Smaller-than-normal "small" theater room help! - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-17-2019, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Smaller-than-normal "small" theater room help!

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone for your ridiculous amount of knowledge (that I frequently try to learn from but inevitably keep coming up with more questions)!

We are finishing the basement and I'm getting ready to run wire/update kit for my theater room/man cave. And here's the part where you guys say "I've seen this a million times, here we go again..." - but I need your help!

My measurements are about 9' wide x 13' deep x 8.5' tall, so I really am not exaggerating when I say SMALL theater room! I'll be sitting about 3'-4' from the back wall; no need to crowd the wall - screen size will be 65" (combo of wall space and WAF). One row of seating.

What I'm struggling with is speaker layout and configuration. 5.1 is easy but I'd like to add more! I'm struggling to figure out how many to add, what configuration and how much is too much. I'll be "starting out" with a 7 channel receiver, but will be running speaker wire for future upgrade potential.

If I go Atmos, should I go .2 or .4 (overheads)? I feel like .4 might be overkill in this room and cause overlap. Should I skip Atmos and go 7.1? Will I be missing the real benefit of the rear surrounds?

If I may poke just a little fun, I fully expect someone to say "I put 9.3.6 in the same size space, go for it!" But really, please help me out all!

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post #2 of 18 Old 06-17-2019, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wookiegr View Post
Don't forget acoustics, that will be an up close and personal echo chamber from hell.
This is really what I'm afraid of! I am limiting flat, highly reflective surfaces, heavy curtain over the window, sound deadening, etc...but I'm concerned adding MORE speakers will give me LESS quality sound...

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post #3 of 18 Old 06-17-2019, 10:29 AM
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My room is 10.5 X 15 X 7.5 ft and I run a 7.2.4 system with a 100 inch projection screen. So just a little bigger than your room and it is awesome! I started with a 5.1 setup and then upgraded to a 5.2.4 setup and finally a 7.2.4. The upgrade to 5.2.4 was substantial and very much worth the effort as Atmos truly adds a whole different dimension to the experience. Adding the surround backs was less of an upgrade and I probably wouldn’t miss them if I had to give them up. If I were you I would shoot for a 5.2.4 as you will get most of the benefits of Atmos and can get by with “just” a 9 channel receiver. I have some wall treatments and will be adding more but the receiver calibration software (MCAAC on my Pioneer) has done a great job already of making my room sound great. Go for it!


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post #4 of 18 Old 06-17-2019, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by usc1995 View Post
My room is 10.5 X 15 X 7.5 ft and I run a 7.2.4 system with a 100 inch projection screen. So just a little bigger than your room and it is awesome! I started with a 5.1 setup and then upgraded to a 5.2.4 setup and finally a 7.2.4. The upgrade to 5.2.4 was substantial and very much worth the effort as Atmos truly adds a whole different dimension to the experience. Adding the surround backs was less of an upgrade and I probably wouldn’t miss them if I had to give them up. If I were you I would shoot for a 5.2.4 as you will get most of the benefits of Atmos and can get by with “just” a 9 channel receiver. I have some wall treatments and will be adding more but the receiver calibration software (MCAAC on my Pioneer) has done a great job already of making my room sound great. Go for it!
I must admit, I'm impressed I will have to check on the WAF for that many ceiling speakers...but maybe...

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post #5 of 18 Old 06-17-2019, 01:01 PM
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For Atmos you want to make sure you adequate separation between your base 5 speakers and your ceiling speakers. Just make sure to place your speakers no higher than just above seated ear height and you should be good. Since your room is a foot taller than mine the separation will be even better.


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post #6 of 18 Old 06-17-2019, 01:47 PM
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For smoothest bass response (fewer/smaller peaks & dips), place the listeners' ears at 1/3 room length from the back wall. With the seating away from the back wall, you're an ideal candidate for 4 surrounds and 4 heights.

For the 7.1 base layer, place the Rear speakers on the back wall spread about 6 feet apart, with each speaker aimed at the listener at the opposite end of the couch (to compensate for distance). Place the Side speakers a couple of feet forward of the listeners, also aimed at the opposite listener. This will give you side-vs-rear separation AND wrap-around envelopment in the surround field that you won't get with just 2 surround speakers.

If you look at most home theatre layouts, you'll notice that the listeners generally sit in the back half of the room. That means the gap between Side and Rear speakers isn't much, but the gap between Fronts and Sides is pretty large. A pair of Wides can bridge that large gap and make for smoother pans. I know you were joking about 9 speakers on the floor, but they'll fit, even in your small room, with plenty of separation (several feet) between them. If your budget doesn't allow for 9 speakers in the base layer, then that's understandable. But your room size is not the impediment.

2 height speakers let you hear left-vs-right movement overhead, but 4 height speakers let you hear left-vs-right AND front-vs-back panning above you. Big difference. Again, having your seating away from the back wall makes you and ideal candidate. Place one pair of height speakers a few feet rearward of you and the other pair roughly the same distance forward of you. Will be easy to hear the separation between them. Again, aim all height speakers at the listener farthest away.

