Half-Atmosed: Is the 7-Channel AVR Obsolete?

Most receivers have seven amp channels. I've just reviewed several of them in a row: the Onkyo TX-NR545, Pioneer VSX-1130, and Sony STR-DN1060. Our October issue will collect them in a roundup, with a review of the Denon AVR-X1200W following in November. All list for $600 and include Dolby Atmos height-enriched surround in a 5.1.2-channel configuration. That is a couple of height channels short of the 5.1.4 configuration Dolby Labs recommends for Atmos in the home. And that in turn prompts an uncomfortable question: Is the seven-channel receiver obsolete?

Just in case you've been living in a lonely media-free mountain retreat for the past year, Dolby Atmos—and its upcoming competitor DTS:X—are object-oriented surround technologies that govern the movement every object in the mix with metadata and add height channels to the usual array of floor speakers. This allows mixers to expand the traditional flat horizontal soundfield into a three-dimensional space. Done right, it's pretty darned impressive. What I'm wondering is whether 5.1.2 qualifies as doing it right. Are two height channels in the front of the room sufficient for Atmos? Or do we need height channels in all four corners of the room? That 5.1.4 configuration would require more than seven amp channels. Thus the nine-channel receiver (like the Denon AVR-X5200W pictured here) might become the new normal.

The first seven-channel receivers arrived in the late 1990s to support THX Surround EX, which added a single monaural back-surround channel supported by one or two speakers. Two back-surround speakers became the standard practice when THX Surround EX was renamed Dolby Digital EX and augmented by DTS-ES. If you don't want back-surrounds, the extra pair of amp channels can be repurposed for a second zone, biamping of the front channels, or other uses including the simulated height channels of Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX. There are still five-channel receivers at the bottom of some lines, and nine- (or more) channel receivers at the top, but seven channels have become the norm for mainstream surround receivers at the most popular price points.

Admittedly, I'm still building a frame of reference for Dolby Atmos (and haven't demoed the forthcoming home version of DTS:X at all). My one exposure to 5.1.4 in my own listening room came with the Pioneer Elite SC-89 receiver and Pioneer Atmos-enabled speakers including the SP-EBS73-LR monitor and SP-EC73 center. I'm especially keen to try more Atmos-enabled speakers in both 5.1.4 and 5.1.2. And I will not be trying any form of Atmos with ceiling speakers at home due to the limits of my rented space. My nascent Atmos aesthetics may evolve over the next few years. But I must say my first four experiences with 5.1.2 have been underwhelming.

Visualize along with me. With either dedicated ceiling speakers or upward-firing Atmos-enabled speakers, 5.1.4 generates a three-dimensional bowl-shaped soundfield. In 5.1.2, the front of the bowl remains intact but the back flattens out. Because height effects—when the mixer uses them at all—are usually prominent in the front, you can still discern height effects in 5.1.2. But objects panned overhead between front height and back height, as in the Dolby fluttering-seed video, end up either audible in the front only, or fluttering between tall front and low back.

In Dolby Atmos vs. Dolby Atmos, my colleague Darryl Wilkinson conducts and summarizes Atmos demo sessions in every possible configuration. With ceiling speakers, he describes 5.1.2 as "being on the edge of the action," whereas 5.1.4 offers "a sense of total sonic openness"—clearly an improvement. Likewise, with Atmos-enabled speakers, 5.1.2 offered "solid front-stage width and height that collapsed at the listening position," whereas 5.1.4 mustered "a large but limited bubble"—perhaps a subtle improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

Will Atmos and DTS:X will encourage a new norm among receiver manufacturers? Adding a second pair of amp channels requires a difficult tradeoff: either make the receiver bigger, heavier, and more expensive to accommodate two additional channels, or just fit nine less powerful channels into the existing chassis size and design budget. It's that old dilemma: Which matters more, quality or quantity? Which is a better way to spend your money?

For the home listener, should 5.1.4 be the minimum, as Dolby recommends? Do you want the whole Atmos experience, not just an expedient fraction of it? That would point in the direction of a nine-channel (or more) receiver.

But what if you want to stick with seven-channel receivers, at least for the time being? Maybe you are happy with your existing speakers. Maybe you'd rather not spend more money for more channels. Maybe Atmos, while interesting, is not a deal maker or breaker in any configuration.

At this point I need to stop pontificating and start listening. To you, that is, not just to Atmos. Because I really have no idea what my readers think of Atmos 5.1.2. Are you so into Atmos that you're willing to live with a limited version of it? Are you willing to spend more for 5.1.4? Or would you just prefer to let the market shake itself out and revisit the topic in another few years? I would love to read anything you have to say.

