Specialized Speakers for High-End, 16-20 Channel Theater Rooms.
The newfound luxury of being able to design theater rooms with 16-20 channels of separation has spawned a greater level of specialization from the small but zealous group of speaker manufacturers who build products specifically for the high-end cinema room. The days of using a “one size fits all” application for theater speakers are long gone.
So what do all these numbers mean, when we talk about different surround sound configurations? We like to have a room large enough where we can build a 9.2.6 surround array, which is 17 channels of dedicated sound information, and we create that with a total of 19 speakers, and it looks like this:
The “9” speakers are what the industry refers to as the “audio bed” speakers, and these speakers would all be installed at ear level (typically in-wall), as follows:
3 – Left, Center and Right Front
2 – Left and Right Rear Surrounds
2 – Left Front and Rear Side Surrounds
2 – Right Front and Rear Side Surrounds
The “2” refers to the number of separate subwoofer channels, which we configure with four subwoofers, with two on the front wall and two on the back wall, also typically installed in-wall.
The “6” refers to the number of dedicated Atmos Channels we use, which are always placed in-ceiling, as these are what is known as the “height channels” in a surround configuration of this description.
Surround Audio Processing
It’s one thing to have 19 speakers in a room, but managing the task of precisely decoding all of that information into a pristine and detailed sound is a very complicated task, in terms of what happens “inside the box.” There are truly barely more than a handful of manufacturers in the world who build these amazing audio processors, as they are without question amongst the most technically complicated of all electronics devices.