from the recommendation to have surround speakers two to three feet above ear level posted earlier in this thread. If speakers are 5+ feet away and 6 inches above ear level, that's still basically at ear level. This is all I'm saying. Putting them substantially above ear level is often recommended, but it's just wrong for the reasons I mentioned above.

--Ethan
post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

The document I linked to covers HT setups.
Look, what really matters is the logic behind why one should place speakers here or there. I understand that it's easier to pick an expert - whether Dolby, Audyssey, me, or whomever - and blindly follow what they say rather than think it through personally to determine what makes sense. I'm here to educate and get people thinking, not to argue. Logically speaking, if the people who are mixing the soundtracks have all speakers at ear level, then their balance decisions take that into account. When you put your speakers two feet higher, sound that should have gone toward you instead bounces aimlessly around the room losing impact. That also yields a poor frequency response because you're so far off axis.
Anyone who prefers to have their speakers high up should do that. I'm more concerned about the people who honestly ask what to do and why.
--Ethan

That's exactly why I came here smile.gif. Having an engineering background, I'd rather understand the logic behind speaker placement rather than blindly following a guide.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

That guide says "just above ear level" and shows speaker stands that are basically at ear level. This is a far cry from the recommendation to have surround speakers two to three feet above ear level posted earlier in this thread. If speakers are 5+ feet away and 6 inches above ear level, that's still basically at ear level. This is all I'm saying. Putting them substantially above ear level is often recommended, but it's just wrong for the reasons I mentioned above.
--Ethan
Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post

The guidelines for music reproduction, (Grammys), are different than the guidelines for Home Theater surround sound. I got the impression that the OP's system was a home theater, not a surround music listening environment. Dolby, (Home Theater), recommends surround placement at 90 to 110 degrees, with the surrounds slightly above ear level. http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/setup/connection-guide/home-theater-speaker-guide/index.html
Craig

You guys are right, Dolby's guide does say just above ear level. It's THX and Crutchfield that recommend having it at least 2-3' above ear level. I think I'll play around with varying heights just above ear level.

Thank you all for your replies!
post #15 of 50
xmai the only logic here is that you have a home theatre setup and you will be primarily watching movies. the original theatre and music mixings are altered for dvd bluray and sacd to work better in home theatre setup for consumers, the same mix you heard from the theatre version is not the same as the one on dvd or bluray. im not trying to bash anybody but just think about it that grammy thing is mostly talking about the original studiio mix not the one you hear on your dvd and bluray and is for music.
Edited by jb82 - 7/19/12 at 12:44pm
post #16 of 50
Many movies released on DVD and Blu-ray are mixed for HT systems. I've seen many disk labels claiming a different "optimized" mix than what was played in large theaters. Again, the best way to hear what the mix engineers heard is to have the same setup. This applies for two-channel music as well as HT surround.

--Ethan
post #17 of 50
What I got from that grammy article now i might be wrong is that those original studio mixes, if they are to be released on a HT format are remixed to suit a HT setup. I would think this to be true for music surround format also.

I agree with you that music probably sounds better with surround speakers facing ears
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Again, the best way to hear what the mix engineers heard is to have the same setup. This applies for two-channel music as well as HT surround.
--Ethan
Ethan, do you have a holodeck for a room, or just the wildly overactive imagination that typifies Studiophiles?
post #19 of 50
I don't know what a holodeck is, but I have an excellent listening room. My standard invitation applies to anyone who'd like to visit to hear it.

--Ethan
post #20 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

I don't know what a holodeck is
It's the rooms you Studiophiles all have, that "accurately" recreates what the "mix engineers heard". This applies for two-channel music as well as HT surround.
Your holodecks virtually recreates the exact loudspeakers, their exact polar position relative to the mix engineer, their total radiated soundfield as it impinged upon the mix engineers pinna and even includes an adaptive TF to compensate for their vs your HRTF, pinna shape variability, inner ear canal resonances!!!!!, etc, etc.
Amazing stuff.
Allows for that "critical listening" ya understand? Even in small condos in little nowhere towns. Yessir.smile.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

but I have an excellent listening room.
If you do say so your damn self wink.gif.
Ok Ethan, I see your anecdote and raise you 3 anecdotes, an earwitness account and a hearsay!
http://localdc.com/capitalaudiofest2012.htm
http://www.dagogo.com/Print-Article.asp?hArticle=1065
http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue62/capital_audiofest.htm
http://www.enjoythemusic.com/capitol_audiofest_2012/part1/page2.htm
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=102925.60
I like this game. Shall we play some more? That was just one show and not even my room! Just some random hotel. Hmmm...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

