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20.4.4 Channel Surround Sound

Our latest surround sound is 20.4.4:

This 20.4.4 Channel Surround Sound was created with the intent to make a simple to wire up, yet large system with multiple elevations and work with 5.1 channel receivers which are much more common than 7.1 channel receivers are. By doing this more people will have the ability to grow their existing system without the need for a multiple replacement receivers.

This custom surround sound was designed by tweaking our existing 30.4.4 channel surround sound system.

We recommend satellite speakers for this system for several reasons:

1) They take up less space than larger speakers do

2) They can most likely be wall mounted so you can set them at the exact height you choose

3) They cost less to purchase

The subs will not need to be very powerful. 50 watt subs each turned up only a quarter of the way will sound really nice. This will let you know there is base present without it overpowering the rest of the sound effects. Also with one sub per corner of the room the sound will appear to fill the room and not distract you since it comes from just one or two locations.

The speakers when properly placed will allow you to properly hear sound from just about everywhere. These small speakers will rapidly move the sound around the room for added realism (especially with action films). Each receiver will power a different elevation of speakers. One elevation will have speakers at ear level and the other will be at the ceiling to help create depth in sound placement.

Elevation 1 (ear level):

  • 10 speakers total
  • One pair of powered subs
  • Two Center channel speakers (one for the rear)
  • Two pairs of front speakers
  • Two pairs of rear speakers
  • One pair of pseudo subs
  • A ‘y’ cable
  • Lot’s of speaker wire which will vary based on the room size

One 5.1 channel receiver with a ‘y’ cable to connect dual subs with. Place one sub in the front left corner of the room and the other in the front right corner. Run a speaker switch off the center, rear and front speaker ports on the receiver. If you have a “a/b” or an “a and b” option for front speakers then you will need not a speaker switch for the front speakers. Connect 2 pairs of front speakers to the switch box. Connect two center channels to a switch box. Connect two pairs of rear speakers to a switch box.

One pairs of pseudo subs. One speaker under the front center and the other one under the rear center. One will connect to the speaker switch for rear speakers and the other for the speaker switch for centers.

Elevation 2 (ceiling): 

  • 10 speakers total
  • One pair of powered subs
  • Two Center channel speakers (one for the rear)
  • Two pairs of front speakers
  • Two pairs of rear speakers
  • One pair of pseudo subs
  • A ‘y’ cable
  • Lot’s of speaker wire which will vary based on the room size

One 5.1 channel receiver with a ‘y’ cable to connect dual subs with. Place one sub in the rear left corner of the room and the other in the rear right corner. Run a speaker switch off the center, rear and front speaker ports on the receiver. If you have a “a/b” or an “a and b” option for front speakers then you will need not a speaker switch for the front speakers. Connect 2 pairs of front speakers to the switch box. Connect two center channels to a switch box. Connect two pairs of rear speakers to a switch box.

To try to create a circle of sound you will be taking one pair of rear speakers at each elevation and placing them so you have a speaker on the left of the room and another on the right of the room. This will help to simulate having a side left and side right speaker like I have suggested when placing the side speakers for a 7.1 channel receiver.

One pairs of pseudo subs. One speaker under the left side speaker and the other one under the right side speaker. Both pair will connect to the speaker switch for rear speakers.

Please note: 

Also connected to the speaker switch for the rear speakers will be the rear centers. You will have one at ear level and the other at ceiling height. Sadly with this system there is simply no way to have middle centers.

Additional speaker placement tips:

When placing the speakers the goal is to create a circle and you sit in the middle of it.

So there you have it, 20.4.4 Channel Surround Sound, a slightly smaller but super easy to connect and use surround sound that still goes “Way Beyond Home Theatre.”

 

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Final comments about my 13 speaker surround sound system

I have continued to tweak this system and ultimately have decided to run the sub woofer in a rather unique way. I am using a sub woofer cable on the sub woofer input on one of the two receivers (the one using the smaller speakers which run at ceiling height). What’s different is what I am doing after that; instead of connecting the other end to a sub woofer here is what I do. I connect it to an input on a different receiver (a third one). From their I connect my sub woofer via speaker wire. To do this I use an adapter. This adapter allows you to run the speaker wire into an RCA cable that you solder together.

