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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, i've been reading quite a bit of info off of avsforums and i've pretty much determined i just don't have a clue really to pick the best system without asking for a some help. My friend convinced me into purchasing a Bose Lifestyle 35 about a year and a half ago... and i have hated it!! terrible sound and movies don't sound the way i think they should. So i've decided to make that a nice CD listening system for the bedroom in a house we just purchased.


But i'm thinking for the Home Theater room that i want Dolby 7.1 surround sound. And i'm thinking that the following setup would be a good start. No Amp's yet for the speakers just use the built in amps in the receivers before shelling out the extra dough to get more watts to the individual speakers.


Receiver:

Harmon Kardon AVR7200


DVD Player

HK DVD-25


Speakers:


1 Pair HKB 6

2 Pair HKB 4

1 HK Center Speaker

and the HKSUB12


or i'm thinking of going with the JBL speakers.


I've heard some good things about the Onkyo receivers....


Any thoughts on this configuration??


dp19
 

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dp19,


Listen (listen seriously) to several speakers before deciding which ones you want to go with. This should be the most personal choice you make for your system because speakers have the greatest impact on system sound. Once you have chosen, you may just want to buy 7 of them; it's an easy way to make sure you have reasonably well matched sound all around the room.


As for receivers, Harman/Kardon models have beefier amps than most; no need for outboard amplification right away (if ever). They're also a good choice because they have Lexicon's LOGIC7 surround processing, which generates 7 independent channels of sound; most other surround processing is 6.1 at most, meaning the surround-back channel is run as dual-mono through the 2 rear speakers.


However, if I were in your place, I'd hang in there with the Bose system for just a bit longer. Harman/Kardon announced a new line of receivers (AVR-430, AVR-630) that will feature Pro Logic IIx, which also generates 7.1 channels. If you're serious about a 7.1 system, I think it's worth waiting for the newer H/K models; when it comes to 7-channel processing, having more than one option is always a good thing.


Good Luck,

Sanjay
 

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Sanjay any more info on those new HK recievers (like specifically when I can get my hot little hands on one?)
 

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Quote:
My friend convinced me into purchasing a Bose Lifestyle 35 about a year and a half ago
Anyone who recomends Bose speakers cannot be considered a friend:p
Quote:
But i'm thinking for the Home Theater room that i want Dolby 7.1 surround sound
Why do you think you need 7.1 channels. If it's because your HT will be in a huge 20'X30' room with vaulted ceilings then OK. If it's because you think thats the only way to create an immersive audio experience in the typical 10X20 HT then your in for a surprise.

I see a trend developing (and understandably pushed by retailers), of adding more and more channels to AV systems. unfortunately, the biggest problem most HTs have is bad accoustics and adding more speakers just CREATES more problems in a small room. Louder isn't better, but the trend in itself isn't surprising since it's a simple solution that dosen't require any thought. Not meaning this as a slam on you but if you haven't yet, look into accoustic treatments for the side walls and corners of your room. As far as speakers go, anything not made with a plastic enclosure is a step in the right direction, unless of course you want another set of Kazoos like the Bose:p
 

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Adding the 2 additional channels does not inherently lead to more sound pressure or higher SPLs. But it can lead to a more involving sound field as pans seem more realistic. Actually, I think the LFE channel has more of an effect on room acoustics -for ill- than the other 5 or 7 channels. But I would agree that all things being equal room treatments and equalization are necessary for a top notch home theater. However, I would not discourage anyone from upgrading to a 7.1 system. I think the improvements to the sound field are anything but subtle.


I think Logic7 may be less important when Pro LogicIIx makes its appearance but if I had a criticism of the HKs it would be that their amplifiers were not as "beefy" as those form Onkyo, Denon or Yamaha. But in an era prior to Pro Logic II, Logic 7 more than justified selecting HK. With Pro Logic IIx here I would look at Yamaha and Integra carefully. But all of this is very subjective. The RBH CT 7.1 may actually please your wife as it is a very small speaker system but still may deliver sufficient punch for your tastes. If size is not an issue I would try to find a Triad or Atlantic Technology dealer. I very much like these surround speaker systems. But Sanjay is correct spend some time with what ever speaker system before purchasing.


Alan
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by wildhunter
Sanjay any more info on those new HK recievers (like specifically when I can get my hot little hands on one?)
For more info, you may want to peruse this thread , which includes descriptions of the new models and a couple of photos.


