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  1. #1
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    more wattaged needed? and other random help needed

    recently i added better quality surround speakers to my 6.1 setup. I have a 65w x 6 onkyo receiver which i have been debating upgrading b/c of alot of reasons. before i do this though im wondering...when i had smaller speakers attached, i had alot of surround sound from them..now i get little sound from the surrpunds...anybody know if this is because my new speakers are rated at 100 watts and my amp is only 65? basically im wondering if there is a direct relationship between the power and the amount of sound that comes out (not necessarily the volume b/c they are all getting 75 db at refernece. its just annoying me because now i have better speakers but am getting less sound...please help. by the way, i just hooked up my new svs pci2531..wow...it literally made my walls creak..kinda scarry and that at 50% gain and set to -5 @ -20 to reference haha its insane oh yeah its it normal to have to turn the bass up for music compared to movies? i thought it would be the other way around, but i go from -5 db to about 10db on my sub vol control on the receiver for music thanks
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  2. #2
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    The only correlation between the rated wattage and how loud the output is would be well above normal listening levels for a typical living room. There are any number of other things that you need to check, that are far more likely and significant variables than the wattage output. Consider that from your seat you will typically hear about 80 to 90 db of output with ONE WATT feeding into them. 90 db is pretty damn loud. An extra 10 watts will bump that output up to 100 db.

    The reason why you had more output from the surround channels when using different speakers is simply because you were using different speakers -- with different sensitivity, frequency response, and power handling characteristics. Any time you make a change to your speaker setup or to your room or to your alignment, it will affect the sound, even if you make no changes to the receiver settings.

    If you have not done so already, you need to use a SPL meter to level match all of your speakers with a test tone. When you talk about 75 db reference levels, was that measured with a SPL meter, or is it just a setting on your receiver? The setting on the receiver says absolutely nothing about what you're actually hearing at your listening position because of all the variations with the speaker characteristics, placement, distance, room acoustics, proximity to walls, etc. Once you calibrate the levels, then any differences in the surround levels that you observe can more definitely be blamed more on the soundtrack being used than anything having to do with your system. The analog SPL meter at Radio Shack costs $40, and that's one of the best investments that you can make for your system.

    With a subwoofer, a normal setting would be to calibrate the sub about 4 db higher than the other speakers. Also keep in mind that your sub might seem loud because the room acoustics emphasize and boost specific frequencies (+20 db is not at all unusual). With bass traps and/or equalization, you can even out the bass, which would make it sound fuller and more accurate across the entire bass spectrum. With a properly calibrated and equalized subwoofer, you won't need to adjust the levels between different sources very much, because the bass will be more even rather than peaky with certain sounds.

  3. #3
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    i did...

    reset all the channels using my spl to 75 db and my sub is around 82 db. however the problem im having is that listening to the same movies that i was used to (ex LOTR dts vrs.) im not getting as much sound in the surrounds as before. the old speakers i had weere rated at 75 watts and the new ones at 100, but that supposed to be maximum. i thought about increasing the side channels and rear channels by a few more db up, but i know thats not the way it should be set, so its annoying. but technically, if all speaker volume levels are the same in the test tones setup, then the only thing that makes a difference is the soundtrack...correct? i cant quite figure this one out, its really bothering me. some thoughts that havent been conclusive were that before i wasnt using a subwoofer either, now i am and i was thinking since now i have a crossover set at 80 hz that i could be losing some info in the surrounds below that, but i cant imagine there is much below 80 in those? maybe im just going crazy...im just used to having alot of sound in there that is obvious and now i literally have to listen for it.. who knows?
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    reset all the channels using my spl to 75 db and my sub is around 82 db. however the problem im having is that listening to the same movies that i was used to (ex LOTR dts vrs.) im not getting as much sound in the surrounds as before. the old speakers i had weere rated at 75 watts and the new ones at 100, but that supposed to be maximum. i thought about increasing the side channels and rear channels by a few more db up, but i know thats not the way it should be set, so its annoying. but technically, if all speaker volume levels are the same in the test tones setup, then the only thing that makes a difference is the soundtrack...correct? i cant quite figure this one out, its really bothering me. some thoughts that havent been conclusive were that before i wasnt using a subwoofer either, now i am and i was thinking since now i have a crossover set at 80 hz that i could be losing some info in the surrounds below that, but i cant imagine there is much below 80 in those? maybe im just going crazy...im just used to having alot of sound in there that is obvious and now i literally have to listen for it.. who knows?
    Keep in mind that different speakers have different points of emphasis with different tonal characteristics. The SPL reading is simply the overall level with a broadband test signal. The wattage rating of the speaker is meaningless.

