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post #1 of 13 Old 05-17-2019, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Atmos for dummies

I recently upgraded to a 4K projector and a Denon receiver compatible with Atmos (AVR-S740H). Originally, I just wanted the receiver to power my existing seven speakers (Centre, front left and right, and four surround speakers on the side and overhead rear on the ceiling) plus a subwoofer. Then I got to wondering what Atmos was all about, investigated further, and discovered that my receiver only supports Atmos add on speakers if I disconnect my existing rear ceiling speakers and then connect those wires to the new Atmos speakers (whatever and wherever those are).

The more I read, the more confused I get.

Should I keep my existing setup and forget “Atmos”? Should I replace my rear ceiling speakers with new rear ceiling speakers? (And are speakers ON the ceiling ok, or do they need to be IN the ceiling?)

Should I keep my existing system but replace front left and right speakers which fire both vertically and horizontally? (And if I did, would the Denon support that? If I understand their support advice, Atmos speakers need to be connected where my rear ceiling speakers are connected). But as I say, I may not understand this AT ALL.
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-17-2019, 08:12 PM
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Well you have choices as is or you can upgrade. Right now you have a 7.1 setup. A standard 5.1 system and two rears making it 7.1. I am not 100% sure on your receiver but high probability you could assign the rear speakers to be two ceiling atmos speakers and make your system ad 5.1.2. If you can move the rears closer to above the main listening area the better you did not list the type or if that makes sense but you could just re assign the rears to height and see how you like it. IMO I would think the 5.1.2 atmos setup would be better than the 7.1. Also IMO getting a new receiver for a 7.1.4 setup by lowering the rears and adding 4 ceiling speakers would be the ultimate way to go. The atmos speakers that bounce off the ceiling are not worth investigating, in the ceiling is the way to go.
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-17-2019, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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I titled this thread Atmos for dummies because I truly don’t follow most of what I have been able to find. Dolby and other information seems written for the more advanced enthusiast.

From what I can tell, a 9 channel system (which would allow me to keep the existing rear ceiling speakers AND add two Atmos speakers/modules would be much more expensive. And not really an option as the time for returning my new receiver and exchanging it for something else has passed).

So I go back to my existing 7 speakers and subwoofer: what do I do about that? You suggest switching to a 5 channel system — I am afraid I don’t see how that would be an improvement on my existing system?
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-17-2019, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edison53 View Post
I titled this thread Atmos for dummies because I truly don’t follow most of what I have been able to find. Dolby and other information seems written for the more advanced enthusiast.

From what I can tell, a 9 channel system (which would allow me to keep the existing rear ceiling speakers AND add two Atmos speakers/modules would be much more expensive. And not really an option as the time for returning my new receiver and exchanging it for something else has passed).

So I go back to my existing 7 speakers and subwoofer: what do I do about that? You suggest switching to a 5 channel system — I am afraid I don’t see how that would be an improvement on my existing system?
The post meant a 5.1.2 Atmos system. (5 floor level speakers, 1 subwoofer, and 2 Atmos overheads.) That would still require a 7 channel AVR (audio video receiver).

Unfortunately, for a 5.1.2 system, the overheads are supposed to be more or less directly over the listening position: https://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/sp...tup-guide.html I assume that you'd have to move the rears to come close to the nominal 5.1.2 configuration.

Some AVRs have more speaker outputs than channels, which could allow you to install another set of speakers and switch between a 7.1 config and a 5.1.2 one, but the S740H is not one of those AVRs.

I'm not sure what to recommend. It's fun to play with Atmos, but it's more of an effects thing than an audio improvement. (Others may disagree.)

(I'm running a 7.2.4 Atmos system, in a rather suboptimal configuration because of the layout of my living room. I didn't consider the basement because it has ceilings not much higher than 2m.)

