Converting a 5.1 setup to 5.1.4 Atmos questions... - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 36 Old 11-25-2019, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Converting a 5.1 setup to 5.1.4 Atmos questions...

I'm upgrading to the 4K world in another week or two, complete with a new AVR (Denon X3600H) that has 11 discrete amplifiers, thus enabling me to have a 5.1.4 Atmos configuration in a room which now has an ordinary 6 channel 5.1 setup. It also has Audyssey X32 so I should be able to get the sound calibrated pretty well.

1) Wondering about what kind of speakers to get for the 4 additional Atmos speakers, especially without breaking the bank? My surrounds are currently small 5"x3" JBL's that work fine, are on ball-joint mounts so they can be aimed, and were pretty inexpensive. Would another 4 of those be adequate?

2) What about placement? I will have to mount them up high on the wall, just below the ceiling. I saw a diagram on the SVS website which shows the two rear Atmos speakers placed behind the surrounds, with the two front ones in front of the surrounds. Is that typical?

3) Is there an Atmos tutorial, or some other reference site I can go to do further research that anyone here is especially fond of?
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post #2 of 36 Old 11-25-2019, 11:56 AM
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I am not an expert by any means, but note that Dolby website has diagrams of various speaker layouts. You may also wish to look at Dr. Floyd Toole's book. Different receiver mfrs. websites also have something to say in this area. Keep looking around & good luck!
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post #3 of 36 Old 11-25-2019, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I am not an expert by any means, but note that Dolby website has diagrams of various speaker layouts. You may also wish to look at Dr. Floyd Toole's book. Different receiver mfrs. websites also have something to say in this area. Keep looking around & good luck!
Yeah, I figured the Dolby website would probably have something. But was hoping to get those 3 specific questions answered here as a way of getting some base knowledge in - you know, begin to climb the learning curve - before I ventured over there.

Considering how many AVS members have gone the home Atmos route at this point - must be hundreds if not thousands by now - and most of them presumably were upgrading from their original 5.1 systems and started out at the same general knowledge level I am, I would have thought there would have been a "sticky" on this sub-forum with general information about Atmos and what's needed to do a basic upgrade. Kind of surprised me that there isn't.
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post #4 of 36 Old 11-25-2019, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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So I just went to the Dolby Atmos site. Remarkably, they don't have a generic setup guide for what I want to do! The only mention they make of a 5.1.4 setup is using either special "Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers" which direct sound upward to bounce off the ceiling, or a hybrid system with those and ceiling mounted speakers. Those are the only diagrams pertaining to 5.1.4.

I would have thought that the most common application for people wanting to upgrade to Atmos would be exactly what I'm trying to do -- modify an existing traditional 6 channel layout (so I can continue to use my existing speakers) and supplement it with 2 or 4 additional speakers mounted high on the wall, pointing at the listening position. Now I'm even more confused.
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post #5 of 36 Old 11-25-2019, 01:57 PM
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1) you can use any speaker you want/like. The height channels are very forgiving so you don't have to worry about timbre matching.

2) What you're talking about is front/rear height speakers which are usually mounted at the transition between wall and ceiling. Traditional Atmos is ceiling mounted (or upfiring) and would be classified as top speakers by your AVR. Run through the setup on the 3600 and it will tell you where to place and how to connect it all up. It'll even have pictures for you.

3) http://manuals.denon.com/AVRX7200W/E...SYsfbtssfo.php

Oh, and BTW, your 3600 has 9 discrete amp channels, not 11. It can process 11 but only power 9 of them.
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post #6 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Darren Chan View Post

Oh, and BTW, your 3600 has 9 discrete amp channels, not 11. It can process 11 but only power 9 of them.
I still should be all right with a 5.1.4 system without needing an additional amplifier though, right? The sub is self-powered.
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post #7 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Chan View Post

Oh, and BTW, your 3600 has 9 discrete amp channels, not 11. It can process 11 but only power 9 of them.
I still should be all right with a 5.1.4 system without needing an additional amplifier though, right? The sub is self-powered.
Yup. You're good👍
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post #8 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post
I still should be all right with a 5.1.4 system without needing an additional amplifier though, right? The sub is self-powered.
go for it....I got 2 atmos and so far I like them quite a bit...i have mine on the ceiling facing down...

