Audio Theory, Setup, and Chat > Feedback on 7.1.4 Setup
.Cameron.'s Avatar .Cameron. 06:21 PM 03-08-2018
I just moved into a new apartment and I'm planning out a surround setup, based mostly on what I already have but with a few modifications. I previously had a 5.1.2 setup, which was sort of bastardized by way of wall-mounted overhead speakers (one-year lease and drywall!).

The hardware I'll be working with includes a STR-ZA5000ES, VPL-VW285ES/VW385ES (not yet bought), motorized 110" 1.1 gain screen, Klipsch for ear-level speakers (RP-280F for FR/FL, RP-450C, RP-150M for SL/SR/RL/RR, R-112SW), and Definitive Technologies ProMonitor 800s for TFL/TFR/TRL/TRR (downfiring on ceiling-mounted brackets).

I'm planning to set all of this up in my living room (see attached floorplan, not to scale). The dotted orange line is ~16 ft. The ceiling (10.5 ft) is concrete, but there's a 17" drywall drop that comes 53" out from the wall with the center channel. I'm thinking of mounting the screen on the edge of the drywall bit (solid blue line); the distance from it to the main listening position is ~10 ft. The two circles on the lower edge of windows are load-bearing concrete supports. The center will be on a media cabinet with height of 22" and SL/SR/RL/RR on 24" speaker stands. The placement of TRL/TRR is probably going to be a hair shallow, as it's ~76" from the ceiling to the MLP, with MLP being only 70" from the wall behind (it's an apartment with a lot of windows, I'm not expecting total perfection here!).

I'm open to any guidance or constructive criticism, but here are a few ideas/concerns/questions:
  • In my last apartment, I had an ongoing situation with my upstairs neighbor and noise complaints; the floor/ceiling was so poorly sound-insulated that I could actually hear their dishwasher running. The floor separators here are concrete and this is a corner unit, so I have just one adjoining neighbor, behind the wall with the center speaker. The walls here seem to be pretty sound, though I've already managed to misalign artwork with a demo using four speakers, so if there's something I can do acoustically to still listen at reference volume and mitigate any potential run-ins, that'd be ideal. My subwoofer placement is based on it being front-firing and trying to take advantage of the concrete pillar behind, but I'm not an audio engineer, so I don't know how to best optimize it.
  • The current 10 ft. distance of the MLP is a trade-off of the space dimensions and ideal viewing distance (going off of ~12 ft. for 1080 and ~8 ft. for 4K with 110"). However, I could extend the drop and ceiling-mount the screen on a track that allows me to slide it 3-4 feet (dotted blue line). I'd originally been concerned about blocking sound from FL/FR, as my screen is not acoustically-transparent, but there should be ~12" of buffer between the bottom of the screen and top of the front floorstanding speakers. Still, would this be overkill versus an intermediate viewing distance? (For reference, I was previously ~15 ft. from the same 110" screen with a 1080 projector and had no complaints, but always looking to improve, and would like to fully experience 4K to justify the upgrade.)
  • I'm planning to make this a multipurpose space and add a desk, likely between SW and SL (or alternatively between RL/RR, but that could be snug). I'm all-ears on any strategies to optimize that area as a secondary listening position for mono/stereo music, so long as it doesn't affect the integrity of the MLP.
  • As all of the overhead speakers are on highly-adjustable ball mounts, should they fire directly downwards or angle slightly towards the MLP?
  • As my STR-ZA5000ES is only a 9.2-channel amp, I'm going to need an amplifier for FL/FR. I'm more cinephile than audiophile, so could use suggestions on what might play nicely with the Klipsch horns.

Attached: 58c9db3160da1322.png (133.3 KB)

sdurani's Avatar sdurani 07:51 AM 03-09-2018
Any chance of rotating the set-up 90 degrees so that you are facing the south wall?
.Cameron.'s Avatar .Cameron. 10:07 AM 03-09-2018
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Any chance of rotating the set-up 90 degrees so that you are facing the south wall?
Hmm, I'd not considered that. I could, though the screen would then block the view from those windows when it's down, and the couch would have to back up to the dining nook, might look a bit odd... Any specific advantages of setting it up that way?
sdurani's Avatar sdurani 10:32 AM 03-09-2018
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Originally Posted by .Cameron. View Post
the screen would then block the view from those windows when it's down
Did you need to have the view from those windows available WHILE watching a movie?
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the couch would have to back up to the dining nook
How far away is the dining nook from the window wall?
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Any specific advantages of setting it up that way?
Symmetrical front soundstage. Even in this day and age of surround sound, the front soundstage remains absolutely critical: that's where your attention will be focused, whether watching a movie or listening to music. As such, a lop-sided soundstage can be a continuous distraction. Your FL speaker has a wall right next to it, the FR speaker has empty space next to it. Rotating the set-up 90 degrees gets rid of that asymmetry.
.Cameron.'s Avatar .Cameron. 10:56 AM 03-09-2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Did you need to have the view from those windows available WHILE watching a movie?
Well, no, not particularly. I don't always put the screen up, so as to reduce actuations, which is why I mentioned it.

