Atmos “newbie” here - how effective are upward firing speakers? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Atmos “newbie” here - how effective are upward firing speakers?

Hi!

I have a 5.1 system (Bose acoustimass, don’t judge) and am looking to get 2 Atmos speakers to compliment it.

I probably won’t get ceiling speakers, and I’ve done some research into upward firing, and I’ve read mixed things about how effective they are.

One possible added complication is that since my Bose speakers are so small, the upward firing speakers would have to go next to them, as opposed to on top.

Any help/advice will be appreciated - thanks!
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post #2 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 10:01 AM
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Very very low effectivity. I was at an Audio Show and the Dolby Atmos demo with upfiring modules was a joke. Fortunately, real discrete speakers make a totally different experience and is rewarding!
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post #3 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 10:08 AM
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Between "Nothing" and "Celling/in-celling" Speakers they can work. Not the perfect solution, but if you can't or won't put speakers in your celling. They have a place.

I have two up firing Klipsch Modules. As a compromise they work just ok. Again this hobby is riddled with compromises and economic choices. Noting is clear cut. At the end of the day, I am pleased with how they work and indeed they are far better than nothing. Getting them in the right place and the right angle can make them work better.

Good luck Sir!

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post #4 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 10:55 AM
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When set up properly, I've found they do a good job; not just sound above but also vertical phantom imaging floating between ear height and the ceiling.
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post #5 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much everyone!

Let me ask this - Would it “work” to place the upfiring speakers on speaker stands that are next to my front speakers (ie the left Atmos next to left front and right Atmos next to right front), because my front speakers are Bose cubes and very tiny!
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post #6 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 01:42 PM
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It is not a requirement that upfiring module be placed on a speaker.



I think they can be up to 3 feet away from their corresponding speaker.

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post #7 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericuf View Post
Thanks so much everyone!

Let me ask this - Would it “work” to place the upfiring speakers on speaker stands that are next to my front speakers (ie the left Atmos next to left front and right Atmos next to right front), because my front speakers are Bose cubes and very tiny!
Try to get them above ear height when seated. Otherwise you will hear direct sound from them. That can ruin the intended reflected sound. Otherwise they can be placed upon anything.

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post #8 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 02:12 PM
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The high directivity of upward firing Atmos speakers is what makes them ‘work’. The longer the wavelength, the less convincing the ceiling reflection is in conveying the illusion of a ceiling-mounted speaker as the spl of the reflection is overtaken by direct radiation.

Using a high crossover frequency might help, especially if those upward-firing Atmos drivers are competing with tiny Bose Acoustimass.

Then again, I have no experience to back up this suggestion, merely speculation that merging more information in the subwoofer would be less damaging to the height imaging than having all of that omnidirectional signal leaking directly from a shelf-mounted ‘ceiling’ speaker.

Take my speculation for what it is worth. I am not making any representations here, it is just a suggestion for investigation.
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post #9 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 02:25 PM
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Also, maybe true dipole radiators with thick absorption behind them would perform better at lower frequencies because they a have directional radiation pattern with a strong off-axis null. No specific info on this, but it seems that dipoles might be superior for projecting a controlled reflection on the ceiling at lower frequencies.

Whether such exist for Atmos applications is beyond my knowledge. I suspect such would be of limited LFE and fairly large. Dunno. The upward-firing Atmos speakers I have seen online all seem to be sealed boxes with dynamic drivers and a minimal wave guide that is probably not effective at controlling the dispersion of lower frequencies.
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post #10 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 02:30 PM
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Demos in VERY HIGH CEILING rooms can't help but be disappointing.....and the Ceiling in my and my Son-In-Law's home slopes from 9-ft one side to 18-ft on the other...which I expect would have their own set of problems.....

