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How important (really..) are good surround speakers? - Page 2

post #31 of 90
If you want a home theatre experience, what speaker is not important? The short answer is all the speakers have a job to do.
post #32 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

It may be that you expect dynamic content to be more common or prevalent than it currently is. While that appears to be the continuing trend, I think there are limits to how much the various channels can vie for your attention without becoming a distraction. Dynamics aside, I'd also like to point out that the other trend toward high-fidelity surround content also benefits greatly from using quality surround speakers.
Be sure to let us know how they compare, in your opinion. I've installed and previously used the Polk R15 (basically the same speaker) as surrounds myself, and let's just say that it's not the most dynamic that I've ever come across. Neither are the Infinity Primus speakers, for that matter, but it should be interesting to learn what difference they'll make for you.
Your placement seems fine, although I don't know what those levels mean in practice in your room. Are you still running your surrounds hot? (as measured with test tones)
You could always set the center width to maximum in order to minimize the usage of the center speaker.
Go all the way and try the CR9 or the Image 2B. How else are you going to know whether it's your speakers or your expectations? All I can tell you is that my current surround speakers are noticeably better as surrounds than the R15 (T15)--much better sound quality and dynamics. Maybe you could try some PA speakers later on to find out whether anything could give you the surround dynamics that you so crave. wink.gif
I'll watch "The Hunger Games" again when I get a chance, this time at regular volume (had to watch it quietly before for some reason). Then I'll switch to more modest surround speakers to hear what difference this makes.
At least a couple of them have been mentioned, namely the Ascend Acoustics HTM-200 SE and the Cambridge Audio S30 (and I wonder about the smaller S20, which I have not heard myself--maybe it's too small, I don't know). The problem with small speakers is that typically no matter what their specs may say they still sound like small speakers. The S30 does seem to sound much bigger than it is, though, but I couldn't tell you how well it holds up at loud volumes. It works very well as a front speaker in small rooms, so I presume that it would do well as a surround even in larger rooms, but I have not tried this myself. The HTM-200 SE doesn't sound quite as big (and it is somewhat smaller physically), but as a surround it does stand up to loud volumes in large rooms just fine in practice. I've always had an eye out for small speakers that can provide relatively big sound (more for others than for myself), and have continually been disappointed, except for these two, in my experience thus far.
The Absolute Zero would also generally be a good choice, but I'm not sure that it could quite keep up with the other two. When I last listened to a pair, it sounded great as all NHTs do, in my opinion (very neutral and transparent for its class), but it seemed a bit "constrained" when I turned up the volume (as do most other small speakers). Maybe I was hearing things--I can't be 100% sure just based on that. If I could only spend all the time that I wanted with every known speaker.... wink.gif

My first reaction is that my "cheap" Infinity Primus speakers sound better than the Polk T15 model. Though I am not surprised; I thought I was buying an "adequate" speaker set at $200/pair with the "Polk name". Then to see them at Best Buy for $40/pair this XMas season was a blow! I now see what I really purchased.

As for my system set up, I do run the surrounds a bit hotter than the rest. On a test tone check they are about +0.5dB higher than frt & ctr. I have actually reduced this level with the Infinity sats. I used to run much hotter with a 4-5dB higher level.


My comment about "The Hunger Games" (in Blu Ray) for surround sound is that there are some scenes where the explosions are quite intense. The "Big Boom" actually damaged my subwoofer.I will view the "Lord of The Rings" to use as a reference. There does seem to be a lot of opinon that this is a good movie for its audion tracks.

Lastly, perhaps to better clarify my original question/point; perhaps my expectation is the surround sound to be more "Imax" in feel. I fully apprciate that I am now speaking about "surround subwoofers" (if there is such a phrase!).
post #33 of 90
I think Rob set down the ultimate test... Use speaker A then use speaker B. If you are listening to a few movies with large amount of surround sounds and can't tell a difference then that is the point of diminishing returns for you.

of course, if we could do double bind etc that would be better. Until someone actually LISTENS then the whole discussion is academic.

We are all human... We all want to justify what we bought. If we bought expensive surrounds we WANT them to be the right choice. If we bought more inexpensive surrounds we still WANT them to be the right choice.

So where that trade off is for anyone ... depends on what that person hears. Many people good but inexpensive speakers are great for surrounds. Some believe you should buy 5 of the same speakers. Some believe that at least the same line should be bought...

I would say there are more in the camp of good but not expensive speakers (under 400) are fine as surrounds. As with everything in these forums...only your ears will tell. But if your looking for a general thought on the matter...with allot of caveats...then good but inexpensive surrounds is more than exceptable but only your ears can tell you if that general consenses applies to you.
post #34 of 90
Thread Starter 
To settle my own debate, I did connect one of my PSB400 speakers to a surround channel. I left the other channal connected to the Infinity Primus for direct comparison. In short, the larger PSB400 did sound better, but only marginally.

I used the PSB400 because I have always liked the way they sound. I felt they worked great in stereo and surround modes. There was a bit more "dynamic" feel, and bass. However, it was a minor improvement. I think if I did a blind test with the family, they would notice no difference.

So, perhaps the moral of the story is "the law of diminishing returns". The posters who stated "put your money in the fronts & center are correct, but those who stated high quality speakers for surround use make a difference are also correct. I guess it all comes down to a value algorithm.

I also think this debate is relative to the media concerned. As media evolves, I think a more balanced equipment set up is mandated.

Personally, I am now thinking "set up" may be more important than speaker in SS. I think I will run my surrounds a bit hotter, and perhaps tweak the equalization for a fuller sound. This is somewhat a throwback to the olden days when you had to tweak your equalizer settings for different albums!

Thank you all for the comments and input. This is very interesting and educational....
post #35 of 90
Grats BizWiz! You learned the number one rule of the forums... No one is "right" or everyone is "right"...your own ears are the only determining factor...well that and your budget.

To throw another wrench into it though... I could be one surround is more sensitive than the other...so if you had room correction it would have helped to run it... Also, although many will cringe good receivers could let you adjust several settings that could have pushed the other speaker to be the same or better.

But in general I think you found what I was advocating... To you the sound was there but not significant given budget restraints smile.gif
post #36 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

Grats BizWiz! You learned the number one rule of the forums... No one is "right" or everyone is "right"...your own ears are the only determining factor...well that and your budget.

To throw another wrench into it though... I could be one surround is more sensitive than the other...so if you had room correction it would have helped to run it... Also, although many will cringe good receivers could let you adjust several settings that could have pushed the other speaker to be the same or better.

But in general I think you found what I was advocating... To you the sound was there but not significant given budget restraints smile.gif

First, I apologize as either I missed your previous post, or we crossed in cyberspace. But you are 100% correct in both your posts. FYI, in my "Speaker A vs. Speaker B" comparison, I left evrything else untouched. My "true comparison" was audio emitted from the PSB400 as a surround, vs. audio (as I remember) emitted with the PSB400 as a front speaker. The difference was beyond comparison.

