Setup help/suggestions for surrounds and Atmos

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D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
Hi everyone,

New to HT and wanting some suggestions on what to implement given my room size.
See here for a photo of my room layout:
Note: On the far RHS, across the 90% of the 4.9m length, are curtains.

Note: Still deciding between sub placement (either SW1 or SW2 in photo above) - SW2 seems 'boomier' (and is slightly louder) than SW1 given its corner placement. SW2 placement wouldn't displace the sofa seat that much, just means the person sitting there can't sit too far on the edge of the sofa (as sub is not a footrest). Open to suggestions too, but those are the most ideal based on my sub crawl measurements.

Current set-up:

  • FL/FR: KEF Q750
  • C: KEF Q650c
  • Subwoofer: SvS SB-2000
  • AVR: Yamaha RXV2085
  • Not-in-use: B&W DM604 (old and may sell these if can't put them to use)
I'd like to get a Atmos setup going - as noted I do not have surrounds yet, but was planning to get overheads/Atmos-enabled speakers instead.

  • Are you meant to get surrounds before overheads? Or it doesn't matter?
If I get surrounds, my room is quite limited in space right? I can't put it at 90 degrees on LHS of the MLP as it would get in the way of foot traffic (topple over) to the left of the couch. To the RHS, I can, it would be around at the 60 degree mark from the MLP (perhaps in front of SW1).

  • I can't wall mount it to the sides at ear-height on RHS, because there are curtains on the RHS.
  • I can't wall mount if to the sides at ear-height on LHS, because the closest wall is too far-left from the setup / Atmos sphere.
For surrounds, I was going with KEF Q150 (sticking with KEF due to discounts I can get on the brand).

This is why I was thinking of skipping the side surrounds (?), and going for 4 overheads or Atmos-enabled speakers.

  • If overheads, should I go with wall-mounted/on-ceiling, in-ceiling or up-firing?
    • I was planning to get either the KEF Q50a or SvS Prime Elevation - any suggestions between these two? Considerations are maybe timbre matching but SvS has a much lower crossover frequency due to its included woofer. I can get both for the same price here.
    • I don't intend to go up-firing as I've heard that's the worst of the 3 options, however, if you suggest my crappy room layout & geometrics only enables me to do this, I agree and it's better than nothing.
  • If not, any other suggestions?

I'm also open to moving things around, layout wise, if you have any suggestions - albeit TV/TV stand can't be moved, as the stand + speakers can't fit anywhere else in the room.

Also lastly open to any other recommendations/suggestions in general.

Thanks so much for your help!
 
Last edited:
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
Welcome to the Forum. You have presented a very tough room layout. It's obvious Home Theater (HT) is very much a secondary consideration.

In my opinion, surrounds before overheads, every day. The impact of surround speakers to the soundstage is huge compared to Atmos. Just set them up at ear level not in the ceiling! You are wasting your time if they are not at, or slightly above ear height. Use matching KEF bookshelf speakers on stands, and leave the cables long enough so you can move them out of the way if needed. Keep them in front of curtains. You need the speakers to envelope the listeners to get a decent HT soundstage.

(Didn't you try the B&W DM604s as surrounds just for grins? They will give you a good feel for the impact a 5.1 system will have in your space.)

I'd reconfigure the whole layout. I find it hard to believe the TV/TV stand can't be moved. I assume they are not welded down. ;)
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
Welcome to the Forum. You have presented a very tough room layout. It's obvious Home Theater (HT) is very much a secondary consideration.

In my opinion, surrounds before overheads, every day. The impact of surround speakers to the soundstage is huge compared to Atmos. Just set them up at ear level not in the ceiling! You are wasting your time if they are not at, or slightly above ear height. Use matching KEF bookshelf speakers on stands, and leave the cables long enough so you can move them out of the way if needed. Keep them in front of curtains. You need the speakers to envelope the listeners to get a decent HT soundstage.

(Didn't you try the B&W DM604s as surrounds just for grins? They will give you a good feel for the impact a 5.1 system will have in your space.)

I'd reconfigure the whole layout. I find it hard to believe the TV/TV stand can't be moved. I assume they are not welded down. ;)
Thanks so much Jim. So just confirming, KEF bookshelfs (eg Q150) would suffice, and I won't need to match my surrounds with my FL/FR's (Q750) - is the difference in sound insignificant as surrounds going with Q150? (happy to go with Q750 but if it's overkill, I'd rather save the money).

I haven't had a chance to put in the DM604s yet as surrounds (have only listened to them in stereo in another part of the room) as I'm still waiting on 1 x Q750 to arrive.

Could you please give suggestions (even using Paint application on Windows as pictures are easier to do and read!) on how I could reconfigure the layout? I have added more detail into the photo (updated link in the OP), or see here:
Apologies when I meant the TV/TV stand can't be moved, it's more just because of the constraints of the room - being the curtains, the fireplace (can't be moved), and the size of the TV (65") and the TV stand (120cm).
 
Last edited:
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
KEF lists the Q150s in their HT Section so I'm assuming (like all OEMs I've seen) they timbre match their speakers, and they'll be just fine as surrounds. Focusing your spend on the L/C/R speakers is the right thing to do as 90% of the sound comes from them. Save your money in case you want to add a second Sub later.

