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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So "poorly implemented" may be a bit harsh. Let me explain my scenario:

I currently run a 5.1 setup in my living room - where I just updated my TV, sub, and speakers - and have been thoroughly enjoying it. I figure while I'm updating things, I should take the opportunity to assess if it would be worthwhile to upgrade to a 5.1.2 setup.

Due to WAF and physical room limitations, the following must be followed (please remember, this is a living room, not a dedicated theater):
  • The couch is up against the rear wall, and cannot be moved forward (this means rears, rear heights, or top rears are all off the table). Front heights are also off the table, from a WAF/looks perspective. It's for those reasons why I'm not entertaining 7.1 or 5.1.4 setups.
  • A second subwoofer is off the table
  • I have short-ish ceilings (7.5 ft) and a fairly tall couch. The surrounds are 1 ft above seated ear height, which puts them 58% up the wall and 1.8x higher than the L/C/R speakers. So while they are at a fine location for 5.1, they are higher than desired for 5.1.2 per the Dolby guide (they aren't less than 50% room height, and they aren't less than 1.25x L/C/R height). I cannot lower the surrounds any further.
  • In-ceiling speakers are ok. However, due to existing ceiling features, they would have to be placed 48 degrees off the horizontal (see figure below). So while this would allow for a 5.1.2 setup - those two Atmos speakers would be wanting to act as "Top Middle," but would be placed in a position that is more akin to "Top Front," per the Dolby guide. (For what it's worth, I'm considering the MAG6R speakers, which have an aimable woofer and tweeter - it's not clear to me if that would help).
  • Total expected cost for pulling wire, patching and spot-painting walls - along with the purchase price of the Atmos speakers - is around $400-500. For comparison, I spent $1600 on the 5.1 setup (sub + speakers) thus far. I don't mind spending the additional funds for Atmos, but want to make sure the "juice is worth the squeeze."
  • My understanding is that there isn't a giant library of films that use properly mixed Atmos layers yet. And our living room is pretty much used for 50% movies, 30% TV, and 20% music. My guess is that most of the output from the Atmos speakers will be "fake" upmixes from the receiver - with the occasional real Atmos mix where I'm sure it will shine.
  • The living room is situated underneath a bedroom. As it stands now, when running the 5.1 setup at night at a medium-level volume, I can really mostly just hear/feel the sub, but it isn't too bad. I do have some concerns that adding two holes to my ceiling and putting Atmos speakers in between the joists will add considerable sound spillover to the room upstairs. (For what it's worth, I'm considering getting the back enclosures for the MAG6R speakers, so I'd hope those wouldn't be too bad for sound spillage upwards?)
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So based on all the above, what is your opinion? Would the not-so-perfectly-placed 5.1.2 still be a marked improvement over my current 5.1 setup? Or am I likely just wasting money on something that amounts to a compromised 5.1.2 setup? Appreciate your insight!
 

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Hi,

It's a pretty subjective thing. Personally, I wouldn't want to do all that for "voice of god" atmos. It's not really atmos. It's just surround, but over head. To really start to get atmos immersion, it takes 4 channels so that there's differentiation with front/back and left/right. As you pointed out, most of your content will be upmixed anyways.

If anything, I'm confused, your initial statement was that rear surrounds and all were not going to happen as the couch is up against a wall. But then your graphic shows rear speakers involved. Not sure what's what. If you cannot place speakers, then you could do on-ceiling or in-ceiling speakers and aim them at your listening positions to get the effect of surround, minus the foot print.

Very best,
 

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If you're going to go Atmos, you may as well go the full 5.1.4 or stick to 5.1
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Hi,
It's a pretty subjective thing. Personally, I wouldn't want to do all that for "voice of god" atmos. It's not really atmos. It's just surround, but over head. To really start to get atmos immersion, it takes 4 channels so that there's differentiation with front/back and left/right. As you pointed out, most of your content will be upmixed anyways.

If anything, I'm confused, your initial statement was that rear surrounds and all were not going to happen as the couch is up against a wall. But then your graphic shows rear speakers involved. Not sure what's what. If you cannot place speakers, then you could do on-ceiling or in-ceiling speakers and aim them at your listening positions to get the effect of surround, minus the foot print.