Start with 7 speakers. Add more whenever you can. Should sound awesome.
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-17-2019, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Start with 7 speakers. Add more whenever you can. Should sound awesome.
Appreciate all the info! I'll be running wire tonight. I'm going to have to do some creative engineering to make room for rear ceiling speakers for rear Atmos...but isn't that half the fun?
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-19-2019, 12:45 PM
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My room is 10.5 x 17.5 by 7.5, and I'm running 7.1, 115" projection screen, and 3 rows of seating. See link in my signature.

I've hosted many movie nights with the local regulars, and had various industry professionals in the room. It doesn't feel crowded once everyone is seated, there's legroom to spare, and my 3rd row isn't even right up against the wall.

The main reason I wanted to post, however, is that most of the visitors say there is nothing I could gain by adding Atmos with such a low ceiling. Partly because the ceiling is so low, but also because of my surrounds - I'm using Mission 77ds dipole surrounds, and they're mounted well above ear level on the walls. The diffuse nature of these is, most importantly, great because of the short distance from speaker to ear, but also because it creates a great sound field, so things sound like they're coming from all around you and above you. Yet they're not so diffuse that you lose all sense of directivity. Kind of the best of both worlds.
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-19-2019, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by thrillcat View Post
My room is 10.5 x 17.5 by 7.5, and I'm running 7.1, 115" projection screen, and 3 rows of seating. See link in my signature.

I've hosted many movie nights with the local regulars, and had various industry professionals in the room. It doesn't feel crowded once everyone is seated, there's legroom to spare, and my 3rd row isn't even right up against the wall.

The main reason I wanted to post, however, is that most of the visitors say there is nothing I could gain by adding Atmos with such a low ceiling. Partly because the ceiling is so low, but also because of my surrounds - I'm using Mission 77ds dipole surrounds, and they're mounted well above ear level on the walls. The diffuse nature of these is, most importantly, great because of the short distance from speaker to ear, but also because it creates a great sound field, so things sound like they're coming from all around you and above you. Yet they're not so diffuse that you lose all sense of directivity. Kind of the best of both worlds.
I just read through your thread. Your theater looks like a great place to watch a movie! How close is your first row to the screen? My seating is 10ft from my 100 inch screen but I am itching to increase the size either by moving the seating closer or getting a larger screen.

If the OP is going with dipole surrounds at well above ear level like your speakers then he won’t get the benefit of Atmos as the diffuse nature of the dipoles would hinder the ability to track the Atmos objects in the three dimensional space. If he goes with monopoles or even bipoles for his surrounds and mounts them closer to ear level then he could experience Atmos the right way. Not to mention he has an extra foot of ceiling height that neither of us have that will help with the separation. I found the upgrade to Atmos to be the best advancement in movie sound since Dolby Digital. Nothing like hearing helicopters flying directly overhead or getting caught in a thunderstorm with the rain coming down all around you to put you right in the middle of the film. I recognize the upgrade to Atmos would not be trivial given your current theater layout but I found it worth it and would encourage anyone curious to look for a chance to hear it done right. As the studios keep putting more and more content out to take advantage of Atmos and DTSX I would not want to miss out on it. My .02 cents...
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post #10 of 18 Old 06-20-2019, 06:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usc1995 View Post
I just read through your thread. Your theater looks like a great place to watch a movie! How close is your first row to the screen? My seating is 10ft from my 100 inch screen but I am itching to increase the size either by moving the seating closer or getting a larger screen.
My eyes are about 9.5' from the screen, whether upright or reclined. It's perfect, in my opinion, from the money seat, but the front row side seat isn't quite as comfortable that close, I've found.
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post #11 of 18 Old 06-20-2019, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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@thrillcat - impressive theater, sir! Thanks for the advice!

I'm going monopole for my surrounds (somewhat budget limited, but I also enjoyed the sound when I auditioned them) - Polk OWM3 for the side surrounds and rear surrounds.

I was up until about 12:30AM (had to get it done - inspector came this morning and pronounced the low- and high-voltage wiring good to go!) and wired in for 7.2.4 if I decide to go that far in the future. It's a heck of a lot easier now than it will be once the drywall is up!

Thanks again all.
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post #12 of 18 Old 06-20-2019, 06:41 PM
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My room is almost identical size to yours. I’m 14L x 9W x 8H, minus screen wall. I’m running 9.2 for speakers, fronts, center, front wides, side surrounds, rear surrounds, 2 18” up front, and 2 12” near field. You can do great things in small spaces. Check out my build in my signature.