Here is why I chose to do this:

  1. My “sub woofer” is actually an MTX dual 12″ woofer setup with a horn tweeter and a mid range speaker all in one very tall and very heavy cabinet. It is half of a pair of main speakers and so I decided to re-purpose it as a sub.
  2. My “sub woofer” is not an actual sub. There is no amp built into it. There is no sub woofer cable input port on it. Instead it runs off of speaker wire. So the way I connect my “sub woofer” is by using speaker wire that connects the sub to the left main speaker on the receiver. For the record you could instead connect to the right main speaker on the receiver if you prefer. Either one will result in the same outcome. This receiver being used is a stereo receiver, not another surround sound one.
  3. By connecting the sub cable to another receiver I am able to boost the volume and bass going to the speaker. This compensates for it not being a powered sub.

One final not about this surround sound and then I promise to stop writing about it….

….I recently learned after my last posting that Denon created a 13 speaker surround sound receiver that is available for sale this year (2018). This means it can do what I have been talking about using two receivers for. The difference being that their version uses only one receiver. For the record I invented this surround sound not them. My original post is from 2016 on this idea. I actually thought it up back in 2008 or 2009, but didn’t write about it until 2016. The posts I am referring to can be found here, here and here too.

So why use my surround sound instead of Denon’s?

Because mine is super affordable. If I highball it I would say you can get two 7.1 channel receivers for about $800 new. The Denon version costs $4,000 at Crutchfield. You go ahead and spend that money if you wish to save space, I prefer to save money. If Denon is able to make my 13 speaker surround sound a reality while using only one receiver, I cannot help but wonder what other ideas of mine they will decide to use as their own. I guess only time will tell.

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13.0.2 Channel Surround Sound

Today I will explain a variation to a surround sound that I originally wrote about some time ago. Back then I simply referred to it as 13.2 channel surround sound. Having finally tested this one in my own home theatre I made some adjustments and it evolved some.

13.0.2 Channel Surround Sound.

First off I’m sure your wondering why the “.0.2”. Allow me to explain ….

The “13” of course represents the number of speakers used. The “0” represents zero powered subs. The “.2” means two pseudo subs (a pair). Like my original posting for 13 channel surround sound I have split the sound from my new Blu-Ray player to allow it to connect to two 7.1 channel receivers. I run one in 6.0 channel mode and the other in 7.0 channel mode. Due to lack of space in my room I do not have any powered subs. For that same reason I am only running two pseudo subs instead of four.

One receiver runs all speakers at ear level when seated. I use much larger, better speakers here. They are 5 1/4″ Polk’s (except the rear center is a KEF). This receiver is an Onkyo and is setup with six speakers. The other receiver is a Sony and runs speakers at two different elevations (ceiling and ear level when seated). The side left and side right speakers run at ear level and are 5 1/4″ JBL’s. Five speakers are Onkyo wall mountable speakers. They are probably 4’s. I’m guessing because I cannot remove the grills and I did not find specs on them (other than the peak wattage and OHM rating they run at). I use a speaker switch on the Sony receiver since it is designed for only one pair of main speakers. My other pair I used are Technics 12’s and they are setup as pseudo subs. I placed one under the television and the other behind the sofa.

I had to, as expected, play around with both receivers (mostly the Sony) to adjust the size, distance and volume on each speaker. This was especially true to avoid an echo with the center channel. When I originally wrote about this I did not expect there to be an echo if splitting the sound from an RCA connection (as opposed to running one receiver with an RCA connection and the other with HDMI. After a few days of testing I have it right and it’s really impressive. My only gripe is that like most movies they still have failed to make the dialogue anywhere near as loud as the action. Perhaps I need to implement my EQ idea for a center channel that I discussed awhile back (in one of my books) to overcome this.

As always have fun with whatever surround sound you choose for your home theatre.

