The case for "bouncy house" Dolby atmos enabled speakers

blue13x

Novice Member
When I was in the market for a new home theater that had dolby atmos i considered in-ceiling speakers, add-on atmos modulesand built-in upward-firing add-on module.

In the end I settled on 5.1.2 system with dolby enabled speakers in the form of : 2x Kliosch RP-8060FA, RP-504c and 2x RP-502S + Nvidia Shield Pro + Marantz Receiver.

After reading many many forums, the recommendation was always: you need in-ceiling speakers and that upward firing "bouncy house" dolby-enabled speakers were the lesser option, that were bad and not effective.

Initially when I ran the Audessey setup I wasn't impressed. But after correctly setting the distance between the speaker and the ceiling and bumping up levels of the upward-firing modules, I was left shocked by how effective and precise the effect was.

A few things I noticed:

1. The sound could not be localized as coming from the speakers, it was clearly coming from above. I was so impressed that I dsiabled the surrounds to make sure of what I was listening.
2. The sound didnt only seem to come from above the front speakers, but somehow further back, above the listening position! In Mad Max Fury Road, when immortan joe fights the old lady with the shotgun and it shoots up, the initial shot sounds from above the LCR, and ripples backwards towards the listening position as "debree falls from the roof" above the listening position. The initial shot sounded more in front. I wasn't aware that dolby speakers had this much precision to sound above LCR, but also further back, above the listening position. This makes height speakers in the back less crucial to me based in what I am hearing.
3. In Alita battle angel (atmos version) I was impressed how the sound was creating the effect of convincingly dripping water from the entire ceiling and not just above the LCR. (Also above the main listening position)
4. With all the dolby atmos demos, the sound abive you was clearly moving backwards and forwards above you and NOT just above the front LCR, even in my 5.1.2 system.
5. My strangest observation was that when I put my ears near the upwards shooting speakers, they did not sound like they were doing alot, but sitting in at the main listening position, the sound coming from above is incredibly loud. This leads me to believe they are highly directional, especially with the foam surrounds.
6. Based on how directional the sound is, I have a feeling that add-on modules are simply not as effective.

Based on my experience you don't need in-roof speakers. If setup right, dolby enabled speakers are veryyyy very convincing.
Also, based on my listening experience, just two front dolby enabled speakers seem to be able to produce elevation effects not only above the LCR, but also towards the back, above the listening position. This makes imho a 5.1.4 systen less crucial. In short, you don't need in-ceiling speakers to have a convining atmos experience. You will need to bump up the level quite a lot in the receiver and it is crucial to measure the disgancd between the dolby enabled speakers and the ceiling.

Thoughts and questions are welcome.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I've been running KEF R50 upward firing speakers for six years. I find them very good and give an immersive sound. I far as I'm concerned you are preaching to the converted.
 

blue13x

Novice Member
I've been running KEF R50 upward firing speakers for six years. I find them very good and give an immersive sound. I far as I'm concerned you are preaching to the converted.
I'm suprised myself. I really i thought I was settling with a compromise, especially since everybody here kept saying that in-ceiling are the best and that "bouncy house" speakers are trash.
 

Mr Wolf

Active Member
Frankly I've always been somewhat sceptical of these so it's really good to hear that you like the effect they deliver.

My concern would be the quality/completeness of the signals you're receiving at the MLP given that frequencies have varying levels of directionality/reflectivity. Have you ever tried muting the other channels so you can hear exactly what's coming through the up-firing speakers at the listening position? I don't know about Marantz but my Yamaha AVR has a feature that allows muting of any combination of individual channels which would enable this test.
 

blue13x

Novice Member
Frankly I've always been somewhat sceptical of these so it's really good to hear that you like the effect they deliver.

My concern would be the quality/completeness of the signals you're receiving at the MLP given that frequencies have varying levels of directionality/reflectivity. Have you ever tried muting the other channels so you can hear exactly what's coming through the up-firing speakers at the listening position? I don't know about Marantz but my Yamaha AVR has a feature that allows muting of any combination of individual channels which would enable this test.
Yes. Because I couldnt believe what I was hearing, I disabled some speakers just to make sure what I was hearing. It is very very precise and effective. Can understand why dolby is a bit secretive about the exact atmos specs. With the right setup these are very convincing.
 

