Better speakers vs Atmos

Exeon

Standard Member
I've been plannig an upgrade to my current setup:

2xB&W 683 Towers
2xB&W 686 Surrounds
1xB&W HTM61 S2 Center (the big 3 way)
Denon X2400h AVR
Monolith 15" subwoofer

My use case is 80% Home cinema, 20% music

Sadly the wife doesn't permit a second sub, and likely never will.

For the past couple of months I've been doing some research to upgrade my system.
I've been planning to upgrade my receiver to an Auro 3D capable receiver (the X4700H or equivalent, if denon ever releases a new AVR), and going to 5.1.4 with Auro 3D upmixing


However...
Recently I've stumbled upon a sale of the Focal Aria 948 alongside the 906's.

A pair of 948's with a pair of 906's would come down to about 3125€, which is a steal, especially new, I can't find these much cheaper on the used market.
I often see the 948's compared with the B&W 702 S or the KEF R11's, and I've seen most people prefer the Aria's over them, considering either of those cost double what the Aria's cost on sale It feels like a bargain.

I could then sell my current system, and probably have about 1000€ left over to get better amplification for the new speakers.
However I have some issues with either option.
Atmos route issues:
  • Placement of the speakers isn't optimal, I would try and go for the auro 3D setup alongside Auro 3D upmixing AVR, but on some of the speakers I cannot get to a 30 degree angle, more like 22 degree's which is suboptimal at best.
  • More speakers does mean more power requirement, and I wonder what it will do with the overall sound.
  • Atmos isn't present at all times, meaning I won't always benifit from the height channels
Speaker upgrade route issues:
  • I'd have the B&W center, which I assume isn't timber matched at all, going to the focal center speaker (the CC900) feels like a downgrade from the HTM61 S2 but I may be wrong.
  • I still wonder how much would better speakers affect overall sound, I do believe the quality of speakers is day and night apart and I'm sure for stereo music sessions it'll be massive, but I'm not sure how much difference there will be for a movie in details, apart from the actual tonality of the speaker.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Aria range is more comparable to B&W 700 / KEF R indeed and while the 900CC is only 2-way desing it has raised tweeter and is fairly large with dual 6,5" mid-bass drivers. If you sit fairly center and not overly far on the sides then i don´t think there is issue. I would still want to hear em though as i can imagine they sound quite different to what you have now, the Arias seem to measure lot better than B&Ws (700) as does the Kef R-range. But if you like the B&W house sound then jumping to 703 S2 with HTM 71 S2 could be the way to go as people have said it`s very noticeable jump from 600 range as it really should for the high price. I´m not sure the 702 S2 would be worth it over 703 S2 though, check Stereophile review/measurements.

You need Denon X4700H / SR7015 for the Auro 3D then. Denon is coming with some new models, but when no one knows yet and do they only have more hdmi 2.1 ports. Also strong rumours that 2023 models would have optional Dirac Live update, that would be huge game changer! Keep in mind that the units have the upmixers so you should be able to get the height channels working with all sources. @John24ssj can confirm as he runs Auro 3D and likely uses the Auromatic upmixer often? You can always add 3-5ch poweramp later if you need more power as these units come with preouts.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
There's this system thatlll be good upgrade. He's asking too much for them though


 

John24ssj

Well-known Member
So Auro 3D is rather flexible, 22 degrees will be fine as that's what I got for my front height speakers and get great height effects.

Yes I upmix 99% of my content using auromatic because it's just so good, music, movies, games it works well with everything :) And with Auro 3D layout you can still use native Atmos and DTS X if you need to, so you don't lose those.

4700H is enough to run all 9 speakers if you site less than 3m away from the speakers and their sensitivity is higher than 86dB
 

NewAcousticDimension

Active Member
So Auro 3D is rather flexible, 22 degrees will be fine as that's what I got for my front height speakers and get great height effects.

Are you talking about the angle upwards from MLP to your front heights? Are you sure that's 22°?

I've tried some at 22° at the moment and they just sound like more front speakers. I haven't given up hope yet, as maybe with the sofa moved forward temporarily for film nights they will be at 26° and may be better.

But then my heights are at ~2.0m and the front speakers' tweeters are ~1.1m so that is probably contributing!
 