Is your drawing to scale? Are the windows behind the drapes Floor to Ceiling?
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
KEF lists the Q150s in their HT Section so I'm assuming (like all OEMs I've seen) they timbre match their speakers, and they'll be just fine as surrounds. Focusing your spend on the L/C/R speakers is the right thing to do as 90% of the sound comes from them. Save your money in case you want to add a second Sub later.

Is your drawing to scale? Are the windows behind the drapes Floor to Ceiling?
Thanks Tim - that's great advice.

Drawing is not 100% to scale. The windows behind the drapes are not floor to ceiling. Please see below drawing of that RHS wall with the window/drapes.
1637664598723.png
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
So far my concepts all die. Like I'm assuming you don't want the TV to be in the middle of the window. How about with a TV Lift cabinet? :rolleyes: We do that at our Cabin so as not to obstruct the view of the Lake.

The problem with this room is every wall has an obstruction of some sort preventing the TV and front speakers from being centered on it. So I'll suggest something I'm not usually fond of but it will work reasonably well.

Can you put the TV on a drop down bracket above the Fireplace? The bracket isn't cheap but it will allow you to pull down the TV to the correct height for HT viewing. Then you can easily push it back up for Fireplace time. Then shift the LF speaker to the gap between the cabinet in the LF corner and the small table to get some separation and soundstage. Swap the Red couch with the Tan one, but center the Tan couch in front of the TV. Put the KEF Q150 bookshelf speakers on stands with the tweeters at ear height, half the distance between the back corners of the Tan couch and the back wall on a ~45° angle.

Once everything is realigned, redo the subwoofer crawl or try it at SW2 to start out.

I hope this is helpful.
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
So far my concepts all die. Like I'm assuming you don't want the TV to be in the middle of the window. How about with a TV Lift cabinet? :rolleyes: We do that at our Cabin so as not to obstruct the view of the Lake.

The problem with this room is every wall has an obstruction of some sort preventing the TV and front speakers from being centered on it. So I'll suggest something I'm not usually fond of but it will work reasonably well.

Can you put the TV on a drop down bracket above the Fireplace? The bracket isn't cheap but it will allow you to pull down the TV to the correct height for HT viewing. Then you can easily push it back up for Fireplace time. Then shift the LF speaker to the gap between the cabinet in the LF corner and the small table to get some separation and soundstage. Swap the Red couch with the Tan one, but center the Tan couch in front of the TV. Put the KEF Q150 bookshelf speakers on stands with the tweeters at ear height, half the distance between the back corners of the Tan couch and the back wall on a ~45° angle.

Once everything is realigned, redo the subwoofer crawl or try it at SW2 to start out.

I hope this is helpful.
So helpful thanks Jim! I never thought about the drop down bracket, that's brilliant.

Also would you suggest I move the red couch forward (which will eventually become the tan one, per your suggestion)? Is it too far back? What are your thoughts on the 38% rule (or 35-42% rule) for listening position?

So just to recap:
  • Mount TV on a drop down bracket above fireplace. Any suggestions for how to do the cabling? The house is quite old, and I'm quite conscious of putting cables/wires inside the ceiling as it may contain flammable cladding, so would the only way be to stick them on the ceiling and perhaps use those cord channel flaps to cover the cords (as having cables all over the place linked up to the TV would be quite messy)?
  • Leave (?) the TV stand where it is (Blu-Ray player, Playstation in there)
  • Leave the Cabinet containing the Receiver where it is
  • Move the FL speakers between Cabinet and the Table (could I instead move that table to the left closer to the cabinet, and put the FL speakers as close to the fireplace as possible (albeit on the outside edges of the TV of course), and same with the FR speakers? Because otherwise I thought the speakers would be too far away on an angle from the listening position, or is it fine like that to give more separation/wider soundstage?
  • Any ideas where I should place the centre speakers (the Q650s are massive! Mounting them above the fireplace on the wall I'm not too sure, unless that's the only resort - as they're quite deep (30.4cm) and heavy (14kg). If so any suggestions for mounts?
  • Centre the couch to the fireplace. I also respect the suggestion to swap the red couch with the tan one, but is that just more of a preference / symmetry suggestion? Only ask this because the tan one is a much older (albeit condition still ok) leather seat, and the red one is newer / fabric material and for whatever reason I do like lying on the far left seat where you can recline. I'm definitely willing to give this up though if needed, just looking to understand if there's more to it than just from a design / symmetric perspective.

Do you also think I should move that table in front of where the red couch currently is? It's sitting on a carpeted area, but I have heard about how a table (especially with a glass top) is bad for the directional audio given it's an object that will act as a reflection of the sound, etc.
 
Last edited:
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Hate to tell ya, but you're already an audiophile based on this post alone :) Welcome to the madness.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
So helpful thanks Jim! I never thought about the drop down bracket, that's brilliant.

Also would you suggest I move the red couch forward (which will eventually become the tan one, per your suggestion)? Is it too far back? What are your thoughts on the 38% rule (or 35-42% rule) for listening position?