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Nearfield: 4 B-52 SP-1804 18s w/Inuke 6000DSP Channel B
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post #9 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 10:29 AM
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Also, with your Heights, don't aim them directly at the MLP. Aim for a couple feet above eat level. It will give a better effect, like this in the pic.
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post #10 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I still have not seen a diagram of what I need! Which is so weird, because I still have to believe that what I want to do is what 99% of people who are upgrading to Atmos from a traditional 5.1 system would want to do. Here's the thing -- I want to add 4 more loudspeakers for Atmos. I want to leave my 6 other speakers exactly where they are. The only thing that's not quite "standard" is my 2 side surround speakers are about 7' off the floor (not at ear level) on the side walls, but still where they need to be in terms of being slightly behind the main seating position and aimed at that position.

The dimensions of my Living Room are: width - 20 feet, height - 10 feet, seating position - 9 feet from front wall.

So the question is -- where do the additional 4 speakers go? Should 2 of them be directly over the front mains on the front wall with the other 2 on the side walls? Or should all four be on the side walls? And assuming they are on the side walls, what is the optimal position for them? Just a couple of feet behind (and above) the surrounds for 2 of them, and about 5 feet in front of (and above) the surrounds for the other 2 is my current thinking. Note that there really isn't a back wall -- the Living Room opens up to the Dining Room & Kitchen beyond.
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post #11 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post
I still have not seen a diagram of what I need! Which is so weird, because I still have to believe that what I want to do is what 99% of people who are upgrading to Atmos from a traditional 5.1 system would want to do. Here's the thing -- I want to add 4 more loudspeakers for Atmos. I want to leave my 6 other speakers exactly where they are. The only thing that's not quite "standard" is my 2 side surround speakers are about 7' off the floor (not at ear level) on the side walls, but still where they need to be in terms of being slightly behind the main seating position and aimed at that position.

The dimensions of my Living Room are: width - 20 feet, height - 10 feet, seating position - 9 feet from front wall.

So the question is -- where do the additional 4 speakers go? Should 2 of them be directly over the front mains on the front wall with the other 2 on the side walls? Or should all four be on the side walls? And assuming they are on the side walls, what is the optimal position for them? Just a couple of feet behind (and above) the surrounds for 2 of them, and about 5 feet in front of (and above) the surrounds for the other 2 is my current thinking. Note that there really isn't a back wall -- the Living Room opens up to the Dining Room & Kitchen beyond.
Did you click on the link I posted above? The instructions you're looking for are on the first page.
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Most people that want Atmos will try to place 2 or 4 (on/in)ceiling speakers as prescribed by dolby's guide (top channel on your 3600H). I think placement as you are doing (Height channel on your 3600H) would be in the minority here.

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post #13 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Darren Chan View Post
Most people that want Atmos will try to place 2 or 4 (on/in)ceiling speakers as prescribed by dolby's guide (top channel on your 3600H). I think placement as you are doing (Height channel on your 3600H) would be in the minority here.
It's the necessity of my room. I can't put any speakers in or even on my ceiling (it's coffered). Just can't do it. So "height" speakers, wall mounted but up high, right up against the ceiling (but angled down), are going to have to do the trick. But it looks like what you're saying is it's preferred to do front & back as opposed to side & side...?

I just wish there was some definitive, comprehensive document that would explain all of this Atmos stuff. The Dolby website was of no real help.
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post #14 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 01:27 PM
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It's the necessity of my room. I can't put any speakers in or even on my ceiling (it's coffered). Just can't do it. So "height" speakers, wall mounted but up high, right up against the ceiling (but angled down), are going to have to do the trick. But it looks like what you're saying is it's preferred to do front & back as opposed to side & side...?

