I recently tried surround sound for the first time, purchasing a used Anthem MRX 310 receiver, a Wharfedale Diamond 12.C center channel, and Wharfedale Diamond 12.0 surrounds. I use my Dutch & Dutch 8Cs for front left and right. I do not use the video processing capabilities of my current receiver. I have an Apple TV connected to my OLED, then go eARC to the Anthem MRX 310.
I enjoy this 5 speaker set-up very much and use it exclusively for movies. Given that I consider this experiment a successful one, I did what every audiophile would naturally do – I decided that I need to go all-in on building a Dolby Atmos home theater. I called in the experts, and one by one they shattered my dreams. My room is too small and the ceiling is too low. They’d happily take my money, but the improvement – if any – would be small. It’s not worth the time, money, and dust. Also, one of the specialists said that the upgrade from 2 channels to 5 is much more significant than 5 to 7, 9 or 11.
I appreciated their honesty but would love further input from this forum. Specifically, my questions are: Is there an upgrade path and is it worth pursuing? If so, what is it? Are they wrong and is Atmos worth the trouble and expense? Should I invest in better speakers, a new receiver, or a separate processor and multi-channel amp?
Thank you very much for your help. I’ve added a pic of my room below.
Thanks for starting this thread, I am pondering the same question. I recently upgraded my front left and right speakers as well as moving from an AVR to separates. What are the dimensions of your room that they deemed “too small”?
The ceiling is just over 6 ft, and the distance from the speakers to the listening position is a bit under 10. The main issue one expert, in particular, pointed out is that the surrounds are pretty close to the listening position, so they would interfere with the effective portrayal of the height channels. I added a pic of my room to the original post, in case it helps.
Thanks. Great looking room! I’m guessing it also sounds great with those D&D’S!
Thanks! Being able to tune the speakers and set up profiles definitely helps with managing the bass for home theater applications.
Did you find that moving to separates was a worthwhile investment? What did you get, and what was sonic improvement, if any? I know this sounds silly, but I know what the difference would be for two channel. I’m having trouble picturing how that translates to surround, especially since I’m not adding channels. Thanks for your help!
Speaking as someone who spent much time figuring out how to do this I will say it’s a really tough room. Could you do it, yes. Benefits yes. But I would only do 2 atmos speakers. Get ones that aim at listener. You can put on either side of couch in ceiling and point to center of couch. It will make a difference. Is it worth the money? Depends on how much effort to run wires. Does the 310 support that or buying bigger badder receiver? You absolutely need a sub. Even if you only use for movies you need one. I did not see what you use for two channel? Or is that different room all together?
Mine is 2 systems in one room that both go through a JLAudio CR-1 to share the sub and front channels between the two systems (yeah I know I should be using rel for both with high level). But both systems operate independently. I have a short ceiling (7.3ft) as well. I used diffusers on ceiling to help with that.
Pics are a few months old, does not show some changes I have made, but good enough.
I used to use an Integra AVR that I purchased in 2009 (can’t recall the model and I’m currently on a work trip). I upgraded to a Marantz AV8805A Pre and a Monolith 7X200 amp (from Monoprice) along with Audioquest Water XLR’s between the two and Water RCA’s from my Oppo UDP205 to the Marantz. I also moved a P5 from another system to replace a PPP.
I do feel the upgrade was worthwhile. There was a substantial increase in clarity and detail that I’m loving. I’m pretty sure everything is still breaking in as I only have around 100 hours of use so far. I would have never considered the Monoprice, but as I researched online I found out they’re made by ATI, which seem to have pretty positive reviews. I would have loved a “nicer” 5 channel amp, like a Parasound A51, but I had to reel in the spending at some point.
The whole upgrade was not planned and only happened because I could not pass up the close out prices of the Goldenear Triton 1.R’s, which are my Front Left and Right speakers. I use their Supercenter Reference and a pair of older Triton 1’s as my Surround Left and Right speakers. Since I now have a 7 channel amp I’m planning on buying a pair of the Goldenear BRX’s to use as the Rear Surrounds. I also plan on grabbing a Sony QD-OLED A95L to replace my Pioneer Kuro Pro-141.