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18.4.4 Channel Surround Sound

Today I will explain another surround sound idea of mine, 18.4.4 Channel Surround Sound. This will use two height elevations and will be moderately easy to connect, yet still time consuming. You will be able to run it as one complete system or pick between them thanks to how it is wired up. Please refer to my books that I have previous written as well as prior blog posts of mine if unsure of how to do this.

This will require the following:

  • 3 Receivers (2 7.1 channel receivers plus a stereo receiver or another surround sound receiver if you want).
  • Multiple speaker switches.
  • 4 Pseudo subs (2 pair).
  • 4 Powered subs.
  • 18 speakers.
  • TV or computer monitor.
  • Lots of speaker wire. This will vary based upon the size of the room. Figure on using about 200 feet for a 11 x 15 room with 9 foot high ceilings.
  • BluRay/DVD/Roku or some other video device for movies.

At ear level you will use the following: A 7.1 channel receiver, speaker switch off the rear speakers on the receiver to accommodate three speakers back there instead of two, another speaker switch off the side left and side right speakers on the receiver for three speakers (one will be at floor level aimed up towards you on an angle). Connect 3 speakers per speaker switch. This gives you two rear speakers plus a rear center speaker and two side speakers plus a middle center. Connect the front left and right speakers and front center as normal.

The pseudo subs will be connected to a regular stereo receiver or a surround sound receiver running in stereo mode. This allows you to adjust the volume. The sound will come off of the speaker switch used for the side speakers on either of the two 7.1 channel receivers (you choose which one to connect to).

The 4 powered subs will be connected off of the ceiling height 7.1 channel receiver or you can connect 2 of them to each 7.1 channel receiver.

At ceiling height you will do just like you did with the other 7.1 channel receiver. The only difference is the speakers connected to this receiver need to be at ceiling height.

Split the sound off of your video device (DVD, Roku, BluRay using RCA cables). One pair to each 7.1 channel receiver. Run any combo of receivers listed for the sound you want. Enjoy your 18.4.4 Channel Surround Sound!

 

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Dolby Pro-Logic Revisited

This post will provide the information needed to truly understand Dolby Pro-Logic. Once you have this down you will have a much greater appreciation for the other surround sounds offered today.

This post will be one of many in a series covering the various main stream surround sounds offered. In future posts we will cover Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos as well as DTS. For now though lets go over Dolby Pro-Logic. Although by today’s standards this surround sound doesn’t sound like much to really appreciate it you have to know it’s history.

Prior to Dolby Pro-Logic we did not have surround sound. I know that seems odd so let me repeat to make sure you caught what I said. Prior to Dolby Pro-Logic we did not have surround sound. How can this be you may be wondering. Let me explain….

It used to be that we only went to the movie theater to see a movie and enjoy it. There we had a big screen and an almost completely black room to watch it in. The sound was loud and was much better than the alternative which was to watch some other film on tv. You see we couldn’t even watch this new film at home because it just came out in theatres. Back then our at home surround sound was the tv speaker or perhaps speakers if the tv was in stereo. The only movies we could watch we either bought or rented on VHS tape or we watched when the tv network chose to broadcast it.

If we planned ahead we could record it onto our VCR with a VHS tape giving it an even lesser quality image to watch and we would have to manually fast forward thru the commercials. No, this is not a scene from a made up movie idea of mine or something that would have taken place on some other planet. This was prior to the early 1990’s. This was our way of life when it came to movies. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, On Demand – none of them had been invented yet! If you rented a film you actually went to a video store and stood in line waiting to get the movie you wanted to watch at home. So much has changed and for the better!

Eventually movie theaters switched from one speaker to two and then to Dolby Pro-Logic which was worlds better than anything before it. Thanks to Dolby Pro-Logic catching on, Dolby continued to improve upon it to make it what it is today. Dolby Pro-Logic added a second pair of speakers (this pair was for behind where you were sitting to finally capture sound from somewhere other than just in front of you. They also included something completely new …  a center channel. This introduced a way to finally steer the sound and created much better clarity when it came to dialogue. So to recap with Dolby Pro-Logic you went from one pair of stereo speakers to five speakers (left front, center, right front, left rear and right rear). Now you could attempt to recreate the movie experience at home! Luckily for us this has been replaced with something even better!