7.1 setup question: Should I use my smaller set of speakers for the surrounds or the surround backs?


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Dynamic Editor

701 Club - QQ All-Star
QQ Supporter
Nov 26, 2022
Hello! I have had a 5.1 setup for a while now, and I was thinking it might be a good idea to use another set of smaller speakers I own to make it into a 7.1 setup. Currently, my front speakers are the same model of speakers as my surrounds.

Should I use my smaller set of speakers for the surround back speakers or surrounds in a 7.1 setup?
hiya! 👋😊 i'm not sure there's any hard or fast rules on this one? 🤷🏻‍♀️

since i play a lot of Quad stuff with lots of content going on in the Surround channels my Surrounds are Floorstanders same as the Fronts, while the Surround Back's are smaller standmounters due to space limitations 🧐

not sure what i'm missing doing it that way but i love it all the same! 🥳😋
In my experience, it's more beneficial to have the bigger speakers as your rears...most surround music is 5.1 and if you have a lower-end receiver, that quad is getting routed to your rears and not your backs.
That’s a confusing way to name those.

The speakers on both sides of the sweet-spot at 90-110 degrees are “side-surrounds”

the speakers behind the sweet spot, in the far back at 130-150 degrees are “rear-surrounds” or “back-surrounds”

I’ve seen it labeled this way in some players, codecs and DAWs.
This is my setup and how it works:


5.1 and Quad tracks always send the 'rear' info to the "Side Surrounds" speakers. At 90º-100º

The sound content on the Side Surrounds may be perceived some times as a kind of 'binaural' effect. SO I think, these side surround speakers should be more important, similar characteristics to the fronts, than the Rear/Surround Backs speakers of the 7.1 (at 130º or more)

On the other hand, some mixes have enough discrete content for the Surround Backs (130º-150º), not eclipsed by the side surrounds content, the effect is significantly noticeable if they are located good at the rear.

If I want to listen to Quad, usig the Rears (130º-150º) to get a more 'square' layout and avoid the intrusive binaural of the sides surrounds, I have to reconfigure the AVR to send the rear channels of the Quad to the rear speakers instead of the 'default' side surround speakers. I can do it because my Denon has Custom Speaker assignemnt. If not, it should be done via Speaker switchers or the like.

I would recommend:

- Use the old speakers to 'test' how you like for different albums/mixes. Even alternate them from Sides to Rears to compare particular mixes, if you are willing to do it.
- Once the 'test' phase has ended (days? Weeks?) Make a Final decision: Locate the Old Speakers where you prefer or ... better... Buy new Speakers of same characteristics of the rest, if you concluded you have a benefit.

This is what I did for the additional 'Wides' to go to 9.1.4 and after testing with old speakers, and exploring what content some mixes send to the Wides, I bought a couple af additional speakers, same brand/model as the rest.