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post #1 of 9 Old 01-27-2020, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Smile Dolby Atmos Design/Layout Recommendations

Hello! This is my first post here, but I have been following the forum for years, and it has been a great resource. Normally I am able to find enough information by just searching, but I think I now need some assistance, since I am starting a pretty decent sized build.

I am working on finishing my basement, and am beginning to plan for speaker locations. I am very intrigued by the Dolby Atmos stuff, and I think I want to incorporate this into my basement build. But that is where I need some input and advice.

Background on my build:
-Our house was built in 2016, and the basement was left unfinished. I am now slowly working on finishing the basement, doing all the work myself.
-I am not going to be creating a dedicated theater room, but I do appreciate decent sound quality, and enjoy the effects of multiple speakers, hence wanting to incorporate Atmos.
-The room I am working with is a rather large living, 29' deep x 21' wide x 8'9" ceilings. I have attached the floor plan for more info.
-The room will be carpeted and drywalled.
-I found all the Dolby Atmos Layouts on the Dolby website, and am initially thinking 7.1.4, with the Atmos speakers being in-ceiling.
-I have an existing 5 speaker (no sub) surround sound setup utilizing some pretty decent speakers (2 front floorstanding, 1 center bookshelf, 2 rear bookshelf) however I am assuming I will be scrapping all of this.
-My basement is essentially a blank slate, plan on buying all new speakers and amp/receiver
-I am thinking of doing in-wall speakers for the Front Left/Right and Center. Was also thinking of doing in-wall for the surrounds. Was then wanting to do in-ceiling for the Effect speakers.

My preferences:
-I like the idea (and so does my wife) of doing in-wall/in-ceiling for a clean look.
-My budget to be less than $4k max for the amps/receivers/speakers. After perusing Crutchfield, I am aware that my budget is kinda tight. However if needed I could save up longer.
-I see myself is being somewhere in the middle in regards to quality. I am looking for more than a "surround sound in a box" setup, but I am not interested in creating a full blown home theater masterpiece.
-I don't plan on doing much for sound proofing, and middle of the road speaker quality is fine for me.
-Most likely will be pairing this setup with a 75"-80" Flatscreen (not on my priority list at this time)

Questions:
-Is Dolby Atmos worth it? Or just go traditional 7.1?
-If going Atmos, is 7.1.4 recommended over the 7.1.2 option?
-My basement is basically a blank slate, would like to know what people would recommend in this space.
-I have been doing some research on home theater amps vs. using pre-amps and external amps. Based on my quality and budget preferences listed above, will a home theater amp be adequate for what I am looking for?
-I am pretty certain all of my AV equipment will be housed in that small closet (shown in the bottom left of the living room). Will I be able to control the equipment with the door shut? It's been many years since I have upgraded receivers, and I know my current cannot be controlled through walls/doors.
-Any recommendations for speakers and amps/receivers would be much appreciated!
-Do in-ceiling speakers need any enclosures around them? Or is just attaching the speaker to the hole cut in the drywall the most common install?
-The very next step I need to do in my basement is electrical wiring, along with speaker wiring. So basically at this time I want to make sure I install enough speaker wires in the walls/ceilings before I close that up with drywall.