    The crossover setting could result in some different SPL readings than before. Another consideration is whether you changed the positioning of the surround speakers. Changing the positioning will alter how the speakers sound, and if they're closer or further away from the listening position, then you need to change the delay settings on the receiver's setup menu.

    Are your surround speakers voice matched to the mains? If not, then might ultimately be your biggest source of frustration, because the only way that you can get a totally coherent match with the surrounds is to make sure that the speakers all have similar tonal characteristics.

  5. #5
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    Wooch has you on the right track. First, don't pay any attention to the speaker wattage ratings. Those don't tell you much about sound, just how much punishment they can take.

    Positioning is critical. If you've changed surrounds and notice a different "amount" of surround fill, it could be a few things. First, different speakers behave differently. You implied that you had smaller speakers before. Smaller drivers (woofer/tweeter) will disperse sound better, all things equal. Larger speakers (for example 8 " woofers) generally require you to set the speaker a bit further away from the listening position. Try aiming the speakers a bit differently, angling them towards you or away from your listening position in a few different ways. You'd be surprised how much of a difference this can make sometimes.
    Second, every speaker is different in how it delivers audio. Could just be the new speakers don't spread the sound into the room the same way.
    Third, try a few more soundtracks, you might find that your old speakers were just over-exaggerating certain frequencies, which gave you the illusion that they produced more surround fill.

    Do make sure you have the delays and SPL levels matched properly, all measured from the listening position.

  6. #6
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    The only correlation between the rated wattage and how loud the output is would be well above normal listening levels for a typical living room. There are any number of other things that you need to check, that are far more likely and significant variables than the wattage output. Consider that from your seat you will typically hear about 80 to 90 db of output with ONE WATT feeding into them. 90 db is pretty damn loud. An extra 10 watts will bump that output up to 100 db.

    The reason why you had more output from the surround channels when using different speakers is simply because you were using different speakers -- with different sensitivity, frequency response, and power handling characteristics. Any time you make a change to your speaker setup or to your room or to your alignment, it will affect the sound, even if you make no changes to the receiver settings.

    If you have not done so already, you need to use a SPL meter to level match all of your speakers with a test tone. When you talk about 75 db reference levels, was that measured with a SPL meter, or is it just a setting on your receiver? The setting on the receiver says absolutely nothing about what you're actually hearing at your listening position because of all the variations with the speaker characteristics, placement, distance, room acoustics, proximity to walls, etc. Once you calibrate the levels, then any differences in the surround levels that you observe can more definitely be blamed more on the soundtrack being used than anything having to do with your system. The analog SPL meter at Radio Shack costs $40, and that's one of the best investments that you can make for your system.

    With a subwoofer, a normal setting would be to calibrate the sub about 4 db higher than the other speakers. Also keep in mind that your sub might seem loud because the room acoustics emphasize and boost specific frequencies (+20 db is not at all unusual). With bass traps and/or equalization, you can even out the bass, which would make it sound fuller and more accurate across the entire bass spectrum. With a properly calibrated and equalized subwoofer, you won't need to adjust the levels between different sources very much, because the bass will be more even rather than peaky with certain sounds.
    I thought you had to double the watts to gain 3db?
    Look & Listen

  7. #7
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    Yup, and adding 10 dB requires 10 times the power.

  8. #8
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Thats what i thought.
    Look & Listen

  9. #9
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    good advice, more questions

    ok ive tried some of the recommendations. still no luck. i was thinking that since my receiver is only 65 watts...i heard that some receivers can send more power to the front channels and less to the surrounds....does any body think that my amp is giving out or clipping when trying to send the power to the surrounds? they do all get 75 db when i set them though, but if im listening at - 10 could they not be getting enough for 90-95 db? this seems like it could be aproblem since they were working with the smaller speakers and now not working with larger speakers . anyway im sick of this onkyo 501, ive been looking for a good reason to upgrade. any thoughts about my problem? also, where can i find denon or hk receivers for a good price online? thanks
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  10. #10
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    ok ive tried some of the recommendations. still no luck. i was thinking that since my receiver is only 65 watts...i heard that some receivers can send more power to the front channels and less to the surrounds....does any body think that my amp is giving out or clipping when trying to send the power to the surrounds? they do all get 75 db when i set them though, but if im listening at - 10 could they not be getting enough for 90-95 db? this seems like it could be aproblem since they were working with the smaller speakers and now not working with larger speakers . anyway im sick of this onkyo 501, ive been looking for a good reason to upgrade. any thoughts about my problem? also, where can i find denon or hk receivers for a good price online? thanks
    Again, rated wattage output means NOTHING in this case. With a measuring reference level of 75 db, your receiver is likely outputing only about 0.1 watts/channel. So long as the wattage output levels are identical, it does not matter one bit that the highest output is rated at 65 watts.

