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Kindly advise on this dolby atmos setup & seating layout for newbie

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Thread Starter #21
@sweetchaos

Ok more problems...

That HDRADIO seller don't have either the a170 or the a180 in stock. They only have the a190, which I think are too big and excessive for my room. They are also almost twice as expensive as the a170. I can get the a170 from another seller but I'm worried about getting separate parts from different sellers. To me, one big advantage of getting everything from one single seller is they will take care of the setup process including drilling, wiring, calibrating etc. for the whole system.

I'm also thinking maybe I should go for the a130 instead of the a170 for the front left and right speakers? Given the small space of mine, maybe that makes more sense? That way I can save more money and get all parts from one seller.
 

sweetchaos

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#22
Using tower speakers will give you deeper low frequency extension and lower distortion than equivalent bookshelf speakers.
Using A130's as Left-Right will be fine, with a sub.

Amir showed that even at high playback level of 96dB (seen on the right chart), there's basically very little distortion in the bookshelves, which is a sign of a well-designed speaker.
At high playback (96dB), you can see that distortion rises significantly below around 90hz.
This tells you to offload your bookshelves to a subwoofer for best performance, around that frequency.
Set the bookshelves as "Small" (not full-range speakers) in Denon AVR's settings, with the crossover at 80hz.
You can try setting the crossover a little bit higher...maybe 100hz, to offload more of the speakers to the sub, and give it a try to see if that further improves the experience.
1612244890115.png


You won't be missing much by using A130's [with SVS sub(s)] vs tower A170/A180/A190's.
So yes, I would order A130's without question.
 

sweetchaos

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#23
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Thread Starter #24
Using tower speakers will give you deeper low frequency extension and lower distortion than equivalent bookshelf speakers.
Using A130's as Left-Right will be fine, with a sub.

Amir showed that even at high playback level of 96dB (seen on the right chart), there's basically very little distortion in the bookshelves, which is a sign of a well-designed speaker.
At high playback (96dB), you can see that distortion rises significantly below around 90hz.
This tells you to offload your bookshelves to a subwoofer for best performance, around that frequency.
Set the bookshelves as "Small" (not full-range speakers) in Denon AVR's settings, with the crossover at 80hz.
You can try setting the crossover a little bit higher...maybe 100hz, to offload more of the speakers to the sub, and give it a try to see if that further improves the experience.
View attachment 110018

You won't be missing much by using A130's [with SVS sub(s)] vs tower A170/A180/A190's.
So yes, I would order A130's without question.
About the sub... I don't think I told you I live in an apartment. I'm not sure how thick or how soundproofing the walls and the floors are. When someone above my apartment move the furnitures I can hear them.
Reading many horror stories on the net, I'm afraid the sub may annoy the neighbor below, above and next to me.
SVS do sell this isolation feet separately for their subwoofers: https://www.amazon.com/SVS-SoundPath-Subwoofer-Isolation-System/dp/B00NCSQ5GK. I can't find this sold anywhere locally (not surprising); buying from amazon usa and get it shipped here is not gonna be cheap. Sigh.
 
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Benedium

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#25
About the sub... I don't think I told you I live in an apartment. I'm not sure how thick or how soundproofing the walls and the floors are. When someone above my apartment move the furnitures I can hear them.
Reading many horror stories on the net, I'm afraid the sub may annoy the neighbor below, above and next to me.
SVS do sell this isolation feet separately for their subwoofers: https://www.amazon.com/SVS-SoundPath-Subwoofer-Isolation-System/dp/B00NCSQ5GK. I can't find this sold anywhere locally (not surprising); buying from amazon usa and get it shipped here is not gonna be cheap. Sigh.
I live in an apartment as well. I have used both the stock feet and the upgrade isolation feet. I went back to stock feet because I don't like how the sub became wobbly after especially because they are not adjustable i think.

The stock feet are already conical in shape like spikes but made of rubber. Sometimes some products have free shipping for amazon prime members.

Just checked amazon singapore and the price is about US$48 with free shipping from an international seller. Maybe US?

I would try without the upgrade feet first though. I think maybe the doors and windows vibrate more than the walls and certainly more than the ground. And if I wanted to buy upgrade feet, I might prefer something from isoacoustics. Maybe more adjustable.
 
