Question Atmos 5.1.4 overhead speaker placement question

zimbo000

Active Member
I have an existing 5.1 surround setup that I am looking at upgrading to a 5.1.4 overhead speaker Atmos system. (New receiver will be required of course and I cannot use Atmos enabled speakers due to the existing speakers, which I am more than happy with.)

I will use discrete speakers, not in-ceiling. I'm considering a pair of Bowers & Wilkins M-1 Satellite Speakers - anyone got these or seen any reviews?

The question - I have read the Dolby guide (link) on placement but can find no detailed information on the distance the front overheads should be located on the ceiling from the seating/listening position. i.e. assuming speakers 7 are on the back wall of the room, what is the distance from speaker 6 to 7 minus the 'sofa to back wall' distance?

In the diagram it looks like the fronts are about halfway from the TV to the listening position. But surely the distance might alter based on room size? Is there any 'official' guidance?

Also, it seems I would angle all of the new ceiling speakers to point directly at the listening position - is that correct?
 

494930

Distinguished Member
will use discrete speakers, not in-ceiling. I'm considering a pair of Bowers & Wilkins M-1 Satellite Speakers - anyone got these or seen any reviews?
Noting wrong with that choice, there's a few using them on here. I'm guessing you have B&W main speakers? It's best to match the Atmos speaker to the mains as much as practicable.
The question - I have read the Dolby guide (link) on placement but can find no detailed information on the distance the front overheads should be located on the ceiling from the seating/listening position. i.e. assuming speakers 7 are on the back wall of the room, what is the distance from speaker 6 to 7 minus the 'sofa to back wall' distance?
Dolby don't quote any distances to speakers, it's all about the angles. For a .4 setup that's 30-55° fore/aft which requires some math depending on your head and ceiling heights. From memory, in my room (2.4m ceiling, 0.95m head height) that equated to 125cm +/-25cm infront/behind.
In the diagram it looks like the fronts are about halfway from the TV to the listening position. But surely the distance might alter based on room size? Is there any 'official' guidance?
As above, ignore the diagrams, it's the angles that matter.

Have a read of the official installation guide before starting. I have to warn you, its quite long. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjAAegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw2ULjInPxxrHQ-qLxeC3I1z

I had a quick scan just now and it seems some things have been updated. It appears that Dolby now recommend you put your rear Atmos speakers on the rear wall instead of the ceiling.
That'll teach me to skim read, that instruction was for a x.x.8 setup. Atmos speakers in a .4 setup still go in the ceiling.

Best to pour yourself a coffee and go through it all when you have the time. Remember that it's a guide, most people will have to compromise to a certain extent.
 
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Damp Squid

Active Member
I use M1's on stands for side surrounds and they would work well as Atmos speakers as the brackets allow flexible positioning.

Here's an easy way to calculate the position of the Atmos speakers for a 45 degree angle. They should be the same distance forward and back from the main listening position as the distance from the top of your seated head position to the ceiling.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
A diagram of your room with dimensions, screen position and MLP would certainly help us to help you. As a rule the rearmost Atmos should be around half a metre behind the MLP and inside the surrounds' position. The front pair of Atmos should be no more than 50% of the distance between the MLP and the screen. If there is a fair distance between the MLP and the screen then the Atmos should be within 50 to 40%. Both sets of speakers should be in line with the front left and right.

Now this is a rough guide for a 5.1.4 and should not be taken as gospel because I've no idea of your room size and positioning.
 

zimbo000

Active Member
Thank you for all the replies. Room setup attached.

@484930 - " I'm guessing you have B&W main speakers? It's best to match the Atmos speaker to the mains as much as practicable."
No, I don't, but point understood. My front speakers are 40 years old and, IMHO, remain as brilliant and excellent as when I first heard them in a demo room all those years ago. Chosen for music initially, they, to my ears, also work great with movies. I hope they never die... :)

@Damp Squid - "I use M1's on stands for side surrounds and they would work well as Atmos speakers as the brackets allow flexible positioning."
Good to know. I also downloaded the manual and can see that I should be able to angle the speakers to the MLP.

