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adding Surround EX,how?

662 Views 20 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Rachael Bellomy

Adding on Surround EX,what's a good

way to do it? I've got a Marantz

9000 and the extra speakers and an

extra amp to do it. I've got an

itch to add EX.What do I need now?

Are there many choices? Who else has

done this,how?


Ms. Bitchlist
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The consensus on adding EX is that it's best to have dipoles to the sides and a pair of direct radiators in the rear. The method that I prefer is to run a Y-connector out of the preamp outputs of the rear channels. Run one end of each Y into the amp powering the dipoles. This will give you normal 5.1. Now, run the other Y into the inputs of a Prologic receiver. The center channel output of the receiver will contain the rear center channel information. This will give you the benefits of EX without the drawback of everything collapsing into the rear center channel.

The other route is to get a CircleSurround decoder from AVScience ($299) and run everything through it. It has a control on the front which controls the amount of center channel information to prevent the rear soundstage from collapsing. I have heard, however, that the CircleSurround unit introduces some noise to the signal but many people are very pleased with its performance. See the latest edition of Widescreen Review for a review. Having said all this, I also have all the equipment lying around but haven't got around to hooking it all up. I'd be interested in your thoughts once you get it running.
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AVDOC,I've got a Sony pro-logic pre

amp sittin' around here,I'm gonna

try it out that way.I know my Austin

Powers sequel disc is the one to try.

I'm also geting the Phantom Menace LD

which has it.I could set it up in a

few minutes if I had the cables,which

I doubt....I'll have to read the review of the Circle Surround unit.

I'm selling the Sony so in the long

run I'd need something like it. I'll

pick up some cables and try it over the weekend.I'll keep you posted.


Ms. Bitchlist
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Avdoc,The Phantom Menace finally came.

I watched it without EX first,during

the charriot race sounds of the pods

went behind me several times.The effects are placed better than any AC-3 track I've previously heard. All

the stuff I need to setup EX is sitting over next to the rack.I've been discussing EX with several people

and in my small room I might do better with only one back speaker,I might setup that way.I'm coming home from work early tomorrow to do it and I have company coming over to see SWPM.

I'll tell you how it goes,am leaning to single rc plan.


Ms. Bitchlist
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Sounds great. Let me know if you need any more help.
Well AVDOC and DOZY,I've spent all evening experimenting with EX.My company cancelled because my friend's wife sprained her ankle and are to come tomorrow.Thus I spent all evening

experimenting with levels,speaker positions,two speaker setups,and a single speaker setup.AVDOC the way you

said to connect everything worked very

well,with a slight modification for the single rear arrangement.DOZY,your

hook-up idea sounds wrong,I think.The

two processors worked fine together,

setting the levels was weird,running

the test tones for each simultaneously

worked.I used a Radio Shack sound level meter and later on some quess work.

EQUIPMENT USED: 5.1 PRE MARANTZ AV 9000 - ROTEL RB-993 200 x 3 for the

front channels - Kenwood basic M2

200 x 2 for LS & RS - Rotel RB-970BX

for center rear - SONY TA-E1000ESD Dolby Pro-Logic pre to matrix out the

center rear - Atlantic Technology 250

series speakers :center and four of the LR speakers for L,R,LS,RS two

of the SR 254 dipoles for rear center (later reduced to one),Paradigm PDR-10

sub,Sony 32 inch XBR250 TV,and Pioneer

CLD-79 Laserdisc spinner.The Rotel RB- 970BX has 70 x 2 or 180 x 1 (I used it both ways).

Let me start by saying I have been using 4 surround speakers without EX,

254 dipoles on the rear wall and 251LR

monopoles on the sides.My first viewing of SWPM was via this setup with the Kenwood amp pushing all four


Tonight I started out with the rear wall speakers at their original location about 8 feet/244 cm apart.At

this location I never felt EX sounded

any different from my original non-EX

arangement.So,I centered the two RC's

about 9 inches/3.5 cm apart.At this

position pod racers or bullets panning

from front to rear and most especially

REAR TO FRONT seemed enhanced. I decided at this point to stack the two

dipoles exactly centering them behind. I liked this position a little better,

and it was my second favorite setup in

the end.Next I removed one of the rear

center speakers and bridged the Rotel

970 amp.This was my favorite hook-up!