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Thread Starter #26
I live in an apartment as well. I have used both the stock feet and the upgrade isolation feet. I went back to stock feet because I don't like how the sub became wobbly after especially because they are not adjustable i think.

The stock feet are already conical in shape like spikes but made of rubber. Sometimes some products have free shipping for amazon prime members.

Just checked amazon singapore and the price is about US$48 with free shipping from an international seller. Maybe US?

I would try without the upgrade feet first though. I think maybe the doors and windows vibrate more than the walls and certainly more than the ground. And if I wanted to buy upgrade feet, I might prefer something from isoacoustics. Maybe more adjustable.
Actually the one from isoacoustics is available in where I live: https://hypershop.vn/products/isoacoustics-iso-l8r200sub-cai

The svs one on amazon singapore is not shipped to my place.

I read stories and it seems neighbors from downstairs usually complain the most about the sub. I guess it's because the sub is on the floor? You don't get any complains?
 

Benedium

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#27
Actually the one from isoacoustics is available in where I live: https://hypershop.vn/products/isoacoustics-iso-l8r200sub-cai

I read stories and it seems neighbors from downstairs usually complain the most about the sub. I guess it's because the sub is on the floor?
I'm not sure. I have received zero complaints from neighbours. I think I've heard my upstairs neighbour's subwoofer before. Used to think it's some guy walking. It's just soft thuds. Not disturbing at all. The svs stock feet only have about 3mm of contact with ground per feet. I seriously don't think the stock feet are the problem but I'm no scientist heheh. Anyway these days I am not gonna buy such stuff when u can make your own using cheap materials. Just put some rubber pads below the stock feet if u have to.
 

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#28
SVS started to include the Isolation Feet with their subs...but I forget with which models...so double check that.

Also, take a look at this thread:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...tion-feet-worsened-speaker-performance.16439/
Which talks about Isolation Feet, spikes, and cork pads.
The charts on post #6 really shows you a good picture.
Post #7 is the best explanation I've read about this issue.

I suggest you experiment just like he did.
Put the a phone next to the sub, with accelerometer app running on the phone.
Measure vibrations detected on the phone, tweak a variable, measure, etc.

Of course, that won't get rid of all the low frequency transfer to your neighbors... since that's a combination of a) direct contact (subwoofer to the floor) and b) through the air (simply due to low frequency waves travelling through the air).

If you don't de-couple the subs from the floor (with isolation feet, corks, etc), then you're causing unnecessary energy to be transferred to your neighbors.
 
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Benedium

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#29
Actually the one from isoacoustics is available in where I live: https://hypershop.vn/products/isoacoustics-iso-l8r200sub-cai

The svs one on amazon singapore is not shipped to my place.

I read stories and it seems neighbors from downstairs usually complain the most about the sub. I guess it's because the sub is on the floor? You don't get any complains?
The svs pb1000 is bigger than and different shape from most other subwoofers. I think the isoacoustics subwoofer stand u linked above is not suitable. They may have other more suitable ones.
 
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Thread Starter #30
@sweetchaos @Benedium

I just came back from demoing at the aforementioned seller's store.

Such a waste of time really. I wanted to test how the system would sound in a room like mine, but the demo room there was significantly bigger than my room, so everything was different. I didn't even know whether they strictly followed the guideline in speakers placement or conducted any calibration using Audyssey. 2 things that looked off to me:
- the center speaker was placed on the floor, below ear level
- both 4 overhead speakers were in front of the couch where I was supposed to sit (so I ended up sitting on the ground, in the middle of those overhead speakers)

Anyway I brought some movies and demo files with me and started playing those on the system. After a few minutes, I noticed something missing so I asked the technicians there to play some test tones to check whether all the speakers were working correctly. Turned out the overhead speakers were not! It took them ages to try to figure out how to get that working; at the end, I had to pull out a youtube tutorial on my phone and enabled those speakers myself (simply by changing the speakers layout in the denon avr settings). Very disappointed at the level of service and competence there.

