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post #1 of 15 Old 12-03-2019, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Wondering if surround sound setup will work for my living room.

Hey, I'm new to all the audio tech and was looking into possibly getting a surround sound system for my living room. The home was wired for surround sound, but it seems the wiring was put at less than ideal locations? I'm wondering if it would even be worth looking into a system or just getting a soundbar instead.


I attached a simple layout of the area. To me it seems as though the wiring is too high? The front speaker wires are 7 feet from the floor with the rear ones being just over 10' off the floor and the couch is basically up against the back wall. Would it be possible to get good audio while sitting on the couch? Would the speakers basically need to be pointed down towards the couch?


Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.
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post #2 of 15 Old 12-05-2019, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drago010 View Post
Hey, I'm new to all the audio tech and was looking into possibly getting a surround sound system for my living room. The home was wired for surround sound, but it seems the wiring was put at less than ideal locations? I'm wondering if it would even be worth looking into a system or just getting a soundbar instead.

I attached a simple layout of the area. To me it seems as though the wiring is too high? The front speaker wires are 7 feet from the floor with the rear ones being just over 10' off the floor and the couch is basically up against the back wall. Would it be possible to get good audio while sitting on the couch? Would the speakers basically need to be pointed down towards the couch?
I'm a bit confused, but I'm thinking the room is flipped(couch/TV flipped). If there are 3 connection points behind the couch, that's the front speaker set, representing the Left, Right, and Center Channels, the the two on the TV wall are actually the rear surrounds.

Would have to know more about the room and anything like doors, windows - where they are, but I might actually consider setting up long-wise if you could. Couches backed up to walls aren't generally considered the greatest arrangement, but if you gotta do it, you gotta do it. Sure, the space has potential, but again, need to know more before making solid recommendations.

Sound bar? Some folks like 'em, and they're getting pretty hi-tech. Cheaper alternative to a whole room system, and can deliver a good experience, but not the same as a really dedicated, properly executed arrangement. Me? No thanks on the sound bar.

Have you ever had any kind of surround system before? Are you more of casual kind of person, just looking to bump up the experience, or looking to REALLY bump up the experience? Give us some ideas of your listening habits, watching habits, more about the space and what kind of flexibility or limitations you might have with it as far as obstacles, aesthetics, furniture, and so on.

WARNING: It can seem very overwhelming at first, as you mentioned you are new to it all - but don't let it overwhelm you! You're in the right place from doing soundbars to full blown systems, on the cheap, on the expensive, something in between, it's all here.

7.2.4 System: Display: Sony XBR-65X930D; Processing: Anthem AVM60
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Definitive Technology DI8R; Amplification: Class D Audio SDS-470C (4ch. x 300w)
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post #3 of 15 Old 12-06-2019, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response Jonas2. I didn't really think about it before, but it is weird there would be three connection points behind the couch. I never actually removed the cover plate from the back middle to see if there were wires running there. I am attaching a few pictures of the walls to show a bit better how it is. Below the tv, behind the furniture is where the speaker connectors in the attached picture are. I put a little more info in my original layout to show where windows are.


I haven't had any surround sound system before and only really looking into it because the wife wanted to also utilize speakers that were setup on the patio deck of the house. This stuff was all in place when we got our place so I don't know a lot about the setup. I would consider myself more on the casual side looking for a little bump in the sound experience. Also have a budget of around $1000 for it all. Was looking for speakers to attach to the walls, but most seem quite large and would need some sort of shelf to be put up at the height of wires. I would like to stay away from floor stands or any other furniture just for speakers if possible.


As for watching habits, I tend to leave the tv watching to the wife, but we do like have movie nights. She also likes to listen to music while working.


Hopefully I answered most of the questions. If you need more info from me, let me know.


Thanks again!
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post #4 of 15 Old 12-06-2019, 10:06 PM
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Thanks for the response Jonas2. I didn't really think about it before, but it is weird there would be three connection points behind the couch. I never actually removed the cover plate from the back middle to see if there were wires running there. I am attaching a few pictures of the walls to show a bit better how it is. Below the tv, behind the furniture is where the speaker connectors in the attached picture are. I put a little more info in my original layout to show where windows are.
Yeah, it looks to me like the previous intention was to have the display on the wall where your couch is as that is where one would want left, center, front speakers. The wall plate with the 5 connections on it in that opposite location indicates that the receiver would have been back there instead. Possible that the previous owners wanted to have just a large display as the primary feature with speakers above and somewhat out of the way, and no other visual distractions up front. Hard to say, but that's what I'm guessing. Anyway, yeah - you want the 3 speakers wherever the display is!