Audio Editor Mark Fleischmann is the author of Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Video and Audio Systems, now available in both print and Kindle editions.

jmilton7043's picture

All I hear is the sound of crickets. (In Atmos 5.1.4, of course)

Mark Fleischmann's picture
Well, that's the best way to hear them.
JustinGN's picture

Amos seems really cool and interesting in concept, but I'm not seeing the allure of it from my taste in movies and games, or with my current system (B&W 684/HTM61/685). The fact it seems limited to TrueHD/Plus streams automatically eliminates my favorite games, which output (sensibly) PCM audio or (for whatever reason/old game systems) Dolby Digital/DTS. That leaves movies, and while I love my action, I'm just not seeing it featured in the movies I currently enjoy; those that do leave it as a sub stream, not real-time mix.

I'd like to think I'm part of your younger readers (Millennials), and I've gotta confess: Atmos is absolutely not apartment friendly. My current theater already occupies a full third of my studio apartment, and I (along with many other renters) are prohibited from mounting stuff to the ceiling; maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but I'm also not seeing any sort of speaker stands that would raise a speaker to "ceiling height" for Atmos, either, likely because they'd look phenomenally silly.

So for folks like me (renters/gamers/media consumers), Atmos is a nice feature in theory, but we can't really partake in it. Besides a compatible receiver with necessary amplifier channels ($1000+), we also need more speakers ($650/pair for more B&W 685s), required cabling (~$150 from Blue Jeans Cable), and some way to mount them without creating huge holes in walls or our ceiling (custom stands, which are expensive, or smaller speakers, which would change the sound dynamic of my setup). We're looking at two grand, just to get Atmos. It's financially not worth it to me, my friends, or anyone else my generation that I've spoken to (even the die hard movie buffs). We all agree that if we had a house, then it might be worthwhile to do piece-by-piece, but in our apartments? Absolutely not.

So on that note, while I'm glad S&V is really gung-ho about singing the praises of Atmos, I'd like to see a renewed focus on just general A/V, like the old Home Theater Mag. Dolby and DTS will shake out their new surround formats in the consumer realm as time goes on - who knows, maybe I'm wrong again (like I was on 1080p being useless/pointless, HAH, man was I wrong there) and it'll become this new standard of Home Theaters. That said, it seems like S&V is being used as a mouthpiece by Dolby to sing the virtues of their new tech, much like 3DTV makers tried to do just a few short years ago.

Technologies come and go, and covering all of them is important to this sort of rag and its readership. I'm just of the opinion that too much time is being spent solely looking at Atmos in the home, to the detriment of other sections and segments. I'd like to see more diversification again.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. Have you considered Atmos-enabled speakers? I'm talking about the kind with top-mounted upward-firing drivers that bounce the Atmos height channels off the ceiling. It's a non-invasive solution for folks living in rentals -- folks like you and me -- who can't drill into the ceiling to install ceiling speakers. I mentioned Atmos-enabled speakers in the piece but didn't really explain how they work -- my bad. Of course this would mean replacing your current speakers, which you may not want to do. But it is an alternative to ceiling speakers. There are no wrong answers here and this doesn't in any way invalidate the other pertinent points you make.
JustinGN's picture

I've casually thumbed through them while researching this year's upgrade (Plasma TV is dying and devouring energy), but B&W currently has no "Atmos-Enabled" speakers available for sale, and this seems to be quite common in the audiophile sector: Martin-Logan, Magnepan, Focal, Meridian, and more don't offer Atmos-enabled speakers at all, nor do they seem to openly suggest Atmos speakers specifically, instead referring to In-Ceiling, In-Wall, or their "Surround Speaker" lineup, like Dipole and Bookshelf speakers. Even then, replacing the front speakers would cost as much as two, or even four bookshelf/surround speakers from B&W that I could use in a dedicated Atmos setup, so to me, it just doesn't seem like a wise purchasing decision (though to each their own, of course).

Let's assume I'm receptive to replacing those speakers, though, and explore that route further. Like soundbars, those "Atmos-Enabled" speakers rely on bouncing the sound off the ceiling or a nearby wall, in order to enter the listening area with the proper effect and presence that a higher-mounted speaker would have. The problem in most apartments is that those ceilings aren't exactly high, and they're definitely not thick: a recent apartment I lived in had ceilings so thin that conversations were easily audible over relative quiet. If I had a setup in that apartment with so-called "Atmos-enabled" speakers, that noise would have easily angered my upstairs neighbors, just like a subwoofer angers the downstairs neighbors.

