In-Wall vs Freestanding speakers (LCR + dual subs) behind AT Screen

cspadijer

Novice Member
Hi.
My old house I had a hometheater setup with 7.1 surround and a TV.
Moved to a new house and am building a new home theater with 13.1 ATMOS setup with Projector.
Have insulated it all around, built my own in ceiling speaker enclosures, and have all my speaker wire and HDMI 2.1 optical cable run.
Built my own equipment room as well that all wiring feeds into and is vented to another room to keep it cool.
Home Theater Room size is 18 ft x 23 ft and plan to have the AT Screen cover the entire 18 ft wall (so about 200 in. diagonally).
Am building a platform for a second row of seating with power running to it, so back row can see over the front row.
Front row listener will be roughly 10-12 ft back from the screen.

In a real movie theater all the main front speakers are built into a THX baffle wall behind the acoustically transparent screen. I am looking to do the same.
I have been doing a lot of research on in-wall speakers and in-wall subs, but it then occurred to me I am not really constrained by the wall depth.
The back of it goes into my actual basement with lots of free space and I could easily extend the wall 2-4 feet deep instead of 5 inches deep and build freestanding speakers and subs into it.

I don't care about the extra work, I just want the best sound.
If this was your home theater, for the Front LCR and dual subs behind the AT Screen would you go with In-Wall or Freestanding speakers for this setup and why?
I plan to have all three speakers LCR vertically set and all the same speaker.

Any advice greatly appreciated.
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
If that's the case, I once had a customer who built platform to raise the the floorstands to a level. But looking back, I feel three large centre channels would have done the job equally as well as he had to build a platform anyway. The one thing he did was have the subs mounted on the platform to. This meant that he needed two hefty ones as he was also filling the small gap at the rear of the screen to.

So, you could employ that idea (which I think he got from someone who had a cinema complex as he also pulled a lot of the material I've only ever seen at the cinema)

The side speakers were placed in accordance to the room size and back then it was just a huge 7.2 system worth about £14K with just speakers an amp alone excluding projector, screen and player. Once finished it was awesome I must admit as he built it all himself. I've always said to him he should have shown cinema off as at that time, that degree of cinema was quite few and far between

So, if your screen is transparent, you could employ this option, but its not really that much cheaper if you want the sound

Take a Montior Audio Gold Centre at it price compared to a Monitor Audio CP-IW460X, you still have to build the bracked and everything to old the centre channel whereas with the CI speakers, you have to cut the holes out. From that point, I think the differences in price will not be much different.

But, if you are adding a could of sub's behind the screen in place of below the screen as many cinemas do today, then you will have to build something to house them anyway unless you create a fabric solution below the screen to hide the subs which will ideally could do with being forward facing ones. So again, its a little bit like horse for courses

I guess the big question is depending on your budget, you could build a supporting platform solution which would leave it very easy for any upgrade in the future (front end) or go in big to start with by mounting everything in wall making it a little harder with the upgrade path down the road
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
Thanks for your reply ShanePJ. Really good ideas you have here.
Gives me a lot to think about.

I like the idea of potentially having multiple center speakers if necessary over time if one is not sufficient

Based on the size of room I have I need to go with dual 12” subs
In wall 12” subs are a lot more $ for a lot less power
For example Klipsh Pro1200SW (250W RMS/600W Peak) go for $2500 CAD each
Compare that to a SVS PB-2000 Pro (550 RMS/1500 Peak) go for $1300 CAD each
To be honest, I am not sure they even make subs in wall powerful enough for the size room I have
So here is a couple options I have been thinking about:

Option 1:
Since I am making the entire wall the screen I don’t want these on the floor in front
One thing I could do is go with opposite diagonal front/rear corner setup
This wouldn’t impede the screen much as only one of them is in corner up front
Then go with three in-wall speakers: I am leaning toward Totem Kin In-Wall Speakers ($1075 CAD each) , but I am open to other suggestions
I really like what I have read about Martin Logan Edge speakers but they are $1500 each – Since I am setting up 13.2, I want to spend around $1000-$1300 CAD per front speaker max

Option 2:
If I do decide to put them behind the screen and build a wall with them built in, I might as well buy 3 towers if going to the effort
I would stick with the SVS PB-2000 Pro’s for the subs with this setup
For the 3 Towers I would lean toward SVS Prime Pinnacle Floorstanding Loudspeaker $1200 CAD each

