5.1.4 Bi-Amped vs 7.1.4 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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5.1.4 Bi-Amped vs 7.1.4

Hi Folks!

Question posed to you as above - I've got a dedicated media room that's about ~2100 cubic feet (9' high x 13.5' wide x 17.5' long). Projector screen will go on the 9' x 13.5' wall.

Doing the math, the floor, 13.5' x 17.5', is approximately 235 square feet.

I have the option of either doing 5 bed level and 4 atmos speakers, with L and R passively bi-amped, or 7 bed level and 4 atmos, no bi-amping.

Which is better in the setup described above?

To provide further context - the tower speakers that I'm looking at are B&W 702 S2s.

More detail - I'm considering a combination of Arcam AVR 390 or AVR 550, and PA410 or PA720 (neither of the power amps has released just yet. I'm ok waiting).

What combination of speaker arrangement, receiver and amp would be the best bang for the buck?

I'm too new to this forum, so I can't post links to the above mentioned speakers, receivers or power amps. Google will have to be your reference tool. I can also respond with details when asked.

Thank you!
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
Hi Folks!

Question posed to you as above - I've got a dedicated media room that's about ~2100 cubic feet (9' high x 13.5' wide x 17.5' long). Projector screen will go on the 9' x 13.5' wall.

Doing the math, the floor, 13.5' x 17.5', is approximately 235 square feet.

I have the option of either doing 5 bed level and 4 atmos speakers, with L and R passively bi-amped, or 7 bed level and 4 atmos, no bi-amping.

Which is better in the setup described above?
1. Passive bi-amping has little to zero benefit. It's as useless as bi-wiring, or power conditioners, or exotic speaker cables and interconnects.

2. If HT/TV is your main usage not music, I would not bother with B&W speakers---lousy bang for the buck and not particularly great for that application...just pretty cabinets.

3. I'd make sure that your budget allows for a pair of decent subwoofers, at least $1K for both.

4. Almost all content is still recorded in 5 channels, so adding the 2 extra surrounds also yields little real benefit...so I'd go 5.2.4 without bi-amping, then you won't have to needlessly pay for an 11 channel receiver and just get a 9 channel one.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 09:18 AM
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Which is better in the setup described above?
4 surround speakers will give you wrap-around envelopment AND side-vs-rear separation in the surround field that is simply not possible with only 2 surround speakers.

Sanjay
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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1. Passive bi-amping has little to zero benefit. It's as useless as bi-wiring, or power conditioners, or exotic speaker cables and interconnects.

2. If HT/TV is your main usage not music, I would not bother with B&W speakers---lousy bang for the buck and not particularly great for that application...just pretty cabinets.

3. I'd make sure that your budget allows for a pair of decent subwoofers, at least $1K for both.

4. Almost all content is still recorded in 5 channels, so adding the 2 extra surrounds also yields little real benefit...so I'd go 5.2.4 without bi-amping, then you won't have to needlessly pay for an 11 channel receiver and just get a 9 channel one.
Thank you for your response Zorba!

My HT usage would be 75-80% HT and 20-25% music. What speakers do you favor for such usage?

Given my room dimensions, would a 5.2.2 work? Do the extra 2 atmos speakers provide a significant value add in a 5.2.4?

And when you say $1k on subwoofers, do you mean $1k total, or $1k per? What do you think of Rel? What subwoofers do you recommend?
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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4 surround speakers will give you wrap-around envelopment AND side-vs-rear separation in the surround field that is simply not possible with only 2 surround speakers.
Yes, that is the argument for 7 bed level speakers. But would this be justified for my media room? The floor is 13.5' x 17.5' (~235 sq ft). Not very large.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
My HT usage would be 75-80% HT and 20-25% music. What speakers do you favor for such usage?

Given my room dimensions, would a 5.2.2 work? Do the extra 2 atmos speakers provide a significant value add in a 5.2.4?

And when you say $1k on subwoofers, do you mean $1k total, or $1k per? What do you think of Rel? What subwoofers do you recommend?
I meant $1K per pair. I'd look at a pair of the Hsu VTF-2 or the Rythmik LV12-F.

For your speakers, it depends on a couple of things:

1. Do you have a strong preference for the LOOK of towers? Because with good subs in play, they aren't really necessary.

2. How loud do you listen? Download an SPL Meter app (free) to your smartphone and see. Most people are in the 60-75db range.

3. Generally speaking, how important are aesthetics to you?

From your OP, it looks like you have a very generous budget. To get good HT performance you only need maybe 1/2 or even 1/3 of that. But this also depends on the above 3 questions.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 10:26 AM
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But would this be justified for my media room? The floor is 13.5' x 17.5' (~235 sq ft). Not very large.
Size doesn't matter. Let me rephrase that. Room size is not the determinant, seating location is. If your seating is at/near the back wall, then stick to a 5.1 base layer (no space behind you for the rear speakers). If your seating is away from the back wall, then you'll easily be able to tell the difference between a speaker at your left vs a speaker at your right vs speakers behind you.

Sanjay
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
Thank you for your response Zorba!

My HT usage would be 75-80% HT and 20-25% music. What speakers do you favor for such usage?

Given my room dimensions, would a 5.2.2 work? Do the extra 2 atmos speakers provide a significant value add in a 5.2.4?

And when you say $1k on subwoofers, do you mean $1k total, or $1k per? What do you think of Rel? What subwoofers do you recommend?
Jimbobob - I am by no means an authority but am wrapping up the route you seem to be on.

