Is timbre matching height speakers important?

I

Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Hi,

I currently have a 5.1 speaker setup which is intend to expand with 2-4 height speakers (elevation speakers mounted high on the wall). However, there are no height speakers of the same model as my ear-level speakers, the Dali Zensor series, so I cannot timbre match them perfectly. Dali does have a height speaker, the Dali Alteco C-1, but there are not that many reviews of it out there, and specification-wise, there seems to be better speakers out there, such as the SVS Prime elevations, which have received great reviews. So, is it important to timbre match your ear-level speakers to your height speakers? If not, is it even important that all of the height speakers are of the same model? What is your opinion? Any informed buying advice is is also much appreciated.

//Isak
 
E

Erod

Junior Audioholic
No, it's not important unless you're dramatically increasing the gain in your top speakers so you can "hear" them better.

When calibrated to balanced dB with the rest, they play sound effects and soft supporting background music only.
 
I

Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
So, how about the quality of the speaker then? Is it worth investing in say the SVS Prime elevations (about 600 dollars for a pair where I live) if they "only" play sound effects and supporting background music, or would you go for a cheaper option like the Dali Alteco C-1 (about 380 dollar) or even cheaper?
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
So, how about the quality of the speaker then? Is it worth investing in say the SVS Prime elevations (about 600 dollars for a pair where I live) if they "only" play sound effects and supporting background music, or would you go for a cheaper option like the Dali Alteco C-1 (about 380 dollar) or even cheaper?
I don’t know much about the Dali but they seem to make very fine speakers. Height speakers don’t NEED to be matched, but ime its better to match speakers when you can. Audyssey will help some and you will be fine. The information height speakers play, will be determined by the soundtrack. In most cases It is definitely more than music and ambient noises. If you’re properly set up, the top layer and bed layer should phantom image sounds into the room while also creating an environment where the walls disappear.
 
blue72

blue72

Audiophyte
When calibrated to balanced dB with the rest, they play sound effects and soft supporting background music only.
The overhead channels can receive more than just sound effects and soft music. There is nothing in any specifications limiting them from receiving any sort of signal. It's just up to the artistic direction and the people making the mix as to what winds up above you. It can also be good to remember that overhead channels are full-bandwidth, same as all the bed channels. Most people have them bass managed (the stuff below a certain frequency sent to the Subwoofer output), but the overhead channels can be and are encoded with signals as low as 20 Hz or lower.
 
E

Erod

Junior Audioholic
The overhead channels can receive more than just sound effects and soft music. There is nothing in any specifications limiting them from receiving any sort of signal. It's just up to the artistic direction and the people making the mix as to what winds up above you. It can also be good to remember that overhead channels are full-bandwidth, same as all the bed channels. Most people have them bass managed (the stuff below a certain frequency sent to the Subwoofer output), but the overhead channels can be and are encoded with signals as low as 20 Hz or lower.
My subjective, yet researched, take on this.

I've never heard any source material in a properly calibrated system that used the height channels aggressively in any way other than overhead effects like helicopter blades, thunder, etc. For background music support, it's very much more subtlety employed.

That doesn't require timbre matching. Upmixing pulls the left and right signals up, but very much in a subtle way to add spaciousness or widen the soundstage. Again, that doesn't require that you timber match your heights to your mains.

The LCR should absolutely be timber matched. The surrounds and heights really don't need to match the LCR, as long as they're reasonably neutral speakers. The surrounds should match each other, and the heights should match each other. In fact, many believe that you should use dome tweeters for surrounds exclusively, even if you choose AMT, ribbons, or something else in the LCR channels.

Of course, this is a subjective hobby, so to each his own.
 
F

felipe

Audioholic
Timbre-matching the height speakers IMO would be more of a recommendation than a necessity...as of right now. It is more important to have your 5 floor channels timbre-matched, as most of your movie and/or music soundtrack occurs within those channels. I say “as of right now” b/c the use of height information is not all that common yet. I can imagine in time that will change as more content utilizes “height“ information within thier soundtracks.
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic General
IDT this applies to movies, but for multi-ch music, some producers/sound techs send full range signals to the rear channels.

Just for sh;ts & giggles...I moved my B&W 804 floor standers to the rear in place of my RBH 5B5i book shelf spkrs...they don't match my Salks up front, but there is a difference in SQ in multi-ch music so I would imagine it could sound even better with matching mid/tweeters.
 
I

Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Thank you all. I was going to ask about multi-channel stereo for music. Wouldn't that be affected by having non timbre matched height speakers? And those of you who have an Atmos setup using a Denon receiver, can the height channels be excluded when playing multi channel stereo for example?
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
If you are interested in pursuing multi-channel music, most of which is coded for 5 channels (though some I have is 5.1DTS which will utilize the Rear (not front) Center channel (or rear surrounds)... so having a good match on your 5 main bed channels, and maybe the rears too, isn’t a horrible thing.