Suggest you read my posts starting with this one. Note that cited Onkyo AVR allowed separate FRONT HEIGHT (i.e. Height Speakers-A) that are located well ABOVE L/R Speakers....and could even be pushed farther to L/R Sides if you want. AUTO-EQUALIZATION includes a Directional Calibration function that allows ATMOS "Object Oriented" Algorithms to operate with whatever arrangement of Speakers you give it...within reasonable limits:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-spe...l#post55213654

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post #11 of 16 Old 11-30-2017, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adamg (Ret-Navy) View Post
Try to get them above ear height when seated. Otherwise you will hear direct sound from them. That can ruin the intended reflected sound. Otherwise they can be placed upon anything.
I would tend to agree. As I speculated in another thread:
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
The notion that enabled speakers only bounce the sound off the ceiling and none of the directly radiated sound reaches the listeners because the speaker is turned about 90 degrees away from the audience is laughable. . . .

Also "bounced off the ceiling" vs. directly radiated sound from a speaker has a drastically different frequency response and will vary tremendously room to room based on the ceilings hardness, reflectivity, absorptive properties, angle of attack, etc.. Directly radiated speakers' sound varies room to room too, but not as much.
Although I'm sure bounced sound is better than no Dolby Atmos at all, from my perspective everyone should ideally strive to do it the same way it is done in professional cinemas and Dolby's own screening rooms: direct sound.

IMO, using bounced sound was invented both as a marketing concession and (reasonable) compromise because dealers correctly surmised that releasing consumer ATMOS with the insistence of using only ceiling speakers would have had tremendous SAF* issues. We saw the exact same thing with the release of consumer THX decades ago [I was a dealer]. The short lived, original consumer THX spec insisted that the front center speaker must be literally the same speaker as the L and R for a more seamless sound stage, especially for objects that pan horizontally. Dealers complained this was hard to sell so they relaxed the rules allowing for more compact and easier to place centers.

*An industry term meaning "spousal acceptance factor"
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post #12 of 16 Old 12-02-2017, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CherylJosie View Post
Also, maybe true dipole radiators with thick absorption behind them would perform better at lower frequencies because they a have directional radiation pattern with a strong off-axis null. No specific info on this, but it seems that dipoles might be superior for projecting a controlled reflection on the ceiling at lower frequencies.

Whether such exist for Atmos applications is beyond my knowledge. I suspect such would be of limited LFE and fairly large. Dunno. The upward-firing Atmos speakers I have seen online all seem to be sealed boxes with dynamic drivers and a minimal wave guide that is probably not effective at controlling the dispersion of lower frequencies.
I've been generating additional DELAYED, DISPERSE "Room Reverberation" in my various Surround systems all the way back since the Mid-70's....playing back Vinyl LP's and Quad 8-Tracks. And in the past 12-years using DIY Bi-Directional "BIPOLAR" Planar-Magnetic Front Speakers....but ONLY for Mid-Range/Tweeter:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/155-di...l#post54514009

There are very few FULL-RANGE Dipole Speakers on the market anymore [e.g.Magnaplanar, Martin-Logan CLX/CLS Electrostatic and various old Electrostatics, e.g. KLH 9, Infinity, Carver]....and they are HUGE [such as the first example shown in link above].....and EXPENSIVE. As you surmised, the REFLECTED Rear Bass Signals tend to CANCEL out the Front Radiated Bass Signals. For these THREE reasons, most modern Dipole Speakers use a CONVENTIONAL Sealed or Ported Woofer and only the Mid-Range/Tweeter Freqs generate a Dipole Pattern to enhance the Delayed, Diffuse Room Reverberation Sound Field [such as second Martin-Logan example shown in link above].

Low-Frequencies generated by Woofer & esp. Sub-Woofer convey little if ANY directional information primarily due to the distance between your ears being LESS than a Wavelength on Low Freqs, so it is impossible to discern direction for 200+ Hz and below....and very difficult for 200-400+ Hz due to the Room Modes....your ears hearing a confused mixture of ROOM REFLECTIONS coming from multiple directions [with very little attenuation at each Reflection]...including the Ceiling.:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_...ow_frequencies

ALL Directional Information is coming from Mid-Range/Tweeters. However since they are quite DIFFERENT, I suspect that they would NOT be all that great for ATMOS. I'm currently helping my Son-In-Law set up his first 5.1.2 ATMOS (actually HALF-MOS, cuz 5.1.2 AVR can only do FRONT or REAR Height) System....and I am NOT interested in spending upwards of $2,000-2,500 for a new 5.1.4 AVR...and MORE for 7.1.4 AVR.....plus even MORE expensive Speakers that my wife is going to object to adding to the Living Room....