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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
How far away is the dining nook from the window wall?
It's the countertop area where the SR is at in the diagram.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Symmetrical front soundstage. Even in this day and age of surround sound, the front soundstage remains absolutely critical: that's where your attention will be focused, whether watching a movie or listening to music. As such, a lop-sided soundstage can be a continuous distraction. Your FL speaker has a wall right next to it, the FR speaker has empty space next to it. Rotating the set-up 90 degrees gets rid of that asymmetry.
While I do understand your point, the floorplan image doesn't accurately convey that corner, as there's a fairly sizable chunk of drywall there, making it asymmetric with the other side (photo attached).
Attached: IMG-1704.jpg (866.3 KB)
sdurani's Avatar sdurani 02:18 PM 03-09-2018
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Originally Posted by .Cameron. View Post
It's the countertop area where the SR is at in the diagram.
Again, how far away is the dining nook from the window wall?
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While I do understand your point, the floorplan image doesn't accurately convey that corner, as there's a fairly sizable chunk of drywall there, making it asymmetric with the other side (photo attached).
Parallel side walls are better than glass on one side & air on the other.
.Cameron.'s Avatar .Cameron. 03:18 PM 03-09-2018
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Again, how far away is the dining nook from the window wall? Parallel side walls are better than glass on one side & air on the other.
The countertop is ~9 ft. long and is about 27" from where the windows start.

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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Parallel side walls are better than glass on one side & air on the other.
I think my main reservation is the back of the couch being the first thing a guest would see. But, in addition to your point, it would block more light for daytime viewing, be more directly viewable from the kitchen, engulf the kitchen in the soundstage, and creates space to put a desk that's not in the middle of it all or crammed along the edge...

I assume FR should go where the subwoofer is now in the photo, so as not to be too wide. What angle should the fronts be placed at?
sdurani's Avatar sdurani 08:13 PM 03-09-2018
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Originally Posted by .Cameron. View Post
The countertop is ~9 ft. long and is about 27" from where the windows start.
When I asked if you could rotate the set-up 90 degrees, you said the screen would block the view from the windows. I asked how far that wall with the windows was from the dining nook and you're saying it is 27" away?
.Cameron.'s Avatar .Cameron. 09:09 PM 03-09-2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
When I asked if you could rotate the set-up 90 degrees, you said the screen would block the view from the windows. I asked how far that wall with the windows was from the dining nook and you're saying it is 27" away?
Whoops, I was referring to the distance between the countertop and the windows on the right-most wall, where RR is in the diagram.

The total distance from the countertop to the windows on the bottom edge is approximately 17.5'. The other side (orange line plus the bit under the drywall overhang) is right at 21'.
sdurani's Avatar sdurani 09:41 PM 03-09-2018
With 17.5' room length to work with, the couch doesn't have to be anywhere close to the dining nook, so aesthetically it won't look like the couch is blocking the entrance to the room. Sitting away from the dining nook will allow for excellent separation between your side and rear speakers (the hallmark of a good 7.1 layout). For example, being 10' away from the a 110' screen will result in a 43° viewing angle (not very immersive). Have you already bought the screen or can you (are you willing to) go bigger? Or sit closer?
.Cameron.'s Avatar .Cameron. 10:12 PM 03-09-2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
With 17.5' room length to work with, the couch doesn't have to be anywhere close to the dining nook, so aesthetically it won't look like the couch is blocking the entrance to the room. Sitting away from the dining nook will allow for excellent separation between your side and rear speakers (the hallmark of a good 7.1 layout). For example, being 10' away from the a 110' screen will result in a 43° viewing angle (not very immersive). Have you already bought the screen or can you (are you willing to) go bigger? Or sit closer?
Most definitely; the more I think about it, the more I like it. I realized that all I need to do to make it "look right" to me is put a console behind the sofa; plus, it only being 29" high isn't exactly cordoning off half of the room!

The 110" screen I already have, though it wasn't pricey and I don't feel married to it. Width-wise, the space might could accommodate a 135", but the projector will only be 1,500 lumens and I don't want to completely nerf the possibility of occasional daytime viewing. Distance-wise, I'd feel quite comfortable nudging to ~8' for immersion with 4K content, but my concern is 1080 content. Or, does upscaling 1080 to a native 4K image mostly negate the issue, as the pixels are still a quarter of the size? (I'll admit that I was initially skeptical of switching to 4K when it lacked widely-available content because of how horrible DVDs look on a Full HD display, and was surprised when I saw a 4K TV that presented more crisply than its Full HD counterpart with identical 1080p content.)
sdurani's Avatar sdurani 08:49 AM 03-10-2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by .Cameron. View Post
Or, does upscaling 1080 to a native 4K image mostly negate the issue, as the pixels are still a quarter of the size?
That's in the eye of the beholder. 1080p upscaled to 4K looks pretty smooth to me, but you might be more critical. So, start with the couch where you mentioned (around 8 feet from the screen) and view a variety of source material. If you can see pixels, move the couch back a foot or two. After all, it's not nailed down to the floor and you have plenty of space to work with behind the couch. If you subsequently feel the image is too small, consider buying a bigger screen at that point.

For the moment, don't buy anything, just try what you already have. Rather than attempt to guess what viewing distance would be right, try it out and see for yourself. A year from now, if you change your mind, move the couch (and side speakers). These things aren't carved in stone, so you don't have to get it absolutely optimal the first time.
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