Are Front Height Speakers OK use as Atmos speakers? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 369 Old 10-25-2015, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Are Front Height Speakers OK to use as Atmos speakers?

Tried to search without luck.
Although not ideal or recommended, can Front Height speakers be used as Atmos speakers when other optional are not available?


From The Dolby Atmos Home Theater Installation Guide about Front height mounted speakers: Most AVRs will support the use of front height (Dolby® Pro Logic® IIz) mounted speakers with Dolby Atmos playback; however, we recommend the use of either overhead or Dolby Atmos enabled speakers to create the most lifelike and enveloping audio experience. Front height speakers may be used in conjunction with overhead speakers in larger room installations that can support a greater number of overhead/height outputs.


With that, will an AV Receiver setup with Front Height speakers support them using Dolby Atmos? Will sound come out of them?


According to the above, it seems possible but wanted to ask anyone with an actual Atmos receiver. Any help or information would be appreciated.

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post #2 of 369 Old 10-25-2015, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Hester View Post
Tried to search without luck.
Although not ideal or recommended, can Front Height speakers be used as Atmos speakers when other optional are not available?


From The Dolby Atmos Home Theater Installation Guide about Front height mounted speakers: Most AVRs will support the use of front height (Dolby® Pro Logic® IIz) mounted speakers with Dolby Atmos playback; however, we recommend the use of either overhead or Dolby Atmos enabled speakers to create the most lifelike and enveloping audio experience. Front height speakers may be used in conjunction with overhead speakers in larger room installations that can support a greater number of overhead/height outputs.


With that, will an AV Receiver setup with Front Height speakers support them using Dolby Atmos? Will sound come out of them?


According to the above, it seems possible but wanted to ask anyone with an actual Atmos receiver. Any help or information would be appreciated.
Absolutely, they basically work as well as they did as front heights, just with more discrete sound and separation to them, while I don't have actual overheads, I have all heights, ( front, wides, surrounds and rears) my front heights and wide heights are wired together and so are my surrounds heights and Rear Heights, both the height and overhead setup worked well, but I prefer the height setting for two reasons, I feel the discreet effects across the screen that change height are better and the front to back overhead effects have a slightly larger feel to them. (Example, plane flying front to rear overhead seems to appear sooner and last longer with the height setting as opposed to the overhead setting, even with all the speakers being in the exact same location)
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post #3 of 369 Old 10-26-2015, 07:09 AM
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I use front heights with Atmos and they have plenty of info being sent to them. Personally I don't know if I like it (for DSU) as DSU seems to take info from the front L/R channels and therefore the L/R don't sound as detailed.

I noticed when telling the AVR that the heights are "Dolby fronts" instead of Dolby heights that the main L/R retain more info and the heights actually sound different. I'll need to spend more time with each setting before I reach a conclusion about which I prefer.

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post #4 of 369 Old 10-26-2015, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GunmetalR56 View Post
I use front heights with Atmos and they have plenty of info being sent to them. Personally I don't know if I like it (for DSU) as DSU seems to take info from the front L/R channels and therefore the L/R don't sound as detailed.

I noticed when telling the AVR that the heights are "Dolby fronts" instead of Dolby heights that the main L/R retain more info and the heights actually sound different. I'll need to spend more time with each setting before I reach a conclusion about which I prefer.
That's a good point. I hadn't thought about that. Now that you mentioned it, I would also want to experiment with different settings on the receiver as well and identify the front height speakers differently to switch between them and see which is better.

I'm currently looking at getting the Denon AVR-X3200W and using it with an external speaker switch to use my existing Front Height and Back Surrounds. My budget is tight. I already have an $1200 9.2 ch Onkyo (2011) and I don't want to spend that much or more again on a receiver (for the room size, anything more is really overkill anyway). The AVR-X4200W would do everything I want (regarding Front Height/Back Surround switching) but for $500 more. A 9.2 ch receiver would of course be ideal but well over $800.

It's a purely 1st world problem but I would 'simply' have to manually select between Front Height for Atmos and Back Surround for pretty much everything else (DTS: X may be an exception) with the external speaker switch (before turning on the receiver) and go into the settings to disable one and re-enable the other. Worse case I would have to re-enter distance and level values but I think the receiver would store them despite the disabling and re-enabling. Either way, I would think I would be able to know before hand if I was going to play a Blu-ray with Atoms and/or DTS: X.

Regardless, it's good to know I could at least use the Front Heights and not have to install ceiling speakers (impractical for the room) and use all of the timbre-matched speakers I already have without having to get even more. I know it will not sound ideal but hopefully it will add something to the sound stage I already have and give me a taste of Atmos.