With all the speakers working, back to testing. After 1-2 hours, my impression was... pretty underwhelming. Compared to my headphone, sure the speakers sounded bigger with more expansive soundstage (especially the front channel) and more explosive bass (the sub there was not even the svs pb-1000, but the jbl a120p), but I felt it also sounded kinda muddy (too much midbass maybe?), the details were lacking (during busy scenes where a lot of things were going on) and the directionality was off (e.g. in Blade Runner 2049, timestamp 14:47, Joi's voice was supposed to come from between the front right speaker and surround right speaker, but here it came straight from the front right speaker. Could you guys check? WIll a 7.1 setup fair better than the 5.1 setup in this case? Or in John Wick 2014, timestamp 1:05:04, heavy shootout scene, the sound of bullets whizzing through air or ricocheting off vehicles - I can hear those, but I can't tell which direction they came from), and the overhead speakers seemed underutilized (except certain scenes like in A Quiet Place, time stamp 47:50, the sound of the monster descending from the floor above was clearly heard coming from the overhead speakers). Overall, it may felt like a bubble of sound, but the sense of direction inside that bubble is very blurry i.e. not really object-based.

What do you guys think? Is this attributed to the fact that no proper calibration was done, the speakers placement was not ideal, the room was not perfect (still better than my room though; I did see some sophisticated acoustics panels on the wall)? I would hate investing thousands of dollars in such setup and feeling this way at the end.
 
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Benedium

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#31
@sweetchaos @Benedium

I just came back from demoing at the aforementioned seller's store.

Such a waste of time really. I wanted to test how the system would sound in a room like mine, but the demo room there was significantly bigger than my room, so everything was different. I didn't even know whether they strictly followed the guideline in speakers placement or conducted any calibration using Audyssey. 2 things that looked off to me:
- the center speaker was placed on the floor, below ear level
- both 4 overhead speakers were in front of the couch where I was supposed to sit (so I ended up sitting on the ground, in the middle of those overhead speakers)

Anyway I brought some movies and demo files with me and started playing those on the system. After a few minutes, I noticed something missing so I asked the technicians there to play some test tones to check whether all the speakers were working correctly. Turned out the overhead speakers were not! It took them ages to try to figure out how to get that working; at the end, I had to pull out a youtube tutorial on my phone and enabled those speakers myself (simply by changing the speakers layout in the denon avr settings). Very disappointed at the level of service and competence there.

With all the speakers working, back to testing. After 1-2 hours, my impression was... pretty underwhelming. Compared to my headphone, sure the speakers sounded bigger with more expansive soundstage (especially the front channel) and more explosive bass (the sub there was not even the svs pb-1000, but the jbl a120p), but I felt it also sounded kinda muddy (too much midbass maybe?), the details were lacking (during busy scenes where a lot of things were going on) and the directionality was off (e.g. in Blade Runner 2049, timestamp 14:47, Joi's voice was supposed to come from between the front right speaker and surround right speaker, but here it came straight from the front right speaker. Could you guys check? WIll a 7.1 setup fair better than the 5.1 setup in this case? Or in John Wick 2014, timestamp 1:05:04, heavy shootout scene, the sound of bullets whizzing through air or ricocheting off vehicles - I can hear those, but I can't tell which direction they came from), and the overhead speakers seemed underutilized (except certain scenes like in A Quiet Place, time stamp 47:50, the sound of the monster descending from the floor above was clearly heard coming from the overhead speakers). Overall, it may felt like a bubble of sound, but the sense of direction inside that bubble is very blurry i.e. not really object-based.

What do you guys think? Is this attributed to the fact that no proper calibration was done, the speakers placement was not ideal, the room was not perfect (still better than my room though; I did see some sophisticated acoustics panels on the wall)? I would hate investing thousands of dollars in such setup and feeling this way at the end.
Dude, let me assure u, I've been accompanying people on my local forum to shops to audition speakers costing from $200 to $5000. And there is no way to tell how the speakers will sound in your own home after some setting up. The stuff that sounds good to a beginner or untrained ear for the first few minutes will end up sounding bad or problematic in the long run.

When people like amirm test speakers and measures speakers his findings will definitely be more reliable than yours or mine. Before audioscience trended, most people would have to buy and try at least 3 different speakers over a span of years before their ears and mind become tuned in to what a balanced and accurate speaker sounds like.

Then there is also the room, speaker placement and equipment settings you need to learn to make adjustments to. It's a pretty steep learning curve for me.

So you have to ask yourself, who should you trust? A more neutral, more unbiased, properly trained and seriously experienced professional like amirm, or sales and marketing people or even yourself?
 
