Upgrading from 5.1 to 7.1 -- What to add?

JediCowboyJediCowboy Posts: 56
edited September 2002 in Speakers
Damnit! I just get done setting up and enjoying my brand new 5.1 system, but once bitten by the bug 5.1 just isn't enough. I *need* 7.1. It's a disease I tell you! A disease! But a very fun one.

I want to add 2 speakers as my Surround Back channels and am thinking of the RTi38s, but I wanted to get opinions here since all of you were most helpful with my speaker seletion before.

Behind the couch I have about 6' of space. Room configuration won't allow floorstanding, but wall mounted would be perfect. Due to where doors are placed, I think the speakers would be about 6-7' up and 30-45 degrees off the center line through the monitor from the listening position. Regardless, they'd be a bit closer to the center line than the fronts are.

My current configuration is:
Receiver: Denon 3802
Fronts: RTi70 (Biwired)
Center: CSi40 (Biwired)
Surrounds: FXi50 (Set to Dipole)
Both surrounds on 36" speaker stands (Impossible to wall mount)
Subwoofer: PSW650

I was thinkng that two RTi38s would be a good match -- Monopoles for the rear and Dipoles on the side.

The only real question is do you think another set of FXi50s (Setting these to Bipole) would be better?

I can see an advantage to having more sound wrapping around, but how much more of an advantage, really? The sound in the rear of a 7.1 should be directional, shouldn't it? Plus RTi38s would be better for music, wouldn't it? (The primary purpose of the system is home theater)

That's the important question. Rti38s or FXi50s? (Or does anyone have another model suggestion?)

And now to throw a small wrench in the works . . .

The Denon receiver has Surround A, Surround B and Surround Back channels. My current surrounds are connected to surround A and I plan on connecting the new speakers to Surround Back. Do these connection options change anything? Like having a set of RTi38s for Surround Back for Music and a set of FXi50s for Surround B for movies? I'm inclined to think no. I'd probably still want that directional sound on the Back channel, especially for movies. Still this would be good to know to plan my upgrade path.

Thanks for the opinions!
The Force is with Me -- YEEHAW!!!

Denon 3802
Mains -- RTi70s Biwired
Center -- CSi40 Biwired
Surrounds -- FXi50s
Post edited by JediCowboy on

Comments

  • trubluluctrubluluc Posts: 2,067
    edited September 2002
    Jedi-

    You've got a case of upgrade fever.
    Put on some Pink Floyd, take two beers and call back in the morning.

    Seriously dude, there is not alot of 7.1 out there, hell, there is not alot of 6.1 out there yet. And the sound coming from those channels is
    minimal.

    -Luc
    "I'm sure it's better than it sounds."

    Mark Twains' response, when asked what he
    thought of Wagners music.
  • JediCowboyJediCowboy Posts: 56
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by trubluluc
    JSeriously dude, there is not alot of 7.1 out there, hell, there is not alot of 6.1 out there yet. And the sound coming from those channels is minimal.

    Geez! You're missing the whole point!

    When was it ever about utility? :)
    The Force is with Me -- YEEHAW!!!

    Denon 3802
    Mains -- RTi70s Biwired
    Center -- CSi40 Biwired
    Surrounds -- FXi50s
  • mldennisonmldennison Posts: 307
    edited September 2002
    jedi,
    it is my understanding that the rear channels should be directional. therefore i would say go with the 38's. you can connect those the the surround back channel and then the 50's to either the surr A or surr B depending on where they are placed. this would also offer you a choice of which to listen to for music as you can switch one pair or the other off when listening. this way you can tell us if monopoles or dipoles sound better for music surrounds!!
  • bigsexy1bigsexy1 Posts: 557
    edited September 2002
    Go to hometheatermag.com as there is an article about a test they did with a panel of 4 or 5 people about this very subject. You can do a search and find it in the archives. In short, the majority of the panel like bipole/dipoles at both side and rear positions, and if a monopole (or direct radiator) has to be used, put them on the sides. That having either one or two monopole direct radiating speakers in the rear was the least favorable option of the panel out of the four possibilities of combinations (direct sides/dipole rears, all monopoles, all dipoles, or dipole side/monopole rear).

