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Surround height - reccomended vs reality?

1234 Views 21 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Drew Eckhardt
I am in a quandry. I am ready to drill, etc for my surround speaker wall mounts but am unsure on how high to put them. Right now in my setup they are low - only 38" high on stands basically pointed in my ear. I had thought to mount them at 48" - that would put them a bit higher. My mains are 45" off the floor (sattelites)

I did not want to go too high and then experience localization. If I go with the DD reccomendation I would wind up almost 6 feet off the floor (2 -3 feet above ear level.)

What is the real experience out there for those with wall mounted surrounds - is 48" enough?

I will be using Anthony Gallo micros as surrounds....

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I don't know, but here's my rule of thumb:

But my current rule of thumb is to

a) the 2-3 feet over ear level

b) midpoint between ceiling and ear level

whichever of (a) or (b) which is lower.

With really tall rooms you don't want to go higher than (a).

With really short rooms (b) has the advantage of equal amount of room above and below the speaker giving the largest travel before it bounces into something.

There's also places they can be put for optimum modal interaction (less senstive than subs). RPG Room Optimizer software does that.
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What BasementBob said is similar to something I read. Ear level is around 40", so I mounted our old surrounds so the tweeters were at approx 6'.
Or it might depend on your speakers.

I have M&K SS-150's and they recommend them about 3 feet above ear level as a reference. Then, they go on and say that the closer they are to the ceiling works well with the speakers.

In my case, they are about 3 feet from my ears. I have a drop in the celing around the room that puts them about 1 foot or so from the ceiling. The perfect fit for my room and my speakers. YMMV
My rear surrounds are very high, almost 7'. They are almost touching the drop ceiling.

But, I need to go that high because of the 12" riser for the back row. They sit about 2 1/2 to 3 feet above ear level if you're sitting in the back row.

Sounds fine everywhere, front row included. The sweet spot is calibrated for in between the front & back row.
"I did not want to go too high and then experience localization." Actually, bringing them closer to ear level will localize sound more. Dolby's recommendation seems best for most rooms, but when looking at the height of surround speakers in commercial theaters their height is much higher. Not only is height vital for proper surround ambiance, but also speaker aiming. You want diffuse, non-directional sound that immerses you in the surround sound-field.
Hmm... looks like I should go with the mounts at about 72" then based on the comments above.

The ceiling height is 8.5 feet. I guess part of me had been thinking that 48" was very high - since right now they are actually at or just below ear level - in fact pointing right at my head....
That is too low.

Which is too low: 48" or 72" or both ?

By my rules, 72" would be ok.

a) +3' = 38" + 36" = 74"

b) 8.5' = 102", ears: 38", average: (102 + 38) / 2 = 70"
I should add that I am not using Dipoles or anything, just direct Anthony Gallo Micros for my surrounds.....
Originally posted by pcrx

I did not want to go too high and then experience localization. If I go with the DD reccomendation I would wind up almost 6 feet off the floor (2 -3 feet above ear level.)
My side surrounds are 6' off the ground and not localizable. At just 4' up there was a noticeable collapse into the closer of the two.
Drew Eckhardt:

Nifty. 4' is obviously too low, but your observation has implications. So ends my rule (b). I guess I'll stick with (a).

What do you think?
I have the Martin Logan Scripts, and they said to mount them 56" high. I don't know if that was assuming they were mains, but I did it anyway because those panels are pretty directional. Any inputs (if I may?)
I am in a limiting situation where my ceiling is only ~78" high where the surrounds will be. Furthermore, I have my furring strips in a "racing stripe" fashion for my GOM covering the ~32" to ~56" (from the floor) area. This means I either need to mount my surrounds inside the stripe (which would limit my speaker height (top of speaker) to ~52-53" or I would need to mount my rears above the stripe which would put the top in the ~69" range. This is not a problem for one of my side walls, but the other has a sconce in that area (which I think answers my question of height for me). See this thread for more pictures. Any suggestions?

I do wonder how many people are choosing bi-polar vs. direct rad. speakers for surrounds, and what the trade-off's of each type are (specifically for those theater's with 2 or more rows of seating). Anyone?

OK, it sounded like you were implying dipoles earlier. With monopole's just aim them as suggested on Dolby's site.

Jason, I have heard many in the forum using tripoles because in this mode the speaker radiates energy as a Dipole and a Direct Radiator simultaneously, providing what most theaterphiles feel is the best compromise between diffuse and direct radiating sound.
48" is (way) too low.
I have used both directional and dipole speakers for surrounds. Both work well but the dipoles are much easier to setup without any localization issues. With directional surrounds, setup is important to minimize localization. With either one you want to get the speaker over the listeners head which helps minimize any localization. The higher the speaker, the more diffuse the information coming out of them will be. Of course room height limitations do occur and if room height forces the surrounds closer to ear level, I would highly recommend sticking with dipole surrounds. One benefit of directional surrounds in very large rooms with high ceilings is that you can mount them very high and angle them in any direction you want. If I had a room with very high ceilings, this is definately what I would do. For most HTs I like BasementBob's rule of thumb.
Higher is better because you have less localization above ear level, but you don't want them too high. That being said, my rears are a little over 8 feet high. The reason for that is because I have 3 rows of seats and they are 2 feet higher than the ear level of the back row. The back riser being 28 inches high in a 12 foot tall room.
OK everyone, I went with the higher mounting (about 72") after playing around and I am VERY happy that I went high and not at the lower height as was planned before I posted. The surround sound is now so much more "surround" rather than shot into my ear. My gallery has pics of the height - (looks cool higer up too!)

I was so used to it before I did not know what I was missing experience-wise with my old setup. Thanks again to this forum for providing the guidance I needed!!!
How about in the ceiling? One of my side surround locations does not really allow me go lower than 7ft even if I can get it mounted. Any cons on in-ceiling surround speakers? For rear 2 surrounds of 7.1 can be installed in wall. Will it be ok to have 2 side in-ceilings (8ft) and 2 rear in-walls (7-8ft)?
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