Inherited a receiver, what now?

LucaMotz

Standard Member
Hello!
I recently inherited an old Onkyo TX-SR875 and hooked up my old Elac FS67 pair to it. Shortly after I bought an Elac Debut C6.2 and two Elac Debut B5.2 (as surrounds).
I then acquired two dirt cheap speakers and put them right behind my sofa for a 7.0 setup. Soon after I realised practically nothing gives me a true 7.1 signal. This led me to discover that my receiver has this neural THX 7.1 mode which to my ears does a great job of making everything sound “way more awesome”.
Well after a bit of Googling I also discovered that this neural THX mode seems to be quite old.

Now I was wondering if it was worth the money to get some new shiny receiver and go down some kind of Dolby atmos route (bear in mind I live in an apartment and the only way I could do it would be using these Dolby atmos enabled floor speakers that project to the ceiling), or just stick with what I have, or even upgrade some of the speakers first.

Regarding speaker upgrades: I actually think I am rather happy with the quality and honestly when I hooked up the center, which is of a lower quality than my front left and right, I was rather happy with its quality. So I assumed I wouldn’t be able to really appreciate something high end.
Well enough rambling, what do you think?
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stranger

Well-known Member
Welcome to the forum :)

No doubt members will be along to advise you- but be prepared to go down a long and not inexpensive rabbit hole. :eek:
 

LucaMotz

Standard Member
Thank you very much!
I have already loaned a Denon AVC-4700H today which would set me back 1500€ and also have a pair of atoms enabled Elac speakers (120€ for the pair). Only had time to listen to music for like 5 minutes (atmos mixed) and watched a Star Wars scene which the receiver upscaled to atmos from a 5.1 mix because for some reason Disney plus refused to give me a Dolby atmos source (will investigate tomorrow). Then had to head off to dinner with my girlfriend.
First impressions: God damn atmos is awesome.
Having spent that much money all I‘d be prepared for would be another 500€ or so though…
 

SeanBrothers

Active Member
I would first get a front firing subwoofer and an isolation pad to help reduce vibration transfer to the floor. Subwoofers make such a difference. I made the mistake of going without for many years.

Second, I would go to a shop and request a demo of Dolby Atmos with ceiling speakers, reflective speakers, and virtual Atmos. This will tell you how valuable Atmos is to you, and which form (ceiling, reflection, or virtual) will be sufficient. If Atmos doesn't feel worth the price of a new receiver, keep rocking what you've got!

Personally, I went ahead with an Atmos setup using 4 ceiling speakers without demoing the concept, and I love it! Some Atmos mixes are far better than others. And I recommend demoing music in Atmos as well.

I recently demoed Atmos to my cousin, and while he really enjoyed the movie effect, he was really surprised by the expansion of the sound stage for music.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
Thank you very much!
I have already loaned a Denon AVC-4700H today which would set me back 1500€ and also have a pair of atoms enabled Elac speakers (120€ for the pair). Only had time to listen to music for like 5 minutes (atmos mixed) and watched a Star Wars scene which the receiver upscaled to atmos from a 5.1 mix because for some reason Disney plus refused to give me a Dolby atmos source (will investigate tomorrow). Then had to head off to dinner with my girlfriend.
First impressions: God damn atmos is awesome.
Having spent that much money all I‘d be prepared for would be another 500€ or so though…

Was it the original Star Wars films that you tried? The new remastered versions are impressive and have good Atmos tracks. I also have some problems getting Disney in Atmos but I now know what I have to do. Apart from discs, I can get Atmos in three ways: Amazon Prime, NetFlix, and Disney. I can run all of these either as apps on my Samsung TV or on a 4K Firestick. This is where it gets odd. Prime will give Atmos either way. NetFlix will only give Atmos if run on the TV. Disney will only give Atmos if run on the Firestick. I have not noticed any variation from film to film. Of course, many don't have Atmos but if they do then it behaves as above. Prime does not have a lot and there is the irritation that it is not easy to find what it has. The only way that I know to find out if the soundtrack is Atmos is to start playing it. In NetFlix, there is more Atmos, the info screen tells you, and you can search for Atmos.

