Question 5.2 vs 7.2 Worth the upgrade?

F16K

Active Member
I'm currently running a 5.2 configuration with Monitor Audio Silver RX8's/RX Centre/RX-FX (Di-Pole)/RX-W12 x 2 powered by a Denon AVC-X8500H. I've been contemplating adding additional FX speakers for a 7.2 set up but am curios if its worth the effort? Has anyone made the switch and experienced a noticeable improvement? I do understand results will vary based on room constraints and speakers, just trying to gauge the average experience people have.

When I installed the side speakers, I thought they were supposed to be rears, only as I've learnt more that I've realised they're incorrectly positioned. But tbh they sound great where they are, possibly due to the room layout/size and the speaker design, in reality they are probably less than 1m away from where they ought to be. Which is another reason I'm a little reluctant to jump straight in and purchase another set of speakers.

Before anyone says it, Atmos is in my future! But I can't commit to cutting holes in the ceiling just yet, and it'll prove challenging the current ceiling due to the horrible textured finish. So that's out of the equation for the time being.

Another reason for my hesitation is that most (if not all) broadcast/streamed content is 5.1 which renders the rears somewhat pointless.
Would love to hear peoples experiences of the upgrade and would I could potentially expect.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
You went all in with the receiver, nice! 👍

I wanted to ask is height channels option for you? Placed either high up on front wall or side walls? You didn´t mention them (ceiling and upfiring is no go). Example the new Bronze AMS has keyholes rear of the speakers so they can be wall mounted with couple screws easily (easy to fill up even if renting) and due to angle they fire to MLP. Of course you can mix other brands aswell. If this is something you haven´t considered yet, check the article below. Wires can be hidden quite easily too..


Just cause most people would take heights over surround backs probably in a heart beat. Using the upmixers (DSU/Neural:X) in your Denon you get them working with all material!
 

anden

Standard Member
I went from a MA Silver (5th gen) 5.1 system to 7.1. The rear speakers added a noticeable and definitely enjoyable dimension to the surround effect. My room is relatively long, or deep, about 7 meters, with seats at different distances from the screen, and I can't say if much shorter rooms with let's say single row seating towards a rear wall would gain as much with 7.x over 5.x. I have Silver FX side surrounds and went with Silver 1 bookshelf speakers as rear surrounds.

Judging by Netflix content, I think the number of Atmos titles has grown significantly and isn't that small today. Additionally, I also have a Denon AVR, an X4500H, and think the sound channels upscaling feature seems to work really well when playing native 5.1 content upscaled.

On a side note, I also upgraded the 5th gen Silver Center to the C350 center, which I perceive as perhaps an even bigger improvement. I did have to change the media cabinet to make space for the larger speaker though.
 

F16K

Active Member
You went all in with the receiver, nice! 👍

I wanted to ask is height channels option for you? Placed either high up on front wall or side walls? You didn´t mention them (ceiling and upfiring is no go). Example the new Bronze AMS has keyholes rear of the speakers so they can be wall mounted with couple screws easily (easy to fill up even if renting) and due to angle they fire to MLP. Of course you can mix other brands aswell. If this is something you haven´t considered yet, check the article below. Wires can be hidden quite easily too..


Just cause most people would take heights over surround backs probably in a heart beat. Using the upmixers (DSU/Neural:X) in your Denon you get them working with all material!

Thanks for the suggestion, hadn't contemplated anything like the AMS, to be honest had ruled out front heights as I thought things had moved on to things like Atmos, but those seem to serve a different purpose, so will do some research and give that article a read!