So, it is more the channel, and perhaps media, to a degree. But it did "calibrate" my expectations; for my current space and furniture set up, AV equipment and dollars to spend, the lowly Infinitys won out. There is not enough of a tonal quality improvement to justify replacement. Plus, I win the "wife factor" by downsizing the speaker size.

Unfortunately I cannot set up a 7.1 (or 7.2) system currently. I am curious to see what the back channel does to the surround experience.
post #37 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

Grats BizWiz! You learned the number one rule of the forums... No one is "right" or everyone is "right"...your own ears are the only determining factor...well that and your budget.

To throw another wrench into it though... I could be one surround is more sensitive than the other...so if you had room correction it would have helped to run it... Also, although many will cringe good receivers could let you adjust several settings that could have pushed the other speaker to be the same or better.

But in general I think you found what I was advocating... To you the sound was there but not significant given budget restraints smile.gif

Sorry for the "post" posting, but you reminded me of a post I read on this forum years back" "Listen with your ears, not your wallet"
post #38 of 90
I run 11.3 with audyssey dsx and my surrounds/widths/heights are always making some noise. Most of the time it's ambiant sounds. I don't think surrounds are as important as the front 3 or the sub(s), but your system will only sound as good as the weakest link, so I wouldn't advise being too cheap with the surrounds.
post #39 of 90
Craig John, I suggest you settle your beef and stop whining in every discussion you can with people who own Philharmonic Audio speakers. It's getting old, and clearly people don't really care what your opinion is.
post #40 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

My "true comparison" was audio emitted from the PSB400 as a surround, vs. audio (as I remember) emitted with the PSB400 as a front speaker. The difference was beyond comparison.

So, it is more the channel, and perhaps media, to a degree.

It's what the filmmakers decide to mix into the surround channels and what not to mix into them. As far as the media and formats are concerned, my understanding is that there is no difference between the front and surround channels.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

But it did "calibrate" my expectations; for my current space and furniture set up, AV equipment and dollars to spend, the lowly Infinitys won out. There is not enough of a tonal quality improvement to justify replacement.

The Infinity Primus series is more comparable to the Polk Monitor series, which you can also buy now for less than what you paid for the T15. I'm sorry that you got a bum deal on that--I had paid $50/pair for the R15 in the 1990s (on sale or clearance), so I felt that I got my money's worth at the time (they were a huge improvement over my HTIB speakers, but everything is relative). I did notice at one point that the R/M/T series of speakers was severely overpriced at Best Buy, and that might have been when you got yours.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Unfortunately I cannot set up a 7.1 (or 7.2) system currently. I am curious to see what the back channel does to the surround experience.

It adds some depth and "solidity" to the surround soundstage, but obviously you'd need to hear it for yourself. I can't use back surrounds right now myself, either, and I don't feel as though I'm missing out on THAT much, to tell you the truth. I'm not sure at this point whether it would be worth the money to add back surrounds, even if I could (sounds like I'll need to experiment some more wink.gif).
post #41 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

As for my system set up, I do run the surrounds a bit hotter than the rest. On a test tone check they are about +0.5dB higher than frt & ctr. I have actually reduced this level with the Infinity sats. I used to run much hotter with a 4-5dB higher level.

Turning up the center or surround channel levels is usually a fairly reliable sign that the speakers on that channel (or both) should be upgraded. It's not always the case, but greater clarity and lower distortion can usually take the place of increased loudness, and of course offer other benefits in addition. This has been known with regard to the center channel for a long time, but I've been seeing more complaints about surrounds lately, and it is useful to know that the same principle applies (to a point, depending on surround channel content).
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

My comment about "The Hunger Games" (in Blu Ray) for surround sound is that there are some scenes where the explosions are quite intense.

I just watched "The Hunger Games" at regular volume, and I have to say that it does have great-sounding LFE and really great surround sound--not the most surround channel content and actually not that dynamic in the surrounds per se, either, but very artfully and seamlessly integrated into the story. cool.gif When I say "not that dynamic" I'm referring to the surround channel content itself, which occasionally gets somewhat loud and bassy, but virtually all of the dynamics associated with these surround effects actually come from the front and/or LFE channels. The surround content is used to draw your attention to what's happening around and sometimes over you, providing directionality and some fill, while the other channels actually carry the main burden, and this seems to work fine while demanding rather little from the surround speakers. This would seem to argue in favor of the idea that small surrounds would be sufficient. That said, I did notice this, so the technique didn't work absolutely perfectly; by the way, I listened to the surround channels by themselves to confirm my observations.

I'm pretty sure that some movies' soundtracks actually do have loud, bassy, dynamic effects in their surround channels, so I almost reached for "Saving Private Ryan" or "Master and Commander" but decided to evaluate "Titanic" instead because I remembered some really big effects coming from the surrounds. This movie's surround content is actually quite old-fashioned for the first half of the movie, with a few clear directional effects but much more bandwidth-limited ambiance than anything else (and silence in many scenes)--well done and quite immersive, but perhaps short of outstanding by today's standards. But the second half of the movie--WOW! eek.gif I listened to the surround channels by themselves during some parts--with my subwoofer turned off and my surrounds set to Large--and a few of the effects actually rattled the windows a little and could be felt on the sofa and in my chest! Everybody knows that this movie has effects like this during the sinking, but this is without the front channels or the subwoofer. So to test the demands of a more typical configuration, I set my surrounds back to Small (crossed over at 80 Hz) but left the subwoofer turned off, and just as I had suspected the low mid-bass content was still there and could be felt nearly as strongly as before. Some of the effects were just bassy, but many were loud and a few were rather dynamic and pretty much like listening to the front channels during an action scene (very clear-sounding, too). I haven't gone as far as switching out surrounds yet, but I do know that some of these big effects are not mirrored in the fronts, so I'm pretty confident that those who use small surrounds with limited bass and output capabilities won't get exactly the intended effect; a higher crossover frequency may preserve much of the bass impact, but then there are overall dynamics to consider. Obviously this is just one example, but I'm sure that there are more of them.
Edited by Robert Cook - 3/30/13 at 12:08am
post #42 of 90
OP, I was wondering the same exact thing! Im sure new rears will slightly improve my setup but for the $300-$400 for bookshelfs plus another $50-100 for stands
I would think the money would be better off put towards a better sub or something else.

I currently have old Klipsch Quintet rears, And I will replace eventually but after A/B'ing them with a set of bookshelfs the returns were minimal.



Nothing as drastic as like replacing your front 3 with a high quality setup. They are really only active during movies, Now if you do a lot of multi-channel music
you can throw everything I just said out the window, But for video games & movies the change in sound wasnt that drastic.

Just my personal opinion nothing scientific or technical just what my ears heard.
post #43 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksr20 View Post

OP, I was wondering the same exact thing! Im sure new rears will slightly improve my setup but for the $300-$400 for bookshelfs plus another $50-100 for stands
I would think the money would be better off put towards a better sub or something else.