    The likeliest culprit is simply that you're using nonmatching speakers for the surrounds, and their differing tonal characteristics are throwing you off. The SPL levels might match with a broadband test, but because the voice characteristics are different, you ears will pick up on the differing levels at specific frequencies. Before you go pointing fingers at your receiver, you might want to revisit the choices you're making with the speaker setup. The better the voice match, the more seamless the surround effect will be.

    Alignment also matters. The diagram below shows the ITU reference placement for a 5.1 speaker configuration.



    You seem deadset on upgrading the receiver no matter what anyone else tells you. A receiver upgrade will give you some new features, and some subtle differences in the tonal characteristics. But, using the same speaker setup and level matching as what you have right now, I would guess that a new receiver will still have the same issues.

    If you mail order a h/k or Denon receiver (are you actually going to do this without demoing the receivers first?), just make sure that you go through an authorized vendor. Buying through an unauthorized online dealer will invalidate the warranty.

  11. #11
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    all the speakers...

    are the same brand and the manufacture claims that they are all matched. as far as the receiver goes..like i said im looking for an excuse to get another one because the one i currently have doesnt have large/small speaker settings..or a reference level (just a volume knob that goes from 0-79) the former im afraid is screwing up my bass management. i angled the speakers a little more down and it has helped somewhat. they are currently about 60" high with one about 3 feet from the listening area and the other is about 15 feet. the rear is at the height same level as the fron center channel. i noticed that my biggest problem speaker is of course the one that is 15 feet away. in order for all the other speakers not to be below -5 i have to set this one to +12 so i cant turn it up any louder. i have an oddly shaped room and im learning that this probably is going to affect my surround speakers. the left surround is set to -3 and the right to +12 to get a spl of 75db. i bumped my crossover down from 100hz to 80hz and this helped some too.

    can anyone describe the amount and volume typical in their 6.1 also the receiver upgrade would allow me to upgrade to 7.1, but again i havent seen too many reasons to make this upgrade yet with soundtracks only in 6.1.
    spl or die.

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    oh yeah..

    i ordered the video essentials 2003 dvd. will anything on there help with this problem. also i need to set the phase for my sub. any recommendations when using this tool, from experience?
    spl or die.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    i angled the speakers a little more down and it has helped somewhat. they are currently about 60" high with one about 3 feet from the listening area and the other is about 15 feet. the rear is at the height same level as the fron center channel. i noticed that my biggest problem speaker is of course the one that is 15 feet away. in order for all the other speakers not to be below -5 i have to set this one to +12 so i cant turn it up any louder. i have an oddly shaped room and im learning that this probably is going to affect my surround speakers. the left surround is set to -3 and the right to +12 to get a spl of 75db. i bumped my crossover down from 100hz to 80hz and this helped some too.

    can anyone describe the amount and volume typical in their 6.1 also the receiver upgrade would allow me to upgrade to 7.1, but again i havent seen too many reasons to make this upgrade yet with soundtracks only in 6.1.
    Well, no wonder you're having problems. Do you have the distance delays set properly? 12 feet is a lot of space, tonality will change immensely.
    Look, a new receiver probably won't improve things much for you in this case. I can pretty much guarantee you that more power isn't going to benefit you here. Unless you're typically listening at 90 dB volume levels or something. Rather than throwing money at a new receiver, you might be better off buying some rear stands or something to more ideally mount your speakers. This will have a much more significant affect on the sound of your system. After you conquer your room environment challenges, then start upgrading your equipment.

  14. #14
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    yes the distance settings are correct. goos advice on stands. im going to move the speakers around and see if i can place a stand somewhere that will be better. for a 6.1 setup, have you found it better for the sides to be perpendicular to ear or behind ear like in 5.1?
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    To be honest, I found 6.1 rear speaker positioning to be best when placed as they are in the 5.1 diagram Wooch provided above. But I really didn't like that position for 5.1. I needed my surrounds placed further back at wider angle.
    I think you'll find the soundstage wider and more immersing if you move (or keep) the surrounds perpendicular (perhaps a foot or so behind) your listening position.

    Depending on your room acoustics, experimentation may be required.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    are the same brand and the manufacture claims that they are all matched.
    Manufacturers can make all the claims they want. It's up to you to verify whether or not the voice characteristics are actually a sufficient match for one another. Which speakers are you actually using? Just because they are made by the same company does not mean that they will voice match with one another, especially if you're using speakers from different families or model versions.

