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Speaker placement: 6.1 rear or 7.1 front high?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I just purchased an Onkyo ht-s5500 HTIB. This is my first venture into true home theater. I read all the negative reviews about the 5500's sub failure and Hdmi problems but the referb from A4L was the best system I could afford . I realize the speakers are not great but will be a Hugh improvement over my old Koss 6.1 "system"

But there-in lies my problem. I am only hard wired for 6.1 rear surround that I cannot easily change. But I could easily add 7.1 configure with front high

Options:
The way I read the manual for the Onkyo ht-r591receiver is that it can be wire with a single or dual rear surround or front high.

So would I be better going with a single rear 6.1 surround speaker ... OR ... 2 front high speakers in a 7.1setup?

Also, I see nothing about front wide for the Onkyo receiver that comes packaged in the ht-s5500. So I guess it will not support front wide only front high (the terminals are labled rear surrond or front high).

So if I go front high, do my highs need to be directly over the frt mains or can they wide out on the wall to the corners? That would place them 12ft apart with the mains being 4ft apart.

Room is 12x16 and the wall is 9 ft hi. TV is on the 12ft wall in center.

Thanks for your help.
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 
System Arrives today. Any thoughts or help on the above would be appreciated.
post #3 of 12
IMO the entire notion of front highs is bizarre. Not that I could use them anyway, as my L/R are almost four feet high and extend to the ceiling. At any rate, the reason for surround sound is to do just that, surround you in sound. You don't get surrounded by placing surrounds in front of you.
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrM1862 View Post

So if I go front high, do my highs need to be directly over the frt mains or can they wide out on the wall to the corners? That would place them 12ft apart with the mains being 4ft apart.
I would place the height speakers as high and wide as possible. Will help turn the circle of sound you currently have into more of bubble of sound (adding a vertical dimension).
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

At any rate, the reason for surround sound is to do just that, surround you in sound. You don't get surrounded by placing surrounds in front of you.
While that is true, for the 7.1 rear surround, wouldn't using the two far back speakers as front hights, be like a 5.1 system with 2 additional speakers in the front? I would still have the side surrounds. Is there much Blu Ray content designed for 7.1 where the far back rear fills are really active?

At any rate, I have extra Mounts and wire, so I could temporarily run wires up my front wall and mount the Front Highs and try it and then try it as a single back rear fill (6.1 I guess it would be called) and see which sounds better. A good disk for me to try this would be spider man bc in one of the last fight scenes I know there is a section where the "bad guy" flies across the rear of my sound stage (side rear fills and rear back) and it is pretty cool from behind. I could set up the Onkyo and do a compare between the 2 to see how much different content like that sounds.
post #6 of 12
With 7.1 the usual placement is L/C/R with two sides and two rears. As for content, it used to be that surrounds were mostly ambient sounds, intended to impart a feeling of 'space', but now more and more the surrounds are being fed discreet directional content. I think it would be odd to hear something that's supposed to be panned hard left coming from front left. I don't know what the intent is of 'front surrounds', the term being an oxymoron anyway.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrM1862 View Post

Is there much Blu Ray content designed for 7.1 where the far back rear fills are really active?
Mixes vary, with some titles making occasional use of the surround-back channels (Super-8) while other soundtracks have surround-back channels that are just as active as the surround channels (Transformers 3). Still, there are over 600 Blu-rays with discrete 7.1 soundtracks, so plenty to choose from.

Besides, you can use PLIIx on 5.1 soundtracks to steer the 2 surround channels across 4 surround speakers. My first 7.1-speaker set-up was in 1991; discrete 5.1 content was still 3 years away (7.1-channel material was 15 years away). So a 7.1-speaker set-up can be useful even for sources that aren't 7.1 discrete channels.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

I think it would be odd to hear something that's supposed to be panned hard left coming from front left.
Happens all the time at movie theatres. If you're sitting in the midlle of the theatre, you'll notice that the surround speaker arrays start well forward of your listening position. Doesn't seem to elicit complaints.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

I don't know what the intent is of 'front surrounds', the term being an oxymoron anyway.
It's only an oxymoron IF you believe surrounds should be limited to the rear hemisphere. Understand that there are those that consider being surrounded as including sounds in the front hemisphere as well. The industry seems to have settled on labeling front surround speakers as "heights" and "wides", which should avoid the semantic argument you're making.