Now to be fair, I rent currently, and a lot of folks are probably asking how I get away with a theater in such a property. As I learned from the previous "Home Theater Magazine" publication, a properly calibrated theater should result in a sort of "Sound Bubble", with the speaker and subwoofer positions indistinguishable to a blind eye and a properly mixed soundtrack. I've taken this advice to heart when setting my theater up, and it's enabled me to enjoy such a powerful theater despite living in rented accommodations, and a large reason for that is the fact that my speakers don't bounce their sound off my walls in order to generate any effects. It's also why I'd have to roll with a dedicated speaker setup just for Atmos usage, so as to continue creating that "bubble" effect and prevent my sound from affecting my neighbors. Sure, I could utilize additional sound traps, but that's yet another additional cost above just the new speakers.

Now all my negativity aside (It's FRIDAY. Seriously, why am I being such a Debbie Downer?), I do want to address the crux of the Atmos issue at the start of the article, that being 2 vs 4 channels. I think that Dolby (and speaker makers) are missing out on a key technology that could maximize the use of 2-channel Atmos, something I wager a lot of folks interested in Atmos (or in smaller rooms, like myself) might prefer over 4-channel Atmos due to the reduced speaker count: dipole surround speakers. Assuming I rolled an Atmos setup tomorrow, and had the money to do so, I'd likely choose B&W DS3 speakers as my height channels, and mount them high on the sides, or slightly angled in the front, and calibrate accordingly. The dipole technology for speakers would let two speakers potentially cover a wider sphere than two monopole speakers, and would also save on cost for the end user. I'd like to see Dolby and DTS both start heavily pushing for Dipoles as the preferred speakers for Atmos 2-channel setups, and adjust their DSP accordingly for that option, but that's just my two cents on the issue. Four channel Atmos seems appropriate for existing 7-channel setups, while two channel Atmos seems better for 5-channel setups (like myself).

Nithin's picture

For me, there are currently 3 obstacles against adopting Atmos / DTS:X.

1) No affordable 9.1-channel receiver in the $500-$1,000 price range that supports 5.1.4 Atmos / DTS:X. 5.1.2 wouldn't give the complete Atmos experience, so I don't want that.

2) Very few content. So far about 20 Atmos movie BDs, 1 TV series BD (Game of Thrones) and 1 game (Star Wars: Battlefront PC version) have been announced. As for DTS:X, there is only 1 movie BD (Ex Machina).

3) Very few Atmos-enabled up-firing add-on speakers. Since in-ceiling speakers are impractical in many homes, we need more up-firing speakers. Some of the current models have only 1 driver each (no separate woofer and tweeter). Or perhaps we can use side wall-mounted satellite height speakers, as proposed by SVS (http://www.svsound.com/t/intro-to-atmos), but I don't know how effective would this be.

As for me, if at least problem 1) is solved, I would really want to upgrade to Atmos / DTS:X. I would like to see more posts on S & V regarding Atmos / DTS:X.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
I think we'll see some under-$1000 5.1.4 receivers, and probably sooner rather than later. The software may take longer. As for add-ons, I'd love to see some creative solutions to integrate them with non-flat-topped speakers, like my Paradigms, to which I'm deeply attached.
FirstReflect's picture

The Marantz SR6010 is due in October at an expected price point of $1199. It has 7 amps built-in, and can expand to 9 speakers total with the use of at least 2 channels of external amplification.

That's the least expensive 9 speaker model that will be available as far as MSRP goes. And once it hits places like Accessories4Less, it will most certainly drop below the $1000 mark.

The Denon AVR-X4200W should be shipping any day now. At $1499, it undercuts the $1599 Yamaha RX-A2050, although the 2050 has 9 amps built-in while the 4200W has 7 and requires at least 2 channels of external amplification to get up to 9 speakers. So that means the Yamaha RX-A2050 is actually the least expensive model that has 9 amps built-in.

But all the other models that have 9 built-in amps are able to expand to 11 speakers if you add at least 2 channels of external amplification. The upcoming Marantz SR7010 in October once again looks to be the least expensive 11 speaker option at an expected MSRP of $1699. Every other 11 speaker model is $2000 or more.

