Using Rears in ceiling for 5.1.2 Atmos?

  • 24 July 2022
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Userlevel 2
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I am renovating my house and trying to decide whether to use ceiling mounted speakers for the rears (using Sonos AMP to drive them).  I plan to have ARC soundbar in front and Gen2 Subwoofer that I already posses, if possible.

This should result in 5.1.2 configuration but my question is related to having the rears in the ceiling instead of ear level.  According to Atmos, the rears of a 5.1.2 system should be at ear level for proper 3D sound.  if they are in the ceiling what will the end result be?  seems to be it won’t be accurate Atmos representation.  Non-3D 5.1 playback will probably sound about right I suppose...but just wondering how a Sonos 5.1.2 Atmos will make sense out of the rears being in the ceiling instead of at ear level.

Its not impossible for me to place a couple of Sonos Play1’s at around ear level in addition to or instead of the ceiling mounted rears.  But it will mean setting them on counters where I would rather not have a speaker with a cable running to power, etc.  The ceiling mounted would be cleaner appearance in the condo.  But I’m also concerned the ceiling mounts will create too much sound from above in back and even cause future 3D Atmos playback to not sound quite correct spatially.  What will be the sonic impact of that decision to use ceiling mounted rears in a 5.1.2 system?  


2 replies

Userlevel 7

Using in-ceiling speakers will just make the rear surround audio come from a higher position behind you which could be effective for some sound effects (like airplanes and thunder) but not all sound effects. Have you considered adding in-wall surround speakers instead so they can be more at ear level?

Userlevel 2
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not possible here.  its a big loft condo, huge open design with a lot of windows.  The best I could do is set a PLAY1 over on a window ledge and another one over on the kitchen island, which I would feel compelled to unplug and put away whenever guests are coming over since it will just be a loose item with a cabling dangling around some edge to get to power, etc.   And I might do that if it will just sound better that way anyway, but the ceiling mounted ones  would just be a lot cleaner and tidier in this condo.  

They couldn’t be that far behind the sitting position either..just a few feet, but the ceiling is pretty low, only 8 feet, so at least they wouldn’t be way way up high...but definitely above the head.  But still if its 8 feet up and only 2 feet back..anything from behind is definitely going to sound like up in the air.  Maybe its too small a difference to say more..I just wouldn’t want them to end up overpowering whatever spatial stereo field is coming from the front I guess.

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