In all the years I’ve had surround sound, I’d never given much thought to implementing Front Wide speakers between my main Left and Right channels and the Surround speakers. Recently, however, I gave it some thought. Does anyone here use Front Wides? Is it worth the effort?
This train of thought started as a result of my idly perusing the Electronics section of my local Craig’s List, where I spotted a pair of bookshelf speakers that are part of the same model range and were designed as a timbre match for my main tower speakers. I didn’t really need them (my existing speakers are all perfectly fine), but they’re prettier to look at than my other Surround speakers and the deal was too good to pass up. (In fact, I wound up spending more to buy new stands for them than I did on the speakers themselves.) After picking up the speakers, I put them in the Surround Left and Surround Right positions to the sides of my seating and pulled my prior speakers from those spots out of service.
This leaves me with two perfectly good speakers I’m not doing anything with. (Actually, I have a bunch of spare speakers I’m not currently using, but these would really stand out as a waste of potential.) The idea of that gnawed away at me until I started considering the idea of moving the new speakers to the Front Wide positions and putting my previous speakers back where they started at the Surrounds.
Planning this out, I ultimately realized that it wouldn’t be feasible. Although my Denon AVR-X8500H receiver is the flagship model capable of decoding 13 channels of Dolby Atmos surround sound, I’m already at the processing limit with a 7.1.6 setup. I thought about removing the Surround Backs for a 5.1.6(+W) configuration, but it turns out the receiver doesn’t support that. If you engage Front Wide speakers, Atmos and DTS:X are restricted to decoding only four height channels, even if you’re still within the 13-channel limit. The only way to use Front Wides is to scale back to 5.1.4(+W) or 7.1.4(+W). The main reason I upgraded to the X8500H is for 6 height channel decoding, and I’m not giving that up. I guess I’m sticking with 7.1.6.
This leaves me wondering if I’m really missing anything, of course. I know that some people who have Front Wide speakers really love them. What’s the consensus among our readers? Are Front Wide speakers are worthy upgrade or a waste of time?