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Well I've decided to give Atmos a try in my HT. For reference, here is my existing HT thread in the finished rooms forum. It's never really "finished" though is it... I have used various combinations of Dolbly PLIIz including front height and front wide channels, and so far I've been happy with the results. I like the idea of Atmos, and I have the space/freedom to add more speakers to my HT. I'm still in the planning phase, but I thought I'd share it here for your information and feedback. I'm also in the process of improving my room's acoustic properties as you can see here, so these will be parallel projects.

A few details about my current room/arrangement
Dimensions are 16'3" L x 14'10" W x 9'10" H
Volume: ~ 2300cuft (accounting for partially slanted wall on two sides)
Current display: 60" Plasma (possibly to be upgraded to 120"-ish projector once 4k prices come down)
Distance to front row is ~ 10ft
Distance to back row is ~ 14.5ft
My HT is completely enclosed and it's only purpose is HT, making it a pretty idea space for an Atmos system. Some might argue it's too small... I guess I will find out.

My proposed Atmos design
Since I already have speakers in the "wide" positions, I'd like to have the capability for the Atmos 9.1.2 configuration. However, the idea of 4 height channels is appealing too (i.e. 7.1.4). So, I've decided to install 6 in-ceiling speakers, for a couple reasons. First, it would allow me to run any of the current Atmos configurations (yes, switching between x.1.2 and x.1.4 would require me to swap speaker wires at the back of the AVR). Assuming the AVRs continue to scale up Atmos for HT use, it is conceivable that 9.1.4 or higher will eventually be available as well. Finally, as a product reviewer, it would give me the ability to test the full range of upcoming Atmos AVRs for my HTS reviews.

Although I would like good audio performance for both rows of seating, the vast majority of the time my HT is being used, I'm the only one in there and I'll be seated in the middle of the front row. For that reason, I'm focusing on optimal performance for the front row, even if it means some sacrifices made by the back row. With that in mind, I have updated the setup diagrams from Dolby's Atmos guide to show my actual dimensions for the front row. The proportions are a bit off as my room is closer to a square than a long rectangle as show, but you get the idea. The dimensions shown in blue are Dobly's recommendations, and the dimensions in black are my actual (planned) dimensions.





Some general thoughts
There has been some question about dispersion angle specs on typical in-ceiling HT speakers and their ability to meet Dolby's 90º recommendation. This is certainly a concern and potential issue. One possible solution is to use in-ceiling speakers with pivoting tweeters, so they can be aimed at the main listening position. This should help to a certain degree (eh? eh?), but rooms with multiple rows of seating may still have to live with less than idea performance. I have chosen in-ceiling speakers with pivoting tweeters and plan to aim them toward the middle of the listening area with a heavy bias toward the front row, since that's where my MLP is. I have requested the dispersion spec from the manufacturer and I'm still waiting for a response at the time of this post. Of course, I will do some testing/trial and error, before finalizing the tweeter position and installing the grilles.

On a related note, while the figures above make my speaker arrangement look quite ideal based on the Dolby recommendations, things get a bit hairy when I consider my 2nd row of seating. As stated, I am less concerned about optimal performance in that row, but certainly want to make it work as good as the first row if possible. My seating positions are somewhat flexible, though I plan to build a riser for the 2nd row soon, which will make things more permanent. I still have some tweaking to do (and even created a 2D CAD model to move things around and see how it affects speaker angles and distances). :geek:

Another topic for debate is that adding more speakers is no guarantee that the surround experience will improve. I totally agree, but I also believe that a properly installed and calibrated Atmos system has huge potential over a basic 5.1 system. That's not to say that a properly setup 5.1 system can't be immensely satisfying.

Atmos vs non-Atmos recordings... Some are comparing Dolby PLIIz to Atmos and making the assumption that Atmos will just be using ambient sounds to create more non-discrete channels (such as height or wide). While this is somewhat accurate concerning non-Atmos recordings it will not be the case with Atmos-enabled soundtracks containing sound objects with meta-data (someone correct me if I'm wrong). These objects are individual sounds engineered to move through the room in three dimensions. Atmos processes those according to your setup (5.1.4, 7.1.2, etc) and determines which speakers to send the signals to. On non-Atmos recordings, the effect will certainly be less-precise with more guess-work being done by the processor. What I'm saying is, if someone were to invest in an elaborate Atmos system and continue to use non-Atmos recordings, the perceivable improvement may be disappointing.

