Adding height speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

Discussion in 'A/V Receivers, Amplifiers and Speakers' started by Ilya, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. #1 Ilya, Apr 25, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017
    This is my first experiment with 3D audio. I am not quite ready to upgrade my main home theater yet, but I've decided to try adding the height speakers in my secondary viewing area: the living room. So here is my weekend project:

    Initial configuration: Energy Take 5.1 speakers, Denon X3300W receiver, Samsung 4K Blu-ray player.

    What I decided to do is to replace the two main Energy front speakers with my old and currently unused floor-standing Signet speakers. Not a perfect match, but I paired Signet's with Energy satellite speakers before for 5.1 and 4.1 configurations and they worked reasonably well together.

    I have installed the two former Energy fronts up on the front wall close to the ceiling. This will have to suffice for now, as I am not ready to install anything on the ceiling. I wish I could also put height speakers on the back wall, but my Denon receiver can only handle 7 speakers max.

    I then ran the full Audyssey XT32 calibration and played a couple of 4K movies with Dolby Atmos tracks. Will be watching more Atmos and DTS:X movies in the next few days.

    The first impression is good! I can definitely hear the benefits of the height speakers: helicopters overhead, distant thunder, etc. all sound way better! And it seems that even the traditional 2D surround sound field has been improved, became more precise due to the addition of the new speakers, though this might be subjective.

    However, I think putting speakers on the ceiling and having 4 height speakers instead of 2 would've probably produced a much more dramatic result, based on some Dolby Atmos demonstrations that I participated in. So if I ever decide to upgrade my main home theater I think I will want to go with 4 ceiling speakers and will need a 9.1 receiver for that. But that's way down the road. For now I will just enjoy this entry-level 5.1.2 setup.

    Anyone else tried height speakers? Please share your experience!
  3. I have been toying with this lately. I recently upgraded my family room setup to 4k. That meant a new receiver, and I bought the Denon AVR-X3300W. It is a 7.2, but has two additional channels without power amps. I have a few old amps lying around, including a very clean Denon avc-3000 from the early 90s.

    Currently running classic Klipsch KG4/Academy as fronts. The current Klipsch height speakers seem overpriced, so I am considering using a pair of Klipsch bookshelves mounted high. My rears are already on top of cabinets, near the ceiling. That was the old school formula for rears. I also do not have side surrounds because the room doesn't really support them. More thought, eventually some action.
  4. AVR-X3300W, that's what I have! Are you saying we can drive 9 speakers with the help of an external amp? Like a 5.2.4 Dolby Atmos setup? I didn't think this was possible with this receiver, but I guess I will need to check the manual...
    jayn_j likes this.
  5. just looked at the manual. I guess not. I swear I had read it was possible.
  6. Just looked at my order history. I actually bought the 4300, just to have the expansion capability. Sorry for the confusion.
    Ilya likes this.
  7. Yeah, the 4300 is a 9.2 receiver with an 11.2 pre-amp, so you shouldn't have a problem doing a 5.2.4 setup, or even 7.2.4 with an external amp.
    jayn_j likes this.
  8. Yeah, I tend to do some degree of overkill when I upgrade and then live with it for 10 years. This receiver replaced a circa 2007 Onkyo which replaced a circa 1992 Denon.
  9. Here is how this setup looks:

  10. I am very close to doing this. Just trying to decide whether to upgrade my RB-51 surrounds and use those for the heights, or to get something smaller for the heights. I am afraid that the RB-51s would be too large up there.

    Like the looks of your setup Ilia. Nice and clean.
  11. I've been going back and forth on whether to upgrade some or even all of the speakers for this new setup, but finally I've decided just to play with what I already have and defer any serious upgrades until later.

    This has been my approach to 4K so far: while I am waiting for the dust to settle on HDR, etc. and for a reasonably priced 4K front projector to arrive, I am not making any major upgrades to my main home theater. Instead, I am putting together a relatively inexpensive 4K setup in the living room, so I wouldn't feel like I am completely missing the boat, while I am waiting for another year or so.
  12. As for whether to use bigger speakers for heights, personally I feel that it's not worth it. These are mostly "effect" speakers, and would rarely be used at all. And the WAF factor is a big concern for the living room. ;)

    For the dedicated home theater though, I think ceiling speakers are the way to go.
  13. kind of where I am leaning. But everything in the family room system is Klipsch, mostly classic stuff.
    KG-4 mains, Academy center, 12" sub, RB-51 surrounds. So, decent so far, and don't want to put something up that would clash.

    I've never been a fan of ceiling speakers, ever since they were pushing them for HT surrounds back in the 80s. Always thought the sound was weak and muffled. I'd at least want something that protrouded out and was aimed toward the viewer a bit. Otherwise, I think you will lose the height effect and directionality.

    Klipsch's current answer seems to be placing the height speakers on top of the tower and having them reflect off the ceiling. They seem to be RB-41s at twice the price in a funky angled cabinet.
  14. Klipsch has about the same.
    But the street price is sitting at $450-500/pair

    The speaker seems to be the same as an R-14M which is currently selling for $130/pair at Amazon. I think for that difference, I can invest in some tilting wall mounts.
  15. I'm using the upfiring Andrew Jones-Pioneers with decent results right now...
  16. I ordered the RB-14s along with these mounts. Total cost $150 on Amazon. Should have them tomorrow, but it will be a few days before I find the time to install. Thanks Don and Ilya for getting me motivated.

  17. I've been running 4 height speakers since 2008 for DTS Neo:X. Only thing I did for Atmos was put a pair of ceiling speakers above my seating. My requirement was at least 300W RMS power-handling to better match the rest of my speakers, so I was severely limited. I ended up sticking in-wall MTM speakers in the ceiling in custom-made backing boxes, which sit between the joists. You are in a better position since there are a ton of co-axial in-ceiling choices that match the power-handling of the Energy Take. That's what I would do next... get a pair of driver-matched in-ceiling co-axial drivers and stick them above your seating.

    Attached Files:

  18. So, I finally found the time to get them mounted and connected this weekend. I thought they were going to have a moderate effect of a fuller soundstage. Boy was I wrong. Height speakers really open up and add a new dimension to the sound. Put on The Martian and right from the start could feel that storm and launch going up into the ceiling. Much better than I expected.
  19. I'm thinking about getting the Denon AVR-X3300W AV receiver this week, How do you like it so Far? I ordered 4 towers and Center and Sub today. They are on the way.
  20. I'm doing in ceiling speakers versus up firing speakers. If you can do in ceiling speakers those are the way to go with ATMOS / DTS X instead of firing. You want your LRC all up front floor level, you want your Right Surround, Right Rear Surround, Left Surround, and Left rear surround wall mounted with you Front Left/Right presence in ceiling and your rear Left/Right Presence in the ceiling as well like below. This is the setup I have and it sounds amazing. Adding the presence speakers will add a whole new dimension especially on Atmos content. With DTSX speakers can be placed anywhere and it will figure out the placement and do object based surround from there.

    dfergie likes this.