- Rob H. - AV Rant Podcast Co-Host

FirstReflect's picture

Every currently available Receiver/Pre-Pro and Atmos-Enabled upward-firing speaker and module is listed here:


Come October, Denon & Marantz will be adding the AVR-X6200W and Marantz SR6010, SR7010, and AV7702 Mk. II.

- Rob H. - AV Rant Podcast Co-Host

javanp's picture

Even though many may disdain the idea of Atmos in 5.1.2, there are plenty of people looking to get a home theater that can't or don't care to utilize the overhead experience that Atmos offers. Frankly I'd be curious to know how many people buying a mid-range receiver this year would buy one that has Atmos.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
...but how many consumers will care to use the feature remains to be determined. I've been wondering whether Atmos 5.1.2 will become one of those AVR features that's universally available but goes mostly unused.
FirstReflect's picture

What might be getting overlooked is that it's simply about supported object-based audio.

While I personally do not think 5.1.2 is an optimal way to experience Immersive Audio (and it seems as though everyone else who's experienced it at home and written about it is in agreement), it does provide a minimum spec that is easily met by a lot of mid-tier and even entry-level AV Receivers.

Object-based audio makes all the sense in the world on the content creation side. So I see 5.1.2 as simply being a way to make sure everyone can enjoy those object-based mixes.

- Rob H. - AV Rant Podcast Co-Host

K.Reid's picture

So Mark, back in May I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron in IMAX and again a Cinemark XD theater....and I have to say that I enjoyed the IMAX sound way better though it was a little loud. I think the sound engineers and directors need to stop with using Atmos overhead channels for more subtle sound effects and get much more aggressive with use of overhead channels. The IMAX sound I heard was very convincing with sounds that appear to emanate overhead, even though there were no speakers directly overhead. I don't know why some sound engineers think that aggressive overhead use will draw one's attention away from the film.....it does not....to the contrary there is more immersion. Plus, my understanding is that the overhead channels for Atmos are frequency restricted. Also, these attempts by manufacturers to make add ons for surround channels to add height is bogus because it depends on how much reflected sound one can get from the ceiling. If you have high ceilings forget about it. You really need 4+ overhead speakers to do it right and save for theaterphiles, most folks will not use the overhead channel capability. I think it will be like 3D flat panels where most people don't use or watch 3D.

I haven't been thrilled with Atmos so far to go out and replace my Yamaha Aventage. Maybe hearing a DTS-X demo may change my mind. I would like to see some receivers increase the amount of overhead channels to 6 or 8 via pre-outs so users can add their own multichannel amplification.

FirstReflect's picture

I wrote a pretty thorough piece on the current state of Dolby Atmos & DTS:X Receivers and Pre-Pros. Anyone interested can check it out here:


I also appeared as a guest on the HT Guys HDTV & Home Theater Podcast to sort through the situation:


In short, my experience has been that 5.1.2 doesn't really deliver the full Immersive Audio experience. I think 9 speakers are a minimum. And I fully agree with the reps from THX who feel that the Surround Back speakers and Top Rear speakers can end up overlapping and sounding rather redundant. I wound up preferring a 7.1.2 layout with Top Middle speakers. But Dolby's recommendation of 7.1.4 really is the best way to experience Immersive Audio. I just happen to think that rather than Top Front and Top Rear speakers, Front Height and Top Middle speakers make more sense. Let the Surround Back speakers fill in the sound field at the back of the room, and get those Top Middle speakers directly above you so that overhead sounds are more pin-point and noticeable. Having Front Height speakers still allows for movement and panning overhead, while also being a compatible speaker position with all of the other "expansion" listening modes, such as Audyssey DSX, DTS Neo:X, or the older Dolby Pro Logic IIz. Those Front Heights also work with Auro-3D, and Top Middles make for a satisfactory substitute for Surround Height speakers, IMO. So to my mind, 7.1.4 using Front Heights and Top Middles ends up being the most compatible and best-sounding solution.

- Rob H. - AV Rant Podcast Co-host

K.Reid's picture

Maybe that is why I haven't been impressed with Atmos is due to not hearing the effects because I tend to sit at the back of the theater with rear surrounds firing above me that may obscure overhead sound....or maybe as I said the overhead effects are very subtle (like rainfall) and should be more aggressively mixed. I'll have to try sitting in a different location. This opens up another issue as to what type of overhead speakers should one buy. Most Atmos equipped theaters I have been in employ large three way speakers not the typical round coaxial or coincident types (think KEF) like one commonly sees in a home theater. What is the best type of speaker to use for ceiling speakers and Should they be full range? Should one look for a wider dispersion speaker? I know they should be same manufacturer and timbre matched.