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sweetchaos

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#32
There a lot to digest here.

First, watch this video using your headphones to understand what happens when you disconnect all the speakers and just play Dolby Atmos speakers.
Demo of "Blade Runner"

Then, watch this video using your headphones to understand what happens when you disconnect left-center-right and subwoofer, but keeping Atmos, Surround and Rear-Surrounds on.
Demo of "Ready Player One"

I think this will give you a realistic expectation of those speakers, since most people have no clue how much sound is actually mixed into those channels.

Thoughts:
1. Whoever set that system didn't even do a proper AVR calibration, which means who knows if the speakers were time-aligned to each other or not? That would throw your experience out of sync, and your brain will be confused at the end. I'm guessing its what's causing your whole experience to be negative.
2. Good job catching that some speakers weren't even playing...Wow!
3. Good job realizing that center channel on the ground. Wow!
4. Good job realizing that Atmos speakers should be positioned in front and to the back of you, otherwise you're missing the full panning effect that happens in Atmos.
5. I think your perceived subwoofer experience is two fold. #1 the subs is not that capable, so I would get them to put more capable subwoofer, if possible. #2 I doubt that the room correction system that they ran?, corrected the room modes (aka frequency boosts and nulls). Which means what you heard was just boomy bass, without any correction applied. The article I linked in post #23 will explain how to fix this with Audyssey XT32's DRC.
6. Speaker placement and non-ideal room can be corrected with a proper calibration from your AVR, which time-aligns all the sound coming to your ears.
7. If the sales people cannot guarantee that Audyssey XT32 run for your sitting area, you can do so yourself in store. You'll just position the supplied Denon's microphone at your listening position. Perhaps use books to position it to the ear level. Then run the series of test sweeps. It will take less than 5 min to finish and you'll be guaranteed a better experience.

I didn't see it mentioned, I'm guessing all speakers were from JBL Stage A line?
 

sweetchaos

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#33
Forgot to mention this...

I have a 4 year Yamaha AVR, and everytime I ran the automatic DRC (which time aligns all speakers, sub, etc), the algorithm automatically sets all of my 5 surround speakers to be "Full-Range". I have no idea why it does this, since I have a capable subwoofer, which I'm using to offload frequencies below 80hz to. So after the calibration (where it does the woop, sweep, whoosh...sounds), I have to manually set each speaker to "Small" (not full-range), and set the cross-over at 80hz (to offload them to my HSU sub). The system knows that's what I'm using...but after each calibration, it resets it back to "full-range"....*sigh*

So, if you're looking at the Denon's settings, make sure that the speakers are actually set to "Small", with 80hz (typically) crossover to the sub.
 
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Thread Starter #34
There a lot to digest here.

First, watch this video using your headphones to understand what happens when you disconnect all the speakers and just play Dolby Atmos speakers.
Demo of "Blade Runner"

Then, watch this video using your headphones to understand what happens when you disconnect left-center-right and subwoofer, but keeping Atmos, Surround and Rear-Surrounds on.
Demo of "Ready Player One"

I think this will give you a realistic expectation of those speakers, since most people have no clue how much sound is actually mixed into those channels.
Thanks. I'll watch them later. My guess is very little data is assigned to atmos channels.

Thoughts:
1. Whoever set that system didn't even do a proper AVR calibration, which means who knows if the speakers were time-aligned to each other or not? That would throw your experience out of sync, and your brain will be confused at the end. I'm guessing its what's causing your whole experience to be negative.
Yeah I doubt they cared enough to do any calibration since they did not notice the overhead speakers were not working to begin with. When I played the Amaze demo from Dolby, there was a part where someone ran in a circle around the listener, so I expected the sound to move 360 degree. It did but I had a feeling that it was not very smooth (on my left and right side where there were no speakers to fill in the space especially), so maybe front speakers and surround speakers were not working in tandem.

2. Good job catching that some speakers weren't even playing...Wow!
The moment the sound of airplane flying overhead and rain pouring down from above was on ear level I knew something was wrong. I tested all the demos and films with clear timestamps before going there so I knew what to expect. Have to come prepared every time otherwise those "technicians" there will fool you. That's just a sad reality.