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post #13 of 18 Old 06-21-2019, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
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My room is almost identical size to yours. I’m 14L x 9W x 8H, minus screen wall. I’m running 9.2 for speakers, fronts, center, front wides, side surrounds, rear surrounds, 2 18” up front, and 2 12” near field. You can do great things in small spaces. Check out my build in my signature.
Dude, I'm blown away! Thanks for the inspiration!
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post #14 of 18 Old 06-28-2019, 08:48 AM
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bluer101... not calling you out at all, just in a state of disbelief! I can't believe that room is the size you say it is! I guess having that 'perfect rectangle' really let's you make great use of space. My parent's had about 10.5 x 20 to work with, and i have 11.15 x 20(more if needed, as the back of the room opens into a rec area) and neither of us has been able to go 3 seats across because of room layouts.

anyway, to OP, despite being proven that it IS possible to do more, i would suggest just going for 7.1 system. I wired and installed speakers for 7.1.2 in my space, and i was kind of blown away by how much more i got from 7.1 than 5.1(although it was in a different house, so tough comparison), then when i tried atmos(restricted to 5.1.2 by receiver) it didn't feel like i added a 3rd dimension, it felt like i lost my 360* soundfield so that if i REALLY focused on it, the rain sounded like it was above me instead of just around me.

don't get me wrong, i still hope to run 7.1.4 someday, and i routinely check the clearance prices of receivers, but the implementation of atmos at home has been less revolutionary than i had anticipated. I'm still building my atmos collection, but from my experience i feel more confident in saying you probably won't miss it, unless you're doing a whole whack load of sound absorption. I suspect the main reason i'm not blown away by my atmos, is because i get a fair bit of reflected sound off my ceiling without it. so while sounds aren't localized, they do sound like they are all around me, including over top. if i take an atmos demo with rain for example, with 7.1 it sounds like the rain is just coming from everywhere all at once. it's behind me, in front of me, beside me, above me. When i turn on atmos, and really focus in on the rain, then i can localize it above me. Things like planes flying overhead, or anything moving simply don't provide an improvement vs 7.1. this again, is based on 5.1.2 vs 7.1. with 7.1, the a flyover sounds like it's moving in a straight line from in front of me, to behind me, and there seems to be enough reflected sound from the ceiling compared to the carpet to convince my ears the plane is going over instead of under me when doing so. it's a pseudo-effect, but it kinda works. With 5.1.2 i find that there is a whole behind me, so the plane sounds like it's fly over me, and then kinda gets stuck there. I don't get the feeling that it's ever far in the distance behind me. I'm 100% certain this would be fixed by going 7.1.2, but there's a steep premium on the avr side to get there. like for some reason about a 100% price increase for 2 more channels...

at the end of the day, i believe that 7.1 provides a 'complete' sound field, and when watching an engaging movie i've never been distracted by unnatural or missing sound. so, for an uber enthusiast, atmos is kinda cool, and i do hope to get there some day(if for no other reason than i will stop feeling like i'm missing out), but i kind of think it's one of those things i can't recommend to people, because pretty much the only ones who will appreciate it already know they want it.
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-28-2019, 12:13 PM
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I put a lot into a small space and I still go into the room daily and look around in disbelief. I’m just happy I can show what you can do with that extra bedroom to a small theater. Below are a few more pictures without the wide angle lens to get a feel. I took them with the column grills off to see the speakers and detail work in the columns.





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post #16 of 18 Old 06-29-2019, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Screamin View Post


My measurements are about 9' wide x 13' deep x 8.5' tall, so I really am not exaggerating when I say SMALL theater room! I'll be sitting about 3'-4' from the back wall; no need to crowd the wall - screen size will be 65" (combo of wall space and WAF). One row of seating.

What I'm struggling with is speaker layout and configuration. 5.1 is easy but I'd like to add more! I'm struggling to figure out how many to add, what configuration and how much is too much. I'll be "starting out" with a 7 channel receiver, but will be running speaker wire for future upgrade potential.

If I go Atmos, should I go .2 or .4 (overheads)? I feel like .4 might be overkill in this room and cause overlap. Should I skip Atmos and go 7.1? Will I be missing the real benefit of the rear surrounds?
!

My room is 10.5 deep x 16 wide but the stairs make it more like a 10.5x12.... I have a 7.2 system right now but just started to install 4 ATMOS speakers last night. In the last 6 months I have installed all in wall speakers and it gives my way more floor space. I used to run Klipsch RF7ii's and an RC64ii center which are all huge.

Despite the none ideal location of my rear surrounds I still do notice them on occasion so I think it's worth having the 7 channels. I can't comment on ATMOS yet as Im only half way through my install. I struggled with the decision to do 2 or 4 ATMOS speakers as well. I settled on doing 4. It was a tough decision because the speaker location is different (according to dolby) for a .2 vs .4 atmos and with in ceiling speakers it would be a pain in the ass to patch the holes if you ever wanted to go from .2 to .4. Time will tell how good atmos sounds in my space.
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post #17 of 18 Old 07-01-2019, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Love seeing the designs you all have put together!

Tons of great ideas I can steal for own media room!

Quote:
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post #18 of 18 Old 07-13-2019, 08:17 AM
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Love seeing the designs you all have put together!

Tons of great ideas I can steal for own media room!
I have a room that is 13’2” deep by 12’4” wide with 12 foot ceilings. I am able to run a full 7.1.4 setup with a 110” screen. You have enough room to do a nice surround setup but it takes some thought and planning. Take your time and research it well and look at examples online and you will do great.
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