5.1 or 7.1 for attic theater, plus atmos? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 36 Old 03-06-2019, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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5.1 or 7.1 for attic theater, plus atmos?

I'm currently redoing the audio portion of my newly transformed playroom/home theater. I am running a pair of Linn Espeks in 2.0 right now and I thought about looking for old used Linn speakers to build out the surround sound, but I'm rethinking that now.

I want to start with a blank slate and build what makes the most sense for the space and out media consumption habits.

Family Usage
We're a family of four with two young boys. This home theater room also doubles as our rough house space (aka go as far away from mommy and daddy as possible) so there is a very real possibility that our speakers might take a bump here or there. Though they are pretty good about being careful. We watch movie and TV shows and play video games through the system. It may also see some music usage, but probably not much.

The Space
Attached is the layout of our room. Because it is an attic we're dealing with the roof line and not having full height walls. The side walls are 2' and then the roof line starts at about a 45 degree angle. There is a section of flat ceiling in the center that spans 7' across. I have access to run all of the surround audio cable in wall. This space is also fully carpeted.

System
This is a 1080p BenQ projecting to a 120" screen. We use a Roku right now to stream all content, but I'll consider getting a UHD player in the future.

Questions
1. I was thinking of just going 5.1 as you can see from the floor plan, but should I consider going 7.1? Knowing that I'll likely want to spend $2-3K on speakers.
2. Considering the space, would atmos speakers make much sense?
3. Could I mount the atmos speakers on the 45 degree sloped ceiling or would I want them on my 7' flat ceiling section?

Thanks for any help and suggestions. What started as a "let's get a screen for some outdoor movie nights" has turned into "let's build a home theater we can use the other 9 months a year."
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Last edited by CaptainChunk; 03-08-2019 at 09:57 AM.
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post #2 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 06:46 AM
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The jump from 5.1 to 7.1 is so small that I tell people that are starting out to just go 5.1 and max out the budget to get the best speakers they can. Then to find cheap or free speaker to test out 7.1.
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post #3 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacklightning View Post
The jump from 5.1 to 7.1 is so small that I tell people that are starting out to just go 5.1 and max out the budget to get the best speakers they can. Then to find cheap or free speaker to test out 7.1.
That's kind of what I was thinking. The extra side speakers would kind of get in the way in our space. Now I need to figure out if Atmos is worth pursuing.
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post #4 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainChunk View Post
I was thinking of just going 5.1 as you can see from the floor plan, but should I consider going 7.1?
With your seating away from the back wall, you're an ideal candidate for a 7.1 layout. Two pairs of surrounds will give you wrap-around envelopment and side-vs-rear separation in the surround field that is not possible with just one pair of surrounds.
Quote:
Considering the space, would atmos speakers make much sense?
As long as you keep your fronts & surrounds around ear height, you'll get excellent separation between sounds around you vs sounds above you, turning a 2D ring of sound into a 3D bubble of sound.
Quote:
Could I mount the atmos speakers on the 45 degree sloped ceiling or would I want them on my 7' flat ceiling section?
Better to mount them on the flat ceiling section, spread as far apart as symmetrically possible.

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post #5 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 09:44 AM
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Atmos is worth doing but as you know your space is not Ideal.
Pictures of your space would help but I would just do a 5.1.2 setup with the Atmos speakers on the Flat part of the ceiling.
I would not spend too much on an AVR.
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post #6 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainChunk View Post
I'm currently redoing the audio portion of my newly transformed playroom/home theater. I am running a pair of Linn Espeks in 2.0 right now and I thought about looking for old used Linn speakers to build out the surround sound, but I'm rethinking that now.

I want to start with a blank slate and build what makes the most sense for the space and out media consumption habits.

Family Usage
We're a family of four with two young boys. This home theater room also doubles as our rough house space (aka go as far away from mommy and daddy as possible) so there is a very real possibility that our speakers might take a bump here or there. Though they are pretty good about being careful. We watch movie and TV shows and play video games through the system. It may also see some music usage, but probably not much.

The Space
Attached is the layout of our room. Because it is an attic we're dealing with the roof line and not having full height walls. The side walls are 2' and then the roof line starts at about a 45 degree angle. There is a section of flat ceiling in the center that spans 7' across. I have access to run all of the surround audio cable in wall. This space is also fully carpeted.

System
This is a 1080p BenQ projecting to a 120" screen. We use a Roku right now to stream all content, but I'll consider getting a UHD player in the future.