    Here is exactly what the four people in the panel said (notice how 4 out of 4 picked rear dipoles

    Face Off: Surround-Speaker-Configuration Wars: Page 6

    What Do You Think?
    I've always been big on clear, distinct, directional sound. I want to hear exactly where sounds are coming from. Once the terms monopole and dipole were explained to me, I assumed that monopole speakers were for me—they shoot the sound right at you, so you can hear where it's coming from. This is why I was so surprised with the results of this blind test. I consistently preferred configurations that included dipole speakers. Ultimately, I preferred the all-dipole configuration; however, having at least one set of dipoles (either on the sides or in the back) still filled in the gaps and made me feel like I was a part of the action.
    When it came down to picking between one surround back speaker or two, I definitely preferred two. I still want distinct, directional sound, though. With the rear monopoles, sounds that I thought should be directly behind me often seemed to come from one side. I was pleasantly surprised to find that using dipole speakers in the rear eliminated this problem.

    Of course, the sound is also affected by the listener's location. I happened to be sitting in the exact middle of the room, and the room was a perfect rectangle with no open doorways or windows. (These people at HT take their listening seriously.) From this location, I definitely preferred all dipoles with a dual-rear-speaker configuration. However, I also thought the sound was good with monopoles on the sides, as long as dual dipoles were used in the rear.—Brandon Dahl

    I showed up at the studio on a sunny Saturday afternoon, ready to sacrifice my day to the cause of better sound. After eating a Carl's Jr. Superstar and fries (Mike's bribe to get us there), I was ready to sit back and let my ears do the work. We compared the common 5.1 speaker setup with 6.1- and 7.1-channel configurations and then compared both dipole and monopole versions of those arrangements.

    Unlike the other listeners, I liked having just one speaker for the back channel, although I did like the sound of the dipole more than that of the monopole. With two speakers in the back, there was almost too much going on. Sound seemed to bounce around. In a room larger than the one I was digesting in (which was 21 feet by 15 feet), two speakers may be necessary. But in a room the size of HT's listening room (or smaller), one speaker was just fine. With one dipole, I thought the sound was clearer, but not to the point of being distractingly obvious. It seemed to add a more even flow when sounds traveled from the right surround speaker to the left. I'd say that you can't really go wrong either way. Two surround back speakers are better than none, but, in my opinion, one was simply more satisfying.—John Martorano

    Apparently, we didn't have any die-hard Quadraphonic fans on our listening panel. Whenever I espouse the benefits of dipole speakers for surround sound, I'm usually yelled at by some older (or, shall I say, more chronologically experienced) gentleman who says that Quad was the best. These folks always insist, sometimes violently, that surround systems should, like old Quad systems, consist of five identical full-range loudspeakers. These people seem to forget that five full-range speakers are impractical for the vast majority of users and that Quad was, like 8-track, a colossal failure.

    That being said and having witnessed the outcome of our direct-versus-diffuse, single-versus-dual Surround EX speaker configuration Face Off (by far the most wordy Face Off title ever), I can continue to recommend dipole speakers for the majority of installations. Sure, for the handful of action movies that utilize discrete effects for a small portion of the film, monopole speakers might be better. However, to me, the benefits these speakers may add to those scenes don't outweigh the distractions they cause with other, more-ambient sounds. Dipoles, on the other hand, only soften the more-discrete effects while enhancing the majority of diffuse sounds. Besides, since the people who like the bizarre or, as Jason put it, "creative" mixing of some 5.1 music CDs are likely the same people who liked Quad stereos, I don't care if they complain. They were going to anyway, assuming they even made it past the first paragraph. For the rest of us, dipoles will offer enveloping sound that won't distract from the action onscreen. —Mike Wood

    Of the various surround setups we listened to, I preferred the dual rear Surround EX speakers, as opposed to the single one. I liked the fuller, more-enveloping sound. Even though the EX channel is a decoded mono channel, the two rear speakers seemed to create a rear stereo effect.

    In the dual-rear-surround speaker configuration, I preferred monopole side surrounds with dual dipoles in back. This seemed to offer the best of both worlds on software that has discretely placed surround information and software that has diffused ambient surround sounds. However, the all-dipole surround system came in a very close second and seemed to do almost as good on making the discrete/localized information just as aggressive and exciting. More tests with other EX software might be helpful.

    I preferred monopoles for the multichannel music software that was "creatively" mixed with a different instrument in each channel and dipoles for the traditional "ambient/audience/ reverb" surrounds.