If any more information is needed from me, let me know! Thanks in advance for all your suggestions!!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf base basement layout.pdf (326.9 KB, 36 views)
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-27-2020, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dylntbrown View Post
Is Dolby Atmos worth it? Or just go traditional 7.1?
If you can hear the difference between sounds coming from around you versus sounds coming from above you, then Atmos will be worth it for you.
Quote:
If going Atmos, is 7.1.4 recommended over the 7.1.2 option?
2 height speakers let you hear left vs right movement overhead. 4 height speakers let you hear left vs right AND front vs back movement overhead. Noticeable difference.
Quote:
I have been doing some research on home theater amps vs. using pre-amps and external amps. Based on my quality and budget preferences listed above, will a home theater amp be adequate for what I am looking for?
Yes, a home theatre receiver should work well for your needs.
Quote:
I am pretty certain all of my AV equipment will be housed in that small closet (shown in the bottom left of the living room). Will I be able to control the equipment with the door shut? It's been many years since I have upgraded receivers, and I know my current cannot be controlled through walls/doors.
You can attach an IR (infra red) extender to your current receiver to control it through walls/doors. Newer receivers can use that method or be controlled through your home network.
Quote:
Do in-ceiling speakers need any enclosures around them? Or is just attaching the speaker to the hole cut in the drywall the most common install?
You can buy optional enclosures for some in-ceiling speakers that control the bass response, but it's more common to just attach the speaker to the cut hole.

Sanjay
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-27-2020, 04:42 PM
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Congrats on having such a nice big space to work with. What speakers are you currently using in your 5.0 system and what AVR ? It might be worth re purposing them in the beginning to make the most of your budget. Not to dissuade you but an 11 channel amp for 7.X.4 atmos and a subwoofer or two could devour your budget. Are you planning any other uses for this space? Are there any support columns within this space as none are shown on the plan?
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-27-2020, 08:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you sdurani for the quick response! I really appreciate your input! My direction is starting to become clearer!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
If you can hear the difference between sounds coming from around you versus sounds coming from above you, then Atmos will be worth it for you. 2 height speakers let you hear left vs right movement overhead. 4 height speakers let you hear left vs right AND front vs back movement overhead. Noticeable difference.
Ok perfect, I was going back and forth about the Atmos. I knew I wanted it, but wasn't sure if it really was everything it has been hyped up about. I honestly haven't even experienced one in person. So thank you, I am definitely moving forward with this idea.

Quote:
Yes, a home theatre receiver should work well for your needs. You can attach an IR (infra red) extender to your current receiver to control it through walls/doors. Newer receivers can use that method or be controlled through your home network.
This is very good news to hear!!! I was really hoping this would be fine.

Quote:
You can buy optional enclosures for some in-ceiling speakers that control the bass response, but it's more common to just attach the speaker to the cut hole.
Sweet! I am just going to go the route of attaching direct to the drywall.

Thanks!!
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-27-2020, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laughorgy View Post
Congrats on having such a nice big space to work with. What speakers are you currently using in your 5.0 system and what AVR ? It might be worth re purposing them in the beginning to make the most of your budget. Not to dissuade you but an 11 channel amp for 7.X.4 atmos and a subwoofer or two could devour your budget. Are you planning any other uses for this space? Are there any support columns within this space as none are shown on the plan?
Hey thanks!! I am really looking forward to be able to use the space!! Besides TV/Movie viewing, the area will mostly just be entertaining. The TV will be placed on the left side of that floor plan along the wall. On the top left corner of the floor plan there is that room that bumps out from the main room, this room will be a wet bar.

There are no support columns in the room, just the walls shown.

So I am totally liking this idea. Since you posted I have been thinking about this quite a bit and I think I could work with that for a while until my funds have increased if need be, at least push the expense down the road a little bit!

Currently I have matched Polk bookshelf/center speakers. I got them a few years ago, currently they are in storage while I am finishing the basement build so I am not sure of the model. I remember spending about $300ish for the 3 of them, and I have really liked them, so I am thinking they must be at least OK speakers. My floorstanding speakers are old, I probably got them in 2000, they are KLH, not sure of the quality. I have had them for this long though because they do seem to be ok. I think I may enact this plan of using them for a while.

Ok so Amp prices. I did quite a bit of price investigation today and yes the 11 channel ones are spendy! So I have been meaning to ask the question of, knowing my requirements and space, is the price justifiable moving up from the 9 channel ones? The 9 channel ones are significantly less expensive and I could do 5.x.4. Would dropping down to that be silly at this point? I don't want to skimp by any means...