I’d love to experience Atmos, but my room dimensions seem similar to yours, although my ceiling is taller.
I use the Dutch & Dutch 8Cs for two channel and for front left and right. They have more than enough bass for my room (and my neighbor’s), and the DSP they include allows me to fine-tune it, including on the fly for individual movies.
Thanks for the advice on Atmos and happy to hear you think it makes a difference. Would definitely need a more up to date receiver to take advantage of Atmos.
Love the room! Wish I could…
This is really helpful. Sounds like you upgraded a lot of gear – I bet it sounds awesome. I’ve read great things about A95L. I was originally planning on getting the LG G3, but the latest reviews of the Sony have me rethinking it. Thank you, again!
Unfortunately I get the feedback they have given you … the space around the heights and sides are going to limit what you will be able to achieve. while it is doable the benefits without the space around then is going to limit you - now i would spend the money on throwing in a Rel subwoofer in one of those front corners
Great guide for setting atmos up can alos be found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj1vYDzzbeCAxWNA94KHdE_BEMQFnoECBMQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dolby.com%2Fsiteassets%2Ftechnologies%2Fdolby-atmos%2Fatmos-installation-guidelines-121318_r3.1.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2DI1NfZV_DlWhgyM1hFFRz&opi=89978449
Agreed. Seems like the Sony is a very worthy upgrade from the KURO. I plan on waiting until spring of next year to purchase. Hopefully there will be some deals because I really want the 77”.
ahh the Kuro still one of the best … I went to replace it a couple of years ago and two weeks latter my wife demand the Kuro be put back. Only in the last couple of months replaced it with the LG G3
which got the tick of approval …
Kuro is now in my Studio …
Yessir! When I replace mine it will get moved to a smaller system off my kitchen that currently uses an “ancient” Sony XBR 34” widescreen CRT! Obviously I don’t but TV’s often, but when I do I try splurge on the best. I’m not looking forward to physically moving that CRT.
I used separates in my home theater system for years. When my Rotel processor gave up the ghost I decided to try a surround receiver instead. Receivers have come a long way since to old days for home theater. Still use separates in my two channel music system though. Two completely separate systems now. Given up on trying to integrate them even though they are in the same room. In my opinion, higher quality components make a bigger difference in a music system than a home theater one.
The nice thing about using separates, the amps stayed. That anthem amp I have is 20 years old. With receivers the first purchase is cheaper, but try and upgrade… I have gone through 4-5 separates during the time I had that anthem MCA5. I added the outlaw for atmos. $500 for the amp…total deal. Each atmos speaker cost almost as much. I upgrade processors pretty quick. so I get good return on investment. My AVM60 I paid 2500 sold for 1600. Used for 3 years I think. AVM70 I think I paid a bit over 3000.
I have higher ceilings, a perfectly symmetrical room, and an Anthem AVM 60 PrePro. I would need amplifiers for any additional speakers and of course the speakers. But 5.2 does it for me. Thankfully.
I don’t see myself buying more than maybe 10 4K discs as streaming does it for me these days. I am not certain that streaming supports ATMOS. Perhaps it does.
I noticed that MAX is doing away with promising 4K. An odd move in my opinion.
I agree with Gareth and those who told you it wouldn’t be worth it. The Dolby Atmos specifications call for at least 7.5-foot ceilings. Spending the money you are talking about to create a compromised solution that doesn’t meet minimum specifications doesn’t seem worth it.
I am running my system in a room with 7-foot ceilings, and I did a lot of research before finally deciding not to add the height speakers. What I decided to do instead was invest in a good pair of subwoofers. My advice and experience is never go with only one subwoofer.
Edit: I also invested in sonic room treatments. This was one of the most significant improvements I have ever made to my system.
It does but it’s terrible. Super compressed. No where close to physical disc.