3. Good job realizing that center channel on the ground. Wow!
Isn't it a common knowledge that all the speakers on the ground should be on listener's ear level? That said, I doubt I can put the center speaker in my room on ear level anyway since the tv will block it.

4. Good job realizing that Atmos speakers should be positioned in front and to the back of you, otherwise you're missing the full panning effect that happens in Atmos.
Yesterday in the demo room, even though I switched my seat to between those speakers instead of behind, I felt that those front and back atmos speakers were positioned too close to each other, so that still might diminish the full panning effect somehow. The angles definitely did not follow Dolby guidelines. Sigh...

5. I think your perceived subwoofer experience is two fold. #1 the subs is not that capable, so I would get them to put more capable subwoofer, if possible. #2 I doubt that the room correction system that they ran?, corrected the room modes (aka frequency boosts and nulls). Which means what you heard was just boomy bass, without any correction applied. The article I linked in post #23 will explain how to fix this with Audyssey XT32's DRC.
The sound of bombing on the beach scene in the beginning of Dunkirk was pretty good, so sub-bass seemed present. Mid-bass, however, seems to bleed into everything else so it felt a bit muddy overall. Either that or there was a lot of echoing going around. I'm not sure. I just think the whole thing sounded loud but not very crystal clear.

7. If the sales people cannot guarantee that Audyssey XT32 run for your sitting area, you can do so yourself in store. You'll just position the supplied Denon's microphone at your listening position. Perhaps use books to position it to the ear level. Then run the series of test sweeps. It will take less than 5 min to finish and you'll be guaranteed a better experience.
The service there was terrible. Yesterday I was mostly in the demo room by myself, figuring out the settings and stuff after the technicians there gave up on getting things working like I mentioned. I couldn't even find the supplied microphone. Most of the employees were just busy selling stuff and on the road shipping to customers instead of supporting me, who quite frankly was new to all of this.

I didn't see it mentioned, I'm guessing all speakers were from JBL Stage A line?
Yeah except the overhead atmos speakers which were Polk V60. Other than that, A190's for front, A135c for center and A130's for surround.
 
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Thread Starter #35
Forgot to mention this...

I have a 4 year Yamaha AVR, and everytime I ran the automatic DRC (which time aligns all speakers, sub, etc), the algorithm automatically sets all of my 5 surround speakers to be "Full-Range". I have no idea why it does this, since I have a capable subwoofer, which I'm using to offload frequencies below 80hz to. So after the calibration (where it does the woop, sweep, whoosh...sounds), I have to manually set each speaker to "Small" (not full-range), and set the cross-over at 80hz (to offload them to my HSU sub). The system knows that's what I'm using...but after each calibration, it resets it back to "full-range"....*sigh*

So, if you're looking at the Denon's settings, make sure that the speakers are actually set to "Small", with 80hz (typically) crossover to the sub.
I remember checking the speakers configuration and all speakers were in "Large" mode. I had no idea what that meant and just assumed "Large" meant tower speakers and "Small" meant bookshelf speakers so I leave it at "Large" for the A190's and set it to "Small " for the A130's. I also set it to "Large" for the overhead atmos speakers after hearing little going on up there but that could be a mistake. I didn't even know how to check for the crossover in the sub.
 

Benedium

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#36
I'm wondering if maybe you should spend alot less by just getting the stage a130 all around and a125c (tilted up to point to the head) for center. You can always upgrade to the floorstanders later if you still feel you need to. Huge savings this way right?

Anyone else can comment on the a125c vs a135c?

Also wondering if the jbl stage a120 can somehow be mounted on the ceiling or wall with a bracket and tilted to listener. Might that be better than polk v60?

7.1 would be great but you may not have the optimum space or layout to make the most of that.

As for settings, I've learnt from another member here to reduce levels for surround channel by -2db and finally I can hear my front speakers better. It sounds pretty perfect now heheh.

And Crossovers are under individual speaker settings. The avr's subwoofer setting usually has LPF of LFE at 120hz. You dont have to change that. Subwoofer knobs behind subwoofer should be set to max crossover or LFE so that the avr can handle crossovers instead.

Oh finally, if you are going back to the shop, you can test if each speaker is working by going to denon avr Levels settings under Speaker Manual Setup which will play pink/white noise as you choose any of the speakers.
 