My standard invitation applies to anyone who'd like to visit to hear it.
--Ethan
If I ever get the chance I will Ethan. Don't forget that my room travels all across the country, open to all too. IOW, I bring my room to you (or at least closer by)! Can't take my cats with me, but you're welcome to drop in any time Ethan.

cheers,

AJ
post #21 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by xmai77 
Front speakers (Pioneer SP-FS51-LR)
These are currently sitting on the floor. I won't be raising them cause if I do that they'll cut into the projector image. Should I angle these slightly upwards though?

Raising them wouldn't cut into the image if you weren't making the image fill the whole width of the wall.

Your first decision - what's more important, a picture that is as huge as possible or one that's a foot or more narrower, versus sound quality?

I'm under the impression that this is an A/V system which suggests that sound is about as important as video...
Quote:
Subwoofer (Polk Audio PSW10)
As you can tell from the pictures, there isn't much space for this thing. It's a front firing sub so, from my understanding, they can be placed anywhere. Would it be ok if I put it on the wall between the front and surround speakers (the left wall if you imagine yourself sitting in the recliners)?

Your room basically looks to me like 5 pounds of $#!* in a 2 pound bag. The location of the subwoofer is one of the most flexible parts of your setup because it is supposed to not affect the sonic image. Move it around until its out of the way and sounds good.

Quote:
Surround speakers (Pioneer SP-BS21-LR)
These are the ones I'm having the most difficulty deciding the placement of. From my research, the speakers should be mounted at least 2' above ear level (or approximately ear level when I'm standing up). The problem is, these things are an EYESORE if they were mounted at that height, that is, at approximately 6' off the ground. Would it be bad if they were mounted higher?

Your basic problem is again 5 pounds of $#!* in a 2 pound bag. In a room that narrow, you really have room for only one wide chair like that. How can you stand to have those little speakers going off right in your ears like that?

Quote:
Also, the wall mounts I have allow the speakers to be tilted up/down and rotated left/right. Assuming I mount them at ~2 ft above ear level, should I have the speakers more or less facing each other without any downward tilt?


There is nothing magic about putting speakers at ear level, especially given that our ear's vertical location changes dramatically whether we are sitting or standing, or how long our torsos are if we are sitting. However, pointing speakers into the vicinity of ears does matter, especially at the front.
Quote:
What if I mounted them closer to the ceiling? Should I tilt and rotate them so they're aimed a little more at the listener?

Probably.
post #22 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJinFLA View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer 

but I have an excellent listening room.

OK Ethan, I see your anecdote and raise you 3 anecdotes, an earwitness account and a hearsay!

http://localdc.com/capitalaudiofest2012.htm

Irrelevant - I see no (0, zero) pictures of any signfiicant fraction of an entire listening room.

Irrelevant - obviously hotel rooms, not people's listening rooms.

Irrelevant - obviously hotel rooms, not people's listening rooms.

Irrelevant for the same old, same old. Is there an echo in this (hotel) room? ;-)

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=102925.60

Didn't I just see this in one of the other links?
Quote:
I like this game. Shall we play some more? That was just one show and not even my room! Just some random hotel. Hmmm...

Well, thanks AJ for finally admitting that you weren't playing the "This is my listening room" game at all.