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I haven't had any surround sound system before and only really looking into it because the wife wanted to also utilize speakers that were setup on the patio deck of the house. This stuff was all in place when we got our place so I don't know a lot about the setup. I would consider myself more on the casual side looking for a little bump in the sound experience. Also have a budget of around $1000 for it all. Was looking for speakers to attach to the walls, but most seem quite large and would need some sort of shelf to be put up at the height of wires. I would like to stay away from floor stands or any other furniture just for speakers if possible.
You can definitely do wall mounted speakers without doing any other shelving, etc., but you will need to bracket them somehow which means putting holes in walls, if you're O.K. with that. That is high up, at 10 feet, but with the right angling you should be able to get them situated - you do want to aim them towards the listeners, or you'll need an angled speaker. This is if you really want to try and use what's already there and you can certainly do so, it may be less than ideal. It's not how I would do it, but not knowing the circumstances of the previous owners, it's hard to criticize.

But I'd like you to just look at this speaker for a visual - not saying this speaker is for you or not, I just want you to see it. I think visuals help get the mind moving, at least they do mine!

https://www.svsound.com/collections/prime-elevation

Conceptually, this might let you use the mounting locations that seem to have been scoped out. I would personally find it a visual oddity though to have the speakers so high up and then just a display down much lower. I think I get the point (maybe), but me, I'd drop speakers much lower, down to seated listener level - but this will require work with the wiring to get it to the new locations and then consideration to cover up the original wall plate holes and blending the wall all back together! (Or just leave the plates on the wall and live with them for now.)

Larger rooms and greater distances do present challenges though - it's a decently sized space to fill, given that it is open to the upper level. Smaller, less powerful speakers just might not get to sufficient loudness, and they risk lacking in their lower frequency response. Compensate - larger, more capable/powerful speakers and subwoofers! Of course this also means the costs go up.

So, if you wanted to start simple, you could actually just do a stereo arrangement and use the speaker mounting points at the 7 foot height since they are on the same wall already as the display. Again, not ideal in my book, but better in my opinion than the 10 foot, and you could probably figure out how to do a center speaker there as well above the display if you wanted to put a little effort into it. So start with two or three front sound stage speakers (the most important ones obviously!) and an inexpensive 5.1 receiver, and see what you think. Brands like Onkyo, Yamaha, Denon all have inexpensive offerings in 5.1 receivers. Don't get too caught up in all of the technical terminology at this point.

Really, the best thing to do though if you can is to get to some local shops, start looking and listening, get a sense for what's out there. Do online research too of course, no need to rush it, always good to take as much time as you need to gain a thorough understanding of what you're getting into. It can be a slippery slope though - you might think you're a casual listener now, but something you experience in a shop could trigger that A/V madman deep down inside and send you down the rabbit hole! Not that it is a bad thing - there is a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be had from a good entertainment system. The nice thing is, you can always build slowly; upgrade, add, tweak, as budget allows.

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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post #5 of 15 Old 12-07-2019, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, it looks to me like the previous intention was to have the display on the wall where your couch is as that is where one would want left, center, front speakers. The wall plate with the 5 connections on it in that opposite location indicates that the receiver would have been back there instead. Possible that the previous owners wanted to have just a large display as the primary feature with speakers above and somewhat out of the way, and no other visual distractions up front. Hard to say, but that's what I'm guessing. Anyway, yeah - you want the 3 speakers wherever the display is!
Yeah it still confuses me why they would set it up like that as any display under the center speaker would block a portion of the line of sight from kitchen to living room. Just seems odd especially how they had their furniture set up when they still owned the place. I figured the wall that had the coaxial/speaker connections would be where the tv would be.

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You can definitely do wall mounted speakers without doing any other shelving, etc., but you will need to bracket them somehow which means putting holes in walls, if you're O.K. with that. That is high up, at 10 feet, but with the right angling you should be able to get them situated - you do want to aim them towards the listeners, or you'll need an angled speaker. This is if you really want to try and use what's already there and you can certainly do so, it may be less than ideal. It's not how I would do it, but not knowing the circumstances of the previous owners, it's hard to criticize.

But I'd like you to just look at this speaker for a visual - not saying this speaker is for you or not, I just want you to see it. I think visuals help get the mind moving, at least they do mine!

