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-   -   Speaker Heights: Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/83552-speaker-heights-sides-rears-meridian-861-a.html)

Health Nut 02-28-2000 07:21 PM

I am going to add an 861 and another set of B&W N802s for side speakers very shortly.

Besides one of the problems being that I need 9 channels:
Stereo subs and 7 channels (Meridian still only supports 8 channels), I am contemplating optimal speaker height for each speaker. I am currently using (5)Bryston 7BST monoblocks and (5) Nautilus 802 speakers. I have the rear speakers elevated 10 inches on custom Sound Anchor Stands.
I previously was a complete fanatic with symmetry. Obviously, the front three N802's should all be the same height. I did a lot of debating about raising the rear spekers 10 inches, and finally gave in. The tweeters are still on axis with the listening position and the soundfield is outstanding in both positions (floor level and raised 10 inches with the stands). The tricky part is that I am adding side speakers in the near future and need a plan. It was easy making rear speakers 10 inches higher when they were relatively far away from the front three speakers, but that changes now. Now, I have to add sides which are 'relatively' close to the fronts and the rears...

The side N802 speakers would be approximately 7 feet from the front N802 speakers. The sides would also be around 6 feet from the rear speakers... But which height is best for the side speakers? Same height as the fronts (no stands), same height as the rears (10 inches higher), or somewhere in-between (around 5 inches) on a plane (drawing a line from the front tweeter to the rear tweeter making a line from the top of each tweeter.

I was leaning toward the latter. It would obviously be easier to just put them all at the same height and get rid of the rear stands, however, I'm not so sure I want to throw away $500.00 custom stands.

I was thinking that if I drew a line from the top of the front right tweeter to the rear right tweeter (raised 10 inches), this would give me a plane on which to chose the side speaker height. I thought this might give the best soundfield given the elevated rears.

It certainly would be easier to keep everything the same height and just throw away the stands...

What are your opinions?

Deniz Mutlu 02-28-2000 09:48 PM

Hi Health Nut,

I have mine at the same height as my mains. They are also positioned directly in between the mains and rears with them slightly ahead of the listening postion (~1.5').

With this setup, the sides expand the front soundstage while making seemless pans from the mains and rears. Don't bother making any stands till you live with the sides for a while and try different positions. https://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Health Nut 02-28-2000 10:04 PM

I was thinking that if I raised the sides around 4-5 inches, to make the side speakers tweeter fall in the same plane (as a line between the fronts and rears), that I would create the smoothest pans.. In essence, it should make the sound sweep smoothly around instead of jumping up at the rears suddenly (exageration, but you get the idea).

So you have your rears elevated?

Why did you pick to have the sides 1.5 feet in front of being directly to the side? Did Meridian recommend this also?

I guess I could experiment, like anyone should.. heavy bastages though!!

Anyword on the 861 and DVD-A, >8 channel support, etc??

[This message has been edited by Health Nut (edited February 29, 2000).]

Deniz Mutlu 02-28-2000 10:23 PM

Yes my rears are elevated above the mains and sides. I believe it was me who suggested to you to raise your rears......so do you like the sound with them raised or at their natural level? I'm curious to know.

I think that if you raise the sides then your front soundstage may sound a bit odd. I don't know how much music you listen to, but the sides really enhance the front stage and I think you should keep them level with your mains.

If your speaker images well then I doubt you will hear any disparity between pans from the sides to the rears. What really counts is the front soundstage where most of the action is taking place. Of course my .02 cents here and a few years of 7.1 channels. https://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

Deniz Mutlu 02-28-2000 10:37 PM

Why did you pick to have the sides 1.5 feet in front of being directly to the side?---------------------------------------------
I placed them at this distance because this was the midpoint between my mains and rears. As it turns out (after experimenting with other locations) this was "the spot" for best overall sound in my room. Some people have their sides behind them because of thier (long) room size. I personally didn't like the way the sides sounded behind me.
Did Meridian recommend this also?
Meridian at the time that I had upgraded to 7.1 with my 565 didn't have an opinion. They may have one now, but I never bothered to call to find out because I just know it sounds right.

