7.1 or 5.1 in small room? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 16 Old 12-08-2018, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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7.1 or 5.1 in small room?

I’m just starting construction of 10 X 15 dedicated theater in my basement. Audio dealer recommended 7.1.2 but that would put the rear surrounds up against rear row (which will be on a 6.5 foot riser). Is there a way to do a solid 7.1 system with these issues or should I stick to 5.1?
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post #2 of 16 Old 12-08-2018, 04:03 PM
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I ran 5.1 in my 10.5 X 15.5 ft room for the first 7 years I had my room and it sounded really good. I only have one row of seating at 10.5ft back. When I went Atmos in 2015 I added the rear surrounds in addition to the four height speakers. The Atmos speakers had an immediate impact whereas the rear surrounds have been barely noticeable. If I had the rear surrounds mounted earlier maybe I would miss them if they were not there but I can’t say I would miss them at this point. My two cents...


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post #3 of 16 Old 12-10-2018, 02:46 PM
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Two rows in 15' is impossible to pull off, and have good audio. That 6.5' riser just planted your front row, where you don't
want your ears. And if that's three seats wide, all of your seating is audio compromised. Five of the seats will be right on
top of surround speakers.

Is there a potential option to acquire more room depth? Or settle for 3 seats?
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post #4 of 16 Old 12-10-2018, 03:37 PM
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A 7.1 base layer should not be a problem for your situation. Place the Side speakers in-line or (better) slightly forward of your front row. Spread the Rear speakers across the back wall about 8 feet apart or even in the back corners of the room. To keep the speakers from being distracting to nearby listeners, aim them at the listener farthest away. This should give you excellent side-vs-rear separation AND wrap-around envelopment in the surround field that you cannot get with only 2 surround speakers.

Also mount all 4 surrounds slightly above ear height of nearby listeners, so that everyone has a clear line of sight to the tweeters and no one's head is blocking the way. This will end up putting the Rear speakers closer to the ceiling, so they can fire over the heads of the listeners in the back row and maintain line of sight with listeners in the front row.

It would be nice to do 4 height speakers, but with the Rear speakers mounted high up, the Top Rear speakers would get drowned out and lose effective separation between the base layer and height layer (which is the point of Atmos & DTS:X). That's not a problem with Top Front speakers, which will be well separated from the Side speakers. So 4 height speakers might not sound noticeably better than 2 height speakers. Which is probably why your audio dealer recommended 7.1.2.
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post #5 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
A 7.1 base layer should not be a problem for your situation. Place the Side speakers in-line or (better) slightly forward of your front row. Spread the Rear speakers across the back wall about 8 feet apart or even in the back corners of the room. To keep the speakers from being distracting to nearby listeners, aim them at the listener farthest away. This should give you excellent side-vs-rear separation AND wrap-around envelopment in the surround field that you cannot get with only 2 surround speakers.

Also mount all 4 surrounds slightly above ear height of nearby listeners, so that everyone has a clear line of sight to the tweeters and no one's head is blocking the way. This will end up putting the Rear speakers closer to the ceiling, so they can fire over the heads of the listeners in the back row and maintain line of sight with listeners in the front row.

It would be nice to do 4 height speakers, but with the Rear speakers mounted high up, the Top Rear speakers would get drowned out and lose effective separation between the base layer and height layer (which is the point of Atmos & DTS:X). That's not a problem with Top Front speakers, which will be well separated from the Side speakers. So 4 height speakers might not sound noticeably better than 2 height speakers. Which is probably why your audio dealer recommended 7.1.2.
Might be better off ceiling mounting the Rear Surrounds, while keeping the Side Surrounds on the wall. You could still do front height for a nice soundstage and go 7.1.2...also maybe a second subwoofer? 7.2.2

If you have a small pair of speakers that you can move around and play with, that might be handy to experiment with.

Home Theater - Video: Sony KDL-55W800B - Audio - 7.2 - AVR: Denon 2809CI, Left/Right: Paradigm Prestige 95F; Center: Paradigm Prestige 45C; Surrounds: Sonance IS4; Subwoofers: Paradigm RVC-12SQ with X850 Amplifier - Upgrade in Progress!
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post #6 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naylia View Post
Might be better off ceiling mounting the Rear Surrounds, while keeping the Side Surrounds on the wall.
Why mount the rear speakers higher than necessary, especially in an Atmos set-up?

