Question Atmos Setup: Ceiling speakers or "enabled"? Floorstanders or bookshelf speakers?

nutmegpreteric

Novice Member
Hi Folks,

I've been running a temporary setup for the home cinema since moving in and am starting to think about what I want going forward. For a decade I've had the goal of getting some nice large floorstanders for my home cinema setup, but the AV room doesn't lend itself to them due to a built in bookshelf (which we like, and would not want to remove). I'm coming to terms with using bookshelf speakers, but am keen to know how much of a compromise that is.

So, two questions:
1) Will the benefit of floorstanders be worth modifying the bookshelf to make some enclosures to fit them? Or will I be able to get a good enough setup with bookshelf speakers on the side, as per current setup?
2) For an Atmos setup, would I be better off with "Atmos enabled" speakers or ceiling speakers?

Regarding the ceiling speakers, I did like one comment a Pioneer sound engineer made about ceiling speakers working great in a cinema, but in a home with lower ceilings the ceiling mounted speakers down firing might sound too localised - so "enabled" speakers bouncing off the ceiling might give more immersive sound field and better experience… but then again I also take the point of a store advisor I told that to who suggested it might be hard to get the right angle if rebounding the sound off the ceiling!

The room looks like this (TV location shown in red):

roomspec.jpg



TV unit with current speakers highlighted (sometimes my daughter even lets me to watch something other than Mr Tumble!):

TV Unit.jpeg


Potential speaker enclosure in existing bookshelf. I would need to remove one of the cupboards and build a pillar for the otherside and shorten the bookshelf on the bottom row. So it's not a small job and would need to be absolutely worth it (I'm not even sure I'd get it past the girlfriend!).

Originally I was set on floortanders. But since positioning the existing speakers, they seem to be in a decent position and give a pretty good projection once calibrated. So if I could get away with bookshelves that would be much simpler. I just wanted to at least be aware how much I might be compromising, rather than just doing it without thinking too much.

potential enclosure locations.jpeg


Current setup:
  • Denon AVR-X3600H (9 channel amp, 11 channel total if I added a separate power amp for the fronts, Atmos enabled)
  • LG 55” C9 OLED TV
  • 2 x front speakers (Monitor Audio Bronze 2)
  • 2 x front height (Monitor Audio Bronze 1) - just because I had them, and they were easy to add to the setup!
  • BK Electricronics XLS200-DF sub (which I absolutely love!).
I will probably strongly consider Monitor Audio for the new speakers, but am not closed off to other options!
 

gibbsy

Moderator
1) Will the benefit of floorstanders be worth modifying the bookshelf to make some enclosures to fit them? Or will I be able to get a good enough setup with bookshelf speakers on the side, as per current setup?
Your room is too small for floorstandings speakers and your proposal to put them in an enclosure is something of a none starter, putting a large box inside another large box just isn't going to sound good. You already have a sub which will take up the bass duties anyway so stick with standmounts.

Regarding the ceiling speakers, I did like one comment a Pioneer sound engineer made about ceiling speakers working great in a cinema, but in a home with lower ceilings the ceiling mounted speakers down firing might sound too localised - so "enabled" speakers bouncing off the ceiling might give more immersive sound field and better experience… but then again I also take the point of a store advisor I told that to who suggested it might be hard to get the right angle if rebounding the sound off the ceiling!
I subscribe to that theory as well. It can localise the speakers on a very low ceiling. The ideal height of a ceiling to use upfiring modules is between 8 and 14 feet. Your problem with modules would be giving them a clean light of sight to the ceiling. They should also be placed no more than 50% of the height of the ceiling and ideally on top of or as near as possible to the front left and right.

You already have speakers in the height position and if you could angle them so that they fire towards the MLP then they may very well work as Atmos in a 5.1.2. Certainly worth trying before you commit to buying new speakers.

In the short term you could improve your current audio by two simple actions. The first would be to bring those front left and right speakers so that they sit proud of the edge of the shelf by around 25mm. The second would be to put a rug on the highly reflective wooden floor. An easy experiment would be to throw a duvet onto the floor and listen for a difference.
 

nutmegpreteric

Novice Member
Thanks Gibbsy - appreciate all the info.

The girlfriend will be pleased you stopped me getting the saw out!

A couple of follow ups:

You already have speakers in the height position and if you could angle them so that they fire towards the MLP then they may very well work as Atmos in a 5.1.2. Certainly worth trying before you commit to buying new speakers.

Yep - I'm aware the current angle on the heights isn't great... at the moment they're just propped up with blutac at the back, and I got a bit nervous about them falling if I angled them anymore. I could look at securing them properly to get a better angle.

I assume in this size room there's no point looking at 9 speakers to use all the amp channels? So 5.1.2 is the most sensible setup? I expect trying to cram too many speakers in when they won't fit will give a worse sound?!

Would a potential next step be:
I like the idea of di-pole speakers as surrounds, but not sure what the current thinking is on them.

I've literally just pulled that list from what Richer Sounds are showing online... just as a starter for 10 if I'm on track for the right sort of setup.

I use the system for movies and also listening to music (of all types, but loads of acoustic, alternative and classical). And I'm happy to spend a bit of money to get a decent setup (though I'd definitely top out before £3k GBP unless it was something very special).

In the short term you could improve your current audio by two simple actions. The first would be to bring those front left and right speakers so that they sit proud of the edge of the shelf by around 25mm. The second would be to put a rug on the highly reflective wooden floor. An easy experiment would be to throw a duvet onto the floor and listen for a difference.

The reason they're back is just to stop kids poking at them (originally they had no grills on, but that encouraged little ones to play with the cones!)... everything's a compromise!

They do sit a long way back. I wonder if I could push them up to the second shelf, then at least they could protrude from the shelves and have a bit of sound travel distance to get past the bottom shelf? "Ear height" from the listening position is roughly between the current position and if they were raised to the next shelf.

IMG_1133.jpeg

IMG_1134.jpeg
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Always going to be a problem with children and speaker cones. My son has stopped now, about time, he's 46! The reason for the speakers needing to be forward is that they will pick up a lot of unwanted reflections of the shelf, even more so with the speaker being on their side. As you say though, if you have children you have to compromise.

There are a few members on here that have put 7.1.4 into a small room but really it all depends on where the seating is. If you have a metre behind the seating then it's possible as the second row of ceiling speakers need to be behind the seating itself for best positioning. A well placed 5.1.2 may very well sound better than a highly compromised 7.1.4. There is a caveat to that where you can place upfiring modules on the back surrounds as they work in a different way although you should still aim to have them 50cm back from the seating.

If you do have your seating against a back wall then bipole such as the MA FX speakers can be far better than mono speakers in the same position. With Atmos they should be set at just above a seated head height. As long as you have good separation between the base layer and the Atmos layer it should sound good.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Maverick UK Premiere IMAX Review + Top Gun, Tom Cruise, Tony Scott and 4K + Movie/TV News
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom