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  1. #1
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    surround vs surround back

    I know this sounds dumb but I'm new at this and am comfused by the manual for my new Pioneer VSX-816. I have a 5.1 speakers system, two surround speakers are mounted above and behind the listening zone. I thought that these would be "surround back" speakers (as shown in the drawings in the manual) but I don't hear sound from these speakers in this mode. Should I connect them as "surround" speakers? In the manual, these are pictured on the sides of the listening position, not behind. What would be a good TV show to watch (with digital cable) to test the surround speakers?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    You wont get surround from tv unless its pay per view.
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  3. #3
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bubbagump
    I know this sounds dumb but I'm new at this and am comfused by the manual for my new Pioneer VSX-816. I have a 5.1 speakers system, two surround speakers are mounted above and behind the listening zone. I thought that these would be "surround back" speakers (as shown in the drawings in the manual) but I don't hear sound from these speakers in this mode. Should I connect them as "surround" speakers? In the manual, these are pictured on the sides of the listening position, not behind. What would be a good TV show to watch (with digital cable) to test the surround speakers?

    Thanks!
    I might be reading your question wrong but....

    The Pioneer you have is a 7.1. I would first check your speaker connections to make sure you have it wired properly. If you put your wires in the surround back and set it on 5.1 then I think that might be the probelm. Use your remote to check your set-up feature and make sure you select 5.1.

  4. #4
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    If you have HD movie channels, they are in 5.1.

    I hate you for asking this question, now you have me second guessing my hook up and I'm going to have to go get my manual out I have only a 5.1 set up and now have mine hooked to just "surround" and nothing to the "surround back". I'm hoping that's right. What has me wondering is when I do a test all the speakers have even levels but when watching movies there doesn't seem to be a lot coming from them. I just thought it was the particular movie. But, now, I'm going to have to check! Thanks a lot

  5. #5
    Suspended superpanavision70mm's Avatar
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    You may also have to go in to your settings and tell the receiver how many channels you are using and also you can have the surround or surround back enabled all the time, which will take any 5.1 and matrix the surround channels into the 6.1 or even 7.1 setting. Essentially if you are going with 7.1 it will take your rear left and put some of that information into the surround back left and vise versa with the right channel. In instances where you have discreet ES or EX sound than the middle rears (surround back) will be filled with the information decoded from the source.

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    OK, I did have mine hooked up right. I thought I would have checked that. I was talking to a friend about this question, I don't know if he knows what he is talking about, but he says there isn't a standard, that one unit may use surr for 5.1 and another may use surr back for 5.1 hook up. My Primare used just surround for 5.1. As SP stated you do have to go into the menu and disable the hookups you aren't going to use.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular likeitloud's Avatar
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    Just let me get it straight. It's a 7.1 system. You have the "normal" 5.1..2 mains,
    1 center, 2 surrounds. Lets stop there for a sec. Make sure the Right/Left surround
    speaker wires are correct on the rcvr. Now the 6th and 7th speakers are the "back"
    channels and are put somewhere up/over and behind the listening area. These
    really come into play in dvd playback for added sound effects in the listening
    area. Depending how good the speakers are, and if you play music in surround
    mode, they come into play with the effects side of the sound (depending on your
    set up). Everyone at AR recommends a SPL meter to "tune" your rig, and you
    should too. Your ears can't hear everything, and the supplied MCACC ain't
    gonna cut it, you may think it did, trust me, it did'nt. FYI, spl meters are at
    radio shack, for about 30 bucks. Money well spent. Hope we helped ya, good
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  8. #8
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    The boys got it right