I currently have old Klipsch Quintet rears, And I will replace eventually but after A/B'ing them with a set of bookshelfs the returns were minimal.



Nothing as drastic as like replacing your front 3 with a high quality setup. They are really only active during movies, Now if you do a lot of multi-channel music
you can throw everything I just said out the window, But for video games & movies the change in sound wasnt that drastic.

Just my personal opinion nothing scientific or technical just what my ears heard.

As a wise poster stated, it is about what sounds good (or better) to you. I feel this is part of the "audiophile learning curve", as it seems to me that your speaker budget should somewhat follow the same "percentages" as the amount of sound coming out of the speaker channels. For example, the center speaker does most of the work, so logic says spend the most on this speaker. Obviously the fronts do a lot of work, so spend accordingly on them. Now (I think) the subwoofer becomes subjective; some people love the bass, others probably turn it down. So, the amount to spend on a sub should vary per your listening preferences. Which leaves us with the surround speakers, where the lowest percentage of sound is emitted, and as I have recently learned, I don't think it makes much of a difference.

So, in my opinion it comes down to your own budget and preferences. I now feel putting dollars into the surround speakers is a poor Return On Investment, or at the least, the last speakers to worry about for spending/upgrading, etc. If you feel the money is worth it, go for it. If you are some hesitance about spending the money, then wait.

Lastly, I highly recommend the suggestions in this post to try out your own better speakers in the surround positions. I substituted 'good" speakers, and did not really find a difference. At the least now, I have greatly reduced my "anxiety" about the quality of my surround speakers, and can focus on ones that have more "visual" acceptance ("the wife factor!").
post #44 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

Turning up the center or surround channel levels is usually a fairly reliable sign that the speakers on that channel (or both) should be upgraded. It's not always the case, but greater clarity and lower distortion can usually take the place of increased loudness, and of course offer other benefits in addition. This has been known with regard to the center channel for a long time, but I've been seeing more complaints about surrounds lately, and it is useful to know that the same principle applies (to a point, depending on surround channel content).


I'm not sure that I agree with this view, perhaps it is an expectation to "distinctly" hear the surrounds to validate that I have surround sound. Interestingly, I reviewed some of my old Owners Manuals, and some of the Sony manuals had it has a "tip" to increase surround channel volumes for more "effect". However, this also is directly related to your review below, which I will address there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

I just watched "The Hunger Games" at regular volume, and I have to say that it does have great-sounding LFE and really great surround sound--not the most surround channel content and actually not that dynamic in the surrounds per se, either, but very artfully and seamlessly integrated into the story. cool.gif When I say "not that dynamic" I'm referring to the surround channel content itself, which occasionally gets somewhat loud and bassy, but virtually all of the dynamics associated with these surround effects actually come from the front and/or LFE channels. The surround content is used to draw your attention to what's happening around and sometimes over you, providing directionality and some fill, while the other channels actually carry the main burden, and this seems to work fine while demanding rather little from the surround speakers. This would seem to argue in favor of the idea that small surrounds would be sufficient. That said, I did notice this, so the technique didn't work absolutely perfectly; by the way, I listened to the surround channels by themselves to confirm my observations.

I'm pretty sure that some movies' soundtracks actually do have loud, bassy, dynamic effects in their surround channels, so I almost reached for "Saving Private Ryan" or "Master and Commander" but decided to evaluate "Titanic" instead because I remembered some really big effects coming from the surrounds. This movie's surround content is actually quite old-fashioned for the first half of the movie, with a few clear directional effects but much more bandwidth-limited ambiance than anything else (and silence in many scenes)--well done and quite immersive, but perhaps short of outstanding by today's standards. But the second half of the movie--WOW! eek.gif I listened to the surround channels by themselves during some parts--with my subwoofer turned off and my surrounds set to Large--and a few of the effects actually rattled the windows a little and could be felt on the sofa and in my chest! Everybody knows that this movie has effects like this during the sinking, but this is without the front channels or the subwoofer. So to test the demands of a more typical configuration, I set my surrounds back to Small (crossed over at 80 Hz) but left the subwoofer turned off, and just as I had suspected the low mid-bass content was still there and could be felt nearly as strongly as before. Some of the effects were just bassy, but many were loud and a few were rather dynamic and pretty much like listening to the front channels during an action scene (very clear-sounding, too). I haven't gone as far as switching out surrounds yet, but I do know that some of these big effects are not mirrored in the fronts, so I'm pretty confident that those who use small surrounds with limited bass and output capabilities won't get exactly the intended effect; a higher crossover frequency may preserve much of the bass impact, but then there are overall dynamics to consider. Obviously this is just one example, but I'm sure that there are more of them.

I also have noticed some of these differences, and first you answered a burning question I had about whether setting the surrounds to "Large" would be an audible difference. But, I think we have all noticed that certain movies are "better" at surround sound. Whether the "better" is simply louder, more distinct or has more bass. I do find myself having to turn down the surrounds while playing some movies, or even Blu Ray versions.

Further you nailed it with the statement "pretty much like listening to the front channels". I think this was what my expectations were leaning towards. Perhaps it is a learning curve to calibrate your "listening ears" that it is an "apples to oranges" comparison, that the surrounds will never sound like the fronts, center etc. I think this is the same as "untrained" ears perceive a "bassier" speaker as better sounding than a "flat" speaker.

I must compliment your observations and comments, as you have been spot on. For me, the biggest benefit has been eliminating my "system anxiety", which I think we can all relate to.
post #45 of 90
This is certainly an interesting debate. And, as some have pointed out, a lot of this is opinion. I also find that the opinions seem to be embroiled around the ideal performance vs. $$$$. I hope that in their heart of hearts nobody is trying to defend or rationalize their systems or purchases because of their financial situation, nor influance others to go along with them because they had to or decided to spend certain ways. That helps no one and solves nothing, ultimately leading to nasty discussions centered around not facts, but pride.

Personally and professionally, I have always been taught that the ideal thing to do is have all 7 channels be voice matched as much as possble. This way, the system is assured the least amount of varriation between the sound fields. Does that mean it is REQUIRED to have voice matched speakers in order to love your sound system? Absolutely NOT NOT NOT!

But, lets throw another idea out there. I listen to most of my TV in ALL CHANNEL STEREO. Sporting events, especially, and often times music, depending on what I am listening to. For this, having mixed and matched front/rear speakers would be strange sounding and a detrament to my enjoyment. This is somethng that, if I were an end-user with these listening habbits, would certainly influence my speaker selection.

Lastly, for anyone who is letting their pride get in the way of progress in these spirited debates, I would like to share a quick story...

