Need help with first time home theater setup

Halfpikant

Novice Member
Dear hometheater enthousiasts,

I'm renovating my new apartment and I want to design the surround system in advance so I can still put the cables in the wall. During this process every question I researched just generated more questions so I'm reaching out to all of you. The goal was to inplement a 5.1 system but maybe 3.1 or 3.0 is enough. This is an apartment and I'm not really worried about the neighbours on the same floor but I do care about the people living above and below me.

1. Description of the room

The room is 3.88m (12ft 9 in) wide and 3m( 9 ft 10 in) deep, the ceiling is 3.2m (10ft 6in) high . The back wall is removed so you can access the dining area. The TV area is part of an open space that also includes the kitchen, dining room and entrance hall. As far as sound goes, I only need enough to hear it while sitting in the couch, not the entire apartment.

Here is a link of the plan

These are renders of how the area will look when finished

2. Speaker placement

3 Speakers next to the TV and potentially a subwoofer seems pretty straightforward. But since the couch is next to a wall I'm having difficulties the find the right spots for the 2 surround speakers. This is my plan for the current layout
Red is the center channel and receiver. Blue is right and left front. Green is sub, yellow is surround speakers. For the surround speakers I have heard that it can also work if you put them on or in the ceiling. Is this correct?

3. Types of speakers
Because I live in an apartment with aerated concrete walls sound isolation isn't very good. This makes me think that I need either floorstanding speakers withhout a sub or shelf speakers with a sub, but I don't know which combination produces the best sound. I do prefer shelf speakers for esthetic reasons.


4. Speaker and receiver choice
Here I'm feeling overwhelmed by an abundance of choice and options. First I liked the JAMO s809 home theater kit but then I found out that for surround sound you can go cheaper such as the Polk OWM3 so I can spend more money on the front and center speakers. Then I changed my mind to speakers as the Dali Oberon 5 or 7 or Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 but these speakers you have to put far from the wall and that's not feasible in my room.
If the TV and receiver have eARC, is it possible to hide the receiver in a shelf or closet?

Conclusion

I need advice on what equipment to get and where to place it. Currently living in Ukraine, and most brands are available here, mainly from the following webstores: MusicMag and AudioVideoMir.
I'm working with a budget of 1500-2000 USD (50000-60000 UAH on the previously mentioned websites).

Do I even need a 5.1 system? My goal was to build 5.1 since to me this appears to be the most common audio format, even Netflix has it. But in a room as small as mine, maybe 3.0 or 3.1 is enough?

I would be grateful for any advice on which equipment to use, but if you recommend floorstanding speakers I prefer a model that can stand with it's back near the wall. Also, ideally the speaker would be white or a lighter colour to match with the rest of the room.

Thanks for reading this far, looking forward to your replies!
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
You don´t need floorstanders especially if you prefer the bookshelf models more. They often look better. Dali says 15cm minium from the front wall. For bookshelf speakers you would need speaker stands as you need to have the speakers at optimal height which is tweeters at seated ear height. So that will add cost ~100€. Another option would be to go with on-wall speakers so example Dali Oberon On-Wall mounted at least 2m apart. Sadly there is no matching on-wall center channel / not selling single On-Walls so you would need to get Oberon Vokal and mount it below tv as the "step" below your front wall is too low for speakers. It´s fairly deep so not sure if ok. It´s always battle to get the center channel on optimal height due to tv and you don´t want to mount tv too high either as it may become uncomfortable in long run. Center channel is one of the most active speaker in your system so it´s important to put big effort regarding placement.

Ideally the surround speakers would go either side of listeners, but i assume that is not possible on other side as your drawing has it behind listener on rear wall. The ceiling speakers would be another option which is popular in US with open plan living rooms without walls. It´s not optimal, but people swear they wouldn´t want to go back living without em as you still get the effects flying around which makes the experience more enjoyable. I would have said buy LCR first and think about surround channels later, but as you are pulling the wires inside now means you need to decide. Tricky call. You could consider something small white higher up and pointed down perhaps. The Polk OWM3 should work fine too. Quite popular in US for atmos heights.