I just wish there was some definitive, comprehensive document that would explain all of this Atmos stuff. The Dolby website was of no real help.
The Dolby website doesn't help you because what you want to do doesn't fall in line with how they engineered Atmos and therefore it would be irresponsible for them to offer it as an option.

So if you want 4 height channels and don't want (not can't - it can be done with some drywall cutting/patching...i.e. throw some money at it 😉 ) anything mounted on the ceilings, then place the front heights as high as possible directly above your L/R and the rear heights as high as possible on the side walls, going back as far as needed to fall inside the 135-150 degree range as posted before. Again, make sure you aim the height speakers about 2 feet above MLP. Not ideal but should still work well. You should drop the surrounds down to ear height or just slightly above (36-42") to maintain height separation. Hope that is the info you're looking for.
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post #15 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 01:34 PM
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What you may want to try first is to just add the front heights and see how that works for you. If you feel you want to proceed with the rear heights then do so after. You may be happy with fronts only and can save yourself the time and effort for the rears.

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post #16 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
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You know what would solve all my Atmos-upgrade problems? Small wireless, battery powered speakers I could just stick where I want. It's hard to believe nobody makes such an animal. Running the wires up the walls and across the ceilings is the real problem. I can get away with it in my theater, but not in the Living Room.
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post #17 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 05:05 PM
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You know what would solve all my Atmos-upgrade problems? Small wireless, battery powered speakers I could just stick where I want. It's hard to believe nobody makes such an animal. Running the wires up the walls and across the ceilings is the real problem. I can get away with it in my theater, but not in the Living Room.
If you pull off the baseboard, there is usually about a half inch under the drywall (or you can cut out a channel) to run wires. When you get where you want laterally, make a bigger hole that will still be covered by the baseboard and then make another one in the same stud space up where you want to install the speaker. Tie some string to a heavy weight (like a plumb bob), drop it through the top hole and pull it out of the bottom. Make sure you have enough line so the string is still hanging out of the top hole. Remove the Bob and attach the speaker wire securely and pull it back up. If there is insulation in the wall, you will need an electrician's fish tape. Start from top staying between vapor barrier and drywall and it shouldn't be too hard.

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post #18 of 36 Old 11-26-2019, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
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If you pull off the baseboard, there is usually about a half inch under the drywall (or you can cut out a channel) to run wires. When you get where you want laterally, make a bigger hole that will still be covered by the baseboard and then make another one in the same stud space up where you want to install the speaker. Tie some string to a heavy weight (like a plumb bob), drop it through the top hole and pull it out of the bottom. Make sure you have enough line so the string is still hanging out of the top hole. Remove the Bob and attach the speaker wire securely and pull it back up. If there is insulation in the wall, you will need an electrician's fish tape. Start from top staying between vapor barrier and drywall and it shouldn't be too hard.
The problem with trying to retrofit a room for Atmos that doesn't have an attic above it, just a joist space for the second floor, is this: A normal 2x4 stud wall with 1/2" drywall will be topped with a double 2x4 plate. Typically, the top edge of the drywall is screwed into the plate. To fish a wire up through the wall and across the ceiling to a recessed ceiling speaker you'd have to drill a hole through 3" of solid wood. Then you'd somehow have to make a 90 degree turn to run across the ceiling drywall to the speaker location. I don't know how you could do that. Easier would be flush mounted speakers and you'd just run the wire exposed, perhaps through a plastic wire mold/conduit. Wouldn't look too bad I guess.