Very best,
I just took that graphic fromt the Dolby guide to highlight where the Atmos would go. Ignore the rears in that image - that's not what I have. With my current 5.1 setup, I just have surrounds to the exact sides of the MLP. So I'm trying to determine if L/C/R, two surrounds (not rears), and then 2 Atmos in the ceiling a few feet forward makes much sense. It sounds like you lean towards "no," but I definitely have a bad case of FOMO when it comes to Atmos, haha.

If you're going to go Atmos, you may as well go the full 5.1.4 or stick to 5.1
Appreciate you giving your opinion. That's what I keep waffling on. I feel like a lot of people say "5.1.4 or nothing," but then others say 5.1.2 is still a big improvement over 5.1.

7.1ch is better if only can do 2 atmos ⚛
If you can’t fit two pairs of surround 5ch is fine !!!
What do you mean by two pairs of surrounds? I have my surrounds to the exact sides of the MLP. And since the couch is up against the rear wall, I have no opportunity for rears (at any height).
 

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Howza 'bout a newer receiver, that supports height virtualization?

I have no personal experience with it, but it's supposed to be surprisingly effective.
 

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My setup is somewhat similar to yours - my couch is against the back wall so I have a 5.1.2 setup except the Atmos speakers are directly above the seating position. My surrounds are also somewhat high up and I have the same ceiling height. Most opinions I've read seem to be that 5.1.2 is superior to 7.1 but 5.1.4 is the most optimal for the full Atmos effect.

I find the extra 2 ceiling speakers in my setup adds some neat effects on certain movies but I don't feel like I'd be missing out on a whole lot without them. I only invested in a couple of cheap Polk OWM3s on ceilings so I'm not sure I'd go through with spending extra on having professionally installed in-ceiling speakers unless I was doing 5.1.4. Just keep in mind a 5.1.4 or above usually requires a more expensive receiver than the typical 7 channel ones where you have to choose between 7.1 or 5.1.2.

As far as content goes just about everything in 4K is mixed in Atmos or DTS:X but the effect varies considerably. On many Disney releases, for example, the ceiling speakers are barely utilized but some movies make great use of them. I used to turn on upmixing for everything but lately I've turned it off for any non-Atmos content and don't find myself missing it. IMO if your ceilings are that far in front of the listening position I'm not sure you would benefit much.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Howza 'bout a newer receiver, that supports height virtualization?

I have no personal experience with it, but it's supposed to be surprisingly effective.
My plan is to get a used Denon X3400H from a buddy of mine, which has DTS:X, DTS Neural:X, and DTS Virtual:X (but not Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization).

My setup is somewhat similar to yours - my couch is against the back wall so I have a 5.1.2 setup except the Atmos speakers are directly above the seating position. My surrounds are also somewhat high up and I have the same ceiling height. Most opinions I've read seem to be that 5.1.2 is superior to 7.1 but 5.1.4 is the most optimal for the full Atmos effect.

I find the extra 2 ceiling speakers in my setup adds some neat effects on certain movies but I don't feel like I'd be missing out on a whole lot without them. I only invested in a couple of cheap Polk OWM3s on ceilings so I'm not sure I'd go through with spending extra on having professionally installed in-ceiling speakers unless I was doing 5.1.4. Just keep in mind a 5.1.4 or above usually requires a more expensive receiver than the typical 7 channel ones where you have to choose between 7.1 or 5.1.2.

As far as content goes just about everything in 4K is mixed in Atmos or DTS:X but the effect varies considerably. On many Disney releases, for example, the ceiling speakers are barely utilized but some movies make great use of them. I used to turn on upmixing for everything but lately I've turned it off for any non-Atmos content and don't find myself missing it. IMO if your ceilings are that far in front of the listening position I'm not sure you would benefit much.
Appreciate the reply! How far away would you say your ceiling speakers are from your surrounds? (If you pulled a string point-to-point between them). With high surrounds, low ceiling, and atmos speakers right above you - I'd have to imagine there isn't much physical distance between them?
 

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At 48 degrees, you will want the "pivot" to allow for about 20 degrees of movement, although you could probably get away with 15 degrees. This will assure that you do not lose upper frequencies by sitting outside the recommended positioning.