Interested to hear for either option if you can think of any better subs or speakers for the configuration and price.
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
As you're building the wall, why not place a cloth material section beneath the screen where a pair (and maybe more in the future if needed) of the subwoofers can live, this way, you'll never need to worry about the woofers causing an issue with the screen fabric. As you are building the screen, the biggest thing (which might be obvious), but please make sure its an acoustically transparent fabric with micro perforation. Some really good screens are also woven and these are beauties, So if you do find one, go for that option

As for the speakers, because you are looking at big woofers at the front end, I would say the large centre channels would suffice (using a racking system to support them) and spend the extra and on a better amp which can eq the room better. This should help it delivers a more seamless transition from speaker to woofer. M&K speakers should be where you are looking here as they are very neutral and will help the transition better (that would be my advice here)

You are right about in-wall subs compared to free standing ones. If you want a big sound from an in-wall sub, they'll cost a small fortune (with amps, back boxes and drivers) whereas if you can do what you're able to do, then you can get two might ones and still hide them without the extra expense
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
The cloth material idea is really good but not a good fit for what I am trying to do.
For the screen I plan to have it cover the entire wall. No space at bottom or on the sides.
A few friends of mine have fixed frame screens that are framed on the wall. If all content was the same aspect ratio I would be fine with it. However, it is not. Many movies/tv shows are 2:35:1, 1.7:1(16:9), 1.85:1 etc. Then there is all the computer resolutions that are different again.

I have no intention of ever filling the whole wall for any aspect ratio. Its like a canvas to me that any aspect ratio can fit in without worrying about defined borders.
100% agree on the acoustically transparent fabric with micro perforation (woven):
I am looking at getting a custom screen like this:

For the Amp looking at something similar to: Denon AVR-X8500H Flagship Receiver
However I wont buy this amp or a projector yet. Waiting for HDMI 2.1.
I plan to get the speakers and room all done and buy these two components last.
All my cabling that I have run is already HDMI 2.1 Optical - rated at 48 Gbps.

For speakers I am very close to pulling the trigger on SVS and full size speakers.
Build them all into the wall behind the screen so the faces are flush.
Two of these for the subs: PB-2000 Pro
Two of these for Left/Right: Prime Pinnacle
I was going to go with three of these (another one for vertical center) but the company is trying to talk me out of it and get their center speaker instead:

I have done so much research on in-walls for Left, Right, Center for my price point. See list below, however it just seems I am paying more to make something fit in a thin 4" frame. In my case I am not confined to this, so I would rather put the $ toward better towers that I can build in the wall.
KEF Ci3160RL
Revel W970
Paradigm ci-pro-p3-lcr
Totem Tribe
Monitor Audio CPIW260X
Martin Logan Edge
Golden Ear – Invisa Signature Point Source (SPS)
Bowers & Wilkins CWM7.4 S2
Totem Kin
Monitor Audio CP-WT380IDC
Klipsh THX-8000-L
Klipsh THX-504-L
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
If you’re going to be doing a false wall/baffle wall type setup, I’d be more inclined to go with actual cinema speakers instead of the home cinema/hifi style speakers listed above, which are also made to look nice for home environments. I’d be looking at cinema speakers from the likes of PSA, JBL, QSC, JTR etc, as these high sensitivity designs will perform considerably better than the stuff listed above for HT, and offer better cinema style dynamics. This way you don’t have to worry about extra power amps to run them etc. I spent many years being dissatisfied with speakers like those for HT, and when I made the move to high sensitivity designs have not looked back. I’d also get some bigger subs if they are going to be hidden behind the screen again from the companies I have listed.

The better performing AT material is usually spandex (least amount of HF roll off) but any AT material should be good.
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
The only reason I mentioned a cloth section at the bottom of the screen was in case you wanted to mount the the screen at the standard height of the bottom of the floor which is approximately 80cm - 1mtr. But as you are filling the whole wall with screen, I feel even creating a racking system might not be as necessary as you think either as most floorstands are designed to project sound out at ear level.

So in theory you only really need to elevate the centre and subs if you follow that route at the front end. From there, you have opened up a mass of other speaker brands for you to look at in your area
 
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Liammonty123

Well-known Member
Another point worth making is that with the speakers behind the screen you should be able to use the exact same speaker for LCR and also at the same height, for seamless panning etc.
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
Thanks ShaneJP and Liammonty123. Yeah, good point ShaneJP on the height of the Towers. No need to raise them up much since they will already be correct height. Maybe only a few inches as the hometheater room has a subfloor, whereas behind the screen once I cut a hole they will be sitting on cement.