John24ssj

Well-known Member
Are you talking about the angle upwards from MLP to your front heights? Are you sure that's 22°?

I've tried some at 22° at the moment and they just sound like more front speakers. I haven't given up hope yet, as maybe with the sofa moved forward temporarily for film nights they will be at 26° and may be better.

But then my heights are at ~2.0m and the front speakers' tweeters are ~1.1m so that is probably contributing!
What height angle are you rear heights on? And yeah mine do sound like the sound is overhead, but my tweeters are aimed above me as if was standing up and not aim at my head if I was sitting in the sofa
 

NewAcousticDimension

Active Member
What height angle are you rear heights on? And yeah mine do sound like the sound is overhead, but my tweeters are aimed above me as if was standing up and not aim at my head if I was sitting in the sofa

I've only been experimenting with front heights alone. I wonder if you having the rear heights as well helps "lift" the front heights?
 

John24ssj

Well-known Member
It does as they work well together and give a full experience. If you're going with heights go for all 4.
There could be other factors as well
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
It does as they work well together and give a full experience. If you're going with heights go for all 4.
There could be other factors as well

Yeah can't see the point of just two heights. It'll be like having 3.1 versus 5.1
 

NewAcousticDimension

Active Member
I have a differing opinion on that. I think if someone has four height speakers, where the angles to MLP versus the angles to the equivalent floor speakers (so normally FL, FR and SBL and SBR) aren't great enough to actually give a perceived "height" then it's probably better not to have them.

In fact, I would suggest that if you took the two height channels only, set them into a mono signal, assigned them as TOP (i.e. ceiling) but only had one single speaker in the centre above the knees, so it had an excellent angle to MLP that would IMO achieve a much better perception of height. Obviously two would be better for stereo height but I'm just pointing out that I believe the prime importance of the height domain needs to be to achieve the actual height. :)
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
I've been plannig an upgrade to my current setup:

2xB&W 683 Towers
2xB&W 686 Surrounds
1xB&W HTM61 S2 Center (the big 3 way)
Denon X2400h AVR
Monolith 15" subwoofer

My use case is 80% Home cinema, 20% music

Sadly the wife doesn't permit a second sub, and likely never will.

For the past couple of months I've been doing some research to upgrade my system.
I've been planning to upgrade my receiver to an Auro 3D capable receiver (the X4700H or equivalent, if denon ever releases a new AVR), and going to 5.1.4 with Auro 3D upmixing


However...
Recently I've stumbled upon a sale of the Focal Aria 948 alongside the 906's.

A pair of 948's with a pair of 906's would come down to about 3125€, which is a steal, especially new, I can't find these much cheaper on the used market.
I often see the 948's compared with the B&W 702 S or the KEF R11's, and I've seen most people prefer the Aria's over them, considering either of those cost double what the Aria's cost on sale It feels like a bargain.

I could then sell my current system, and probably have about 1000€ left over to get better amplification for the new speakers.
However I have some issues with either option.
Atmos route issues:
  • Placement of the speakers isn't optimal, I would try and go for the auro 3D setup alongside Auro 3D upmixing AVR, but on some of the speakers I cannot get to a 30 degree angle, more like 22 degree's which is suboptimal at best.
  • More speakers does mean more power requirement, and I wonder what it will do with the overall sound.
  • Atmos isn't present at all times, meaning I won't always benifit from the height channels
Speaker upgrade route issues:
  • I'd have the B&W center, which I assume isn't timber matched at all, going to the focal center speaker (the CC900) feels like a downgrade from the HTM61 S2 but I may be wrong.
  • I still wonder how much would better speakers affect overall sound, I do believe the quality of speakers is day and night apart and I'm sure for stereo music sessions it'll be massive, but I'm not sure how much difference there will be for a movie in details, apart from the actual tonality of the speaker.
I owned a pair of Aria 906 a few years ago and consider upgrading to the 926. The down side is the Aria CC900 centre is not a great tonal for 926 and let the system down a bit.

The Aria are a bit polite in comparison to the Kef R700s that I finally decided on. So tonally a big shift from the Aria which are warmer in mId range. No idea with the new 700s from Bower as only heard previous incarnations which have a significantly different sound signature.

It worth n
 

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