Questions
1. I was thinking of just going 5.1 as you can see from the floor plan, but should I consider going 7.1? Knowing that I'll likely want to spend $2-3K on speakers.
2. Considering the space, would atmos speakers make much sense?
3. Could I mount the atmos speakers on the 45 degree sloped ceiling or would I want them on my 7' flat ceiling section?

Thanks for any help and suggestions. What started as a "let's get a screen for some outdoor movie nights" has turned into "let's build a home theater we can use the other 9 months a year."
I'd start off with the best 5.1 set you can afford and put atmos on the back burner for now. With young boys running around wall monted bookshelf speakers would be a good option. Your kids are less likely to knock them over and they would stretch your budget further.
For mostly TV/movies and gaming, This 5.1 HSU package would be a good choice, well within budget and comes with a really good sub.
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid3hppkg.html
The speakers are also available in rosenut if WAF is a factor.
This AVR has Audyssey XT32 all the power need to drive any set up you choose. If you plan on expanding to 5.1.4 in the near future go with the X4400H.
https://www.accessories4less.com/mak...-w/heos/1.html

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Last edited by pase22; 03-07-2019 at 09:52 AM.
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post #7 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 10:00 AM
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Since you can run wire anywhere, run it for 7.x.4, with the in-ceiling on the flat surface.
Run multiple subwoofer cables to the 4 corners of the room.
As noted above, get the best 5.x you can right now, and then ass in ceiling speakers for Atmos. Remember, going to an 11-channel (ie: 7.x.4) powered AVR will cost you an additional $1000 over a 5.x.4 AVR.
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post #8 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacklightning View Post
The jump from 5.1 to 7.1 is so small that I tell people that are starting out to just go 5.1 and max out the budget to get the best speakers they can. Then to find cheap or free speaker to test out 7.1.
Yeah I would skip the 7.1 because there are very few movies that actually have soundtracks with 7.1 discrete channels. There's a list on one of the media subforums but the list is pretty paltry. 7.1 just never really caught on (no surprise). Maybe this will change as Atmos catches on (if it does or has)? Not sure what the most common Atmos mixes are on UHD blu-rays.

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post #9 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 10:46 AM
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Speakers mounted on the wall would make sense for your roughhousing family. To that end, look at the RSL CG3/23 packages (back in stock soon). These can hang right on the wall with a keyhole mount, but for safety's sake, I would invest in some good wall mounts. Then you can attach the speakers via the threaded insert, with the mounts screwed into wall studs. Those speakers will be going nowhere and the mounts will allow for a bit of toe-in.

Re your layout: 5.1 makes the most sense, but I would mount the surrounds in-line with each other, as opposed to mounting in uneven corners. Go ahead and pre-wire for 4 channel Atmos, at the widest point of the flat roof. RSL's in-ceiling speakers are also well-regarded here, when you are ready to jump to Atmos.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #10 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:08 AM
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My expereince matches with sdurani's comments above. I prefer 7.1 to 5.1. Don't need a 7.1 discrete source to enjoy a 7.1 listening array.

If you decide to start with 5.1 with the intenion of later expanding to 7.1 like I did in a previous system:
- The side surrounds for 7.1 should be directly to the sides of the listening positiion, not behind it as for 5.1 system
- If you start with two side surrounds directly to the sides, soundfield will have good breadth but will be lacking in depth. You will be anxious to add rear surrounds to expand to 7.1

I don't have any experience with starting with two rear surrounds in 5.1 and later adding two side surrounds for 7.1

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post #11 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
With your seating away from the back wall, you're an ideal candidate for a 7.1 layout. Two pairs of surrounds will give you wrap-around envelopment and side-vs-rear separation in the surround field that is not possible with just one pair of surrounds. As long as you keep your fronts & surrounds around ear height, you'll get excellent separation between sounds around you vs sounds above you, turning a 2D ring of sound into a 3D bubble of sound. Better to mount them on the flat ceiling section, spread as far apart as symmetrically possible.
I added a photo of the room before we finished it out. The highest I can really get to the surrounds is about 2' off the ground so they won't make it to ear level. Not ideal, but should sound OK.
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post #12 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
With your seating away from the back wall, you're an ideal candidate for a 7.1 layout. Two pairs of surrounds will give you wrap-around envelopment and side-vs-rear separation in the surround field that is not possible with just one pair of surrounds. As long as you keep your fronts & surrounds around ear height, you'll get excellent separation between sounds around you vs sounds above you, turning a 2D ring of sound into a 3D bubble of sound. Better to mount them on the flat ceiling section, spread as far apart as symmetrically possible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacklightning View Post
Atmos is worth doing but as you know your space is not Ideal.
Pictures of your space would help but I would just do a 5.1.2 setup with the Atmos speakers on the Flat part of the ceiling.
I would not spend too much on an AVR.
I added a photo (taken prior to finishing) of our space to my original post. This is looking from the seating area towards the screen. The screen hangs from the ceiling in front of the window and radiator.
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post #13 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by CaptainChunk View Post
The highest I can really get to the surrounds is about 2' off the ground so they won't make it to ear level.
Can you mount speakers in or on the angled part of the walls? Also, do you have a pic of the back end of the room (with the stairs)?