FirstReflect's picture

Great questions. Would you be ok with it if we used your questions on the AV Rant Podcast? It's information well worth passing along to all of our Listeners! :)

If you check out Dolby's Atmos white papers for cinemas (http://is.gd/GkGDvr ) you'll see that everything is aimed and targeted for a seat 2/3 of the length of the theatre from the physical front wall. So you should have 1/3rd of the length of the theater behind you for the absolute optimal Atmos experience.

I actually go to D-Box showings and just turn off the D-Box Motion seat that I'm sitting in. The D-Box seats are always in this optimal 2/3rds position in the theater, and since they're larger seats with two arm rests each, I don't have to worry about some idiot behind me kicking my seat, or some knobhead who doesn't understand personal space beside me! But I digress... haha.

The speakers in the theatres are large for the simple reason that they need to hit a certain SPL. When the ceiling is that high and the room is that large, you just can't hit the Dolby requirements for SPL with co-axial 8" in-ceiling speakers!

But at home, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using regular in-ceiling speakers. They are supposed to have a very wide, even dispersion, and they are supposed to be pointed straight down. So even though Dolby recommends Top Fronts and Top Rears, they aren't supposed to be tilted to "toed in" at all. Just facing straight down at the floor. But with very wide 90 degree dispersion in every direction.

Naturally, if you are timbre matching to your existing speakers, such a design might not be offered by your speaker manufacturer of choice. GoldenEar Technology had one of the more impressive sounding Atmos setups at CES, and their ceiling speakers do not have 90 degree dispersion in every direction. They opted to somewhat aim their speakers towards the listening position. And it worked very well!

But that's just one more reason why I personally prefer the Top Middle speaker positions. With those, it isn't critical to have super wide dispersion in every direction. The speakers can be aiming straight down at the floor - just like Dolby wants. But since they're directly overhead and simply the same distance apart from side-to-side as your Front L/R speakers, pretty much any dispersion will do as long as your entire seating area falls within the "cone" of sound created by the speaker on the ceiling.

As for frequency range, there's no actual restriction on the audio objects themselves. But since bass cannot be triangulated by our human ears (they're just not far enough apart!) and deep bass radiates omnidirectionally out of any typical speaker driver, the "best practices" for mixers focus on placing mid-range and treble sounds into those overhead speakers.

Technically, if you're using actual speakers on or in your ceiling, they can play just as low as the rest of your speakers, all of which should always be set to "small" and crossed over to 4 optimally positioned subwoofers so that every seat in your theater enjoys uniform bass! If you can't do 4 subwoofers, 2 can get you reasonably close for a lot less money and hassle :)

So full range? No. But it's ok if they can play down to 80Hz (or lower) to cross over seamlessly with your subwoofers. But even in that case, the actual audio objects that make use of the overhead speakers tend to be higher frequency sounds so that they will be directional.

When it comes to the upward-firing Atmos-Enabled speakers and modules, they have to cross over much higher - up around 180 or 200Hz. Below those frequencies, the bass is radiating omnidirectionally and cannot be reflected off the ceiling no matter what you do.

Sometimes, music and voices do get mixed into audio objects that make use of the overhead speakers. The upward-firing speakers have difficulty with this. The higher frequency portions of those sounds - particularly voices - are directional and get reflected off the ceiling. But the lower frequency portions of those sounds just come directly from wherever the upward-firing speaker or module is placed in the room. So for deeper male voices, for example, you can end up with a very strange disconnect between the consonant sounds and the more resonant part of a deep male voice. The consonants sound like they're coming from the ceiling while the rest of the voice sounds like it's coming from the Front speaker or the Surround Back speaker or what have you. If you use actual speakers on or in the ceiling above you, and you have them play just as low as the rest of your speakers - typically 80Hz - you don't get this problem. So actual speakers on the ceiling are still closer to ideal. But the instances of voices or music in the overhead positions is fairly rare. Mixers are still coming to grips with how best to position sounds. But I bring all of that up because the best Atmos release out there right now is John Wick, and that mix has a lot of music and some voices that come from overhead. It sounds terrific with actual speakers on the ceiling. It sounds a bit odd with upward-firing speakers. So there's that...

- Rob H. - AV Rant Podcast Co-Host

K.Reid's picture

Thanks for the thorough reply. You can use my questions. When is the next podcast where you will be discussing Atmos, DTS-X, etc.?

FirstReflect's picture

Awesome! Thanks for your kindness.