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post #5 of 369 Old 10-27-2015, 11:14 AM
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Mark Henninger reviewed an Atmos speaker configuration with wall mounted height speake in the corners, just below ceiling height, with great results.

https://www.avsforum.com/svs-prime-5-...system-review/
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post #6 of 369 Old 11-13-2016, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by pcfriedrich View Post
Mark Henninger reviewed an Atmos speaker configuration with wall mounted height speake in the corners, just below ceiling height, with great results.

https://www.avsforum.com/svs-prime-5-...system-review/
Old thread bump I know, but relevant.

I have a room that is has issues with adding ceiling speakers. I already have front height, I think I'm going to feed them the Atmos channels and see what happens. I've got 2 more I could add to the back too. I know its not optimal, but my room isn't set up well at all for ceiling speakers.
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post #7 of 369 Old 11-15-2016, 03:19 PM
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post #8 of 369 Old 11-15-2016, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Hester View Post
It's a purely 1st world problem but I would 'simply' have to manually select between Front Height for Atmos and Back Surround for pretty much everything else (DTS: X may be an exception) with the external speaker switch (before turning on the receiver) and go into the settings to disable one and re-enable the other. Worse case I would have to re-enter distance and level values but I think the receiver would store them despite the disabling and re-enabling. Either way, I would think I would be able to know before hand if I was going to play a Blu-ray with Atoms and/or DTS: X.
If I understand correctly, you realize that Yamaha can do this for you with the push of a (Scene) button? The memory holds 2 speaker configs...without having to "recalibrate" your system (YPAO in this case). I use this to switch between Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks since the overhead speakers are treated differently by each codec.

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post #9 of 369 Old 11-15-2016, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamliner View Post
Has anyone used front and/or rear height speakers (wall mounted speakers high on the wall) instead of ceiling speakers for Atmos?
Yes: I use 2 "top middle" speakers mounted very high on the side walls and it sounds fine. There was no way I could put speakers in/on my ceiling and no way I was going to pass on immersive sound!
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post #10 of 369 Old 11-15-2016, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamliner View Post
Has anyone used front and/or rear height speakers (wall mounted speakers high on the wall) instead of ceiling speakers for Atmos?

Thoughts?
I use all height speakers.
I feel that if properly positioned in-ceiling speakers give you 100% of the experience, well positioned height speakers will give you 90-95%, as opposed to the 70-75% of the best possible scenario upfiring speakers.
And remember, Front and Rear heights are an officially Atmos approved position.
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post #11 of 369 Old 11-15-2016, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALtlOff View Post
I use all height speakers.

I feel that if properly positioned in-ceiling speakers give you 100% of the experience, well positioned height speakers will give you 90-95%, as opposed to the 70-75% of the best possible scenario upfiring speakers.

And remember, Front and Rear heights are an officially Atmos approved position.
I didn't know height was official. I thought it was ceiling only; and cheating with up firing.

My front heights are 6" woofer bookshelf speakers wall mounted a bit wider than my fronts, about 6" from the ceiling and aimed at the main listening position.

I wonder if I should add the same speakers as rear heights in the exact opposite spot.

I do have spare bookshelf and wall mounts, but I don't think they're the same woofer size. I wonder if I should have the better speakers in the front, or back?
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post #12 of 369 Old 11-15-2016, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamliner View Post
I didn't know height was official. I thought it was ceiling only; and cheating with up firing.

My front heights are 6" woofer bookshelf speakers wall mounted a bit wider than my fronts, about 6" from the ceiling and aimed at the main listening position.

I wonder if I should add the same speakers as rear heights in the exact opposite spot.

I do have spare bookshelf and wall mounts, but I don't think they're the same woofer size. I wonder if I should have the better speakers in the front, or back?
Yup, Front and Rear Heights are an approved Atmos layout location, which in turn let's the renderer do a more accurate job of sound positioning.

All of my height speakers have 6.5's and play clean down to 40hz.
Matching is simply a point of, doing your best so that sounds don't change as they pan. If you can match great, if not, esp for the heights, you won't lose much if anything.

Better speakers forward, same as your ear level, but with heights it just makes sense, since there will be more sounds panning across the screen (in all directions) than behind you.

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post #13 of 369 Old 11-15-2016, 09:46 PM
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With all 4 height speakers, do you get a sense of above? Or just height?

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post #14 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 12:28 AM
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With all 4 height speakers, do you get a sense of above? Or just height?
The "above" is decent, not as good as in ceiling, but still definitely above, the "above and around" movement is excellent. The helicopter demo, while not directly overhead, is still extremely good, just like your being circled from above.