So just to recap:
  • Mount TV on a drop down bracket above fireplace. Any suggestions for how to do the cabling? The house is quite old, and I'm quite conscious of putting cables/wires inside the ceiling as it may contain flammable cladding, so would the only way be to stick them on the ceiling and perhaps use those cord channel flaps to cover the cords (as having cables all over the place linked up to the TV would be quite messy)?
  • Leave (?) the TV stand where it is (Blu-Ray player, Playstation in there)
  • Leave the Cabinet containing the Receiver where it is
  • Move the FL speakers between Cabinet and the Table (could I instead move that table to the left closer to the cabinet, and put the FL speakers as close to the fireplace as possible (albeit on the outside edges of the TV of course), and same with the FR speakers? Because otherwise I thought the speakers would be too far away on an angle from the listening position, or is it fine like that to give more separation/wider soundstage?
  • Any ideas where I should place the centre speakers (the Q650s are massive! Mounting them above the fireplace on the wall I'm not too sure, unless that's the only resort - as they're quite deep (30.4cm) and heavy (14kg). If so any suggestions for mounts?
  • Centre the couch to the fireplace. I also respect the suggestion to swap the red couch with the tan one, but is that just more of a preference / symmetry suggestion? Only ask this because the tan one is a much older (albeit condition still ok) leather seat, and the red one is newer / fabric material and for whatever reason I do like lying on the far left seat where you can recline. I'm definitely willing to give this up though if needed, just looking to understand if there's more to it than just from a design / symmetric perspective.

Do you also think I should move that table in front of where the red couch currently is? It's sitting on a carpeted area, but I have heard about how a table (especially with a glass top) is bad for the directional audio given it's an object that will act as a reflection of the sound, etc.

I'll chip away at your questions as best I can:

Any suggestions for how to do the cabling?

Only 2 Cables needed. You will need a power cable for the TV, and a Single HDMI Cable (from the receiver's ARC HDMI output) for your TV. All the other inputs will go to the Yamaha RXV2085 Receiver and it will distribute the signal as selected. I'd pull in a power cable and mount 2 boxes behind the TV, but I'm a licensed Electrician (and an Electronics trained level Technician - even though I left the tools ages ago, I still do work for friends and family). I'd also "fish" the HDMI Cable through the wall to the second Low Voltage box behind the TV. I'm guessing by your posts that you are located outside of Canada & the USA (Britain?), so I may not be familiar with your Electrical Code. I don't know if the TV (make & model number please) has a LAN connection, or is wireless. (Or if you plan to use it for Netflix, Disney+, etc.) I prefer to hard wire internet connections but on our Bedroom TV, it's wireless and works flawlessly.

You can surface run the cables along the sides of the Fireplace if needed. Decorative covers are available if desired.

I'll tackle these 3 questions together:
  • Leave (?) the TV stand where it is (Blu-Ray player, Playstation in there)
  • Leave the Cabinet containing the Receiver where it is
  • Move the FL speakers between Cabinet and the Table (could I instead move that table to the left closer to the cabinet, and put the FL speakers as close to the fireplace as possible (albeit on the outside edges of the TV of course), and same with the FR speakers? Because otherwise I thought the speakers would be too far away on an angle from the listening position, or is it fine like that to give more separation/wider soundstage?
The only items with significant positions are the speakers, TV, and the primary seating position(s). The Racks, Stands, Cabinets, etc., all can be at your convenience as long as they don't block the sound or your view of the TV. Having the FL & FR speakers away from the wall (as above) gives you better sound. Having 3 meters from them to the primary seating position(s) is just fine. They should be about the same distance (3 meters) apart. You may want to "toe" them in slightly after you get them set up, but that's much later after you live with it for a while.

Any ideas where I should place the centre speakers?

There should be only one KEF Q650. It's 214mm (8.42 inches) x 629mm (24.76 inches) x 304mm (11.96 inches) and weighs 30 pounds (13.6 Kg). On some drop down mounts, they supply a center channel speaker bracket which can mount the speaker above or below the TV. Just make certain it can handle the KEF Q650. If not it would go on the mantle but then make certain the bracket will clear the speaker when it's pulled into position.

Centre the couch to the fireplace.
I doesn't really matter from a HT perspective which couch goes where. I just though swapping them made the traffic flow of the room work better. But it's yours to play with. Just make certain the couch facing the TV is away from the wall as in your picture with enough room for the Surrounds behind them away from the wall.

I hope this is helpful.
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
I'll chip away at your questions as best I can:

Any suggestions for how to do the cabling?

Only 2 Cables needed. You will need a power cable for the TV, and a Single HDMI Cable (from the receiver's ARC HDMI output) for your TV. All the other inputs will go to the Yamaha RXV2085 Receiver and it will distribute the signal as selected. I'd pull in a power cable and mount 2 boxes behind the TV, but I'm a licensed Electrician (and an Electronics trained level Technician - even though I left the tools ages ago, I still do work for friends and family). I'd also "fish" the HDMI Cable through the wall to the second Low Voltage box behind the TV. I'm guessing by your posts that you are located outside of Canada & the USA (Britain?), so I may not be familiar with your Electrical Code. I don't know if the TV (make & model number please) has a LAN connection, or is wireless. (Or if you plan to use it for Netflix, Disney+, etc.) I prefer to hard wire internet connections but on our Bedroom TV, it's wireless and works flawlessly.

