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Sonos advice for pre-wired theatre room

  • 2 February 2021
  • 16 replies
  • 1628 views

Hello, first time poster. 

Recently moved into a new house, I’ve had to wait a while to get funds sorted to kit out the theatre room. In the interim I put in a small/minimalist floating shelf below where the TV will be mounted.

 

Shelf space where roof speaker wires come through the wall

I made an error in making this shelf compact (1M X 30CM) because now I can’t properly fit in an AV receiver for the 5 speakers I have in the roof. However, I’ve been advised that a Sonos Amp could be used to power the two rear roof speakers, and then I could potentially just go with a Sonos Arc to be wall mounted there as well. That combination (along with a Sonos Sub) should give me a good theatre room experience (so I am told).

Question: Is one Sonos amp + Arc + Sub going to work in this situation? Will the amp power the two speakers and the sub (2.1 channels?)

Annoyingly, this seems to make the other 3 roof speakers somewhat redundant. So my question is, do I just forget about them, or is there another way to power those roof speakers all the while keeping it in the Sonos ecosystem and ensuring a good sound outcome in the room? For example, would the purchase of another Sonos Amp in the future allow for full use of the roof speakers? Or would this simply overcomplicate the sound in the room?

I realise this is quite a niche question (or not) so any advice provided would be eternally appreciated. Not moving from this house in a very long time, so I am keen to get this right!


Cheers,
Dave.

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Best answer by GuitarSuperstar 2 February 2021, 06:33

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16 replies

What are the dimensions of the room?  It looks like there are windows on the left side, open space to the right (from sitting on the couch)?

To put it bluntly, it looks like quite a few bad decisions have been made with this room already. Ceiling speakers (not ‘roof’) is a bad choice for home theatre speakers accept for atmos speakers. It’s going to sound pretty poor especially if the room is not very large.  It also looks like the TV will be mounted higher than it should, so you’re going to be looking up at it, rather than comfortably level.  Again that’s less of a problem with a bigger room.  Honestly, the floating shelf is the least of the problems with this room.

IMO, look for a receiver to power your ceiling speakers is just chasing down a solution that you won’t be happy with.  I’m not even sure an Arc is a good idea, again, depending on the room.  A Beam likely makes more sense, especially if you plan on using the rear ceiling speakers for surround.  There’s little point in trying for the atmos effect when your surround speakers aren’t in the right place.  I think I would go with a Beam, and Sonos Ones, maybe a Sub  if the budget allows, and just try and forget about the ceiling speaker mistake entirely.  

It’s 4.2M X 4.2M.

Yes, some decisions are regrettable. But the context is important. We built this house with a volume builder in Australia. It’s our home for the next 20-30 years with our young kids. Volume builders tend to have cookie cutter type options and the plan we chose had a theatre room. They had a limited range of options for speakers and wiring as a builder. I can’t change that now, my aim here is to now make the best of the situation. 

Thanks though, I appreciate the opinions.

I will have to mull it all over. I’ve just had my cousin suggest I could cut a hole to fit my existing large receiver into the shelf which would be quite economical as an option.

What are the dimensions of the room?  It looks like there are windows on the left side, open space to the right (from sitting on the couch)?

To put it bluntly, it looks like quite a few bad decisions have been made with this room already. Ceiling speakers (not ‘roof’) is a bad choice for home theatre speakers accept for atmos speakers. It’s going to sound pretty poor especially if the room is not very large.  It also looks like the TV will be mounted higher than it should, so you’re going to be looking up at it, rather than comfortably level.  Again that’s less of a problem with a bigger room.  Honestly, the floating shelf is the least of the problems with this room.

IMO, look for a receiver to power your ceiling speakers is just chasing down a solution that you won’t be happy with.  I’m not even sure an Arc is a good idea, again, depending on the room.  A Beam likely makes more sense, especially if you plan on using the rear ceiling speakers for surround.  There’s little point in trying for the atmos effect when your surround speakers aren’t in the right place.  I think I would go with a Beam, and Sonos Ones, maybe a Sub  if the budget allows, and just try and forget about the ceiling speaker mistake entirely.  

How much was it?

Honestly, I feel it would be a lot less than going the Sonos route and provide much more flexibility in use and especially sound formats/codes etc. too.  Having the unit made before identifying what is going in it is certainly a mistake - but the best way forward could be to accept that and move on, not necessarily crowbar a possibly inferior solution into it...

Do you have Sonos elsewhere in the house?  What is the main use case for this setup?  If its mostly HT I'd definitely not go the Sonos route considering the position you are in.

If I can avoid taking down the shelf and find a solution that fits, that's the path I'd prefer. I've been recommended the Sonos option because of how small the amp is, but as you say, it's expensive. There's no Sonos yet anywhere else in the house but the plan was to get more in other rooms in the future.

 

There are a couple of Sony receivers that are a smidge under 30cm in depth (29.7), but then that doesn't leave much room at the back for the speaker wires. Unless I turn it sideways. Are there other low depth receivers out there that you are aware of? 

 

Main use case is that it's a cinema/theatre room. 

 

Appreciate the advice!

Userlevel 7
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How much was it?