IMO, the reason it works so well is because of how Atmos actually works, it's not just sound out of one speaker at a time, but multiple speakers at the same time placing sounds where speakers aren't, which many times incorporates the ear level layer as well as multiple tops.
This is why the approved positions are so important, having speakers where the renderer thinks they are, allows for more accurate sound placement, for example a sound directly overhead, even with only height speakers, can still be placed there by using all 4 height speakers at the same time, using proper phase and distance calculations.

While this is lessened if you opt for surround heights, labeled as Top Middles, it is also still pretty good, compared to Top Middles with upfiring surround modules.

Honestly, IMO, unless you've done considerable listening to an in-ceiling system, you'll never know that a good height system is lacking at all.
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post #15 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 01:06 AM
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One good thing height speakers has over overhead is that height speakers works for ALL known height-configurations out there: be it Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro3d (lol).

Even before any of these Dolby propaganda "we own height effects" nonsense, Yamaha and Pioneer's own "height DSPs" works with height speakers if you decide you want to use them.
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post #16 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 08:37 AM
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Good to know, I'll try positioning my speakers as height. Should they be pointed directly at MLP? Or over the MLP?

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post #17 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Tan View Post
One good thing height speakers has over overhead is that height speakers works for ALL known height-configurations out there: be it Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro3d (lol). Even before any of these Dolby propaganda "we own height effects" nonsense, Yamaha and Pioneer's own "height DSPs" works with height speakers if you decide you want to use them.

If South Korea actually starts regular consumer ATSC 3.0 OTA broadcasting in early 2017 as planned, we should rapidly get details about the AVR audio 'interaction' with [draft standard compliant] ATSC 3.0 TVs--albeit equipped with MPEG-H immersive|interactive audio rather than Dolby AC-4 as is the US national plan. South Korean region variants of next year's AVR models will presumably be MPEG-H Audio and Dolby Atmos [and DTS:X] decode capable, whereas 'later' US|Canada region variants will likely feature Dolby AC-4 plus Atmos [and DTS:X] support. However I'm guessing recommendations for 5.x.2|5.x.4|7.x.2|7.x.4 immersive (TV+AVR) speaker setup will be the same for all regions . . . and with a wider immersive|interactive audio aware consumer population 'beyond traditional home theater owners' perhaps there might be better [researched] dialog about the pros and cons of height and ceiling speaker configs in varied room situations.


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post #18 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALtlOff View Post
....While this is lessened if you opt for surround heights, labeled as Top Middles, it is also still pretty good, compared to Top Middles with upfiring surround modules.

Honestly, IMO, unless you've done considerable listening to an in-ceiling system, you'll never know that a good height system is lacking at all.
So are you saying if I run heights, I should set my AVR to Top and not Heights?

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post #19 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 12:02 PM
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So are you saying if I run heights, I should set my AVR to Top and not Heights?
Actually, since it's just settings, experiment, I feel that having them set as Tops sound best "in my room". Tops just seemed to give me slightly more discrete placement of sounds.

But... I have an Atmos only AVR that will never get DTS-X, and as stated above, Heights settings, work for all formats. Plus there was a "very" small difference in the sound, so even setting mine to heights would be a minimal compromise at best, once I upgrade AVR's.

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post #20 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALtlOff View Post
The "above" is decent, not as good as in ceiling, but still definitely above, the "above and around" movement is excellent. The helicopter demo, while not directly overhead, is still extremely good, just like your being circled from above.

IMO, the reason it works so well is because of how Atmos actually works, it's not just sound out of one speaker at a time, but multiple speakers at the same time placing sounds where speakers aren't, which many times incorporates the ear level layer as well as multiple tops.
This is why the approved positions are so important, having speakers where the renderer thinks they are, allows for more accurate sound placement, for example a sound directly overhead, even with only height speakers, can still be placed there by using all 4 height speakers at the same time, using proper phase and distance calculations.

While this is lessened if you opt for surround heights, labeled as Top Middles, it is also still pretty good, compared to Top Middles with upfiring surround modules....
You're right. I just tried them on the shelf, set at Top Front and Top Rear. Ran it through Audyssey, oh wow. I get a sense of above.
Played a demo with rain and a bird flying overhead. I was impressed. Now I know what they meant by Object Based.