Best,

Sanjay
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by draganm
Why do you think you need 7.1 channels. If it's because your HT will be in a huge 20'X30' room with vaulted ceilings then OK. If it's because you think thats the only way to create an immersive audio experience in the typical 10X20 HT then your in for a surprise.
Room size is not the issue: I've had a 7.1 set-up in a 11x13 room and it sounded fine. The reason to go 7.1 is because it provides you with surround imaging to your left, to your right, and behind you. No magic involved; the localization is a result of speakers placed to your left, to your right, and behind you. As simple as the concept sounds, this sort of distinct and stable imaging is difficult (if not impossible) to do with only 2 surround speakers; not to mention the better envelopment that 4 surround speakers are able to provide.
Quote:
I see a trend developing (and understandably pushed by retailers), of adding more and more channels to AV systems.
If more channels is a trend, then it's in everything from cars to commercial movie theatres. 7.1 not something new: companies that have a history of specializing in leading edge surround processing (Meridian, Lexicon, Fosgate) have traditionally based their technologies around a 7.1 layout. The rest of the industry is now finally starting to catch up. So it's not that retailers are pushing 7.1, it's more that manufacturers are giving in to consumer demand (people who try 7.1 rarely go back to 5.1).


Best,

Sanjay
 

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Quote:
Room size is not the issue: I've had a 7.1 set-up in a 11x13 room and it sounded fine
Well your opinion of "fine" is probably different from mine. I spent 1 year optimising my room accoustics to deliver a very deep and articulate soundstage with only 2 channel stereo. I would recomend to anyone who has the time and patience to try and accomplish this first. To start off by cramming 7 speakers into a little room is like building a house and having all the materials from foundation to roof delivered and dumped into a big pile. There is no way to tell whats going on accosutically with 7 channels blaring at you.

If your room was 11X13 then the side effects channels and the "rears" were somewhere around 8 linear feet apart (or close to 6 feet diaganoly). I do not think it's possible for the dispersion patterns from these channels so close together to not interfere with each other and not produce distortion. Even during a pan, there has to be a point where the 2 speakers (per side) would temporarily overlap and create distortion as the jumble of sound waves crashing into each other reached your ears.

IMO, A pair of bi-polar speakers mounted on the side walls with one driver firing at the back wall and the other at the prime listening position deliver a much more coherent presentation in this type of set-up. Of course with larger room it's a totaly different ballgame. Yes, the high-end companies have been selling 7.1 for some-time, but their customers are usually people who spend 20-30K on just the room construction and hire specialists to address all the issues before even mounting a single speaker. this is a far cry from the average consumer who brings home a bunch of "stuff" from Best Buy,arranges it around the room willy-nilly, and then wonders why "it doesn't sound the same as it did at the store" :( . Maybe you were able to work some majic with 7 speakers in a 11X13 room but the average consumer is bound to fail. My reciever is capable of powering 2 more channels in my 13X18 room. but without some involved accoustic treatments in the back of the room and very careful speaker selection, it would be a detriment not an improvement.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by draganm
If your room was 11X13 then the side effects channels and the "rears" were somewhere around 8 linear feet apart (or close to 6 feet diaganoly). I do not think it's possible for the dispersion patterns from these channels so close together to not interfere with each other and not produce distortion. Even during a pan, there has to be a point where the 2 speakers (per side) would temporarily overlap and create distortion as the jumble of sound waves crashing into each other reached your ears.
Jumble of sound waves crashing into each other as they reached my ears? You make it sound so violent. The reality of it was that I had wrap-around envelopment, while also being able to precisely localize surround content to my right side, left side, over my left shoulder, over my right shoulder, directly behind me, and everywhere in between. I was using a Lexicon processor so I had stereo sides and stereo rears. The room was heavily dampened, so phantom imaging was quite good (even in the surrounds). Speaker distance to my ears wasn't an issue because I was using coaxial speakers (Kef Uni-Q).


The best part of the set-up was the stability. For example: no matter where I sat on my futon, sounds intended to come from behind me always came from behind me (not some side-ish/rear-ish location). No special psychoacoustic processing involved, just a pair of speakers physically located behind me (which made it hard for those sounds to come from any other direction). You can't get this sort of imaging stability with only 2 surround speakers, where you rely much more on phantom imaging. It's like using only 2 speakers up front: move off centre and the centre image moves with you. Use 3 speakers and the front soundstage becomes more stable. But I guess by your logic using 3 speakers up front would mean their proximity would result in "the dispersion patterns from these channels so close together" interfering with each other and producing distortion.
Quote:
Yes, the high-end companies have been selling 7.1 for some-time, but their customers are usually people who spend 20-30K on just the room construction and hire specialists to address all the issues before even mounting a single speaker.
What high end companies are you talking about? At the time, most high end companies were not selling 7.1, in fact they were looking down on surround processing and digital audio in general. The Lexicon CP-1 listed for $1299 and my old Fosgate Model 5 had a list price of $599; hardly high end units. Both were 7.1, and neither required expensive systems nor the hiring of specialists.


