5.1, 6.1, 7.1 which one for what room? - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 13 Old 11-02-09, 08:23 AM Thread Starter
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5.1, 6.1, 7.1 which one for what room?

I'm building a new home. I have a room that will be 4.45metres (14.6 feet) long by 3.74 metres (12.27 feet) wide by 2.54metres ( 8.3feet) high. I have been to a few stores selling HT components (AV receivers etc), with one store (that had branding on it windows stating BOSE, ONKYO etc) who basically told me I only need a 5.1 unit. In fact the only thing he would sell me was a bose system. To which his way of demonstrating this unit was to drag to a theatre room and turning up the bose system so loud that you couldnt hear each other talk.

At a price of $3500 I can do so much better else where. but the one thing that stuck in my mind was that he told me based on the size of the room that a 5.1 would be more than enough and to go for anything more wold mean i would loose definition of the sound being produce. Mainly due to the speed of the sound relative to distance from the seating and the location of the speakers.

Now I have an understanding of the speed of sound and the delays that can be imposed through the recording (movie sound effects etc), and a basic understanding of the layouts of speakers for the various types of units (5.1, 6.1, 7.1 etc). But is there any rule of thumb thats says that you are better off with a 5.1 for this size room or 6.1 or 7.1 for that size of room. Or can use virtually use any system in my size room?

Being that I am from Australia, our prices out here are considerable different to what you have in the US. But even so I am not too concerned about price at this stage. I mainly want to make sure that i have sufficient cable in the walls and ceiling. I'm fairly sure i will be using a projector probably one of the panasonic 1080p units. Other than that I am not concerned about the brand of the AV unit at this stage except to say the bigger name Onkyo, Marantz, denon etc will be in the running. It will come down to bang for my buck and the number of input and outputs.

I also know that at this stage most blurays and dvd are only 5.1, but i know this will change in the future, but is there a golden rule about size of room to number of channels.

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post #2 of 13 Old 11-02-09, 09:30 AM
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

Stay away from BOSE unless you have too little space or too much money. 5.1 properly placed speakers would be enough in a room of that size. My general rule of thumb is that if movie watching will be restricted to 1-4 people, mostly in the sweet spot (centered in the speakers), than 5.1 is fine. 7.1 if you will have more than 4 people watching from various positions, both a front and back row, or spread laterally across a single row. From yor room size, you sound like you're in the <4 camp.

HOWEVER, if you are cabling ad it would be easy to add 2 back channels, do it. Whether you connect speakers or not, having the option without re-opening the wall will be preferable to trying to do it later if you decide you want to go 7 channel.

I wouldn't count on 7.1 becoming the standard in the near future.
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-02-09, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

Thanks for your quick reply. I dont know that the 7.1 will become the standard, only that i believe it will be used more in future. as you guessed most of the time it will be less than 4, maybe rare occasions 6, but this might be once or twice a year.

Something else as well. a room of this size, speakers that are slightly bigger than bookshelf speakers ( maybe a 5"driver plus tweeter) would they be sufficient, plus 10"sub of course. if the bookshelf speakers were mounted on the walls just below the ceiling?
or would I be better to stand these on floor stands in the corners of the room.

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post #4 of 13 Old 11-02-09, 01:09 PM
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

You want your front and center speakers as close to seated ear level as possible, whether mounted on stands or on the wall. Surrounds should be 2-3 feet above ear level, but if they must be at the wall/ceiling intersection, so be it.

As far as being sufficient, assuming they are a quality speakers, they should be more than sufficient. What speakers are you looking at? You want something rated down to 80hz if possible.
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-02-09, 01:29 PM
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

Marshall has given some great advice have a read here as to why you want to avoid Bose speakers or any other small cube like speaker system.
You want to make sure that the speakers you get are able to play down to at least 80Hz without any help from a sub so that the subwoofer is given the job of only going below that. This reduces the problems of localization and boomyness sometimes caused by requiring a sub to handle the frequencies up to 120Hz or even more

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #6 of 13 Old 11-02-09, 03:18 PM
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

It's not necessarily the size of the room that matters, but rather where you'll be sitting in relation to the rear wall. Even in a room that is only 14' deep, if you are sitting 10' from the display, you have plenty of room for rear speakers. In my HT, I have two rows or tiered seating, but there's rarely more than the 2 of us in the room. Even with sources that are 5.1, there's a noticeable difference when utilizing PLIIx and watching a movie in 7.1. I have 5.1 in my living room where we mostly watch TV, but I'd never even consider going less than 7.1 for movie watching, as long as you're not up against the back wall (and even then I might consider it).