Once I get my Atmos Speakers I will try to figure out the best setup.
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post #21 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 06:45 PM
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I currently have in wall speakers (Polk rci55) that are being used as front heights. They were previously my L/R before the bookshelf speakers. See pic. I have on walls as rear surrounds but don't have an option for rear heights. If I upgrade to an Atmos avr will having just those two height speakers for atmos be useful? I can't do ceiling speakers either.
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post #22 of 369 Old 11-16-2016, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by confinoj View Post
I currently have in wall speakers (Polk rci55) that are being used as front heights. They were previously my L/R before the bookshelf speakers. See pic. I have on walls as rear surrounds but don't have an option for rear heights. If I upgrade to an Atmos avr will having just those two height speakers for atmos be useful? I can't do ceiling speakers either.
This is a perfect placement for front heights. I think that they will be useful for atmos. I currently have a similar non-atmos (Pliiz) configuration and I enjoy the change in front sound stage brought by front heights.

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post #23 of 369 Old 11-17-2016, 12:46 AM
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Quote:
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Good to know, I'll try positioning my speakers as height. Should they be pointed directly at MLP? Or over the MLP?

Sent from my Note Edge
I experimented with having the speakers point straight over the MLP and also pointed towards (not directly) the MLP. Had both setups for a month each. TBH, I feel that this is a little more subjective and room dependent.

Having the speakers just pointed straight out made a more diffused soundfield, so often times it sounded like the whole ceiling was producing sound. This is great because when it "rains" in a movie (or whatever content), it really sounded like the whole ceiling was raining. It was "eerie" enough that I had to check my windows to see if it's raining outside, EVERY single time.

But there is one caveat, when it comes overhead panning scenes though - like an object flying overhead, this made the transition between the front and back (or vice versa) became a little too non-focused. Meaning I usually couldn't really tell with my eyes closed if the object was already behind me or not. Another example, if there was a bolt of lightning that comes from the overhead channels, it sounded like the whole ceiling was shooting bolts instead of from a certain area.

I found that the sweetspot in my room was to point the height speakers towards my MLP. Keyword here is "towards", so the speakers are just around a ballpark of 1 ft' or so directed towards my MLP. With this setup, I still get the sense of spaciousness up top while when need be, object effects that are made to directly go towards the MLP sounds articulate enough. It's not perfect, but it's damn good and in my room, the best I can do.

If I set it directly pointing to the MLP, what happens is that the height effects became quite localizable even if they sounded very accurate. This breaks the whole "cocoon soundstage" that I have in my room, where the bed layers don't sound like they form organically with the top layers.

Hope that helps.


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Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post
If South Korea actually starts regular consumer ATSC 3.0 OTA broadcasting in early 2017 as planned, we should rapidly get details about the AVR audio 'interaction' with [draft standard compliant] ATSC 3.0 TVs--albeit equipped with MPEG-H immersive|interactive audio rather than Dolby AC-4 as is the US national plan. South Korean region variants of next year's AVR models will presumably be MPEG-H Audio and Dolby Atmos [and DTS:X] decode capable, whereas 'later' US|Canada region variants will likely feature Dolby AC-4 plus Atmos [and DTS:X] support. However I'm guessing recommendations for 5.x.2|5.x.4|7.x.2|7.x.4 immersive (TV+AVR) speaker setup will be the same for all regions . . . and with a wider immersive|interactive audio aware consumer population 'beyond traditional home theater owners' perhaps there might be better [researched] dialog about the pros and cons of height and ceiling speaker configs in varied room situations.


_
Good to know.
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post #24 of 369 Old 11-17-2016, 07:30 AM
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Actually, since it's just settings, experiment, I feel that having them set as Tops sound best "in my room". Tops just seemed to give me slightly more discrete placement of sounds.

But... I have an Atmos only AVR that will never get DTS-X, and as stated above, Heights settings, work for all formats. Plus there was a "very" small difference in the sound, so even setting mine to heights would be a minimal compromise at best, once I upgrade AVR's.
Thanks. I wonder what is the difference in the two from the receiver point of view?

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...Having the speakers just pointed straight out made a more diffused soundfield, so often times it sounded like the whole ceiling was producing sound. This is great because when it "rains" in a movie (or whatever content), it really sounded like the whole ceiling was raining. It was "eerie" enough that I had to check my windows to see if it's raining outside, EVERY single time. .....
Thanks for great response, I will know what to expect when I start testing/

My Atmos speakers should be here today. I will try them from the shelf pointing up, maybe they will sound like top speakers since they are closer to the ceiling.

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post #25 of 369 Old 11-17-2016, 12:38 PM
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Thanks. I wonder what is the difference in the two from the receiver point of view?
The difference has to do with the fact that Top designations are the, for lack of a better term, default, when it comes to speaker locations, and sound positioning.

From the experimenting that people have done, when using TF/TR designations, the overhead sounds were more discreet to each speaker, esp with Front and back transitioning. When using FH/RH designations the AVR would actually use both at the same time, to try and place sounds where the Tops would be placed.

