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Adding surround to an existing stereo setup

Mr. L

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Jul 15, 2022
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Hi all :)

I've been lurking around for a while, and thought it was finally time to make my first post here.

Short introduction, feel free to skip ahead, as this contains no relevant information about my actual question:
I've been enjoying music through stereo setups for a few decades now, and have started to enjoy "good" sound over loud sound in the last 10-12 years. I'm fascinated by the effects of room acoustics and how it affects the perceived sound, and actually did lots of experiments with room acoustics years ago, ending up running a small local acoustic consultant business, for a while. Today, I'm very fortunate to be working in the HiFi industry, at a pretty well known brand, so I'm very lucky to have access to some good "sound reproductive systems" :)
Enough about me, let's get into what this thread is really about:

The question:
I would like to "upgrade" one of my dedicated 2.0 setups to have the option to function as a "home theater", as the whole household likes to watch a good movie.
How could I integrate this in a relatively cheap way? Is it worth going for a 7 channel system, over a 5 channel, when just starting out? Any specific features that I should ensure the system has?
I would like a system that starts out pretty cheap, and can be expanded on, if we end up using this feature a lot.
I've been looking at older secondhand surround receivers, but it is quite a jungle for me, and I have no idea which brands/models offers decent quality for the money. A solution that runs off my PC could also be an option, as my workstation is located not too far from the listening space.
I have speakers and projector covered, so my question goes on what/how to handle the decoding of the surround signal. I also have access to stereo power amplifiers, if that can be of any help.

So, as you can probably tell, I'm very "green" when it comes to surround solutions, and would love some inputs on what could make sense to look into, for a decent quality, but still well priced solution.
All inputs are very welcome :)

(Note: I know quite a few of our customers are active in this forum, and should you recognize me, please respect that I have joined this forum for my own personal interest, not to represent the company I work for)
 

WinWiz

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Amirs review of the denon x3700h receiver woke up my sleeping hifi upgrade syndrome.
So I recently upgrade my beloved old 5.1 system to 7.2.4
New movies useually include dolby atmos soundtrack. After upgrading I was actually surprised how much "cinema experience" the the height channels seems to deliver.
I believe you need 4 height channels to get the atmos experience dolby intended.
The x3700h will decode 12 channels but only amplifies 10 channels. So for 7.2.4 you need a separate stereo amplifier.
X3700 feeding a decent stereo amp powering decent front speakers delivers nice surround and pretty decent stereo -Without necessarily breaking the bank...
 

Roland68

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Hi all :)

I've been lurking around for a while, and thought it was finally time to make my first post here.

Short introduction, feel free to skip ahead, as this contains no relevant information about my actual question:
I've been enjoying music through stereo setups for a few decades now, and have started to enjoy "good" sound over loud sound in the last 10-12 years. I'm fascinated by the effects of room acoustics and how it affects the perceived sound, and actually did lots of experiments with room acoustics years ago, ending up running a small local acoustic consultant business, for a while. Today, I'm very fortunate to be working in the HiFi industry, at a pretty well known brand, so I'm very lucky to have access to some good "sound reproductive systems" :)
Enough about me, let's get into what this thread is really about:

The question:
I would like to "upgrade" one of my dedicated 2.0 setups to have the option to function as a "home theater", as the whole household likes to watch a good movie.
How could I integrate this in a relatively cheap way? Is it worth going for a 7 channel system, over a 5 channel, when just starting out? Any specific features that I should ensure the system has?
I would like a system that starts out pretty cheap, and can be expanded on, if we end up using this feature a lot.
I've been looking at older secondhand surround receivers, but it is quite a jungle for me, and I have no idea which brands/models offers decent quality for the money. A solution that runs off my PC could also be an option, as my workstation is located not too far from the listening space.
I have speakers and projector covered, so my question goes on what/how to handle the decoding of the surround signal. I also have access to stereo power amplifiers, if that can be of any help.

So, as you can probably tell, I'm very "green" when it comes to surround solutions, and would love some inputs on what could make sense to look into, for a decent quality, but still well priced solution.
All inputs are very welcome :)

(Note: I know quite a few of our customers are active in this forum, and should you recognize me, please respect that I have joined this forum for my own personal interest, not to represent the company I work for)
Take a surround amp that has preamp outputs and connect them to one of the inputs on your stereo amp. Or, if available, to the preamp input.
You must calibrate the whole system once and mark the position of the volume control on the stereo amplifier (not on the preamp input).
In this way, you can keep your stereo system independent of your surround system.
 

