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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All!

I'm finally getting started with my dedicated home theater build after about 5 years of "prep" and 20 years of dreaming. lol

I'm currently at the phase where I need to decide on my speaker layout for wire runs and boxes before I start hanging drywall and what not. My goal is to get as close to Dolby atmos recommended placements as possible. I'd like to run a full 7.2.4 setup, but the size of my room doesn't really lend it self well to it, since the rear atmos speakers would sit almost directly above the rear surrounds. I've included a drawing of my current layout with the speakers I will be using (note: I don't have the volt 8's yet... but will be adding them as they come back into stock or if I find a good deal on a used set). Based on my current layout. I'm leaning towards a 7.2.2 or 5.2.4 setup. I'm also working with a standard 8' ceiling and a 7.25" riser at the rear 4' of the room, behind the couch and recliner.
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What do you all think would work the best?

If I go with 7.2.2, would you put the dipoles on the sides or rear wall? Currently the Volt's 10's are near the ceiling on the sides and are cross aimed at the seats adjacent to the MLP.(Left Speaker aimed at Right seat and Right Speaker aimed at Left Seat)

If I go with the 5.2.4 I would probably leave the ERD-1's completely out of the setup. Or should I use them as the side channels and high mount the Volt-10's on the rear wall or ceiling as atmos?

The only thing not included on the diagram is the subwoofer/s. Currently I have an SVS PB-3000... and I'm honestly wondering if I really need more than that, as it currently hammers me pretty hard in the chest in a room 2.5-3x the volume of the dedicated room I'm working on. Lol
As far as placement... I know the best method is to place the sub at the MLP and then start measuring around the room to find the best spot to place it. SINCE, I'm still a ways out from being able to do that AND I would like to have some idea of where to run the Subwoofer cable and have a closely placed power outlet for it (and potentially a second sub, should I break down and decide I want one! hahaha) could anyone recommend a good way or calculator to determine the optimal, or close to, location to place it? Any free software out there that I could feed the above layout into that would get me in the ball park for placement?

Am I missing anything else?
 

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7.2.4 will work fine but make sure you've budgeted for acoustic treatments. You'll need to address those reflections, and putting those floorstanders in the corners may cause issues.

Ditch that chair and multiple tables and put a row of 3 or 4 seats in the middle (width) of the room with 1 bar behind it for all the stools.

The MLP should be seated about 11' or 8.5' from the front wall to avoid nulls, based on your dimensions (go with 193.25" x 0.68 or 193.25" x 0.55). I'd suggest the 0.55 if you want the stools behind the couch.

Side surrounds should be slightly up and back of the MLP (not high on the walls) - I would suggest bi-poles there based on how close they are to the seating.

Looks like the in-ceilings should be further out from the walls. You want to avoid those reflections and separate more from the base layer. My suggestion... install them as far away from the walls as possible, but you still want the left in-ceiling speakers to the left of the MLP's, and the right in-ceiling speakers to the right of the MLP's.
 

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I just removed volts after a 5 year tour of duty in my theater, and I can almost guarantee that you'll be happy with them. I think you should see how closely you can follow Dolby spec on that one.

As for the Subs, just do the sub crawl: put the sub in MLP, and crawl around on the floor. Wherever you hear the best sub response, that's where you should swap places w/the sub. As squared80 said, measuring the room to determine the modes and placement to avoid nulls is optimal, but the crawl is the easiest way to hear how various placements will/won't work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
7.2.4 will work fine but make sure you've budgeted for acoustic treatments. You'll need to address those reflections, and putting those floorstanders in the corners may cause issues.

Ditch that chair and multiple tables and put a row of 3 or 4 seats in the middle (width) of the room with 1 bar behind it for all the stools.

The MLP should be seated about 11' or 8.5' from the front wall to avoid nulls, based on your dimensions (go with 193.25" x 0.68 or 193.25" x 0.55). I'd suggest the 0.55 if you want the stools behind the couch.

Side surrounds should be slightly up and back of the MLP (not high on the walls) - I would suggest bi-poles there based on how close they are to the seating.

Looks like the in-ceilings should be further out from the walls. You want to avoid those reflections and separate more from the base layer. My suggestion... install them as far away from the walls as possible, but you still want the left in-ceiling speakers to the left of the MLP's, and the right in-ceiling speakers to the right of the MLP's.
Haven't decided on room treatments yet, but it will be carpeted and have either partial fabric/curtain walls, diy acoustic panels, or some combination there of. I'm not terribly concerned with having the 1099's in the corner. That's how I have them now in my current setup and they sound fantastic!