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post #7 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Why mount the rear speakers higher than necessary, especially in an Atmos set-up?
I was thinking you get better angle of the speakers towards the listeners. Particularly depends on the dispersion angle of the speakers that are chosen. Some have a tighter angle than others and could create basically no effect for the rear seats.

In this scenario you ditch the rear Atmos an run 7.1.2 as you get no benefit from the speakers being crowded too close together.

I think it depends on the choice to prioritize the listening experience of one person in center front and make that perfect or create a larger sweet spot that is less good for the front center but improved for everyone else.

Home Theater - Video: Sony KDL-55W800B - Audio - 7.2 - AVR: Denon 2809CI, Left/Right: Paradigm Prestige 95F; Center: Paradigm Prestige 45C; Surrounds: Sonance IS4; Subwoofers: Paradigm RVC-12SQ with X850 Amplifier - Upgrade in Progress!
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post #8 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Two rows in 15' is impossible to pull off, and have good audio. That 6.5' riser just planted your front row, where you don't
want your ears. And if that's three seats wide, all of your seating is audio compromised. Five of the seats will be right on
top of surround speakers.

Is there a potential option to acquire more room depth? Or settle for 3 seats?
This just made me think of another thread where the person got the 3 seats in and they were 9' wide and didn't have space for wall mounted speakers on the side.

Have you chosen seats yet? You'll definitely want to think carefully about width and aisles and such. 3 seats centered with an aisle on each side might not be easy in 10' width. If you allow 24" on each side that's 4' leaving you only 6' for seating. Then are the speakers wall mounted or in-wall? So much to think about!!!

Home Theater - Video: Sony KDL-55W800B - Audio - 7.2 - AVR: Denon 2809CI, Left/Right: Paradigm Prestige 95F; Center: Paradigm Prestige 45C; Surrounds: Sonance IS4; Subwoofers: Paradigm RVC-12SQ with X850 Amplifier - Upgrade in Progress!
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post #9 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shall72769 View Post
I’m just starting construction of 10 X 15 dedicated theater in my basement. Audio dealer recommended 7.1.2 but that would put the rear surrounds up against rear row (which will be on a 6.5 foot riser). Is there a way to do a solid 7.1 system with these issues or should I stick to 5.1?
If I had to choose a 5 base layer and 4 heights vs a 7 base layer and 2 heights, it would be 5.x.4 all day. IMHO, the reward is much greater with height separation vs having rear speakers. Just like a 5.1 setup, there is movement from front to back and visa-versa when it comes to height speakers. Putting only 2 up makes everything just blah up there. Having 4, things get much more exciting!

Saying all of that, your room is small and 2 rows of seating is just not going to be feasible. Also, with only 10' of width, even getting 3 seats in there is going to be tight. If you do go 3 seats, then you need to get some narrow ones and only have 1 isle.

I would also suggest going with in-walls for your surrounds and in ceiling for your heights. The Micca series are really good for surround and height duties. You can find them on Amazon for cheap. This would give you the extra room you needed even if you wanted to go a full 7.x.4 which I would do anyway!

Here's my multi-media room with a full 7.2.4 Atmos setup. Notice that my sides and rears are not in-wall. This room is roughly 12'X20' and I seat about 3/4 into the room. Not ideal but it does sound great!

Also, wouldn't hurt to think about some bass shakers as they do add yet another dimension to the experience!
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My Media Room
AVR 1-Yamaha RX-A3050 (7.2.4), AVR 2 Pioneer VSX-815-K(Used for 4ch Amp TF+TR)
Mains-Polk Audio RTi8, Center-Polk Audio CSi5, Surrounds-Polk Audio RTi4, Ceilings-Micca M-8C, Sub 1- UM18-22 (4cu.ft DIY) - iNuke 6000DSP, Sub 2-Klipsch RW12D
Projector-BenQ 3550 4K, Screen-110" Silver Ticket STR-169110, TV-Vizio P-65 4K

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post #10 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 02:52 PM
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5.1.4 would be a better option
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post #11 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naylia View Post
I was thinking you get better angle of the speakers towards the listeners.
I don't think it is a good idea to mount the Rear Surrounds at the Rear Heights location. Listeners in the back row will have Rear Surround channel sounds coming from overhead instead of behind.