    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    as far as the receiver goes..like i said im looking for an excuse to get another one because the one i currently have doesnt have large/small speaker settings
    Check again, the TX-SR501 not only has those options available, but it also uses a variable crossover setting for the bass management. Time to read the owner's manual.

    http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/art...ber=4&preview=

    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    ..or a reference level (just a volume knob that goes from 0-79) the former im afraid is screwing up my bass management.
    The "reference" level is contingent on the ACTUAL output from the speaker as measured at your listening position. You're getting hung up over how the volume level is displayed, but so long as the actual output is consistent with the displayed value, then it won't matter if the volume is displayed using decibels, numeric scales, roman numerals, or scientific notation.

    Also, how the volume intervals are displayed has nothing to do with the functionality of the bass management. If you claim that the Onkyo has no small/large speaker options, then it has no bass management on board either.

    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    i angled the speakers a little more down and it has helped somewhat. they are currently about 60" high with one about 3 feet from the listening area and the other is about 15 feet. the rear is at the height same level as the fron center channel. i noticed that my biggest problem speaker is of course the one that is 15 feet away. in order for all the other speakers not to be below -5 i have to set this one to +12 so i cant turn it up any louder. i have an oddly shaped room and im learning that this probably is going to affect my surround speakers. the left surround is set to -3 and the right to +12 to get a spl of 75db. i bumped my crossover down from 100hz to 80hz and this helped some too.
    NOW, we're getting somewhere! With huge differences in distance like this between the speakers, you're never going to get anything reasonably coherent with your surround imaging. You can minimize the time domain distortions by changing the delay settings (with Onkyo receivers, you do this by entering the actual distance from the listening position into the setup menu). But, having one speaker 9 feet closer to you than another means that the room acoustics will have very different effects on the sound that you get from those speakers.

    With this kind of hackneyed speaker alignment, a new receiver won't help much. Save some money and rearrange your room first before you start adding new hardware.

    Having everything at different heights doesn't help. Dolby's placement guidelines recommend that you have the main and center speakers as close to ear level as possible, and that you elevate the surrounds above ear level.

    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    can anyone describe the amount and volume typical in their 6.1 also the receiver upgrade would allow me to upgrade to 7.1, but again i havent seen too many reasons to make this upgrade yet with soundtracks only in 6.1.
    Amount and volume typical? The volume is simply whatever level you prefer to listen at. My general listening level is between 75 and 85 db.

    Don't get too hung up on "7.1" either. All that it means is that the back surround channel gets split into two identical monophonic channels. This simply minimizes the comb filtering effect from having a speaker pointed directly behind your head (function of how differently our ears hear things behind us). In actuality, if you have your sofa pushed against a back wall, with no room behind, you're better off without the back surround channel active. Worry about getting the 5.1 setup right first, since 99.9% of DVD soundtracks do not have any ES/EX back surround encoding.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    i ordered the video essentials 2003 dvd. will anything on there help with this problem. also i need to set the phase for my sub. any recommendations when using this tool, from experience?
    Learn to walk before you go sprinting. The Video Essentials disc is a great tool for calibrating your system, but it might be too advanced for anyone who's never used a calibration disc before. It's not an easy to use disc because the menu navigation sucks and the tutorials are not always very clear. I would actually recommend the Sound & Vision Home Theater Setup disc for first timers. It's very clear and concise, and has just the basic tests that you need, along with some cool extras like THX, Dolby Digital, and DTS theater trailers.

    Setting the phase on your sub is pretty simple -- use the position that sounds best integrated with the rest of your speakers.

  18. #18
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    the speakers im using are (cough, cough) bose 601 IV (front, which i got for $150 about 4 years ago from a friend) i kept them for a while and since i already had them i picked up a vcs-10 and a pair of 161's for the sides (in attempt to keep them all matched as they said they were) them most recently added a rear vcs-10 that i ebayed for 70 bucks. they arent my favorite brand, but considering i got them all for the same price i just payed for my svs pci 2531, i dont feel so bad. in the future i will be looking into other stuff, but for now this is fine. they seem to match up well.

    as far as the receiver goes, i was aware of the points you made, however with my last receiver, i was able to set the crossover for the fronts a little lower which help blending the midbass (esp for music) and as i stated, the volume knob was an annoyance b/c i like to know what db levels im at..with my reference level set at 50 dropping to 40 doesnt correspond to - 10 db.. its just annoying...at least i get to put my spl to use, alot. (i guess this is a better way now that i think about it.