It would behoove you to attempt to go with a .4 Atmos scenario, if you can swing it. First, get the couch off the back wall by employing a console table behind it. High WAF, as she will want to put nick-knacks on it. Something like this (one that is about the same width as the couch and maybe 10-14" in depth, to get the couch about 14-18" off the wall):

Wayfair.com - Online Home Store for Furniture, Decor, Outdoors & More

That gets the couch off the back wall, immediately improving bass response, while moving you into a better angle to the Atmos speakers, and allowing you also install rear Atmos speakers for the full .4 effect. Yeah, your surrounds are too high, soon the Dolby Police will be knocking at your door to take you away. :eek: Or not ... :LOL:

You should use back boxes for the in-ceiling speakers, although I doubt they will be 100% effective. There may still be some minor leakage to the bedroom, although bass frequencies are the usual culprit for sound transfer.

Putting speakers into the ceiling is a PITA, so you may as well do it once and do it right, if you are going to do it at all.
 

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At 48 degrees, you will want the "pivot" to allow for about 20 degrees of movement, although you could probably get away with 15 degrees. This will assure that you do not lose upper frequencies by sitting outside the recommended positioning.

It would behoove you to attempt to go with a .4 Atmos scenario, if you can swing it. First, get the couch off the back wall by employing a console table behind it. High WAF, as she will want to put nick-knacks on it. Something like this (one that is about the same width as the couch and maybe 10-14" in depth, to get the couch about 14-18" off the wall):

Wayfair.com - Online Home Store for Furniture, Decor, Outdoors & More

That gets the couch off the back wall, immediately improving bass response, moves you into a better angle to the Atmos speakers, and allows you also install rear Atmos speakers for the full .4 effect. Yeah, your surrounds are too high, soon the Dolby Police will be knocking at your door to take you away. :eek: Or not ...

Putting speakers into the ceiling is a PITA, so you may as well do it once and do it right, if you are going to do it at all.
This ^^^ FTW :)
 

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As someone with a 5.1.2, the two ATMOS speakers make a huge difference with the right content. Anyone saying .2 isn’t worth it, probably has never heard it. You still get that extra level immersion.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
At 48 degrees, you will want the "pivot" to allow for about 20 degrees of movement, although you could probably get away with 15 degrees. This will assure that you do not lose upper frequencies by sitting outside the recommended positioning.

It would behoove you to attempt to go with a .4 Atmos scenario, if you can swing it. First, get the couch off the back wall by employing a console table behind it. High WAF, as she will want to put nick-knacks on it. Something like this (one that is about the same width as the couch and maybe 10-14" in depth, to get the couch about 14-18" off the wall):

Wayfair.com - Online Home Store for Furniture, Decor, Outdoors & More

That gets the couch off the back wall, immediately improving bass response, while moving you into a better angle to the Atmos speakers, and allowing you also install rear Atmos speakers for the full .4 effect. Yeah, your surrounds are too high, soon the Dolby Police will be knocking at your door to take you away. :eek: Or not ... :LOL:

You should use back boxes for the in-ceiling speakers, although I doubt they will be 100% effective. There may still be some minor leakage to the bedroom, although bass frequencies are the usual culprit for sound transfer.

Putting speakers into the ceiling is a PITA, so you may as well do it once and do it right, if you are going to do it at all.
Do you know if the Sonance MAG6R speakers have at least 20 degrees of pivot?

I've tried the console table route with the wife, but no dice. The center of the living room is our little one's current play area, so she doesn't want that area cut down at all by moving the couch forward. Maybe down the line when it's not used as a play area.

As for surround height, my understanding is that the reason the rule used to be "1-2 feet above seated ear height" is because it ensured that someone else's head didn't block the speakers "view" to another listener. My surrounds are directly to the sides of the MLP. So even if I found a way to lower the surrounds any more, I would 100% run into that issue with the middle couch position (the prime position I sit). Are we sure that getting every inch of height separation from Atmos is worth the loss of direct line of sight from surrounds to the middle (primary) listener?

Regarding the back box, so you're saying doing that instead of the plastic enclosure that is sold to go with the MAG6R's? Or in addition to? My only concern with a back box is I don't want to cut more than the 6.5" diameter hole in my ceiling for those speakers. Is there a way to basically "build" a back box in between the ceiling joists, by bringing the pieces of it through the 6.5" hole one at a time? Or would a larger cutout of the ceiling be needed to install a back box? My ceiling has popcorn texture, so I'm worried it would be super obvious that a larger cutout was made, because we'll never quite get the texture of the patch to match.
 