    All things considered, I'd go with the monopole side surrounds and dual dipole back surrounds, as this setup offers more flexibility. And, if you can switch your speakers like the M&Ks, all the better.—Jason Koehler
  • bigsexy1bigsexy1 Posts: 557
    edited September 2002
    P.S.-since you do have a denon 3802 and can hook up 2 different pairs of back surround speakers and then simply swith between them, why not also get a pair of rti38s to put on stands at ear level in the back corners for futire 5.1 music only sources such as DVD audio/SACD?
  • Larry ChaninLarry Chanin Posts: 601
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by JediCowboy


    Behind the couch I have about 6' of space. Room configuration won't allow floorstanding, but wall mounted would be perfect. Due to where doors are placed, I think the speakers would be about 6-7' up and 30-45 degrees off the center line through the monitor from the listening position. Regardless, they'd be a bit closer to the center line than the fronts are.


    I can see an advantage to having more sound wrapping around, but how much more of an advantage, really? The sound in the rear of a 7.1 should be directional, shouldn't it? Plus RTi38s would be better for music, wouldn't it? (The primary purpose of the system is home theater)


    Hi Jedi:

    I have a 7.1 configuration very similar to what you describe and I am very satisfied with the arrangement. Click on my signature at the bottom of this posting if you are interested in the details.

    Personally I think the surround back speaker should be direct radiating for movies and I agree it would be better for music too.

    However, for an excellent, unbiased discussion of the pros and cons of monopoles versus dipoles, might I suggest you read Philip Brandes' posting in this thread:

    The importance of dipole side surrounds in 7.1 and 5.1

    Larry
  • JediCowboyJediCowboy Posts: 56
    edited September 2002
    Larry and Bigsexy1,

    Thank you! Those links were a great help. I found the Brandes post about 20 minutes ago and the other article gave me a few ideas too.

    I think I'll get the RTi38s and try them out in both the side and rear positions. From the article bigsexy1 pointed out, maybe putting the dipoles in the back is the way to go, somehting I hadn't considered, but I bet I'll settle on putting the RTi38s in the rear because of music.

    Best thing to do will be to experiment once I get them.


    After seeing Larry's website, He's my new Hero. :)
    The Force is with Me -- YEEHAW!!!

    Denon 3802
    Mains -- RTi70s Biwired
    Center -- CSi40 Biwired
    Surrounds -- FXi50s
  • Larry ChaninLarry Chanin Posts: 601
    edited September 2002
    Hi Jedi:

    Thanks.

    As Mr. Brandes points out movies have both directional sounds and ambience effects. Monopoles are better at the former, and dipoles are better at the later. In a 5.1 configuration one has to deal with greater compromises because regardless of which type of speaker design we select the side surrounds must attempt to effectively deliver both types of sound. However, in a 7.1 configuration, we have less of a compromise because we can select dipoles on the sides to better handle ambience effects and monopoles in the rear to better handle direct sounds (and multi-channel music).

    In addition, I believe hard pans of direct sounds from front to rear and visa versa, such as flyovers, etc., can be more effectively achieved moving between the direct radiating front speaker array to direct radiating surround back speakers.

    Larry
  • brettw22brettw22 Posts: 7,700
    edited September 2002
    Heya Jedi.........

    I don't know what model you're lookin at with regard to your rear surround bi/dipoles, but there was a store here in Phoenix that was clearancing out a pair of the FX500i's for $160 for the pair. Only catch was that they're white. I haven't been in the store in a week, but they've been there a while, presumably because they're white. Hell of a deal if you want me to grab them for ya. Where are you, btw?
    .
    comment comment comment comment. bitchy.
    .
    meterdq8.gif
  • goingganzogoingganzo Posts: 2,797
    edited September 2002
    i think thx has 2 standerds for 7.1 on the ultra 2 they recomend di polar on buth rear surounds and for ultra 2 they recomend di polars for sides and direct for rear suround i have my suround just behind my front seat and my rear surounds centered on the back wall i have fx 500i for them all and the sides set to di and the back set to bi i think
    Gonzo's World
    BenQ 8700+
    115in screen
    PS3,X-Box 360 and Wii
    Sunfire Theater Grand III
    ADCOM GFA-7607
    four avalanch 18 subs 26.12l of displacement
    Crown xti 4000
  • marvelousmarvelous Posts: 38
    edited September 2002
    brettw22;

    Do they still have the fx500i speakers?
  • brettw22brettw22 Posts: 7,700
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by marvelous
    Do they still have the fx500i speakers?

