Noodling Atmos upgrade to my home theater - soliciting advice. - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Question Noodling Atmos upgrade to my home theater - soliciting advice.

Looking for advice from the AVS community.

First some background - I am an old school home theater enthusiast. I have been in the hobby since the 90s - my first big home theater purchase was a CLD-D704 in 1996. I was a regular on the alt dot video dot laserdisc newsgroup when the WWW was in its infancy. I spent $2300 on a 50" three-gun Mitsubishi CRT rear projector. I still have 500 or so LaserDiscs though I almost never watch them any more (except some music discs). I've had systems for years. Young punks don't know how good things are right now!!!! :-)

My current basement setup is 7.1 and I love it; the performance is really amazing to me. It is in a section of a large finished basement rec-room that is open to the bar and pool table areas. I am budget minded; I like deals and I am not a stickler for high end - Some of my gear came from Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and even Thrift stores.

For reference.... Gear is as follows: Speakers are Polk Audio Monitor 50s for the main L/R fronts, matching CS1 center. Rear speakers are the front/rear L/Rs from a Polk RM7500 5.1 speaker system. Projector is an Epson 2045 (1080P, 3D - I LOVE 3D), screen is a 110" Elite Screens SB110WH2. Receiver is a Marantz SR-5007 which is *just barely* powerful enough for the room; I've had much more powerful receivers here in the past.

Subwoofer is a dual 15" driver infinite baffle manifold behind a return air vent, driven by a Vestax VDA-1000. This sub is more than adequate for the room. Building another sub for the front would be pretty much out of the question.

My rear speakers are high on a wall modelled after a movie theater.

Not to scale view of the room.


Some super wide angle pictures from my phone:

Rear speakers and stuff:


Front:


I am thinking of replacing the receiver with a newer Dolby Atmos capable receiver. I can easily install speakers in the ceiling in this room - elsewhere in the basement I have already done so (above the pool table - connected to the L/R front pre-outs of the receiver here). I can't install speakers in the large ceiling channel - it's full of HVAC, plumbing, etc., however I can easily install ceiling speakers elsewhere.

My thinking is I'm not sure how much I would get from four ceiling speakers given the large physical channel in my ceiling, and the fact that my rear channels are already mounted high in the rear of the room. I don't know enough about how the height channels work in Atmos which is why I'm asking for advice here. I think that installing two speakers directly in front of the ceiling channel would possibly be the best installation of Atmos in this room.

The green circles in the top picture above would be where I would install for a 7.1.2 system. I think if I installed two more behind the seating area they would just blend with the rear four, and if I installed them in the front above the main L/R I wouldn't even notice them because they'd be too close to the screen and the front speakers. Am I on the right track?

Looking again and noodling ... .... I could install front speakers on the front wall high up flanking the screen instead of in the ceiling... Kind of like the old style Yamaha "height" speakers - Would Atmos acommodate that?

Philip Hamm

Last edited by Philip Hamm; 06-25-2020 at 09:14 AM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 07:27 PM
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Look at using four small bookshelf or satellite sized speakers, two mounted on the fascia of the ceiling channel (looks like maybe a 35 or 40 degree angle which is within Dolby spec) and then 2 more at a similar angle to your seated ears. Maybe something like the Minx Min 12 or the Polk Audio OWM3 or the BIC Venturi DV32B.

In order to get the proper separation between your base level and the Atmos level, you will need to lower all your surround speakers about 3 feet (high back chairs preclude going any lower).

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

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post #3 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Look at using four small bookshelf or satellite sized speakers, two mounted on the fascia of the ceiling channel (looks like maybe a 35 or 40 degree angle which is within Dolby spec) and then 2 more at a similar angle to your seated ears. Maybe something like the Minx Min 12 or the Polk Audio OWM3 or the BIC Venturi DV32B.

In order to get the proper separation between your base level and the Atmos level, you will need to lower all your surround speakers about 3 feet (high back chairs preclude going any lower).
Thanks for replying!!!!

I really don't want to move the rear speakers down. The rears being up near the ceiling works incredibly well and makes it really like a movie theater. Plus how spread out they are in the rear means that all four seats get very good surround sound - and if I ever decided to build another seating level I could do that and even those people would get great surround sound.