I get what your saying about the furniture, but this is the layout that works best with what I've got (and they're pieces of furniture I like... So they're not going anywhere). I may update the couch at some point, but it's going to be for another couch or similar, because that's what's comfortable for my wife and I to watch movies on. 😁

I'm planning on doing a 140" screen. I could maybe move th MLP up slightly, but I'm already just under a 1:1 screen size to MLP ratio and don't want to do that unless absolutely necessary. Even if I went down to 130" I really don't want to be any closer. If 11' will keep me out of the nulls, that's preferable for me.

The reason I had the volt 10's positioned high is because they are the angled cab versions (so the angle points directly at the opposite seat). If I mount them low enough to point directly at the MLP, anybody in the side seats would have 10" of woofer resting on their ear lobes😂. Even if I put them together as a straight cab, they'd still protrude too much right at ear level and/or interfere with the seating, so it's either high mount angled cab or bi/dipole. My emotiva erd's can be setup as either bi or di. So, if I use the ERD'S as the side speakers at, or slightly above, MLP ear level the volt 10's would go to the rear surrounds. Again... Angled cabs and the tight clearance by the stools would necessitate having them mounted near the ceiling on the rear wall (which coincidentally ends up pointing the woofers directly at the MLP median line, at ear height). Would this be less of an issue for the rear channel?

That brings up my issue with a 4 channel atmos setup. I used cinema-tools.com's speaker layout calculator to arrive at the placements of the speakers in my diagram (tweaked within the suggested ranges given by the calculator as needed). Since I would have the rear wall mounted volts near the ceiling, the rear atmos would literally be right on top of them. In that particular scenario, would it even be worth having them? That's why 7.1.2 or 5.1.4 seems as though it would make more sense and if so, which would be the better way to go? I have other rooms where the volt 10's can be used if I go with a 5.1.4 setup, so not using them in the theater isn't a deal breaker.

Also not opposed to move the atmos in tighter... That's just where the calculator recommended. How far in would you go? Like a third of the room width? Tighter? Any rule of thumb for minimum distance from adjacent walls for in ceilings? The calculator had the rears touching the back wall in the 5.1.4 config (which I knew was Way too close! Lol)

I guess the big thing I need to stress here is I'm not looking for complete perfection by any means. The space just isn't right for that, but it is the best I've got and I do think I can get it more than good enough to completely Wow 99% of the people that will ever watch a movie in it (myself included 😁) providing I can pick the optimal surround layout.


I just removed volts after a 5 year tour of duty in my theater, and I can almost guarantee that you'll be happy with them. I think you should see how closely you can follow Dolby spec on that one.

As for the Subs, just do the sub crawl: put the sub in MLP, and crawl around on the floor. Wherever you hear the best sub response, that's where you should swap places w/the sub. As squared80 said, measuring the room to determine the modes and placement to avoid nulls is optimal, but the crawl is the easiest way to hear how various placements will/won't work.
Totally get what your saying, but like I mentioned, the room isn't finished yet (open studs, plywood floor, and no equipment is in the house yet. I COULD do a sub crawl, but don't think it would be useful given that just adding drywall and carpet could completely change the results and ultimate placement of the sub. I could wait until everything is finished and moved in, but then everything would be sealed up and I'd have to have a loose sub wire running along a baseboard somewhere or another. That's why I was hoping someone might have a suggestion for a calculator/program that could ballpark it and get me a suggested sub placement within at least a couple feet of what might be ideal after doing a proper crawl. I just really want to be able to run a sub cable to an in wall mounted box half ways close before I started putting up sheetrock. Or should I just run some pvc pipes up through the wall to the attic crawl space in the half dozen or so spots the sub would physically fit and hope for the best? 😁
 

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I would go for 5.1.4 - the room is too narrow with your seating for side surrounds.
In that size room you will lose almost nothing by going to 5 instead of 7. I have tested 5 vs 7 in my room and the difference is negligible IMO. You will lose some ambience and and have a smaller soundfield but discrete effects will be virtually identical.
Ditch the dipoles/bipoles - again in my testing I found bipoles (in surround position) stuffed up the Atmos soundfield by not panning smoothly.
You want all your listener level speakers as close as possible to seated ear level otherwise the height effect of your Atmos speakers will be compromised.
 

