My Atmos Adventure - some insights for anyone who may be considering the same journey

childejc

Active Member
This thread is to record my experiences of discovering, preparing for and enjoying Atmos. Hopefully it will be of use to others who, like me a few weeks ago, know little of Atmos or what is involved in setting it up. i will add to the thread over the next week or so as I complete my set up.

A few weeks ago i realised my venerable 9 year old Marantz SR8001 receiver was soon to die so I began researching a replacement. I knew there were new sound codecs that I would be able to enjoy but I had never heard of Atmos. However, having discovered its existence, a little bit of further research made it clear I had to have it, and that I would want at least 5.1.4, but may want 7.1.4.

So I ordered an 11 channel Denon 6300 at a pretty good price, it being last year's model. I then set about sourcing suitable new speakers.

My current set up is 7.1 with the 4 surrounds all being in ceiling bipoles. It works pretty well but I have always suspected that being in-ceiling was a compromise, albeit very neat and tidy. My Atmos research revealed that the base level speakers should all ideally be at ear height. An excellent excuse to buy some new ear level surrounds :).

This is how the room will look when everything is in place. Green denotes base level at ear height and amber denotes the 4 Atmos speakers. My ceiling is at 2.4m and is flat plaster. In other words, pretty much ideal for up-firing Atmos modules.
upload_2018-1-9_22-49-11.png


The front 2 Atmos speakers are PSB XA units that sit on top of my front L and R speakers. The rear 2 Atmos speakers are my existing Definitive Technology UIW bp/a bipole speakers.

The SL and SR are (or will be - they have yet to arrive) M&K SS150 tripole speakers, and the SBL and SBR are (or will be when they are wall mounted) M&K Xenon SURT-26 tripoles. These all complement my existing M&K LCR 850s at the front.

I thought long and hard about my Atmos speakers. The ideal is apparently to have direct radiating in-ceiling speakers. However, this would have entailed replacing my existing in-ceiling bipolar back speakers, and making lots of mess in my ceiling to fit 2 new speakers in the middle. I decided my ears are not discerning enough to justify that amount of disruption so my compromise is to repurpose my back surrounds as Atmos rears and to buy 2 new Amos up firers for the front. My research suggested that for a ceiling of my height and finish these would work well. My only real concern was about creating a hybrid of real and virtual ceiling speakers, but on the dolby Atmos site they said this would be OK so I proceeded. I was also concerned that using bipoles for Atmos might not work, but i decided I had nothing to lose as I could always replace them later if necessary.

I also thought long and hard about my surrounds and whether I should go for direct radiating or dipole or bipole or tripole. Direct radiating are supposed to be the best if you can place them optimally, which I was not sure I could do, especially my back surrounds. Dipole is frowned on by dolby in an Atmos set up, although it is good in a smallish room. So in the end I settled on 2 pairs of tripoles, to hopefully give me the best of both worlds. The side surrounds have yet to arrive, and the back surrounds have yet to be mounted. Therefore currently my set up is 5.1.4 with my existing in-ceiling bipoles as my side surrounds. This is definitely not optimal as the steering of Atmos effects assumes they will be at ear height. However it is the best I can do for now.

So how does it sound so far? Pretty damn brilliant:clap:

Tonight was the first chance to hear the Atmos demo disk. Wow it is impressive. I really liked the shorts that had been created just to demonstrate the effects, especially the jumbo jet demo. It really is as good as I had hoped. Listening to the rain with my eyes closed sounded and felt completely real.

My main concern now is that it sounded so good I am wondering just how much value I am going to get out of the further technical improvements to come when I get my new surrounds set up. Did I really need them? Maybe I should have done the upgrade in stages and only proceeded to the next stage after first living with the current stage for a while. Anyway, too late now. I am sure they will sound better, and I will certainly tell myself they do! And I won't let the boss hear the system until they are installed;)

I'll give further feedback once the new surrounds are installed and the room is properly finished and I have done a good Audyssey set up. At the moment it is a bit of a bomb site so I am not sure the current Audyssey set up is as good as it could have been.

If there is anyone thinking of doing something similar and who has any questions please ask and I will try to help.
 

mindforge

Active Member
Thanks for that, sounds like a good experience and well done for repurposing the existing speakers, makes a lot of sense.

Where did you get the Atmos demo disc from?
 

childejc

Active Member
Thanks for that, sounds like a good experience and well done for repurposing the existing speakers, makes a lot of sense.

Where did you get the Atmos demo disc from?
I'm not sure I am allowed to say on this forum...;). I will say it is very large, about 22GB I think. Its the September 2015 version and it plays from my media centre.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Thanks for that, sounds like a good experience and well done for repurposing the existing speakers, makes a lot of sense.