My only issue is the fact the room in question has a tall/deep cove made of plaster, so wouldn't be able to get them right up to the ceiling, whether that would have a detrimental effect I'm unsure.
My room is somewhat of a compromise, but I still enjoy it and always looking to make improvements. I have some Keff Eggs in my living room, so could pinch a couple of them and experiment before taking the plunge.
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
Yeah defo worth going from 5.1 to 7.1 I'm using logic 7 which expands mono, stereo, pro logic, 4.0, 5.1 to 7.1
 

F16K

Active Member
I went from a MA Silver (5th gen) 5.1 system to 7.1. The rear speakers added a noticeable and definitely enjoyable dimension to the surround effect. My room is relatively long, or deep, about 7 meters, with seats at different distances from the screen, and I can't say if much shorter rooms with let's say single row seating towards a rear wall would gain as much with 7.x over 5.x. I have Silver FX side surrounds and went with Silver 1 bookshelf speakers as rear surrounds.

Judging by Netflix content, I think the number of Atmos titles has grown significantly and isn't that small today. Additionally, I also have a Denon AVR, an X4500H, and think the sound channels upscaling feature seems to work really well when playing native 5.1 content upscaled.

On a side note, I also upgraded the 5th gen Silver Center to the C350 center, which I perceive as perhaps an even bigger improvement. I did have to change the media cabinet to make space for the larger speaker though.

Thanks for sharing that, does give me some idea what to expect. As mentioned above, my room is unfortunately a bit of a compromise (our bedroom), so its all somewhat packed in to a smallish room (4.3m x 3.15m). Projector screen at one end, bed almost at the back of the other end, although I'm thinking of pushing it further forward to allow a bit more separation if I do upgrade to 7.1. I'd probably get another set of FX just for ease of mounting and hopefully the Bi/Di-Pole will help, if I had a longer room with the space, I'd certainly consider some bookshelf speakers.

Good to know about the streaming services offering more, and that upscaling sounds good, my brother has been modifying his more modest setup and reported improvements, in what is an even more compromised room than mine, hence reigniting my curiosity.

Also, thanks for the suggestion of the C350, had always wondered if it'd be a worth while upgrade, I do sometimes struggle to get the centre to sound natural and unified with the RX8's, although much much better since upgrading to this receiver. If I manage to find one second hand I'll give it a go and use my existing one for my living room system with Kef Eggs, the centre on that is horrible without a lot of tweaking, and bearable with lol.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the suggestion, hadn't contemplated anything like the AMS, to be honest had ruled out front heights as I thought things had moved on to things like Atmos, but those seem to serve a different purpose, so will do some research and give that article a read!

My only issue is the fact the room in question has a tall/deep cove made of plaster, so wouldn't be able to get them right up to the ceiling, whether that would have a detrimental effect I'm unsure.
My room is somewhat of a compromise, but I still enjoy it and always looking to make improvements. I have some Keff Eggs in my living room, so could pinch a couple of them and experiment before taking the plunge.

No issue, there is plenty of guys that have them slightly lower from ceiling. Small room with Dali Alteco C1s:

img_5780-jpg.1029135



Kef Eggs with Silver RX8s! ;) Centre channel has been swapped to Silver, but this member still uses Eggs as front and rear heights!

img_6063-2-jpg.1096943
 

F16K

Active Member
Interesting, might have to experiment this weekend!
Don't think I have enough spare speaker cable though :laugh: Thats another topic/thread Im probably going to be starting soon 😳
 

F16K

Active Member
You don´t need anything more expensive, unless it needs to be white and the usual ones are sold out..

Amazon product


And to hide the wire:

Funnily enough, thats exactly what I used in the living room for the Kef’s, quality seems good, can’t really comment on sound other than not noticing anything obvious. I’ve not used the Kef’s for a few years, so can’t recall what they sounded like before, but compared to my MA system, they’re significantly brighter which is to be expected, probably not the cable.

I’ve been researching speaker wire and was tempted to try the Canare 4S11 everyone seems to rave about for my main system. At the moment using Chord Leyline iirc for the rears/surrounds, and Van Den Hul CS-122 for the front channels. According to the theory, you need a thicker gauge for the long runs, and to me, the Leyline has made the surrounds brighter, which I’m not sure if I’m keen on. Another thing I need to experiment with when I find the time.
 