  • You can surface run the cables along the sides of the Fireplace if needed. Decorative covers are available if desired.

I'll tackle these 3 questions together:
  • Leave (?) the TV stand where it is (Blu-Ray player, Playstation in there)
  • Leave the Cabinet containing the Receiver where it is
  • Move the FL speakers between Cabinet and the Table (could I instead move that table to the left closer to the cabinet, and put the FL speakers as close to the fireplace as possible (albeit on the outside edges of the TV of course), and same with the FR speakers? Because otherwise I thought the speakers would be too far away on an angle from the listening position, or is it fine like that to give more separation/wider soundstage?
The only items with significant positions are the speakers, TV, and the primary seating position(s). The Racks, Stands, Cabinets, etc., all can be at your convenience as long as they don't block the sound or your view of the TV. Having the FL & FR speakers away from the wall (as above) gives you better sound. Having 3 meters from them to the primary seating position(s) is just fine. They should be about the same distance (3 meters) apart. You may want to "toe" them in slightly after you get them set up, but that's much later after you live with it for a while.

Any ideas where I should place the centre speakers?

There should be only one KEF Q650. It's 214mm (8.42 inches) x 629mm (24.76 inches) x 304mm (11.96 inches) and weighs 30 pounds (13.6 Kg). On some drop down mounts, they supply a center channel speaker bracket which can mount the speaker above or below the TV. Just make certain it can handle the KEF Q650. If not it would go on the mantle but then make certain the bracket will clear the speaker when it's pulled into position.

Centre the couch to the fireplace.
I doesn't really matter from a HT perspective which couch goes where. I just though swapping them made the traffic flow of the room work better. But it's yours to play with. Just make certain the couch facing the TV is away from the wall as in your picture with enough room for the Surrounds behind them away from the wall.

I hope this is helpful.
That's amazing - thanks so much Jim! I totally forgot that instead of having to connect all the other HDMI cables from the Blu-Ray player, Playstation, etc into the TV, I can just hook it up into the receiver - that's brilliant, thanks for the reminder.
  • One question though, if the TV does supports 4k/120hz, VRR, HDMI2.2, etc, but the receiver (Yamaha RXV2085) only supports 4k/60hz and HDMI2.1, etc - does this mean I should plug the Playstation for the kids into the TV, rather than the receiver (because if I plug it in the receiver, the receiver becomes the limiting factor right)? The compromise there is that I would not get good sound (it will use the TV's sound I assume) but at least the kids will enjoy playing at 4k/120hz, etc? Do I have this right?

Just answering some of your queries as well, and thereafter following up with some follow-up questions:
- located in Australia; it's unfortunately illegal to do wiring work ourselves without a proper electrical license (would have definitely used your services if you were in the area!)
- TV is 65A80J (had an old LCD for last 20 years, just bought this one this week and waiting for delivery), believe it supports wireless, which I think I'll stick with versus having to use a powerline adapter

Questions:
  • Is there generally a minimum or maximum guideline (or at least from a Dolby Atmos perspective) for distance between the speakers they should be apart, and to the primary seating position? e.g. in the current position (I've moved the couch perhaps 1 metre forward last night, whilst keeping in mind not to put it at 50% the width of the room to avoid nulls), they're 1.8metres apart, and 2.2metres to the primary seating position. Would this be ok, or would the L/R channel blends in too much with these distances?
  • Any suggestions on the 'decorative covers' you mentioned? I've seen a few things but they have all sorts of names, just want to ensure I'm getting the right ones
  • Just curious why do you want the couch facing the TV away from the wall? Does it mess with the sound reflections or something?

Aside questions:
  • I will also be buying a pair (and eventually another) of KEF Q50s (Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers); which I believe only have 'upfiring' drivers, but they do support (per the manual) sitting atop speakers OR mounted on the walls (which I believe it's then correctly called 'front heights', assuming I mount these on the front wall). I hear upfiring is inferior to being mounted on the wall, but of course I think it's worth trialling it out first before moving it onto the wall right? Or do you think there's no disadvantage (apart from drilling holes in the wall) of putting it straight onto the wall?
    • If so, how high should they be? Manual doesn't help, it suggests 600mm above the MLP's ears, but I'd think that's too low and doesn't achieve the angle required. I'd imagine as high as posible up to the ceiling, with enough speaker wire clearance, is ideal? And with a 30° to 45° angle towards the MLP? I read in the Dolby Speaker Placement whitepaper that they recommend 30° , unless it's mounted ceiling speakers wherein 45° is recommended. However anecdotally I've also read that a steeper angle generally is better (i.e. 45° as opposed to 30°), given that it enables more separation between the bed layer and the heights layer. What's your opinion on this?
    • Given these are Atmos-enabled speakers, does this mean they are not 'ideally' suitable as height speakers? I read something about how to be Atmos-enabled speakers (and certified for it), they have to incorporate the Atmos bouncer treble contours into their frequency response and therefore are not suitable as height speakers. This is contrast to perhaps speakers that can change between upfiring or downfiring modes.
      • However surely the receiver's calibration can adjust for this? If I put these up as Heights, in the receiver, do I leave them as 'Dolby enabled speakers' or do I categorise them as 'Front Heights'?

Thanks so much Tim - you've been really helpful!
 