I have been doing a frame off restoring of a classic muscle car (1968 Pontiac Firebird) for the past year and a half. Some of it is stock, some of it is resto-mod. In designing the engine I had two choices to pick from. #1, a 550 hp sbc 383 stroker for $7,500. #2, an 800 hp 383 with twin turbos for around $12,000. I was really torn. The $12,000 cost would have also required significant changes elsewhere in the car financially as well been more challenging to drive on the street. Regardless, I was all set to go with it. Then, my buddy's father, who's family does these cars and has for 50 years or more, said to me, "No matter how much you spend or how big the engine is, there will always be a faster car". I went with the cheaper engine. This does not make me think people with monster engines wasted money. I appreciate and am in awe of what they have and it is so so much fun to talk to them about their stuff, share about mine, and see how different and personal our cars are to us.

But, at the same time, I know that I have the best thing for what I was gong to do with it, which was drive it around on the street a few hundred miles a month a few months out of the year and take it to car shows and cruise-ins with our little boy. Like audio equipment, if my needs or desires change n the future I can swap the engine out, lose my butt sellingit, and then pay through the nose for a different setup. The fun part is... the option is always there!

I hope this helps some people calm down a little and put their systems or choices in perspective in relation to this thread. And, uh, if not... .. Wanna race? smile.gif
post #46 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

This is certainly an interesting debate. And, as some have pointed out, a lot of this is opinion. I also find that the opinions seem to be embroiled around the ideal performance vs. $$$$. I hope that in their heart of hearts nobody is trying to defend or rationalize their systems or purchases because of their financial situation, nor influance others to go along with them because they had to or decided to spend certain ways. That helps no one and solves nothing, ultimately leading to nasty discussions centered around not facts, but pride.

Personally and professionally, I have always been taught that the ideal thing to do is have all 7 channels be voice matched as much as possble. This way, the system is assured the least amount of varriation between the sound fields. Does that mean it is REQUIRED to have voice matched speakers in order to love your sound system? Absolutely NOT NOT NOT!

But, lets throw another idea out there. I listen to most of my TV in ALL CHANNEL STEREO. Sporting events, especially, and often times music, depending on what I am listening to. For this, having mixed and matched front/rear speakers would be strange sounding and a detrament to my enjoyment. This is somethng that, if I were an end-user with these listening habbits, would certainly influence my speaker selection.

Lastly, for anyone who is letting their pride get in the way of progress in these spirited debates, I would like to share a quick story...

I have been doing a frame off restoring of a classic muscle car (1968 Pontiac Firebird) for the past year and a half. Some of it is stock, some of it is resto-mod. In designing the engine I had two choices to pick from. #1, a 550 hp sbc 383 stroker for $7,500. #2, an 800 hp 383 with twin turbos for around $12,000. I was really torn. The $12,000 cost would have also required significant changes elsewhere in the car financially as well been more challenging to drive on the street. Regardless, I was all set to go with it. Then, my buddy's father, who's family does these cars and has for 50 years or more, said to me, "No matter how much you spend or how big the engine is, there will always be a faster car". I went with the cheaper engine. This does not make me think people with monster engines wasted money. I appreciate and am in awe of what they have and it is so so much fun to talk to them about their stuff, share about mine, and see how different and personal our cars are to us.

But, at the same time, I know that I have the best thing for what I was gong to do with it, which was drive it around on the street a few hundred miles a month a few months out of the year and take it to car shows and cruise-ins with our little boy. Like audio equipment, if my needs or desires change n the future I can swap the engine out, lose my butt sellingit, and then pay through the nose for a different setup. The fun part is... the option is always there!

I hope this helps some people calm down a little and put their systems or choices in perspective in relation to this thread. And, uh, if not... .. Wanna race? smile.gif

As the OP, I have found it an interesting discussion (notice I did not quote debate!) as well. I think what has touched a nerve or chord here is the "expectations realm". I feel you are correct that ideally all speakers should match. However, the majority of buyers probably do not know how to do this matching. I can openly say that I am not sure I can, I'm sort of relying on a "hit or miss" approach. The amount of "options" available on the market are mindblowing; hence all the questions on these forums "which ____ should I buy?"

I think some of the posters are finding a relief in this "debate" thread, that there is at least one item/thing to "stress" less about, and perhaps the validation that they spent $$$$ on speakers and they don't really hear a difference. Believe me, it took a while and thought to post my original question. I admit that I do not want to appear as if "I do not know" or that "I can't afford it".

Further, we are bombarded with marketing and "peer pressure" in our purchases. I do know that I walk into "The Magnolia Room" and I think most of the systems do not sound as good as my "patchwork" system. For many years I have also questioned whether I had the "ears" to tell a good speaker from a "not so good" one.

So, in the end it is about what you feel is the "most value". We can never get away from the $$$ vs performance debates, that's what the marketplace is all about. I think most folks are looking for the best value for them.

As a related anecdote; I remember when I was 18 years old and called the local "Stereo store" to ask how late they were open. The owner replied "how much do you want to spend?" I laughed then, and I laugh harder now, as that reply said it all!
post #47 of 90
One thing that I do not believe has been mentioned in this discussion is room correction. Take the "lowly" Infinity P163s and run them in 5.1 or 7.1 in all positions via something like Audyssey XT32, one can end up with unbelievable audio, but that requires proper setup, not a given, and a somewhat expensive AVR that is disproportionate, cost-wise, relative to the cost of the speakers. The biggest myth today in speakers is that one has to spend a lot of money on the front speakers and that is not true when it comes to full blown home theater systems that are not running in a room like a warehouse where more drivers can simply move more air. As mentioned previously, one would want the same drivers in all of the speakers, if not the same speaker, and that is more than financially feasible with P163s. It is just too bad that one of the first major upgrades in hardware is to change out the fronts and ignore what can be done with what one currently has. So the "lowly" Infinity P163s are good surround speakers as well as fronts.
post #48 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

This is certainly an interesting debate. And, as some have pointed out, a lot of this is opinion. I also find that the opinions seem to be embroiled around the ideal performance vs. $$$$. I hope that in their heart of hearts nobody is trying to defend or rationalize their systems or purchases because of their financial situation, nor influance others to go along with them because they had to or decided to spend certain ways.

Personally and professionally, I have always been taught that the ideal thing to do is have all 7 channels be voice matched as much as possble. This way, the system is assured the least amount of varriation between the sound fields. Does that mean it is REQUIRED to have voice matched speakers in order to love your sound system? Absolutely NOT NOT NOT!

I agree 100% everything should be timbre matched ( rears are probably less noticeable then say a center channel ) but none the less should be matched ( My rears are not matched,,,,,, YET! )
Ill be buying matching rears soon just wanted to get the most important stuff up to speed first ( Mains / Center ) .
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

But, lets throw another idea out there. I listen to most of my TV in ALL CHANNEL STEREO. Sporting events, especially, and often times music, depending on what I am listening to. For this, having mixed and matched front/rear speakers would be strange sounding and a detrament to my enjoyment. This is somethng that, if I were an end-user with these listening habbits, would certainly influence my speaker selection.

Exactly!!! If you do alot of 5ch / 7ch stereo or multi-channel audio its more important to have it all matched I agree. ( overall it should be matched regardless if you can ).
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post


Lastly, for anyone who is letting their pride get in the way of progress in these spirited debates, I would like to share a quick story...