Hayabusa

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just connect a surround speaker over the two plus outputs of the stereo amp: voila! el cheapo surround! ;)
;)
 

Vacceo

Major Contributor
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Hi all :)

I've been lurking around for a while, and thought it was finally time to make my first post here.

Short introduction, feel free to skip ahead, as this contains no relevant information about my actual question:
I've been enjoying music through stereo setups for a few decades now, and have started to enjoy "good" sound over loud sound in the last 10-12 years. I'm fascinated by the effects of room acoustics and how it affects the perceived sound, and actually did lots of experiments with room acoustics years ago, ending up running a small local acoustic consultant business, for a while. Today, I'm very fortunate to be working in the HiFi industry, at a pretty well known brand, so I'm very lucky to have access to some good "sound reproductive systems" :)
Enough about me, let's get into what this thread is really about:

The question:
I would like to "upgrade" one of my dedicated 2.0 setups to have the option to function as a "home theater", as the whole household likes to watch a good movie.
How could I integrate this in a relatively cheap way? Is it worth going for a 7 channel system, over a 5 channel, when just starting out? Any specific features that I should ensure the system has?
I would like a system that starts out pretty cheap, and can be expanded on, if we end up using this feature a lot.
I've been looking at older secondhand surround receivers, but it is quite a jungle for me, and I have no idea which brands/models offers decent quality for the money. A solution that runs off my PC could also be an option, as my workstation is located not too far from the listening space.
I have speakers and projector covered, so my question goes on what/how to handle the decoding of the surround signal. I also have access to stereo power amplifiers, if that can be of any help.

So, as you can probably tell, I'm very "green" when it comes to surround solutions, and would love some inputs on what could make sense to look into, for a decent quality, but still well priced solution.
All inputs are very welcome :)

(Note: I know quite a few of our customers are active in this forum, and should you recognize me, please respect that I have joined this forum for my own personal interest, not to represent the company I work for)
If you have a stereo amp, you can easily integrate it into an AVR or processor and, of course, keep using your current speakers.

Many AVR´s (Denon, Anthem...) have a number of amplified channels but the capacity to process more channels. To give you an example, my Marantz 6010 has 7 amplified channels, but it can process up to 9 channeles, so that´s how you´d use your current stereo.

Do you have even more stereo amps? No worries! You can use several of them to power your whole rig! AVR´s like Anthem´s MRX 740 have seven amplified channels but it can process four more for a total of 11 channels. The difference with a processor is that it does not have amplification channels (hence, you connect external amps), but in essence, it works the same.

Beyond amplification, the other key element is room equalization. That is always a crucial component on any system, but the more channels you add, the more important it becomes. Software such as Audyssey (Denon and Marantz), ARC Genesis (Anthem) or Dirac (NAD, Arcam) is the sauce that rounds up the whole dish.

That´s for electronics, now let´s go to channels. What do you want to be able to play? If you want to add Atmos capabilities, you´ll need the height channels. Good news is that you can re-purpose any bookshelf speaker you have around provided you can set them above your front and rear channels; angle them towards the listener at around 30 degrees for better performance (use a foam platform on a bookshelf, for example). Basic Atmos runs with two height channels, but in my experience, if you can add front and rear height, the inmersion is quite better.

The choice between 7 or 5 channels is basically dependant on room size. If the room is large enough, add the side channels, if not, just front and rear. A center for films is not mandatory, but very recommended. My personal preference is concentric coaxial speakers (I use KEF) in general, but that type of design is among the best for center channels. MTM (mid-tweeter-mid) designs are not great performers for center channels, but they are usable.

Last but not least: bass. Speakers with good bass can be fine for music, but for films (if you play videogames, even more so!), there´s going to be a LOT of low frequency sound: that´s why subwoofers are a good idea. I saw it in plural because integrating bass in a room is a complicated affair due to physics of low frequencies. Using 2 or more subwoofers makes it a bit easier.

From that list, take a look at the components you have and see if you can recycle something.

Coda to all this wall of text: if room acoustics are crucial on a stereo system, on multichannel it is even more important as there are more sound emitting elements. I personally try to be as functional as possible and use what I already have. In my experience, bookshelves packed with books are a fairly decen option to improve sound if you don´t want to spend on acoustic treatments. Also, a good rug right in front of your main left, right and center channel will work well if your floor is a hard surface (wood or tile).
 
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Mr. L

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Hi guys, thank you very much for your feedback, highly appreciate it :)

@WinWiz The Denon x3700H looks really great, but it is almost $1500US here, and honestly, I was hoping to spend less on the AVR/processor to begin with. Are there any older models that could be decent as well, if I look for them second hand? Or do I need to spend this kind of money to get a good experience? My thought was maybe getting an older AVR and then use power amplifiers to overcome the bad performance many AVR's have when it comes to power delivery. But maybe this has a downside I'm not aware of?