Even my wife noticed instantly when I switched to 7.1 in the HT about 5 years ago and thinks it's the most noticeable improvement I ever made.
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-02-09, 09:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

At this stage I am still looking at the speaker side of things along with the amp etc. whatever i choose I know it wont be a bose. Had already decided that, when i heard the one in the shop. It was definitely missing something, and the whole idea of testing a unit by turning the volume way up, is not the best way of showing the capablilties of a system. To be honest after having been in the electronics side of things for about 8 years, I found their systems to be extremely lacking, and well behind the times.

The onkyo range seems to be quite reasonable for their dollars and probably more than i need, so at this stage i am leaning this way, but i still have an open mind if something else should come along that may be even better value. network connectivity is something that i would want and the flexibilty to go without to much hassle would definitely be a benefit, and the onkyo's seem to fit this.

The speakers will be bought to match the amp primarily, after sound quality of course. But i feel that both do go hand in hand to a degree.

The room that will be the theatre will also be used as a bedroom for me, for a period of a few months. As the house we are building is going to a double storey building, with my room being upstairs and the theatre room downstairs. I have to have both knees replaced soon, so for the period that i am recovering and learning to walk again, i will be using this room. So i need to mindful that i still have room for the bed etc, which is what prompted me to ask about speaker location. If they are mounted up the wall it will mean that i would have more floor area.

But good to know about the bottom range of these speakers should be as low as 80Hz, I had not given that any thought. To be honest i probably would have had them go down to 125Hz or thereabouts and not worried. You made a valid point about the boominess of subs. I do really want to just feel the sub, and not get that fluffing port sound that some subs make when they are worked to hard.

I will wire for 7.1 i think then at least whatever happens I am covered.

Now the fun starts, I just love shopping for stuff like this. So long as i get a bargain of some kind i dont mind spending more. I have in mind a budget for the amp of around the $2000 - 2500 mark, and maybe 1200 for the projector. Speakers well i guess so long as i get something that sounds reasnable i will be extremely happy.
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-03-09, 10:06 AM
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

As for bose... the line is to long to kick that dead horse so I'll move on

I only skimmed thru the posts, but I'll add this bit of advice after recently building my own theaterroom. If your building your home, and asking the question of 5.1 vs 6.1 vs 7.1 because your pre-wiring your room, I would say go ahead and wire it up for 7.1. And run some extra Cat-5 network cable to a couple locations. Along with up to 2 coaxial cables for additional sub-woofer connects. Yes, you will probably not ever use everything. But I will tell you now, it is so much easier now (pennys on the $5) to do it now and have it, then to wish you had it later on.

Edit: Ah, just read your last post. Yes, wire for 7.1 at least then you always have the option for 6.1. But I would recommend doing a couple extra coaxial in case you don't like your sub location, or get a 2nd one. Also, the coaxial can act as an extra handy composite video for temp hookups of equipment or a digital coaxial from a computer.

Finally, the networkwire is good for controls like infrared repeaters, or if you use your equipment rack as a network center (blu-ray live, network media center, DVR, home network, etc). The cat-5 cable is cheap, so run a couple extra lines, even if one or two end up going no where but the attic.

Last edited by tiggers97; 11-03-09 at 10:12 AM.
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-03-09, 09:17 PM
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Re: 5.1,6.1,7.1 which one for what room?

Of course, if you're prewiring for hte sake of prewiring, why not prewire for 9.2? With both height and width channels just in case?
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-03-09, 11:23 PM
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Re: 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 which one for what room?

Well, height channels will be a little easier to pull if you're in the same wall cavity as the fronts, but I can't argue if you wanted to prewire. I'd probably just leave the heights coiled in the wall rather than have a blank panel at eye-level. Or, better yet, actually get height speakers.
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