Sanjay
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post #14 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pase22 View Post
I'd start off with the best 5.1 set you can afford and put atmos on the back burner for now. With young boys running around wall monted bookshelf speakers would be a good option. Your kids are less likely to knock them over and they would stretch your budget further.
For mostly TV/movies and gaming, This 5.1 HSU package would be a good choice, well within budget and comes with a really good sub.
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid3hppkg.html
The speakers are also available in rosenut if WAF is a factor.
This AVR has Audyssey XT32 all the power need to drive any set up you choose. If you plan on expanding to 5.1.4 in the near future go with the X4400H.
https://www.accessories4less.com/mak...-w/heos/1.html
Thanks for the thoughts. I had been looking at the HSU stuff. I got a college buddy into an HSU sub a decade ago. I was planning on going wall mounted for sure. Luckily, the wife doesn't really care what the speakers look like. She just enjoys the system.
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post #15 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceOmega View Post
Don't need a 7.1 discrete source to enjoy a 7.1 listening array.
Exactly. Using content as an excuse would be like recommending not to do a 7.1.4 layout because not enough movies have Atmos or DTS:X.

Sanjay
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post #16 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sigpig View Post
Since you can run wire anywhere, run it for 7.x.4, with the in-ceiling on the flat surface.
Run multiple subwoofer cables to the 4 corners of the room.
As noted above, get the best 5.x you can right now, and then ass in ceiling speakers for Atmos. Remember, going to an 11-channel (ie: 7.x.4) powered AVR will cost you an additional $1000 over a 5.x.4 AVR.
That's my other concern is about the increase in AVR cost. 11-channels is next level $$$. I probably will just run cable to whatever I decide on since I can always run more cable later.
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post #17 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by impetigo View Post
Yeah I would skip the 7.1 because there are very few movies that actually have soundtracks with 7.1 discrete channels. There's a list on one of the media subforums but the list is pretty paltry. 7.1 just never really caught on (no surprise). Maybe this will change as Atmos catches on (if it does or has)? Not sure what the most common Atmos mixes are on UHD blu-rays.
Also thinking about this. We're not really an action movie family so I'm guessing most of the movies we watch won't really take advantage of Atmos or 7.1.
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post #18 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Speakers mounted on the wall would make sense for your roughhousing family. To that end, look at the RSL CG3/23 packages (back in stock soon). These can hang right on the wall with a keyhole mount, but for safety's sake, I would invest in some good wall mounts. Then you can attach the speakers via the threaded insert, with the mounts screwed into wall studs. Those speakers will be going nowhere and the mounts will allow for a bit of toe-in.

Re your layout: 5.1 makes the most sense, but I would mount the surrounds in-line with each other, as opposed to mounting in uneven corners. Go ahead and pre-wire for 4 channel Atmos, at the widest point of the flat roof. RSL's in-ceiling speakers are also well-regarded here, when you are ready to jump to Atmos.
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check them out. I was hoping that I could mount the surrounds uneven and let room correction account for it.
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post #19 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Can you mount speakers in or on the angled part of the walls? Also, do you have a pic of the back end of the room (with the stairs)?
I added a photo of the back of the room to the original post.
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post #20 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 11:51 AM
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Also thinking about this. We're not really an action movie family so I'm guessing most of the movies we watch won't really take advantage of Atmos or 7.1.
A good quality and properly setup 5.1 can be very immersive and satisfying for most. You could try front height channels to see if it it's something you really must have before drilling holes in the ceiling. I've been running 5.1 for years and never felt like I was missing anything.

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how tall is your ceiling on flat section
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how tall is your ceiling on flat section
8'
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post #23 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceOmega View Post
My expereince matches with sdurani's comments above. I prefer 7.1 to 5.1. Don't need a 7.1 discrete source to enjoy a 7.1 listening array.