I have been doing a frame off restoring of a classic muscle car (1968 Pontiac Firebird) for the past year and a half. Some of it is stock, some of it is resto-mod. In designing the engine I had two choices to pick from. #1, a 550 hp sbc 383 stroker for $7,500. #2, an 800 hp 383 with twin turbos for around $12,000. I was really torn. The $12,000 cost would have also required significant changes elsewhere in the car financially as well been more challenging to drive on the street. Regardless, I was all set to go with it. Then, my buddy's father, who's family does these cars and has for 50 years or more, said to me, "No matter how much you spend or how big the engine is, there will always be a faster car". I went with the cheaper engine. This does not make me think people with monster engines wasted money. I appreciate and am in awe of what they have and it is so so much fun to talk to them about their stuff, share about mine, and see how different and personal our cars are to us.

But, at the same time, I know that I have the best thing for what I was gong to do with it, which was drive it around on the street a few hundred miles a month a few months out of the year and take it to car shows and cruise-ins with our little boy. Like audio equipment, if my needs or desires change n the future I can swap the engine out, lose my butt sellingit, and then pay through the nose for a different setup. The fun part is... the option is always there!

I hope this helps some people calm down a little and put their systems or choices in perspective in relation to this thread. And, uh, if not... .. Wanna race? smile.gif

Couldn't agree with you more, While there are right ways to do things that are a fact its always best to choose what fits your needs now by that I dont
mean money wise, Knowledge is free and there is so much of it on these forums.

If you have a certain budget you can still design your dream setup done the right way, Things like picking the right receiver for the job, matching speakers,
setting up room position for best performance etc is all FREE FREE FREE. Just pick the stuff that sounds best to you in your price range.

I only meant in order of magnitude ( sub / mains / center / receiver / etc ) the rears were the least important but yet still important. When I recently picked my
new mains and receiver it was after reading countless reviews, owners threads, finding who had the best sound to my ears for the money etc and then set
out to see each piece in person and lastly DEMO DEMO DEMO because one guys favorite sound may not match yours..

After doing my due diligence for the cash I wanted to spend I felt I did great and all you guys can do the same.
And btw I will be getting matching rears soon smile.gif Just is the last piece to my always changing puzzle.

In the end Enjoy the music .... or movies!

PS..

That car story is 100% the truth, there will always be someone faster and having XX amount of HP on the street is useless if its just a fun weekend street car.
I have a semi project / restore im working on as well ( not classic muscle but still classic ) 92 Sentra SE-R and when building my turbo setup I didnt shoot for 700hp
or any crazy # I built to a modest 325WHP that I can enjoy on the street or track and well as enjoy a reliable ride.. What fun is spinning all over smile.gif

DG
Edited by quiksr20 - 3/31/13 at 11:29am
post #49 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

So, in my opinion it comes down to your own budget and preferences. I now feel putting dollars into the surround speakers is a poor Return On Investment, or at the least, the last speakers to worry about for spending/upgrading, etc. If you feel the money is worth it, go for it. If you are some hesitance about spending the money, then wait.

This depends on whether the surrounds that you're currently using are "good enough," though--if not, then upgrading your surrounds could be a very good return on investment. That said, I agree that the point of diminishing returns is sooner reached for surrounds than for the other channels, and this is reflected in my recommendations for others that have even included $50/pair surrounds or no surrounds in some extreme cases (often due to budget or individual priorities).
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Lastly, I highly recommend the suggestions in this post to try out your own better speakers in the surround positions. I substituted 'good" speakers, and did not really find a difference. At the least now, I have greatly reduced my "anxiety" about the quality of my surround speakers, and can focus on ones that have more "visual" acceptance ("the wife factor!").

That's because your surrounds are now good enough, in your estimation (after having upgraded them from speakers that weren't), making further upgrades to even better speakers unnecessary--you've reached your point of rapidly diminishing returns, and that's good. Of course, this always depends on the content--for most multichannel music and for movies that are mixed like "Ratatouille" for example, having fully-matched speakers can make a noticeable improvement. Then one must consider how common this is, and while I think it's becoming more common over time, movies that place major demands on the quality, bass, and dynamic capabilities of the surrounds are definitely still in the minority--even "The Hunger Games," which has a fantastically involving surround mix overall, demands relatively little from the surround speakers themselves (quality helps some here, but they can just be small, "good enough" speakers).
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

Turning up the center or surround channel levels is usually a fairly reliable sign that the speakers on that channel (or both) should be upgraded. It's not always the case, but greater clarity and lower distortion can usually take the place of increased loudness, and of course offer other benefits in addition. This has been known with regard to the center channel for a long time, but I've been seeing more complaints about surrounds lately, and it is useful to know that the same principle applies (to a point, depending on surround channel content).

I'm not sure that I agree with this view, perhaps it is an expectation to "distinctly" hear the surrounds to validate that I have surround sound.

Well, you're free to disagree, obviously, but it is based in part on what you had said earlier:
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

My first reaction is that my "cheap" Infinity Primus speakers sound better than the Polk T15 model. Though I am not surprised; I thought I was buying an "adequate" speaker set at $200/pair with the "Polk name". Then to see them at Best Buy for $40/pair this XMas season was a blow! I now see what I really purchased.

As for my system set up, I do run the surrounds a bit hotter than the rest. On a test tone check they are about +0.5dB higher than frt & ctr. I have actually reduced this level with the Infinity sats. I used to run much hotter with a 4-5dB higher level.

I interpreted this as the T15s being inadequate for you and in need of upgrading, with the increased level at which you ran them as supporting evidence. I may have misinterpreted what you meant, but even in that case if the Infinity speakers sound significantly better to you when running at more or less equal levels to the left & right fronts, then I think that this upgrade was warranted and worthwhile. For most people, your Infinity would be good enough, and would not need to be further upgraded. Additionally, I was talking about people who used surrounds of lower quality, even much lower than the T15s that you had been using as surrounds (been there, done that myself).
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Interestingly, I reviewed some of my old Owners Manuals, and some of the Sony manuals had it has a "tip" to increase surround channel volumes for more "effect".

I would never do this with my surrounds because they would noticeably distract attention from the front soundstage at times when they're not supposed to be doing that--I run all of my speakers at equal volume, exclusively, and the overall surround sound that I get is very full and cohesive with good soundtracks. When I used surround speakers of much lower quality, however, I usually ran them hot myself, by about 2-3 dB, and I've seen others do this, too. I'm not surprised that Sony would recommend this in their manuals because their speakers are of low quality (while I can't prove that this is the reason, it is more "circumstantial evidence" to add to the pile).
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

I also have noticed some of these differences, and first you answered a burning question I had about whether setting the surrounds to "Large" would be an audible difference.

