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Rear Speaker Placement for 5.1 Surround


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19 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   rdopso

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 12:59 PM

I am stuck with a less than optimum room configuration for my 5.1 HT Surround Sound setup in my new smallish condo (retired and downsized). Because of the location of a built-in home entertainment center, I am stuck with an HT setup that is about 16 ft long by 10 wide, but the right side is completely open to the rest of the living area. Additionally, the seating area for viewing is against the rear wall, and essentially against the left wall. This setup gives a rather narrow space within which to place rear speakers (only one close-in side wall on left side) for a 5.1 or 6.1 setup.

I have considered in-ceiling rear speakers, but frankly don't want to mess with the wiring -- I already have floor level wiring in place for the rears -- and do not wish to purchase new speakers (I am using matched NHT small bookshelf speakers throughout my current 5.1 setup). Wall mount (one on left side wall and one on back wall right of viewing area) may be an option, but the NHTs are rather large for that and the wife would go ballastic over big black speakers hanging on the light colored walls.

I have experimented a bit with placing the two rear speakers atop 18-in stands set on their backs behind the large leather soffa we use for our seating area (actually between the soffa and the rear wall). This projects the sound more or less straight up to the ceiling and back down to the seating area and seems to give a pretty good rear sound that still retains reasonable channel separation. The lower bass sounds come right through the soffa along with good low frequency vibes.

I have not seen or heard of this type of setup before, but it seems somewhat logical for my limited area. I would appreciate any feedback anyone can offer on this unusual speaker placement or any other arrangement you care to suggest for my cramped HT area.

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#2 OFFLINE   JM Anthony

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 03:43 PM

I have considered in-ceiling rear speakers, but frankly don't want to mess with the wiring


Why not? Aesthetically I think ceiling mounted speaker are a nice solution. I stuffed a couple of SpeakerCrafts up in my ceiling and couldn't be happier. My better half is a big believer in clean lines. Besides, messin' around with drywall is a manly thing to do!
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#3 OFFLINE   HTguy

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 09:23 PM

I have experimented a bit with placing the two rear speakers atop 18-in stands set on their backs behind the large leather soffa we use for our seating area (actually between the soffa and the rear wall). This projects the sound more or less straight up to the ceiling and back down to the seating area and seems to give a pretty good rear sound that still retains reasonable channel separation. The lower bass sounds come right through the soffa along with good low frequency vibes.

I have not seen or heard of this type of setup before, but it seems somewhat logical for my limited area. I would appreciate any feedback anyone can offer on this unusual speaker placement or any other arrangement you care to suggest for my cramped HT area.

The placement of surround speakers is not very critical. They can go anywhere from floor to ceiling and from side to rear.

Having said that I have always prefered to place them behind and to the side, overhead if possible. The sound should not be directed to the listener's head in any event but, rather, in such a way that "surrounds" him. My own surround speakers are corner-mounted and aim in the direction of the screen. Thus the sound eminates from "over the shoulders" which I consider to be ideal.

It looks to me that you have cleverly come up with the best solution for your particular room & listening position. I would suggest spacing them as far apart as you can out to the sides of your sofa (if possible).

If the speakers are "small" bookshelf ones as you describe I am puzzled why you are experiencing so much base vibration. Normally, with that type of speaker configuration one would use the digital bass management to set up the system for "small" speakers. This puts the system in bi-amp mode with all the low bass directed to the subwoofer. You may prefer it the way you have it but you will get less distortion if the digital crossover is engaged and there is less possibility of "blowing" the little woofers in your main speakers.
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#4 OFFLINE   rdopso

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Posted 05 March 2004 - 03:13 PM

If the speakers are "small" bookshelf ones as you describe I am puzzled why you are experiencing so much base vibration. Normally, with that type of speaker configuration one would use the digital bass management to set up the system for "small" speakers. This puts the system in bi-amp mode with all the low bass directed to the subwoofer. You may prefer it the way you have it but you will get less distortion if the digital crossover is engaged and there is less possibility of "blowing" the little woofers in your main speakers.

------------------------------------------------
Thanks for the feedback.
I do have the surround set for "small" speakers, and crossover is set at 70 on my Denon AVR3803; I think I am actually feeling through-the-floor vibes from my subwoofer.

#5 OFFLINE   jgoggan

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Posted 05 March 2004 - 04:50 PM

I have experimented a bit with placing the two rear speakers atop 18-in stands set on their backs behind the large leather soffa we use for our seating area (actually between the soffa and the rear wall). This projects the sound more or less straight up to the ceiling and back down to the seating area and seems to give a pretty good rear sound that still retains reasonable channel separation. The lower bass sounds come right through the soffa along with good low frequency vibes.


I do this except that I have them sitting right on the floor on their backs. I believe I read about it at the THX site in their list of acceptable speaker positions. Works fine for me and sounds great!

Although, I admit that, sometime, I'm going to put them on stands -- just so that cats quit lying on them! :)

- John...

#6 OFFLINE   HTguy

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 08:02 PM

------------------------------------------------
Thanks for the feedback.
I do have the surround set for "small" speakers, and crossover is set at 70 on my Denon AVR3803; I think I am actually feeling through-the-floor vibes from my subwoofer.

In that case I would recommend going back into the AVR-3803 set-up menu and change the crossover point to 100Hz. That's the Xover frequency that works best (in my experience) with small "bookshelf" type speakers. For mini speakers & small satellites it should be set even higher. 80Hz is the "official" THX Xover frequency but I generally prefer 100Hz even on THX certified speakers.
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#7 OFFLINE   Richard King

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 09:28 PM

This projects the sound more or less straight up to the ceiling and back down to the seating area and seems to give a pretty good rear sound that still retains reasonable channel separation.