    Hey bubba,
    Just to briefly expand on the good info you already received, most audio related problems are best solved by process of elimination. Before maneuvering everything around and messing with speaker connections I would try a couple of simple things first. I would forgo TV signals at first. As s7 stated in surround modes like EX or ES you know there is sonic material that will be present throughout. First things first, I would switch to my DVD player and make sure my surround modes were properly set on my receiver.
    Next I would select a disc that I knew had some prevalent surround parts. I like the opening scene in Basic with the helicopter flying over the Panama Canal. Just my preference. Any of the Matrix series or Independence Day would work. Actually, anything that has a sequence where sound pans directionally from behind should do the trick.
    The reason I suggest this is because if you get a proper playback from your DVD it indicates that your speakers are correctly wired and you have a source issue with the cable box. It does this, however, before you have gone through the hassle of pulling everything out and tinkering with connections.
    likeitloud's suggested SPL meter is important as well. Even without an SPL meter you can check the output levels of the surrounds via the "level" controls on the remote.It is possible that there is signal going to the speakers but is so low as to be inaudible. Crank it.
    If you go through these steps and still get nothing, well, it's time to go the hard route with it. Grab a beverage and get to tinkerin'

    Good Luck
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    Pearl Habor is a great test DVD, when they bomb Pearl Harbor, and it's DTS. Also the more recent Star Wars movies arent' bad either.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular Rock&Roll Ninja's Avatar
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    surround speakers are to your left and right. rear speakers are behing you. by connecting your surround speakers to the rear channels you've lost all the surround information, but enabled the rear channel from DTS 6.1, or DTS Neo6.

    Put your speakers to your left and right and hook them upto the surround outputs on your AVR.

  11. #11
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    Where to put the surround speakers is a puzzel. There are more than a couple of authoritative answers -- each different. The most standard one is behind and to the sides with the angle formed by two lines from the listener's head to each speaker being 120 deg. I think this is the "official" THX scheme. I've tried this but never long term as it didn't fit with the space available as a practical matter.

    A factor that complicates this is the design of the speakers - front radiating (i.e., just plain old speakers), bi-directional either dipole or bipole or switchable, some other design intended to difuse the sound and make the surrounds hard to locate. I suggest that unless you are doing in-wall speakers, leave your self enough extra speaker wire so that you can tryout the different possabilities. The peculiarities of your room and personal preference may make a "solution" other than the various "official" ones the best for you.
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  12. #12
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Your receiver should have a test tone that identifies each speaker connection. Use that to check on whether or not you have everything connected properly. The auto calibration setup has a similar test.

    As others have pointed out, the most important connections are the L/C/R/LS/RS outputs, as those form the core of your 5.1 system. The back surrounds are only active if you have the DD EX/DTS ES decoder turned on, and even then most soundtracks are not deliberately encoded with the back surround output in mind. Focus on getting your 5.1 alignment right, and you'll be fine. In order to put together a 6.1 or "7.1" system, you need space behind your listening position to make it work. If your sofa is pushed against the back wall, forget about the back surrounds -- you just don't have enough room.

    Here are some diagrams that show the speaker locations and the proper alignment that you should use for optimal surround performance. In your particular room, other alignments might work better, but these are the industry standards that you should use as a starting point.



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  13. #13
    Suspended superpanavision70mm's Avatar
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    I personally have found it almost redundant to have surround back speakers in a small to middle sized room. Unless you have a really large room with lots of seating than it's really a non-issue to have 4 speakers in total acting as surround channels. Typically just have 2 channels in the back (surround left and surround right) are sufficient, especially since there are only a few DVD's or DVD-A encoded with a discreet middle rear channel.

  14. #14
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    I'm happy with 5.1 but maybe 6.1 someday.
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    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    As far as I can tell, all the receiver/amplifier topologies with surround backs (plural) require 5.1 connections use the "surrounds", not "surround back". Surround back channel is linked to a lot of other pathways in receivers, it gets switched on or off, routed to zone, 2, presence channels, or disabled to only 1 surround back when 6.1 is used...I can't imagine anyone deviating from this strategy, especially since the industry standard ISN'T to have the 5.1 surrounds at the "back" of the room. It's arbitrary of course, but these things evolved from existing designs, an additional series of channels was basically just dropped in...I could be wrong, and it's not a big deal, but I feel comfortable saying no receiver instructs the "surround backs" to be used in 5.1.

    As for the merits of 7.1...get 5.1 right first, but if you've got a few feet behind you, 7.1 is a pretty significant improvement.