Last edited by bobknavs; 05-18-2019 at 11:37 AM.
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Edison53 View Post
The more I read, the more confused I get.
The goal of Atmos is very simple: turn a two dimensional ring of sound into a three dimensional bubble of sound, by separating sounds coming from around you versus sounds coming from above you. Your 7.1 receiver has enough channels to do a 5.1 ring of sound around you and turn that into a bubble of sound by adding two speakers above you (ideally a couple feet forward of your listening position). Doesn't matter if you use in-ceiling or on-ceiling speakers (or even high up on the side walls), as long as you have a pair of speakers above you. That's it. Nothing more complicated than that.
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 11:09 AM
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Sanjay, that's probably the best layman's explanation of Atmos that I have ever read.
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edison53 View Post
The more I read, the more confused I get.
The goal of Atmos is very simple: turn a two dimensional ring of sound into a three dimensional bubble of sound, by separating sounds coming from around you versus sounds coming from above you. Your 7.1 receiver has enough channels to do a 5.1 ring of sound around you and turn that into a bubble of sound by adding two speakers above you (ideally a couple feet forward of your listening position). Doesn't matter if you use in-ceiling or on-ceiling speakers (or even high up on the side walls), as long as you have a pair of speakers above you. That's it. Nothing more complicated than that.
Agreed. I belong to the “dummy” group and this is the best definition I have ever read. 🙂
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, I am starting to get the *theory,* but if I have rear speakers on the ceiling, won’t I lose something if I have to disconnect them in order to connect Atmos ceiling speakers in *front* of me, or add-on Atmos upfiring modules on top of front floor speakers?
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edison53 View Post
Ok, I am starting to get the *theory,* but if I have rear speakers on the ceiling, won’t I lose something if I have to disconnect them in order to connect Atmos ceiling speakers in *front* of me, or add-on Atmos upfiring modules on top of front floor speakers?
Why would you need to disconnect your rear speakers to begin with? You will ultimately have 3 in front, 2 rear, and 2 inceiling, correct? There isnt any reason to disconnect any speakers.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I have three speakers and subwoofer in front, two on side, and two on (not in) ceiling. Denon says my receiver cannot support more without disconnecting something. They say to disconnect the rear speakers to permit addition of atmos modules which — I note again — would be at the *front.* (Because I think that’s where upfiring modules are supposed to go). So I would be trading rear speakers for front Atmos. Seems odd to me.
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post #11 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edison53 View Post
I have three speakers and subwoofer in front, two on side, and two on (not in) ceiling. Denon says my receiver cannot support more without disconnecting something. They say to disconnect the rear speakers to permit addition of atmos modules which — I note again — would be at the *front.* (Because I think that’s where upfiring modules are supposed to go). So I would be trading rear speakers for front Atmos. Seems odd to me.
An Atmos speaker uses separate signals and amplifier power than the other speakers. Even a speaker with a built-in "Dolby Enabled" module requires a separate channel to drive it.

Incidentally, "Dolby Enabled" (celling bounce) speakers are supposed to give the least satisfactory Atmos effects. (I have never used them; I don't have a flat, level ceiling.) The next level is speakers mounted high on the front wall. (I have tried that.) Ceiling speakers are best. There is an approximation to ceiling mounted Atmos speakers that has them mounted high on the side walls, pointing down towards the listener. (See, for example, SVS Prime Elevation speakers.)
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post #12 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edison53 View Post
I have three speakers and subwoofer in front, two on side, and two on (not in) ceiling.
Go into your receiver's set-up menu and change the label of the two speakers on the ceiling from rears to heights (i.e., change from a 7.1 layout to a 5.1.2 layout). Thirty seconds from reading this post you could be playing Atmos movies, with actual height information going to the two speakers on the ceiling. Down the road it would be a good idea to move the height speakers so that they are a couple feet forward of your listening position and move your surrounds so that they slightly rearward of you. But you don't have to do that part right now.
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post #13 of 13 Old 05-19-2019, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the advice

As it happens, my system is down for the moment while unrelated damage caused by a water leak in the HT area is repaired.

I will definitely try the “height” suggestion once it is back up.

Thanks for all the help!
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