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Adding Surround Speakers: Turn 2CH into Home Theater

by August 30, 2004
Adding Surrounds???

Adding Surrounds???

Q: Thanks for your informative website and columns. I've posted a question, without a response yet and thought you might be able to give me a quick answer.

I currently have two good main speakers, a sub, and a good AV receiver. The listening room is 30 long by 10 wide opening to 15 wide 2/3 down at the speaker end. 9 ft. ceilings and hard plaster walls with absorbing furniture and rugs. The sound is quite nice, but I've wondered if adding another pair of speakers will enhance fullness, etc. or have a negative affect. Note that I currently do not have a home theatre set up, but may in the future. I suppose that if I acquired a second pair I'd hook them into the surround terminals and play music in either "all channel stereo" mode or one of the specialty modes, like "jazz club."

Please advise if this makes any sense. Thank you.

Audioholics: To answer your question fully, I require more complete data.

However, I will attempt to swag the response with some basic assumptions listed below:

  • You currently own an A/V Receiver with DSP enhancement modes with Dolby Digital and DTS onboard decoders.
  • You plan on implementing a home theater system with 5.1 speaker configuration in the future.
  • You are currently happy with the sound of your main speakers and subwoofer.
  • You are happy with the acoustics in your listening room.

With these assumptions, my formulated response is as follows:

  • I recommend connecting a quality pair of bookshelf speakers located behind and slightly above (2-3 feet) the listening position equidistant from the central position of your listening room. These speakers may serve you well for surround sound and music applications.
  • DSP modes may be useful in enhancing your listening experience, but tend to be extremely source dependent. I have found certain types of jazz music, for instance, Pat Metheny, and rock/pop music from Dave Matthews Band, to sound phenomenal in DSP modes such as Jazz club on a Yamaha type receiver with the DSP parameters like room size, delay, etc, set below the standard values. However, in other cases, I could not find suitable DSP modes and permutated parameter settings that pleased me when I listened to other CD's, typically with vocal emphasis. Experimentation, trial and error, will help you achieve the best results.
  • Giving the size of your listening room, and depending upon acoustical parameters of your room, such as reverb, decay time, etc, DSP modes may overemphasize the enveloping effect regardless of the settings. For this scenario, you may benefit from the five channel stereo mode, assuming your receiver is equipped with this feature. If it is, you may always defeat the center channel until you can opt to buy one. Five-channel stereo mode may do a great job at filling your room with sound providing that you don't turn the rear volume level up too high. Doing so may result in a loss of soundstage, or focus, as your ears will become confused by the bombardment of similar forward and rear sounds resulting in decentralized imaging, cancellation of specific detail, and possible listening fatigue.
  • Adding a pair of surround speakers, coupled with your main speakers and subwoofer, gets you one step closer to a 5.1 surround system. Once you add a center channel, you will be able to tap into the wonderful world of digital surround sound when watching DVD or listening to DTS CD's. This is an invaluable feature to have in an audio system that I personally cannot live without. I am hooked on many fabulous sounding DTS CD's and the unbelievable sound of DVD movies. After experiencing multi-channel surround sound, two channel audio sounds so limited.

Enjoy the music!


About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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