Liammonty123: That was my initial plan go with three identical towers for LCR. However oddly most manufacturers of speakers I have talked to frown on it. They recommend I buy their center channel instead. They dont have anything to gain as their center is cheaper.
Here is their response:
"We believe that even in a dedicated theater where placement is not an issue, our center speaker is a better option for the center channel because it is designed for a wider sound stage then a tower speaker. It will provide a better listening experience for everyone in your theater."

I will check out and compare spandex screen to what I was planning to buy.

Concerning buying actual cinema speakers instead of residential ... Never thought of that. Will do some research from the brands you mentioned :pSA, JBL, QSC, JTR and see if feasible in my price range. I just imagined them crazy expensive. For home market I dont trust used speakers but cinema speakers... Would you consider used?
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
That advice re the center channel seems a little odd, as most centre channels that I have seen are MTM, which restricts horizontal dispersion, meaning the frequency response at the outside seats won’t be as good as the MLP, when compared to a traditional MT. For most seamless panning you want the same speaker for LCR, all placed at the same height behind the screen. The high sensitivity (95db+) cinema style speakers, will offer better performance than the SVS style speakers linked. If DIY is an option you could look at DIY sound group In America, I’ve just built a trio of the HT12 cinema speakers, for under 1k, which have compared well to more expensive commercial offerings. I wouldn’t have thought used speakers for either would be an issue.

Spandex screens require some diy to get the frame together, but they offer the smallest weave, decent gain, and best acoustical transparency, compared to other materials.

FWIW before I got into DIY speakers, I inquired about these SC-1120 | Sound Associates which are well regarded speakers, and they came to under 1.8k for 3!
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
So did a little more research on going with high sensitivity (95db+) cinema style speakers.
Looked at some 2-way and 3-way offerings:
Mag SCR-212A
QSC SC-1120
KCS S-1200
JBL C222
KLIPSH KI-262-SMA-II

I agree these are better for converting power (Watts) to volume. However not sure the horns are great for a home theater,
From audioholics:
"Horn loaded speakers: These drivers are designed as midranges or tweeters or both, have extremely high efficiency and narrow dispersal patterns best suited for loud concerts and movie theater applications. A horn is basically a narrow dispersion device which gains its efficiency through restricted dispersion, resulting in the same acoustical power over a smaller area, when compared to conventional domes/cones, resulting in a higher SPL within that area (since, SPL is defined as power per unit area). In live concert situations, one does not see wide-dispersion horns, one sees wide-dispersion ARRAYS of horns: the horns individually get the efficiency up, the arrays get the dispersion up). In most cases, these type of drivers are usually not suited for quality two channel or multi channel surround systems in the home. Higher fidelity for home audio applications may be realized with conventional cone midranges and domed shaped tweeters."

From what I have read about tweeters (best to worst for things like: smoothness, less fatigue, and better imaging) order is:
electrostatic, ribbon, cone, horn

So was looking for best of both worlds and found these towers:
have 94db (not quite 95) sensitivity and is paired with one of the best tweeters.

I am going to keep looking for something similar to the motion-60xti and see if anyone else offering something similar.

What are your guys thoughts about tweeters?

Are you a fan of two way or three way speakers? This video seems to indicate the fewer crossovers the better:
 

Owl40

Active Member
I’m a big fan of ribbon tweeters. Something to be mindful with putting a rear ported floorstander behind the AT screen is how much space will be behind the floorstander and rear wall. To close will not be good on a ported design. You would be better off with a sealed cabinet if it will sit close to the rear wall.
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
That statement from audioholics is a very sweeping generalisation. The dispersion of the horn is dictated by the shape of the waveguide itself not the compression driver used. For example the speakers I use have a seos 15 waveguide, with large horizontal dispersion, and great off axis response, meaning the audio in the outer seats isn’t compromised. Granted a poorly designed horn loaded speaker will sound bad, but a well designed one can sound just as good if not better than a dome speaker, and have better efficiency. Take a look at the reviews for the DIY stuff, or the JTR speakers, which are horn loaded, and designed for use in the home.

Im also not sure why they indicate 2 ways are better than 3 ways, it should really be the other way around. A well designed 3 way can usually solve the problems associated with 2 way speakers (beaming etc) and have greater midrange clarity due to the dedicated midrange drivers.

FWIW I’ve heard great things about the Beyma TPL150 ribbon, but it does cost an arm and a leg!
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
So I emailed JTR and hope to talk to the company soon.
Beyma TPL150s do look interesting.

