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Sticking with 5.1 layout vs squeezing in 7.1?

Chris Lukowski
Community Member

Hi Everybody, I’ve hit a snag in my layout planning and need some advice. Attached are some pictures of my room and a SketchUp of what I plan to do. I’m 70% confident that sticking with a 5.1 layout would result in better sound, but the part that isn’t sure is really nagging me. Relevant stats posted below. My rear wall isn’t ideal due to the fact that it’s an entryway, has a coat rack, and a staircase all right there. What concerns me most is whether I can give the speakers the right positioning that 1) won’t make my bed layer sound worse and 2) won’t muddle the channel separation with my in ceiling Atmos speakers, especially if they’re mounted too high. In particular I’m worried that the upmixing from my AVR for 5.1 or 2.1 sources will amplify any placement or speaker choice issues* vs content with actual Surround Back content. Finally I’ve read in a few places that 7.1 layouts should only be used for rooms 350sqft or more, and mine is 241sqft not counting the open concept areas (which should only matter for the subs I assume). Should I even be considering this or is FOMO getting to me? If surround backs won’t make much difference or will make things worse for an area like this let me know. Or tell me it’s with it if that’s your assessment. Thanks!

* Even though I really want 1723 S Surrounds for my sides I don’t think I have the space for them in the back. I need clearance for my entry door to open and also body clearance for entering / exiting the staircase. The 1961 Surrounds and Bookshelves are narrower but also stick out more. From a design standpoint I’m not sure any wall mounted speaker won’t stick out like a sore thumb, making things lean towards just sticking with 5.1

Living Room Area Dimensions: 11.5’W x 21’L x 8’H (extended window well on left, open to dinette area on right)

MLP: 13’ from front wall, 38” high

Planned 5.1 Speakers: 1723 S Monitors & Surrounds, 1723 1V Subwoofers

Side Surround: 67.5” MLP center to side walls, distance to baffle from main seats more like 46”, 100° angle from MLP center, height 46”-61” bottom to top

Back Wall: 100” distance, maximum speaker separation 48” for ~165° position each, coat rack 68” off of floor & 40” wide

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All replies (19)

Luis Vazquez
Active Member

I agree with @Lukas… I’ll add that surrounds mounted that close to the listen’s ears may end up becoming fatiguing over time.

Arkmann
Active Member

Agree that they would be too close.  Looking at your pictures is wall mounted an option with possibly the 1961s that takes them away the seating position.

F smith
Community Member

My surrounds are as close as 0.8 meters away. This is easily the shortest distance I’d suggest. But this would apply when only one person is seated and be sitting in the same spot otherwise being slightly different will make the sound unbalanced.

Calibration and sitting in the one spot for one person is key for this to work out. If you can, get then futher away as possible.

 

I trust this helps.

Lukas
Customer Support

The problem with sitting too close to the speakers, is the unbalance, between the fronts and surrounds.
You get almost only direct sound from the speakers close, kind of a headphone effect, whereas the speakers further away have a mix of direct and reflected sound. The speakers further away will sound much more natural and that is not something you can EQ or room correct.

 

 

Chris Lukowski
Community Member

Just seems to be a very tight “sweet spot” with 3-5 feet behind MLP being suggested but my original question of 8.5 feet being felt as too far away because my side surrounds are only 5 feet from dead-center MLP (viewers will sit on either side of that midpoint). It’s a pickle. And for the record I’d MUCH rather mount the surrounds on the back wall then just up against the couch anyway so we can cede that point since everybody seems to be in agreement on that front.

Something else I’m not sure about when deciding between 5.1 and 7.1 is if receivers typically (Marantz in my case) distribute surround content equally among side and rear surrounds or if they steer sound towards the rears when upmixing from 2.1 or 5.1 content. I’d like for the sides to be more active in that situation, and not sure if I have a choice. I’m just trying to rule out the possibility of the system sounding worse with the addition of surround backs.

Chris Lukowski
Community Member

UPDATE: I was on the fence about this but when the 1961 series went end-of-sale I couldn’t resist. I DID THE THING! And honestly I couldn’t be happier. I also installed a quad of RSL C34E MKIIs for Atmos but I could tell immediately that the back surrounds are filling a void that would have hurt the soundstage if I left it alone. I’m also relived to report that my Marantz Cinema 50 isn’t doing anything “funny” when upmixing 5.1 content to Atmos. The content destined for the side surrounds goes where it needs to go for the most part, and switching it to 5.1 mode is easy if I so choose. The 1961 Heights are beautiful and I can’t wait to replace the rest of my Polks someday.

FYI I also moved my side surrounds down to “thermostat level” after I took that picture. That was another welcome change to the soundscape.

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Arkmann
Active Member

Chris congratulations!  Looks good enjoy!

Lukas
Customer Support

Awesome, have fun listening!

Luis Vazquez
Active Member

That’s great news Chris!  Any perceived sound difference between the Arendal and RSL speakers?

I see that you’re experimenting with color options for the room… any decisions yet?

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