Last edited:
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
  • One question though, if the TV does supports 4k/120hz, VRR, HDMI2.2, etc, but the receiver (Yamaha RXV2085) only supports 4k/60hz and HDMI2.1, etc - does this mean I should plug the Playstation for the kids into the TV, rather than the receiver (because if I plug it in the receiver, the receiver becomes the limiting factor right)? The compromise there is that I would not get good sound (it will use the TV's sound I assume) but at least the kids will enjoy playing at 4k/120hz, etc? Do I have this right?
I think you are getting a little confused between HDMI Specs and HDCP standards. I'm no expert on the fine details of these specs, but if I'm wrong, one of the many experts here will certainly chime in. (I put links to the manuals below for ease of reference)

The Sony 65A80J TV Specs is HDCP2.3(for HDMI™1/2/3/4) and has FEATURES SPECIFIED IN HDMI 2.1 => 4K120/eARC/VRR 1/ALLM

The Yamaha RXV2085 Manual (Page 186) advises 4K UltraHD Video (include 4K/60, 50Hz 10/12bit). Content Protection: HDCP compatible (HDMI [AV 1–7]: HDCP 2.2/2.3 compatible)

So the HDCP specs for both are compatible.

I have no idea what version of PlayStation you are referring to (nor do I want to spend hours reading up on current PlayStation specs.), but I do know all of the components in the "chain" must have the same HDCP level. Any device in the chain that prevents the HDCP digital handshake from happening will prevent you from seeing a 4K image. HDCP (and for that matter HDMI) is all about copyright protection and not technical improvements. IMHO running Audio and Video in a single cable was just a side benefit that made consumers forget the loss in flexibility and recording.

Now the refresh rate differences 60 versus 120 Hz are something that can impact Gaming. I know the PS5 can do 120 Hz, but my tech tapped out on the PS4 (60 Hz maximum) when my son shifted virtually all his gaming to Computers (which I build for him). However here's a quote I found on line that I thought was worthwhile:

"Unlike the PS4, the PS5 supports 120Hz, meaning games can be played at 120 FPS if designed to hit that target. This can make or break the experience for some people, but it's important to note that not everyone can tell a huge difference between 60 FPS and 120 FPS in practice."

So I suggest you need to evaluate what PlayStation set you have, and if the games played will be impacted versus if running a second cable to the TV is worthwhile.

As I mentioned before, I'd fish this low voltage cable at the same time as the one from the receiver so as not to have to surface mount it. Check your local regulations, but I'd be shocked ( :eek: ) if you are required to have an Electrician run HDMI cables. :)

- TV is 65A80J (had an old LCD for last 20 years, just bought this one this week and waiting for delivery), believe it supports wireless, which I think I'll stick with versus having to use a powerline adapter

The Sony 65A80J TV is Wi-Fi Certified 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Questions:
  • Is there generally a minimum or maximum guideline (or at least from a Dolby Atmos perspective) for distance between the speakers they should be apart, and to the primary seating position? e.g. in the current position (I've moved the couch perhaps 1 metre forward last night, whilst keeping in mind not to put it at 50% the width of the room to avoid nulls), they're 1.8metres apart, and 2.2metres to the primary seating position. Would this be ok, or would the L/R channel blends in too much with these distances?
In my "paint by numbers" approach to Dolby Atmos Installation it all starts with a correct Stereo speaker set-up, and you build upon it. That typically means an equilateral triangle with the L&R speakers the same distance apart (minimum 2.4 meters / 8 feet - maximum 4.8 meters / 16 feet) as either speaker is from the Primary Listening position. The sound is impacted by being close to a wall so all speakers should be away from the wall. (Okay, I'll fess up - Subs sometimes go against a wall for reinforcement. But that come later after listening tests.).

Then I position the TV and Center channel speaker in the middle between the stereo pair. I try to add the surrounds at the same width as the now (front) FL & FR but behind the Primary Listening position. Now add Atmos in ceiling speakers in a line from each surround to it's corresponding front speaker. All the left ones are in line, as are the rights..) (I don't like the bouncing kind and don't support Threads with discussions on them. Sorry.) As long as it complies with Dolby's Installation guidelines (see link below) you'll be fine. Seating positions in Nulls are to be avoided, but the Wife Acceptance Factors (WAF!) often make all of the above mute; and you just have to live with it. :rolleyes: We all know they rule on furniture placement and often speaker size as well. Just remember you are trying to immerse the listener in the sound field.

Dolby Atmos Installation Guidelines

  • Any suggestions on the 'decorative covers' you mentioned? I've seen a few things but they have all sorts of names, just want to ensure I'm getting the right ones
You are in Australia and I'm in Canada. What's here in my market is probably not what's there. Perhaps one of the Audioholics from Australia will chime in and offer some guidance. Sorry.
  • Just curious why do you want the couch facing the TV away from the wall? Does it mess with the sound reflections or something?
As I said above: The sound is impacted by being close to a wall so all speakers should be away from the wall. You can't develop a sound field with any speaker too close to you either.