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Personally, I like more speakers, more the merrier. 7.x.4 is what I would go with.
Move the Atmos speakers inwards towards the center line by a seat cushion.
Rear Atmos speakers I would move a little forward to get a some separation from the surround backs, but those SB should be at ear level, so you still would get the overall separation anyway.
 

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I tend to agree with the crew here. those side surrounds are going to get very annoying if you have to sit near them. Putting them up high just messes with the sound field since side surrounds are base layer sounds.

You can always turn them off later if you don't enjoy them, so if you are worried about "missing out" then put em in and see what you prefer.
 

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we just switched from 7.1.4 to 5.1.4 due to the max channels available on a new dirac processor.

Very little lost reducing from 5 to 7, in fact as the room is length wise to the screen I think it’s been a benefit. we had the side surrounds a little forward of the sofa so they weren’t directly in anyone’s ear but even so they were a bit intrusive, distracting at times.

seems like you don’t really have space to place 4 surrounds properly, if so it’s better not to have them. Having 4 atmos speakers is a big benefit but make sure all the ear level speakers are at or only a few inches above ear level, otherwise there’s no point having atmos.
 

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Take the angled speakers, mount them near ear height, at 80 degrees to your seated ears, and position in the horizontal configuration. That will get them out of the earlobes of the folks seated at the end positions. 80 degree mounting has been used successfully by many folks here and works well when using a 7.x.x layout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ok, Seems like the overall opinion is 5.1/2.4 versus 7, though if the surrounds are mounted at ear level, it could go either way. the big issue I had with the side surrounds was the cab size, which would make them hard to physically maneuver around, unless I mounted them high. So maybe I should be looking for some in walls for the side surrounds? It'd free up the space and allow me to get them at the right height. In my current theater setup (5.1.2), I have the Di/Bi-Poles mounted ear level and maybe about 18" or so rear of the mlp. In my planned setup, If I go 5.1.4, Would it be better to have them (or whatever I end up using for side channel speakers) on the side walls or rear wall? I'm thinking of keeping them slightly back and maybe a bit higher than MLP ear level to split the difference a bit between the two seating positions.

As for the Atmos speakers, I've tightened them up a bit all around. I moved them all towards the middle by 30" and moved the rear ones forward by 18" (subject to ac vents and lights that might be in the way... still gotta do some final measuring there. lol). It might be a bit out of "spec" for Dolby standards, but it does get the added separation and would easily allow for either 5 or 7 channel setups.

I think for the subwoofer, I'm just going to run some inwall pvc pipe for easy future cable routing in about 6-8 spots the sub would physical fit in the theater. Should allow me to do a proper sub crawl when I'm finished and still minimize the amount of exposed sub cable wiring to a few feet at the very most.

Here's an updated layout:
3158425

Is this more on the right track?
 

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Again, you want the left in-ceiling speakers to the left of the all the viewers, and the right in-ceiling speakers to the right of all the viewers. In your mock-up, to the person sitting in the chair and the person sitting on the left side of the couch, all sounds will either be coming from the left or the right, respectively.

If that's the sacrifice you have to make, so be it. But it's less than ideal.

Also, and maybe I missed this above... why are you using dipole speakers?
 

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There's very little difference in position between surrounds and rear surrounds, I think there would be little audible difference between 7.1 and 5.1 in these positions.

If it were my room I'd push the surrounds forward, even in front of the sofa a little, almost half way down the room or drop them completely and just use one set of surrounds. This assumes you found a solution to having the speaker sticking out, in walls or similar.

The idea of pushing the surrounds further forward than 90 degrees fills in the sides of the room, a little like people use wide channels for. I ran like that for a couple of years with good results, surrounds just ahead of the sofa cushion and surround backs close to the corners at the back of the room.
 

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There's very little difference in position between surrounds and rear surrounds, I think there would be little audible difference between 7.1 and 5.1 in these positions.

If it were my room I'd push the surrounds forward, even in front of the sofa a little, almost half way down the room or drop them completely and just use one set of surrounds. This assumes you found a solution to having the speaker sticking out, in walls or similar.