The reason that I set my surrounds to Large was so that I could hear as much of the surround content as possible with the subwoofer turned off, and the reason that I had to turn it off was so that it wouldn't reproduce the contents of the LFE channel; otherwise I would have left the subwoofer on for the initial test and set the surrounds to Small. The point was not about the difference that setting the surrounds to Large would make, but to learn what the surround channels themselves contain, independent of the other channels, which then informs us as to the requirements of surround speakers. As for the latter, there are several aspects that can be considered independently, for the most part: sound quality, bass capability, and dynamic capability. The last two generally have a relationship with size, which relates to other factors such as aesthetics and placement.

To sum up what I've learned so far regarding the relationship between surround channel content and surround speakers:
1) Sound quality is important, up to a point, and can reduce the need that some people feel to turn their surrounds louder than the fronts (much like how some people turn their centers up). That said, the point of diminishing returns is different for everybody and comes along earlier than for the fronts and perhaps the subwoofer.
2) Timbre-matching makes multichannel music and some movie soundtracks sound noticeably better, but it is not critical for most content, including most movies--match if you can, or compromise here if you must.
3) Size matters, but only for a few effects in some movies--usually you can get away with smaller surrounds (still preferably crossed over at 80 Hz to avoid subwoofer localization), and the most you'd probably ever need for normal home theater use is a normal-sized bookshelf speaker (then again, there are no absolutes here, either).

If you're going to go with surround speakers that are relatively small or significantly cheaper than your fronts, then there is probably going to be some compromise, and that might be OK, as whether it would be worthwhile to upgrade is always a big question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

But, I think we have all noticed that certain movies are "better" at surround sound. Whether the "better" is simply louder, more distinct or has more bass. I do find myself having to turn down the surrounds while playing some movies, or even Blu Ray versions.

Yeah, that's the other part of the equation--content varies greatly, as already stated, but so do expectations. I have talked to people, including myself wink.gif, about surrounds that just weren't getting the job done, and in those conversations it was always important to know what to expect from each example that was used--you can't criticize your surround speakers based on weak or undemanding content, much like you can't judge surround content with weak or low-quality speakers, which is why we have to talk to others to get their perspectives from using different equipment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Further you nailed it with the statement "pretty much like listening to the front channels". I think this was what my expectations were leaning towards. Perhaps it is a learning curve to calibrate your "listening ears" that it is an "apples to oranges" comparison, that the surrounds will never sound like the fronts, center etc. I think this is the same as "untrained" ears perceive a "bassier" speaker as better sounding than a "flat" speaker.

I did set out to seek exceptions to the rule, and I found some, but the general rule still is that you cannot expect such content in the surrounds in the vast majority of cases. Even the movie that I used as an example has only a handful of such effects, if that. Modern movies tend to have more examples of clear, distinct surround effects, but the vast majority of them are quieter than what you'd find in the front channels, and sometimes are supported by the front and LFE channels. I think that re-recording mixers are still trying to take it easy on the surround speakers because they know that in most cases--including commercial movie theaters--the surrounds will be smaller and less dynamic than the fronts. That said, there are rare exceptions like the ones that I found (I could point them out specifically if you'd like). I will continue to listen to and evaluate surround channel content in isolation from the other channels whenever I get a chance, although it is pretty time-consuming...or maybe I'll create some surround channel waterfall graphs like some folks do for the LFE channel, instead.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

I must compliment your observations and comments, as you have been spot on. For me, the biggest benefit has been eliminating my "system anxiety", which I think we can all relate to.

I'd feel pretty good using your Infinity bookshelf speakers as surrounds, actually--they're large and capable enough, and sound good enough for the vast majority of surround channel content. Personally, however, I'd still pop for fully-matched surrounds because I think it's worthwhile for when there is music content in the surrounds and front-to-back panned effects and such. I've used and helped install a wide variety of systems, so I've heard just about every combination that we're talking about. But that's just me and my level of "system anxiety"--others may not find these things very important.
post #50 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

I just watched "The Hunger Games" at regular volume, .... the second half of the movie--WOW! eek.gif I listened to the surround channels by themselves during some parts--with my subwoofer turned off and my surrounds set to Large--.... I haven't gone as far as switching out surrounds yet, but I do know that some of these big effects are not mirrored in the fronts, so I'm pretty confident that those who use small surrounds with limited bass and output capabilities won't get exactly the intended effect; a higher crossover frequency may preserve much of the bass impact, but then there are overall dynamics to consider.

Not to further the debate, but Robert your comment prompted me to try my surrounds with the setting changed from "Small" to "Large". I'm listening to music (CDs) in PL II Music mode. I do notice a definite difference, in fact more of a quality difference than switching to larger/better speakers.BTW I have the crossover set at 100.

I will have to listen to TV, movies, etc. to judge if this a true improvement. Which brings me to the question(s), is it best to set all the speakers in SS to "small"? I've always tried to follow the recommendation to set all to small, but I have set my fronts to "Large" when I started putting in the larger speakers (w/woofers > 6").

Any suggestions on set up would be appreciated.
post #51 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Not to further the debate, but Robert your comment prompted me to try my surrounds with the setting changed from "Small" to "Large". I'm listening to music (CDs) in PL II Music mode. I do notice a definite difference, in fact more of a quality difference than switching to larger/better speakers.BTW I have the crossover set at 100.

I will have to listen to TV, movies, etc. to judge if this a true improvement. Which brings me to the question(s), is it best to set all the speakers in SS to "small"? I've always tried to follow the recommendation to set all to small, but I have set my fronts to "Large" when I started putting in the larger speakers (w/woofers > 6").

Any suggestions on set up would be appreciated.

Oh no he di'in't! Pandora just opened the box! eek.gif

PS: They should ALL be set to small per Dolby Labs AC3 (Dolby Digital) white papers.
post #52 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

Personally and professionally, I have always been taught that the ideal thing to do is have all 7 channels be voice matched as much as possble. This way, the system is assured the least amount of varriation between the sound fields. Does that mean it is REQUIRED to have voice matched speakers in order to love your sound system? Absolutely NOT NOT NOT!

Right, it's much like buying better speakers--after a point the improvement is going to be pretty subtle, perhaps too subtle to justify greater expenditure. And because the surround channels most often contain effects that are not very loud, dynamic, or bassy, they have the lowest priority from the get-go. That said, I'd be a liar if I claimed that there is never any improvement in using better surrounds (to my ears, at least)--the question is whether to spend 90% more to gain that extra 10% of performance. smile.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

But, lets throw another idea out there. I listen to most of my TV in ALL CHANNEL STEREO. Sporting events, especially, and often times music, depending on what I am listening to. For this, having mixed and matched front/rear speakers would be strange sounding and a detrament to my enjoyment. This is somethng that, if I were an end-user with these listening habbits, would certainly influence my speaker selection.