You may be wondering which AVR I have chosen. The answer is, I haven't. I plan to audition/review the high end Atmos models from Pioneer, Yamaha, Onkyo, and Denon over the next few months, while I finalize positioning and installation of Atmos speakers, and hopefully finish my acoustic treatments. I haven't determined a receiver budget at this point, but hopefully I'll get a better idea of what features I need once I [hopefully] get my hands on a few of the new/upcoming models.

I will use this thread to post and discuss any changes or updates to my plan, add progress updates and photos as I begin the installation process. I would love to hear about others' Atmos builds and I always welcome constructive feedback and/or suggestions.
 

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:foottap: Subscribed... I too would like to convert to Atmos. I hope to be able to do it in 2015. I'll let you be the tester so I can see how it is done correctly, before i do anything (plus I still have to finish up what I started). :T
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Happy to be the Guniea pig Ron. I enjoy the tinkering aspect of trying something new. Hopefully I can be a helpful resource for others making the jump to Atmos. At the very least, learn from my fail... :dontknow:

edit:
(plus I still have to finish up what I started). :T
Good idea! I'm not that smart...
 

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Happy to be the Guniea pig Ron. I enjoy the tinkering aspect of trying something new. Hopefully I can be a helpful resource for others making the jump to Atmos. At the very least, learn from my fail... :dontknow:

edit:
Good idea! I'm not that smart...
:T:T
 

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Subscribed as well.

While it seems obvious that native Atmos soundtracks are going to benefit greatly, there are many great reports out there about the effectiveness of the new upmixer that comes with all Atmos receivers/prepros. It is called Dolby Surround, and many people reporting on the AVS thread (over 10k posts in 3 months :eek:) are very impressed with it when upmixing non-Atmos content.

I hope to set up Atmos soon in my theater as well. I have some stuff to sell first, which is not happening very quickly unfortunately. Once I do, though, I will immediately jump into Atmos with both feet.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Subscribed as well.

While it seems obvious that native Atmos soundtracks are going to benefit greatly, there are many great reports out there about the effectiveness of the new upmixer that comes with all Atmos receivers/prepros. It is called Dolby Surround, and many people reporting on the AVS thread (over 10k posts in 3 months :eek:) are very impressed with it when upmixing non-Atmos content.
Thanks for pointing that out. And in case it sounded like I was dogging PLIIz that wasn't my intention. I almost always enjoy the height or wide effects generated while watching movies. I suspect that as it has been stated, the Atmos upmixer will also do quite well with non-Atmos content - even basic 5-channel and 2-channel recordings. While Atmos recordings should give the best performance on an Atmos system, it doesn't mean you'll need to throw out all of your non-Atmos Blu-rays and start over.


I hope to set up Atmos soon in my theater as well. I have some stuff to sell first, which is not happening very quickly unfortunately. Once I do, though, I will immediately jump into Atmos with both feet.
I'm in a similar boat. Lots of ideas for my HT, not lots of money to spend on it. Many of my upgrades so far have been funded by selling older gear.
 

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That looks awesome Peter. What receivers are you considering?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Luther. Since I want to be able to do 7.1.4 and 9.1.2 I'll need something capable of processing 11 channels. That limits me to the following (in no particular order):

Denon AVR X5200 (Sonnie just upgraded to this one)
Yamaha RX-A3040
Onkyo TX NR3030 (not available yet)
Pioneer Elite SC-85/87/89 (not 100% sure if these can do 11 channels)

There may be others available now or in the works - these are just a few I've considered so far based on specs.

Edit: The Pioneer Elites can process a maximum of 9 channels.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Something I forgot to mention in my original post was the height of what Dolby calls the 'listener level" speakers. In my case, these are all the ones not in the ceiling. Per the Atmos guidelines, they need to be close to the height of the seated listener's ears. In fact, this doesn't necessarily apply only to Atmos, is worth considering if you already have surround speakers installed above ear level. Mine happen to be roughly 18 inches above seated ear level. I did this partially to keep them somewhat out of the way, and partially to avoid localization since they are direct-radiating speakers and they are close to some seating positions. I will probably try to do some testing with my "listener level" speakers moved down to ear level to see if it sounds ok with the Atmos setup. If so, I'll permanently relocate them. It won't be a huge move, but it will allow for more separation across the height of the room.

Also, minor correction - I mentioned front wide channels as if they were part of Dolby PLIIz, but in fact they are part of DTS NEO:X. Dolby PLIIz offers only the front height channels. Just want to avoid confusion there. I believe Audyssey DSX can do front wides as well.
 