Owl40 - I am building the floorstanders into the wall with the fronts flush with the screen. The rear-firing ports will go into another room in my basement with a cement floor.
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
So I emailed JTR and hope to talk to the company soon.
Beyma TPL150s do look interesting.

Owl40 - I am building the floorstanders into the wall with the fronts flush with the screen. The rear-firing ports will go into another room in my basement with a cement floor.
FWIW if the ports are firing into another room you may as well just block them up.
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
Thanks for the advice Liammonty123.
There are a lot of front firing towers and subs out there... But I would think they would cause issues with the acoustically transparent screen. Or am I wrong about that?
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
As long as the screen is a few cm away from the speakers you should be fine, if not possible just go sealed.
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
Was surprised today. Got a call from an audio engineer after I had submitted a request for information on QSC Cinema speakers. He has built and setup many large venue setups and large home theaters (for some pretty pretty interesting celebs and events)

What I learned from him so far:
Go with all the same speakers across the front (LCR) and ensure the tweeters are all the same height.
Center the speakers behind the screen, don't put them up higher or lower. Same with the base boxes if possible. Has to do with the source of most sound in a movie is the focal point and that is usually filmed at the center of the screen. He says to correct for it properly with sound processing is usually not properly done.

For ATMOS setup, he explained that what makes it expensive is your surround speakers need to fairly close in quality to your main speakers. This is because newer movies are starting to make the dialog and focal point of conversations or focal point of action happen around you, not right in front like traditional.

He seem to put a lot of focus on sound processing, not just the speakers. With DTS:x, TrueHD, DD etc...5.1, 7.1, 13.1 etc... each speaker has its own audio source, so I am not sure why the sound needs to be cleaned up between the AMP and the intended speaker? I could see it when you have 30 or 40 speakers in a large auditorium that don't have dedicated audio tracks for each. Not sure.

He also seemed to be leaning toward powered vs passive speakers.
When I brought up tweeters: horns, electrostatic, ribbon, cones etc... he didn't seem to entertain it much other than to say that electrostatic last longer than cones.

We also had a discussion around multi zone. I ran HDMI 2.1 optical cables from my equipment room in the basement to the home theater (zone 1), to my living room (zone 2), and my bedroom (zone 3). Even a zone 4 would be cool for some outside speakers (I live out in the country so wont be bothering anyone). What was odd for me was he wanted to send everything over fiber optic network instead of HDMI. Even the best Fiber for home is only 40 Gbps right now. HDMI 2.1 is 48 Gbps. So not sure. Would be cool though to send my 4k Blueray/blue ray collection content to any zone and the quality is identical.

He is going to send me some literature on some equipment and speakers next week. Will see.
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
Good info from him. When you say powered Im assuming you mean speakers with active crossovers vs passive crossovers. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any HT focused active speakers but I’m sure there are some. Most of the active ones we see are DIY. There are a number of advantages to active crossovers, apart from the price!

Agreed about 3 way vs 2 way.

Not sure what he’s getting at about the processing. Depends how many channels you want/ how much room/ immersion factor.
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
So I have sent the audio engineer a diagram of my space and the 9.2.4 dolby digital setup I am going with. Any thoughts on whether the space to the left of the seating area will cause issues with audio?
htsetup.png
 

Owl40

Active Member
I’m no acoustics expert but I would have thought speaker 6 as it’s not near any boundary wall would have a slightly different mid Bass to midrange response to the other speakers, this may not be such an issue if the crossover point is set high for surround duties. There are far more experts than me who can give a better view, I’m just up early 😀

Which speakers would be active and not passive? I’ve used both for high end hi fi duties and active speakers can really vary in their design, sophistication and execution. Which active speakers are you looking at? I would be cautious at going active........
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
Not necessarily issues per day but any unsymmetrical room will cause audio challenges, and the rear speakers my have different responses at the mlp than they would if that space to the left wasn’t there. May also prove a challenge with bass. My room had a space like that covering half the back wall and has caused bass issues.
 

cspadijer

Novice Member
Yeah. That space is another 6 ft x 15 ft in addition to the 18 ft x 23 ft main area.

Ideally all surround speakers should be at ear level except the 4 in ceiling. However I had to raise up the two speaker "5" surrounds to the ceiling and angle down to the listener area. This is a result of the one speaker "5" being next to the door to my equipment room. With it being up I can walk under it without it being i the way. Problematic or no?
 

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