Exactly, hence the references to multichannel music, as well as examples of movie soundtracks with surround channels that contain substantial portions of the score (which effectively makes them pieces of multichannel music) and effects that are imaged and panned between the fronts and surrounds (there are more than a few of those among action movies). You can still enjoy such content on any system, but a fully-matched and properly set up system will be more cohesive and consistent. It's not unlike calibrating your display, I guess--maybe it doesn't matter most of the time, but at least you know that you're seeing what you're supposed to see, and in some cases you'll see some things a little better, as movies tend to be dark, and calibrated displays tend to show low-light details better than displays that still have all kinds of superfluous processing going on, such as contrast enhancers. Room correction can help a lot in this regard, but not completely.
post #53 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Not to further the debate, but Robert your comment prompted me to try my surrounds with the setting changed from "Small" to "Large". I'm listening to music (CDs) in PL II Music mode. I do notice a definite difference, in fact more of a quality difference than switching to larger/better speakers.BTW I have the crossover set at 100.

The subwoofer crossover doesn't matter when you set a speaker to Large (although this may depend on the particular AVR and certain other settings), but what you're getting is the full range of the surround channels' content playing through your surround speakers. This may sound better to you, and you could probably run them that way if you wish, but in principle all of the speakers should be set to Small because all of the channels can potentially contain bass down to 20 Hz and lower, and you wouldn't want to miss out on that (or pump it through smaller speakers).

Perhaps this is rare in the surrounds, and even the examples I found and described above had mostly chest-vibrating mid-bass from 80 Hz on up, but just in case, the ideal setup would have all of the speakers set to Small. Like I said earlier, I only set mine to Large temporarily to avoid using the subwoofer in order to effectively silence the LFE channel--that's it, and nothing else.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

I will have to listen to TV, movies, etc. to judge if this a true improvement. Which brings me to the question(s), is it best to set all the speakers in SS to "small"? I've always tried to follow the recommendation to set all to small, but I have set my fronts to "Large" when I started putting in the larger speakers (w/woofers > 6").

They should ALL be set to Small because the frequency range of the channels, in terms of potential, exceeds that of the speakers. Some people use a mode ("LFE+Mains" or whatever) that sends the bass below the crossover to the subwoofer while still sending the full-range content to the left & right front speakers (or perhaps any that are set to Large), but that's sort of a different matter, and I'm not sure which AVRs, if any, include surrounds that are marked as Large in this scheme. My recommendation is to set all of the speakers to Small and use appropriate subwoofer crossovers for each type of speaker; as for the crossover frequency, I generally stick with 80 Hz for systems used with movies even if a speaker can handle lower frequencies because it takes a heavy burden from them and the AVR while practically eliminating subwoofer localization issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Any suggestions on set up would be appreciated.

The bottom line is to do whatever sounds best to you, but in my view there is also a right way to do things, in order to cover all of the bases, which is what I just described above. You may get a noticeable improvement, even with your surrounds set to Small, from changing your surround crossover from 100 Hz to 80 Hz because some of that is localizable and should be coming from your surround speakers as opposed to your subwoofer anyway. If this doesn't seem to help enough, then try lowering the surround crossover to 60 Hz, but keep the surrounds set to Small.
post #54 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

Right, it's much like buying better speakers--after a point the improvement is going to be pretty subtle, perhaps too subtle to justify greater expenditure. And because the surround channels most often contain effects that are not very loud, dynamic, or bassy, they have the lowest priority from the get-go. That said, I'd be a liar if I claimed that there is never any improvement in using better surrounds (to my ears, at least)--the question is whether to spend 90% more to gain that extra 10% of performance. smile.gif
Exactly, hence the references to multichannel music, as well as examples of movie soundtracks with surround channels that contain substantial portions of the score (which effectively makes them pieces of multichannel music) and effects that are imaged and panned between the fronts and surrounds (there are more than a few of those among action movies). You can still enjoy such content on any system, but a fully-matched and properly set up system will be more cohesive and consistent. It's not unlike calibrating your display, I guess--maybe it doesn't matter most of the time, but at least you know that you're seeing what you're supposed to see, and in some cases you'll see some things a little better, as movies tend to be dark, and calibrated displays tend to show low-light details better than displays that still have all kinds of superfluous processing going on, such as contrast enhancers. Room correction can help a lot in this regard, but not completely.

So do you think it would be wiser to forego better fronts to match surrounds? Like mentioned in this thread regarding infinity p163 for all 5 channels. That versus having 2 infinity p363 and 3 x p163's for center and surround.
post #55 of 90
I have always been a believer that the surrounds should be from the same mfg as your mains but they do not need to be from the same family. It would not make sense for me financially to use the same monitors in the rear as I use in the front.

My rears are from the family of speakers that are two levels down from my mains and center. It has worked out great and audio has been terrific for movies ( don't listening to multi-channel music).

I am about to break my own rules, ha. I am in a condo with an average size living room and behind it is my dining area. An open concept. My rears must be on stands as I can't mount rears on the dining room rear wall. It would be too far away from primary seating area. My issue it that I have pulled my couch up closer to display so that rears can be in a decent location. My dog has also knocked the right monitor three times now over a couple of years. Today being third time.

I have decided to try something different. Move from Dynaudio Focus 110 to Focal Dome for rears only. Not only are they a different mfg but the driver types are totally different.
I am going to try with a 30 day return.

They look great, will fit my space better and be dog friendly. BUT I am going backwards and breaking all my rules. How bad will it be? I will let you know next weekend.

How big a difference will I hear? Mmmmm

From this: http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1208/dynaudio_focus_110.htm

To this:
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=focal+dome+with+stands&qpvt=focal+dome+with+stands&FORM=IGRE

Rick
Edited by Mr.SoftDome - 3/31/13 at 3:49pm
post #56 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

...The bottom line is to do whatever sounds best to you, but in my view there is also a right way to do things, in order to cover all of the bases, which is what I just described above. You may get a noticeable improvement, even with your surrounds set to Small, from changing your surround crossover from 100 Hz to 80 Hz because some of that is localizable and should be coming from your surround speakers as opposed to your subwoofer anyway. If this doesn't seem to help enough, then try lowering the surround crossover to 60 Hz, but keep the surrounds set to Small.

Okay, time for the OP to start over!!
To start, I changed a "variable" inbetween posts, changing out my fronts. I went from BA CR9s back to my old favorites PSB 400s.The wife won't allow the Snells in the living room!
But...per your suggestion Robert, I set ALL speakers to "Small", and changed the crossover to 80Hz. Further, I went back and "test toned" the levels, with some fine tuning. Just as a note, I run NO equalization, solely direct sound.

Further, I am one of those that listen to all media in ALL CHANNEL as we call it. TV is the largest usage in my household, and watched mostly in DD 5.1. The "DD stereo" channels default to PL II Movie, music is listened to in PL II Music. DVDs are all listened to in native format.

So, I'm going to try this set up for a while.I have the same problem as the previous poster with the room layout and furniture set up. Thanks for the help, and me moving me up the learning curve. I also must say there has been a lot of good information and help in this thread. Thanks to all.
post #57 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsaville View Post

The idea that surround channels are only used for the occasional bird chirp, flyover, or gunshot and can be treated as an afterthought is archaic IMO. In many modern soundtracks, the surround channels are active for 90% of the film and are used to fully immerse you in the material. In this case, your old HTiB speakers from your college dorm days aren't going to cut it.

