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post #1 of 13 Old 04-03-2020, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
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9.2.6 setup, height vs ceiling positions

I've made some purchases recently and have narrowed down my questions for where to go next with my theater.

I'm upgrading from a 9.2 setup (RBH Signature 616/66/61-se and 2 rythmik 1501's custom sealed boxes). I've purchased a Denon x8500h and 8 (rbh r-5e) bookshelf speakers for either height/ceiling. I only plan to use 6 of the r5-e for now and have 2 for use later if needed.

My concern is that my ceiling height is 8.5' and that I can't mount/use speakers in-ceiling as typical for atmos. The theater is under a garage and the ceiling is covered with 4" of fr701 and stretched cotton fabric over the fr701. In fact, the room exterior is entirely constructed of cement so there is 1"-4" of acoustical treatment on all walls and ceiling, except above ear level on the sides so the room is on the anechoic side. I do have a build thread that goes into more details if anyone is interested.

Due to the low ceiling height of 8.5' and not being able to mount speakers in it, I'm left with the likely option of mounting the r-5e speakers on arms/poles/mounts out from the soffit in the room. Although all ear level speakers are placed in columns behind AT material, the room is 99% listening and 1% visually focused (Mostly matte black to avoid light reflections as well) so I won't mind if the atmos speakers are visible or stand out visually.

Also note that in the images, the speakers shown in the columns to the sides of the second row are not there now -- I'm debating on moving the two bed level speakers from the rear room columns to the sides columns of the second row as people are rarely in the second row. The first row center is the primary listening position. From reviewing Dolby's 7.1.6 layout suggestion, they show the atmos speakers wider in the room than the rear speakers so I may leave the rear bed level speakers in the rear columns, suggestions?

I've mocked up the room and the 'recommended' cones areas of angles for where speakers should be if they were in-ceiling atmos for a 7.1.6 atmos. I do plan on leaving the front wides there as the x8500h supports a 9.2 and 7.1.6 with 15 speaker terminals for 13 active speakers.

I am not sure if due to my ceiling height I should or should not be doing an atmos ceiling location setup or if I should instead be looking at doing 'front and rear height' locations at the front and rear of the room, potentially more Auro-3d like.

I also am curious if I do atmos ceiling locations, rather than down firing the speakers if I should angle the speakers facing such that they direct sound as the "poles" in the images show? And if so, would that achieve Atmos and Auro-3D sound imaging both well, just atmos well, or both poorly?

Tinekrcad URL, likely easier to see visually than the images below: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/e2gg0nTfeNg
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Last edited by distoga; 04-03-2020 at 07:15 AM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 04-03-2020, 01:21 PM
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I don't see the necessity of the green speakers in the middle of the room. Place the second set of purple speakers forward of the rear seats (in similar fashion to the purple speakers vs the front row seats), then allow the rear speakers to serve both rows as rear surrounds (tuning for the primary row). You want to avoid any speaker focusing it's sound directly at the seated ear of the closest listener (as the second set of purple speakers are doing to the second row of seats in your example).

As to the Atmos configuration, it seems fine, given the restrictions placed on you by your unusual ceiling. That said, you might try the front and rear Atmos aligned with the front L&R speakers. Hard to say if all the Atmos speakers being out of alignment with the fronts (Dolby wants alignment) will present a better sound stage than having four aligned and two out of alignment? Test the proposition and use the one that sounds best. Maybe, in your situation, .4 is the better approach? Test that, as well.

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Last edited by RayGuy; 04-03-2020 at 02:07 PM.
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post #3 of 13 Old 04-03-2020, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
I don't see the necessity of the green speakers in the middle of the room. Place the second set of purple speakers forward of the rear seats (in similar fashion to the purple speakers vs the front row seats), then allow the rear speakers to serve both rows as rear surrounds (tuning for the primary row). You want to avoid any speaker focusing it's sound directly at the seated ear of the closest listener (as the second set of purple speakers are doing to the second row of seats in your example).

As to the Atmos configuration, it seems fine, given the restrictions placed on you by your unusual ceiling. That said, you might try the front and rear Atmos aligned with the front L&R speakers. Hard to say if all the Atmos speakers being out of alignment with the fronts (Dolby wants alignment) will present a better sound stage than having four aligned and two out of alignment? Test the proposition and use the one that sounds best. Maybe, in your situation, .4 is the better approach? Test that, as well.
The first set of side columns near the screen contain front wide. The second/middle column are bi-pile surrounds. The third columns next to the second row are currently empty and don't have any speakers. The purple(or clear depending on the image) in the third columns indicates a possible speaker box location because I'm debating on moving the rear speakers (currently in the rear columns) from/to the third columns where the purple/clear image is. The sound imagine though has been great with the rear speakers in the rear columns. I also saw that on Dolby's 7.2.6 that the back ceiling speakers are outward (towards the room sides) of the rear surrounds, which makes me wonder if the rear speakers should stay in the rear columns and not go into the third side columns. I'll attach that image.


