Jump to content

So I have 5.1... do i NEED 7.1?


Recommended Posts

Today I was fooling around online when I should have been studying and I went into our theater room to see what changes I could make. One thing I had never considered but now I wonder about is getting surround back channels. It was only 8 months ago that I got a proper set of surround speakers, the RS 62, and they sound absolutely wonderful. At that time, I didnt even think about 6.1 or 7.1 (i dont know if my dealer even will sell me just one RS 62). Anyway, I figured I'd ask a lot of you, if you went with more than 5.1, and what you did to justify your purchase at the time. Its not the money but I like to justify my purchases as being logical. As it stands right now, its not justified, at least I dont think.

So in our theater, I mostly watch movies on HBO HD. I barely, if ever, watch DVDs... if some friends come over, and they want to go get a movie from blockbuster, then thats fine, but I never initiate it because I honestly cant stand 480p on a 124" screen, but i digress.

Afaik, the Dolby Digtial spec doesnt include anything greater than 5.1, so it would seem that I will never get more than 5 channels of sound out of any HDTV broadcast, today or in the future, but I could be wrong about this, if someone wants to chime in. Because most of my theater use is watching HDTV, then upgrading to 7.1 will make no sense.

Now what I dont know is bluray/HD DVD. I know they have the new Dolby truHD spec but I dont know if that will include more than 5 channels of sound usually.

As it stands, my Denon receiver will amplifiy 7 channels, so i could get one, but what happens to the sound when 5 channels are used? does it just matrix the sound from the surrounds and send them to the back? and if it does do that, does that actually help or become a distraction?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It depends on where you're sitting in the room. If you're within 6 feet or so of the back wall, 5.1 is ideal. If there's lots of room behind your listening position, 7.1 may be better. In a 7.1 setup, your surrounds would be to the sides and just a little behind you and the rear surrounds would be near the back wall, ideally at the same width as your front speakers, but at least 5 feet apart in any case. Would this make sense in your listening room?

Personally, I used 7.1 when I had the sofa in the middle of the room and it sounded good, but, because of the layout of the room, the front speakers were too close together. When I shifted everything in the room 90 degrees to the left (moved the TV and system center from the north wall to the west wall), I was able to move the main speakers much further apart and the system sounded a lot better. However, the sofa is now less than 4 feet from the back wall and 5.1 works just fine in that situation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In all seriousness, lots of people here have killer systems, mostly 5.1. You, or most any of us here do not need 7.1.

I agree. That said, there may be instances where an extra back channel can help. I use one now, but I consider it a special case. My "common" room is of normal width but very deep to include a dining area. My system has forever been 5.1 but when I did some upgrades I ended up with some "extras". So, my recommendations are these:

1) Improve 5.1 as far as you can.

2) If the room is large or long...maybe consider 7.1 if you already have the back channel amplification anyway. Most of us already have it or plan for upgrades that could include an extra one or two channels.

3) I'm biased to music and can't see spending $$ to just get more sound effects from a movie placed behind me even for an accurate "theater experience". I just don't think it computes from what I've heard. 5.1 works just fine. Musical enhancement is another story.

4) To improve the musical quality of a 5.1 system in a large or long room, consider using another center channel speaker in back. Two reasons: a. the back channels in 7.1 are mono anyway, and b. keeping musical quality high suggests using a good full-range speaker back there. Even if the recording is 5.1, most processors will give you a mono-composite of the surround tracks that are really helpful if you have a large space to fill behind you. Use your $$ for one good full range speaker...especially another center speaker. Placement issues are easier, one wire, and viola...6.1.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you use the 2 back channels.. Keep them semi close together... adds depth!

There is no way you can't feel how great it is in 7.1 with flight of the pheonix... It is that cool, having planes fly over you... Around you, and hear em going back behind you too.

IMO, The front three speakers are your most important... all the same when possible.... and a great sub system a close second..

That said,

Do you need it.. no

If your building a new house, do you wire for it... OBVIOUSLY YES!!!

Use good speakers in the back too.... It will make a difference..

Yeah... U want it.... LOL might as well do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a 6.1 receiver (in the "tweener" stage of evolution). I hear Tom Holman interviewed and talking about 10.2 for the present and future, but I digress. If you look at the ideal THX 7.1 setup on their site, the two rear channels are right next to each other. I ran a pair of Chorus II's in parallel for the middle rear channel for a while. My back wall is too far for the delay capability of my unit and I don't want to put Chorus II's in the middle of the room unless I put wire grids over the passiives first, but I digress again.

THX shows 7.1 and it behaves like 6.1 in their ideal setup, so unless you need the extra 3 db of power output by way of two channels, side by side, it's diminishiing returns for sure in HT.

I turned my 6.1 off and I'm running 5.1 right now. Those channels are not supported by current DVD's anyhow and may become so as Blue Ray evolves, so it's too early to tell.........

Whether you do 7.1 or 6.1, those one or 2 extra channels are being synthesized by your HT receiver. They are not discrete signals in the recording.

My take? Don't bother for right now. 5.1 is just fine..................buy Jubilees!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indy -- What is a Bass Management System? I run the two THX subs as well and believe that I could be getting more out of them. I of couse have the amp that goes with them, but I could have my chest rumble some more...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you NEED 7.1? Not really, especially, as others have said, most of the current material is only in 5.1, although hopefully we'll see the high-def DVD formats start to take more advantage of the extra channels. My own setup is in a 6.1 configuration (I have a second RC-7 as my rear center), but I probably could've just as easily done without. I more or less did since I hated to see a channel go unused on my amp, plus I figured "what the hell". However there was just not enough space in my room to make going 7.1 worth it (getting another speaker was not so much a problem, but trying to place it where it would make sense, not to mention having to make yet another run of speaker wire).

It is nice to have the option and the extra channels, more as "future proofing" your system. There are some things that do take advantage of it but right now, for most practical purposes, it is just not worth the hassle, unless you already have the space, the amplification, and the wiring in place, then go for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did 6.1 for awhile, I didn't like it........like I said I am able to do 7.1 when and if I choose to, but just use 5.1, I like having the option

All DVD's are 5.1 discrete channels. The receivers SYTHeSIZE the extra 1 or 2 with fake data. It's easy to do with Digital Signa Processors and gives them (unnecessary?) features to sell for "this year's model" in the absence of real tehnologial advancements for the consumer.

When Blue Ray (I hope) and/or HD-DVD become the norm and you can buy players for $99 and burners for $49 (about 2 years from now if history repeats itself), they will contain 8 discrete channels in the form of a true 7.1, so, in the meantime, 6.1 or 7.1 is a nice luxury, but it's not all there yet.

I'm happy with my 5.1, but I'm building a "poor man's LaScala" right now to hook up as a 6.1 when I rearrange my basement rooms in a month.

Poor man's LaScala will be a Klipsch K5j with a JBL LE85 and a JBL 2404H Tweeter on a Peavey FH-1 bass bin (30" wide instead of 24" for a LaScala)I got for almost free and a used K33 I got for $50.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...