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Surround sound system recommendations

by Jerry_Hofmann / June 17, 2010 2:18 AM PDT

The room's pre wired for a 5.1 system, and the wires terminate on the ceiling, however the front speakers would be mounted about 13-14ft in the air (has cathedral ceilings and wood floors), where the back speakers would be about 9' in the air. Whatcha think? Not good or won't matter? Would I hear a difference if not that high in the air or?

Spoke to a person who thought to get real surround sound the speakers need to be at ear level and not one at 9' then the others at 14 or so. I tend to agree, but really have no experience to back this up with.

Front floor speakers can't be used because there is a hallway right next to the only place we can put the TV in the family room. We could mount a sound bar however just above the TV. Of course it's not going to give us real live surround... so it's been suggested that we do is get one of these (suggestions?) PLUS add two rears and a subwoofer. Estheically, I like the idea, and we'd use a 7.2 Onkyo to drive it all with. Waiting on the 708 or 808 for this as it is to be used with a new Panasonic TC-V54VT25... (3D needs to have HDMI 1.4, and I want the network connections these receivers have).

I'd love to hear some ideas here on what to buy as far as a speaker set. The room is very live (wood floors and over the cove that the TV must be in, it is open to yet another room sans wood floors, and to the side of the family room resides the kitchen with also highly reflective wood everywhere as well as on the floors. My fabulous wife and I don't listen to extremely loud sound, but do want to use the system for iPod playback CD's and radio.

Thanks for any input here, i'd love to hear what you all think when you've nothing to gain by selling me gear.

Jerry

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9 feet maybe high, but...
by ahtoi / June 17, 2010 2:52 AM PDT

when pointed the speakers in the correct positions, it won't be so bad. I suggest try it and see if you like it or not.

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Thanks for the feedback but...
by Jerry_Hofmann / June 17, 2010 3:50 AM PDT

What about the front? Try true 5.1 speakers in the air that high (about 13-14')? Maybe put the center down on or just above the TV...?

Jerry

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What's your budget?
by minimalist / June 17, 2010 3:44 AM PDT

The height may bother your sensibilities (its certainly not perfect to have a center channel or fronts that high up... rears can be higher) but you could always feed the wires down further in the wall and patch the old holes if you are not happy.

I think you are going to need some absorptive surfaces in that room. Cathedral ceilings, open floor plans and hard wood floors can kill even the best of systems. I'd say its time for you and your wife to find some nice thick area rugs you like and perhaps some heavy curtains. There's rarely such a thing as a perfect space for a sound system in most homes but some simple additions like rugs, soft furniture, and curtains can go a long way.

7.1 systems are nice but keep in mind that most content, even blu-ray HD audio, is still only 5.1 (big blockbusters sometimes being the exception but its still only about 10% or less of the blu-rays out there). AVR's can interpret (make up) these channels for you but its not actually on the disc, its just a simulation (that also how Dolby Pro Logic IIz's "height" channels are created). In other words, don;t get too wrapped up in having to have 6.1, 7.1 or 9.1 if its not convenient. 5.1 is still pretty much the standard.

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Thanks!
by Jerry_Hofmann / June 17, 2010 4:04 AM PDT
In reply to: What's your budget?

Budget isn't as much an issue as quality sound is. I'll spend what it takes to a point, but feel I shouldn't be spending much more than the 3k I just spent on the set... make sense?

I talked to the head tech at my local Best Buy just now about it, and he felt that with the right receiver (he personally liked Pioneer's higher end stuff because he sees few of them in for repair and likes the performance too. But he said that with the right one, we could angle the sound appropriately enough, and it would be better than the idea of using a high end sound bar (like a Yamaha or Definitive) and rears with sub...

Agreed with the sound dampening. We already have a good sized rug there, and will add more if need be for sure.

I'm actually in the film/video production business and know full well that 5.1 is most all you ever get anyway. I was thinking we'd use a sound bar that's 5.1, but drive two of the fronts as the "7" portion of a 7.2 system, then drive the rears as true surround speakers. Read somewhere that a user did this and was very happy with it, basically getting true 5.1 out of this setup.

I'd love to be able to NOT do that though, and use the pre-wired ceiling mount solution. Use small enough speakers size wise, and put mounts that really allow me to point them where they need to go. Keep the Center down near the TV...? Maybe give up on true 5.1 and live with just a better sound than the TV set has (which really wouldn't take much IMHO)

But that said, I do have that guarantee that will be enforced if I'm not happy with what I buy. Best Buy near me seems to be very good at their word. (I hear that quality service from them ranges a lot from store to store, but feel I've been pretty lucky with them so far)

Jerry

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My Best Buy doesn;t have a Magnolia Home Theater
by minimalist / June 17, 2010 5:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks!

mini-store inside so the selection is pretty low end (lots of cheap plastic HTIB's and some overpriced Bose systems). The Magnolia stores are supposed to have a lot more to choose from and more knowledgeable staff.

That's a nice budget you've got so I'd encourage you to head over to the AVS forums to talk about it with some serious audiophiles who know their stuff. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/

I can tell you that I spent 2,700 on my sound setup last year (Onkyo 706 AVR and 5 Aperion Audio speakers ranging from 4-6 inch drivers with an dual firing 10" Aperion sub.). The step up from my old stereo sat sub system with 2.5" driver and 8" subs is tremendous (you just can't get that warm lower midrange without some decent sized drivers). So watch out for satellites that are too small because the sound can be a bit shrill. Given how large your space is you are going to need some oomph to fill it with clean sound.

You might also want to seek out a specialty audio shop in your area (if you have a decent one) as they can be very flexible about letting your try out speakers at home (although admittedly a lot of them have gone the custom installer router and barely keep any stock around). I've heard good things about Definitive Technology and Paradigm in this price range. And then there are good online options too (some, like Aperion, have free 30 day trials with free shipping both ways should you not be satidfied). You could look at them, Energy, and SVC for starters.

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