AV Rant Podcast records on Monday nights at 9pm Eastern. Our content is entirely decided by our Listeners. Whatever questions get asked or whatever feedback is given, that's the content for the episode!

So if you would like us to discuss Atmos and DTS:X in more detail, just ask us to do so, and we will! Right now, we are pretty much just responding to all messages in the order in which we receive them ;)

question at AV Rant dot com is how to get in touch with us!

- Rob H. - AV Rant Podcast Co-host

K.Reid's picture

Just read Daryl Wilkinson's Dolby Atmos article and the recommendation is a wide dispersion ceiling speaker with bass down to 180hz. So apparently Dolby Atmos ceiling channels are frequency restricted.

William Lee's picture

If you plan to do the upgrade, you should have the 7.1.4 setup with 2 subwoofers.
One thing that almost all medias fail to mention explicitly is the existing 5.1/7.1 setup need to be realigned to the ear level. Those surround speakers side or back that are placed 2 to 3 feet above listening position will need to be lower to ear levels. Otherwise the layers of sound will not have enough height distance to create the bubble of sound.
I am fine with the 180 Hz high pass for the ceiling speakers as long as they can still hit the 20k Hz full upper range. Keep in mind that residential ceiling uses half inch dry walls. You don't really want to hang a 50 pound speaker, let alone 4 of them. You will feed all the bass to the subwoofers anyway.
I really don't think the AVR can handle the power load to hit the reference level when all channels driven. Perhaps S&V can update the AVR review to drive the maximum channels that the AVR has such as 9 channels. Onkyo used to have THX Ultra 2 plus AVR. Now it only offers THX Select 2 plus in the high end model. I don't think the reason is the licensing fee, but more of the power requirement.
The other frustrating part for me not to upgrade now is that DTS is not willing to publish its recommended speaker layout. DTS keeps saying any speaker layout. Well if I put all 11 speakers from left to right under the TV, will I get the desire effect? The only way to find out the recommended DTS X setup is to find out how the mixing room is setup for DTS X. I hope S&V can find that out for us.
Then, we finally have the Barco Auro 3D. This is like the 4K. Where is the content?

John Sully's picture

A few months ago you ran a survey about what format people used. A sizeable majority still use 5.1 (I know I do) with 7.(1 or 2) being a distant second. If 7.x has not taken over your readership by now (it's been common for almost 15 years now) why would anyone think that Atmos would take the world by storm. As long as the pre outs are available, I think that is fine. Personally I don't want to pay for extra amps that I'm not going to use. If the pre outs are there, I can always buy a poweramp to handle the extra channels.

Tangential's picture

5.1 still does the job, will only upgrade to object based if it can do it with 5 normal speakers.

K.Reid's picture

Tom Norton was supposed to have started building his theater (Equipped for Atmos), it would be good for readers to get a progress report regarding his speaker placement and any challenges he encountered. I though that set up for Atmos would not be complicated, but there some considerable issues that you could face installing one. I don't like the idea of lowering side surrounds to ear height when seated because a direct radiating speaker may be overpowering unless the remedy would be a side bipolar speaker. S&V needs to do an article addressing speaker placement that shows pictures of speaker placement for different room types and ceiling heights and what to do with newer open concept homes where a family/living room is open to a kitchen with no back wall. Set up for Atmos can be a problem.

canman4pm's picture

I just bought a relatively new house last year, with a basement I'm in the process of slowly finishing. The plan is to build either a smallish loung with a dedicated, soundproofed, etc theatre room or have a huge lounge with a theatre space. Me and the wife are still debating the pros and cons. In either case, the plan is for some kind of large screen (probably a projector) with pre-wired speakers. The coming of Atmos, DTS X and Auro have made me consider more options. Ideally, I would like a receiver or separates to operate whatever formats "take off" along with the appropriate switching. Of course, there's practically no content for Auro or DTS in the home as of yet, but if history is anything to go by, DTS will be quickly making up ground. The speaker placement for Auro, in 3 layers, will likely be impractical for anything but a ridiculously large room. Never mind having to potentially have speakers placed for all formats and a surround decoder that can switch between each configuration. At least DTS is just copying DD's layout. So if I had to predict my systems future: 7.4.4, with one receiver or pre/pro decoding Atmos and DTS X. Fortunately, I'm a couple of years away, and have the time to see how it all shakes out. If I'm not ready to buy the hardware by the time I'm ready to hang drywall, I'll at least run the wiring for 7.4.4 so all I have to do is cut the holes for the ceiling speakers.