@Roland68 Sounds like the perfect way to integrate my integrated amplifier, or use my active speakers this way :)

@Vacceo Amazing feedback, all the way through!
Room equalization is a must, I completely agree on that. Are any of the mentioned system widely preferred over the others, or are they all pretty decent?
I don't know what formats I want to play, as I'm unsure how far I should go in this first step. But based on the feedback so far, you all seem to agree that 7 channels is a substantial upgrade over 5 channels, so I think I will aim for that. I'm a bit of a collector of speakers, so I should be able to fin enough speakers for the extra channels :)
The listening room for this setup is 35 m2 and additional 9 m2 that is openly connected to the space. Would 7 channels be okay here?
How much does the sound quality of the height speakers matter? Most of my "better" speakers are a bit larger, so using them as height speakers, might be a bit problematic.
As for center channel, my idea was to start out with one of my better regular speakers, but maybe a cheaper second hand dedicated center speaker is better?
I have an 18" PA subwoofer that never gets used, and my thought was to hook this up as a start, hoping the Room Equalization will do it's magic, and the sound will be decent.
But no doubt, I will have to set it all up, then experiment with placement and see how bad the situation is. From there, the plan is to do the required room treatment.


Since none of you have mentioned it, I take that the idea of using JRiver on my PC as a decoder, is not the best approach?
 

DMill

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The Denon x3700H looks really great, but it is almost $1500US here, and honestly, I was hoping to spend less on the AVR/processor to begin with. Are there any older models that could be decent as well, if I look for them second hand?
You can probably find a x3600 for less than $1k. If you read the review here it looks pretty similar to the x3700
 

Vacceo

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Hi guys, thank you very much for your feedback, highly appreciate it :)

@WinWiz The Denon x3700H looks really great, but it is almost $1500US here, and honestly, I was hoping to spend less on the AVR/processor to begin with. Are there any older models that could be decent as well, if I look for them second hand? Or do I need to spend this kind of money to get a good experience? My thought was maybe getting an older AVR and then use power amplifiers to overcome the bad performance many AVR's have when it comes to power delivery. But maybe this has a downside I'm not aware of?

@Roland68 Sounds like the perfect way to integrate my integrated amplifier, or use my active speakers this way :)

@Vacceo Amazing feedback, all the way through!
Room equalization is a must, I completely agree on that. Are any of the mentioned system widely preferred over the others, or are they all pretty decent?
I don't know what formats I want to play, as I'm unsure how far I should go in this first step. But based on the feedback so far, you all seem to agree that 7 channels is a substantial upgrade over 5 channels, so I think I will aim for that. I'm a bit of a collector of speakers, so I should be able to fin enough speakers for the extra channels :)
The listening room for this setup is 35 m2 and additional 9 m2 that is openly connected to the space. Would 7 channels be okay here?
How much does the sound quality of the height speakers matter? Most of my "better" speakers are a bit larger, so using them as height speakers, might be a bit problematic.
As for center channel, my idea was to start out with one of my better regular speakers, but maybe a cheaper second hand dedicated center speaker is better?
I have an 18" PA subwoofer that never gets used, and my thought was to hook this up as a start, hoping the Room Equalization will do it's magic, and the sound will be decent.
But no doubt, I will have to set it all up, then experiment with placement and see how bad the situation is. From there, the plan is to do the required room treatment.


Since none of you have mentioned it, I take that the idea of using JRiver on my PC as a decoder, is not the best approach?
The most common format on films, both hard copy (Blu Ray) and streaming is Dolby Atmos. You can set a system capable of decoding Atmos without the height speakers. It will play the content, but logically, the height sound will not be there as there are no speakers to play it. You can add those speakers further down the line.
Formats, particularly spatial audio such as DTS X and Atmos are "object based". That means that sound is not coded to go on specific channels, but to "move" around whatever channels you have on your system. In that department, it is different from classic Dolby Pro Logic, as that was coded to play specific sound on specific speakers. Traditionally, side speakers are the ones that have the least action (that has changed with Atmos and DTS X) and usual setting for home theatres recommend to add a pair of side speakers per row of seats (that´s why, you guessed it, there are processors capable of handling 16 or 32 speakers!). With the room you have, my guess is that you´ll have a couch and perhaps a couple of armchairs, effectively making a single row.

