Tricky room - any advice for a combined Stereo/Surround setup?

warpedrhombus9

Novice Member
Edit: Sorry if DIY is the wrong spot for this, didn't quite get how the forum was organised when I first posted.

Hi there, wondering if any of the experienced folks could help me steer my way through some setup conundrums? Total novice here so go easy on me ;)

I'm looking to create an audio set-up for music and TV, with a corner placement in a small living room. (We have a tall fireplace which makes a normal height placement impossible and we wouldn't want to put a TV there, except possibly something like a samsung frame which is out of budget for now.)

I've currently got two monitor radius 90 speakers which I got for a steal and fit the space.

I have an old rotel stereo amp which I am looking to replace with something with digital inputs, ideally HDMI ARC.

I was originally considering creating a 2.1 or 3.1 setup, but I've predictably gone down the rabbit hole and I'm now looking at 5.1 (or possibly 4.1 with a sonos amp) with some possibly bonkers ideas for 6.1 or 7.1. Probably not looking at ever adding height speakers in this space but who knows.

I can see how the 2.1 or 3.1 setups would work, but I'm lost at sea with options for 5.1 or 7.1.

Attached some possible setups below. Grateful advice on the following...

  • Is it a waste of time to pursue more than a 3.1 setup in this room? (And if so, any ideas which if any attached scenarios make sense?)
  • Given how close together my front speakers are, would the center channel add that much? Dialogue seems pretty clear right now. Skipping it would mean I could use something like the Sonos Amp for 4.0, or a stereo amp that would be better for music (And it would knock a chunk off the budget).

Also any thoughts on what amp / receiver to buy?
  • For a 2.1 setup I was looking at an NAD 3045; Sonos Amp; or Audiolab 6000a
  • For the 3.1 and higher I was looking at the Denon 1700h; Marantz NR 1711; or wildcard I saw that some discontinued high end amps like an Arcam 400 are available used for similar or less money and might be better for music. (I'm not really concerned with the latest HDMI specs as I only use the apps on the smart TV and a single xbox plugged into the tv itself.)

Usage is probably 75% tv/movies and 25% music, but I do care about the stereo sound.

Attached options for 5.1 and above setups below. Anything in dotted lines we don't have yet (including the second sofa!).

Thanks so much for any advice!

Option 1 - 5.1
Screen Shot 2022-06-20 at 11.13.47 am.png

Option 2 - 5.1
Screen Shot 2022-06-20 at 11.13.52 am.png

Option 3 - 7.1
Screen Shot 2022-06-20 at 11.13.56 am.png

Option 4 - 6.1
Screen Shot 2022-06-20 at 11.14.01 am.png
 
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Peter Parker

Distinguished Member
At my last place, I found your option 1 worked best for me - my lounge was laid out much the same, except my bay window was on the left (so like a mirror of your last option), with the door being on the same wall as the sofa to the right, so I had the r/h speaker a bit further away on the side wall facing the sofa like in your first pic. It seemed to work well for me. Whatever you do it will be a compromise, so just choose the option that you feel works best for you - if you can experiment with placement and test how each sounds that should help you decide. Being a lounge, you might want the speakers to look as unobtrusive and as visually balanced as possible as well.

I had my sub placed next to the sofa and as the house had suspended timber floors, when the sub reacted to explosions etc it sent vibrations into the sofa (it was sat on the same floorboards as the sub), giving some tactile feedback which really added to the experience. It also worked fine as a coffee table.
 
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warpedrhombus9

Novice Member
Interesting, thanks! The visual /obtrusiveness side definitely counts for a lot, that's why I went for the radius 90s.

I guess overall then you think it's worth pursuing a surround setup!

In my position, do you have an idea what order you would add things? (Sub > Surrounds > Centre?) (or just no centre?)
 
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Peter Parker

Distinguished Member
I kept the speakers small so needed a sub - large speakers made the room look untidy and I wanted it to look as much like a lounge as possible without speakers appearing too obtrusive and standing out. That made a sub a necessity - it really makes a difference with movies too.

So yes, definitely. Go for a 5.1 set up with a centre speaker and a sub. If you can't find a suitable centre speaker or location for it, then you may have to compromise without a centre and have a 'phantom' centre, but a centre usually gives better results, especially for those seated off centre (which usually means the closest speaker is the one where all the audio appears to come from).

My centre back then was on top of the (crt) tv so didn't look too bad, but with flat screens you'll need it underneath somewhere. A typical horizontal speaker should do the trick and there are Radius centre speakers, some of which are less than 3" deep and designed to be used with flat screens so you should be fine. If you want to wait for one to come up at the right price, try using the phantom set up and then add in the centre later when one comes available - how well that works may determine how quickly you need to add in the centre. In what order you add them is up to you, but you may find a sub makes more of an impact than the surrounds, so perhaps get one of those next.

I had some small surround speakers that take up very little room and they worked better than I expected (I initially had some larger Mission bookshelf speakers but they stood out too much), so you don't need large speakers for that (in a more dedicated room I would go larger though). I even painted them the same colour as the wall so they would blend in more, with white grill cloth.
 
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warpedrhombus9

Novice Member
I kept the speakers small so needed a sub - large speakers made the room look untidy and I wanted it to look as much like a lounge as possible without speakers appearing too obtrusive and standing out. That made a sub a necessity - it really makes a difference with movies too.

So yes, definitely. Go for a 5.1 set up with a centre speaker and a sub. If you can't find a suitable centre speaker or location for it, then you may have to compromise without a centre and have a 'phantom' centre, but a centre usually gives better results, especially for those seated off centre (which usually means the closest speaker is the one where all the audio appears to come from).

My centre back then was on top of the (crt) tv so didn't look too bad, but with flat screens you'll need it underneath somewhere. A typical horizontal speaker should do the trick and there are Radius centre speakers, some of which are less than 3" deep and designed to be used with flat screens so you should be fine. If you want to wait for one to come up at the right price, try using the phantom set up and then add in the centre later when one comes available - how well that works may determine how quickly you need to add in the centre. In what order you add them is up to you, but you may find a sub makes more of an impact than the surrounds, so perhaps get one of those next.

I had some small surround speakers that take up very little room and they worked better than I expected (I initially had some larger Mission bookshelf speakers but they stood out too much), so you don't need large speakers for that (in a more dedicated room I would go larger though). I even painted them the same colour as the wall so they would blend in more, with white grill cloth.
Thanks very helpful! :)

The 4.1 idea is partly a budget thing, partly I am just a bit tempted by the idea of the Sonos Amp because it would make it very easy for everyone else in the house to use the system for music and I'm just fairly sure the Sonos app is going to be nicer to use than the HEOS system.

Really think Sonos should have given the amp support for a centre channel given likely use in AV systems! A 3.1 receiver with easy support for wireless surrounds if I wanted them later would have been a no brainer for me. Seems bizarre that Sonos, Marantz etc create all these stereo receivers/amps with HDMI support and don't consider a 3.1 system which would be a nice upgrade option.
 
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Htfanboy

Active Member
I like option three for the most accurate placement possible. but ensure the seating is parallel to the tv. So this would mean move one couch and lose another in that room.
The biggest thing is are you willing to consider this option?
 
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