Deniz Mutlu 02-29-2000 06:02 PM

Hi Mark, have you ever noticed that we seem to agree about many things regarding Meridian and audio?

I can never give up my sides because they are crucial to the sound for both audio and HT. In fact, I have two more sets of my MA-3 mains being constructed to replace my current sides and rears. I will have a completely matching 7.1 suite. https://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

I haven't yet read the review in the PV, but I would be very surprised if R. Harley's observations varied from ours. From your statements it seems he really was impressed with the system.

As far as audio cutting into video, I agree because I find myself only watching video on the weekends so I can listen to music on the weekdays after work. Not a bad situation to be in. https://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

Health Nut 02-29-2000 06:29 PM


My current room is acutally 25 feet long by 14 feet wide by 8 feet high (It is a merged living/dining room).. I am using ALL Nautilus 802 speakers,, click on my website icon above.

Also, I am moving in June, hoping to buy a house with a BIG ARSE ROOM for my HT.

Here is my logic again about side speakers. Imagine Nautilus 802, floor standing speakers all the way around.
Now imagine elevating the rear N802 speakers 10 inches...

I've heard to make the sides the same as the rears. Then I've heard to make them the same as the fronts... SEE ABOVE.

I thought that I would make them IN-BETWEEN. If you take a piece of string and put it on the top of the front right tweeter, then take the other end of the string and place it on the rear right tweeter, you create a diagonal line with a slope of 10 inches from front to rear. I was thinking that I shoud make the height of the side speakers so that the tweete falls in that line (plane). This would make symmetry all fall within the same plane... I think this is logical and would create an excellent soundfield and panning. And I don;t think it is too drastic either... You end up raising the sides only 4-5 inches... the sound field is symmetric along a plane...

Opinions on that thought?

Health Nut 02-29-2000 06:48 PM

For example here was one opinion:

Henry wrote:

Almost all speaker manufacturers as well as Dolby Laboratories and the THX guys at Lucasfilm will recommend that your rear speakers be 2 to 3 feet above listener level, if possible. Dolby Laboratories will go as far as to tell you to point the rear speakers at the listening point for AC-3, while many will tell you to use dipole, non-direct reflecting speakers for the rears for a more diffuse sound.

I also believe that since your side speakers will also be surround speakers that you place them at the same level as your rears.

Anyway... I do apreciate your cooments and experience and I will try 1.5 feet in front... and experiment with my idea as well...

mfombellida 03-03-2000 10:06 PM

M Wiebelhaus wrote:
>"The other consideration is how you are >going to raise the height of the speakers. >For best sound I like to couple the >speakers to the floor firmly and so I don't >know how to do that and change the height."

I have 4x B&W N805 (on stands) and 1 HTM2. I also tried a lot of different placements for the rears (2xN805) and I finally found that the best for me was to put them directly on the side of the listening position and facing each other (as recommended by Dolby). However, as long as they were at the same height as the front speakers I found that the sound was too directional.

I then decided to raise their height and I build myself an extra stand to put under the B&W stand. I built a double-T shape beam with 27mm thick wood (beech) panel. The length of the beam is between 2' and 3' (75cm to be exact). On top of the beam I put another panel (19mm thick) to serve as base plate for the 805 stand. As the floor in my listing room is a floating parket, I did not want to use spikes directly on the floor and I also wanted to avoid as much as possible to transmit vribrations to the floor. I then decided to use a combination of spikes and a vibrapods sandwich. I try to make a little drawing to show what I did: S denoted the spikes (parts of the N805 stand), V are vibrapods, F is the floor and - are wood panels:


------ N805
¦ ¦ S S
¦ ¦ ------
¦ ¦ V V

IMHO the result I achieved is very good.