Joe in WI

Novice Member
I own the predecessors to the Klipsch RP-8060FA... I have (4) RP-280FA's. (Plus, RP-450CA, SPL-150 (2), and yamaha RX-A2060.) IMO, terrific sounding speakers and I highly recommend the 15" subs... I don't blast them but having 2 15" subs fills in the sub-bass and the crossover frequencies fantastically.

My room is 13 feet (front to back) with no left wall (open to dining and kitchen) and a partial right wall (large archway to sunroom). I have a flat, drywall ceiling, 9 feet high.

It has baffled me for YEARS exactly where to place the speakers and seating. No one talks about it nor do manufacturers publish any distance recommendations.... from the speakers to the MLP and between the speakers. On a given ceiling height, there is going to be a sweet spot for the ATMOS bounce but NO ONE ever says what it is.

My avr only has distance, not ceiling height. And, I do include the distance of the sound path (speaker to ceiling (I guess the reflective spot) plus ceiling to seating.) And, I've set the level on all 4 presence speakers (that's what yamaha calls them) to +10db. All others are at 0db.

I bought a Dolby ATMOS demo disc (Sept 2016) so I hope the infamous helicopter demo and others will help me figure this out.

I have a few questions to a fellow "bouncy house" dweller...

1. Could you please explain how you calculated the proper distance from the towers to the seating area?
2. What is your ceiling height?
3. What is the distance between your towers?
4. What is the distance from towers to your seating?
5. Are your towers toed-in towards your seating?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
1. Could you please explain how you calculated the proper distance from the towers to the seating area?
2. What is your ceiling height?
3. What is the distance between your towers?
4. What is the distance from towers to your seating?
5. Are your towers toed-in towards your seating?
Welcome to the Forum.

Can't answer specifics about either the Yamaha or the Klipsch speakers as I own neither.

For distance I would measure the height to the ceiling from the tweeter of the Atmos speaker at that particular angle to the ceiling. Laser light would be best. Mark that position then measure the height from your seated head height position at the MLP. Add them together and that is the height you need to input into the receiver.

Ceiling height should be between 7½ and 14 feet. Be completely flat and made of a reflective material.

After setting up and running YPAO set the Atmos modules as being small with a crossover of 120hz. Increase the level by 2dB to 3dB over the calibrated level.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
I own the predecessors to the Klipsch RP-8060FA... I have (4) RP-280FA's. (Plus, RP-450CA, SPL-150 (2), and yamaha RX-A2060.) IMO, terrific sounding speakers and I highly recommend the 15" subs... I don't blast them but having 2 15" subs fills in the sub-bass and the crossover frequencies fantastically.

My room is 13 feet (front to back) with no left wall (open to dining and kitchen) and a partial right wall (large archway to sunroom). I have a flat, drywall ceiling, 9 feet high.

It has baffled me for YEARS exactly where to place the speakers and seating. No one talks about it nor do manufacturers publish any distance recommendations.... from the speakers to the MLP and between the speakers. On a given ceiling height, there is going to be a sweet spot for the ATMOS bounce but NO ONE ever says what it is.

My avr only has distance, not ceiling height. And, I do include the distance of the sound path (speaker to ceiling (I guess the reflective spot) plus ceiling to seating.) And, I've set the level on all 4 presence speakers (that's what yamaha calls them) to +10db. All others are at 0db.

I bought a Dolby ATMOS demo disc (Sept 2016) so I hope the infamous helicopter demo and others will help me figure this out.

I have a few questions to a fellow "bouncy house" dweller...

1. Could you please explain how you calculated the proper distance from the towers to the seating area?
2. What is your ceiling height?
3. What is the distance between your towers?
4. What is the distance from towers to your seating?
5. Are your towers toed-in towards your seating?

Hey Joe. You have setup everything wrong by the sound of it..