The few companies that did go 7.1 were the ones that specialized in surround sound. Their experience in the field taught them what most companies are finding now, that 2 channels aren't enough for the surrounds.
Quote:
this is a far cry from the average consumer who brings home a bunch of "stuff" from Best Buy,arranges it around the room willy-nilly, and then wonders why "it doesn't sound the same as it did at the store" :( .
On the contrary, the average consumer who buys a 7.1 system from Best Buy will not only get the stable imaging I described above (important because the entire family will benefit from this stability) but will also be able to properly listen to EX and ES encoded DVDs (FYI, Dolby and DTS and THX all recommend 2 rear speakers for their surround-back channel; i.e., a 7.1-speaker set-up).
Quote:
Maybe you were able to work some majic with 7 speakers in a 11X13 room but the average consumer is bound to fail.
All my surrounds were at least 6 feet away, my front speakers were roughly 8 feet away; plenty of space/distance to create a coherent soundfield. I didn't have to work any 'majic' to get a successful 7.1 set-up in that room. If I can do it, anyone can; no reason the average consumer will fail.
Quote:
My reciever is capable of powering 2 more channels in my 13X18 room. but without some involved accoustic treatments in the back of the room and very careful speaker selection, it would be a detriment not an improvement.
Maybe your room is cursed.


Best,

Sanjay
 

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I agree. No reason to get totally obsessed.
 

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Thanks for the link sanjay! very cool!
 

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Quote:
The room was heavily dampened, so phantom imaging was quite good (even in the surrounds). Speaker distance to my ears wasn't an issue because I was using coaxial speakers (Kef Uni-Q).
Yes exactly, I have never seen Kefs at Best buy and I have certainly never heard any of the salesman (who average all of 18 years old) talk about proper room accoustics.
Quote:
But I guess by your logic using 3 speakers up front would mean their proximity would result in "the dispersion patterns from these channels so close together" interfering with each other and producing distortion
Well no, my 3 front speakers all fire in the same direction, and yes without the accosutic panels and bass traps there would be considerable distortion there from reflections off the side walls.
Quote:
All my surrounds were at least 6 feet away, my front speakers were roughly 8 feet away
your room seems to have grown a foot in each direction:D. Look, I can't take issue with most of what you said, but I still miantain that the average buyer is not getting what you describe, They're simply being sold 2 additional crappy speakers that won't even come close to a quality 5.1 set-up sound quality wise. My aversion to "marketing hype" made me feel the need to piont this out. The average buyer however will still buy the "newest" gadget regardless. It makes me wonder though how long before the marketers decide "you have to have 9.1 to really get the full effect"? :p
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by draganm
your room seems to have grown a foot in each direction:D.
The surround speakers were placed above ear level, which easily allowed them all to be at least 6 feet away from the listening position. Again, no magical room growth involved; just simple trigonometry.
Quote:
I still miantain that the average buyer is not getting what you describe, They're simply being sold 2 additional crappy speakers that won't even come close to a quality 5.1 set-up sound quality wise.
In order for you to make your point, you have to resort to comparing "a quality 5.1 set-up" to a 7.1 set-up that uses "crappy speakers" arranged around the room "willy-nilly". Are you so against 7.1 that you can't even make a fair comparison?


Most average buyers I know that went from 5.1 to 7.1 took the lazy way out and simply asked the store clerk for 2 more of the same 'surround speakers' they were already using. It was an easy decision that didn't require much thinking, but gave them consistent sound in the surrounds. Hardly the recipe for distaster you describe. Setting up a nice 7.1 system is not difficult at all; most receivers' instruction manuals have simple diagrams of the placement: two surround speakers to the sides, and two behind. Is that placement so difficult to understand that the average buyer would become confused? I think not; especially for folks that already have a 5.1-speaker set-up.


Best,

Sanjay
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the info on the 7.1 speakers. It is a large room probably close to 20x30 with vaulted ceilings. I want to get the 7.1 system because of the size of the room and because my wife and i are fed up with movie theaters and would rather wait for movies to come out on DVD then have ppl kick are seats, talk in front of us, or sit as close to us as possible even when the rest of the theater is empty (i swear we could sit in the front row, front right corner of the theater and everyone would swarm around us).