The one rear center had alot more punch this way.In my very small room this seemed adequate.In a bigger room,

using a bigger amp,I might favor using

both speakers.My impression is that any two rear center setup should have

the pair very close together,possibly

even in a vertical array.I may not be done experimenting because I've made up my mind I'm gonna buy a circle surround add-on unit.So some of these

tests will definitely be repeated when

I get my hands on one.To evaluate the

different speaker positions I repeated

several scenes over and over they were: 1. Anakin's pod racer is stalled

side 2,chapter 15 3:46 to 4:05.The other pod racers are blasting off and

Anakin is stalled.Atleast one pod

goes behind the listening position.I

felt this scene was enhanced by all of

the centered RC positions.At 3:58 to 4:02 a series of pod racers comes right at you and turns,the RC seemed

to help this snipet.I thought this sequece sounded best with the single

rear speaker.With the amp bridged it

seemed to have more zing,for lack of a

better word. 2. Side 3 chapter 31 15:55 to 16:00,the good guys are on a ledge at the palace in their effort to

retake the planet.They need to go up to a higher level,they all shoot up a

cable gun that impales or sticks to the wall above.The swoosh of their cables rising comes from behind you and seems to rise to the center front. This isn't a real loud effect but it

seemed particulary well-placed in EX with the single rear speaker.I can't

remember how many times I watched chapter 15 the pod race.I even watched

it several times with the side speakers off so I could clearly hear

what the CR was doing.Tomorrow I may

try a monopole rear center.After all the pod racing I didn't feel like it

this eve.Tomorrow I may throw in the Austin Powers sequel on DVD and dally

with it's EX soundtrack.This is the best-crafted Dolby Digital soundtrack

I've heard to date.My copy is the most flawless Laserdisc I can ever remember

viewing,I saw a fleck during the end credits.I thought reds were pale so I

elevated the red level and tweeked the

tint.They use a different colour temperatue in Japan for NTSC,I think

that's the only difference.Maybe they make LD's better in Japan if this disc

is typical,I'd say yes! I'm saying yes

to EX too.


Ms. Bitchlist
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You can go directly from the rear preouts to a Prologic processor to get the rear center. However, when the two rear channels are in-phase (as with all prologic and some DD material) all center channel information comes out of the rear center and the soundfield collapses. Running the y-connector prevents this collapse.
This "EX" stuff sounds like it would be real fun to have. I would have 2 problems in implementing this system.

One is because I have a large ceiling fan almost directly over my listening postion (my rear wall is 18 feet away) so I would have to use a ceiling mounted speaker, and move it perhaps 3 or 4 feet towards the rear.

The other problem would be running the speaker cable to the speaker.

Certainly not immpossible problems, but it'll take a little thinking to solve.

While I haven't heard it, the "Circle Surround" unit seems to be interesting. From what I understand about it's operation, you can get the center rear effect from any surround source, not just specially encoded material like "Austin Powers" and "Phantom"
T,I was dubious about EX's value.But I think it really helps,it's easy for me to implement it though. I already had the necessary amp and speakers.I'm going to order the Smart Jr. tomorrow. It's an easy upgrade for me....What about the plan to put leeches in you know who's pool? One bloodsucker to another,eh? Did you leave a message at the digital bits?You'd recognize mine!


Ms. Bitchlist
Thanks for the hook-up tips AVDOC.I've

got a couple of different friends who want to come over to see the disc and hear EX.In another week or so I'll be sick of SWPM and ready to put it on the shelf for awhile! Help Dozy with EX,I saw his set-up on another thread. It looked nice.I think the EX channel needs to be as big or near as big as your other channels.It needs some pop!

Maybe 6 channel amps will become stylish out of this EX thang.....


Ms. Bitchlist
My Smart Jr. came today,I'll hook it up tomorrow.I'll play the MENACE movie again!


Ms. Bitchlist
Hi Rachael,

When you get to hooking up the SMART CS-3X, Jr. please let me know if you have any questions or problems. I will be glad to help in any way I can. You can e-mail me at [email protected] or call me at 1-800-457-6278

Best regards,


Oscar Neundorfer

Chief Engineer

SMART Devices, Inc.