Aside questions:
  • I will also be buying a pair (and eventually another) of KEF Q50s (Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers); which I believe only have 'upfiring' drivers, but they do support (per the manual) sitting atop speakers OR mounted on the walls (which I believe it's then correctly called 'front heights', assuming I mount these on the front wall). I hear upfiring is inferior to being mounted on the wall, but of course I think it's worth trialling it out first before moving it onto the wall right? Or do you think there's no disadvantage (apart from drilling holes in the wall) of putting it straight onto the wall?

  • No bouncy speakers please! (I don't like the bouncing kind and don't support Threads with discussions on them)

    • If so, how high should they be? Manual doesn't help, it suggests 600mm above the MLP's ears, but I'd think that's too low and doesn't achieve the angle required. I'd imagine as high as posible up to the ceiling, with enough speaker wire clearance, is ideal? And with a 30° to 45° angle towards the MLP? I read in the Dolby Speaker Placement whitepaper that they recommend 30° , unless it's mounted ceiling speakers wherein 45° is recommended. However anecdotally I've also read that a steeper angle generally is better (i.e. 45° as opposed to 30°), given that it enables more separation between the bed layer and the heights layer. What's your opinion on this?
  • Most folks seem to typically go to in-ceiling speakers due to the WAF, and even their desire for a "cleaner" install. All of the major OEMs of these speakers are full range and will handle the Atmos sound stream without issue. So no worries there. Of course some do it better than others, but IMHO it's not a stretch technically.
    • Given these are Atmos-enabled speakers, does this mean they are not 'ideally' suitable as height speakers? I read something about how to be Atmos-enabled speakers (and certified for it), they have to incorporate the Atmos bouncer treble contours into their frequency response and therefore are not suitable as height speakers. This is contrast to perhaps speakers that can change between upfiring or downfiring modes.
      • However surely the receiver's calibration can adjust for this? If I put these up as Heights, in the receiver, do I leave them as 'Dolby enabled speakers' or do I categorise them as 'Front Heights'?
Let's not pull going to Heights Speakers into the Dolby Atmos discussion. IMHO Heights were a pre-cursor to immersive sound, and has been superseded by it. If (when?) you get your Atmos setup done right, it will be better than what can be achieved by Heights.


Thanks so much Tim - you've been really helpful!


My name is Jim

You're Welcome!
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
Questions:
  • Is there generally a minimum or maximum guideline (or at least from a Dolby Atmos perspective) for distance between the speakers they should be apart, and to the primary seating position? e.g. in the current position (I've moved the couch perhaps 1 metre forward last night, whilst keeping in mind not to put it at 50% the width of the room to avoid nulls), they're 1.8metres apart, and 2.2metres to the primary seating position. Would this be ok, or would the L/R channel blends in too much with these distances?
In my "paint by numbers" approach to Dolby Atmos Installation it all starts with a correct Stereo speaker set-up, and you build upon it. That typically means an equilateral triangle with the L&R speakers the same distance apart (minimum 2.4 meters / 8 feet - maximum 4.8 meters / 16 feet) as either speaker is from the Primary Listening position. The sound is impacted by being close to a wall so all speakers should be away from the wall. (Okay, I'll fess up - Subs sometimes go against a wall for reinforcement. But that come later after listening tests.).

Then I position the TV and Center channel speaker in the middle between the stereo pair. I try to add the surrounds at the same width as the now (front) FL & FR but behind the Primary Listening position. Now add Atmos in ceiling speakers in a line from each surround to it's corresponding front speaker. All the left ones are in line, as are the rights..) (I don't like the bouncing kind and don't support Threads with discussions on them. Sorry.) As long as it complies with Dolby's Installation guidelines (see link below) you'll be fine. Seating positions in Nulls are to be avoided, but the Wife Acceptance Factors (WAF!) often make all of the above mute; and you just have to live with it. :rolleyes: We all know they rule on furniture placement and often speaker size as well. Just remember you are trying to immerse the listener in the sound field.

Dolby Atmos Installation Guidelines
Thanks Jim! I couldn't find in the Installation Guidelines where you mentioned "minimum 2.4 meters / 8 feet - maximum 4.8 meters / 16 feet" - is this a must? (e.g. if my setup can only go as far as 1.8 meters, is there only going to achieve suboptimal separation and I'm wasting the 'potential' of these costly speakers?

  • Any suggestions on the 'decorative covers' you mentioned? I've seen a few things but they have all sorts of names, just want to ensure I'm getting the right ones
You are in Australia and I'm in Canada. What's here in my market is probably not what's there. Perhaps one of the Audioholics from Australia will chime in and offer some guidance. Sorry.
Sorry maybe I'll rephrase, I meant is there a correct or more specific name (not brand) for the covers? I'd like to think the name of the products wouldn't change globally e.g. cord sleeves, cord covers, cord channels - are they all the same?