You might want to read my fol. posts re ATMOS Speaker Selection and Layout. Stacking an ATMOS Height Speaker pointing directly UP, on top of the L/R FRONT Speakers is NOT compatible with ATMOS....it needs to Reflect off the Ceiling about 1/2 the distance to MLP in order to be received by your ears...THAT may require a 30-60 deg UP angle:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-spe...l#post55218066

Last edited by holl_ands; 12-02-2017 at 12:55 PM.
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post #13 of 16 Old 12-02-2017, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post
I've been generating additional DELAYED, DISPERSE "Room Reverberation" in my various Surround systems all the way back since the Mid-70's....playing back Vinyl LP's and Quad 8-Tracks. And in the past 12-years using DIY Bi-Directional "BIPOLAR" Planar-Magnetic Front Speakers....but ONLY for Mid-Range/Tweeter:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/155-di...l#post54514009
I have always wanted to hear large dipoles in a large space. I suspect they help with reverberation in the bass, but it seems that the aiming of the radiators must involve compromise on imaging vs bass.

I was specifically thinking of somewhat large regular dynamic full range drivers in open frames for Atmos dipole and high crossover frequency to redirect the bass to the sub.

The only dipoles I have heard besides open frame dynamic drivers are magnepans and carvers. The sound is quite different!

Quote:
You might want to read my fol. posts re ATMOS Speaker Selection and Layout. Stacking an ATMOS Height Speaker pointing directly UP, on top of the L/R FRONT Speakers is NOT compatible with ATMOS....it needs to Reflect off the Ceiling about 1/2 the distance to MLP in order to be received by your ears...THAT may require a 30-60 deg UP angle:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-spe...l#post55218066
The first time I heard the Bose 901 I thought the reflected sound was interesting, but it definitely is tricky to aim bank shots.
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post #14 of 16 Old 07-14-2019, 01:59 AM
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From the dolby website
"Note: Dipole surround speakers are not recommended for use for Dolby Atmos playback."
Where you guys get your info?
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post #15 of 16 Old 07-22-2019, 04:52 AM
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If you understand why solutions for bald men have been available for hundreds of years and why there are soundbars capable of full surround sound, it's not impossible that you will understand why there are upfiring speakers...

Good sound is always the result of engineering. And engineering always starts with measuring. Consumer industry and mainstream will never tell customers about that: improvements in room acoustics are worth roughly ten (10!) times the amount spent on equipment like speakers and receivers. For example: only $500 in room treatment is worth more than spending $5000 (fivethousand) on equipment.
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post #16 of 16 Old 07-22-2019, 06:07 AM
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I have tried upward firing atmos speakers before going to an on-ceiling atmos setup. When I first setup upward firing speakers, my initial impression was that it was cool to have any type of sounds coming from above, so initially I thought, yes, it's better with them than without. However, a few things I ran into was that I was about 10-12 feet back from the speakers and my ceilings are rather high at 12 feet. With the angle of the speakers and the ceiling height, I was about 6 feet too far back to get a proper effect. So, I began tilting them forward until I got a better result. However, that tilting caused the sound to be more localized and I could easily detect the sound coming from the actual speaker vs. just from above. I alleviated that somewhat by using some metal bookends in the front with some fabric to make it look better, but it still wasn't a perfect solution. Also, I felt that the mono sounds from above were good, like rain, etc. But left to right panning was not that good/convincing, so not very precise/accurate in terms of placing the sounds, so I decided to go for an on-ceiling setup next, and that was quite a bit better all around.
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