[email protected]
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Thanks Oscar! So you personally designed this thing,eh? You know there are so very many wires and cables and Oscar,I've always relied upon the kindness of strangers! If anything rattles me I'll ask,you sound like the authority!


Ms. Bitchlist
Oscar,the Jr. unit is very easy to hook up.I may call or e-mail you if I have questions on setting the levels.

So far,I just did it by ear.I'm gonna use my SP meter and try to set the rear level 3db above the sides,some time over the weekend.I'm glad you all made the unit so small,my rack is sooo full! Thanks again,you may hear from me yet......


Ms. Bitchlist

I'm glad you found the CS-3X, Jr easy to hook up! From your other posts, it seems that you already had a good idea of all that is involved.

Based on what I have heard from other users, I am no longer recommending the 3dB level increase on the CS channel, although it depends a lot on your particular situation. Plus, the front panel FILL contol (I don't like that name, but so be it)is right there to add or subtract level on the CS channel. My current recommendation is to leave all trimpots at the factory settings unless there is some overwhelming need to change them.

Then the level controls on your processor can be adjusted to get the correct level on the surround channels (left and right). The CS channel should be pretty much OK then.

Please note that the built-in pink noise on the Jr is LOUD. If you turn it on for some reason, don't be too surprised at the volume level. It is probably around 85 dBC spl.

Anyway, have fun and enjoy! Let me know what you think after you have had the chance to listen a while to various soundtracks. If you have THE MATRIX, listen to the gun fight scene near the end with the unit in 3X mode. I have heard this really kicks!! And, this is not an ex soundtrack.

Best regards,


Oscar Neundorfer

Chief Engineer

SMART Devices, Inc.

[email protected]
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Oscar,the pink noise is loud alright! I turned it on,briefly,then off. All three channels sounded matched,to the ear,at the factory settings,which I did not touch! So far all I've done is adjust the center fill dial to what seems like a pleasing level.The unit has less noise than the Sony preamp I experimented with.I watched the pod race on SWPM with it earlier this evening,before my guests got here. Then we watched the LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST DVD. That rhythmic music by Peter Gabriel in the new 5.1 mix found it's way into the rear center.I've been meaning to watch the MATRIX again anyway,I'll spin that one again soon.

I really like the unit! My only complaint is minor,the little red indicator light is distracting going on and off.Maybe it should just be on when 3 channel surround is engaged. Well,it's a minor point,the thing sounds good! I may find a question concerning adjustment,as I experiment with it this week.Thanks so much for taking an intrest!


Ms. Bitchlist
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Glad you like it!!

Minor point noted about the light.


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I enjoy the light. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif I like to see it flash on and off when the Smart detects in phase material. A good "EX" type scene in The Matrix is when Neo and Trinity have the shootout on the rooftop. The Smart improves the sound of all my 5.1 DVD's. Even Jennifer 8 had a few nifty rear center effects with the Smart.

Oscar,I just watched the Matrix this evening and I substituted an Energy .5 speaker and a Paradigm Mini-Monitor each for awhile to see how they sounded. Which was fine.The .5 is too small and I had to keep the volume down,to be safe.The Mini could take another hundred watts.I think I prefer the AT SR-254 better only because the speaker is pretty close to the listening position.The AT dipole doesn't localize as easily but in a bigger room I think one momopole would suffice.I quess if you poled people about the light it'd proably be 50-50, eh? I only have one thing with a line of LED's that go up and down anymore.

Three little lines of LED's would be eye-catching! AND a swtch to shut off the LED's for the 50% who hate them! It sounds grrrr-great! Way better than Frosted Flakes! I'm enjoying the unit.

Live long and prosper....


Ms. Bitchlist
Hi Rachael

Glad you enjoy the "EX" effect, I wish I could just easily implement it too, but it's going to take some thought on my part.

As for Mr. Lucas, I've been directing mental psychic energy towards the West Coast, at first in an attempt to get those DVD's released, but now I've abandoned that and I'm now trying to get George to add me to his will and just leave me tons of money.
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