Research into surround sound has shown that the locations for additional speakers that yield the greatest sense of spaciousness are around ±55-60° from centre. That's where Audyssey and DTS place their wide speakers. Floyd Toole says he likes to place his surround speakers well forward of the listening position (as part of a 7-speaker layout). I tend to prefer my side speakers slightly forward of me, to help stretch out the front soundstage (I run 7 speakers as well).
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

Happens all the time at movie theatres. If you're sitting in the midlle of the theatre, you'll notice that the surround speaker arrays start well forward of your listening position.
They're not behind the screen.
Quote:
It's only an oxymoron IF you believe surrounds should be limited to the rear hemisphere. Understand that there are those that consider being surrounded as including sounds in the front hemisphere as well.
Sorry, but I'm just a simple acoustical engineer who doesn't see the value in having speakers that supposedly carry surround information placed on the same plane as the L/C/R, where whatever content they carry would be handled just fine by the L/C/R. That assumes, of course, that the content of the front surround signal is actually mixed to be heard coming from the front of the room.
post #10 of 12
I thought the front height L/R were just that: front height speakers, not surrounds. Not so oxymoronic, then, right? smile.gif

Seriously, though, aren't the front heights in a 7.1 set-up supposed to be tasked with sounds coming from elevation? That's what this note from dts.com led me to believe:

Quote:
What are “Front-Height” speakers for?

Front-Height speakers help create a semi-spherical sound field for an immersive sound field beyond the horizontal plane near the ground. Now it’s possible to hear sounds you should hear overhead (e.g. planes flying by, thunder and lightning, raindrops, etc.) actually over your head. The speakers also help create a multi-dimensional ambient field for an even more realistic background.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

They're not behind the screen.
Nor are wides and heights.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Sorry, but I'm just a simple acoustical engineer who doesn't see the value in having speakers that supposedly carry surround information placed on the same plane as the L/C/R, where whatever content they carry would be handled just fine by the L/C/R. That assumes, of course, that the content of the front surround signal is actually mixed to be heard coming from the front of the room.
There was a time when people felt that a mono surround channel and 2 surround speakers were enough to provide wrap-around envelopment. But that eventually changed, as folks found out that 4 speakers do a better of surrounding the listener than 2 speakers could.

Likewise, there are many that currently believe that 3 speakers are enough in front of the listener. But that's starting to change, as folks find out that wide speakers help blend the gap between the front soundstage and surround field, as well as provide a greater sense of spaciousness when speakers are placed at those locations.

The argument for heights is even simpler: the easiest and most reliable way to get stable imaging above you is by placing speakers above you. Nothing unreasonable about that. Current approach is to use a pair of speakers placed higher and wider than the mains; DTS might be adding a second pair of heights placed higher and wider than the surround-back speakers.

If you're getting everything you want from your L/C/Rs, then there is no compelling reason for you to add more speakers forward of your listening position. For others, who have heard audible benefits when using heights and wides, it is a useful option to have on newer receivers (like the Onkyo that the OP has).
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well so far I set it up as L/C/R and front high. The L/C/R is right at the screen on either side of a 46". The front highs are at 9ft high, 6.5 ft apart and 12" off the wall about 6" in front of the L/C/R and pointed about 3/4 of the way back into the listening area. Perhaps not ideal but looks and sounds ok. The L and R rear fills are 11ft back just to the rear of the farthest person back. Waiting on a Blu ray tomorrow to get some real thoughts. But this is my 7.1 front hi option.

Other than that I will try the 6.1 st up too. It is set up, just not connect. Left my old rear speaker mounted so the experiment will be as easy as connecting at the amp. I just have NO easy way to run a second back rear wire lead, so 6.1 at the rear fill is the best I will be able go get.
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