First make sure you have connected speaker wires from the higher terminal behind your RP-280FA to Yamahas "F.Presence SP1" terminals. The same thing with the second pair of your RP-280FA at the back of room. You will connect the wires from the higher terminal to Yamahas "R.Presence Extra SP2" terminals. The lower terminals behind RP-280FA are connected to Front and Surround at the back of your A2060, not Surround back!

A2060 has angle/height measurement when you run YPAO there is specific part where you select the angle measurement (it also measures the height as mentioned in the manual). Page 56:

The speaker levels are not correct either. You shouldn´t need +10db boost for any speakers. This is what happens when you do own changes manually.. :nono:

You probably haven´t assigned the "bounce speakers" correctly either. Under Front and Rear Presence speakers you will choose Dolby Enabled SP for both, there is also two other options (Front Height and Overhead), but as you have the upfiring speakers then choose the Dolby Enabled SP for both! Page 134:

This sounds like you have setup the system with a "feel" or some old school way aiming for 0db levels. Assign the speakers correctly in the menu and then run YPAO, use the mic stand and put the mic+stand in your main seat as 1st position, then follow the rest positions as shown in the on-screen setup. I think you should do 3-5 mic positions for now if you have to run it again. Keep the mic in fairly close area in the couch, typically 30-60cm so not like jumping to other couch far away. Make sure the room is 100% quiet when you do this and get away from the mic/speakers while it runs!

Not sure are both subwoofers placed equidistant from listener (main seating position), example front corners. Make sure you have the Phase switch set to 0 on both, put Power switch to On position (after Ypao you can change to Auto), Low Pass knob make sure they are turned to LFE on both, Gain knob on same position on both (11-12clock) for now. YPAO will tell you if the gain is too high, then you will lower it for both. You have connected subwoofer cable to white L/LFE and behind the A2060 to Front and Rear Subwoofer outputs (black ones).

After YPAO change speaker size all Small. Then check speaker crossovers and change them to 80hz for Front main channels, Center channel, Surround. For the Atmos modules 120-150hz is ok. The only change after this you would make for the speaker levels is to bump the Front and Rear Presence speakers (Dolby Enabled SP) up by 3db. So example if you get them back at -6db then change to -3db. Don´t go changing other speaker levels and speaker/subwoofer distances!!!!!!!


I think normally around 1,5 - 3meters has been close to sweet spot for the distance from bouncing speakers to listener. The issue you have sadly with the towers that has the modules built in is you can´t play with the angles, so you need to move couch closer / tower speakers closer to listener.


With these changes the system should sound lot better and hopefully the bouncing speakers will come alive again!
 

Joe in WI

Novice Member
Thank you both for responding. I've had some time to digest it and double check my setup.

Yes, the atmos portion (highest terminals) of the towers are connected to the F.Presence and R.Presence. And, the lower terminals to the front and surround. Surround Back are empty. Both front and rear presence are set to Dolby Enabled SP and are properly shown as up-firing in the onscreen configuration image. I temporarily set presence levels at +10db to try and locate the sweet spot. And, yes, I deserve to be spanked for manually making changes. :facepalm:

Both subwoofers use high quality sub cables, that are plugged into the AVR's pre-out section's front/1 and rear/2 subwoofer. Mine are colored white and red, respectively, not black. At the subs, the cables plug into LFE (white), low-pass filter is at LFE, 0 phase, gain is set just slightly under 12 o'clock (about 11:30 to 11:45). (Wall neighbors complain at 50% or higher.) Subs are placed across the front, inside the mains. So it's a 16 foot wall but only the middle 10 feet are usable... left end is a doorway, right end is the gas fireplace. Within that 10 foot of wall, it's FL, sub1, 5-foot low profile entertainment center with 65" TV and CC, then, sub2, RF. The mains are toed-in and put's the main's tweeters at 9 feet apart. See picture.