Atmos is good. I bought a pair of Dali C1 Atmos speakers as a lockdown treat, just after a new UHD TV. I am pleased with Atmos but the enhancement is not as great as mono to stereo (I am old enough to remember that) or stereo to 5.1.
 

unoduo

Active Member
I’d be tempted to best utilise what you’ve got before heading down the upgrade path. Looking at your layout - the surround speaker placement doesn’t look ideal to say the least. Even if it meant going to 5.1 for a while - I would try to get those surround speakers slightly above ear level & further away from you if possible.
 

LucaMotz

Standard Member
Thanks everyone for your help! So based on your input I‘ve done a couple of things which I‘d like to show you:

image.jpg

Back surrounds now moved up. They are still too close to the seating positions but I‘m afraid I can‘t really do much about that. Once I know that this setup is clearly the way to go I‘ll put them on wall mounted shelves.


image.jpg


Next up I pulled the trigger on atmos enabled speakers. I feel like they do indeed make quite the difference, even for non atmos sources like the one I‘m listening to in the photo. Now I‘d like the effect to be way stronger still so maybe I should consider adding another pair and put them in the back? Or would I need ceiling mounted speakers for that?

Regarding the sub: I am actually quite conscious about the bass frequencies I‘m outputting already. When I wasn‘t rocking a grand piano (yeah I know..That was one of those ridiculous impulse buys I sometimes make. It‘s nice those :p) and had an upright right at the wall my neighbours were complaining about me being too loud. I was thinking a sub would be even worse, even if it was decoupled from the ground?

I have figured out the whole Dolby Atmos with streaming services problem now and I can get atmos with Disney+ and apple+ now. I am currently not paying for the premium Netflix subscription, so that will only give me 5.1

So now the question is: What to do with the remaining 500€ euros of my budget? Replace the crappy back surrounds with decent bookshelf speakers? Add an external power amp (a cheap two channel one) and a pair of Dolby atmos enabled speakers at the back?
Get a subwoofer and decoupling stuff?
Try to sell my old towers and get some nicer ones? (Well not sure if that would work within my budget honestly)
 

SeanBrothers

Active Member
Get a subwoofer and decoupling stuff! Front-firing are supposedly "kinder" to the neighbours.

The rear speakers get a fair bit less signal that the front 5, and so the quality is less crucial.
I think the angle is wrong to place Atmos speakers on the rear speakers because they are so close, so it may not be effective.
 

LucaMotz

Standard Member
Get a subwoofer and decoupling stuff! Front-firing are supposedly "kinder" to the neighbours.

The rear speakers get a fair bit less signal that the front 5, and so the quality is less crucial.
I think the angle is wrong to place Atmos speakers on the rear speakers because they are so close, so it may not be effective.
Did some rearranging again and ended up with this:

image.jpg


I will put the second speaker up like that as well and use them as back Dolby speakers. Preliminary testing showed that this actually sounds quite good. I think once I‘ve done that, I‘m kinda fine with my setup.
Only thing I could consider would be adding a subwoofer but I‘m still unsure if I can do that to my neighbours/if I would even benefit from it if I have it set to a ridiculously low level.
 

Aggrajag

Active Member
The Onkyo TX-SR875 doesn't actually support Atmos, it's "only" 7.1, so anything you're receiving through the Atmos speakers is actually destined for elsewhere.

Ignore me, missed your next post.
 

LucaMotz

Standard Member
The Onkyo TX-SR875 doesn't actually support Atmos, it's "only" 7.1, so anything you're receiving through the Atmos speakers is actually destined for elsewhere.

Ignore me, missed your next post.
Ha! Yeah it’s funny how the one thing that kicked my insanity off - the receiver - is the thing I replaced first :p
I have to say I‘m quite happy with my decisions so far, though.
Currently enjoying some atmos music (Billie Eilish is great for that. The songs are mixed really well I find), and I will have a friend over in a couple of minutes and we will be watching a movie.
So getting that second “atmos” speaker on the wall will probably complete my system for now, unless someone convinces me that a subwoofer is feasible in my apartment.
Well that and maybe replacing my atmos speakers. I‘m honestly more disappointed by the officially atmos enabled speakers in the front than by those old sh*tty yard sale speakers…
 

Aggrajag

Active Member
I love live concerts when they're upmixed (I use DTS:Neural X for this) and things like the string guitars in The Eagles (showing my age) are awesome; it adds a depth to the sound and brings intricacies out.
 

jwlawler

Active Member
I love live concerts when they're upmixed (I use DTS:Neural X for this) and things like the string guitars in The Eagles (showing my age) are awesome; it adds a depth to the sound and brings intricacies out.