If you decide to start with 5.1 with the intenion of later expanding to 7.1 like I did in a previous system:
- The side surrounds for 7.1 should be directly to the sides of the listening positiion, not behind it as for 5.1 system
- If you start with two side surrounds directly to the sides, soundfield will have good breadth but will be lacking in depth. You will be anxious to add rear surrounds to expand to 7.1

Bruce
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Exactly. Using content as an excuse would be like recommending not to do a 7.1.4 layout because not enough movies have Atmos or DTS:X.
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Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check them out. I was hoping that I could mount the surrounds uneven and let room correction account for it.
CaptainChunk in a 5.1 setup the surrounds need to be beside you for the most part. If you ever go up to 7.1 then the rears will be on the uneven rear wall. Like wise for Atmos you want to start with the ones that are above and in front of you.
Human's have a much easier time with sound coming from in front then behind.
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do you have any pics of space as it looks right now with screen/projector couch etc?
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post #25 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 01:14 PM
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I added a photo of the back of the room to the original post.
Thanx. There is a section of wall on the side of the stairs that is even with the wall on the other side of the door, allowing both Rear speakers to be the same distance back from the listeners.
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Originally Posted by CaptainChunk View Post
That's my other concern is about the increase in AVR cost. 11-channels is next level $$$.
IF an 11-channel AVR is out of the budget, then that's a valid reason to go with a smaller set-up (5.1.4, 7.1.2, etc). Understand that your room and movie soundtracks are not the limiting factors. Your room can easily accommodate a 9.1.4 or 9.1.6 layout (with plenty of separation between speakers) and all movie soundtracks (irrespective of how many channels or objects) can be scaled to your speaker layout.
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post #26 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 01:38 PM
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CaptainChunk in a 5.1 setup the surrounds need to be beside you for the most part....
When I had a 5.1 setup as a prelude to an intended expansion to 7.1 in our previous house, the two surrounds I was using in 5.1 were directly to the sides of the main listening position. I was not satisfied with that- side to side breadth but no front to back depth. After I added rear surrounds for 7.1 the envelopment was great.

After we moved I set up a new system that was designed to be 5.1 as the room layout would not support 7.1. The two surrounds in this 5.1 system are to the sides of and behind the main listening position. The surround envelopment is nice, much better than having only two surrounds directly to the sides.

I recently re-setup the 7.1 system from the old house in a different room in the new house than my 5.1 system. Its designed for 7.1. Right now I only have side surrounds, directly to the side of the main listening position, and I'm encountering the same thing I did in our former house, side to side breadth yes, front to back depth no. I am anxious to expand this to 7.1.

FWIW, prewiring locations for the surrounds in 5.1 are different than for 7.1.

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post #27 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by CaptainChunk View Post
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check them out. I was hoping that I could mount the surrounds uneven and let room correction account for it.
Room correction will account for different distance, but the angle will also be different, and that may be an issue. I would test it before actually doing a permanent mount and see if it makes any difference (it may not).

The prior poster makes a good point about 5.1 vs 7.1. In 7.1, the sides are better at 90 degrees (or even 80 degrees). With 5.1, behind (i.e > 90 degrees) is generally preferred.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

Last edited by RayGuy; 03-07-2019 at 02:35 PM.
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post #28 of 36 Old 03-07-2019, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been looking at receiver prices and I think 11 channels is out. Just more than I want to spend right now. 9 channels is the max I want to go. So now I'm down to:

5.1
5.1.2
5.1.4

7.1
7.1.2

I'm going to play around with some speaker positions in my attic tonight to see how clearances work. That may shed some more light on which route to go.
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post #29 of 36 Old 03-08-2019, 05:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainChunk View Post
I've been looking at receiver prices and I think 11 channels is out. Just more than I want to spend right now. 9 channels is the max I want to go. So now I'm down to:

5.1
5.1.2
5.1.4

7.1
7.1.2

I'm going to play around with some speaker positions in my attic tonight to see how clearances work. That may shed some more light on which route to go.
what is your budget for the receiver
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post #30 of 36 Old 03-08-2019, 05:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacklightning View Post
The jump from 5.1 to 7.1 is so small that I tell people that are starting out to just go 5.1 and max out the budget to get the best speakers they can. Then to find cheap or free speaker to test out 7.1.
I agree with that. Then buy 2 more when you can afford it. But, looking at that room though 5.1 with 2 rear atmos height speakers in or on the naturally angled ceiling might be a better way to go than 7.1, but you could probably get away buying a cheaper 7.1 receiver and running the sides there as well. But 2 rear speakers on the back wall makes perfect sense to me. Symmetry is kind of the game since youll have multiple listeners.

If you dont have any speakers I would put the most into a good center channel.

- 6 BA CR6 array center channel, QSC AD-S82 L/R, 4 jbl 8330a surr , 8 jbl 12" subs w/Inuke 6000. JVC rs420, Denon x4000, Sony x800 -
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