Let's assume arguendo your 90% figure is true. It's still the answer to the wrong question.

The relevant and material question is not "how much content is back there?" Rather, the important question is "how discerning is the human auditory system to differences in spectral balance and location cues in the rearward hemisphere, compared to the front hemisphere?"

The answer to the question that matters is, in short, "not very."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

One of the most respected speaker makers and cross over designers around recommended to me to get NHT Absolute Zero's for surrounds. That is after I went to him to buy his Monitors. He told me straight out it was over kill to use his monitors as surrounds.

The Absolute Zero may be a bit light for some uses, depending on the size of the room, but it is a speaker with wide and fairly even horizontal dispersion.

Dr. Floyd Toole makes some interesting recommendations for surrounds, too. Here's how he starts 18.4.4, which he titled "The Perfect Surround Loudspeaker"

"A very wide, uniform horizontal directivity pattern is needed to provide the localization cues for directed sound effects and to establish the basis for the perception of envelopment. Conventional forward firing or bidirectional in-phase on-wall loudspeakers are eminently capable of delivering those experiences, but excellence is guaranteed only for the central seating area. As listeners move toward the sides, sounds arriving from the nearer loudspeaker get rapidly louder, and those from the opposite loudspeaker get quieter. The sense of envelopment is progressively diminished, and it eventually disappears, replaced by sound emerging from the nearby loudspeaker. Figure 16.8 explains the cause— propagation loss—and proposes one solution: full-height line-source loudspeakers. However, as good as they may be, for reasons of size and cost they are not practical solutions for the mass market. A target performance for “the perfect surround” loudspeaker was also proposed: a loudspeaker with, in effect, no propagation loss."
Toole, Sound Reproduction, at 407.

It's worth noting what is completely absent here, or elsewhere in the book: any reference to the surrounds "matching" the mains in any way.

I've considered buying a pair of the smaller JBL CBT speakers (the ones with 8 or 16 2-inch drivers) to see if they are indeed an improvement over the standard "concentric driver firing up" approach that I've consistently found to offer the best compromise thus far.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

You can go pretty darn cheap (if it is the right speaker) and have no discernible negative effect on sound quality.

That is also my experience. A while back now (2005 or 2006) I spent a fair bit of money to upgrade my side and rear surrounds. My previous surrounds were KEF Q-Compact speakers, which were solidly in the good-not-great category. On the plus side, they had wide and even dispersion in the midrange, though some audible flaring in the penultimate octave (5-10 kHz). On the minus side, when used as front speakers they sounded nasal, and with just a 5" concentric driver they couldn't go that loud. Their replacements used Tannoy 8" Dual Concentrics and were very similar to the front three speakers. (The front three speakers did use Tannoy's "next level up" 8" concentric driver, in stouter cabinets.)

I eagerly cued up my multichannel SACD's and DVD-A's. (I'm more a music guy than a movie guy - honestly, I'm not sure I've ever intentionally planned to re-watch a movie.) The result was..."really, that's it?"

I was so puzzled that I put two of Q-Compacts up front, turned off all processing, and listened in stereo. Sure enough, they sounded rounded off compared to the Tannoys, and nasal. The highs sounded slightly less natural too. Then I tried the Tannoys I bought to replace them, crudely level-matched (the Tannoys were considerably more efficient), and they were just much much better all around.

Since then, I haven't much cared about surrounds. I do prefer surrounds that are more-or-less similar to the mains, but on aesthetic rather than functional grounds.
Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksr20 View Post

[Personally and professionally, I have always been taught that the ideal thing to do is have all 7 channels be voice matched as much as possble.

"Matching" is a BS marketing conceit with no basis in reality. (Unless one's talking about a cosmetic match.)

In the real world, there is "identical," and there is "not identical." If some marketer says "matched" on its own or paired with some adjective such as "voice" or "timbre," one can intepret that word/phrase simply as "not identical."

The front three mains should be identical, if at all possible. ("Identical" here meaning same speaker, same height, same orientation.) Speakers to the sides and rears need not be identical.
post #58 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post


In the real world, there is "identical," and there is "not identical." If some marketer says "matched" on its own or paired with some adjective such as "voice" or "timbre," one can intepret that word/phrase simply as "not identical."

The front three mains should be identical, if at all possible. ("Identical" here meaning same speaker, same height, same orientation.) Speakers to the sides and rears need not be identical.

I meant matched as in the same family... IE I run PSB Image T5 mains & a C5 center ( same tweeter / same woofer ) and for rears I will be getting matching as in a small book shelf from the same family a B5
( there bookshelf with same woofer as mains ( 1 ) and same tweeter. Hope that makes sense what I meant by matching def didnt mean marketing talk.
post #59 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by csgamer View Post

So do you think it would be wiser to forego better fronts to match surrounds? Like mentioned in this thread regarding infinity p163 for all 5 channels. That versus having 2 infinity p363 and 3 x p163's for center and surround.

In the example you gave, I would give someone the advice to get the best you can while still being able to afford daily life. You have to have priorities in life and having speakers is a luxury/lifestyle choice where the necessities are exactly just that.

The Infinity P363 has a street price of $200(ish). 5 of those and someone would be at $1,000 total.

The savings difference, between the P363 and the other model, P163, you listed is over 50% at street pricing. $500+ is a tremendous amount of money if your budget is $1000. I completely understand making the cost cutting move. At $1000 for all 5 channels, there is not going to be any sort of perfect system performance or anywhere even close when comparing to more expensive rigs so concessions at these lowest possible price points are certainly not anything someone should fret about one way or the other.

Systems at price points of (arbitrarily) $3,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, etc., etc. and on and on up will be able to strive for and achieve different levels of performance than someone at $500 or $1,000 should expect to get.
post #60 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

In the example you gave, I would give someone the advice to get the best you can while still being able to afford daily life. You have to have priorities in life and having speakers is a luxury/lifestyle choice where the necessities are exactly just that.

The Infinity P363 has a street price of $200(ish). 5 of those and someone would be at $1,000 total.

The savings difference, between the P363 and the other model, P163, you listed is over 50% at street pricing. $500+ is a tremendous amount of money if your budget is $1000. I completely understand making the cost cutting move. At $1000 for all 5 channels, there is not going to be any sort of perfect system performance or anywhere even close when comparing to more expensive rigs so concessions at these lowest possible price points are certainly not anything someone should fret about one way or the other.

Systems at price points of (arbitrarily) $3,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, etc., etc. and on and on up will be able to strive for and achieve different levels of performance than someone at $500 or $1,000 should expect to get.
The P363 are currently on sale at Frys for $117 each. Seems to in-store only though.

http://www.frys.com/ads/audio-video-television-cameras-portable-car-electronics

After living with a pair of the Pioneer SP-FS52s for a week and watching a couple of movies, they are excellent value.
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