Hope this helps.


mfombellida 03-03-2000 10:08 PM

Sorry, the formating of my drawing is gone... not really useful then.

Health Nut 03-04-2000 03:03 AM


Dennis Erskine
Duluth, GA
[148 posts]

Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 01, 2000 07:30 PM CST (US)

Meridian's suggestion for the sides is for them to be slightly ahead of, or equal to the primary seating position. For the best effect, the side and rear tweeters at the same level and above ear level. Their steering logic is very effective in segregating side sounds from rear sounds in their 7.1 implementation (as has Lexicon).
You cannot place multiple side speakers in a home theater unless you (a) have some very expensive electronics or (b) have access to the original theatrical sound tracks and mix (from the film). In a theater the multiple side (and the rears) are part of a speaker array and are not simply six speakers playing the same signal at the same time. (Notice also the location of the speakers with respect to your ear level.)

DEsign Cinema Privee www.DesignCinema.com
Imagine what you could do, if you could do all you imagine.

Health Nut
Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 02, 2000 05:14 PM CST (US)

Hello from Monmouth Medical Center.
Anyway, Thank-you for the response. Again, I wish to emphasize the difference of opinions. Two 861 users agree with the sides being slightly forward, but state that the sides should be the same height as the fronts. Dennis and another state that the sides should be the same height as the rears.

It was and has been my logic to create a gradient between front and rears. My rears are 10 inches higher than the fronts. I am thinking of placing the sides in a slightly forward position as Dennis, Deniz, nd the others mention.

However, there is still diagreement on whether to place the sides the same height as the rears or the fronts.
Besides obviouslt listening to both positions and ding what sounds best, I like to know what works best in theory.

I still like the idea of raising the N802 side speakers 4 inches (or so that the top of the tweeter all fall in the same plane--front to back). If you are going to raise the rear speakers realtive to the fronts, it does leave you in some kind of predicament for sides. Deniz is obviously happy leaving the sides at the same height as the fronts, however, I think raising the sides so that the tweeter falls in the plane between the front and rear tweeter makes a lot of sense,,,


Phil Rose
Arizona, USA
[358 posts]

Member Since:
03-26-99 Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 02, 2000 05:47 PM CST (US)

Hi Health Nut,

I can understand your logic and it would seem to be pretty sound however you may wish to consider the vertical dispersion of the N802 as a factor in speaker placement relative to the listener's ear.

With your rears elevated 10 inches where does that put the drivers WRT your ears and how far away are they? Knowing this and the dispersion you can determine if you are in the sweetspot for your rears and sides. I would think that this would more of a factor than having the sides fall on an imaginary plane between the fronts and rears.

When all is said and done, you will probably be fine with either configuration, same height as mains or elevated 4 inches.

----- From the B&W web page -----
Dispersion: Within 2dB of response on reference axis
Horizontal: over 60° arc
Vertical: over 10° arc

Pittsburgh, PA
[64 posts]

Member Since:
Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 03, 2000 08:30 AM CST (US)

Health Nut,
The topic you raise here is one that has been a particular interest of mine, and I would like to contribute my thoughts based upon my own experiments. First, though, I have to acknowledge that my electronics and speakers are not in the same league as yours. Rather, I have a Sony EP9ES processor and Definitive Technology monopolar speakers (CLR-1000B), which can be considered full-range since they have a frequency response that falls below 40 Hz (they are rated by the manufacturer at 25 Hz, but this is hype). As you will see, I also have NHT SuperZeros.

The basic question I set out to answer concerned the best speaker positioning, both horizontal (side, rear, etc.) and vertical (height). For tests, I used mainly Outbreak and Air Force One, and also the famous surround scene from Dragonheart. The horizontal positioning of the full-range DT speakers was the easiest to answer, and I came up with a solution very similar to what has already been discussed here. I have rears that are spaced a little farther apart than the fronts and are set back about 3-4 feet behind the listening position. I also have sides that are a couple of feet in front of the listening position. This provides a very rich surround experience that I am fully committed to, despite the fact that my room is a bit smallish (approximately 12' x 15', with viewing axis along the shorter dimension of the room). So, on the basis of my listening tests, I have to reject Henry's comments about too many speakers in a small room. The sides definitely contribute a lot to the sense of envelopment.