I will add the personal experience of switching my Mini-Phil’s at Surround to the BMRs at Surround, and running DSOTM... complete different experience getting the surrounds matched up better. It’s not just being the same tweeter that matters. It went from a “ho-hum, why did I buy that disc“ to “yes, that’s why I did that!”
The funny thing is those Mini-Phils are no slouches and do just fine at rear, even in DTS 5.1 acting as Rear Center.
It’s all about context.
 
I

Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Thank you. I didn't mean surround coded music though, I meant expanded or up-mixed stereo music. If the heights aren't timbre matched with the beds, that might sounds funny, or? And if so, do you know if the heights can be easily disabled in such a case using a Denon/Marantz receiver?
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic General
Thank you. I didn't mean surround coded music though, I meant expanded or up-mixed stereo music. If the heights aren't timbre matched with the beds, that might sounds funny, or? And if so, do you know if the heights can be easily disabled in such a case using a Denon/Marantz receiver?
I haven't experienced any multi-ch music using the atmos speakers, but my opinion...if the channels are not discrete it won't matter as much imo.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
Thank you. I didn't mean surround coded music though, I meant expanded or up-mixed stereo music. If the heights aren't timbre matched with the beds, that might sounds funny, or? And if so, do you know if the heights can be easily disabled in such a case using a Denon/Marantz receiver?
Yeah, you should be able to default back to the original track but I doubt you’d want to. I think you’re over thinking a little bit.
 
V

vavan

Audiophyte
Upmixing pulls the left and right signals up, but very much in a subtle way to add spaciousness or widen the soundstage
some AVR (at least my pioneer sc-lx 901) put much more signal in FH than in surrounds in some upmixing modes (such as DSU)
 
E

Erod

Junior Audioholic
some AVR (at least my pioneer sc-lx 901) put much more signal in FH than in surrounds in some upmixing modes (such as DSU)
That would be odd. The DSU upmixer should be determining that, not the AVR itself. Unless you have your height channel levels purposefully cranked up.

If it's going to the FH more than the surrounds, I suspect that's just the way that specific source material was mixed. And your RH channels just duplicate what the FH channels are doing with DSU.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Thank you. I didn't mean surround coded music though, I meant expanded or up-mixed stereo music. If the heights aren't timbre matched with the beds, that might sounds funny, or? And if so, do you know if the heights can be easily disabled in such a case using a Denon/Marantz receiver?
Well I'm new to this Atmos speaker layout. In fact I was not going to do it. However the owner of Westco who did our alarm system and some other low voltage stuff, talked me into it, for his own curiosity. Since I have a pretty big supply of drivers and power amps, I agreed and went ahead and installed four ceiling speakers to Dolby specs exactly.

I used my vintage JW drivers as I hold the bulk of the remaining world supply.



They have a unique suspension of Berylium wires. The 4" Tractrix 6 GM Aluminum cone is decoupled from the suspension by a foam collar at the top of the voice coil. In my late teens and subsequently I was heavily involved in its development. It is a full range driver and does not need to cross to a tweeter. It is not just a very good full ranger but a really good driver period. This is the best full ranger that has ever been produced in my opinion. They have been my secret weapon as a crossover designer. I have always used these as a reference. If a speaker sounds significantly different from a pair of these then the crossover needs work. Having a good reference with no crossover has been invaluable.





Anyhow the upshot of this is that they have similar tonality to the rest of my speakers. For the four speakers I designed small sealed boxes for the speakers to have an F3 of 120 Hz. That is where they crossover. Crossed over that high they can take significant power as cone excursion is limited and the metal cone is a heat sink to the VC.

Well I have had the system up for just a few days, and I have to say in up mix. Quite honestly I was expecting this to be a bust and a total waste of time.

Well I have been totally astonished. The new DD up mixer on my Marantz 7701 is a huge leap forward over previous efforts.

I have now played a variety of material. The system no longer sounds like a room in a house. It truly makes the room sound huge in all three dimensions. There is a true sense of space imposed on the room.

I have noted the productions of the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall are particularly fine. The sound stage is way beyond the end of the room. Blazing horns echo from a seemingly huge space. For some reason imaging and location seem to be improved over 2 channel stereo. In the applause the audience truly surrounds you, but the orchestra is dead center. It literally puts you in the Philharmonie in Berlin. You are transported right out of this room. I have no idea how this alchemy from a two channel source has been achieved. I'm totally blown away by it, especially by the fact you never localize to any one speaker. The speaker system creates a space way beyond the four walls and ceiling. It really is like a live experience.

This is something I just never expected. But the point is that I'm pretty certain all speakers have to have a very similar and very good FR and I suspect a superior phase response to achieve this effect.

This has been a totally unexpected and pleasant surprise.
 
V

vavan

Audiophyte
That would be odd
that's the way it is
The DSU upmixer should be determining that, not the AVR itself
I also tend to think that DSU dictates it, not the avr
Unless you have your height channel levels purposefully cranked up
never did that after mcacc calibration
If it's going to the FH more than the surrounds, I suspect that's just the way that specific source material was mixed
nope, it's on every stereo signal upmixed to DSU
And your RH channels just duplicate what the FH channels are doing with DSU
well, I do not have RH, 5.0.2 here
 

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