For 35 m2 you can comfortably set 7 "base layer" (as to separate them from the height section) speakers with great results! More than that, adding 4 (2 front, 2 rear) height channels further down the line will render you an amazing sound. If you do that, try the last season of Stranger Things just for the sound (even though they should have played Slayer, not Metallica!). If you or your family play videogames, wait to listen to shooters like Doom Eternal blasting on a full Atmos system... If you have spare couples of relatively small bookshelves that are not that great but you still want to put them to use, those are great options for height. To use myself as example, I use KEF IQ1´s for height: old and not super high end, but perfectly functional.

Your idea to use a single, conventional (as in bookshelf or tower) speaker is perfectly fine. In fact, many users prefeer that to a center, horizontal speaker. On this forum I have seen a member showing a front section of a system made by 3 KEF LS50´s. My recomendation would be to match your center, left and right speakers (same model for all three) if possible; if not, try to use speakers with similar dispersion, sensitivity and dynamic range. Sure, the center channel task is mostly giving you clear dialogues, but a matching set renders you the best results. Keep matching pairs for the rest of the channels even if they´re different between pairs (same speakers for the sides, rears; and if you eventually pull the trigger, heights). As you have probably guessed, use your best speakers for left, center, and right channel. Your second best for rears, your third best for sides and your small, decent and functional ones for height. In theory and according to Dolby, height speakers should be full range and capable of doing what the main stereo speakers do, but practical use tells you that you can get quite nice results with decent speakers, no top of the line needed.

A 18 inch sub? Dude, I already like that! Before calibration, start with a setting that sounds well. The subwoofer crawl is a good method. Keep in mind that low frequencies are a nightmare, so expect nulls and peaks. Peaks can be toned down with EQ, nulls, not so much, that´s why it´s recommended to use 2 or even 4 subwoofers. Use, also, common sense and basic aucoustic knowledge to set your speakers, as room correction can do a lot, but the better your setting starts, the more refined EQ will get and the less issues it will have to correct. Bass is the hardest part to EQ, so do not obssess too much about it.

With EQ software, you have some wizards on this forum while I´m myself just a novice. The general tendency around here is towards Dirac, since it provides a fairly detailed approach and a lot of options to customize your sound. The problem is that AVR´s with Dirac fall on the expensive side of the equation. Same goes for ARC Genesis (Anthem is not cheap) and if you go to the super heavy weights like Lyngdorf or Trinnov, well, the prices are scary...

Audyssey is, perhaps, the most common EQ system. Now it offers the chance to go really detailed on it (for a hefty price of 200 bucks) while traditionally, it gives you the option for a 20 buck app for Denon and Marantz models. X32 is a veteran system, it works fairly well and it´s easy to use and very, very stable. Sure, it will not push your system to its limits, but my guess from your posts is that you´re not interested on that.

For sources, keep in mind that the decoding works on the AVR. Yes, it is possible to use the PC for decoding and processing, but that requires a completely different approach, a fairly complex system and it´s not plug and play like an AVR. From the PC to the AVR (what I have), you just need an HDMI cable. Check out the threads about Windows sound and equalization, because it´s a free fix and really helps you getting a better sound.
 

DVDdoug

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Is it worth going for a 7 channel system, over a 5 channel, when just starting out? Any specific features that I should ensure the system has?
The upgrade from stereo to 5.1 is dramatic with the sound coming from behind. I've never heard a 7.1 channels home system and I don't know what I've heard in a movie theater...

If cost was no object, and if I had a big room and I didn't mind having speakers & wires all over the place I'd get as many channels as possible! On the other hand, I don't own any discs with more than 5.1 channels and I don't subscribe to any streaming video services so anything more would be "fake" (up-mixed).

I actually use one of the Dolby "soundield" settings to "up-mix' stereo music for some delayed reverb in my rear speakers but I wouldn't want that same effect when up-mixing from 5.1 and I'm pretty sure you don't get that option anyway..


I've been looking at older secondhand surround receivers,
Just make sure it has HDMI and any other features you may want. My older AVR didn't have HDMI. S/PDIF doesn't support more than 5.1 channels or the Blu-Ray formats. If you want to use external amps, of course you'll need preamp outputs which not every AVR has.

I have an 18" PA subwoofer that never gets used, and my thought was to hook this up as a start, hoping the Room Equalization will do it's magic, and the sound will be decent.
The subwoofer output from an AVR is line-level so if that's a passive speaker it will need an amp. Most pro PA subwoofers are tuned for about 40Hz so you may not get the deepest bass, but with EQ there is a good chance you can get enough lower frequency output for a smaller home environment. (And overall it will have more output and it's probably better than the "average" home theater sub.)