Conceptually, this might let you use the mounting locations that seem to have been scoped out. I would personally find it a visual oddity though to have the speakers so high up and then just a display down much lower. I think I get the point (maybe), but me, I'd drop speakers much lower, down to seated listener level - but this will require work with the wiring to get it to the new locations and then consideration to cover up the original wall plate holes and blending the wall all back together! (Or just leave the plates on the wall and live with them for now.)
I don't mind having angled speakers or even having them at the height where the current wires are run to. It's more of trying to get the speakers to actually face our direction while sitting on the couch. I could probably get the wiring lower on the 7' speakers, but the ones on the other wall would be way too much work as I don't know how the wiring is run and don't want to start cutting into sheetrock. I don't think the wife would be ok with me messing with the walls at though, as she would rightfully assume I would never get it looking normal as it does now, haha.

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Larger rooms and greater distances do present challenges though - it's a decently sized space to fill, given that it is open to the upper level. Smaller, less powerful speakers just might not get to sufficient loudness, and they risk lacking in their lower frequency response. Compensate - larger, more capable/powerful speakers and subwoofers! Of course this also means the costs go up.

So, if you wanted to start simple, you could actually just do a stereo arrangement and use the speaker mounting points at the 7 foot height since they are on the same wall already as the display. Again, not ideal in my book, but better in my opinion than the 10 foot, and you could probably figure out how to do a center speaker there as well above the display if you wanted to put a little effort into it.

How bad would it be to have the R/L front speakers up at 7' and then have the center speaker resting on the furniture under the tv? Would it be better to bring those speakers down also in that case with some speaker stands? Was hoping I could set something up before the holidays but I'm feeling more uneasy about making decisions now. Also seems like my budget would be shot from just a receiver, front speakers, center and sub woofer.
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post #6 of 15 Old 12-07-2019, 07:21 PM
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How bad would it be to have the R/L front speakers up at 7' and then have the center speaker resting on the furniture under the tv? Would it be better to bring those speakers down also in that case with some speaker stands? Was hoping I could set something up before the holidays but I'm feeling more uneasy about making decisions now. Also seems like my budget would be shot from just a receiver, front speakers, center and sub woofer.
You can certainly do that, but you'd want to definitely try and angle the 7' speakers towards the listeners (which might be achievable simply with angled speakers) - then you'd also preferably angle the center speaker (up) at the listeners as well if it is sitting down really low. You do prefer to have the sound appear to come from the TV, not below it or above it so angling will help with that.

And yes - ideally (in my opinion) - you'd bring those L/R down close to sitting ear level, or bit above. In a perfect world, the tweeters of the L/C/R are kept all at that same level for good continuity of the sound. Like I said, perfect world - tough to achieve short of a somewhat dedicated space, and can easily involve placement that does not meet the desired aesthetic for the space or WAF (Wife Approval Factor....). It's all a compromise, but not being stuck to specific locations on your wall is a good thing - this allows for experimentation and more precise placement of the L/R speakers - at the compromise of putting them on stands or what have you. On wall is not an issue, and the locations already there could work just fine, or not. It'd be a bit of an experiment.

Oh yes, you can easily chew up that $1000.00 with just any ONE of any of those items - receiver, sub, or any given single speaker. So definitely something to think about carefully. I know it would be nice to have something done for the holidays, but don't feel pressured. You don't want to jump on something and put it together hastily just to meet Santa's deadline, only to be disappointed. Could you do it for $1000.00? Yes. Would you be happy? I don't know, only you can be the judge. Not trying to discourage, it's just the reality of the situation.

The way I size it up - probably gonna spend at the min. in the $300.00 for a receiver. You could skip a subwoofer up front, and figure on adding it later. Subwoofers do bring a LOT to the table, especially if you're using smaller satellite speakers that might wimp out at the lower frequencies, leaving a hollow performance otherwise. But until you're in the $400.00+ range, your not gonna get a very decent sub, and at that, it's still going to be a minimal performer. In a room of your volume, with it's openness, size greatly matters for the delivery. It's not uncommon to hear the recommendation of 1/2 the budget going to a good subwoofer. Me, I'd probably put the $1000.00 into just a receiver and sub.

I'd honestly love to get a hold of your space, I'm confident that you can get very good sound out of it, but the $1000.00 is going to be a challenge for adequate performance in my estimations. Others may disagree!