But yeah, what you describe would work for a height speaker mounted up next to the ceiling. What I'd probably do instead of trying to fish it through the wall would be to take it up in one of those plastic wire molds with an adhesive strip on the back to stick to the wall. Maybe paint it the same color as the wall. Then across the top of the wall right under the ceiling trim to the speaker location. Could sort of make an "element" out of it. That's what I'll probably end up doing.

Of course that means my Atmos configuration won't be entirely correct as I'll be using height speakers aimed at the MLP from the top of the walls instead of in-ceiling speakers. Hopefully the Audyssey x32 in my new AVR can set it up & calibrate it properly anyway.
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Well, if you have crown moulding, then it is possible to get in ceiling speakers without any visible drywall damage. Finicky work but doable.

As for your plastic trim, I'd run it along the baseboard instead of up at the ceiling. Much less noticeable. And I'd still fish that line up the wall so you don't see that vertical trim piece. Even painted, it would bug me...but it's your house. Enjoy your Atmos!
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post #20 of 36 Old 11-27-2019, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
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I am amazed that there is no dedicated Atmos design thread on AVS where these sorts of things could be discussed & alternatives hashed out. I honestly thought this thread would have "legs" -- dozens of responses, a good back & forth as various alternatives were bandied about.

I guess nearly all of the Atmos theaters people have built/retrofitted have either been 1) new construction, or 2) in upper floor bonus rooms with an attic above.
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post #21 of 36 Old 11-27-2019, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay, I've figured out what I'm going to do. Ta-da! I know the only person who will care, unless there are hidden lurkers on this thread, is Darren. So this is for him.

My Living Room has a coffered ceiling. Turns out that the perfect place for down-firing ceiling speakers is at the crossing points of the coffers. A round, enclosed speaker could surface mount on those crossing points. Added benefit? They would hide some of the drywall imperfections and slight cracks that have developed in those intersections over time (above the Living Room is an outdoor deck so the ceiling/roof has settled a tiny bit in the last 5 years since I built the house).

I would still have to run the wires up the wall (in the corners) and across the ceiling to get to said surface-mounted speakers, but I can do it behind the coffer-beams on the short (TV) side of the room so they will be largely hidden from where most people could see them.

So, the question now is, are there round speakers, just like recessed in-ceiling speakers, only in an enclosed housing I can surface mount up there? They need to be relatively handsome since they will be fully exposed. The thinner the better too, although I realize there is a certain amount of depth required in any decent loudspeaker. Since nobody else but Darren will be reading this post, do you know of any, good sir? I've looked, but am having trouble finding such an animal.

As an alternative, if I can't find a nice surface-mount speaker, I could build a box that would house a typical in-ceiling speaker and attach that to the beam-crossing points. But it sure would be easier to just find a self-contained speaker in its own enclosure. So far, no joy.
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post #22 of 36 Old 11-27-2019, 12:57 PM
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Okay, I've figured out what I'm going to do. Ta-da! I know the only person who will care, unless there are hidden lurkers on this thread, is Darren. So this is for him.

My Living Room has a coffered ceiling. Turns out that the perfect place for down-firing ceiling speakers is at the crossing points of the coffers. A round, enclosed speaker could surface mount on those crossing points. Added benefit? They would hide some of the drywall imperfections and slight cracks that have developed in those intersections over time (above the Living Room is an outdoor deck so the ceiling/roof has settled a tiny bit in the last 5 years since I built the house).

I would still have to run the wires up the wall (in the corners) and across the ceiling to get to said surface-mounted speakers, but I can do it behind the coffer-beams on the short (TV) side of the room so they will be largely hidden from where most people could see them.

So, the question now is, are there round speakers, just like recessed in-ceiling speakers, only in an enclosed housing I can surface mount up there? They need to be relatively handsome since they will be fully exposed. The thinner the better too, although I realize there is a certain amount of depth required in any decent loudspeaker. Since nobody else but Darren will be reading this post, do you know of any, good sir? I've looked, but am having trouble finding such an animal.