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Something I forgot to mention in my original post was the height of what Dolby calls the 'listener level" speakers. In my case, these are all the ones not in the ceiling. Per the Atmos guidelines, they need to be close to the height of the seated listener's ears. In fact, this doesn't necessarily apply only to Atmos, is worth considering if you already have surround speakers installed above ear level. Mine happen to be roughly 18 inches above seated ear level. I did this partially to keep them somewhat out of the way, and partially to avoid localization since they are direct-radiating speakers and they are close to some seating positions. I will probably try to do some testing with my "listener level" speakers moved down to ear level to see if it sounds ok with the Atmos setup. If so, I'll permanently relocate them. It won't be a huge move, but it will allow for more separation across the height of the room.

Also, minor correction - I mentioned front wide channels as if they were part of Dolby PLIIz, but in fact they are part of DTS NEO:X. Dolby PLIIz offers only the front height channels. Just want to avoid confusion there. I believe Audyssey DSX can do front wides as well.
On my setup... I ended up with the woofers of my rear surrounds just above my 2nd row seating. I have the woofers of my 1st row seating at ear level, along with my front 3 channels. I don't know how I could have them all at ear level when my 2nd row is elevated.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
On my setup... I ended up with the woofers of my rear surrounds just above my 2nd row seating. I have the woofers of my 1st row seating at ear level, along with my front 3 channels. I don't know how I could have them all at ear level when my 2nd row is elevated.
I will have to do something very similar as my 2nd row will be 10-12 inches higher than the first. Most likely, my front surrounds (#5 in the diagram) will be at ear level (same as my mains), my rear surrounds (#7 in the diagram) will be elevated 10-12 inches above the mains to account for the riser, and I may split the difference and put the side surrounds (#6 in the diagram) about 5-6 inches above the mains. Although I have my surrounds wall-mounted and I don't expect to change my furniture, I still have some flexibility with seating positions and don't mind relocating my surround speakers. I will start by putting things as close as I can get them to the recommended locations and then find the best combination of performance, convenience, and aesthetics. In my opinion, having the rear surrounds 12 inches above ear level will have very little impact on the overall performance. They will still be MUCH closer to ear level (front row) than the in-ceiling speakers and right at ear level for the 2nd row.
 

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Some basic CAD sketches have proven that it will be impossible for both rows of seating to fall within the recommended angle specs in the Atmos guide (see first post). So I have a few options.

1. Proceed as planned with the front row being right in the sweet spot and don't care about the back row.

2. Place the speakers so the front row is at one extreme (still within spec) bringing the back row closer to being in spec (but still outside the spec)

3. Place thee speaker between, putting both rows out of spec by about the same amount. Currently I'm leaning toward a combination of 1 and 2. Put the front row well within spec but with a slight bias toward the back row. To be honest, the more I get into this the less it makes sense to me to do any more than x.x.2 in a home theater unless you only have one seat or one row. Again, I'm usually the only one critically watching movies in my HT, so I don't mind setting up my system with a heavy bias toward a single seat. I have also read that Atmos is pretty robust in the sense that speaker/seating placement isn't super critical. It seems to be part of the reason the Atmos-enabled (reflecting) speakers work so well.

Edit: I should clarify that I'm only talking about the in-ceiling speakers in this post, as I have not yet installed them. My listener level speaker locations are all pretty much finalized.
 

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I'll be watching and interested in your findings. I'm interested in possibly in a few years trying a 9.4.4 atmos setup. Basically add 4 ceilings (remove front heights) to my 9.4 system with wides. Peter i'm interested in what ceiling speakers you decide to use and your opinion once tested.
 

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I'll be watching and interested in your findings. I'm interested in possibly in a few years trying a 9.4.4 atmos setup. Basically add 4 ceilings (remove front heights) to my 9.4 system with wides. Peter i'm interested in what ceiling speakers you decide to use and your opinion once tested.
Same here. Currently the max I've seen in a consumer A/V processor/receiver is 7.1.4 or 9.1.2. Like you though, I expect that max to increase over time, so I plan to be prepped for up to 9.1.6 (which also allows me to run any x.x.2 or x.x.4 configuration). I have already purchased in-ceiling speakers from HTD (MP-R80). They are very reasonably priced and have a pivoting tweeter. I'm hoping to finalize locations and install them later this month or early next month.
 

