12.4.4 Channel Surround Sound

Another attempt to make a custom small surround sound system. This 12.4.4 Channel Surround Sound was based off of the 20.4.4 channel surround system only shrunken down further allowing us to experiment with what speakers are to be used and where they are to be placed. With this system you will have two elevations and run off of two 5.1 channel receivers.

Ear level:

(6.2.2 channel surround sound)

front center, left front, right front, left rear, right rear, and rear center

2 powered subs and 2 pseudo subs

 

Ceiling height:

(6.2.2 channel surround sound)

rear left (placed on the side), rear right (placed on the side), right front, left front, right rear and left rear

2 powered subs and 2 pseudo subs

How to wire this up:

You will need to connect speaker switch boxes (selectors) to each of the two 5.1 channel receivers needed for this system. You will also need to connect ‘y’ connectors to each receiver for the powered subs.

A simple way to improve your music

Everyone seems to have advice on how to make your sound just so. Because of this today I present you with a simple way to improve your music. In the past I have provided over the top options for both audio and home theatre. Instead today it’s back to the basics.

A simple way to improve your music

Today while I was listening to some music I remembered something I did about 13 or 14 years ago and it really helped. Best of all the only expense was the cost of the speakers and some speaker wire. Since I already had both just lying around I was out no additional money to try this out with. When I implemented this it was to for both movies and music to make them both sound clearer.

Back then I was still using my beloved BIC RTR-1230’s. This was my first pair of 12’s and I bought them new. Luckily for me I worked for a wholesaler distributor at the time and as an employee I got them at the same cost as our business customers did. I was powering them with my Yamaha RV-1105 (5.1 channel receiver). This receiver was all about the bass (bass and treble knobs each individually adjustable plus or minus 12 DB’s, and a loudness switch for an additional 6 db’s of bass). Think about that a moment – 18 db’s of bass and a high current 85 watts per channel at 8 ohms amp built into it. Obviously this system had plenty of power and my speakers were meant for it with each cabinet containing a 12″ woofer, 4″ mid, 2.5″ tweeter, MDF cabinets and a bass port.

Here lies the issue I ran into….

I wanted better clarity when listening to dialog in movies. Cutting the bass and boosting the treble and volume only did so much. The solution was to run a second pair of main speakers at the same time. Luckily no switch box was needed since my receiver had an a/b switch built into it. My second pair of speakers sat directly on top of the BIC’s. Elevating them much higher than the big speakers did not create the seamless source of direction for the sound that I wanted. The second pair was also a pair of BIC’s but much smaller (4″ two way wall mountable speakers). They were not bassey, but were clear enough when paired with the big BIC’s to help in hearing what was being drowned out with bass.

After 13 years of experiencing the receiver slowly lose more and more functionality I finally threw it away. Just before tossing it all it could do was music in mono. I should’ve kept it and had it serviced. I had paid $400 for it about 20 years ago which was alot of money at the time (but also a great deal because it was normally $800 and was simply missing the remote). I wish I still had the BIC’s too (the big pair not the small ones). Oh well, it’s not like I am lacking a pair of 12’s to use. Currently I test out via a speaker switch a pair of Pioneer’s, Fisher’s,  my custom dual 12’s and my single MTX dual 12″ speaker. Not in use at the moment are a pair of Onkyo 12’s and another pair of Pioneer 12’s. I have no need for some of these speakers but just enjoy knowing that I have them just in case I want to try something different perhaps in another room.

The same thing I did for movies could be done for music too! Just hookup a second pair (smaller pair) of speakers to the front and either sit them on top of a pair of 12’s or wall mount them. When wall mounting expect to do lots of sound test to find the optimal spot or perhaps go back to having them sit on top of the bigger pair of speakers. Be mindful of the volume since the little pair will get an equal amount of power to what the bigger pair gets. So there you have it a simple way to improve your music.

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.”

 

The difference between monotone and stereo

This post is for all of those people who don’t seem to care about what something really sounds like. Perhaps you know them or know someone who does. This post is not about surround sound it’s about The difference between monotone and stereo.

Please pass this article on to them to help them. I have spoken with many people who just don’t get it – why sound quality matters. They all tell you that they are not into having speakers. Maybe it’s the size, maybe it’s the expense or in most cases I have found it to be that they really don’t care about what sound they hear (or could be hearing). 

These people are not just against having an over the top custom surround sound, they do not have a surround sound system at all – not even a soundbar, nor do they want to! These people are somehow satisfied with the sound (what little there is) that is emitted from that tiny hidden speaker in their tv’s, cell phones, laptops and tablets. To them I say “Don’t settle for poor quality sound when you don’t have to.”

This post is not about surround sound it’s about The difference between monotone and stereo.

Monotone is just that mono. Mono means one. That’s it – just one speaker for all sound.

Stereo is two speakers instead of one. But that’s not where it ends – it’s not just louder because you have doubled your number of speakers, it’s much more than that! Stereo gives you different sound effects out of each speaker simultaneously. With stereo you will hear things that you did not hear before because it just wasn’t there before. 

Weather you choose to watch a tv show or a movie (which is what most Americans do all to often) or just listen to music why not take pleasure in hearing it in stereo? Your car stereo comes in stereo not mono, and computer speakers are not sold as a single speaker so why settle for monotone when you can have stereo instead?

 

 

The problems that you create when using a powered subwoofer

I guess I am old school when it comes to audio. Growing up everyone wanted to have a pair of 12’s or at least 10’s for their speakers. Back then we did not have surround sound, just stereo. Our Televisions had built in speakers and most people never even thought of trying to connect a stereo receiver of any kind to the tv so that the sound could come out of their 10 or 12 inch speakers (or smaller if they even had any).  Today tvs have speakers, but good luck locating them since they are so small. Nowadays we do add a receiver to the tv for surround sound, but typically with small speakers. Usually we run satellite speakers or perhaps bookshelf speakers. Because we use these small speakers they are incapable of producing any really deep bass so we then have to run a powered subwoofer.

Two problems with powered subwoofers:

1) Too much bass with music. I can’t stand booming bass that overpowers the music itself. I want it to all be somewhat balanced.

 2) Too much bass for movies. This can at times overpower the rest of the sound effects found in whatever film you are watching especially if it’s an action, adventure, or sci-fi film where the sub is needed more.

So what then is the solution?

I believe it is all about balance. Balance in the size of speakers you choose to use, balance in the volume you turn up the sub, balance in how much gain you use on the sub. I choose to use 5 1/4″ book shelf speakers for my surround sound because they can recreate almost the full range of sound with the exception of the deep bass. I use a powered sub in one of my surround sound rooms, but with the volume and gain adjusted to give it just a little boom without overpowering everything else. Of course, acoustics matter too so trial and error is needed to get it just right. For music I do not use a sub at all! I use a pair of 12’s or dual 12’s or 8’s depending on what I am listening to and how I want it to sound. Keep in mind that if your goal is just lots of bass a powered sub makes sense. For instance, rap and some hip hop are usually loaded with lots of deep bass if that is what you are looking for.

How do you like to listen to your music? Do you use a powered sub? A passive sub? No sub at all?