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

Last edited by Jonas2; 12-07-2019 at 07:29 PM.
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post #7 of 15 Old 12-11-2019, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
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The way I size it up - probably gonna spend at the min. in the $300.00 for a receiver. You could skip a subwoofer up front, and figure on adding it later. Subwoofers do bring a LOT to the table, especially if you're using smaller satellite speakers that might wimp out at the lower frequencies, leaving a hollow performance otherwise. But until you're in the $400.00+ range, your not gonna get a very decent sub, and at that, it's still going to be a minimal performer. In a room of your volume, with it's openness, size greatly matters for the delivery. It's not uncommon to hear the recommendation of 1/2 the budget going to a good subwoofer. Me, I'd probably put the $1000.00 into just a receiver and sub.

I'd honestly love to get a hold of your space, I'm confident that you can get very good sound out of it, but the $1000.00 is going to be a challenge for adequate performance in my estimations. Others may disagree!
I appreciate all the time you have taken to explain things Jonas2. I'm trying to see if I can bump up the budget to around $1500 (not sure I could pull off $1000 just for sub) for everything minus the two rear speakers to at least get started on a setup. I would hope that could get me closer in line to some decent gear? Would it be an issue if the two rear speakers are different brands if I decided to purchase at a later date? I saw a lot of different speaker wall mounts that would work without being fixed on an angled speaker. For a receiver, the only thing I would really like is have two zones, so the speakers that are already out on the deck can be connected also.
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post #8 of 15 Old 12-12-2019, 09:20 AM
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I appreciate all the time you have taken to explain things Jonas2. I'm trying to see if I can bump up the budget to around $1500 (not sure I could pull off $1000 just for sub) for everything minus the two rear speakers to at least get started on a setup. I would hope that could get me closer in line to some decent gear? Would it be an issue if the two rear speakers are different brands if I decided to purchase at a later date? I saw a lot of different speaker wall mounts that would work without being fixed on an angled speaker. For a receiver, the only thing I would really like is have two zones, so the speakers that are already out on the deck can be connected also.
$1500.00 definitely gives you more breathing room! And hey, if you aren't really pressured for time and can save more, that's even better - unless you are drawing line in the sand (which everyone has to do!). You should be able to manage decently on $1500.00 for a 3.1.

A few different philosophies at work - matching the speakers or not matching the speakers - in an IDEAL situation, yes - you'd match those surrounds to the other speakers, at least the same speaker family. By almost every account, folks that have moved from mixes systems to matched systems notice an improvement. I've not read encountered anybody that said it got worse! HOWEVER - it is not always possible or practical to do this. Some folks believe it is totally not necessary due to the the front 3 being the focus and the surrounds playing a much lesser role for mostly effects and ambient. There is some truth to this.

Personally, I think it matters more if you're listening to multi-channel music. Myself, I do have a mismatched system, but I was able to actually demo my surrounds with my mains before buying, so I knew the blend would be good (and it is). Due to my space/circumstances, I bought what I bought, matching was not an option.

If you can't match, the key is to at least look for speakers with similar design characteristics, particularly the tweeter. But honestly, you just don't know how things are going to perform until you set them up in your space. I probably wouldn't sweat this too much at this point, but when looking for L/C/R speakers, definitely check that company's offerings in surround speakers as well, see if they have a matching speaker that would work - and you can always go back and pick those up later, when you're ready.

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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Would something like this be a decent setup:


Sony STR-DN1080
Outlaw Ultra- X12 Sub
(2) Ascend CBM-170 or KEF Q150
No real idea on a center speaker?


Total of around $1250 without the center speaker.
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post #10 of 15 Old 12-13-2019, 11:17 AM
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Would something like this be a decent setup:

Sony STR-DN1080
Outlaw Ultra- X12 Sub
(2) Ascend CBM-170 or KEF Q150
No real idea on a center speaker?

Total of around $1250 without the center speaker.
Check this page out:

https://www.accessories4less.com/mak...ceivers/1.html

I think you'll get some better options for the receiver. I might lean towards a Denon or Yamaha. The Sony would work for you, but I'm not preferential for Sony on HT receivers. TVs, yes..... I think you could save a bit on the receiver, maybe think about that cneter channel.

Of those two, I'd personally go for the Ascend - it's going to have more output than the KEF. A lot of happy KEF Q150 owners here. I can't speak specifically to the CBM-170, but Ascend is well-respected around here. There is the matching center channel, that CMT-340. However, you could actually consider not using a specific designated as a center channel speaker, and simply go with 3 of the same speakers across the front - all CBM-170s, or Q150s. All of those speakers being identical is not a bad thing at all, save you a bit of money.

