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post #1 of 4 Old 08-07-2019, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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5.1.2 or 5.1.4

I am looking to upgrade my receiver and setup to Atmos with overheads in our unfinished basement. Currently my front left/right are a little higher than ear level and my center is currently lower than desired, but angled to my head when seated. At some point, I am building a new entertainment center and will better position and space the front three speakers to all be at an equal and more ideal height.

The issue deals with the surrounds coupled with the eventual height speakers. Since I currently have little kids (1 and 4) and this is a some what shared space, I have the surround left/right mounted to floor joists in the ceiling and angled at me. I could easily take a 2x4 and hang them a little bit lower (maybe 12-18 inches at most), but no where near equal to the fronts and certainly not roughly ear level. When looking at a 5.1.2 set up, the .2 would be in the middle/directly overhead so clearly there would be some sense of "overhead vs front/back". If I look at 5.1.4, the rear overheads would be essentially inline with the rear left/right. At most, I would consider taking a 2x4 and having the speakers about a foot or so lower. While there is a "no throwing" policy in the house, kids don't always listen And on that note, this is also why speaker stands are not going to be practical. My 4 year old currently tries playing with literally anything and everything in some capacity, even if it is a game of "bury it" in blankets and such. While blankets wouldn't harm a speaker, her removing it could. As she gets older, I'll have the 1 year old hitting that phase. By the time I would consider myself in the clear, I am guessing the next "breakthrough" or two happen and I am potentially looking at a new receiver anyway.

I realize that when you are at a movie theater, the non-height speakers are still positioned well ear level, particularly with stadium-style setting, and the overheads aren't always significantly higher up. I also realize some people use in-wall speakers for the 5/7/9 traditional channels and these are typically located higher up on the wall. From YouTube videos, it looks like even pro installers still put in-wall speakers pretty high above ear level when seated.

Any suggestions here would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Please note I am not asking if 5.1.4 is better - I know it is. I am asking if, in my situation, having the rear overheads and left/right surround at nearly the same height will really allow for those rear Atmos to shine. My plan would be to mount the ceiling speakers aimed totally down and the surround speakers to hang a few inches lower (or more) and angled at the listener.
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post #2 of 4 Old 08-09-2019, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ikissfutebol View Post
I could easily take a 2x4 and hang them a little bit lower (maybe 12-18 inches at most), but no where near equal to the fronts and certainly not roughly ear level.
The lower the better! I have been in more than one home heater though in which the surrounds were hung high up and the fronts at the "normal" height. These were NON-Atmos configs, and they did sound quite good actually.

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Originally Posted by ikissfutebol View Post
I also realize some people use in-wall speakers for the 5/7/9 traditional channels and these are typically located higher up on the wall. From YouTube videos, it looks like even pro installers still put in-wall speakers pretty high above ear level when seated.
Need to make sure that the speakers have a reasonably unobstructed shot to all of the listeners in the space. So if a speaker might otherwise be blocked by a high-back chair/couch, or person, makes sense to move them up higher to avoid that scenario. (At least the tweeter at the minimum.) But of this is not an issue, there it is certainly not mandatory to install them higher up unless aesthetics or structural reasons dictate it.

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Originally Posted by ikissfutebol View Post
I am asking if, in my situation, having the rear overheads and left/right surround at nearly the same height will really allow for those rear Atmos to shine. My plan would be to mount the ceiling speakers aimed totally down and the surround speakers to hang a few inches lower (or more) and angled at the listener.
Will it "shine"? Well, strictly speaking, no. Does not mean it won't work! But will it work the way Dolby intended? Probably not. Still, your situation is what it is, and it is temporary. If you have any way of doing this on the cheap, in a very experimental fashion that can be easily reversed, that's what I'd do - see what happens. Yes, there will be a small investment of time and money, so buy stuff you can return readily. Try it out the way you're thinking and take it from there. If the results are not satisfactory, well, then you just wait a few years and try again when it is kid-safe! If you DO like it, cool!

If you have a chance though (that is, if you haven't before) - get to a decently designed Atmos-capable space so you know what it essentially "right", so you can at least compare to know what you're doing at home is performing at least half-way decently. Also, if you haven't checked it out already - be sure to study up on Atmos implementation on the Dolby website - keep in mind, they are recommendations, not absolutes - but a pretty solid guide. Good luck, let us know what you decide!

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post #3 of 4 Old 08-09-2019, 11:54 PM
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I’ve heard some very well configured Atmos setups at various audio shows, and I think for the most part the height setup can be very forgiving. In all the movie clips, most of the information is conveyed in the surround and rear speakers, and I found the height effects to be not very precise and distinct enough where a sub optimal setup would be noticed easily. The Dolby demo videos on the other hand, had very precise height placement, but these were contrived videos. In the real world the height speakers are really noticed during rain, or overhead helicopter kind of scenes, and not a mosquito buzzing around the soundstage - with no other sounds from the surrounds-where precise placement is needed.

My take away was, don’t worry too much about optimizing the height setup - so long as there is “something” you’ll likely be fine.


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post #4 of 4 Old 08-10-2019, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by thebrieze01 View Post
I’ve heard some very well configured Atmos setups at various audio shows, and I think for the most part the height setup can be very forgiving. In all the movie clips, most of the information is conveyed in the surround and rear speakers, and I found the height effects to be not very precise and distinct enough where a sub optimal setup would be noticed easily. The Dolby demo videos on the other hand, had very precise height placement, but these were contrived videos. In the real world the height speakers are really noticed during rain, or overhead helicopter kind of scenes, and not a mosquito buzzing around the soundstage - with no other sounds from the surrounds-where precise placement is needed.

My take away was, don’t worry too much about optimizing the height setup - so long as there is “something” you’ll likely be fine.

I do agree that Atmos can be forgiving to the less-than-perfect installation. But that said, you do still need to be concerned about the separation between the base and height layers, probably the most important factor in a really successful implementation. And it is true that a lot of content does not exploit height channels and the effects are more subdued, or more of an afterthought - but that's changing. And there are some great reference movies for Atmos that will really impress if the system is well-configured.

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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