The vertical placement tests turned out to be more complex. I tested my DT speakers on 20", 24", and 28" stands, the latter placing the tweeters at ear level. I chose to keep the 28" stands, and from the beginning I insisted that all 7 speakers (3 fronts, 2 sides, 2 rears) be at the same height. So, unlike yourself, I adopted a vertical consistency and did not debate about a sloping gradient from front to back. What made things difficult (and perhaps a bit more interesting), however, was that in the process of testing, I used several other kinds of speakers for the surrounds besides my DT CLR-1000Bs (including dipoles and bipoles, but that's a separate topic). For the smaller speakers, I had the option of placing them at greater heights, and, you know what - I liked the high placement a lot! Expecially for scenes with helicopters and flyovers. But it's not practical to mount my four full-range DT surround speakers, each of which weighs around 35 lbs, on the walls or ceiling. Furthermore, I really liked the seamless pans I was getting with all seven DT speakers positioned at the same ear-level height. So my solution was to add small speakers to each surround location at a greater height than the DT speakers. I purchased NHT SuperZeros for this and have them mounted at 62.5" - they provide just the right amount of extra "fill" for those types of scenes that I mentioned. I spent the greater part of last year performing these tests, and have arrived at a sound which works really well in my HT. Also, in case anyone is interested about the electronic side of things, I use line-level audio distribution amps to distribute the surround signals, and each speaker is driven by its own channel of amplification.

I know this post does not directly answer the particular question you raised, but I hope it provides information
that proves useful for further consideration.

Thanks for reading my post.


Henry Carmona

[9 posts]

Member Since:
02-08-2000 Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 03, 2000 09:09 AM CST (US)

Congratulations to Cliff for finding a combination that sounds terrific to him.
I still think that too many speakers could sound too diffuse, it will all depend on your particular room.
Cliff has his side speakers a little closer to his listening position and i can see how that sounds pretty good. I still think that if the side speakers are receiving rear effects sounds, that it would be a mistake to place them too far forward of the listening position.
Of course all of this talk is just theory Chris, you should play with the different postions that have been mentioned here, and decide what sounds best for you. Im sure you will find it sounds great one way or the other

San Jose, CA
[52 posts]

Member Since:
04-13-99 Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 03, 2000 10:22 AM CST (US)

I am quite interested in your room experiments. My room is slightly larger 19' x 13' and I am also trying to locate small rear speakers (Dynaudio 1.1 mini-monitors).

My challenge is exacerbated by the fact that I'm also listening from the short dimension like you, i.e. speakers are distributed 2.5' out from the front 19' wall and the listening couch is located about 8' away from the main speakers and only 1.5' out from the opposite 19' back wall.

The question is whether to hang these speakers from the ceiling, about 2-3 feet above my ears on a plane even with or slightly behind my ears front-to-back (1.5 feet from rear wall)?

Then the next question that arises is, how do I aim the tweeters, at each other, angled toward the front, angled toward the back? This is very hard for me to test, because I will have to make permanent holes in the ceiling for mounts and it's hard to pre-locate the best location.

Any experiences from others who have located rear surround speakers, when their listening position is close to a back wall would be appreciated.

Cliff, could you explain what did and didn't sound good for you with different placement options of rear surrounds?