You could certainly give that Outlaw sub a go, here's another one to consider:

https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24457

This is the smallest though (12") that'd I'd go in there, duals preferred! Just check all of the shipping/return conditions for everything, so that if you are not happy, you're not stuck. A lot of places do have generous return/shipping/trial period policies, take them on that.

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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post #11 of 15 Old 12-14-2019, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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However, you could actually consider not using a specific designated as a center channel speaker, and simply go with 3 of the same speakers across the front - all CBM-170s, or Q150s. All of those speakers being identical is not a bad thing at all, save you a bit of money.

You could certainly give that Outlaw sub a go, here's another one to consider:

https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24457

This is the smallest though (12") that'd I'd go in there, duals preferred! Just check all of the shipping/return conditions for everything, so that if you are not happy, you're not stuck. A lot of places do have generous return/shipping/trial period policies, take them on that.

Didn't realize how big these subs are compared to the htib sub that my dad has in his place, haha. Not sure how I will even move that at 100lbs!


What difference is there between a designated center and just using a third CBM-170 for instance? It seems I can only buy them in pairs and couldn't get a single?


I feel like I can't stick to my $1500 budget for everything minus the rear two rear speakers the more I look at the equipment. Sub - $800, R/L speakers - $300, receiver ~$300, leaving $100 for center unless I go even cheaper on the receiver. I was looking at the Denon X1500H, but am I correct in thinking that the only way to get audio to a couple outdoor speakers that are setup is via analog connection? There are just too many options within every category of these setups!
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post #12 of 15 Old 12-14-2019, 09:47 PM
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Didn't realize how big these subs are compared to the htib sub that my dad has in his place, haha. Not sure how I will even move that at 100lbs!

What difference is there between a designated center and just using a third CBM-170 for instance? It seems I can only buy them in pairs and couldn't get a single?

I feel like I can't stick to my $1500 budget for everything minus the rear two rear speakers the more I look at the equipment. Sub - $800, R/L speakers - $300, receiver ~$300, leaving $100 for center unless I go even cheaper on the receiver. I was looking at the Denon X1500H, but am I correct in thinking that the only way to get audio to a couple outdoor speakers that are setup is via analog connection? There are just too many options within every category of these setups!
Yeah, HTIB subs - I guess they are not bad for what they are within those price points, but they are not really sub-woofers. A buddy of mine had one, maybe a 10" (?), in a space that was smaller than yours but open to a lot of space behind it - and while you knew it was doing something, it just did not keep up with what a sub should be doing. Heavy = good. Well, hopefully good! More solid construction, larger driver, more substantial amplifier. Not that a sub has to be heavy, but overly light is sacrificing something.

You could totally stick with the CBM-170 as a center. A lot of speakers are sold as pairs, this is true, so you'd have to see if you can buy a single in addition to a pair. Would be up to the company and/or reseller policies, but you should be ale to land singles. Here's a good read about centers, talks about designs and why the implementations, what you might expect out of them:

https://www.audioholics.com/loudspea...nnel-designs-1

So, the 3rd identical CBM-170 might not have as much output as the dedicated center, but with proper placement, it's going to sound very good, very cohesive.

You are right - the outdoor speakers (Zone 2) would only use analog sources connected to the receiver, or I'm assuming the on-board streaming apps. Don't quote me on that, but nothing from coax, optical or HDMI apparently.

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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post #13 of 15 Old 12-21-2019, 03:18 PM
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you could always put a splice kit (They make soldered ones you just use a heat gun on)) on the wires and drop them straight down the wall for the 3 fronts and bring them out at desired height, more than likely there will be nothing in the way, and then patch the holes. I do construction for a living.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DRDWFDB...NsaWNrPXRydWU=
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post #14 of 15 Old 12-21-2019, 04:30 PM
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If the pre wired spots are not where you want them, maybe just run speaker wire along the base board from the receiver to the speakers, at least for the front speakers. For the rears, you could cut a whole lower down in line with the current location and snake the wire down to the hole (assuming the speaker wire in place has some extra lee way, which I am not sure about). Worst case, you mount the rears high and tilt down.

Edit: what @Slyder01 said....

Last edited by m0j0; 12-21-2019 at 04:50 PM.
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post #15 of 15 Old 12-21-2019, 09:35 PM
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A less large and heavy option for a sub is the RSL Speedwoofer 10S. Good output for it's size and sounds good for both music and movies. Going with the smaller size, you do give up a bit of the lowest bass frequencies and some ultimate output. Depending on how you use the system, it may never be a problem. One nice thing is that the return shipping is free if you decide you need a larger sub.

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