Yes, I know, the CC is not centered. I'm moving in a couple months and am being lazy. I will relocate the AVR to the lower shelved area and center the CC. (The other option is to mount the TV and place the CC on top of the unit which has the benefit of raising the tweeters to be closer to the mains. The jury is still deciding the CC's fate. LOL.) Nine months ago, I did pull the CC speaker out about 1 inch beyond the cubby hole... holy cow, did that improve voice dialog!

When I had 1 sub, it was positioned on the right wall, about 1/3 of the way from the front. I got rather poor sub levels, especially late night, at low volume. It was firing across the living room and dissipating in the dining room. So, I moved it upfront on the outside of the FR speaker. I know that you're not supposed to be able to localize it but I could... not with precision. But when a car crashed off the left side of the screen, I could hear the crash from the FL but feel the crash from the right. It was just off. So I moved the sub inside the FR and moved the FL the same distance further out to maintain spacing and added more toe-in. The sound blended better especially with the CC. So I added the 2nd sub. I think with setting the subs as L&R (AVR has the choices of mono, L&R, F&B), they have become an extension of the towers and the XO frequencies blend very well. If I mounted the TV and CC, I could put one sub, front and center, but I don't have room for a rear sub, even in the new place. So, it would have to be left rear or right rear and I'd be able to localize it. I guess I could buy a 3rd sub and use a Y-adapter to run 2 rear, side subs but I think that's overkill for the size of my living room.... but rather cool! LOL

I was running at 80 XO but raised it to 90. I, like others, felt that the towers are capable of so much more so why not use them down to at 60 or 40 but I find the midrange is much, much cleaner by offloading below 90. I've been experimenting with a surround XO of 60 and 40 so that the deeper bass comes from the correct direction instead of the front. i.e. If a bus is coming at you and passes on the left side, I want to hear and feel the rumble from the left side. Just a preference.

Crossover for the atmos has been a puzzle to me. I've read anywhere from 120, 150, 180, even 200. Klipsch, if I understand their manual correctly, recommends a minimum of 80. I'm assuming it's because of the acoustical foam that lines the atmos speaker area. If I was using the 500SA (add-ons), then Klipsch recommends a minimum of 150.

I bought a Dolby Atmos demo disc so I'll try the 120 atmos XO when I can play the helicopter, etc demos.

I think normally around 1,5 - 3meters has been close to sweet spot for the distance from bouncing speakers to listener.
That has been my struggle.... why don't the manufactures publish distances. With a 9-foot ceiling, the ideal MLP should be x feet away. IMO, that is the number one reason for people disliking AE speakers... they either sit too close (for surrounds) or too far away (for mains.) And, IMO, no amount of YPAO adjustments will fix that.

I used a flashlight and atmos appears to hit the ceiling about 3 feet from the speaker. If the departure angle is the same, then it would hit the ear level at 6 feet. There will be some dispersion so I'd guess the sweet spot will be 6 to 7 feet away. Can you hear it further, yes, but an in-ceiling speaker needs to be at 45 degrees from the MLP and in-line with the mains, these AE speakers too have a proper lineal distance (for given a ceiling height.) I have no idea why the manufacturers will not test or say what that distance is. Yes, it would be only valid for an ideal room so vaulted ceilings, acoustical tiles (that absorb sound), open trusses (no ceiling), obstructions (fans, lights, beams) would all effect it. But it would give a starting point to know if you even have a chance of them working well.

You stated AE have a sweet spot of 1.5 to 3m. That's roughly 5 to 10 feet. I don't know what ceiling height that references but I'll assume that I'm in the ballpark with a 9 foot ceiling. I used to sit 12 to 13 feet back which clearly put me beyond the sweet spot, by both of our calculations. I have since moved closer to form a better equilateral triangle between the MLP and mains. The atmos demo disc arrives next week and I'm anxiously awaiting to hear it.

As a contingency plan at the new place, I'm considering having the electrician wire for front and rear height speakers before the drywall goes up. The new ceiling is more complicated because it's 8 feet around the perimeter but the middle area is a tray ceiling, raised to 9 feet. I figured the height speakers, mounted high on the wall at the 8 foot ceiling, inline with the mains, pointing straight out, will give me an option if the AE speakers don't work well with the tray ceiling.
 

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