I can see about moving my front L&R speakers wider or better yet is probably cantilever the ceiling speakers/atmos out into the room more so they are inline with where the L&R are at the front. I was thinking that keeping atmos speakers the widest in the room would provide a bigger sweet spot for non-center chairs? I would definitely be keeping all 6 ceiling/atmos in line with each other


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post #4 of 13 Old 04-03-2020, 06:10 PM
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The Denon 8500 can do 13.2 speakers, which I would configure as 9.1.4 instead of 7.1.6 (especially considering your priority for the front row). Keep the L/C/R, Wides, Sides and Rears where they currently are. Rears should anchor sounds firmly behind you, not some side-ish/rear-ish direction (third column), so keep them in the back wall columns. I would swap the bipole Sides for another pair of R-5E speakers, for consistency in the base layer.

IF it is going to be a pain mounting the four R-5E speakers on the ceiling, then mount them high up on the side walls. The front pair of height speakers should go in/on the first column that has the Wides. Mount them as high up as possible, with each speaker aimed at the opposite end of the front row. The rear pair of heights should go in/on the (now empty) third column; again, as high up as possible, aimed at the listener farthest away (to compensate for distance). You should end up with excellent left-vs-right AND front-vs-back separation in the height layer.

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post #5 of 13 Old 04-03-2020, 08:15 PM
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My assumption was that the rear purple speakers were a 2nd set of side surrounds to cater to the second row.

If you are having good success with the rear surrounds in their current position, then keep them there.

I have no idea what a bi-pile speaker is (but it sounds painful) ... but I see no need for it, if using the 2nd set of side surrounds.

As to positioning the fronts, experiment until you get the best sound at your seats, then look at how to deploy the Atmos. Fronts are far more important.

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Last edited by RayGuy; 04-04-2020 at 11:36 AM.
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post #6 of 13 Old 04-03-2020, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
The Denon 8500 can do 13.2 speakers, which I would configure as 9.1.4 instead of 7.1.6 (especially considering your priority for the front row).
The 8500 has 15 speaker terminals and can do 13 active channels at once. This means I could have both a 9.2.4 and a 7.2.6 speaker setup at the same time. The avr will pick which 2 speakers to 'drop' out of the 15 depending on source. Atmos for example never makes use of front wides from what I've read so it drops those. DTX however can make use of the front wides so the height layer drops the 2 middle channels.
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Quote:
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Atmos for example never makes use of front wides from what I've read so it drops those.
Just some of the Atmos titles with active use of Wides: Unbroken, Alita, 5th Element, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Dredd, Hacksaw Ridge, Mad Max: Fury Road, Gravity, Batman v Superman, Sicario, Man From UNCLE, all 3 recent Star Trek movies, San Andreas, Expendables 3, Suicide Squad, Jack Reacher 2, Jupiter Ascending, Deepwater Horizon, Lucy, Everest, Sully, RED, Westworld (season 1), Allegiant (Divergent series), Hitman's Bodyguard, War for the Planet of the Apes, Source Code.
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DTX however can make use of the front wides so the height layer drops the 2 middle channels.
DTS:X is currently limited to 11.1 outputs max on the Denon 8500, so that means 7.1.4 playback (no Wides).

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post #8 of 13 Old 04-04-2020, 06:17 AM
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I know you already bought the speakers, but have you or would you perhaps consider changing your direction and instead use ceiling speakers mounted in boxes you would build? You'd be able to get the speakers less obtrusively mounted that way as they wouldn't project into the room as much. Might make it look a little better. Just a thought.
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post #9 of 13 Old 04-04-2020, 07:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Gary, I considered several options, and kind of hope to maybe find something better. I've considered in-ceiling and even building boxes to house angled baffle speakers. It was tempting, but I decided that timber matching and sound quality is more important by far to me than aesthetics. RBH doesn't offer signature in-ceiling options. In fact, the r-5's I got actually have signature tweeters in them. They're smaller than 61 signatures and lighter so mounting will be easier. I'd rather have the same/similar drivers and I've never been impressed with any in ceiling speakers for theaters. I plan to use black anodized aluminum and 3d printed brackets to keep the 'arms' tight up against the ceiling. Since it's fabric, I could actually patch/cover the arms with some left over material and make the arm not very noticeable. The arms can also come out on top of the crown and right flat against the fr701/fabric.

sdurani, ... I must have been reading outdated informatino, good to know that atmos is using front wides...