The idea of pushing the surrounds further forward than 90 degrees fills in the sides of the room, a little like people use wide channels for. I ran like that for a couple of years with good results, surrounds just ahead of the sofa cushion and surround backs close to the corners at the back of the room.
Listen to this man :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Looks like the in-ceilings should be further out from the walls. You want to avoid those reflections and separate more from the base layer. My suggestion... install them as far away from the walls as possible, but you still want the left in-ceiling speakers to the left of the MLP's, and the right in-ceiling speakers to the right of the MLP's.
Again, you want the left in-ceiling speakers to the left of the all the viewers, and the right in-ceiling speakers to the right of all the viewers. In your mock-up, to the person sitting in the chair and the person sitting on the left side of the couch, all sounds will either be coming from the left or the right, respectively.

If that's the sacrifice you have to make, so be it. But it's less than ideal.

Also, and maybe I missed this above... why are you using dipole speakers?
So which is it? Left/right of the MLP or left/right of ALL listening positions. In my space, I can either have them further away from the walls or outside of all listening positions, but I can't do both. For further information, I've got it planned out for seating up to 8, but 95% of the time It will likely be just my Wife and I watching and she cares a great deal less about everything being inside of "Dolby Spec" than I do. lol Keeping that in mind, My main focus is to get it as close to right as possible for the MLP and being good enough to decent for the rest of the positions.

The reason I'm mentioning the di/bipoles at all is because I ALREADY OWN THEM. They're good speakers and I would just as soon use them if possible versus plunking down another $200-300 on a different set that would provide only marginal gains in the surround positions. Now... I'm not saying I won't replace them with an in-wall or something if needed for space saving, but it would sure be great if I didn't have to. If I take AndreNewman's advice, they should work really nicely on the rear wall and spread out a bit further. (Each of those speakers can be setup in like 4 different ways, based on their intended positioning/use.)

There's very little difference in position between surrounds and rear surrounds, I think there would be little audible difference between 7.1 and 5.1 in these positions.

If it were my room I'd push the surrounds forward, even in front of the sofa a little, almost half way down the room or drop them completely and just use one set of surrounds. This assumes you found a solution to having the speaker sticking out, in walls or similar.

The idea of pushing the surrounds further forward than 90 degrees fills in the sides of the room, a little like people use wide channels for. I ran like that for a couple of years with good results, surrounds just ahead of the sofa cushion and surround backs close to the corners at the back of the room.
I do like this idea, as it would more evenly space everything around my room (would also allow for a full 7 channel setup, whether or not it would be all that noticeable of a difference or not... at least my OCD might be satisfied with it! lol). Since I have a pair of angled cab Volt 10's, would you suggest mounting them a bit farther forward at ear level and rotating them on their sides to aim back towards the seating area or would it be better to just get a good pair of in walls and mount them as you suggested?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok, here's a newly tweaked version. I think I'm getting closer. I moved the atmos out to about 21" from the sides (34" from Rear walls and can move further back if needed). This put the Front atmos on about a 47 degree angle from the MLP, which isn't bad at all. I could move them in a bit and keep that angle if need be. I adjusted the model I was using for the dipoles to better represent their actual dimensions (the actual top down looks like a trapezoid, but the width and depth are the same as these boxes). I moved them out towards the corners by about 18" each. I rotated the volt 10's and set them up on the sides, forward enough so they aim directly at the MLP.
3159117
 

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So which is it? Left/right of the MLP or left/right of ALL listening positions. In my space, I can either have them further away from the walls or outside of all listening positions, but I can't do both. For further information, I've got it planned out for seating up to 8, but 95% of the time It will likely be just my Wife and I watching and she cares a great deal less about everything being inside of "Dolby Spec" than I do. lol Keeping that in mind, My main focus is to get it as close to right as possible for the MLP and being good enough to decent for the rest of the positions.

The reason I'm mentioning the di/bipoles at all is because I ALREADY OWN THEM. They're good speakers and I would just as soon use them if possible versus plunking down another $200-300 on a different set that would provide only marginal gains in the surround positions. Now... I'm not saying I won't replace them with an in-wall or something if needed for space saving, but it would sure be great if I didn't have to. If I take AndreNewman's advice, they should work really nicely on the rear wall and spread out a bit further. (Each of those speakers can be setup in like 4 different ways, based on their intended positioning/use.)



I do like this idea, as it would more evenly space everything around my room (would also allow for a full 7 channel setup, whether or not it would be all that noticeable of a difference or not... at least my OCD might be satisfied with it! lol). Since I have a pair of angled cab Volt 10's, would you suggest mounting them a bit farther forward at ear level and rotating them on their sides to aim back towards the seating area or would it be better to just get a good pair of in walls and mount them as you suggested?
In his original post he stated MLPs - which I assume to mean positionS plural and therefore his second post is basically saying the same. I would tend to agree that outside all listeners would be preferred but there is some conjecture about that and experts with a lot more knowledge and experience than me say they should be closer together. I guess it comes down to those 2 old adages of HT - compromises with physical constraints (the room size/shape etc) and personal preference (its what you like that counts).