  • If so, how high should they be? Manual doesn't help, it suggests 600mm above the MLP's ears, but I'd think that's too low and doesn't achieve the angle required. I'd imagine as high as posible up to the ceiling, with enough speaker wire clearance, is ideal? And with a 30° to 45° angle towards the MLP? I read in the Dolby Speaker Placement whitepaper that they recommend 30° , unless it's mounted ceiling speakers wherein 45° is recommended. However anecdotally I've also read that a steeper angle generally is better (i.e. 45° as opposed to 30°), given that it enables more separation between the bed layer and the heights layer. What's your opinion on this?
  • Most folks seem to typically go to in-ceiling speakers due to the WAF, and even their desire for a "cleaner" install. All of the major OEMs of these speakers are full range and will handle the Atmos sound stream without issue. So no worries there. Of course some do it better than others, but IMHO it's not a stretch technically.
    • Given these are Atmos-enabled speakers, does this mean they are not 'ideally' suitable as height speakers? I read something about how to be Atmos-enabled speakers (and certified for it), they have to incorporate the Atmos bouncer treble contours into their frequency response and therefore are not suitable as height speakers. This is contrast to perhaps speakers that can change between upfiring or downfiring modes.
      • However surely the receiver's calibration can adjust for this? If I put these up as Heights, in the receiver, do I leave them as 'Dolby enabled speakers' or do I categorise them as 'Front Heights'?
Let's not pull going to Heights Speakers into the Dolby Atmos discussion. IMHO Heights were a pre-cursor to immersive sound, and has been superseded by it. If (when?) you get your Atmos setup done right, it will be better than what can be achieved by Heights.
Just confirming - so for the height/Atmos layer, given the bouncy ones are out of question, as well as mounted/in-wall heights in your opinion are superseded, to achieve the 'height' layer in Atmos (as opposed to the ear-line level or bed/base layer), is the only other option remaining the one you recommend - that is, the in-ceiling speakers? Or are there other ones I've missed?

Lastly, with the surrounds, how 'high' up should they be? I know you (and Dolby guide) recommends the same height as the front L/R (though it does suggest for rear speakers, at most, 1.25 times - which I imagine can also be applied to the surround side speakers?). Trying to decide between 28" and 32" speaker stands - which would you recommend? From floor to ear-levle is 1 metre or 39 inches. KEF Q150 speakers look to be 30cm or 12 inches. Tweeter is in the middle, or halfway, so 6 inches from base of the speakers. Is the 32" stands the most 'suitable' versus 28" then? i.e. tweeters should never go below ear-level? So hypothetically, if sound is too muddy/boomy at ear-level, better to be higher than lower?


Thanks again Jim!
 
Last edited:
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
Thanks Jim! I couldn't find in the Installation Guidelines where you mentioned "minimum 2.4 meters / 8 feet - maximum 4.8 meters / 16 feet" - is this a must? (e.g. if my setup can only go as far as 1.8 meters, is there only going to achieve suboptimal separation and I'm wasting the 'potential' of these costly speakers?

I've been setting up stereo systems so long the "minimum 2.4 meters / 8 feet - maximum 4.8 meters / 16 feet" is from memory. I know it's documented in many places, but I use it so often I haven't looked it up in ages. Sorry. (Now I may have to go looking as my Six Sigma Black Belt training pushes me to always have good accurate data.) You will be wasting the potential if you go below 2.4 meters / 8 feet for stereo, and IMHO I see little benefit to having a Center channel with the L&R so close together even at that distance. Perhaps one of the other Audioholics will chime in with a reference.

Now, before I started to check my references, I remembered the equilateral triangle reference for stereo speakers. Then I remembered in the Dolby Atmos Reference Guide I posted a link to above, has defined angles for speaker placement based on the distance away from the primary listening position. (See top left of page 4 to start). It also shows locations for 4 in-ceiling Atmos Speakers. So once you define where the TV and Center Speaker go, and the main listening position (center seat of the couch in front of the TV), everything will fall into place.


Sorry maybe I'll rephrase, I meant is there a correct or more specific name (not brand) for the covers? I'd like to think the name of the products wouldn't change globally e.g. cord sleeves, cord covers, cord channels - are they all the same?

I just typed in "power cord cover" in Google and got "about 155,000,000 results (0.86 seconds)" "line cord cover" gives very similar results. ;) These items are all variations of a plastic strip (typically in various colors to suit the décor) that you slip the cords into. The geometry of the cover is made to suit going into a corner, laying flat on the wall, etc.

Here's just an example - not a recommendation Remember I "fish" these cable in the walls instead.

Just confirming - so for the height/Atmos layer, given the bouncy ones are out of question, as well as mounted/in-wall heights in your opinion are superseded, to achieve the 'height' layer in Atmos (as opposed to the ear-line level or bed/base layer), is the only other option remaining the one you recommend - that is, the in-ceiling speakers? Or are there other ones I've missed?

IMHO Atmos speakers need to be overhead for the best sound. I vaguely remember someone putting box speakers on the ceiling but I have no experience there, as I think it would look terrible and not pass any WAF.

If you are resistant to in-ceiling speakers, I suggest you try the 5.1 setup as I've defined with a wide separation of the L&R Fronts. I don't understand the idea of 1.8 meter separation and then putting a center channel between that. Just buy a lots of extra speaker cable (not the expensive stuff either as that's just snake oil), connect it temporarily to your Yamaha RXV2085, sit down calibrate it, and listen to it for a while. A well setup 5.1 system will blow you away. Atmos really adds a bit of a cherry on top, but the earth moves with the basic setup.