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Thread Starter #37
I'm wondering if maybe you should spend alot less by just getting the stage a130 all around and a125c (tilted up to point to the head) for center. You can always upgrade to the floorstanders later if you still feel you need to. Huge savings this way right?
That's what I'm thinking as well. It's crazy that the svs sub is gonna be more expensive than all 4 a130's combined. If later I find the a130's lacking as front speakers, I can get the a170's and move the front a130's to the side to get 7.1.4 setup.

Also wondering if the jbl stage a120 can somehow be mounted on the ceiling or wall with a bracket and tilted to listener. Might that be better than polk v60?
It's always better for me if I don't have to cut some holes on the ceiling. But I'm not sure if those will sound better and more correctly compared to in-celing speakers. In all the setup videos I watch, when someone put up a bookshelf speaker as overhead atmos speakers, they don't put it on the ceiling but rather on the junction of the wall with the ceiling and tilt it towards the listener. But then it seems that doesn't follow dolby guidelines.

7.1 would be great but you may not have the optimum space or layout to make the most of that.
Looks to me that if I can fit the 5.1 setup inside this small space of mine, I can fit the additional 2 to the side as well, no?
z2310757950532_dabf8c4e61e837b3a092b2d3615c11ab.jpg


As for settings, I've learnt from another member here to reduce levels for surround channel by -2db and finally I can hear my front speakers better. It sounds pretty perfect now heheh.
From yesterday testing, I don't think the front speakers are my problem. Actually, most of the things I heard are from the front speakers. Surround speakers at the back and atmos speakers above are questionable to me.

Oh finally, if you are going back to the shop, you can test if each speaker is working by going to denon avr Levels settings under Speaker Manual Setup which will play pink/white noise as you choose any of the speakers.
[/QUOTE]
I'm not going back there lol. My experience was soured by the poor service yesterday. I did use test tones in the denon settings to test if all the speakers were working properly.
 

Benedium

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#38
That's what I'm thinking as well. It's crazy that the svs sub is gonna be more expensive than all 4 a130's combined. If later I find the a130's lacking as front speakers, I can get the a170's and move the front a130's to the side to get 7.1.4 setup.


It's always better for me if I don't have to cut some holes on the ceiling. But I'm not sure if those will sound better and more correctly compared to in-celing speakers. In all the setup videos I watch, when someone put up a bookshelf speaker as overhead atmos speakers, they don't put it on the ceiling but rather on the junction of the wall with the ceiling and tilt it towards the listener. But then it seems that doesn't follow dolby guidelines.


Looks to me that if I can fit the 5.1 setup inside this small space of mine, I can fit the additional 2 to the side as well, no?
View attachment 110469


From yesterday testing, I don't think the front speakers are my problem. Actually, most of the things I heard are from the front speakers. Surround speakers at the back and atmos speakers above are questionable to me.
Well like we said earlier, everything will sound different in your home compared to the showroom, especially after running room correction and your own bit of EQ.

There's a bit of learning to do sometimes before you are sure of what you need. That is why it may be wise to break up a huge purchase into 2 or 3 stages and just get started soon as possible with the AVR. I guess you already considered this.

Some would try just getting the Left and Right speakers and a subwoofer first. So when you decide you really want the floorstanders just get it and use the a130 for surrounds. No wastage or extra cost for you this way.

Although, guess getting floorstanders also means you don't have to worry about getting speaker stands so maybe that's sort of an advantage. But you can just use tables or racks you already have for a start.

Oh also if you are definitely getting the denon avr, don't forget to purchase the multiEQ Editor app so you can edit the Reference curve and also toggle off/on the midrange compensation with your smartphone. With the app, you can also make multiple copies of the original calibration file, make different changes to each and load them into the avr to test and hear the differences before you decide on the best settings.
 
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Thread Starter #39
Oh also if you are definitely getting the denon avr, don't forget to purchase the multiEQ Editor app so you can edit the Reference curve and also toggle off/on the midrange compensation with your smartphone. With the app, you can also make multiple copies of the original calibration file, make different changes to each and load them into the avr to test and hear the differences before you decide on the best settings.
Is it the same app as the 20-dollar one that Amir mentioned in his Audyssey review?

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/audyssey-room-eq-review.12746/
 
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