Also along those same lines, I saw alot of the 9 channel amps actually support 11 channels, but 2 of the channels need an external amp. I didn't quite understand why they would do that. Is the cost differential between a 9 channel and 11 channel amp just the 2 extra built in amps? Doesn't seem to add up to me as you can buy an external amp for ~$150 and increase a 9 channel amp to 11 channels...

Thank you for your response, I really appreciate your help!!!
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-28-2020, 06:15 AM
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I think you are on the right track. There is no reason not to enjoy what you currently have while you build towards what you want. Speakers don't age as quickly as your other components and KLH is a respected brand, as is Polk. You might want to consider swapping out your center (Polk) to a matching KLH. Ideally the goal being all speakers matched from a single manufacturer/line. From what I've learned building my modest 5.1.2 Atmos system 5.X.4 would be favorable over 7.X.2 utilizing a 9 channel amp. Your thinking about AVR's is also correct. You could find a 9 channel amp (power) that can process 11 channels. Utilizing pre outs to add the power for an additional two channels at a later date. You mentioned a 75-80" flat screen upgrade. You may be underwhelmed with seating distance of 16' from an 80" screen. If that is your preference I'd suggest re orienting the room 180 degrees. Assuming your stairs are enclosed floor to ceiling , place your flat screen and LCR channels on the wall. You could incorporate a bar, tables with stools as overflow seating in proximity to the wet bar. I can see it all now ....
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On whether you will notice Atmos, I recently upgraded my system from a HTIB to a full blown 7.2.4 setup. I had initially planned 5.1.4 but figured I would just go for it. I absolutely love it, the sound is amazing and there is nothing like watching a movie with the sounds coming from all around me. I was really skeptical that it would make much difference but the improvement blew me away. Even my wife loves it and is one of the best upgrades I could have made. I'm sure having dedicated AVR and decent speakers contributes to the experience but the sound from above, sides and behind is amazing. I can not recommend it enough if you are on the fence.

For me, deciding on 5.1.4 vs 7.2.4 was essentially down to what you are facing. I was wiring everything at that time and figured this would save time in the long run. Plus, the additional cost was not great, aside from the extra sub (bought two SVS PD12-NSD's which are also absolutely amazing), I got fairly reasonably priced side speakers, in my case in-wall, so for an extra $200 for the sides, a cheap amp and some additional wiring made the decision easy.

Good luck on your choices and final setup!
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I’ve heard both in person and 7.1.4 is awesome, it’s totally worth it. As far as budget, that’s your money to spend. If it was me, I’d take the time to build to the better option over settling for the lesser one.

If there’s one thing in life I’ve learned it’s that when you know what you want, you go after that. Because all you end up doing is spending more in the end to acquire what you truly wanted in the beginning. Good luck!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dylntbrown View Post
Hello! This is my first post here, but I have been following the forum for years, and it has been a great resource. Normally I am able to find enough information by just searching, but I think I now need some assistance, since I am starting a pretty decent sized build.

I am working on finishing my basement, and am beginning to plan for speaker locations. I am very intrigued by the Dolby Atmos stuff, and I think I want to incorporate this into my basement build. But that is where I need some input and advice.

Background on my build:
-Our house was built in 2016, and the basement was left unfinished. I am now slowly working on finishing the basement, doing all the work myself.
-I am not going to be creating a dedicated theater room, but I do appreciate decent sound quality, and enjoy the effects of multiple speakers, hence wanting to incorporate Atmos.
-The room I am working with is a rather large living, 29' deep x 21' wide x 8'9" ceilings. I have attached the floor plan for more info.
-The room will be carpeted and drywalled.
-I found all the Dolby Atmos Layouts on the Dolby website, and am initially thinking 7.1.4, with the Atmos speakers being in-ceiling.
-I have an existing 5 speaker (no sub) surround sound setup utilizing some pretty decent speakers (2 front floorstanding, 1 center bookshelf, 2 rear bookshelf) however I am assuming I will be scrapping all of this.
-My basement is essentially a blank slate, plan on buying all new speakers and amp/receiver
-I am thinking of doing in-wall speakers for the Front Left/Right and Center. Was also thinking of doing in-wall for the surrounds. Was then wanting to do in-ceiling for the Effect speakers.