    6.1 is okay, but it didn't jive so well in home theater because the focused, narrow rear channel collapses the soundfield towards the rear...properly separated surround back channels in a 7.1 setup are much more convincing, and really complete the environment IMO. During my last upgrade, I had to go without 7.1 for a few months while I built my final pair of speakers - it's kind of like power windows, power locks, and air conditioning - before you get it, you can do without, but once you've had them, it's damn near impossible to go back.

    For many people, I suspect improving speaker quality or electronics would be more worthwhile than adding 2 more speakers, but don't sell 7.1 short.

  16. #16
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    You wont get surround from tv unless its pay per view.
    Shokhead I think you spoke a bit to soon, I have digital cable and most of the channels are in stereo surround (L,R, S) and my HD channels are in full 5.1 and I don't have HBO...etc......

    the quality of the surround is still in the program itself and how they were filmed.
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    You should think about getting one of the movie channels in HD (HBO/Showtime), their 5.1 is very good. Sounds as good as DVD. Network HD pales in comparison. I wish some of the higher profile action series on network would put some decent 5.1 on. Again, a lot of this may vary with the cable company and their ability to carry the signal too.

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    Before 6.1 or 7.1 Denon gave you the option of using 'A' or 'B' surrounds. My AVR-3300 has the option and it was initially used for the differences between Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Digital.
    You had the option to use the 'A' for dipole speakers placed on the side walls with their "Null" regions toward the listener to project a difuse "range-limited" (100Hz - 7KHz) "surround" ambience. This was more for DPL with its mono surround channels.
    Since DD has five discrete full-range channels, rear placement provides more direct surround cues making a more three-dimentional image. I'm not certain, but I believe the extra channels in 6.1 and 7.1 systems are derived from (similar to how DPL surround channels are derived from the main L & R) SR & SL of the 5.1 system the only difference in the two is 7.1 has an extra channel with the same information.
    On more current receivers the rears are also used for multi-channel sources SACD and DVD-Audio as discrete channels.

  19. #19
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by recoveryone
    Shokhead I think you spoke a bit to soon, I have digital cable and most of the channels are in stereo surround (L,R, S) and my HD channels are in full 5.1 and I don't have HBO...etc......

    the quality of the surround is still in the program itself and how they were filmed.
    But we were talking about surround,not stereo. L,R,S isnt surround. I thought HD would be 5.1. Bet it sounds good to.
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  20. #20
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    But we were talking about surround,not stereo. L,R,S isnt surround. I thought HD would be 5.1. Bet it sounds good to.
    Again I feel a need to chime in here, Surround sound is any signal sent to rear speakers that adds to the sound depth/field. And yes you can have surround sound with a Left/right & surround signal. My AV shows each type of signal I get and it shows full 5.1 to Digital Stereo. So you can have surround sound in the form of Stereo surround, and proloigc. One of the first TV shows to have stereo surround was the Dinosuars.
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  21. #21
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Just so we have this clear. there is no such thing as 7.1 for hometheater. 6.1 is the best discrete multichannel system we have (Dts 6.1 discrete). So far HD-DVD and Bluray haven't supported any more than 5.1 channels with the exception of previously released 6.1 discrete Dts soundtracks, and Dolby Digital EX 5.1+1 (matrixed rear surround is NOT 6.1).

    As far as installing seven speakers for DD EX, Dts ES, and Dts Discrete, room width and length is the determining factor. In smaller rooms with insufficient space behind the listening seat, EX can sound like it is coming from the front of the room rather than the rear. Without sufficient distance and width, the rear soundstage with sound confused as a result of comb filtering and angular errors. In smaller rooms a good pair of surrounds is sufficient to cover the entire rear qudrant, especially if one is seating equdistant of each speaker.

    As far as true 7.1 in the future, its going to be a while. Most stages that support 7.1 do so with 5 screen channels and stereo surrounds. I know of no dubbing stage that supports four discrete rear channels at this time. There are not that many of us sound designers, sound editors, or sound mixers that know how to use the four discrete channel palete. I think that is a minor issue, however I know of no studio that has comitted to installing a discrete 7.1 system. In the absent of this commitment, there is no support for it .
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