Pittsburgh, PA
[64 posts]

Member Since:
Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 03, 2000 12:10 PM CST (US)

>>>Cliff, could you explain what did and didn't sound good for you with different placement options of rear surrounds?<<<

I did my test placements using all sorts of support mechanisms for the speakers, including double- and triple-stacked stools, stools with piles of books, etc. I think one difference between our "short" rooms is that I have my listening couch out a little further from the back wall than you do. This has helped me with the placement of the rears, which never sounded good to me if they were too close to the listening position. Also, speakers positioned directly at the sides and facing the listener did not sound good, either with or without an accompanying pair of rears. Frankly, they sounded rather flat and uninvolving. Pushing them a little forward greatly improved the sound, but only if accompanied by a rear pair. Using a rear set of speakers without the sides simply decreases the degree of envelopment that can be attained. The final positions of my surround speakers at ear level therefore have the rears placed a couple of ft lateral to, and 3-4 ft behind the listening position. They are toed in a bit to fire towards the ends of the listenig couch. The sides are also laterally placed, about 2 ft forward of the listening position, and face each other across the width of the HT.

You might try increasing the distance behind your couch just a little. Although this decreases the viewing distance to your screen, this has actually worked well for myself and my wife. In our setup, the viewing distance is 6 ft, which seems just right for our 35" direct view TV. You then have more room for rear speaker placement, which makes for a better sound, in my experience. Good luck.


Hank Frankenberg
Austin, TX USA
[141 posts]

Member Since:
10-14-98 Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 03, 2000 01:08 PM CST (US)

Health Nut, I have to jump in and give a cent's worth. All the professional recommendations I've come across say to place the surrounds well above ear level. The diagrams in this thread conflict with that. Maybe I'm missing something and this ear-level location is a NEW recommendation for the EX scheme of things. Also, most high-end shops have the surrounds mounted high. I mounted my dipoles about nine feet above floor level, and have yet to hear an audible problem with that location.
Try both ear-level and higher mounting positions and test drive each for a week.
Have fun!

Pittsburgh, PA
[64 posts]

Member Since:
Re: Speaker Heights for Sides/Rears, Meridian 861 posted on March 03, 2000 04:37 PM CST (US)

>>>All the professional recommendations I've come across say to place the surrounds well above ear level.<<<

You are correct, and I certainly have been keenly aware of this recommendation for a long time. However, I would like to tell you about another experiment I performed on my system. With the arrangement of speakers that I described above, I can compare high speaker placement vs. ear level placement vs. combined. I can do this using a typical five-position system (3 fronts, 2 rears or 2 sides) or the seven-position placement that I described (3 fronts, 2 rears, AND 2 sides). I should also point out that I have two subwoofers in my system, so when using only the high position speakers (NHT SuperZeros), I can redirect surround speaker bass to the subwoofers through my processor.

My tests included all of the possible combinations suggested above, using mainly the fighter jet intercept scene in Air Force One (chapter 7, I believe). The results were not even close - high position speakers (with bass properly redirected) lacked the dynamics and impact (to put it mildly) of my ear level, full-range DT speakers, in either a five- or seven-position system. I thought this might be due to the "large" setting that I typically have my DT speakers set at, so I changed their setting in the processor to "small", with bass redirected to the subs, and I again preferred them over the high position speakers, but not as much as before. It's not that the high position speakers sounded bad - they actually sounded quite good - but the full-range, ear level speakers sounded so much BETTER! Is it because they are full-range, or is it due to their position at ear level? I really don't know for sure, but I suspect that their full-range capability added a lot to the sound quality, even when they were set to "small".

My conclusion: the high position speakers with proper bass redirection do not sound as good in my system as the ear level, full-range speakers. The best results, as I indicated in a previous post, was when I used them in combination.

The obvious missing test is the use of high position speakers which are FULL-RANGE. I have never tested this, and can imagine that full-range surround speakers might be quite large and heavy. Certainly my DT speakers are larger and heavier than I care to mount on my walls. However, if someone wants to suggest that the professional recommendations hold true for full-range speakers, I could not dispute this, as I simply have not tested it. But, for my system, I am comfortable with the conclusion stated above.



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