There are some "tricky things" with multichannel sound and subwoofers... The stereo and/or surround channels contain the "regular bass". An "ideal" setup has full-range speakers and the sub is not used for the regular bass. But, AVRs have optional "bass management" so you can use smaller speakers and route all of the bass to the sub.

The "point one" LFE channel (low frequency effects) contains extra bass for "booms & explosions", etc. The LFE channel goes ONLY to the subwoofer so without a subwoofer the LFE channel is lost. It's also not included in the downmix when you play a surround sound on a stereo setup.

hoping the Room Equalization will do
As you probably know, you can't fix a standing wave node (a dip/cancellation) with EQ. You can push-down an antinode (peak).

Since none of you have mentioned it, I take that the idea of using JRiver on my PC as a decoder, is not the best approach?
If the PC has HDMI the PC can be used as a source and your AVR will be the decoder. If you have a multichannel soundcard the PC can be used as a decoder but if you wanted to use it with the AVR, most AVRs don't have multichannel analog inputs.
 

Roland68

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@Roland68 Sounds like the perfect way to integrate my integrated amplifier, or use my active speakers this way :)
I've been using this configuration for almost 25 years, with different devices of course.
For example, you can look for a used Yamaha RX-V779 / 781 or RX-A 850 / 860 / 870 / 880. The newer devices are often not as well equipped.
 
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Mr. L

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Sorry about the slow response from me, but I'm on vacation right now, and day trips with my family takes up a lot of my time at the moment.

@DMill I didn't notice that the X3600 had been tested as well, looks like a great starting point, and I will start looking for one :)

@Vacceo
Atmos it is then! I will dig deeper into how it works over the next few days, as it seems like there is more to it, than just simple channels. I would never have thought more about it, if you hadn't mentioned it.
Furthermore, I've convinced my GF that we need to remove two of the walls in my listening space, so it works better for movie watching purposes. I expect to start this later this week, and I can do almost whatever I like with this space, so plenty of options for optimization.
We do want at least three seats, and will figure out later if I'm going with 1+2 or just all 3 in one row.
You are getting me all pumped about the height speakers, can't wait to try it out. I have enough speakers to do at least one set of height speakers from start, and sourcing another set of smaller speakers should be quite easy/cheap, at least for a starter set.
I'll match the front speakers and the center speaker, it shouldn't be an issue, so I should be all set here as well.
You are absolutely right about the bass being the most difficult aspect of room acoustics to get correctly. Luckily, my room is pretty decent here, and for the setups I've run so far, the bass response has been decent, even without Room EQ, but I'll see how the subwoofer will change this, and if a dual subwoofer is needed, down the line. The one I have does not produce super deep bass, as DVDdoug also points out, so I'm hoping it won't excite the room modes too much. Time will tell. It's also just an 15", I remembered it as an 18", and I haven't used in a long time.
It sounds like all the mainstream Room EQ systems will do at least "okay", so I won't let that limit the choice of AVR. Dirac is something I have experience with already, but as you say, it's not available in the AVR's I'm most likely to purchase at this point.
I was aware that using my PC would not be as straightforward as using an AVR, but I did think this was more widely used. Having googled it a bit, it does not seem like it is a very popular choice, and the output boards needed are all very difficult to purchase at the moment, so I'll bury that idea for now. I just liked the idea of using good power amps, to overcome the power issues that I see many AVR's have.

@DVDdoug
Great inputs as well :)
I think I'll jump straight into 7 channels, now that I have the speakers, and I will do a complete re-design of the listening room. It will be much easier to mount all the cables nicely, when the room is empty, and I can make cable trays for it all.
Regarding AVR, my aim is now to get a good second hand AVR with Atmos and at least 9 channels of processing and I would prefer pre-outs for the channels, so I can use my own power amplifiers, should I want to.
You are spot on with the subwoofer! It is tuned for exactly 40Hz (40-250Hz), but hopefully I can push it a bit lower. It's an active subwoofer, with a 250W/500W amplifier, so it should have some headroom to work with.
My main speakers are rated at 25 - 40.000 Hz +/- 1.5dB, so hopefully they can take care of the bass in the "regular" channels, and then the subwoofer can be connected to the LFE channel. The main speakers do cut off the lowest frequencies, once you turn up the volume, but hopefully they will still provide decent bass at moderate volume. Do you think such a setup would be okay, or do you see any issues here? I had no idea about the LFE channel, so I really appreciate the input, as this is another thing I will be aware of, when looking for an AVR.
For the room modes, then yes, I'm aware. I'm hoping I can fix most dips with subwoofer placement, I have REW and an UMIK microphone to help me hunt the optimal placement, and then I will go from there. I do have the option to create bass traps, should that be necessary.