The main problem with this is that the ceiling (especially if it is "textured") won't reflect back the extreme highs and these will be lost. Here are a couple of pix of how I have mounted my rear speakers (excuse the green wire, it has since been fixed. I designed the brackets myself and had a local cabinet maker bang out the parts for me which I assembled and stained.

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSCN5347.JPG
  • DSCN5351.JPG

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#8 OFFLINE   rdopso

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 10:35 AM

In that case I would recommend going back into the AVR-3803 set-up menu and change the crossover point to 100Hz. That's the Xover frequency that works best (in my experience) with small "bookshelf" type speakers. For mini speakers & small satellites it should be set even higher. 80Hz is the "official" THX Xover frequency but I generally prefer 100Hz even on THX certified speakers.


Thanks; I'll experiment with that crossover setting.

#9 OFFLINE   rdopso

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 10:41 AM

The main problem with this is that the ceiling (especially if it is "textured") won't reflect back the extreme highs and these will be lost. Here are a couple of pix of how I have mounted my rear speakers (excuse the green wire, it has since been fixed. I designed the brackets myself and had a local cabinet maker bang out the parts for me which I assembled and stained.


Nice speaker shelves. Is this a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system? In what direction relative to the front are the rear surround speakers facing? They seem to be mounted pretty high on the wall.

#10 OFFLINE   Richard King

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 11:31 AM

It's for a 5.1 system, although my receiver is 7.1. They are aimed facing eachother, perpendicular to the fronts, with the main seating area between them. They are pretty high. I have since flipped the speakers over so that the tweeter is closer to ear level. This also makes the woof couple with the ceiling better which, in theory, will increase the bass output. The speakers are Monitor Audio Studio 6 which, while rather compact, are still not so small that I would want them down where they could be bumped off the shelves. They probably weigh in at about 20 pounds or so each and have a 6.5" woof.
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#11 OFFLINE   rdopso

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Posted 10 March 2004 - 09:02 AM

In that case I would recommend going back into the AVR-3803 set-up menu and change the crossover point to 100Hz. That's the Xover frequency that works best (in my experience) with small "bookshelf" type speakers. For mini speakers & small satellites it should be set even higher. 80Hz is the "official" THX Xover frequency but I generally prefer 100Hz even on THX certified speakers.


You are right on, HTguy; 100Hz crossover is better than 80 on my system using small SB2 NHT speakers. Thanks!

#12 OFFLINE   DarrellP

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 04:25 PM

Dolby recommends placing the rear speakers at a height of 6'. I have a similar situation where my couch is against the back wall & the left side is open. I placed both speakers on the rear wall at 6' high, pointing toward the front of the room and angled in toward the couch at about a 45 degree angle and this works very well.
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#13 OFFLINE   jgoggan

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 05:54 PM

Dolby recommends placing the rear speakers at a height of 6'.


Is this documented somewhere at their site? I had looked before, and everything I found just says "well above" the listener. I agree that 6' is probably a decent height -- but I wasn't aware that they had listed it specifically anywhere.

I have a similar situation where my couch is against the back wall & the left side is open. I placed both speakers on the rear wall at 6' high, pointing toward the front of the room and angled in toward the couch at about a 45 degree angle and this works very well.


Interesting. Dolby pretty much suggests every alternative except that one. :) They suggest to try facing each other, facing forward, facing away from each other, or angled forward and away (as opposed to forward and toward the couch). The last two suggestions are really for when you have side walls though so that you can bounce the sound off of them. But, they do say to try different things until it sounds proper for you. So, if it does, that is quite fine, of course. I just mention it so that others might try some of the other alternates that Dolby recommends if they can't do the from-the-sides that appears to be Dolby's primary recommendation if it is possible.

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#14 OFFLINE   DarrellP

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 06:35 PM

http://www.dolby.com....0110.html#s3.2
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#15 OFFLINE   Nick

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 08:08 PM

Keep in mind that for rear surrounds placed on the floor and firing up at the ceiling, the distance from the spkr to the ear is increased over direct. If your receiver's distance settings aren't recalibrated to the actual travel distance (up to the ceiling + down to your ears) then the RS/LS soundwaves may be out of phase with the soundwaves from your fronts, depending, of course on that distance.

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#16 OFFLINE   citico

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 11:43 AM

I have a set of Definitive Technology speakers(UIW BP/A) that I intend to ceiling
mount for SR and SL making my system 5.1. Will 14 guage four conductor wire be
adequate? I plan on using two conductor wires for each speaker. Total run 50 feet.

Thanks

#17 OFFLINE   olgeezer

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 01:45 PM

Also, remember to run Pink noise after placement. Many folks tend to over drive rear speakers. Also remember heavier gauge speakerwire for greater distance from the receiver.

#18 OFFLINE   JohnGfun

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Posted 10 October 2004 - 05:26 PM

http://www.dolby.com....0110.html#s3.2

Doesn't work For Me!

#19 OFFLINE   Richard King

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Posted 16 October 2004 - 01:23 PM

Will 14 guage four conductor wire be adequate?

Plenty.
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#20 OFFLINE   --Z-->

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Posted 17 November 2004 - 02:26 AM

Doesn't work For Me!

This Dolby link will work: Dolby | Home Entertainment | Room Layout and Speaker Setup




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