    I posted that they had them and then I called back before they closed and they were acting as if they had just sold them.........I've gotta give them a call again in the morning see if the other guys know what the EFF they're talkin about.
    .
    comment comment comment comment. bitchy.
    .
    meterdq8.gif
  • HBombTooHBombToo Posts: 5,335
    edited September 2002
    Larry, your posts are so informative I just wanted to say Thanks from the HBomb!

    Bigsexy1, I also appreciate your efforts here!


    I have just purchased a pair of RT55's to mate with my 800's and cannot figure out what the best way to use the RTA8's as rears and this thread has given me some good ideas.

    Again, thanks from the HBomb.
    ***WAREMTAE***
  • Larry ChaninLarry Chanin Posts: 601
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by goingganzo
    i think thx has 2 standerds for 7.1 on the ultra 2 they recomend di polar on buth rear surounds and for ultra 2 they recomend di polars for sides and direct for rear suround.

    Hi All:

    I believe that this is correct regarding the new Ultra2 "standard".

    I should add that the THX folks recommend placing the surround back speakers just a few inches apart centered on the rear wall of the room. This of course is at variance with the way you would setup a 7.1 configuration that had true stereo surround back channels, i.e., the Lexicons and Meridians. With true stereo rears placing the rear speakers that close together would destroy the imaging. Therefore, in my opinion, the two "7.1" systems are mutually exclusive with regard to speaker placement.

    For the time being this may be purely an academic point because I believe (I'm not sure) that neither Lexicon nor Meridian offer Ultra2 surround along with their respective proprietary 7.1 channel surround effects. However, I believe that Lexicon plans to add Ultra2 surround to a future upgrade of their MC-12 processor.

    I think the reason for the difference in speaker placement can be explained by the difference in the surround back channels. In Ultra2 the surround back channels are slightly different, but they are almost mono. Hence, to anchor the sound in the rear of the room behind the listener they recommend placing the speakers close together in the center. If they were offering a true stereo effect they would never make this recommendation, it would be like telling you to place your front main speakers side by side.

    As a result any future owner of a Lexicon that had the option of Ultra2 or Logic 7 would be foolish to use the Ultra2 effect and arrange their speakers as the THX folks recommend.

    Just my two cents worth.

    Larry
  • Larry ChaninLarry Chanin Posts: 601
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by HBombToo
    Larry, your posts are so informative I just wanted to say Thanks from the HBomb!

    Hi HBomb:

    Thanks for the compliment.:o

    Larry
  • JediCowboyJediCowboy Posts: 56
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by Larry Chanin
    I should add that the THX folks recommend placing the surround back speakers just a few inches apart centered on the rear wall of the room.

    This is a good thing for me to know. After taking a few measurements this past weekend I realized that I was wrong about where my speakers will be placed. If they were put in the optimum position, one would be right in the middle of my entrance door. If I move the speaker slightly to the center, I have my bookshelf there, and there is really no other place to put it unless I feel like blocking the bathroom door or blocking the Right surround speaker.

    Maybe later I'll post some measured drawings for some feedback and suggestions, but for the next few weeks at least, I think I'll put the idea of adding two more speakers to rest. Just don't feel like moving furniture and all these books at the moment!

    But maybe there is some hope if I place them both slightly to either side of center. Not great for music, but at least there will be a back channel for movies. Gotta think about this one.
    The Force is with Me -- YEEHAW!!!

    Denon 3802
    Mains -- RTi70s Biwired
    Center -- CSi40 Biwired
    Surrounds -- FXi50s
  • Larry ChaninLarry Chanin Posts: 601
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by JediCowboy


    This is a good thing for me to know. After taking a few measurements this past weekend I realized that I was wrong about where my speakers will be placed. If they were put in the optimum position, one would be right in the middle of my entrance door.

    Hi Jedi:

    The point that I was attempting to make is that there is no universal optimum speaker position, it depends on which type of "7.1" surround system you are planning to implement.