About the sound proofing do you hear steps, kids running or furniture moved easily from your upstair neighbours? Is there generally poor sound proofing so you would hear noises or even talk if close to radiator pipes. Coughing, toilet paper holder making noise against wall. These all were normal to me in 2011 built concrete apartment, probably same type of yours. Luckily i had 1st floor so using subwoofer wasn´t big problem.

I would want some kind of subwoofer even small one which you could perhaps place in front of the couch left or behind the couch on the small bit of wall. You wouldn´t need to run it so loud to get some impact and this way bother neighbours less. If you go this route and you know your downstair neighbours i would make a test with them so you could see how loud you can go when it starts to bother them. Then you wouldn´t need to worry. Naturally you are in control how loud the sub plays, easy to tweak from av-receiver while laying on couch. Decent quality subwoofer does cost more, the cheap ones are poor boom boxes so you would be looking similar to this in Ukraine. Very compact sized, but both are old models so not sure about availability.

You don´t want to hide the receiver inside some closed unit when you use it. They tend to get warm and need decent ventilation (top and sides). If going cheap something like Yamaha RX-V4A or RX-V6A / Denon X1700H or X2700H. Marantz NR1510 if looking low height one but they do cost more and offer less.

You should go listen few brands before making the decision unless you are limited to few on-wall models. The Musicmag site has Dali Oberons, Monitor Audio Bronze 50 + Bronze C150, Polk S15e/S20e and S30e or the R100/R200 + R300. The new R range has got some positive feedback, but just like Dalis they have brighter sound which may or may not be to your liking. All available in white.

Then some white speaker stands:
 

Halfpikant

Novice Member
Hi Gasp3621,

Thank you so much for the advise, this really helped! I talked it over with my wife and we have decided to go for floorstanding speakers because if the bookshelf speakers need a stand anyway we might aswell get floorstanders. For the surround speakers we will go with in-ceiling speakers, probably from the DALI H or E series. The good news is that with lower cost surround speakers the budget for LCR has increased. I don't think we will buy a sub immediately, if we feel that it is necessary we can buy a wireless one later.

EDIT, for the in-ceiling speakers, should they be positioned directly overhead or should there be some deviation?

The new problem is the positioning of the AVR. Since we cant hide it in a shelf we decided to put it on the other side of the living room wall, see the purple mark on the left of the plan. The distance from there to the TV is more than 3 meter so using a normal 4K HDMI cable will lead to signal degradation. What is the best way to solve this problem?

Thanks in advance!

Halfpikant

1642086293899.png
 
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Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Are the floorstanding speakers going on top of the raised part on the front wall like in one of the picture? How much it raises from floor level? I´m just thinking how much higher the tweeters will go vs. ears.

The Oberon 5 for example or any similar size speakers are very bass light so you are going to be missing quite a lot regarding certain type of blockbuster movies without small sub, but you can add it later. However keep in mind that most of the cheap ones are pure junk.

Measure the center channel depth and show wife how much it comes forward from the wall if you mount it below tv. You can mount it using something like this:
Amazon product

"The distance from there to the TV is more than 3 meter so using a normal 4K HDMI cable will lead to signal degradation. What is the best way to solve this problem?"

@Joe Fernand
can give you answer to this with more knowledge.
 

Halfpikant

Novice Member
The plan is to make the shelf under the TV smaller, the speakers will be standing on the floor next to it. We're currently working with our designer on the specifics. I was planning to put the center speaker on the shelf and tilt it up as necessary. Currently we have a 55 inch tv that will be upgraded to 75 inch after the audio system so planning it now is tricky. I'm currently looking at speakers that should be able to handle bass better. Ones I'm interested in at the moment are DALI's spektor 6/Oberon 7 , YAMAHA NS-777, Polk audio T50, HECO Victa Prime 802.
For the Phantom H50 in-ceiling speakers the depth is 95mm. Does that mean I should only have this much clearance in the ceiling or is a bit more adviseable?

@Joe Fernand Looking forward to hear your advice!
 
