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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Hollywood, U.S.A.
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My setup does require a larger room than normal because this isn't a stereo on one wall of a living room- it's a dedicated screening room. I have a 100 inch projection screen and that means everything has to scale up to match that. The width between the mains is directly related to the seating distance. My seating distance is dictated by the size of my screen- it's 100 inches wide and that makes my optimal viewing distance about 14 feet (according to SMPTE). With a distance of 14 feet from the center speaker, that makes the optimal triangle for music listening about 16 feet on each side. That is a safe distance between the three front speakers because that puts them 8 feet apart, which isn't too far apart to mesh properly. This doesn't work well for stereo, but I use Yamaha's stereo to 7.1 DSP to pull a center channel out of stereo tracks and that corrects it. It definitely isn't optimal for Quad. That would require freestanding speakers in my particular room. Quad works better in smaller rooms where the speakers aren't as far apart (around 8 feet between each speaker). If I wanted to accommodate quad, I would be working with 64 square feet instead of a 360 square foot room, I would need a screen 1/4 the size of my current one, and I would have to sit about 6 feet away. I'm not willing to sacrifice my big screen projection system for an obsolete audio format.
The advantage to all this is that my front soundstage is about 18 feet across with complete accuracy from left to right. It fills the whole screen with sound in movies, and with music the scale of the sound is what you would hear in a concert venue in the best seat in the house. The rears are powerful enough to mesh with the front to create a huge ambience that is totally immersive. It would be even better with Atmos speakers, but in my room, it would be hard to implement, so I live with 5.1 (for now).
The center channel is always quieter overall than the mains because you are sitting closer to it. The reason that the vocals on Elton John are louder in the center is because that is where the vocals reside. The center is where most vocals are anchored in most mixes since the beginning of stereo. Mono sound elements that are exactly the same between the two channels reside in the phantom center in stereo mixes. For a multichannel mix, you would place it in the center with some spill to left and right to widen it a bit.
You'll find that a lot of quad mixes place sound elements in the corners, because they don't know how far apart the user is going to place the four speakers. Even back in the day, implementation of quad in the home was funky. It's very hard to have a proper quad system without freestanding speakers in the middle of the room. It doesn't work well up against a wall on one side, or with a much greater distance between back and front than left to right. 5.1 is more forgiving with that stuff and it scales larger easier than quad does. You could probably use a computer to synthesize center channels for all four sides and make it bigger. I wonder if anyone has done that?
Last edited by sworth; 03-30-2020 at 07:13 PM.