Audio Systems/school theater


rear of room
rear of room  
front of room
front of room  
QUESTION: Hello.  My name is Mike and I teach cinema at a high school.  The school and I are looking to upgrade the sound system in my room as my old receiver died and one of my speaker heads is blown.  It buzzes only 5% of the time, so is tolerable but annoying at times.

My major concern is that I don't go backwards from what I have in terms of sound quality.

The old receiver was 100W/channel.  I have 4 speakers as shown in the photos: 2 larger 4-head speakers in front, and 2 smaller speakers in the back.

I am looking at a 5.1 or 7.1 receiver to replace the old one.  I also have 4 smaller speakers overhead, and I thought I'd seen that a 7.1 receiver could also integrate these speakers.

I have a blu-ray player ready to use, however the old receiver was so old that it didn't have an HDMI input, so the new receiver would need an HDMI input and output.

I do not have a center channel speaker nor do I have a subwoofer, and here is where my question lies:

Is it possible to use the current speaker setup in my classroom with a new receiver without buying a center channel speaker?  I want the side speakers essentially to play the same sound as the front channel, not the surround sound aspects that they might usually produce when there is a center channel.  Or will they play a little of both?  I hope I'm making sense here.  My apologies if not.

Thanks in advance!

ANSWER: It is too difficult to do a long distance recommendation where you have a mixed system and unclear needs.  Furthermore, I do not make equipment recommendations simply because there are too many subjective factors involved, let alone technical questions that are unclear.

My suggestion for you is to consult with a supplier or retail sales expert who is familiar with the equipment and can make sure you have compatibility with the system components.

But, if it were me  doing your job I would gut out the existing equipment and start anew.  And I don't see the need for surround sound or theatre sound unless you are specifically teaching music related topics but for pa in the class room a stereo or even mono system is best for reinforcing the lecturers voice.

If you want to discuss more, send a follow up.  And best wishes.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for responding so quickly.

My class is a film class where we watch movies on a large screen from a high-quality LCD projector.  To me, cinematic sound is important in order to fully immerse a student in the movie.

I'll streamline my question a bit:

Will a modern 5.1 or 7.1 surround receiver send sound to the front speakers (not center channel) which are good enough that I don't need a center channel speaker?

For instance, the sound that plays through the rear speakers is sort of supplemental sound, music, noises, etc., that may not contain dialog.  Are the front speakers the same way?  Does most dialog come through a center channel or does it also come through the front speakers as well?

Maybe I'm thinking receivers are smarter at sending different signals to different speakers than they actually are...?



I think you are expecting too  much from modern multi-channel sound. They are for  entertainment  - not for precise localization of the sound.  Effects are often sent to one channel or another but the mixdown is highly processed at the movie and recording studios so every cinema production has different values and the  final product generally is an amalgamation of many techniques  and channel assignments.  Thus  there is no general matrix of right and wrong and what you will hear is greatly different from movie to movie.

But, you will need the center  speaker  due to the fact that a lot of the  voice will be channeled to the center channel; this  is  so because many of the cinema productions will be mixed down by the tv channel  when  broadcast for television.  So, don't drop the  center speaker out of the picture.

Good luck and hope you have a fine system when its all said and done.

PS: There is much on the Internet that will help you develop class lectures around cinema sound and video.  Some really good youtube tutorials that would be very informative for your students.  

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Audio Design Engineer; systems, loudspeakers, cd/dvd players, etc. I am knowledgeable in all high end audio equipment and installations. MAKE SURE YOU GIVE A MAKE AND MODEL NUMBER AND CAR IF IT IS AN AUTO QUESTION. Note: I am getting some who ask good questions that take a lot of time to research but then the questioner fails to read the answer. Please don't ask questions unless you are seriously looking for an answer. If you find an answer to your question otherwise then let me know with your reply. Thank you.


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