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Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Room layout - with you sitting so close to the front speakers and either straight on or offset you could consider a 2.0 or 2.1 system which would also help with the ‘where to put the amplifier’ problem as it could sit on a shelf below the TV.

Source devices - what do you plan to use? Apologies if I have missed that in your earlier posts.

Amp - if you stick to a 2.0 or 2.1 system you could use a Stereo amp with digital input or an Atmos enabled AVR if you wish to try out immersive audio, 2.1.2 is a viable option.

In-ceiling speakers - low cost units usually lack integral sound or fire hoods, both of which are recommended/possibly a legal requirement if there are living spaces above your room.

Loudspeakers - a good quality pair of floor standing, full range, speakers designed for ‘back to the wall’ placement may be all you require, ideally you try them with/without a Sub and decide if the Sub is required.

Ultra High Speed certified HDMI cables are avaible at up to 5m - anything longer you should be looking at a Hybrid Fibre HDMI cable.

Joe
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
The plan is to make the shelf under the TV smaller, the speakers will be standing on the floor next to it. We're currently working with our designer on the specifics. I was planning to put the center speaker on the shelf and tilt it up as necessary. Currently we have a 55 inch tv that will be upgraded to 75 inch after the audio system so planning it now is tricky. I'm currently looking at speakers that should be able to handle bass better. Ones I'm interested in at the moment are DALI's spektor 6/Oberon 7 , YAMAHA NS-777, Polk audio T50, HECO Victa Prime 802.
For the Phantom H50 in-ceiling speakers the depth is 95mm. Does that mean I should only have this much clearance in the ceiling or is a bit more adviseable?

@Joe Fernand Looking forward to hear your advice!

There is no Victa Prime 802, only 702.

Is there more options? Dali Oberon and Heco would be best from those listed. I wouldn´t even consider those two cheap ones. Don`t skimp on speakers!

Dali Oberon 7 would be more ideal if you don`t add subwoofer, but it requires little bit more space. Dali recommends 20cm from wall as minium.

Can you move the couch away from the tv if you go with in-ceiling surround speakers? I would want the front mains bit more apart as you add center channel so they aren´t squeezed too close together.

You probably pay for installer to do the in-ceiling speakers, he should know everything what is required. Dali Phantoms are good quality speakers.
 

Halfpikant

Novice Member
Hi again,

Thanks for your advice. The speakers are still just ideas for now, I estimate about a year until I actually buy some. As far as receivers go, the Yamaha RX-V4A looks very appealing to me. For source media I have a local server that runs Plex and stream all my media via Plex if the receiver has a 1Gb/s ethernet port. If that's not the case I would connect the server to my Nvidia Shield (tube version) and connect that to the receiver via HDMI.

The only thing that I don't like about the Yamaha RX-V4A is that it does not support Atmos. Since my surround speakers are in the ceiling I'm not sure if I want to run it as 5.0 or 3.0.2 if I have the option.

 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Hi again,

Thanks for your advice. The speakers are still just ideas for now, I estimate about a year until I actually buy some. As far as receivers go, the Yamaha RX-V4A looks very appealing to me. For source media I have a local server that runs Plex and stream all my media via Plex if the receiver has a 1Gb/s ethernet port. If that's not the case I would connect the server to my Nvidia Shield (tube version) and connect that to the receiver via HDMI.

The only thing that I don't like about the Yamaha RX-V4A is that it does not support Atmos. Since my surround speakers are in the ceiling I'm not sure if I want to run it as 5.0 or 3.0.2 if I have the option.


You have to choose one over other. Surround channels in-ceiling or overhead channels. I would choose the former and consider the sub route still, then the more compact floorstanders would work fine. Year is a long time to plan, you will see new models introduced starting from this summer so it`s waste of time to plan any specific models now, unless you are going to buy model that goes on sale before being discontinued. RX-V4A is quite anemic, RX-V6A rather, but these Yamahas uses lower bandwith hdmi 2.1 connections so not sure how future proof. Better to wait new models or look in to Denon X1700H/X2700H - Marantz SR5015 (bit overpriced).
 

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