Lastly, with the surrounds, how 'high' up should they be? I know you (and Dolby guide) recommends the same height as the front L/R (though it does suggest for rear speakers, at most, 1.25 times - which I imagine can also be applied to the surround side speakers?). Trying to decide between 28" and 32" speaker stands - which would you recommend? From floor to ear-levle is 1 metre or 39 inches. KEF Q150 speakers look to be 30cm or 12 inches. Tweeter is in the middle, or halfway, so 6 inches from base of the speakers. Is the 32" stands the most 'suitable' versus 28" then? i.e. tweeters should never go below ear-level? So hypothetically, if sound is too muddy/boomy at ear-level, better to be higher than lower?

On Page 6 of the Guide: "If possible, the height of the rear speakers should be the same as the height of the front speakers. If the room design makes this impractical or impossible, the rear speakers may be positioned higher than the front speakers. However, we suggest that the height of the rear speakers not be more than 1.25 times the height of the front speakers."

Surrounds, both Rear and Side, should optimally be at ear level or above. So target the stands to be 32 inches. Higher is okay - lower is not.

Now I'll add another option for you to consider. You could move the KEF Q150 surrounds towards the sidewalls to get them out of the traffic areas and let your Yamaha RXV2085 adjust for the placement. My 3rd HT setup (in the Man Cave as my wife calls it - junk room as I do - but that's another story...) has rear surrounds hanging off the side walls at about 1.25 times the height of the L&R speakers, as there was just no room for stands. The KEF Q150s are rear ported so you'd need stands to keep them away from the wall (or use some pretty large and sturdy brackets.)

Remember these are recommendations as there are many factors that can impact placement. The idea is this is supposed to be fun and make your listening and watching experiences the best they can be.



Thanks again Jim!
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
Awesome recommendations, thanks Jim.

For the 1st point, in that case, if there's an obstruction (e.g. fireplace not symmetrically in the middle of the back wall), which would mean the front L speaker needs to be further away from the centre of the TV, versus the right speaker, is that ok (and I can get my AV receiver to adjust for the placement)? Or is it that if the speakers are unsymmetrical, that would be worse than having symmetrical front L/R speakers but only 1.8m of separation, so I'd be better off sticking with the latter?

For the 2nd point, you raised a good point in terms of not getting expensive snake oil speaker cables. Was it overkill for me to go for 12AWG cables? I was trying to 'future-proof' (in case either I expand systems or, most likely, move to a larger space, where longer distances are required, and hence the need for a lower gauge) - is it best to return these and go for say 14AWG? What would you advise? The only drawback I suppose with the lower gauge is the thicker cables, where cable management around the walls/crevices are difficult.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
Go for the wider separation and let the AVR adjust for it.

The only downside to 12 AWG cables (other than what you mention & a bit more money) is if the binding posts / connectors used won't fit them. Check your manuals to make sure, but I think that's fine. Many folks here use 12 AWG cables (I have it installed on the Man Cave system). There are Banana & Spade Lugs that fit them. Some folks just use the bare wire as well with no issues.
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
Thanks Jim - appreciate your patience dealing with my (stupid) questions, I've learned heaps with your help. Will let you know how the setup goes once everything arrives! Really excited.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
I hope it all goes well. Just take your time, and read all the manuals before you start to set it up. Grab them on line and review them a couple of times before your gear gets there. I look forward to hearing how you like it.
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
I hope it all goes well. Just take your time, and read all the manuals before you start to set it up. Grab them on line and review them a couple of times before your gear gets there. I look forward to hearing how you like it.
Great minds think alike - I enjoy reading the manuals, at least with the equipment that have arrived which I have yet to setup until the rest arrive, been indulging in the manuals. Great suggestion on grabbing them online and reading them a couple times! Will keep you posted.

Cheers
 
D

defsNotAnAudiophile

Enthusiast
KEF lists the Q150s in their HT Section so I'm assuming (like all OEMs I've seen) they timbre match their speakers, and they'll be just fine as surrounds. Focusing your spend on the L/C/R speakers is the right thing to do as 90% of the sound comes from them. Save your money in case you want to add a second Sub later.
Hi Jim - I've seen a pair of used Q750s on sale for $250 more, than a new pair of Q150s - is it worth grabbing these to use as side surrounds or it is completely overkill? Would there be any drawbacks? e.g. imaging issues considering the widely-spaced drivers in the towers that are placed too close to the listening position/couch given the 'smaller' space/room? Just seems like a steal, and more to 'future-proof', especially because if I'm buying stands for the Q150s, they take up almost the same floor space as the Q750s anyway.

I'd imagine running full range towers at ear level may be quite distracting for surrounds (ears getting pulled towards L/R surround sides and miss the action happening in front) unless I'm able to place them some distance a way from the couch/listening area - but if I configure them in the Receiver to cross-over at say 60-80Hz to my SvS Sub, that would 'prevent' them from running at 'full' (low-mid bass) ranges anyway right?
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic Chief
Having Q750s all around would work great. I don't know if the extra $250 factored in speaker stands for the Q150s as part of the evaluation. Surround Speaker placement is a compromise in distance from any adjacent wall to distance from the prime listening area. For Bookshelves, or Floor Standing, it's about the same impact.

The amount of sound coming the surrounds will be relatively the same with either speaker, but the Q750s will do a better job of it. Most let the AVR determine the crossover points, and initially you should try the same. You'll have lots of time to tweak everything to your liking.
 

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