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Im in the middle of building out my living room which is where we will do the majority of our movies/gaming. I am almost ready for the prewiring and am not quite sure what to do. I have a similar size room to what you have (16' x 13' x 9' ceiling). I have two problems that I can see as of right now. I am sitting with my back against the wall that is 13' facing a 75" television, which puts me about 12' back, right against a wall.

I was thinking about going with a 5.2.2 setup but was trying to figure out if it will work with a 7.2.2 setup somehow even with the open area to the left of my seating arrangement (I don't want to use any speaker stands). I would think for my room that 4 ceiling speakers may be too much, but I really have no idea and am not opposed to it.

I run a small home theater install business and have yet to wire anything for atmos. I honestly am still a little unclear about it and if it will work with my seating arrangement. Is it going to be useless due to the setup of my room? I would hate to not wire this correctly while all walls are open.

Thoughts/suggestions are appreciated!

Thanks!
 

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Have you seen this image?



If you're up against the back wall, you probably don't want to attempt to do more than a 5.2.2 layout (or 5.1.2 to be more accurate), using the top middle designation for the ceiling speakers, putting them slightly ahead of your listening position (say, at 75-80 degrees or so).

However, I would expect a substantial improvement going from a standard 5.1 system to a 5.1.2 system. Definitely worth it, based on the numerous people reporting their impressions elsewhere.
 

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Okay, change of mind here. You could easily do a 5.1.4 layout using the top middle just behind your position (right at the wall, about 95 degrees) and the front height position (at 30-45 degrees). One guy over at AVS has done just that with his room, and he is at the back wall too, and he has reported very favorable results. So I would wire for that. I would not, however, worry about trying 7.1.2 or 7.1.4 in this layout.

Edit: The same guy over at AVS recently moved his top middle speakers slightly forward of his listening position (at about 85 degrees) and slightly prefers that. So you have some flexibility.
 

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Okay, change of mind here. You could easily do a 5.1.4 layout using the top middle just behind your position (right at the wall, about 95 degrees) and the front height position (at 30-45 degrees). One guy over at AVS has done just that with his room, and he is at the back wall too, and he has reported very favorable results. So I would wire for that. I would not, however, worry about trying 7.1.2 or 7.1.4 in this layout.

Edit: The same guy over at AVS recently moved his top middle speakers slightly forward of his listening position (at about 85 degrees) and slightly prefers that. So you have some flexibility.
I pretty much agree here. Based on David's room size, 7.1.4 is doable, but based on his seating location, I think anything above 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 will provide diminishing returns. For a x.1.4 Atmos setup, the minimum recommended angle for the 2nd row of heights is 125 degrees, which would be basically impossible for seating against the back row. My personal recommendation in this case would be 5.1.2.

Edit: actually my first recommendation would be to move the couch off the wall and maybe do 5.1.4. If it's not possible to move the couch then 5.1.2.
 

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At least in the case of the Denon AVRs, any combination of two pairs of overhead speakers is acceptable, as long as they are not adjacent positions. For example, referring to the diagram I posted (which is a Denon diagram btw), you can do top front and top rear, or front height and top middle, but not top front and top middle, or top rear and rear height.

The guy over at AVS has heard several Dolby Atmos installations, and is really happy with his 5.1.4 setup (with top middle at 85 degrees and front height at 42 degrees IIRC). While you may wish to start out with 5.1.2, I would at least also run wire for that front height location as well.

If it were me, I would do 5.1.4 as described. I think going from 5.1.4 to 7.1.4 would not make a big difference, but going from 5.1.2 to 5.1.4 will. :cool:

Edit: Keep in mind that it's the angle of the speaker position relative to listener ear level that matters. Front height will not necessarily be at the wall-ceiling corner, as is shown in the diagram. The angle is what matters.
 

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At least in the case of the Denon AVRs, any combination of two pairs of overhead speakers is acceptable, as long as they are not adjacent positions. For example, referring to the diagram I posted (which is a Denon diagram btw), you can do top front and top rear, or front height and top middle, but not top front and top middle, or top rear and rear height. The guy over at AVS has heard several Dolby Atmos installations, and is really happy with his 5.1.4 setup (with top middle at 85 degrees and front height at 42 degrees IIRC). While you may wish to start out with 5.1.2, I would at least also run wire for that front height location as well. If it were me, I would do 5.1.4 as described. I think going from 5.1.4 to 7.1.4 would not make a big difference, but going from 5.1.2 to 5.1.4 will. :cool:
I have not seen the Denon diagram. Are they from a manual which can be downloaded online? I have only looked at the Dolby spec, but it would definitely be helpful to see how manufacturers are implementing it.
 
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