@gibbsy - " As a rule the rearmost Atmos should be around half a metre behind the MLP and inside the surrounds' position."
I was aware of the ideal positioning for rears when I set the system up but had to compromise so the speakers and MLP armchair are in a line on the back wall. My thinking now is that the rear Atmos' will be directly above the rear surrounds at ceiling height. Yes/no?

Any further suggestions greatly received. Thanks in advance.

Lounge surround setup.jpg
 

gibbsy

Moderator
My thinking now is that the rear Atmos' will be directly above the rear surrounds at ceiling height. Yes/no?
I would say your room in it's current orientation is too tight for 5.1.4 and suitable only for 5.1.2. I'm also a little concerned about the above. Do you mean that your surrounds are at ceiling height?
 

zimbo000

Active Member
Do you mean that your surrounds are at ceiling height?
No. Per the room layout diagram the rear surrounds are 1.5 m off the floor, my ears at the MLP are 1 m up. My comment was meant to say that the rear Atmos speakers would be positioned at ceiling height, directly vertically above the rear surrounds.

But your reply says I shouldn't have rear Atmos speakers. I thought the room was quite large - what's wrong with the orientation that makes it "too tight for 5.1.4" ?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
From your plan it looks as though your sofa is tight against the wall. For a good working 5.1.4 the rear most Atmos would need to be around half a metre behind the MLP with the surrounds a further half metre or so behind those rear most Atmos. That means a distance from the wall to the sofa of a minimum of one metre. Now that's the best possible and no doubt compromises have to be made.

The decision is between a compromised 5.1.4 or a good 5.1.2. Four speakers are always going to sound better but you do want the sound to behave as intended. If you could change your sitting so that the screen is on the narrow wall with audio firing down the long room then you would not only have a good 5.1.4 but the possibility of an even more immersive 7.1.4.

 

zimbo000

Active Member
@gibbsy - Thank you for the explanation. The sofa is tight to the wall. Other elements in the room layout (not shown) such as door, windows and patio doors made the current configuration the only viable option when the system was setup. It was a slight compromise to not have the rear surrounds further back, but that's life. And the current 5.1 setup does sound great. But the layout can't be changed now and it's not an option to go 7.1.4.

Could you hazard a guess as to how "compromised" 5.1.4 might be given the layout? How would I know it "wasn't right"? I assume there must be Atmos test sequences you can play to ensure all is well - or not?

I was thinking of using Monitor Audio MASS Satellites for the rear Atmos. Would it be worth trying this, then dumping those if it didn't work and switching to a "good" 5.1.2 using the pair of B&W M-1s?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Could you hazard a guess as to how "compromised" 5.1.4 might be given the layout? How would I know it "wasn't right"? I assume there must be Atmos test sequences you can play to ensure all is well - or not?
Because the rearmost Atmos speakers in a 5.1.4 would be too close to the wall. The idea is to have the sound going over your head, if it's close to rear wall there is going to be boundary issues. It's the reason I don't have a 5.1.4 and settled on 5.1.2.
 

zimbo000

Active Member
OK, thanks for all your comments, looks like it'll be 5.1.2 then.

I'll use the B&W M-1s.

Am I right in thinking:
  • Positioned in line with front left and right
  • At full ceiling height
  • Angled down directly towards 'my ears'
Finally, given where my rear surrounds are, in the room corners and 1.5 m up, should I go for a 65 degree angle to bring the M-1s a bit more forward towards the TV rather than the ideal 80 degrees in the Atmos guide? Or stick to 80?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Have the Atmos speakers roughly above where you're knees are at the MLP in a sitting psosition and in line with the front left and right. You can experiment with the surrounds as they are on stands I bellieve and have the position to suit.
 

zimbo000

Active Member
One final query please - should the M-1s be at full ceiling height and angled down directly towards 'my ears' (they have a ball joint wall bracket) - or does your "experiment" comment mean to position them towards me in terms of what sounds best to me?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
One final query please - should the M-1s be at full ceiling height and angled down directly towards 'my ears' (they have a ball joint wall bracket) - or does your "experiment" comment mean to position them towards me in terms of what sounds best to me?
What sounds best to you, always. The higher you can place them the better. There will be directional audio from object based sounds in Atmos movies. On films live Everest when the storm hits Atmos really comes into it's own.
 

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