MrNismo

Active Member
I went from 5.1 to 7.1 a few years ago.
My AVR was 7.1 but I never saw the NEED to add 2 more speakers as I'd been happy with 5.1 on an old system for years.
But.
It's like AC in a car.
Driving with the windows open in summer and no AC is fine and enjoyable.
But once you've had AC you'd miss it if you didn't have it anymore.

So it's a yes from me
 

F16K

Active Member
Thanks for the feedback, and great analogy 👍 Definitely know what you mean regrading a/c, would never have a car without it!

Well, I bit the bullet and bought another set of FX’s, now need to order a large qty of speaker wire if I’m going to be experimenting with the height speakers too. Will probably get the wire from Amazon for the time being and see how I get on.
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
Thanks for the feedback, and great analogy 👍 Definitely know what you mean regrading a/c, would never have a car without it!

Well, I bit the bullet and bought another set of FX’s, now need to order a large qty of speaker wire if I’m going to be experimenting with the height speakers too. Will probably get the wire from Amazon for the time being and see how I get on.

I would recommend monopole bipole or triple over dipole
 

F16K

Active Member
Yeah, I’m going to experiment with that too, but from what I’ve read, they’ll likely be staying on bi-pole despite MA’s recommendation.
 

Mr Wolf

Active Member
7.1 is a significant improvement over 5.1 in my experience provided your seating isn’t up against a wall. I‘ve been running with it for 16 years and overall find it appreciably more immersive. 7 channel stereo is great for ambient music too. Don’t worry about most material being mixed in 5.1 - just run the Dolby PLIIx decoder to upmix the back channels then you’ll get sound out of them with everything you watch. The PLIIx Music option works really well too.
 

F16K

Active Member
Well I received them, but haven’t managed to set them up yet, it’s the wife’s birthday today, so don’t think it‘d go down too well!

Briefly tested them yesterday (as they’re second hand) and noticed when changing the system to 7.1 from 5.1, the front channels got significantly quieter. Didn’t run through calibration or anything, just an obvious change in levels when adding surround backs in the speaker configuration. After removing the speakers, I changed it back to 5.1 and the front levels came back up, so I’m interested to see what it’ll sound like once installed and calibrated.

Im just wondering how high to fit the side and rear channels, we’re sitting fairly high on a tall bed (roughly 117cm), mounting them 60cm above ear height seems a bit much, especially as the walls are only 1m or so away from the listening position. The current rears are approx 38cm above ear level (to centre of the cone), and I’ve always felt this was a good compromise.
If I go to 60cm, I fear when I add atmos channels, it’ll get a bit muddy with them all merging into one.

It seems as though there should be a guide to optimal channel heights in degrees as there is for channel positions. Though I may be over thinking!
Anyone have any recommendations based on their experiences? I’d rather not drill hundreds of holes in the wall :laugh:
 

Mr Wolf

Active Member
Personally I would put them at the same height as your existing surrounds so that any sound panning around is at the same level.

Also, 38cm above ear level is within the normally suggested range of 30-60cm for 5.1/7.1 surrounds plus they're probably low enough that if you go to Atmos you wont have to lower them to create sufficient separation between them and the top level channels.
 

F16K

Active Member
Personally I would put them at the same height as your existing surrounds so that any sound panning around is at the same level.

Also, 38cm above ear level is within the normally suggested range of 30-60cm for 5.1/7.1 surrounds plus they're probably low enough that if you go to Atmos you wont have to lower them to create sufficient separation between them and the top level channels.

Thats exactly what I’m hoping :smashin: I’m going to be moving the existing surrounds across the wall slightly towards the centre (only so much I can due to a window), this will make them sound a bit more from behind and I’m hoping to help with a little more separation from the new surrounds.

Also considering putting the new surrounds at as 70-80 degrees rather than 90 to help again with separation, hoping that as the tweeters are side firing at around 70 deg it won’t be so noticeable.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
I have played with 7.1 a number of times. It requires me to borrow speakers from another room (which conveniently are the same as my 5.1 surrounds) and it also requires moving some furniture. To make it easier, I leave the cables in place. I like the effect and it is noticeably better especially with 7.1 source material. However, my 7.1 configuration does not get wife approval (or even mine really, it doesn't look good) and there is little 7.1 source material; so, it will never be a permanent configuration.