@Roland68 Great, even more AVR's I can look for. I've set up an automatic search on the biggest local secondhand trading site, so I think I'll find something suiting soon.


I'm hugely surprised by how fast you guys respond, and the quality of responses as well :) Once again, thank you all!
 
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tifune

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Hi all :)

I've been lurking around for a while, and thought it was finally time to make my first post here.

Short introduction, feel free to skip ahead, as this contains no relevant information about my actual question:
I've been enjoying music through stereo setups for a few decades now, and have started to enjoy "good" sound over loud sound in the last 10-12 years. I'm fascinated by the effects of room acoustics and how it affects the perceived sound, and actually did lots of experiments with room acoustics years ago, ending up running a small local acoustic consultant business, for a while. Today, I'm very fortunate to be working in the HiFi industry, at a pretty well known brand, so I'm very lucky to have access to some good "sound reproductive systems" :)
Enough about me, let's get into what this thread is really about:

The question:
I would like to "upgrade" one of my dedicated 2.0 setups to have the option to function as a "home theater", as the whole household likes to watch a good movie.
How could I integrate this in a relatively cheap way? Is it worth going for a 7 channel system, over a 5 channel, when just starting out? Any specific features that I should ensure the system has?
I would like a system that starts out pretty cheap, and can be expanded on, if we end up using this feature a lot.
I've been looking at older secondhand surround receivers, but it is quite a jungle for me, and I have no idea which brands/models offers decent quality for the money. A solution that runs off my PC could also be an option, as my workstation is located not too far from the listening space.
I have speakers and projector covered, so my question goes on what/how to handle the decoding of the surround signal. I also have access to stereo power amplifiers, if that can be of any help.

So, as you can probably tell, I'm very "green" when it comes to surround solutions, and would love some inputs on what could make sense to look into, for a decent quality, but still well priced solution.
All inputs are very welcome :)

(Note: I know quite a few of our customers are active in this forum, and should you recognize me, please respect that I have joined this forum for my own personal interest, not to represent the company I work for)

What speakers do you already have? Budget? Existing room treatment? Size of room and listening distance? Real estate for a center channel?
 

WinWiz

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I've been using this configuration for almost 25 years, with different devices of course.
For example, you can look for a used Yamaha RX-V779 / 781 or RX-A 850 / 860 / 870 / 880. The newer devices are often not as well equipped.
My previous 5.1 system included a Yamaha rx-v667. A fine receiver at a fair price with multi channel in/outputs. It served me without any problem for many years. Compared to my new denon x3700h it also ran cool. But avr's gets outdated pretty quickly because of new surround formats -like atmos...

Regarding lfe channel, I believe most, if not all, avr's have bass management options. General consensus seems to suggest always to select the "small speaker option", (even for physically large floorstanding speakers) This will reroute low frequencies to the sub. So you actually don't need fullrange speakers in a surround system.
A decent sub typically handles low frequency content a lot better than fullrange speakers do. Low frequencies are omni directional so let the sub handle what it was made for and free the low frequency burden from avr and speakers.
I'm also pretty sure dolbys specs for height speakers doesn't say fullrange but something like [email protected]
 

Vacceo

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Sorry about the slow response from me, but I'm on vacation right now, and day trips with my family takes up a lot of my time at the moment.

@DMill I didn't notice that the X3600 had been tested as well, looks like a great starting point, and I will start looking for one :)

@Vacceo
Atmos it is then! I will dig deeper into how it works over the next few days, as it seems like there is more to it, than just simple channels. I would never have thought more about it, if you hadn't mentioned it.
Furthermore, I've convinced my GF that we need to remove two of the walls in my listening space, so it works better for movie watching purposes. I expect to start this later this week, and I can do almost whatever I like with this space, so plenty of options for optimization.
We do want at least three seats, and will figure out later if I'm going with 1+2 or just all 3 in one row.
You are getting me all pumped about the height speakers, can't wait to try it out. I have enough speakers to do at least one set of height speakers from start, and sourcing another set of smaller speakers should be quite easy/cheap, at least for a starter set.
I'll match the front speakers and the center speaker, it shouldn't be an issue, so I should be all set here as well.
You are absolutely right about the bass being the most difficult aspect of room acoustics to get correctly. Luckily, my room is pretty decent here, and for the setups I've run so far, the bass response has been decent, even without Room EQ, but I'll see how the subwoofer will change this, and if a dual subwoofer is needed, down the line. The one I have does not produce super deep bass, as DVDdoug also points out, so I'm hoping it won't excite the room modes too much. Time will tell. It's also just an 15", I remembered it as an 18", and I haven't used in a long time.
It sounds like all the mainstream Room EQ systems will do at least "okay", so I won't let that limit the choice of AVR. Dirac is something I have experience with already, but as you say, it's not available in the AVR's I'm most likely to purchase at this point.
I was aware that using my PC would not be as straightforward as using an AVR, but I did think this was more widely used. Having googled it a bit, it does not seem like it is a very popular choice, and the output boards needed are all very difficult to purchase at the moment, so I'll bury that idea for now. I just liked the idea of using good power amps, to overcome the power issues that I see many AVR's have.

