Imagine you are an evil salesman. . .


Novice Member
Imagine you are an evil salesman and a complete noob invites you to his home to help him plan for and arrange a 7.2.4 surround sound system in his wonky theater room. He wants it because someone else told him to get it and that it would be so cool and he has some money to play with and figured "hey why not?" His only experience with surround sound systems are those that come packaged in a box with all 5 speakers as a 5.1 kit for under $200 and to him, the sound from his cheapo kit just made him so excited when he first got it set up, and he doesn't know any better.

You go to his house and take a look around the room where his old "theater" was. As you review his existing equipment, you notice that his AVR is set to "All Channel Stereo" mode. When you ask him if he watches movies like that he explains that "yes", he does, because he likes the feel of being enveloped in sound from all speakers. When you mention the wonderful experience of real surround sound, he tells you he thinks it is actually less realistic because in real life sound bounces around everywhere and one seldom will notice something from a specific direction in the way it comes from surround sound systems, and that if you were really in the scene, nothing would sound the way it does in the movie anyway, and there would be no music. In other words, he tried the various surround sound settings and didn't like it compared to the feeling he got from "All Channel Stereo" mode. However, he knows he likes the ability to have sound coming from all directions.

Okay, so now, he shows you the room where he will be installing his system and you notice little stickers on the wall. He explains that the wall is pre-wired for speakers and the stickers show you the anticipated locations for 11 speakers and 2 subs. He also gives you a couple images from a 3d model of the room that you can keep to help you plan things out for him.



Your customer wants to set up the theater sound system knowing he will probably try out all the different surround sound settings, while watching his favorite streaming services, and think they all suck and end up going back to all channel stereo. Regardless of utility, he likes the idea of all the speakers being there so that when he eventually sells his home, a buyer who doesn't know any different will be mesmerized by the experience and all the more excited to buy since no one else in the neighborhood has a theater room. Additionally, he wants the speakers to be in-wall so that none of his young children will be able to easily mess with them, and because he doesn't like seeing speakers, he just wants to hear them, and he already bought an AT screen that will hide the LCRs.

Your customer tells you he is willing to spend an average of roughly $150 per speaker for all 13 speakers, and wants you to pick out whatever would look and sound great for him.

Now, because you are an evil salesman, you want to charge this man all $2000 dollars, BUT, you want to spend as little of it as possible on the speakers so you can pocket all the rest. Your conundrum is that you need to find speakers that will give him the experience he wants, with a noticeably improved quality over his 5.1 surround in a box system, while maximizing your profit.

1) Being the evil salesman you are, what speakers will you order for your customer, with confidence that he will be pleased?

Now, assume you have an additional budget of $2500 for all AVR equipment to power the speakers and video signals. The only requirements are that it can operate in true full 7.2.4 Atmos mode (so he can try the fancy Atmos sound tests that he probably won't care for) and can process low latency 4k at 120hz so he and his older children can enjoy gaming.

2) What will you recommend that will once again maximize your profit but provide him an experience that will meet or exceed his expectations and limited historical experience?
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Distinguished Member
We don´t know all the cheap in-wall selection you have in US, but something from Polk should be fine for low cost as they are very popular there with great feedback. Get installer who knows to leave little bit of space from speakers vs. screen (ask from speaker manufacturer what they recommend) and who generally knows where each speaker goes and correct angles. In your picture you have the surround speakers wrong as the surround back channels (2nd pair on the 2nd row in pic) would go on rear wall. Also the overhead atmos speaker locations look bit off and perhaps best would be to buy in-ceiling speakers which has "pivoting tweeters" so can angle them shooting toward listeners.

Use bit more money on the front three if possible cause most of what you hear comes from front and the better quality the better experience. Buy three identical speakers and mount them at same height (tweeters roughly at seated ear height) and same orientation = vertically upright. Opt for dual bass driver LCR speakers for front three, example Polk 265 RT. Again don´t be fooled to save and buy cheaper in-wall center channel with horizontally laid drivers. It would be massive mistake cause you are lucky to be able to place centre vertically upright at correct height and using identical speaker to L/R. Center channel covers like 70% of movies soundtrack so no compomises or laying speakers!

You should put more money in to speakers / subwoofers rather than buying expensive 11.2 receiver. Cheapest av-receiver with 11.2 processing costs 1600$ (it will power 9 speakers) is Denon X3700H which is good product and you need to add 2ch poweramp for the two remaining channels, example the 2nd atmos pair. That is plus 128$ so 1728$ total. If you can put 800-900$ more toward speakers and subwoofers then the better!

Amazon product

Perhaps you would be better with 5.2.4 system if you can´t mount the 2nd surround pair on the rear wall where it belongs? Also the first pair which are now at sides of the first row is optimizing that row of listeners, but naturally it won´t sound good for 2nd row. Usually people have made compromise and place the surround l/r pair in the middle of 1st and 2nd row. You could also use bipole speakers which fire both direction, sadly they are on-wall speakers normally. Something like Klipsch RP-402s/502s example, there is prettier ones too.

There is nothing usefull with subwoofers for 150$ each. It`s total waste of money if you buy some cheap one note boomboxes. Ruins the experience! Now if you are wise you will consider going with 5.2.4 cause less is more sometimes and using part of that 2500$ receiver + poweramp budget for two quality subwoofers that will drop your and kids jaws on floor when big explosions or T-Rex roaring on the screen.

Best subwoofers in US for low tight budget is the Monoprices THX new range 10 V2 models which are on sale atm. I don´t know how you can squeeze them to your budget, but you need to figure that out. Building new expensive atmos system with two crappy "subwoofers" that can´t produce notes below 30hz or have amp failures in the first year would be horrible. Monolith subwoofers have great build quality and performance for the price. Also they come with 5year amp warranty. Forget in-wall subwoofers, there is nothing worthwile with your budget. You might have to place 2nd subwoofer diagonally opposite rear wall/corner (opposite to front) for smoothest response as the room is narrow and long. Hopefully this is possible.

Amazon product

Then you need to add two shielded subwoofer cables, speaker wire AWG12 or 14 and OFC (oxygen free copper). However for in-wall / ceiling installation i think you might need to use CL2 / CL3 rated cable. Example (measure lengths you need):

There is lot of hype for atmos and with the X3700H you get the overhead channels working with all movies/series using the upmixers (Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X). However while they certainly add new dimension i would also say it should be thought as icing on the cake. It´s not wise to compromise the base of your system which is the 5.2 . If it would be my money i would rather build kick ass 5.2 in-wall system first with two quality subs and later when funds allow add the rest. Denon X3700H is quite future proof, but there is also very strong rumours that new models would be coming at summer / end of summer so that usually means lower prices for the current ones, but nothing is certain at these times of covid/war etc.

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
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As a true 'Evil' salesman I know there is little or no money in supplying a big brand AVR and only a little money in supplying a budget speaker system so I'm unlikely to go onsite after the initial phone discussion and would suggest the customer hits Best Buy or Crutchfield :)


PS If you want value for money In-wall & Subs look at Earthquake Sound In-Walls & In-Ceilings - Earthquake Sound Corp.

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