Honestly, I feel it would be a lot less than going the Sonos route and provide much more flexibility in use and especially sound formats/codes etc. too.  Having the unit made before identifying what is going in it is certainly a mistake - but the best way forward could be to accept that and move on, not necessarily crowbar a possibly inferior solution into it...

Do you have Sonos elsewhere in the house?  What is the main use case for this setup?  If its mostly HT I'd definitely not go the Sonos route considering the position you are in.

If that was my room I would not be looking at Sonos at all to be honest - and a two Amp setup with an Arc and sub is in no way a budget option - or be as seamless as you may hope/expect.

Absolutely, I would trawl the online AV / hifi dealers to find a HT amp that would fit. This would be much cheaper than multiple Sonos devices and provide more surround audio formats.

Marantz have made several as have Yamaha.

https://www.marantz.com/en-gb/shop/avreceiver/nr1711

Unfortunately way too much depth for it to fit. 

So you see my dilemma. 

I can't offer any specific alternatives to be honest but there are a huge amount of AV alternatives that would possibly give you more flexibility and use those ceiling speakers more effectively.

For what you want, if the shelf being too small is the issue then either find a more compact option or make it again slightly deeper?

I have searched far and wide for compact AV receivers or amps. It has been hard going. I've not found anything suitable. Even if I did find one that was roughly 30cm in depth, the wiring would still make it stick out of the shelving. 

 

I had the shelf custom made. It was poorly planned. Regretting it badly. To take it down and have another one done would quite costly and I'm reluctant to go down that path. 

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If that was my room I would not be looking at Sonos at all to be honest - and a two Amp setup with an Arc and sub is in no way a budget option - or be as seamless as you may hope/expect.

Absolutely, I would trawl the online AV / hifi dealers to find a HT amp that would fit. This would be much cheaper than multiple Sonos devices and provide more surround audio formats.

Marantz have made several as have Yamaha.

https://www.marantz.com/en-gb/shop/avreceiver/nr1711

Userlevel 7
Badge +15

I can't offer any specific alternatives to be honest but there are a huge amount of AV alternatives that would possibly give you more flexibility and use those ceiling speakers more effectively.

For what you want, if the shelf being too small is the issue then either find a more compact option or make it again slightly deeper?

If that was my room I would not be looking at Sonos at all to be honest - and a two Amp setup with an Arc and sub is in no way a budget option - or be as seamless as you may hope/expect.

Hi,

 

Thanks for this. What alternatives would you suggest. Unfortunately I have the limitation of the shelf being on the small side, can’t fit any normal-size receivers in it. 

Happy to hear suggestions!

Cheers.

Userlevel 7
Badge +15

If that was my room I would not be looking at Sonos at all to be honest - and a two Amp setup with an Arc and sub is in no way a budget option - or be as seamless as you may hope/expect.

Thanks so much for your help. Really appreciate it.

Userlevel 7

If it was my room, I would choose the Arc/Sub/Amp option. This option makes use of two of the speakers you have already paid to have installed and you’ll have the capability of playing lossless Dolby TrueHD/Dolby Atmos and multichannel PCM audio from your system (from the right sources). The two Amp (no Arc) option is limited to only Dolby Digital audio.

Thank you once again. 

I can always move the couch forward a little to assist with better surround, there’s enough room to move it forward a little. 

Based on all the options you have laid out, I think the 1 amp + arc + sub is the most appealing. But your other suggestion of two amps could be a better budget option and would mean avoiding having to wall mount an arc. The final option just doesn’t sit well with me, because it’s more expensive and also means the speakers that I arranged to be built in for the house become completely redundant. 

That being said, the extra cost of the arc compared to another amp, plus the wall-mounting will probably be worth it given the Arc results in Dolby Atmos?

If it was your room, would you go for the Arc option over the two amps (4.1) option? :laughing:

Thanks heaps.

Userlevel 7

Thanks for the photos.

A Sonos Amp connected to the two ceiling speakers above your sofa will work as rear surrounds for your Sonos Arc/Sub setup, although the location of the speakers directly above you isn’t ideal. Rear surround speakers should be placed more behind you.

In the above setup, the Amp only needs to power the two ceiling speakers. It will connect to the Arc and Sub wirelessly.

To power the three front ceiling speakers, you could add another Amp, but it wouldn’t be included in your Arc/Sub/rear speaker 5.1.2 setup. But you could group them all together in the Sonos app to play the same music through every speaker, although that would be a bit of overkill with three ceiling speakers and an Arc playing music on that one side of the room.

Another option would be to get two Amps and a Sub (and no Arc). One Amp would power your front left and right speakers and the other would power your two rear speakers. If you connect the first Amp to the TV via HDMI ARC and add a Sub, you’ll have a 4.1 system with a “phantom” center channel. The actual front center speaker would not be used in this scenario.

The other option would be to not use any of your ceiling speakers and just get the Arc, Sub, and two One SLs or Fives as surrounds. I know you would like to use your ceiling speakers, but this option will probably produce the best surround sound experience out of every option.

Hey, thanks for the reply. 

There are two speakers at the rear of the room, right above the seating position. Then three more at the front of the room. 

Hopefully these images help. 

 

Three front speakers
Two Rear Speakers

 

Userlevel 7

Where exactly are the five “roof” speakers located in your room in relation to your main seating/listening position?