    Most "7.1" surround systems, as advertised by the various manufacturers, are really 5.1 surround systems with a matrixed derived sixth mono channel played on two surround back speakers. Even dts ES systems, which have true 6.1 encoding and decoding, are still only delivering a mono surround back channel played on two rear speakers. In these types of "7.1" systems, with two mono surround back speakers, most manufacturers recommend placing the rear speakers about four feet apart.

    Larry
  • JediCowboyJediCowboy Posts: 56
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by Larry Chanin


    Hi Jedi:

    The point that I was attempting to make is that there is no universal optimum speaker position, it depends on which type of "7.1" surround system you are planning to implement.

    Larry

    That's right, you did mention this before. Coffee hasn't kicked in yet this morning. Silly me for mixing in some decaf.

    What are you trying to do? Get me to spend more money? :) Now that you reminded me of this, I guess the two new speakers are back in the plans!

    I know that the back channel is mostly a matrixed mono, and it wasn't the movies that bothered me so much, but the music. How does music work, BTW? If I put my Denon 3802 into 7 Channel Stereo mode, what does that mean? Is a stereo signal played from the 2 fronts and a matrixed sound from the other speakers, or is the left channel signal sent to all left speakers and and respectively for the right?

    My guess is, from looking at the bottom of the Denon Remote is that if I choose 7 CH Stereo, the surrounds get a direct stereo signal and if I choose 7.1 surround, the sound is matrixed? Ack! Time to download the manual yet again . ..
    The Force is with Me -- YEEHAW!!!

    Denon 3802
    Mains -- RTi70s Biwired
    Center -- CSi40 Biwired
    Surrounds -- FXi50s
  • JediCowboyJediCowboy Posts: 56
    edited September 2002
    My bad.

    I just realized, after RTFM for the 100th time, that the 6.1/7.1 button on the remote just turns the rear speakers On/Off. No special "mode" is associated with it.
    The Force is with Me -- YEEHAW!!!

    Denon 3802
    Mains -- RTi70s Biwired
    Center -- CSi40 Biwired
    Surrounds -- FXi50s
  • Larry ChaninLarry Chanin Posts: 601
    edited September 2002
    Originally posted by JediCowboy


    That's right, you did mention this before. Coffee hasn't kicked in yet this morning. Silly me for mixing in some decaf.

    What are you trying to do? Get me to spend more money? :) Now that you reminded me of this, I guess the two new speakers are back in the plans!

    I know that the back channel is mostly a matrixed mono, and it wasn't the movies that bothered me so much, but the music. How does music work, BTW? If I put my Denon 3802 into 7 Channel Stereo mode, what does that mean? Is a stereo signal played from the 2 fronts and a matrixed sound from the other speakers, or is the left channel signal sent to all left speakers and and respectively for the right?

    My guess is, from looking at the bottom of the Denon Remote is that if I choose 7 CH Stereo, the surrounds get a direct stereo signal and if I choose 7.1 surround, the sound is matrixed? Ack! Time to download the manual yet again . ..

    Hi Jedi:

    I apologize if my response sounded a little too direct. I assure you that it was not my intention.

    Yes, I suppose the more we discuss this stuff the more likely we'll contract that dreaded disease, Upgrade-itis! ;)

    I'm not much into music yet, so please take this advice with a grain of salt. (Actually you should take everything, everyone says with a grain of salt, even if we think we know what we're talking about. :D )

    Based on my reading, for 5.1 multi-channel music, you should have a layout similar to your first description, i.e., direct radiating speakers widely space in the rear of the room. I know that your Denon has provisions for A, B speakers and you may be ahead of most people in flexibility of surround speaker options. If I'm not mistaken the Denon permits you to connect two sets of surround back speakers, A)a set more narrowly spaced and B)a set widely spaced and across the rear wall. The widely spaced are generally used for music and the narrowly space are generally used for multi-channel movies. I believe that Denon permits A, B or A+B, but they don't recommend the last option.

    If possible in the B configuration, I would try turning off the side surround speakers, and route the surround channel to the rear, widely spaced speakers. I’m not sure what 7.1 would be, but it might duplicate the side surround channels in both the side and rear speakers.

    I realize that what I have said may conflict with your actual physical constraints, but I wanted to discuss theory first. Then after you provide a layout we may be able to figure out what compromises we have to make.

    Larry
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