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Contact Sonance to get the maximum angle of the pivot. They don't seem to publish that info in the specs for that speaker.

Shame about the table. I'm sure the loss of a foot of play space would not be that big of a deal to a small child, but Mom gonna Mom, so ...

As to the back box, if one is supplied by the manufacturer, then that is the way to go. There are also flexible aftermarket back boxes available that you can compress to get inside the hole you have cut. Be sure to check with the manufacturer to get one that will be the correct internal volume, so as not to seriously diminish the speakers' performance.

Doing some additional insultation above the box may also be advantageous, if you can pull it off:

Is Denim Insulation Good for Soundproofing? The Answer May Surprise You
 

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Sorry to hijack the thread, but I have a separate question about back boxes. The only thing above my ceiling is the attic (exposed rafters with blown insulation), do I need a back box in the attic to keep the insulation off the back of the speakers? Can I just make something to separate the speaker from the insulation or does it need to be air tight?
 

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As someone with a 5.1.2, the two ATMOS speakers make a huge difference with the right content. Anyone saying .2 isn’t worth it, probably has never heard it. You still get that extra level immersion.
I don't agree with this. I messed around with 5.1.2 a lot before going to 5.1.4. 5.1.2 was almost no benefit. 5.1.4 was a huge benefit. I consider 5.1.2 a complete waste of time and money.
 

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Would the not-so-perfectly-placed 5.1.2 still be a marked improvement over my current 5.1 setup?
Yes. The first pair of height speakers results in the biggest change, because it transforms your current 2D ring of sound into a 3D bubble of sound. Every additional pair of heights after that just refines the height layer, with diminishing returns as you add more speakers. But that initial change from 2D to 3D audio is the most noticeable one.
 

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As for surround height, my understanding is that the reason the rule used to be "1-2 feet above seated ear height" is because it ensured that someone else's head didn't block the speakers "view" to another listener. My surrounds are directly to the sides of the MLP. So even if I found a way to lower the surrounds any more, I would 100% run into that issue with the middle couch position (the prime position I sit). Are we sure that getting every inch of height separation from Atmos is worth the loss of direct line of sight from surrounds to the middle (primary) listener?
In a 5.1 setup your surrounds should be behind you not directly to the side of you.
5.1.jpg
 

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Yes. The first pair of height speakers results in the biggest change, because it transforms your current 2D ring of sound into a 3D bubble of sound. Every additional pair of heights after that just refines the height layer, with diminishing returns as you add more speakers. But that initial change from 2D to 3D audio is the most noticeable one.
Exactly this.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
In a 5.1 setup your surrounds should be behind you not directly to the side of you.
View attachment 3120314
Did this recently change? I swear just a couple years back I saw the Dolby guide saying surrounds should be 90-110 degrees (as opposed to the 110-120 it shows now). And then there seems to be a ton of other "guides" parroting the 90-110 value. Regardless, with my room limitations, surrounds at the 90 degree points are about as good as it will get.
 

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I have a half-assed 5.1.2 Atmos setup and I think it is a huge improvement over 5.1.

The 5.1 part of the system consists of:
Fronts: Paradigm Reference Studio 60
Centre: Paradigm Reference Studio CC
Surrounds: Paradigm Titans
Sub: SVS PB13-Ultra
Receiver: Marantz SR5010

I had some extra Paradigm Atoms lying around so I added them as rear surrounds, but honestly I didn't really think having rear surrounds was all that beneficial. So instead, I took those Atoms and mounted them on the wall but at ceiling height, pointed toward the couch, turning them into Atmos speakers instead. And you know what? It's very good. I'm quite pleased with the result. This half-assed 5.1.2 system is much more immersive than the 7.1 setup I had before. Sure, having a 7.1.4 system would be even better, but with my 5.1.2 system, I'm happy enough that I have no desire to upgrade the sound system. Any future upgrades will be for other stuff, like a bigger OLED to replace my current 65" OLED.

BTW, it's a happy coincidence that if you flip two letters of "Atmos", you get "Atoms". :)
 
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