I was planning to install round in-ceiling speakers, though mounting "regular" speakers to the channel is a very compelling idea that I hadn't even considered. I could get another Polk Audio RM7500 set used on eBay and then all 8 surround speakers (including ceiling ones) would match timber and appearance perfectly. Mounting height speakers on the front wall near the ceiling next to the screen would not be something that Atmos could figure out? I'm thinking that it would be kind of like the old 70mm sound from the 70s.

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post #4 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 01:11 PM
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Nope, Atmos won't be able to figure it out. The Atmos experience requires that there be a vertical separation between the surround speakers and the height/Atmos speakers in order to function as intended. If you leave the surround speakers at ceiling height, for all intents and purposes, you negate any option to use Atmos. That said, I have heard of some situations where someone used rear in-ceiling speakers for surrounds and front in-ceiling speakers for front Atmos and were happy with the outcome. It's completely against the rules from a Dolby perspective, but you can try it out and see, if so inclined. I doubt those speakers will be much of an investment, used, to try the experiment.
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post #5 of 13 Old 06-26-2020, 02:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Nope, Atmos won't be able to figure it out. The Atmos experience requires that there be a vertical separation between the surround speakers and the height/Atmos speakers in order to function as intended. If you leave the surround speakers at ceiling height, for all intents and purposes, you negate any option to use Atmos. That said, I have heard of some situations where someone used rear in-ceiling speakers for surrounds and front in-ceiling speakers for front Atmos and were happy with the outcome. It's completely against the rules from a Dolby perspective, but you can try it out and see, if so inclined. I doubt those speakers will be much of an investment, used, to try the experiment.
Thanks again for following up I really appreciate it!!!!!

There's no way I'm moving the rear speakers down. Every real movie theater I've ever experienced has them mounted this way and they are AWESOME this way. I'm kind of surprised that the current standard has low mounted surround speakers that really makes no sense to me.

I think my original plan to put the height speakers where I was thinking , and use a 7.1.2 configuration not a 7.1.4 configuration is the best way to go in my room with what I want to accomplish. I would probably put in-ceiling round speakers in the wall right in front of the channel.

Thanks again!!!
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post #6 of 13 Old 06-27-2020, 07:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Nope, Atmos won't be able to figure it out. The Atmos experience requires that there be a vertical separation between the surround speakers and the height/Atmos speakers in order to function as intended. If you leave the surround speakers at ceiling height, for all intents and purposes, you negate any option to use Atmos. That said, I have heard of some situations where someone used rear in-ceiling speakers for surrounds and front in-ceiling speakers for front Atmos and were happy with the outcome. It's completely against the rules from a Dolby perspective, but you can try it out and see, if so inclined. I doubt those speakers will be much of an investment, used, to try the experiment.
So the speaker setup guide at Dolby's web site shows a front array exactly like what I proposed - speakers at the ceiling near the screen.

https://www.dolby.com/about/support/...-setup-guides/



I could combine that the atmos enabled speakers above the seating area. I think I need to some how pull my sides off the rear wall out to the sides, though that will really mess up surround for the person in the one seat furthest from the wall.

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post #7 of 13 Old 06-27-2020, 11:29 AM
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If you are not going to lower your surround speakers, then I would not move them at all, as you have repeatedly said they work great in those positions. BTW, the 9.1 scenario you are displaying is not Atmos (then it would be labelled 7.x.2), it's just 7.1 with height speakers thrown into the mix.
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post #8 of 13 Old 06-27-2020, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm View Post
Thanks again for following up I really appreciate it!!!!!

There's no way I'm moving the rear speakers down. Every real movie theater I've ever experienced has them mounted this way and they are AWESOME this way. I'm kind of surprised that the current standard has low mounted surround speakers that really makes no sense to me.

I think my original plan to put the height speakers where I was thinking , and use a 7.1.2 configuration not a 7.1.4 configuration is the best way to go in my room with what I want to accomplish. I would probably put in-ceiling round speakers in the wall right in front of the channel.

Thanks again!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm View Post
Thanks again for following up I really appreciate it!!!!!

