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Discussion Starter #1
I was reading that rear surround speakers should be positioned 2-3 feet above ear level, or as a “general rule” they should be at ear level when standing. However I was planning on wall mounting my rear speakers at ear level, could anyone explain the differences in sound at the two different heights? Also, is there any kind of setting that can be adjusted on the receiver to compensate for the lower height of the rear speakers? Would it even be necessary?

Another issue, the ideal location for my rear left speaker falls in an area where there is no wall available to mount it on. Meaning the rear left speaker will need to be mounted roughly 22” further back than the rear right. This is not a dedicated media room by any means, and there are defiantly some compromises being made, just wondering how badly they are going to affect the sound balance. See image for better idea of the space.

Thanks guys.
 

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I am interested in this as well.. I just wired my basement for 5.1 and my rear speakers would be at about ear level when standing, so if thats the case I am in good shape.


Usually most receivers these days come with a mic that you can plug in and place it where you will be sitting, and it will calibrate your surround based on tones it plays one channel at a time.. It would probably adjust the rear levels based on distance and height.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Another issue I have is the Dolby site recommends (regarding the front L/R speakers) “A good setup is usually three feet away on each side.” But with my viewing distance from the TV, and following the 30° rule, my front channel speakers end up about 68” away from the center of the TV on each side.
 

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You're a rookie, so you need to post a link to a photo sharing site.

There's nothing wrong with being 68" from the center of the TV. The two (front) speakers and the listener should be roughly at the points of an equilateral triangle, however, not all rooms allow for that sort of spread. Also, it's not good to put the speakers too close to the side walls. These are "rules of thumb", not hard and fast laws. (They probably meant 3' from the side, not center of the TV, but this all depends on your TV and room)
 

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I think they added the 3' rule for those who hate trigonometry and geometry. :)

The distances and angles are only approximate guidelines. In fact they don't give a single value but a range. They could have said 7' ±1' or 90° ±10°. But that almost looks like homework. :)
 

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Just to add a quick remark about the surround speakers - they're supposed to provide more diffuse, ambient sound (as opposed to more directional sound for the Front/L/R speakers), which is why the recommended placement is above ear-level.

AVRs with auto-calibration can adjust for speaker distance and volume levels at various frequencies, but it can't compensate for a speaker firing directly at your ear when placed close to ear-level, hence the recommended speaker height placement. I initially had my surround speakers placed close to ear-level, then raised them about 18" when I found extensions for my stands - I definitely noticed a difference.
 

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Another option that may work if some of the seating positions are very close to the speaker - like the person who would be sitting right in the corner of that sectional - place the surround speakers on/near the floor. This gives the "indirect/diffuse" surround mentioned by Tezster earlier. Not ideal, but perhaps better than having a speaker blaring right in your ear.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Realized that I forgot to add the radius created by the distance from the TV to the viewing position. This moves my front channel speakers a little closer to the viewing position, but it pushes the location for my side surrounds way out of the bounds of the room. Suggestions?

So I added the “alternate” position for my side surrounds (150°) as per the instructions that came with the speakers (Harman Kardon HKTS 15). This gets the location of those speakers back inside the boundary of the room, but it seems like they are awfully far away from the viewing position (roughly 10 feet).

Also, if I’m not mistaken this 150° position is typically the position for the rear speakers in a 7.1 setup? Is it ever used for the side surrounds in a 5.1 setup?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmehak/5122499570/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmehak/5121934769/
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Also, it's not good to put the speakers too close to the side walls.
I was planning on wall mounting my front speakers, they will end up being about two feet away from the corner where the two walls meet. This way I can get them closer to the optimal position, if they are on stands the armchair on the right and the small component cabinet on the left are in the way.

Also, subwoofer is going in the corner behind the armchair.
 

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Doogals, the 150 degree position is for the rear surrounds in a 7.1 setup. But with a 5.1 setup, the side surrounds should still be 90 to 110 degrees.

So your HTS-2 picture is correct except that "side surround" is the for the speakers at the 110 degree mark while the speakers at 150 degrees should be labelled "rear surrounds" or "back surrounds".

I haven't a clue what the side surrounds would sound like if they were placed at the 150 degree mark in a 5.1 setup. You may like it, you may not. Give it a try. When putting a home theatre setup in a living room, we always have to make compromises. You may find that it sounds just fine for you. :)

cheers,
supervij
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That was my understanding as well, what got me confused was the Harman Kardon owner's namual for the HKTS 15:

"The side surround speakers should be placed 110 degrees from the center speaker; that is, slightly behind and angled toward the listener. If this isn’t feasible, place the surround speakers behind the listener, with each surround speaker facing the opposite-side front speaker. The surround speakers may be placed a little higher than the listener’s ears."

Here is their illustration to go along with the text.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmehak/5124214232/
 

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Well, if the A positions don't work out for you, then you can always switch to B. My suggestion for the A position would be to have the speakers pointed directly into the room, rather than at the people on the couch, to give a more diffuse sound. If the mounts provide flexibility, then you can play with various speaker pointing angles.
 
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