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7.1 placement dillema

by badge671 / November 10, 2005 12:37 AM PST

First off, I know everyone has differing opinions on the effectiveness of 7.1 (over 5/6.1). However, the shape of my room vs. the seating arrangement gives me a challenge in ANY case, so I've opted to give 7.1 a whirl. I think more speakers might be better in this case.

I have a diamond-shaped room (small room, equivalent to about 10x12), with the tv at the top, and the listeners seated on a sectional couch at the bottom point of the diamond. The long end of the couch is on the right wall, and the shorter end on the left wall. (If you draw a "check mark", that's basically the shape of the seating position.. two people would sit along the left side, and 3 people on the right). The TV wall is angled more toward the people on the right (long side).

Technically, there is no 'back wall'. I HAVE pulled the couch out a little bit from the wall. The right side is long enough where I can wallmount the RIGHT surround speaker and fire it directly down the line and slightly behind the listeners. My problem is the LEFT surround. To accomodate all the listeners, one rear (back) surround will be high up on the right wall, and the next rear surround makes it's way to the bottom corner, making sure to get one back surround on each side of the center/sweetspot. The listers on the left are slightly facing a different direction (and, so are there ears). Should the LEFT side surround speaker be behind them on the left wall, facing the other side surround? (in which case, it would be in FRONT of the listeners on the right wall). Should it be aimed toward the back corner, where the other back surround was placed? (so that it's firing in their left ears?). BUT, that may take away from the listeners on the RIGHT wall. Or, should I aim ALL speakers out, on all walls? Or, perhaps just that one speaker I will need to experiment with (just that left surround.. facing forward, backward, out, etc?). I know, the goal is "enveloping sound", so symetry is probably more important in this case, rather than worrying about whether or not the left surround speaker is in front of, or behind, the majority of listeners.

This is nearly impossible to explain without a picture. And, yes, I will be getting a receiver with an auto-setup and EQ. Just wondering if anyone has had a similar dillema, and how things worked out for them.

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Impossible problem to fully solve but...
by grimgraphix / November 10, 2005 2:47 AM PST
In reply to: 7.1 placement dillema

There is no way to ever completely solve your problem. Acoustical physics have certain rules that are constant. Still one question I have is what kind of speakers do you have or plan on using ? Your speaker type (not "brand" but the way the speaker works) may go a long way in overcoming some of your difficulties.

Do you plan on using Bipole, Dipole, or direct radiating speakers ?

You say it's approximately 10 x 12 which is equal to 120 square feet but what is the true square footage of the room ? How tall is the ceiling and is it flat ?

How far is the front speakers from the seating ?

Can you/will you hang speakers from the ceiling ? Is the room acoustically active (lots of echoes) or acoustically dead ?

Do you have 4 friends who are willing to hold satellite speakers and move them around at your command as you experiment with best placement ?

Have you considered brining in a professional ?

I have to say that with viewers sitting at different angles it sounds like you will have problems just getting an front sound stage.

Try posting a reference picture on yahoo photo album and give us the URL. Can't promise anything but this might help us help you.


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Update.. panoramic photos & layout..
by badge671 / November 10, 2005 2:30 PM PST

My speakers are direct radiating, I believe (JCL SCS200.7). However, the wallmount brackets allow the speakers to be easily angled in many directions.

The sweetspot is about 9+ feet from the TV.

The room is closer to 11x13

Ceiling is 7+ feet high (stucco surface)

Hardwood floor (I may consider putting a small rug between the TV and couch).

Hope the pictures help. And thanks again for any input.
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by badge671 / November 11, 2005 12:05 AM PST

I made a typo. My speakers are JBL (not "SCL")

I know that my setup will never be perfect (because my room just won't allow it). I'm not worried about perfection. I just want to set it up as best I can.

I was thinking, instead of mounting that right side-surround on the wall (like I already have, shown in the picture). Maybe I should tighten everything up a bit, on a plane completely parallel with the angle of the TV wall (with the sides shooting straight over the center 3 listeners?) However, the speakers might be too close together in that instance. As of right now, the spacing I have between them is a little over four feet with those two right surrounds.

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A picture is worth a thousand words !
by grimgraphix / November 11, 2005 1:22 AM PST

Thanks for the overview and photographs. A very big help in understanding your situation.

Couple quick questions.
Is this going to be a dedicated A?V room ?
How many people do you expect to be in the audience at any given time ?
Are you married to the sectional couch or would you consider different seating if money allows (sectional couch is big and not very versatile in your situation) ?
Big opening on side leaves acoustic hole - would you consider reflective screen, french doors, or false wall ?

Give me a day or 2 to think about this.

Anyone else out there have any ideas ?


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post script
by grimgraphix / November 11, 2005 1:31 AM PST

I can't see the ceiling above the doorway... is the opening/doorway to the other room (kitchen ?) floor to ceiling or is there a 8 to 10 inch drop down from the ceiling over the threshold on which to hang speakers ?


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by badge671 / November 11, 2005 1:38 AM PST
In reply to: post script

yes, there is a drop down, just enough to mount a speaker of that size.

As far as the couch, I'm not even done PAYING for it yet! LOL Yeah, that's the couch that I want. Any other couch, parallel to the TV, would just cut too much floor space.

My movie watching habits are MOSTLY myself (I live alone). I'm usually sitting/laying right in the corner of the couch (just to the right of the 'bullseye', if you're looking at the picture). The next most common scenario, one other person, seated at the bullseye. Third most common, 3-4 people.. with 2-3 people sitting to the left of the mark in the picture.

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by badge671 / November 11, 2005 1:41 AM PST
In reply to: yes

oh, and yes, I would consider putting in some kind of 'door' there down the road. Maybe one of those inexpensive 'accordian' type doors that slide.