My preferences:
-I like the idea (and so does my wife) of doing in-wall/in-ceiling for a clean look.
-My budget to be less than $4k max for the amps/receivers/speakers. After perusing Crutchfield, I am aware that my budget is kinda tight. However if needed I could save up longer.
-I see myself is being somewhere in the middle in regards to quality. I am looking for more than a "surround sound in a box" setup, but I am not interested in creating a full blown home theater masterpiece.
-I don't plan on doing much for sound proofing, and middle of the road speaker quality is fine for me.
-Most likely will be pairing this setup with a 75"-80" Flatscreen (not on my priority list at this time)

Questions:
-Is Dolby Atmos worth it? Or just go traditional 7.1?
-If going Atmos, is 7.1.4 recommended over the 7.1.2 option?
-My basement is basically a blank slate, would like to know what people would recommend in this space.
-I have been doing some research on home theater amps vs. using pre-amps and external amps. Based on my quality and budget preferences listed above, will a home theater amp be adequate for what I am looking for?
-I am pretty certain all of my AV equipment will be housed in that small closet (shown in the bottom left of the living room). Will I be able to control the equipment with the door shut? It's been many years since I have upgraded receivers, and I know my current cannot be controlled through walls/doors.
-Any recommendations for speakers and amps/receivers would be much appreciated!
-Do in-ceiling speakers need any enclosures around them? Or is just attaching the speaker to the hole cut in the drywall the most common install?
-The very next step I need to do in my basement is electrical wiring, along with speaker wiring. So basically at this time I want to make sure I install enough speaker wires in the walls/ceilings before I close that up with drywall.

If any more information is needed from me, let me know! Thanks in advance for all your suggestions!!
Pioneer VSX-LX504 receiver processes 11 (7.1.4) channels providing power to 9 (5.1.4 or 7.1.2). Open box can be found around $800.
2 channel power amp for two height (ceiling) speakers. Emotiva A-100 $230. You could also spend a little more here if you wanted to power your mains.

Speakers:
4 Ceiling - Polk Audio RC80i ceiling speakers. $300 for all 4.
2 Mains - Klipsch RP-280F $800 for both.
1 Center - Klipsch RP-450C $450.
2 Side surrounds - Klipsch RP-250S side surrounds $500 for both or 2 Klipsch RP-160M bookshelf for $375.
2 Rears - Klipsch RP-160M bookshelf's for rear $375 for the pair.

Sub options:
REL HT/1205 $700
Klipsch R-112SW $400
SVS SB-2000 $700
SVS SB-1000 $500

Option 2 for in-wall system
4 Ceiling - Polk Audio RC80i ceiling speakers. $300 for all 4.
2 Mains - Klipsch R-5800-W II $600 for both.
1 Center - Klipsch R-5502-W II $280.
4 Sides surrounds and rear - Klipsch R-5650-W II $880 for all 4.


Using the cheaper option for side surrounds and cheaper sub you would be at $3,730 without going in-wall. Advantage is better sound quality for your large space.

$3490 going with the in-wall setup.

I would consider the mains and center from option 1 and side surrounds and rears from option 2 if you would be ok with the mains not being in the wall.

Side note, if you haven't heard Klipsch in person check them out. Some people love them and some hate them. I love them for home theater.

Also, most of the Polk in wall stuff you can find will be an excellent value as well. Don't skimp on the center channel, it's the most important speaker in the system (in my opinion). The 4 ceiling speakers aren't as important with quality.

Wire the room for 2 subs. You'll be glad you did. Or just buy two.
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