Yes, recommending bose to me and then experiencing it made me question my friendship with the guy who recommended it. I just figure hes tone deaf and just let him go with it.


I'll definently check out the new HK recievers that are coming out.


dp19
 

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Quote:
In order for you to make your point, you have to resort to comparing "a quality 5.1 set-up" to a 7.1 set-up that uses "crappy speakers""
The vast majority of 7.1 speaker packages that are being sold are low quality, and for the SAME amount of money a well set-up 5.1 will outperform it in every way. If your idea of a well set-up, acoustically balanced room is following the instruction manual that came with your reciver then there's nothing more I can add to that, enjoy.


dp, I know exactly what you mean, the public theater has become a miserable experience, and 20 minutes of commercials are just the latest insult. It's cool that your wife is on board from the get-go. Mine was not really in favor of the HT until it was finished, now it's "I'm really glad this is down here". :) You might want to check if the speaker manufacturer you choose gives detailed dispersion patterns for their product. Then sit down with some graph paper and plot possible locations for everything. Here is a link to DIY accoustic treatments.
http://www.geocities.com/jonrisch/a.htm

I have built the panels and bass traps, they made a world of difference. The room lenses look really appealing too as they can be moved around the room and will tell you quite a bit about what's going on by how the sound changes at the listening position. Have fun.....
 

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I love to argue but you two...........

Draganm

If your point is that every room can benefit from some form of acoustical treatment and/or equalization I can hardly think of anyone who would disagree with you. But to argue against a 7.1 system just because one does not perform room treatment is a little bit of an over statement, no?


Most people are not audiophiles. And if you recall Mr. J. Gordon Holt, of Stereophile fame, argued that 2 channel stereo, no matter how well recorded the source and how resolving your setup, simply could not provide all of the spacial information of a live performance without additional speakers. The fact is that most room modes are excited by low frequencies means that extra surround speakers should have little effect on a room's acoustics. Additionally these channels have delays built into the logic processing so the sort of cancellation you are talking about should not occur.


Of course, if your speaker setup is off then all bets are off. But that is true for a 2 channel system, as well- perhaps even more so. The size of the room only seems to matter in with respect to the sub-woofer loading it. When I EQ a room it is primarily for the lowest 2 octives that I pay attention. Everything else is a fancy tone control. Do I pay attention to the first reflections from the LCRs. You bet. Do I try to have some sort of diffraction in the rear? Damn right. Do I believe that most people will spend the 20-50k proper treatments cost? Get real.


Obviously, the RBH Compact Theater System I sell does not have the resolution of a Triad Gold Monitor System. It will not achieve the same SPL's nor will it attain the same level of realism. But we install these

" Bose" killers in systems where the client does not want large speakers in his environment and with relatively inexpensive surround receivers. The client's expectations are far lower than yours would be and they are quite happy with the results. Perhaps you would characterize them as ignorant but some people just want a good experience.


So if you are arguing that consumers would be better off if they purchased their electronics from specialty retailers or custom installers that know their stuff as opposed to large, discount retailers then I am with you. But as I read this forum people seem to think that a system is a set of products and installation knowledge and ability is not very important. Obviously I think this is backwards. In this world everything is about price and the discounters will always win the price war. Properly setup you would be very surprised how good an inexpensive surround rig can be made to sound. Would you be happy with the sound? I think not. But not everyone wants to pursue perfection. Would that it were otherwise but does not reality rule?


Alan
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by draganm
The vast majority of 7.1 speaker packages that are being sold are low quality, and for the SAME amount of money a well set-up 5.1 will outperform it in every way.
For the SAME amount of money as low quality 5.1 speaker package, I can get 2 higher performance speakers. So what? Are budgetary constraints now your argument against 7.1? What happened to the "jumble of sound waves crashing into each other"?


You have yet to offer a valid argument for preferring 5.1 to 7.1. All you continue to do is compare a "low quality" speaker package to a "well set-up" system. What does that have to do with 5.1 vs 7.1?


As for 5.1 being able to 'outperform in every way' a 7.1 system, I think not. Even low quality 7.1 systems can do something that 5.1 systems can't: offer stable side vs rear surround localization. This is simply not possible with only 2 surround speakers.
Quote:
If your idea of a well set-up, acoustically balanced room is following the instruction manual that came with your reciver then there's nothing more I can add to that, enjoy.
Where did I say that "following the instruction manual" of a receiver would lead to an "acoustically balanced room"? Rather than trying to put words in my mouth, you might want to consider that I was responding specifically to your claim that the average consumer buys a system and "arranges it around the room willy-nilly". Why would a consumer do that when there is a simple diagram in the instruction manual that shows correct placement? This isn't rocket science, it's simply the addition of 2 speakers. Is placing 2 speakers to the sides of the room and 2 speakers at the rear of the room so difficult for the average consumer to understand?