Have you been spending too much time with some other well-known poster who is often very fact-challenged? ;-)
post #23 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Irrelevant - I see no (0, zero) pictures of any signfiicant fraction of an entire listening room.
Irrelevant, it's an anecdotal subjective assessment of the system..just like Ethans...except it's by a third party.
Sorry about the no pics of the listening room amir...excuse me, arny.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Irrelevant - obviously hotel rooms, not people's listening rooms.
Irrelevant, it's an anecdotal subjective assessment of the system..just like Ethans...except it's by a third party.
Sorry about the limited pics of the listening room amir...excuse me, arny.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Irrelevant - obviously hotel rooms, not people's listening rooms.
Irrelevant, it's an anecdotal subjective assessment of the system..just like Ethans...except it's by a third party.
Sorry about the limited pics of the listening room amir...excuse me, arny.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Irrelevant for the same old, same old. Is there an echo in this (hotel) room?
Irrelevant, it's an earwitnessl subjective assessment of the system..just like Ethans...except it's by a third party.
Sorry about the limited pics of the listening room amir...excuse me, arny.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=102925.60
Didn't I just see this in one of the other links?
I'm sure the houses all look the same to you as you wander the neighborhood aimlessly searching for your home arny. Happens to the best eventually.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Well, thanks AJ for finally admitting that you weren't playing the "This is my listening room" game at all.
Have you been spending too much time with some other well-known poster who is often very fact-challenged? ;-)
Thanks for admitting you crash ahead knee jerk fashion, flailing wildly thread after thread, with no clue what you're talking about Arny. Please don't stop, I enjoy it thoroughly!

cheers,

AJ

p.s. the show went great, untreated random hotel room and all. No padded cell required (though I understand the need). Same as ever.
post #24 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

I have an excellent listening room.

Irrelevant - I see no (0, zero) pictures of any signfiicant fraction of an entire listening room - AmirnyK
post #25 of 50
^^^ LOL, I've posted photos of my living room HT and studio all over the web. Here's on older photo of the rear of the room:

cust_ht6a.jpg

And here's a new photo showing the front of the room with our 159" screen:

cust_ht7.jpg
post #26 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

^^^ LOL
Glad you got the joke Ethan smile.gif.
Btw, what the heck is going on back there in the left corner...and put that cat on a diet!
Soundfields VP of engineering and QC inspector:
post #27 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

And here's a new photo showing the front of the room with our 159" screen:
Now Ethan, how many mix engineers have been there sitting on that sofa and remarking, "My god, that is exactly what I heard 5 years ago in the studio, which is completely different than this room, with different loudspeakers!! I remember it like it were 3 seconds ago and we had just switched. Wait, let me listen 'critically' here for a second....the 'accuracy' is uncanny. Oh, btw, I am a professional, don't try this at home"?
Could you give us some names?

cheers,

AJ
post #28 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJinFLA View Post

Btw, what the heck is going on back there in the left corner

Puppets! My friend Robert Rogers made those for me in exchange for helping him with lots of tech things over the years.
Quote:
and put that cat on a diet!

Too late, Bear died in 2009. frown.gif But I now have another plump little guy named Noah:

noah3.jpg

--Ethan
post #29 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Raising them wouldn't cut into the image if you weren't making the image fill the whole width of the wall.
Your first decision - what's more important, a picture that is as huge as possible or one that's a foot or more narrower, versus sound quality?
I'm under the impression that this is an A/V system which suggests that sound is about as important as video...
Your room basically looks to me like 5 pounds of $#!* in a 2 pound bag. The location of the subwoofer is one of the most flexible parts of your setup because it is supposed to not affect the sonic image. Move it around until its out of the way and sounds good.
Your basic problem is again 5 pounds of $#!* in a 2 pound bag. In a room that narrow, you really have room for only one wide chair like that. How can you stand to have those little speakers going off right in your ears like that?
There is nothing magic about putting speakers at ear level, especially given that our ear's vertical location changes dramatically whether we are sitting or standing, or how long our torsos are if we are sitting. However, pointing speakers into the vicinity of ears does matter, especially at the front.
Probably.

I rather like my very first house or, as you like to call it, my 5 pounds of $#!. It's not the most ideal but I have to make do with what I have, which is why I'm here. I'd like to make the most of it.
post #30 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJinFLA View Post

Now Ethan, how many mix engineers have been there sitting on that sofa and remarking, "My god, that is exactly what I heard 5 years ago in the studio, which is completely different than this room, with different loudspeakers!! I remember it like it were 3 seconds ago and we had just switched. Wait, let me listen 'critically' here for a second....the 'accuracy' is uncanny. Oh, btw, I am a professional, don't try this at home"?
Could you give us some names?

Since Ethan is a mix engineer (among other things) I suspect that thinking like that might be at least part of the driving force behind what we see. The room seems well-damped enough to pull it off. His speakers look to me like some well-known near field monitors that many mixing engineers use, so he's starting out right.
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