@DVDdoug
Great inputs as well :)
I think I'll jump straight into 7 channels, now that I have the speakers, and I will do a complete re-design of the listening room. It will be much easier to mount all the cables nicely, when the room is empty, and I can make cable trays for it all.
Regarding AVR, my aim is now to get a good second hand AVR with Atmos and at least 9 channels of processing and I would prefer pre-outs for the channels, so I can use my own power amplifiers, should I want to.
You are spot on with the subwoofer! It is tuned for exactly 40Hz (40-250Hz), but hopefully I can push it a bit lower. It's an active subwoofer, with a 250W/500W amplifier, so it should have some headroom to work with.
My main speakers are rated at 25 - 40.000 Hz +/- 1.5dB, so hopefully they can take care of the bass in the "regular" channels, and then the subwoofer can be connected to the LFE channel. The main speakers do cut off the lowest frequencies, once you turn up the volume, but hopefully they will still provide decent bass at moderate volume. Do you think such a setup would be okay, or do you see any issues here? I had no idea about the LFE channel, so I really appreciate the input, as this is another thing I will be aware of, when looking for an AVR.
For the room modes, then yes, I'm aware. I'm hoping I can fix most dips with subwoofer placement, I have REW and an UMIK microphone to help me hunt the optimal placement, and then I will go from there. I do have the option to create bass traps, should that be necessary.

@Roland68 Great, even more AVR's I can look for. I've set up an automatic search on the biggest local secondhand trading site, so I think I'll find something suiting soon.


I'm hugely surprised by how fast you guys respond, and the quality of responses as well :) Once again, thank you all!
Purists may dissagree, but I actually do like how Atmos upmixes stereo music. Sure, the fact that most of what I listen to is Death Metal and Black Metal helps because by design, it is highly distorted music. The good thing about a competent AVR is that you can just use it in stereo like any other system. Play with it and have fun. :D

BTW, the latest iteration of Audyssey (200 bucks, though!) allows you to use REW and translate it to Audyssey so you can use it on the AVR. That, so far, is only avalible for Denon and Marantz.
 
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Mr. L

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It's been a busy day today, as my GF helped me get the listening room emptied out, removed the old carpet, knocked down a couple of walls, and now we are ready to start building up the room again. The overall shape is now better for sound, and I'm sure I'll have an easier time controlling the sound in there. Better yet, I can place everything as I want now, and mount all the cables nicely now.
It will be awhile before the room is ready, and even then it will still take some time before the system will be ready. I just wanted to show you guys that the project has started now :)

293927910_438425011490143_3087277218948666162_n.jpg

I am considering making a "Work in progress" type of thread for this project, but I don't think this forum has such a sub-forum?

@tifune I have a few options for fronts, but these are the ones I'm planning on using: https://buchardtaudio.com/collections/active-speakers/products/a500
You can see the room above, the total space is around 49 m2.
Budget is low, as I want to start out with as little expense as possible, and then build upon the system, if it gets a lot of use. I have speakers ready for the project, my main concern is the AVR/processor and center channel. But with help from this thread, I have a good idea of my options, but you input is also very welcome, of course. :)
 

Hayabusa

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I had a room once with such 45 degrees walls and can confirm it has very positive effect of reducing room modes.
 

tifune

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https://buchardtaudio.com/collections/active-speakers/products/a500

Budget is low, as I want to start out with as little expense as possible, and then build upon the system, if it gets a lot of use.

"Budget is low" + Buchardt actives :)

I understand, it's all relative and spend your $ where you spend your time

I actually would have done A700 front, A500 surrounds, S-series for heights but they don't make a viable horizontal center IMO. Buchardt vertical directivity is even more narrow than the usual 2/3-way, IIRC, so turning an A500 on its side would likely be less than ideal for a large sweet spot. If you have the means of using a 700 or 500 upright, then I'm sure it would be great!

