Originally Posted by Patrick Butler
I don't have any experience with the DSX listening mode. However, I would use the Waltz/Haydn as rear surrounds. Let me know what you think of them as width channels if you try.
I tried out the Haydns as width speakers. I wrote up a bit of a comparison between width and rear surrounds, from my experience.
When I decided to move from a 5.1 to a 7.1 Vienna system, I had no idea there were going to be so many options for configuration. I spent a couple weeks testing various speaker configurations. My system consists of 2 Beethovens, 1 Maestro, 2 Mozarts, 2 Haydns, and 1 REL sub. For amplification I'm using a 2 channel McIntosh and an Emotiva XPA-5. My processor is a Marantz AV7005. Test material was a lot of Blu Ray movies. (I did not try with music since I listen to music in stereo.) I experimented with approximately 6 different configurations for the Mozarts and Haydns in the rear 4 channels. The Beethovens and Maestro remained constant for all arrangements. For simplicity, I'll just describe my two favorite configurations:
1) 7.1 Standard
2) 7.1 Front Wide
See the following link for DTS' graphical depictions of each: (sorry, I'm not allowed to post the link)
I uploaded some pics of my system in each configuration.
1) In the Standard 7.1 setup, the rear surrounds provide ambient sounds with occasional directional sound effects. While the rear surrounds are generally more subtle, I find them to add a lot of value to the HT experience. They greatly enhance the illusion of being immersed in a movie that I just don't feel without them.
2) Front Wide:
Setup consisted of more than just speaker placement. The AV7005 has separate inputs on the rear panel for width speakers. They also need to be assigned to front wide via the menu system, and during use an Audyssey DSX mode needs to be selected to engage the width speakers. I could turn the width speakers on/off with the push of a button for comparison. Prior to listening, I had concerns about using a "listening mode" instead of the pure DTS or Dolby audio tracks. I was also concerned about whether placing Haydns next to Beethovens, would detract from the performance of the Beethovens. My concerns vanished as soon as I started listening. With the Haydn's as width speakers, the front soundstage was expanded in a natural and effective way. Sound effects had much better localization to the sides, and panning sound effects blended seamlessly with the Beethovens. They weren't just used for side sound effects either. They also enhanced effects coming from the front. For example, in one scene, the flash bulb from a camera fired and the width speakers were utilized to greatly enhance the effect of the flash. Overall, I would describe the 7.1 Front Wide setup like a 5.1 system on steroids.
I should say that I'm typically not a fan of listening modes, which frequently change the sound from the originalsometimes in awkward ways. I didn't get that feeling when using the DSX mode. It just sounded like I was listening to an improved DTS HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD track. I checked the Audyssey website and it says their DSX mode does not alter the signal sent to the front 3 channels. It uses the front and surround channels to create the width channels, and modifies the signal to the surrounds to blend everything together properly. I was pleasantly surprised with the overall effect.
Negatives included: having to move the Haydns out of the way when not in use (due to placement in my room), and living with the awareness of an audio "blind-spot" in my HT once I took them out. While the width channels made action sequences really come to life, I found myself missing the sense of immersion that the rear surrounds add. While not as active as the front wides, the rear surrounds add a unique quality to the surround sound experience that just wasn't captured in any 7.1 configuration I tried without them.
The bottom line is that, after having spent time with both rear surrounds and front wides, I found they each add to the surround sound experience in different ways. For me, the best solution would be a 9 channel system that uses them both. Unfortunately, the AV7005 supports rear surrounds and widths, but only 7 channels simultaneously. So, until I upgrade my processor again, I have to chose between them. It's a close call, but I'm going with rear surrounds for now.