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Is surround sound worth it in a small room?

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by roganty, 16 Jan 2019.

  1. roganty

    roganty

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    We're due to start a house renovation this year, and one of the items on (my) wish list is an improvement to our TV viewing experience.

    I'm looking at around a 65" 55" TV with 5.1 surround sound all built into a cabinet filling an entire wall.
    But we're on a budget (aren't well all!?), and we have a small room measuring 3.5m by 3.3m with the TV unit on the smaller wall.

    From what I've read the distances from the front speakers to the TV and the seating position all need to be an equal distance from each other.

    In this sort of situation would a sound bar be the best option, or should I downsize to a 3.1 or 2.1/2.0?

    Thank you for your help and opinions
    Anthony

    Edited to change size of TV
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2019
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  3. Iamchamps

    Iamchamps

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    A decent sound bar in a room of that size would be a better idea maybe.
     
  4. Tigercubrider

    Tigercubrider

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    You can normally tell the sound system how far away the rear speakers are, I have 5.1 at home and my rear speakers are a bit close but are really only for effects so not too much of an issue.
    Surround sound is always a compromise in domestic situations as the technical "ideal" spot is one person
    My room is quite a bit bigger than yours and I have a 43" . 65 is Really Big.

    I use 7.1 at work but the spaces are very large
     
  5. Lucid

    Lucid

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    Good surround works in rooms smaller than yours. The equipment choices and speaker locations are important though, particularly with the surround speakers to get an effective envelopment.

    Sound bars give you something compact, and the better-quality ones really are pretty good now, but to get effective and convincing surround from them means spending a bit more than you might on a basic full 5.1 system.

    When you say you're on a budget, what's the Pounds figure (£'s) for audio?
     
  6. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    As an audiophile I'd go for a decent soundbar with a room like that. Our room is slightly larger but surround sound systems take up space and for me don't offer enough of a payback for this compromise (and the cost). They work great in cinemas and if set up in larger rooms professionally, but there are some very decent soundbars out there with EQs on them to tailor the sound output to your ears. I see surround sound systems at car boots and on local selling pages frequently and for me that tells a story.
     
  7. alan333

    alan333

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    Won't that be like sitting in the front row of the cinema, ie you'll need to move your head around to watch it rather than just your eyes?
     
  8. roganty

    roganty

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    That would be the problem, the rear speaker would not be behind, they'ed be more like side speakers!
    Thinking about the size, 65" would be the dream, but realistically it would be something more in the 50" range.

    That's something I'm worried about, getting the best placement.

    My budget is between £0 to whatever SWMBO will allow me to spend! The more expensive, the more likely I'll get a "NO". So it would have to be a compromise of features and cost.

    That's why I'm now leaning more towards a soundbar. Perhaps a passive soundbar might be the compromise I'm looking for?
     
  9. roganty

    roganty

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    Yep! Good isn't it :D

    From what I've read the ideal seating is to sit 1.5 - 2.5 times the screen size away from the TV.
    So, sitting 11' (3.3m) from the TV would be a size range of 88" to 52"
     
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  11. Lucid

    Lucid

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    That's akin to judging and dismissing all beef based on once having a McD's. Or, to make it relevant to you, dismissing Hi-fi based on seeing a lot of PC speakers and small shelf-systems for sale secondhand.

    What I see at car boots are mainly the all-in-one DVD systems sold by the likes of Comet.

    The gear for good surround is a league above all-in-one DVD/Blu-ray systems, just as decent stereo gear is massively better than PC speakers and shelf-systems.
     
  12. Gerrydelasel

    Gerrydelasel

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    Surround sound is not worth it, especially in a small room. Sound bar is the cheap option, but nothing beats a decent stereo pair of speakers with good bass response, properly sited -often about 6 feet apart depending on couch distance (rather than two feet apart for a sound bar:rolleyes:)
     
  13. Lucid

    Lucid

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    "Rear" speakers is bit of a misnomer. You only have rear speakers once graduating past 5.1 and going into 7.1 territory. The surround speakers for 5.1 are designed to be level with the seating position rather than behind.

    Front L&R speaker placement ideally should form a triangle between the listener and each speaker where all the side lengths are the same. It doesn't always work out that way though, even in audiophile systems. The main point is to avoid the room corners. They're bad places for the average speaker.

    Having the front L&R speakers closer to the middle than ideal just limits the amount of stereo separation. It's not the end of the world.

    When the speakers are too far apart then there's a hole between them and the centre. That can make things sound disjointed. Closer together is better than too far apart.

    As for your budget, you must have a rough idea of what might be an acceptable upper limit.

    In terms of sound bars, there's little point IMO in going for passive. You'll still need amplification to drive it; the TV alone won't be able to do that. Besides, it narrows your choices far too severely since there are very few passive sound bars. What there is (or was) tended to be expensive because they were audiophile solutions for a niche market.

    Yamahe does a very good line in active sound bars with and without external subwoofers. Their products include some of the best features of a full surround amp such as the connectivity and HD audio processing, and yet are compact enough that they fit all this in to the same size of box as a less sophisticated sound bar. The Yamahas sound good for music too.
     
  14. Keithmac

    Keithmac

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    I went with a soundbar (Sonos Playbar) with wireless Sub and surrounds (5.1)

    Same as you our surrounds are side rather than behind and it works very well.

    You need some form of speaker solution with current TV's as the sound is frankly useless from the TV due to packaging reasons!.
     
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  15. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    The days of TVs coming with decent speakers are long gone (partly as a result of their slim depth).

    I know they get knocked but Saisho (now defunct) produced an excellent TV my parents owned from 1989 to 2004! It was huge (about 2ft deep) but gave impressive sound output. They loved it that much it was repaired by the TV repair man twice before exploding.

    For a room that size I still maintain the view that a good quality soundbar will provide a huge improvement to your current set up.
     
  16. roganty

    roganty

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    Thank you to everyone for your replies, I'll just reply to everyone at the same time and save repeating myself.

    The size of the room is an issue, and if budget would allow we would swap the living room and kitchen diner around, but that's not relevant.
    Eventually my goal would be 5.1 surround sound, but maybe not in this house and we don't know how long we will be living here for, so buying for the future, in this case, is probably not going to be viable.

    I do like the idea of having a soundbar that could be incorporated into a surround sound system, even if it's just paired up with front speakers and a sub. (Or maybe rear/side speakers)

    Size also plays a part in speaker placement, if the front speakers cannot go in the corner then they will end up being right next to the TV.
    Would this be okay?

    @Lucid, budget? If this could be done for £100 the missus wouldn't have a problem. £200 and she would ask "Why?". For me £300 would probably be pushing it. As long as it doesn't cost more than the TV I'll be happy (Yes, I know how much the TV will cost [starting at £550 for 65" and £400 for 55"])

    I've read other people recommending Yamaha sound bars. So I'll have a look.

    Also, I'm a little apprehensive about wireless speakers. For me, having a physical wire running between the speakers just gives me peace of mind. Or am I being silly?
     
    Last edited: 21 Jan 2019
  17. Tigercubrider

    Tigercubrider

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    my system uses wireless speakers (actually a wireless stereo link to an amp and wired rear speakers) which I prefer because I have parquet flooring and no way to hide the cables.
    It's not ideal but the rear speakers aren't so important and I am not after studio quality .
    If I wanted perfect I would go to a cinema with tuned system.

    Bear in mind that wireless technology has moved on and at festivals you will have delay towers running on wireless links or artists using wireless mikes. However the kit costs quite a bit. there's nothing wrong with the quality if you pay for it.
     
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