Where did you get the Atmos demo disc from?
There was a seller on a well known auction site selling burned Blu-Ray copies of the official 2015 and 2016 discs. I flagged it up in November and a few members on here bought copies, as did I.

Keep an eye out on the site as the listing may come back. He was selling the 2015 disc for £6.99 and the 2016 disc for £7.99, both with free delivery. Came in a proper case too with all the artwork.
 

childejc

Active Member
There was a seller on a well known auction site selling burned Blu-Ray copies of the official 2015 and 2016 discs. I flagged it up in November and a few members on here bought copies, as did I.

Keep an eye out on the site as the listing may come back. He was selling the 2015 disc for £6.99 and the 2016 disc for £7.99, both with free delivery. Came in a proper case too with all the artwork.
i saw your thread and so checked that well known site first and the only one I found was asking for £40:eek:. But just checked again and there are some cheaper ones, albeit still expensive given the official download is free (so I have heard).
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
i saw your thread and so checked that well known site first and the only one I found was asking for £40:eek:. But just checked again and there are some cheaper ones, albeit still expensive given the official download is free (so I have heard).
Yes, you're right: some of the prices asked are just crazy for something that you really won't use very often.

It was just pot luck that that Seller popped up with those prices as his discs sell out very quickly, unsurprisingly!

And yes, the official download is free, but I don't have a disc burner nor a media centre, so the disc (even copied) was the best option for me.
 

childejc

Active Member
Thanks for these links. Are there any there that are not on the 2015 demo disk?

I have now got my 7.1.4 system set up and have been really enjoying playing back the demo disk files for my wife and kids. Its great watching their faces as the effects kick in. The winner so far is the 747 Jumbo jet flying overhead at 0db. It is terrifyingly convincing.

One thing about 7.1.4; there sure are a lot of cables to manage!

For anyone who is interested, the PSB XA Atmos modules I'm using for Top Fronts (mounted on my L and R front speakers) are really effective, far more so than I expected based on reviews of up firers. You will really believe the sound is coming from a ceiling speaker. They work at least as well as my in-ceiling Top Rears. I guess the crucial requirement is a flat ceiling of the right height which fortunately I have.
 

CaPo

Active Member
Struggling to get a convincing effect from my psb's, how far off the floor do you have them?
Mine are at about 1.1m, similar 2.4m roof as yourself and I sit 2.5m away. The sound seems like it's coming direct from the speakers :(
 

childejc

Active Member
Struggling to get a convincing effect from my psb's, how far off the floor do you have them?
Mine are at about 1.1m, similar 2.4m roof as yourself and I sit 2.5m away. The sound seems like it's coming direct from the speakers :(
Mine are the same as yours, but about 3.1m away. I was demonstrating to my son yesterday and we found that unless we had our ears virtually directly above the speaker it sounded like it was coming from the ceiling. Exactly as it should. It was remarkable how tight the dispersion was, to achieve the effect.

So it sounds like something is not right in your case. There is a foam baffle in under the front cover which is designed to prevent sound leaking out directly towards you. Is that in place correctly?

Also, I have set up as Top Front. Is that what you have used?
 

CaPo

Active Member
Baffle looks OK, I think maybe my roof just isn't reflective enough. It does have a light artex stipple, but I have seen plenty people say they have had success with that.
I've set them to front dolby speakers, the amp has that as an option for upfiriring, tried the crossover at 150 and 200.
 

childejc

Active Member
Audessey set the crossover to 200 for mine. I think the ceiling surface is likely to be your problem, despite what others have said. I believe Dolby state it should be smooth and hard (as mine is), that is not textured and not covered in wallpaper.

But actually that is not really consistent with what my son I noticed, namely that unless we actually lean directly over the top of the speaker, its sound comes from the ceiling. Even as little as about 10 degrees off the vertical is sufficient for it to work. So even if your ceiling were not optimal I would have thought you would get some reflection.
 

CaPo

Active Member
I just got my brother to hold a sheet of hardboard on the roof and the reflection was there, board away and it was gone. Been messing about with it loads and nothing reasonable works for me.
Speakers packed and return arranged, looking into my options.
 

childejc

Active Member
I just got my brother to hold a sheet of hardboard on the roof and the reflection was there, board away and it was gone. Been messing about with it loads and nothing reasonable works for me.
Speakers packed and return arranged, looking into my options.
Unless you are prepared to make holes in your ceiling your best bet is probably to put up wall mounted speakers at front heights, as high as you can get them and pointed at your MLP.
 

childejc

Active Member
That's the current thinking, I have my 2 old speakers from a previous 7.1 set up balanced on top of my TV atm to try out, sounds good but not properly overhead.
Or how about attaching hardboard sheets at the point of reflection. When painted they may not look too bad.
 

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