The Real Question: How often will you actually have Atmos playing? (I find less than 5%...not that many recordings out there, I don't rewatch movies constantly and don't upconvert...haven't looked into streaming Atmos in a while but my slow connect wouldn't carry it anyhow). Honestly, Most fun I have is with the Atmos Demo disc (...it is fun though) and the occasional new movie I buy.

1. I set my configuration to optimize Atmos and am now re-working everything to match what I use most (5.2 then 7.2 since I don't upconvert<Marantz ttol for last year). This consists of following the speaker manufacturer recommendation of moving the side speakers up the wall to 6'-8' up then pointing them down to the listener to get better dispersion. (IMO - The Atmos spec of a side speaker is too directional in a narrow room when you are on either side of the sweet spot, resulting in very directional side output into the listeners ear <even when running my tripole speakers - have not tested switching them to dipole but that is outside Atmos>). <I am using MK S150s and SS150s - would not recommend them to you as music is not so good on them (My room is more dedicated TV/gaming) BUT movies are phenomenal>

2. I did 7.2 and no regrets, when I have full surround option I want it.

3. I have done the 4 top Atmos speakers. Since I did it myself it was very cheap (Free to me). IMO - two speakers would give very close to the same effect. Especially when you balance with Audyssey.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
My HT usage would be 75-80% HT and 20-25% music. What speakers do you favor for such usage?
Don't dismiss a 7.x.4 layout quite yet. Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks are 7.1.4. However, I would not spend a ton of extra money on the Atmos/rear surrounds, but a decent set of in-ceiling/in-walls will go a long way. And 4 ceiling speakers instead of 2 will definitely give you a more immersive experience.
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
7 bed level and 4 atmos, no bi-amping.
This.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
Given my room dimensions, would a 5.2.2 work? Do the extra 2 atmos speakers provide a significant value add in a 5.2.4?
Yes - it adds another axis. If you can do it, do it.

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Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
Yes, that is the argument for 7 bed level speakers. But would this be justified for my media room? The floor is 13.5' x 17.5' (~235 sq ft). Not very large.
Yes. My room is smaller than yours at 13' x 16', running a 7.2.4 with what I think are excellent results. Started with 3.1 to 5.1 to 5.2 to 5.2.4 to 7.2.4 - each step was an improvement in the experience.

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Originally Posted by Wildthing1 View Post
The Real Question: How often will you actually have Atmos playing? (I find less than 5%...not that many recordings out there, I don't rewatch movies constantly and don't upconvert...haven't looked into streaming Atmos in a while but my slow connect wouldn't carry it anyhow). Honestly, Most fun I have is with the Atmos Demo disc (...it is fun though) and the occasional new movie I buy.
You really should try upmixing then - gives new life to a LOT of material! Also puts another twist on music or actual Atmos music.
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7.2.4 System: Display: Sony XBR-65X930D; Processing: Anthem AVM60
Mains:
Paradigm Prestige 85F and 55C; Side / Rear Surrounds: Totem Acoustic Tribe III / Tribe I; Amplification: D-Sonic M3a-2800-7 (7ch. x 400w)
ATMOS:
Definitive Technology DI8R; Amplification: Class D Audio SDS-470C (4ch. x 300w)
Subwoofers:
2 x SVS-SB13Ultras; Media: Oppo UDP-203, Pioneer CLD-59
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post #11 of 11 Old 01-22-2020, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jimbobob View Post
Hi Folks!

Question posed to you as above - I've got a dedicated media room that's about ~2100 cubic feet (9' high x 13.5' wide x 17.5' long). Projector screen will go on the 9' x 13.5' wall.

Doing the math, the floor, 13.5' x 17.5', is approximately 235 square feet.

I have the option of either doing 5 bed level and 4 atmos speakers, with L and R passively bi-amped, or 7 bed level and 4 atmos, no bi-amping.

Which is better in the setup described above? [B]To be honest this is a choice you need to make. Maybe buy your 5.1.4 and ask your dealer for a loaner on the other 2 to try out[ a 7.1.4. With the money your going to spend they should accomodate even if a set of bookshelves in the same series/B]

To provide further context - the tower speakers that I'm looking at are B&W 702 S2s.Only your ears can pick the right ones for you.
Don't let others sway your choice


More detail - I'm considering a combination of Arcam AVR 390 or AVR 550, and PA410 or PA720 (neither of the power amps has released just yet. I'm ok waiting).Why not just go with the top of the line Arcam instead of investing in amps. The 702s are 90db sensitive.

What combination of speaker arrangement, receiver and amp would be the best bang for the buck? Arcam 850, 702/705/HTM71 and sub of your choice, if your going with that series. But again your choice.

I'm too new to this forum, so I can't post links to the above mentioned speakers, receivers or power amps. Google will have to be your reference tool. I can also respond with details when asked.

Thank you!
Personally I prefer towers over bookshelves even with a sub. I have a Denon X8500H and tried a 3x225w amp along side and to be honest I sold the amp. Have you heard the Paradigm Prestige line? Incredible.

LG OLED65B7P.
Denon X8500H, OPPO 203
Paradigm Prestige 95F, 55C, 25S and Prestige 1000SW.
PS Audio P12, AQ1200

Last edited by Kevin. W; 01-22-2020 at 07:33 PM.
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