Best,

Sanjay
 

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wow Sanjay your right. I just looked in the back of the manual that came with my Denon reciver and there it is. A little black and white diagram showing a downview of a guy sitting in a chair with speakers all around him. Sure enough, there are 2 speakers on the side and 2 in the back, just like you said. Thanks for clearing that up, It appears I was mistaken all along. I will hunt down 2 additional speakers this week and hang them up emmediately. :p
Quote:
You have yet to offer a valid argument for preferring 5.1 to 7.1
That's certainly not possible at this point and since you are just as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine, lets give it a rest.


Alan, you bring up some interseting points. As a proffesional installer I'm sure you also have a much greater undersanding of accoustics, especially with multi-channel set-ups. However, I will never forget an audio show i attended where one of the rooms had 7.2 channel set-up using Martin Logans Es towers and a stack of mono-blocks 4 feet high. Sounded bloody awful, with mostly the upper frequencies breaking up so bad at the back of the room I ran outside to preserve my hearing. When cornered the sales guy could only say the 10x20 room was too small. While that may be, at 300K worth of gear it was the worst sounding room at the show. .
Quote:
fact is that most room modes are excited by low frequencies means that extra surround speakers should have little effect on a room's acoustics. Additionally these channels have delays built into the logic processing so the sort of cancellation you are talking about should not occur
Well I thought Dolby d was full frequency to all channels, and my Def. Tech surrounds are rated down to 45Hz? Are you also saying there is a delay between the 2 sets of surrounds in a 7.1 i.e. side/rear? unlike the delay bewteen the mains and surrounds, which is less than a second for a 20 foot long room, how could any delay be small enough for 2 sets of surrounds a few feet apart in a small room? I mean at what point would you consider a room too small for Stuffing more than 5.1 speakers into. When you consider that a basically square 11x13 room (like Sanjays bedroom ) is the worst accoustic shape you could possibly have, then stuffing 7.1 into that would certainly not produce anything I would want to listen to. I would love to conduct an experiment to test this with a mixed audience of listeners. I bet the results would create a big argument:p
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by sdurani
Is placing 2 speakers to the sides of the room and 2 speakers at the rear of the room so difficult for the average consumer to understand?
the average consumer can probably grasp the concept, but the execution in an average room is another issue. many rooms the average consumer needs to work with have a hard enough time accepting 2 surrounds, let alone trying to cram in 4. two extra surrounds that are poorly placed are a waste of effort.


these hypothetical average consumers probably have average budgets (on average). i figure if you're not willing to drop over $2000 on speakers (not including a sub) you're better of buying 5 speakers than 7. that would be the difference between $800/pair vs $500/pair. this becomes more of an issue the lower your budget goes.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by 9volt
two extra surrounds that are poorly placed are a waste of effort.
Why would someone place the first two surround speakers properly but then somehow proceed to place the two extra surrounds "poorly"? Again, it seems the only way to show an example of a 5.1 system being better than a 7.1 system, is to specifically do something wrong in the 7.1 set-up. Poor placement of speakers will always be a "wasted effort" compared to proper placement; this can happen with 2-speaker and 5.1-speaker set-ups, and isn't something unique only to 7.1 systems.
Quote:
i figure if you're not willing to drop over $2000 on speakers (not including a sub) you're better of buying 5 speakers than 7. that would be the difference between $800/pair vs $500/pair.
With a fixed budget, getting fewer speakers will always allow you to get more expensive ones. Is this a reason to go 5.1 instead of 7.1? By that logic, why not blow that same budget on two $1000 speakers?


Percentage wise, the price difference between a 5.1 and 7.1 system is not really that large. After all, you're not buying 2 more main speakers but instead 2 more surrounds (which tend to be the least expensive part of a speaker package). And if you have priced 7-channel receivers these days you'll notice that they are not that much more than their 5-channel counterparts. By spending a little more you get to enjoy: proper playback of EX/ES encoded movies, full utilization of the latest surround processing technologies (Neo:6 and Circle Surround II are both 6.1; PLIIx and LOGIC7 are both 7.1), stable side vs rear imaging, smoother pans compared to using only 2 surrounds, side and rear envelopment, etc. None of this is possible with a 5.1 system. That's a pretty significant advantage for an incremental difference in price.


Best,

Sanjay
 
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