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Surprising improvement from exchanging Back speakers for Wides

Receivers, Amps, and Processors - www.avsforum.com
After having read in the Lyngdorf MP-50 thread that many users tried front wide speakers and said they'd not do without them, and having liked them several years back when I used Audyssey DSX, I decided to reconfigure the base layer of my AV7702 7.2.4 setup from Surrounds + Surround Backs to Front Wides + Surrounds; the Front Wide signals are generated by native Atmos soundtracks or DTS Neural:X upmixing.

I moved the formerly Surround speakers forward a few feet from just slightly ahead of MLP to roughly the recommended +/- 60 deg (0 deg being straight ahead).

I left the formerly Back Surround speakers on the back wall of my long room at about +/-160 deg and added a paralleled pair on the sides at about +/-120 deg to fill the angular gap, give a better experience for the second row, and improve spaciousness.

I was expecting, and got, an improved front soundstage in the form of a bigger and more realistic soundfield.

But I was surprised by the subjective effects.

My girlfriend, who isn't at all particular or interested in sound, said "Are the speakers on?" even though the system was obviously playing (I guess she was referring to the surrounds, but still).

That's because there was a cohesive soundfield w/o the individual speakers calling attention to themselves.

Not that they did that noticeably before; my base layer surround speakers are all Mirage OMD-5's, which are known for their disappearing act, and indeed they were a big improvement in that regard over the coax's that they replaced, but this last change was just as big of an improvement.

Here's what surprised me:

The sound is mellower; before I would limit the volume because it just sounded too loud and guests would ask me to turn it down, even though the SPL wasn't that high. My front speakers have 12" woofers and compression drivers so are nowhere near stressed.

Now I can turn it up higher and that doesn't happen.

You'd think that might somehow be related to less highs, but I don't believe that to be the case, because it actually sounds clearer with notably improved dialog intelligibility, and sound objects are more distinct from each other.

I think at least some of the mellowness may be because the front soundstage has more ambience, which I find makes higher SPL more tolerable.

I have no idea why the clarity is better.

Whatever is going on, I suggest that anyone who has this capability give it a try.

Oh, forgot to mention that I was somewhat reluctant to give up Back Surrounds, but the truth is the only time they ever seemed to be worthwhile was when I had Logic 7 processing.

With the new configuration I don't notice a diminished rear soundfield, which isn't surprising, since a hard rear signal should will appear in the Surround channels, and the speakers receiving this signal are in the same physical location.

Actually you could argue that front/rear panning should be very similar to before.

Previously material upmixed from 5 to 7 ch would send hard Surround info to the rears and interpolate the side surround signal from the Fronts and Backs, and now hard Surround info goes to the back speakers and the Wides are interpolated from the fronts and Surrounds.

Anyone else have a similar experience and/or explanations for it?


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