Question Placement of soundbars

Discussion in 'Soundbars, Soundplates & Soundbases' started by lookandlearn, Jun 14, 2017.

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  1. lookandlearn

    lookandlearn
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    Having given up on the AVR plus umpteen speakers route to surround sound, I have been exploring the soundbar route. My TV (LG OLED55E6V) has an attached soundbar that is tolerable but hardly enveloping. I would really like an Atmos enabled soundbar but find there is a problem about the ideal height at which it should be placed. The same problem arises with all soundbars but I suspect it is greater with Atmos on board.

    The standard advice is that a soundbar should be placed at a height that is level with the seated listeners' ears. Dolby for example says this: "For optimum playback performance, a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar should be mounted at or slightly above a seated listener’s ear level. The sound bar can be placed on a console in front of the display product or on a shelf located directly underneath the display." However, that advice contradicts the standard advice about the optimum viewing height of the display screen, which is that the vertical middle of the screen should be at a seated viewer's eye level. As ear and eye level are much the same, those two pieces of advise are mutually contradictory. Unless the soundbar is placed half way up the screen (which I assume no sane person would contemplate), these two pieces of advice can't both be implemented. So what's to do?

    I suppose the screen could be mounted high and tilted down while the soundbar is mounted at ear level. But that limits where the viewers can sit to view it. That is especially a problem with 3D where the vertical height is critical. Viewed from much above or below eye level the 3D effect is severely compromised or completely negated. If, then, the advice regarding the optimum height of the screen is observed, the advice regarding the placement of the soundbar can't be. It must be placed either below or above the screen and that much below or above ear level, which, with a large screen will be considerable. In that case, which is the better non-optimal solution?

    The only alternative I can think of (and no doubt there are better ones) is to divide the speakers into two arrays, one mounted to the right and the other to the left of the screen, both at ear level. That would be like the classic stereo speaker arrangement but with multiple channels in the arrays on both sides. But maybe that's impractical.

    Can anyone suggest how this dilemma might best be resolved? The manufacturers don't seem to give it any thought.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017
  2. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Compromise - if possible have a play with the relative height of the Soundbar and TV to arrive at the best compromise.

    Stereo - forget about compromised surround/immersive sound and put your money into a good 2.0 or 2.1 system.

    Joe
     
  3. lookandlearn

    lookandlearn
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    Thanks for your advice which I've read before. I'd have no difficulty "having a play" as you suggest as my TV is mounted on a lift so I can change its height at the press of a button. But as regards the soundbar there is no room for compromise. Given that it can't be placed in front of the screen it must be either below or above it, which means that, if the screen is at anything like optimal height, the soundbar can't be. The larger the screen, the more the deviation from ear level must be. There is simply no getting away from that.The screen could, of course, be tilted, but as I pointed out, that creates more problems than it solves, particularly where the height of the screen is critical, as it is for watching 3D, and even where it is not, tilting seriously restricts the range of places from which it is possible to have a good view. Most eyes and ears in a room will be at much the same height above the floor.

    As regards your advice about sticking to 2.0 or 2.1, that's fine for listening to music. But I already have a separate stereo hifi setup for that and I don't need another. What I would like is a surround sound setup for watching video that is designed for it. Given the way sound is now being engineered for video, a simple stereo setup, or even a 3.1 one, would lose most of what is provided.

    If this problem is to be solved it is down to the audio people to do it. They have to find a way of addressing the ear-height conundrum or most of their other wonders will go for nothing. Can it really be beyond the wit of those who gave us Atmos to come up with a solution?
     
  4. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    'Given the way sound is now being engineered for video, a simple stereo setup, or even a 3.1 one, would lose most of what is provide' - will have to agree to disagree on that one :)

    I find in many situations the benefits of a decent stereo system (for TV and Movies) far outweigh the 'compromised' benefits of a Surround Sound or Immersive Sound system.

    Joe
     

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