Sanjay
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post #12 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naylia View Post

In this scenario you ditch the rear Atmos an run 7.1.2 as you get no benefit from the speakers being crowded too close together.

Even if you don't have an ideal 45 degree angle from the MLP, putting 4 heights in will not crowd the audio space from above when you have 15' to play with. 8' separation (all around) is a good starting place for ceilings. Also, if you have limited space putting the sides more forward will help with a 7 speaker bed. IMHO, with a room so small, the rears are not going to matter much. However, depending on your AVR and room treatment, you can get all 11 speakers (7.x.4) dancing around your ears with a little Room Correction EQ Magic.

The jump from 5.1 to 7.1 is not much.
The jump from 5.1 to 5.1.2 is underwhelming.
The jump from 5.1 to 5.1.4 is huge.
The jump from 5.1 to 7.1.4 is OMG!

2 height speakers is a blah Atmos/DTS-X/Up-mixing experience.

My Media Room
AVR 1-Yamaha RX-A3050 (7.2.4), AVR 2 Pioneer VSX-815-K(Used for 4ch Amp TF+TR)
Mains-Polk Audio RTi8, Center-Polk Audio CSi5, Surrounds-Polk Audio RTi4, Ceilings-Micca M-8C, Sub 1- UM18-22 (4cu.ft DIY) - iNuke 6000DSP, Sub 2-Klipsch RW12D
Projector-BenQ 3550 4K, Screen-110" Silver Ticket STR-169110, TV-Vizio P-65 4K
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post #13 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Why mount the rear speakers higher than necessary, especially in an Atmos set-up?
He wasn't proposing an ATMOS setup, just stick with the tried and true 5.1 or 7.1 set up. Then raising the surrounds buys you a
bit more separation between a surround speaker and the nearest seat. You also can fire out and over, seated heads.
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post #14 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naylia View Post
Might be better off ceiling mounting the Rear Surrounds, while keeping the Side Surrounds on the wall. You could still do front height for a nice soundstage and go 7.1.2...also maybe a second subwoofer? 7.2.2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naylia View Post
In this scenario you ditch the rear Atmos an run 7.1.2 as you get no benefit from the speakers being crowded too close together.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
He wasn't proposing an ATMOS setup, just stick with the tried and true 5.1 or 7.1 set up. Then raising the surrounds buys you a bit more separation between a surround speaker and the nearest seat.
In the posts I was replying to, he was talking about 7.1.2 Atmos set-up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
You also can fire out and over, seated heads.
That's what I was suggesting for the Rear speakers: mount them on the back wall or back corners, just above the heads of the listeners in the back row.

Sanjay
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post #15 of 16 Old 12-13-2018, 07:54 PM
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I’m 9.1 in a 9 x 14 room. I can’t imagine having 2 rows of seat at 15 deep. I know in my room if I put sit or stand just 1-2 feet more forward is a terrible null. Also if you are on the back wall it is way too much bass. So if you do the 2 rows you are going to have a nightmare audio wise.
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post #16 of 16 Old 12-14-2018, 07:16 AM
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I don't see Atmos having serious consideration unless the OP can wrap his head around all the really good reasons there are,
to limit the space to a single row of seats. Then I prefer ATMOS 5.1.4 with dual smaller subs, for such a space. The price of giving
up the second row, is the loss of seating. The upside audio-wise is substantial. Instead of six audio compromised seats, you can have
an optimal seat and all three seats can be off of every speaker. You also gain substantial creature comfort, and have some semblence
of space. I'd even recommend seating on the narrow side of things, to help gain a few extra inches of side wall separation.


The biggest lessons I have learned from dealing with a smallish space over two decades and many rebuilds, is one can have a pretty solid
room, but one is constantly editing and there's a real need to constantly rein one's self in. You can have some special features, but
you need to be choosey and disiplined.

5.1 has solid merit simply because you can raise a pair of dipole surrounds up high. And get at least some seating/surround
speaker separation. I would suggest one go sit a foot away to a surround speaker and see how that spoils the surround magic
for you. And then consider how one is to set the surround speaker levels, so that speaker isn't drawn out of the surround mix.
And yet can be heard several seats over.

Raising surround speakers, for any ATMOS layout, isn't a solid option.

Some seating "wiggle space" might also be a blessing to have with a single row, to have an option to move the seating 6-8".
That might just be a really easy tool to avoid a nodal issue and gain smoother audio.
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