    i have my fronts and front and back centers level with the fronts tweeters within about 4 inches and the sides are perpendicular to the ear about 18" above ear level angled slightly downward.
    QUESTION, is it best for the sides to be perpendicular to the ears or slightly behind as in 5.1 (like the diagram) also, if dolby advises to place above ear level, does this mean above and not angled downward towards the listener. as in the speakers are directly facing each other OR angling towards the listener?) this could be making a difference?

    thanks for the advice!
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  19. #19
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    the speakers im using are (cough, cough) bose 601 IV (front, which i got for $150 about 4 years ago from a friend) i kept them for a while and since i already had them i picked up a vcs-10 and a pair of 161's for the sides (in attempt to keep them all matched as they said they were) them most recently added a rear vcs-10 that i ebayed for 70 bucks. they arent my favorite brand, but considering i got them all for the same price i just payed for my svs pci 2531, i dont feel so bad. in the future i will be looking into other stuff, but for now this is fine. they seem to match up well.
    That would also explain a lot. Even if you like Bose's main speakers (their 201, 301, and 601 are far from their worst speakers), their "matching" center and surround speakers do not mate very well with their direct/reflecting line. Keep in mind that Bose regards the VCS-10 and 161s as "matching" center/surround speakers for not only the entire direct/reflecting line, but all of the Acoustimass models as well. It doesn't take much listening to figure out that the direct/reflecting and Acoustimass speakers sound VERY different from one another, yet Bose has prescribed the same center and surround speakers for those lines. In my listenings, Bose's center/surround speakers are not a good match for their direct/reflecting line. If you want to match to the 601s, you might even want to consider going with a pair of 201s or 301s as surrounds.

    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    as far as the receiver goes, i was aware of the points you made, however with my last receiver, i was able to set the crossover for the fronts a little lower which help blending the midbass (esp for music) and as i stated, the volume knob was an annoyance b/c i like to know what db levels im at..with my reference level set at 50 dropping to 40 doesnt correspond to - 10 db.. its just annoying...at least i get to put my spl to use, alot. (i guess this is a better way now that i think about it.
    Like I said, as long as you obtain a consistent reading and use the same level for level matching, it doesn't matter what number the volume dial says.

    Quote Originally Posted by vxaudio
    QUESTION, is it best for the sides to be perpendicular to the ears or slightly behind as in 5.1 (like the diagram) also, if dolby advises to place above ear level, does this mean above and not angled downward towards the listener. as in the speakers are directly facing each other OR angling towards the listener?) this could be making a difference?
    If you use your speaker setup for both movies and multichannel music, then you want to point the surround speakers directly at one another, not tilted down towards the listening position. Dolby recommends raising the surround speakers about 2' above ear level (I think 1' is more than enough). This is because most movie soundtracks include a lot of ambient/environmental cues in the surround channels, and to convey those sounds properly, you need to diffuse it otherwise they will sound like point sources. That configuration diffuses the ambient sounds while preserving the directional cues that come with a lot of multichannel music and newer movie soundtracks.

  20. #20
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    i have access to a pair of 201's and initially was considering using them. i went with the 161's simply b/c the could be mounted. if i try the 201's again, where would i place them to compensate for the angled tweeters? also, i was considering moving my mains and tv to a different location but one of the 601's would be along a open wall leading into another room instead of the corner. the back woofer is designed to reflect from a nearby wall and this wouldnt be possible. does it really matter now that i have a nice loud subwoofer? thats what i get for buying into the reflecting ordeal, but ive learned alot since then. by the way, do most people dislike bose because of this type of system they use as compared to most other speakers configurations or because of the price/benefit? by the way woochifer, thanks for not bashing me because i bought bose before i knew better like most people here do.
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  21. #21
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    I have a Bose set up as well (thanx also to Wooch for avoiding the usual Bose bash) and though I am happy with it the Direct/Reflecting configuration does present more challenges in terms of speaker placement. I used to use a pair of 201 II for my rears and I had them set up facing each other on opposites walls behind me with the angled tweeter set toward the center of the room. It worked well but the 201's did not sit well on my stands and my mother-in-law knocked them over fairly often during her visits ( for the bose bashers out there who refer to bose cheap construction-i can honestly say that pair took a lickin and has kept on tickin...but then again that was when bose still used wood.... I went to 161's as well and after the usual adjustment period they are working out great. Still if you can use the 201's I think they play music better than the 161's. BTW I have a VCS-10 center as well and it took a long time (too long..are you listening Bose??) to find the right settings but I finally got the sound right.

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