Similar here. Atmos is usually best when you have a proper Atmos track but upmixing from 5.1 and sometimes 2.0 can be effective. As you say, it works well for some music. I find it is also often good for outdoor scenes e.g. bird sounds, rain, and storms.

Unfortunately, some Atmos tracks add little and are rather disappointing.
 

LucaMotz

Standard Member
Similar here. Atmos is usually best when you have a proper Atmos track but upmixing from 5.1 and sometimes 2.0 can be effective. As you say, it works well for some music. I find it is also often good for outdoor scenes e.g. bird sounds, rain, and storms.

Unfortunately, some Atmos tracks add little and are rather disappointing.
That’s something I have noticed as well. The difference between certain tracks is HUGE. We watched the first episode of Loki today and the atmos part of the sound really wasn’t impressive. Yesterday night I watched Iron Man and that was much better, even though that film came out pre atmos and is probably just an upmix done by the studio.

I just finished hanging the second atmos speaker on the wall as well (see picture) and listened to some music and I gotta say it did improve the overall soundstage quite a bit again. I wonder if ceiling mounted speakers would do even better. Has anyone tried both upfiring and ceiling mounted speakers and could give a comparison? The stuff you read online is kinda conflicting.
Next up is figuring out if I can improve the front upfiring atmos speakers somehow. Mounting them on the wall like the back speakers would look rather ridiculous though I‘m afraid..

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Jamie

Distinguished Member
I've not directly compared as they were 2 completely different systems and locations but I did hear a mates system with relatively basic monitor audio in ceiling Atmos and another mates with separate upfiring ones perched on top of floor standers (I believe they were Polk but not entirely sure) and the actual speakers in the ceiling were noticeably better. The bouncy ones were definitely worth having though I thought and so much easier than fitting ceiling speakers.

Arguably there's far too many variables to be a proper comparison but if I ever go down the Atmos route I'll be doing ceiling speakers.
 

LucaMotz

Standard Member
I've not directly compared as they were 2 completely different systems and locations but I did hear a mates system with relatively basic monitor audio in ceiling Atmos and another mates with separate upfiring ones perched on top of floor standers (I believe they were Polk but not entirely sure) and the actual speakers in the ceiling were noticeably better. The bouncy ones were definitely worth having though I thought and so much easier than fitting ceiling speakers.

Arguably there's far too many variables to be a proper comparison but if I ever go down the Atmos route I'll be doing ceiling speakers.
Yeah this is what makes it so hard to compare. Sure I can go to some Hi-Fi shop and listen two a ceiling mounted system and an upfiring system but then you have to consider that the speakers are obviously not the same, the room is not comparable to the one you have at home, the rest of the system isn’t either. And with ceiling mounted speakers you can’t just take them home and try them out for obvious reasons.
Good thing I can’t really put speakers in my ceiling anyways so it’s not an option! :p

The only thing I am quite sure about now though is, that those atmos enabled speakers are a ripoff. My cheap yard sale speakers sound way, way better than those Elac atmos enabled speakers, simply because they actually have a much better frequency range and don’t produce such a “thin” sound.
 

DavidT

Well-known Member
Is there such a thing as an Atmos enabled speaker? I always thought that was just marketing hype, a speaker is a speaker.
 

LucaMotz

Standard Member
Is there such a thing as an Atmos enabled speaker? I always thought that was just marketing hype, a speaker is a speaker.
Well yes and no. From what I have gathered they take underspecced speakers, cut them in a funny way so that they‘ll fire upwards in the right angle and then make you pay more for it. If one just bought bookshelves for the same price the end result would probably be much better.
Supposedly the frequency range they have is perfectly matched for what they are supposed to do, but from my limited experience it’s actually just worse :p
 

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