There's no way I'm moving the rear speakers down. Every real movie theater I've ever experienced has them mounted this way and they are AWESOME this way. I'm kind of surprised that the current standard has low mounted surround speakers that really makes no sense to me.

I think my original plan to put the height speakers where I was thinking , and use a 7.1.2 configuration not a 7.1.4 configuration is the best way to go in my room with what I want to accomplish. I would probably put in-ceiling round speakers in the wall right in front of the channel.

Thanks again!!!

Have you been to a real Dolby ATMOS theater such as the AMC Dolby Theaters? The immersion from Atmos comes from having separation of your base layer speakers from your height layer speakers. How will you be able to tell which sounds should come from above you versus around you if the surrounds are mounted over you?

Note the separation in a “real ATMOS theater” here:

You don’t have to take our word for it, just look to the updated speaker placement guidelines from Dolby themselves:


https://www.dolby.com/about/support/...r-setup-guide/

Home theater is a matter of personal taste and no one is suggesting you do anything you don’t want to do but if you want the best Dolby Atmos experience then this is the way to achieve it. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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post #9 of 13 Old 06-28-2020, 09:02 PM
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It looks like you have the opportunity to set up a pretty good 7.1.4 system.
If you use 4 more speakers like the ones you have already, RayGuy's suggestion of mounting them in front of the AC channel and behind the viewers sounds pretty good.
You could also get better separation in your base 7.1 layer if you're willing to mount the surround channel behind the treadmill on a post like the projector.
If you put the post behind the viewers, to the front/left of the treadmill, and align it with the window on the wall, then move the other surround forward, you'd probably get an improvement on surround separation.
You could also space the rear surrounds a little wider once the surrounds move forward.
The height isn't ideal by Dolby's standards, but hopefully the direction of the sound projection can make a difference. As usc1995 says, there's nothing stopping you from trying it your way.
If you add a 2nd row of seats, the post may have to move, but the treadmill probably wouldn't be there any more. Moving the surround on the wall shouldn't be hard.
You could also move the rear Atmos speakers to the rear of the room and change their firing angle, or even start them off at the rear of the room in front of the rear surrounds, but then that's back to the lack of sound separation.
If the rear bookshelves are removed to accommodate the 2nd row, you might consider lowering them a little more for the sake of separation, or leave them as they are. You'll have the ability to experiment then.

Hopefully my super crude ms paint skills can help get what I'm saying across.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm View Post
I am thinking of replacing the receiver with a newer Dolby Atmos capable receiver. I can easily install speakers in the ceiling in this room
...
My thinking is I'm not sure how much I would get from four ceiling speakers given the large physical channel in my ceiling, and the fact that my rear channels are already mounted high in the rear of the room.
...
I think that installing two speakers directly in front of the ceiling channel would possibly be the best installation of Atmos in this room.
The green circles in the top picture above would be where I would install for a 7.1.2 system. I think if I installed two more behind the seating area they would just blend with the rear four...
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Look at using four small bookshelf or satellite sized speakers, two mounted on the fascia of the ceiling channel (looks like maybe a 35 or 40 degree angle which is within Dolby spec) and then 2 more at a similar angle to your seated ears.
In order to get the proper separation between your base level and the Atmos level, you will need to lower all your surround speakers about 3 feet (high back chairs preclude going any lower).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm View Post
I really don't want to move the rear speakers down. The rears being up near the ceiling works incredibly well and makes it really like a movie theater. Plus how spread out they are in the rear means that all four seats get very good surround sound - and if I ever decided to build another seating level I could do that and even those people would get great surround sound.