As an alternative, if I can't find a nice surface-mount speaker, I could build a box that would house a typical in-ceiling speaker and attach that to the beam-crossing points. But it sure would be easier to just find a self-contained speaker in its own enclosure. So far, no joy.
Hi. I'm planning on using two (or MAYBE four) SVS Elevation speakers in my small 17" X 11' X 8' hi room. Let us know what you end up doing. And yes, I also wish there was a forum dedicated to this stuff...
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Okay, I've figured out what I'm going to do. Ta-da! I know the only person who will care, unless there are hidden lurkers on this thread, is Darren. So this is for him. [IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/smilies/tongue.gif[/IMG]

My Living Room has a coffered ceiling. Turns out that the perfect place for down-firing ceiling speakers is at the crossing points of the coffers. A round, enclosed speaker could surface mount on those crossing points. Added benefit? They would hide some of the drywall imperfections and slight cracks that have developed in those intersections over time (above the Living Room is an outdoor deck so the ceiling/roof has settled a tiny bit in the last 5 years since I built the house).

I would still have to run the wires up the wall (in the corners) and across the ceiling to get to said surface-mounted speakers, but I can do it behind the coffer-beams on the short (TV) side of the room so they will be largely hidden from where most people could see them.

So, the question now is, are there round speakers, just like recessed in-ceiling speakers, only in an enclosed housing I can surface mount up there? They need to be relatively handsome since they will be fully exposed. The thinner the better too, although I realize there is a certain amount of depth required in any decent loudspeaker. Since nobody else but Darren will be reading this post, do you know of any, good sir? [IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif[/IMG] I've looked, but am having trouble finding such an animal.

As an alternative, if I can't find a nice surface-mount speaker, I could build a box that would house a typical in-ceiling speaker and attach that to the beam-crossing points. But it sure would be easier to just find a self-contained speaker in its own enclosure. So far, no joy.
Lol...u funny 😁

I doubt round speaker boxes exist. Maybe cut down some bass tubes that car guys use to make cylindrical subs? Why not just go square? The cross points would form a square anyway. Build a box and paint it to match the coffered ceiling. Am I right to assume that you can't install the speakers directly into the coffered beams? They are generally hollow.

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post #24 of 36 Old 11-27-2019, 01:21 PM
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The Audyssey website has information as well and it is their software that is used by Denon and others to balance the output with a multi-channel receiver and speakers.

https://audyssey.zendesk.com/hc/en-u...s-for-Audyssey
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post #25 of 36 Old 11-27-2019, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post
Yeah, I figured the Dolby website would probably have something. But was hoping to get those 3 specific questions answered here as a way of getting some base knowledge in - you know, begin to climb the learning curve - before I ventured over there.

Considering how many AVS members have gone the home Atmos route at this point - must be hundreds if not thousands by now - and most of them presumably were upgrading from their original 5.1 systems and started out at the same general knowledge level I am, I would have thought there would have been a "sticky" on this sub-forum with general information about Atmos and what's needed to do a basic upgrade. Kind of surprised me that there isn't.
Dolby does have a pdf available that might be of some assistance:
https://www.dolby.com/us/en/technolo...guidelines.pdf
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post #26 of 36 Old 11-27-2019, 01:53 PM
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I have a front height / rear height setup and I think it works pretty well for the room. Based on the size of your room and the seating position, I think this setup would be good in your case as well, though on ceiling would be even better. In general, you want to line up your height speakers with your front speakers (both front and rear heights). You can use the same speakers and mounts you are using for your surrounds if you like. As for amps, if you try the setup and feel it meets your needs, then you are good. If not, you can add a 2 or 3 channel amp for the fronts or LCR, then you should be good for sure.