As a lockdown treat, I bought myself some Atmos speakers. These were simple to install in upfiring mode on top of my mains. The wiring was easy and neat as the cables could run alongside the mains. Better still, it gets wife approval and hence is now our standard set-up. I still sometimes play when she is out and have them high and down-firing but, either way, I like them more than 7.1. Also, there is a growing amount of Atmos source material.

I dream of 7.2.2 but in the real world of budgets and wife approval factor, I much prefer 5.1.2 over 7.1. I could claim that I have 5.2.2 as I have two subs but my AVR (Denon X3200W) sends the same signal to both so I don't think of it as 5.2.2.
 

F16K

Active Member
Well, I managed to get them installed last night. Wife approval not received, but I’ve never let it stop me before, so I’m not about to start now! 😂 I finally decided to do a bit of research myself on 7.1 content, and as you mentioned, it seems somewhat scarce, but I’ll see how I get on after calibration today and the up-mix setting.

I pushed my bed further forward last week in preparation for this (wife only noticed yesterday due to the depression in the carpet 😆). As a result, I’ve had to raise the speakers to 50cm above ear level to account for height of headboard, so I’ve mounted the surrounds the same height as the rears.
I’ve also placed them a little forward of 90deg to try to get a bit more distance/separation from the backs, hopefully this won’t be too detrimental. I’ll be testing it with a few Blu-ray’s once it’s all calibrated, but am already enjoying the wrap around sound when playing music.
Not experimented with the bi/di-pole settings yet, just left them in bi-pole for now, but placed them in the positions suggested by MA so it’ll be easier to test later. I’m assuming in bi-pole mode they’ll all act identically.

I foresee me getting atmos speakers later in the year, I only added the rear surrounds as I found them locally relatively cheap (second hand) and in the same finish as my existing speakers.

I now regret not buying a 4K Fire Stick during the Black Friday sales, as it would seem like thats the only platform prime video will play 7.1 content, although this again may only be on 4K/UHD content which I can’t play as my projector is only 1080p 🤦🏻‍♂️

Oh well, can never have too many speakers!
 

Mr Wolf

Active Member
Your streaming device for native 7.1 material must support the Dolby Digital Plus (DD+) format. Not all streaming devices support DD+ (my 2016 Samsung TV doesn’t) but most standalone streaming devices do - Firesticks, Roku, NowTV etc. I just use a stick in the AVR and let ARC do the switching when the stick is powered up.

DD+ also supports a higher bit rate than DD for better SQ but I’m not aware that any of the streaming services are currently making use of it. A while ago Netflix announced an increase from 192 to 640kbps audio for their 5.1 streams but that’s no higher that the older DD format supports anyway.
 

F16K

Active Member
Initial impressions are good! Run Audyssey and tweaked the settings as I normally would, just testing with Rise of Skywalker Blu-ray and enjoying the immersion, feels a lot more like a cinema. Cant wait to get atmos channels (and a 4K projector at some point!).

Will do some testing with Sky Q, old Fire Stick and old Apple TV. Its a bit of a minefield with what does what, lots of conflicting info online. I‘ll dig my fire stick out and plug it back into my amp, since the sky q box now has apps for Netflix/Prime/Disney+ I disconnected everything other than the PS4 to neaten the wiring and my av rack.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
The 4k Firestick is not perfect. It does Atmos for Prime and Disney but not Netflix. Fortunately, my Samsung TV does Atmos for Netflix and Prime but not Disney. So, the Firestick is just for Disney.
 

Adam M

Active Member
Got to say, your wife must be very accommodating. There’s is no way on earth I’d be allowed a 7.1 set up in the bedroom, especially one with a behemoth of an 8500 powering it all to fit somewhere in the room. To then say you want a 4K projector too - I say save your money and invest in a different room or a new place with a separate room if you haven’t got the room itself already - make sure you hang on to that wife in the process!
 

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