Out of curiosity, what happens to sound stage, imagine, etc if atmos speakers are moved further forward (for fronts) and back further (for back atmos)? Does it have any impact? I'm kind of curious and I've tried finding information online but no luck. I've read an auro 3d setup with speakers further forward/back can 'simulate' atmos but I'm not sure if that's a function of the avr that is maybe adjusting timing if it knows speakers are further forward/backward or general theory on it. ... If anyone has a link to information, I'd be interested.
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post #10 of 13 Old 04-04-2020, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by distoga View Post
sdurani, ... I must have been reading outdated informatino, good to know that atmos is using front wides...
This ^ applies to "native" Atmos content only. The Atmos upmixer does not include the Wides.

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post #11 of 13 Old 04-04-2020, 11:48 AM
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I've considered in-ceiling and even building boxes to house angled baffle speakers. It was tempting, but I decided that timber matching and sound quality is more important by far to me than aesthetics. RBH doesn't offer signature in-ceiling options. In fact, the r-5's I got actually have signature tweeters in them. They're smaller than 61 signatures and lighter so mounting will be easier. I'd rather have the same/similar drivers and I've never been impressed with any in ceiling speakers for theaters. I plan to use black anodized aluminum and 3d printed brackets to keep the 'arms' tight up against the ceiling. Since it's fabric, I could actually patch/cover the arms with some left over material and make the arm not very noticeable. The arms can also come out on top of the crown and right flat against the fr701/fabric.

I understand. I'd love to have timbre matched ceilings but a lot of manufacturers don't offer such a solution. I like your idea about the fabric, that would be a nice touch. It sounds like your ceilings are high enough to pull off using bookshelves. I'm envious of that!
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post #12 of 13 Old 04-05-2020, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I started doing measurements today and deciding how I'd build the brackets. It's not going well.

The idea of mounting cantilever arms that come out on top of the crown isn't going to work. It's been 10 years and I had forgotten how I had stretched the ceiling fabric which covers the fr701. The mechanism for keeping the fabric tight is right behind the top of the crown and I don't dare mess with it now that I've reviewed it again. So no 'nicely concealed' arms above the crown.

This leaves me with two options, one likely would look really bad, the other means no 'ceiling' speakers..
Option 1) Build an aluminum pole that comes out from the sides of the first and third columns at a 45 degree angle upward. The end of the "poles" would have a 12' aluminium rod that goes between the 'poles' and the speakers would be mounted from that horizontal rod, near the ceiling. The poles would either be 4' long and cantilever the speaker rod out 2' from the side of the room so it's in line with the Left front speaker, as according to atmos setup guide specified. I could shorten the 4' poles down to 2' and keep the speakers near the soffet and ceiling but then they would not be in line with the Left front speaker.

2) I give up on the aluminum bar system and just do heights all around.

----

I'm starting to question if I can pull the aluminium bar and rod thing off well. I think what I might need to do is skip the 'poles' and build a template of the soffet and crown and then have a friend metal cut (out of 1/4" sheet or bar) some 'brackets' out and then run the aluminum speaker rod (that holds the speakers) between these brackets. I know I said I don't care about visual, but there's actually some potential for head hitting if the speaker rod holders aren't close to the columns and soffet. And yes, it would look very hackish with the poles, although the metal cut brackets still will stand out. Even with the plasma cut pieces I'm a bit worried that may still be hackish.

I spent a bunch of the day reading up on if and how well heights work for atmos. There's a fair bit of discussion and some people saying it's possible to get "95%" as good as ceiling, but I'd like 100% like anyone else of course. The problem I'm facing is I can't get some of the height speakers high enough. I've read you want 30 degrees for sides and rear and I can hit that -- I do find it interesting atmos ceiling wants 45 degrees though, more on this alter. For front height, I can't get higher than 20 degrees above my LCR's, and that's with flipping the speakers 'upside down' so the heights tweeter is on top. 20 degrees is the minimum for atmos (20-30 range) spec but I noticed Auro 3d min is 25 degrees, 30 degrees max and it could be nice to have the theater also do auro. I guess I could lower my front LCR's but then I don't know if I should also lower my sides and rear speakers to be at the same height as my LCR's again. I'd need to modify my side columns structure a little because the bed level speakers can't go lower without doing some cutting of them (any work done though would be concealed behind the AT fabric)

Anyone have thoughts/ideas on why atmos ceilings speaker locations should be 45 degrees, but for 'heights' they should be 20-30 degrees or so? Any reason side/rear shouldn't be higher than 30 degrees?
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post #13 of 13 Old 04-06-2020, 10:28 AM
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Sounds like front and rear heights is the way to go. This Rube Goldberg setup you envision for the other approach seems a disaster waiting to happen (and unnecessarily expensive). As to 20 degrees vs 25 degrees vs 30 degrees, my opinion is that you should relax and go with the easiest solution first. If you find that the experience is lacking in some way, then worry about jumping through hoops to solve them. My guess is that you will find the minor compromises you are making to accommodate the realities of your room will have little to no impact on the final product.

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Last edited by RayGuy; 04-06-2020 at 10:45 AM.
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