5.1 or 7.1 system

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by kryten, Jun 11, 2003.

  1. kryten

    kryten
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    Well, I'm still trying to decide on a processor and poweramp combo but I think I need to decide first whether I'm going to be running a 5.1 or 7.1 setup as that affects the final decision.

    I've attached a floorplan of the room - Dynaudio Contour 1.3MkII up front with an Audience 122C Centre and Audience 52 rears and REL Strata III sub.

    The sofa position is non-negotiable (already managed to get agreement to rip out the old fireplace), and apart from a radiator and the stands for the rear speakers the sofa is pretty much against the rear wall.

    The question is, will it be possible to get an additional two rear speakers into the room to improve the rear sound, or am I better off sticking with the existing pair of rears?

    I guess I'm thinking of either a pair of the Audience 42W wall mount speakers equally spaced between the 52s or possibly a couple of ceiling speakers, but these would end up directly above the listening position, and pointing directly downwards.

    So, anyone else played around with rear speakers a lot?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Ian J

    Ian J
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    As a matter of interest I would have thought that the rear speakers were already too close for direct radiating but how does it sound to you
     
  3. kryten

    kryten
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    Well, they are a bit close, but there's nowhere else to put them (don't think they'd work from the kitchen on the other side of the wall!)

    My DSP-A1 has gone bang, so I'm using a borrowed Arcam AV50 but it sounds pretty good. Its difficult to compare to before as I've changed the DVD player, AMP and all the speakers in the last month!!

    I've been playing with the rear levels and dropped them off a dB or so from the SPL set level and that has helped a lot with the sense of things moving towards and across the rear (as opposed to sounds jumping out of one of the rear speakers only)

    Front/back transitions are pretty good and rear left/right movements are also fairly convincing. There is some 'localisation' of rear effects when they're purely from one speaker or the other but overall, its pretty good - can't seem much else I can do really.

    I guess the best answer is 'try it' but if I don't need 7 channels then I can save on the new amp and until I've got another amp/processor I can't try it :(

    Thinking about it, I've got some of the old Yamaha 'thin' effects speakers I could try if I find another amp but IIRC they're not full range (and certainly won't match tonally with the existing speakers).
     
  4. kryten

    kryten
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    Let me throw another thought in:

    Assuming I have £2.5k to spend on a poweramp. This fits nicely with say an Arcam P7 which will do all 7 channels.

    Now, suppose I dump the two extra rear channels. Now I have the same amount, PLUS the 500 quid I would have spent on the rear speakers which gives me £3k to spend on a FIVE channel poweramp.

    Has anyone done any comparison like this, or care to suggest if the extra cash for five channels is likely to bring a _noticeable_ benefit in the sound quality?

    Its going to be almost impossible to demo this sort of tradeoff so I'm looking for any advice and opinions......
     
  5. Electric Mayhem

    Electric Mayhem
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    Ideally you need some depth behind you to make the most of ES/EX tracks. Personally, given your setup diagram, I wouldn't think you would benefit from going to a 7.1 setup and should stick with 5.1 (unless you can move the sofa forward a metre or so!).

    3 grand for an amp takes you up into Bryston territory although the latest 9BSST (5ch) is around 3.5K.

    Another thing that you might be able to do (but you would have to check if this is possible) would be to stick with the Arcam P7 and use the two spare amps to bi-amp your front speakers. The majority of processors now have decoding for ES/EX so at least you are covered if you ever want to use this facility.:)
     
  6. marck

    marck
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    I actually had the same dilema - infact I was running 7.1 channels, but I decided to replace my sides and rears with better rear speakers and just use my 5 channel amp. This way all speakers were the same tonally, using the same amplifier and same cables etc.
    Well, all I can say is that it was a massive improvement. Make no mistake, 5.1 very good speakers with 1 very good amplifier is better than 7.1 average speakers and 2 different amplifiers.
     
  7. kryten

    kryten
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    Thanks Jase - bi-amping isn't possible as the Dyns don't support it!

    I do have two horrible old technics surround speakers in the kitchen (they are plastic!) but two channels of a P7 seems like it would be wasted on such, er, awful speakers!

    Would the Bryston be a big step up from a P7? - I might try and get a listen, but finding a dealer that's reasonably close that stocks both is difficult. Also, I know they do a 20 year warranty, but does it have to be shipped back to Canada if it goes wrong?

    Moving the sofa forward isn't an option (its been Vetoed!). I thought that was the idea of the Time Alignment part of setup, to make the speakers seem further away than they really are...

    Marck - thanks for the info, if I was to add two more rears then they would be tonally matched so a bit different to your problem.
     
  8. Electric Mayhem

    Electric Mayhem
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    By all accounts the Arcam is a superb amp but so is the Bryston, so you really need to hear them both for yourself. Whether the Bryston is worth a grand more only you can decide! Not sure whether you have to send the amp back to Canada if it goes wrong or if it can be repaired in the UK by their distributor.

    With regards to the Time Alignment, personally I key in the distances that the speakers actually are from my listening position. Whilst you can tinker with them to some extent I still think it's better to physically have the speakers set back and the time alignment set properly.
     
  9. marck

    marck
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    Go and try the Copland 5 channel amp - you may well be surprised:D
     
  10. Matt F

    Matt F
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    Looking at your floor plan I would definitely stick with 5.1 - don't forget that you still hear the surround back channel with 5.1 speakers, you just hear it mixed in (split equally) with the normal 2 rear channels. 6.1 extracts this matrixed channel and sends it to either 1 or 2 "surround back" speakers.

    Matt.
     
  11. kryten

    kryten
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    I'll give 7.1 a try when I get a new processor then, but I'm guessing it will be a lot of hassle for not much gain.

    Does anyone know how much a 'height' channel would be used - I assume a ceiling speaker would be perfect for that??
     
  12. Electric Mayhem

    Electric Mayhem
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    Still a bit of an unknown quantity as there don't seem to be many amps/processors etc that have the decoding. TAG is one of them I think.

    The other problem would be lack of software that support it, although I believe you can switch the processing on in much the same way that you can with ES/EX processing on normal 5.1 tracks.

    Another speaker (and amp!) to add into the equation!:D
     

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