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by badge671 / November 11, 2005 8:26 PM PST
In reply to: door

Thanks for your help, Grim. I'm looking forward to seeing what ideas you come up with.

Another thing to keep in mind, that couch is actually a lot easier to move than it looks. Another option might be, to re-angle the tv slightly, making the corner the sweetspot. That would make speaker symetry easier. And, I could just slide the couch out maybe 1 foot for movie watching, and slide it back when not in use? Just a thought. It's just hard to say, since the long end of the couch holds the most people. I wouldn't want the TV to be angled too far out of their line of sight.

Just brainstorming here

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Any luck?
by badge671 / November 13, 2005 1:32 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks!

Hey, Grim

Any luck yet?

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by grimgraphix / November 14, 2005 12:19 PM PST
In reply to: Any luck?

This is just a suggestion to get optimized sound. You can take some or all of the advice depending on what fits your sensibilities.

First off, rectangular rooms are most often used for surround sound. Dividing the room up to create 3 zones is usually the way to start. The oddly angled wall, big open door way and almost square shape of your room presents a real conundrum... if you get a auto setup receiver that uses a microphone like some of the Denon or even less expensive Pioneers out there then getting the speaker location "close enough" will help a lot.

I don't see you helping your viewers on the left couch. Your gonna have to tweak the sound out for the couch on the back wall and wrestle to see who gets the sweet spot. ];)

First - slide the TV over a little bit to center it up on the wall. Your main speakers should be equally spaced on either side of the TV and raised on speaker stands (if needed) to bring them up to ear level while sitting down. Your center channel speaker should be placed either on top of or below your TV screen. Their should be no more than 15 to 20 inches height difference between your main speakers and your center channel. Ideally speaking, your main speakers and your center should all be the same distance from the main viewer's seating meaning that if it's 10 feet to the center speaker then it's 10 feet to the right and the left as well. This will create a slight arc in speaker placement but the angled wall behind the TV to the right will facilitate this... the only speaker sitting out from the wall will be the left.

This leaves you with 4 surrounds to place. 2 for the back and 1 for either side. I would start by bringing the couch out from the back wall by a couple feet. This would get you out into that "third of a room" zone I was talking about and give you a little breathing room for your surrounds. Ideally speaking again, surrounds should be placed at about ear level - when your standing up. Since you can't do that then here's where your gonna have to get creative...

Your 2 back surrounds. I would hang them off the ceiling, right above your head, and point them towards the back wall. What your looking for with surround sound speakers is an ambient, diffused sound. You should never have your attention drawn to the back speakers unless the sound engineer meant for you to notice them. The sound from the ceiling mounted speakers should bounce off the walls like a billiard ball on a pool table. You want the sound to reflect off the wall towards the back of your head. This is where your friends willingness to hold speakers while you sit and listen comes in handy. You will have to move around and adjust where the speakers hang and point to get the best effect. Make sure the speaker mounts you get can repeat the angle you find works best.

The other 2 surrounds will go on either side and a bit forward of where you plan on sitting. Hang one as low as the ledge above the doorway allows. The other speaker should be in the same location opposite and above the window. Again having friends to hold these speakers while listening to them before mounting will help greatly.

Here is a quick, easy tip for placing your sub. Put the subwoofer where you would normally sit. Then walk around the walls and listen for where you get the best bass response. That is where you put your sub.

Use a home audio set up/test disc for initial setup and tweaking your speakers if you don't get a receiver that supports auto setup.

Get an area rug for the middle of the room.

There are excel spread sheet programs out there that allow you to just punch in the measurements of your room for exact placement. Due to the odd dimensions of your room they won't work. Your going to have to experiment to get the right placement. Dolby Labs and some other sites offer advice for speaker placement as well.

I may have told you stuff you already know. If anyone else has another approach then please step up. Let us know what you end up doing Badge.


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Very helpful..
by badge671 / November 14, 2005 8:52 PM PST
In reply to: Ok...

Thanks, Grim

Yes, I was aware of the basics (distance, placement & arc of front speakers). I don't anticipate many problems with setting up the front stage. As you pointed out, the front wall pretty much accomodates that.

Your ideas on my options for the back seem very good, and I will experiment. I will definitely let you know how things go. But, it will probably be a few weeks before I actually purchase my receiver (finances).

I did pull the couch out about a foot last night after reading your suggestion. I think that will work just fine (two feet would be a bit much for my room). But, good news.. judging by where I moved my couch, I should be able to mount those side surrounds a little lower (i.e. ear-level, while standing. Probably, right before the hang-down on the doorway, and right before the window on the other side. Those looked like good spots after I moved the couch out last night.

I think I will start by picking my spots for the SL and SR speakers. I will mount them. Then, I will save the Back surrounds for when I get the receiver. I will plan on using ceiling mounts over the seating area, as you suggested. And it will definitely be easier for a friend to help with just those two speakers. One person should be able to hold them both for me, simulatneously. After viewing things again, I suspect that possibly angling them, not only back, but also UP slightly.. bouncing them off the back ceiling at an angle, before hitting the back wall, may be helpful in creating the desired affect. We'll see, and I'll keep you posted. In any case, my options are opened up now. And, like I said, I can always slide the couch back very easily, when not in use and entertaining larger crowds for other things.

Thanks again, Grim. I appreciate the time and thought you put into it.


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post script..
by badge671 / November 14, 2005 8:56 PM PST
In reply to: Very helpful..

In addition, now that I've moved the couch out further, I will definitely be utilizing that back corner when I mount the back surrounds. I'll at least be able to get one of those speakers bouncing sound around in that back corner area by using your suggestion.

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(NT) (NT) Cool & Good Luck
by grimgraphix / November 14, 2005 11:34 PM PST
In reply to: post script..
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