Just saw your post about ceiling mounting some speakers. Where are the proposed locations in relation to your seating position (how far forward and back)? Ideally, you would want to ceiling mount about 7 feet forward and 7 feet back from your seated position to achieve a 45 degree angle for your atmos speakers. As for ceiling mounting, I have some Focal Sibs that come with a built in swivel type mount that allow for wall or ceiling mounting, so something like that should work for you as well.
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post #27 of 36 Old 11-28-2019, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Darren Chan View Post
Lol...u funny 😁

I doubt round speaker boxes exist. Maybe cut down some bass tubes that car guys use to make cylindrical subs? Why not just go square? The cross points would form a square anyway. Build a box and paint it to match the coffered ceiling. Am I right to assume that you can't install the speakers directly into the coffered beams? They are generally hollow.
Yeah, I don't think they do either. Yet another thing that surprises me. You'd think surface mounted enclosed, shallow depth round (or even square - that would be fine too) speakers would be a popular choice for upgrading a 5.1 system to Atmos, as it avoids all of that drywall cutting & patching, fishing wires through the space above (easy if it's an attic, next to impossible if it's not), etc. I don't get it.

The coffers in my case are structural, or the ones going sideways anyway. During my initial design of the house I had intended the roof deck above the living room to be a green roof. I mean, an honest-to-god green roof, with a foot or two of soil on a waterproof membrane. So I vastly over-engineered it. About 3/4 of the way through construction I abandoned that idea as being too expensive and ultimately dangerous and just made it an "ordinary" roof deck. If there was ever a leak in the membrane I'd be totally screwed.

In any event, the coffers are solid wood, built up out of 2x6's in the long direction, TJI's in the short direction. Any speakers have to be flush mounted.

Looks like I might have to DIY those, make wooden cabinets for standard in-ceiling speakers. I can make them slightly skewed so they point in the direction of the couch. It's a lot of work though. Gosh, sure would be simpler if somebody just made enclosed loudspeakers for that very purpose. I cannot be the only person who could use them for a situation like this.
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post #28 of 36 Old 11-28-2019, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Or, maybe this is the answer! Pretty affordable at $120 a pair, and they're on a bracket so they're easy to aim. Plus, if my roof/ceiling ever leaks, no problemo! Anybody have any experience with these bad boys?

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_107ATR...um4-White.html
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post #29 of 36 Old 11-28-2019, 09:21 PM
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In that form factor, these have gotten some good press:

https://rslspeakers.com/product/spea...-just-like-new

You might also consider the OWM3 from Polk or the Minx Min from Cambridge.

The RSL gives you better bass extension, so you can crossover at a lower point to avoid sub localization. The OWM3 is probably equivalent to the Polk you named, but in a different look. You may like it better, or not. The minx min is small and will be pretty inconspicuous (assuming white on white). The downside is a higher crossover point (150Hz).

Lastly, Gallo has small round speakers with lots of finishes available. More expensive than the above options, but WAF should be pretty high.
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Last edited by RayGuy; 11-28-2019 at 09:26 PM.
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post #30 of 36 Old 11-29-2019, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
In that form factor, these have gotten some good press:

https://rslspeakers.com/product/spea...-just-like-new

You might also consider the OWM3 from Polk or the Minx Min from Cambridge.

The RSL gives you better bass extension, so you can crossover at a lower point to avoid sub localization. The OWM3 is probably equivalent to the Polk you named, but in a different look. You may like it better, or not. The minx min is small and will be pretty inconspicuous (assuming white on white). The downside is a higher crossover point (150Hz).

Lastly, Gallo has small round speakers with lots of finishes available. More expensive than the above options, but WAF should be pretty high.
Thanks for "punting" those to me Ray

RSL's - Very similar in look & function to the Polks I referenced, but more expensive. I may end up getting a second sub at some point so that should help with the localization issue.
OWM3 - Out. No aimable bracket/base. And too expensive.
CA Minx Min - No included aimable bracket (must buy separately). Which makes it too expensive. (you're probably seeing a pattern here...)
Gallo - Gorgeous! And I'm all 'bout dat! But...yikes!
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