Ok, here's a newly tweaked version. I think I'm getting closer. I moved the atmos out to about 21" from the sides (34" from Rear walls and can move further back if needed). This put the Front atmos on about a 47 degree angle from the MLP, which isn't bad at all. I could move them in a bit and keep that angle if need be. I adjusted the model I was using for the dipoles to better represent their actual dimensions (the actual top down looks like a trapezoid, but the width and depth are the same as these boxes). I moved them out towards the corners by about 18" each. I rotated the volt 10's and set them up on the sides, forward enough so they aim directly at the MLP.
That looks ok to me - except those dipoles - immersive audio relies on all speakers being direct radiating and dipoles are not recommended.
I have not listened to dipoles but have had a set of bipoles as my surrounds and they totally destroyed the seamless soundfield as panned sounds 'jumped' from one side of the speaker to the other instead of panning smoothly. They might be ok as rear surrounds but I wouldn't be keeping them just because you have them .
Oh and I pity the poor person who sits on that single chair - not because they will be lonely but because they will have one speaker blasting right into their face :(
Personally I would go 5 in that narrow a room or ditch the single chair and just run the 3 seater. And that would allow better positioning of the heights too :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I get the deal with the atmos positioning and what he was getting at, but really, I could only move them in a few inches, max, from where they were in my original layout before they were inside of those spots. So either they're going to be against the walls or outside seating positions aren't going to be ideal. I think my last layout should be a fair compromise between the two.

Yeah, the speaker in the face was my big consideration for maybe getting in walls on the sides. Honestly, this is what I've got or seating and it's not in the budget to go with something different any time soon. I'd rather put that money into the projector and screen (which I don't have yet either... I mean... I've got a giant crt I bought 20 years ago, but I think it might struggle a bit with 4K playback. Lol). The couch is a double recliner with a flip down tray in the center backrest. The chair is a matching recliner. The way I have them placed is intentional, because they simply will not work any other way. Any other furniture we have would be even worse. Believe me. I've tried. Lol

The dipole I have can be run as di or bi poles as needed by flipping a couple toggles for the correct setting. I've been running them as surrounds for quite awhile already in a 5.1.2 setup and have never had or noticed any issues like you mentioned. Honestly, setting aside that the rears are currently "dipoles", how is the positioning? My main goal here has been to establish where I need to run speaker wire to before I put up drywall and seal everything up. If I end up not liking the dipole, I can easily swap them for in walls down the road... Providing the wires are in the right spots. I just really want to avoid exposed wiring or deal with having to fish wire into a finished and insulated wall down the road.

So, given all that, if I were to run wires to all of the speaker positions in the last layout, would I be well covered for running 5.1.4 (surrounds on sides), 5.1.4 (surrounds on rear wall), or 7.1.4? That would at least allow me to try a few different setups with the components I have, once the room is finished, and see what works best. If any of the speakers need to be replaced with in walls or what not, that can be easily done at that time.
 

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Ok, here's a newly tweaked version. I think I'm getting closer. I moved the atmos out to about 21" from the sides (34" from Rear walls and can move further back if needed). This put the Front atmos on about a 47 degree angle from the MLP, which isn't bad at all. I could move them in a bit and keep that angle if need be. I adjusted the model I was using for the dipoles to better represent their actual dimensions (the actual top down looks like a trapezoid, but the width and depth are the same as these boxes). I moved them out towards the corners by about 18" each. I rotated the volt 10's and set them up on the sides, forward enough so they aim directly at the MLP.
View attachment 3159117
Something along those lines…

I’d even move the side surrounds further forward a tad or seating back a little or better a bit of both.

We have a similar setup with a sofa and a separate recliner and it’s horrible trying to get the recliner in any useful location. Fortunately it’s usual user doesn’t care much. In your room I’d try and put the sofa and recliner right next to each other to create space to the side walls or ditch the recliner completely. You really need space between the seating and the speakers, it makes everything sound better.

When we get a new sofa I’m ditching our recliner, it screws up the whole room.

You really need to try the speaker locations and wiggle around a bit before you lock in wiring, a few inches either way can make a huge difference to audio.
 
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