Example, a sound that should be near the TFR(right) speaker, would be played by the TFR, but when using Height designations, the AVR would use both the FHR & RHR simultaneously to try and place that sound in the TFR position. Sometimes this sounds better, sometimes not, it will depend on your preferences and your room.

And remember....
This is only with Atmos, DTS-X uses Height designations....

(This is where it gets more confusing)
Dolbys angles/locations for Top speaker placement, are the exact locations for what DTS calls Heights, same placement, just different labeling, that's it.

Why.... because of their competition with Dolby.... They just want you to choose one or the other, and not have it be easy to switch back and forth.... Heaven forbid, it should be easier for us.
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post #26 of 369 Old 11-17-2016, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALtlOff View Post
The difference has to do with the fact that Top designations are the, for lack of a better term, default, when it comes to speaker locations, and sound positioning.

From the experimenting that people have done, when using TF/TR designations, the overhead sounds were more discreet to each speaker, esp with Front and back transitioning. When using FH/RH designations the AVR would actually use both at the same time, to try and place sounds where the Tops would be placed.

Example, a sound that should be near the TFR(right) speaker, would be played by the TFR, but when using Height designations, the AVR would use both the FHR & RHR simultaneously to try and place that sound in the TFR position. Sometimes this sounds better, sometimes not, it will depend on your preferences and your room.

And remember....
This is only with Atmos, DTS-X uses Height designations....

(This is where it gets more confusing)
Dolbys angles/locations for Top speaker placement, are the exact locations for what DTS calls Heights, same placement, just different labeling, that's it.

Why.... because of their competition with Dolby.... They just want you to choose one or the other, and not have it be easy to switch back and forth.... Heaven forbid, it should be easier for us.
Dirty, got a little ranty...
This is why I think the best compromise and the best sweetspot is to just have height speakers in the traditional height presence locations. At least, this is for most consumer home theater builds.

Of course, somewhere within the executive chain of Dolby HQ, they want all movies to just use Atmos and forget about DTS:X entirely. In THEIR own perfect world then, their suggested setup(s) are all that matters.

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post #27 of 369 Old 11-18-2016, 05:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Tan View Post
This is why I think the best compromise and the best sweetspot is to just have height speakers in the traditional height presence locations. At least, this is for most consumer home theater builds.

Of course, somewhere within the executive chain of Dolby HQ, they want all movies to just use Atmos and forget about DTS:X entirely. In THEIR own perfect world then, their suggested setup(s) are all that matters.



__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______________________
Source: March 2016 Dolby AC-4 Presentation for SMPTE (link-to-pdf)


I guess it seems possible in the future we might also see extension substreams for Dolby AC-4 on TrueHD BDs in addition to those now used for Dolby Atmos...?!


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post #28 of 369 Old 11-18-2016, 02:02 PM
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When I setup my Denon X6300 today, in one menu of the Audyssey setup it asked me if I had

Height Speakers
Ceiling Speakers

Then in another menu it asked if I'm using 'Atmos Enabled' Speakers. Which look like those tower adders.

I want my Front Height (and eventually Rear Height) to operate as my 'Atmos' speakers. In the setup I marked them as Front Height. Will they receive the Atmos information on Atmos movies?
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post #29 of 369 Old 11-18-2016, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamliner View Post
When I setup my Denon X6300 today, in one menu of the Audyssey setup it asked me if I had

Height Speakers
Ceiling Speakers

Then in another menu it asked if I'm using 'Atmos Enabled' Speakers. Which look like those tower adders.

I want my Front Height (and eventually Rear Height) to operate as my 'Atmos' speakers. In the setup I marked them as Front Height. Will they receive the Atmos information on Atmos movies?
Yes, Height or Ceiling will receive the Atmos full range signal, Atmos enabled is the restricted signal for upfiring speakers or modules.
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post #30 of 369 Old 11-21-2016, 03:16 PM
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Glad I stumbled upon this thread.
I'm thinking of adding front heights because frankly I don't feel like putting in ceiling speakers.
Current setup is as follows:
7.2
Denon x6200w
Outlaw 5000 running bed layer
Denon running rear surrounds
Two Psa subs
Mains: Def Tech sm55's
Center: Def Tech Pc2000
Surrounds: Def Tech 8040bp's
Rear surrounds: Def Tech pm1000's

I have a spare pair of Def Tech pm800's laying around and was thinking of using them for front heights. My question is should i swap those smaller 800's to rear surround duty and use the 1000's for the front heights, or just use the 800's?

Would it make any noticeable difference either way?
Pic of where I will mount them. Excuse poor lighting etc lol



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