I was planning to install round in-ceiling speakers, though mounting "regular" speakers to the channel is a very compelling idea that I hadn't even considered. I could get another Polk Audio RM7500 set used on eBay and then all 8 surround speakers (including ceiling ones) would match timber and appearance perfectly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by usc1995 View Post
Have you been to a real Dolby ATMOS theater such as the AMC Dolby Theaters? The immersion from Atmos comes from having separation of your base layer speakers from your height layer speakers.
...
You don’t have to take our word for it, just look to the updated speaker placement guidelines from Dolby themselves:
https://www.dolby.com/about/support/...r-setup-guide/
Home theater is a matter of personal taste and no one is suggesting you do anything you don’t want to do but if you want the best Dolby Atmos experience then this is the way to achieve it. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
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post #10 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by philpoe View Post
It looks like you have the opportunity to set up a pretty good 7.1.4 system.
If you use 4 more speakers like the ones you have already, RayGuy's suggestion of mounting them in front of the AC channel and behind the viewers sounds pretty good.
You could also get better separation in your base 7.1 layer if you're willing to mount the surround channel behind the treadmill on a post like the projector.
If you put the post behind the viewers, to the front/left of the treadmill, and align it with the window on the wall, then move the other surround forward, you'd probably get an improvement on surround separation.
You could also space the rear surrounds a little wider once the surrounds move forward.
The height isn't ideal by Dolby's standards, but hopefully the direction of the sound projection can make a difference. As usc1995 says, there's nothing stopping you from trying it your way.
If you add a 2nd row of seats, the post may have to move, but the treadmill probably wouldn't be there any more. Moving the surround on the wall shouldn't be hard.
You could also move the rear Atmos speakers to the rear of the room and change their firing angle, or even start them off at the rear of the room in front of the rear surrounds, but then that's back to the lack of sound separation.
If the rear bookshelves are removed to accommodate the 2nd row, you might consider lowering them a little more for the sake of separation, or leave them as they are. You'll have the ability to experiment then.

Hopefully my super crude ms paint skills can help get what I'm saying across.
Yeah. Nice markup - MS Paint is great for basic stuff like this. The speaker on the far wall would go past the window and down - I'd have to move the "Zootopia" poster but that's not a problem. However, the problem is that there's a dart board on the wall not far from the side channel there. When the treadmill folds up and moves a little sideways the person who's throwing darts will have their head right on that speaker. Thanks for the input - even if I just do 7.1 for now this change will make for a better 7.1 experience - for the people in the center two chairs - the people on the sides will have a surround speaker right on their ear.

Still noodling. I can get the receiver use it as 7.1 for now and change speakers in the future.

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post #11 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 12:19 PM
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That's actually why I looked to do it behind the seating positions. A speaker behind a listener could be diffused and not be so bad. Maybe a bipole. In front or to the side, you'd have to make an asymmetrical layout (not impossible) to make sure the speaker's not in the way of the seating position.
A dipole may work better in that case, creating a null at the listening positions that it's "aimed" at. Room correction should fix the volume levels.
http://www.audiogurus.com/learn/spea...e-speakers/290

Quote:
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...even if I just do 7.1 for now this change will make for a better 7.1 experience - for the people in the center two chairs - the people on the sides will have a surround speaker right on their ear.
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post #12 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Red face

Quote:
Originally Posted by philpoe View Post
That's actually why I looked to do it behind the seating positions. A speaker behind a listener could be diffused and not be so bad. Maybe a bipole. In front or to the side, you'd have to make an asymmetrical layout (not impossible) to make sure the speaker's not in the way of the seating position.
A dipole may work better in that case, creating a null at the listening positions that it's "aimed" at. Room correction should fix the volume levels.
http://www.audiogurus.com/learn/spea...e-speakers/290
I just ordered the speaker mount I need to move the sides from the rear wall. Hope it won't interfere with the dart board. Looking forward to upgrading the 7.1 and giving myself the room to move to Atmos. I may even put the rear speakers inside those rear shelves instead of on top in order to get better separation from the overheads. I'm sure the 7.1 is going to be much improved.

BIG THANKS to everyone on this thread for the interesting conversation.

I have multiple multi-channel setups in this house - my office receiver (mostly used for music including a lot of multichannel music) is starting to fail, but is still working for now. Once that dies I'll be in a hurry to get a new receiver and move all the other ones (new one in the basement, basement receiver to the living room, living room receiver to the office). I'll have to determine when that fails what to do. Luckily the office receiver is working for now so I have lots of time to look for bargains on the internet and used market - it sure would be cool to go with 7.1.4 in this room. I watch movies and stuff OFTEN it gets a LOT of use, and it would be trivially easy to install in-ceiling speakers for height channels here.
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Last edited by Philip Hamm; 06-29-2020 at 01:11 PM.
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post #13 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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BTW I don't think there ever will be a second row of seats.

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