For that situation, I'd look at a Neumann KH310 as center. They list at $2500 but can be had for $1600 used, or around $1900 refurb w/ warranty. With decent sub integration, it'll keep pace with a Buchardt. If the asymmetry bothers you, or you have kids, the optional grille is around $180 but that speaker will last 10 years or more so don't fret. Cost-no-object, next step up would be Genelec 8351B, 8361A or Revel c426Be.

FWIW, I just "upgraded" from 310 to c426Be and I kind of want my $ back :). But, in spite of it's size it matches the rest of my Be's and doesn't look like something from a TV studio so the higher WAF score paid for itself.

As I hinted earlier, *for me* Auro3D is a requirement. Which, sadly, means front heights & a 4700 (minimum) are also a requirement. Auro2D isn't nearly as good for whatever reason, and Dolby upmixing is mediocre unless your surrounds are perfectly placed. Even then, the only reason I'd choose Dolby would be to use front wides but most people don't have those so it's largely irrelevant.

I don't know anything about streaming devices, I've been HTPC-only my whole life, but if they're capable of decoding & outputting Atmos, DTS, etc to your platin hub I wouldn't bother with an AVR on day 1. I'm also not sure if Platin has an analog out for non-Buchardt center. I believe Buchardt also can import REW filters which is often better than Audyssey

That may be more confusing than helpful, sorry. Multichannel market is such a mess - Auro, Atmos, Dolby variants, active (better speakers, but ground hum) vs passive (generally: higher WAF, less performance per $), WiSA solves ground hum but latency, etc. Most 2ch advice still holds: start with your speakers, get the room dialed in, work backwards from there.
 

Vacceo

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It's been a busy day today, as my GF helped me get the listening room emptied out, removed the old carpet, knocked down a couple of walls, and now we are ready to start building up the room again. The overall shape is now better for sound, and I'm sure I'll have an easier time controlling the sound in there. Better yet, I can place everything as I want now, and mount all the cables nicely now.
It will be awhile before the room is ready, and even then it will still take some time before the system will be ready. I just wanted to show you guys that the project has started now :)

View attachment 219209
I am considering making a "Work in progress" type of thread for this project, but I don't think this forum has such a sub-forum?

@tifune I have a few options for fronts, but these are the ones I'm planning on using: https://buchardtaudio.com/collections/active-speakers/products/a500
You can see the room above, the total space is around 49 m2.
Budget is low, as I want to start out with as little expense as possible, and then build upon the system, if it gets a lot of use. I have speakers ready for the project, my main concern is the AVR/processor and center channel. But with help from this thread, I have a good idea of my options, but you input is also very welcome, of course. :)
To be honest, I'm jelous. I'd add a desk behind the couch and use the space as office; because the sound can get so damn good that writing papers while listening to music there can make the task an absolute joy.
 
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Mr. L

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@tifune He he, I see that was poorly worded by me, and what I meant was that my budget for going from the A500's stereo, to a surround setup, is low. So I would like to keep the upgrade price low, as I'm still not sure how much we are going to end up using the surround system, and will upgrade upon it over time, if it gets a lot of use.
The plan at this point is either to use a third A500 or a S400 SE/S400 MKII as a center speaker, standing upright. I have other brand speakers lying around, that can be used for surrounds and Atmos heights, if I get to that.
I plan on using my PC as the player, running an HDMI cable from it, to the receiver.

Your feedback is great though, and very useful, so I have an idea what to aim for in upgrades, which makes it easier to find a good deal on a receiver that has good upgrade options. It wont be a 4700x, sadly, as that one is $2000 US here, so that is something to aim for in a future upgrade.
I will have to look more into the Auro 3D vs 2D, as this is not something I have paid much attention to, this far.
The Platin hub does not have any outputs at all, only the WiSA connection, the rest are inputs. My plan is to run the AVR Pre-outs into the A500's XLR input, and completely bypass the Platin hub when listening in surround. Then only use the Platin hub for stereo listening.
Sadly, you cannot load REW filters into the Platin hub, it only supports Buchards own Room Correction system.

@Vacceo
I'm also very fortunate to be able to do this, and I'm enjoying the process :) We started patching it all up today, and are trying out color samples in the room now. Ceiling and walls should be painted tomorrow, and then the floor at the end.
Right behind the spot where the picture was taken, there is a 9 m2 space, where I have my working space setup, with a dedicated stereo system, just for this space. So I dont have the need to add the working space into the surround setup, but my main stereo setup needs to be a part of the surround setup.
 
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