Speaker locations for best performance in small-mid size room


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I actually posted this previously (buried in another string), but thought I should start a new string:

I am planning to buy a HTIB for my 13x13 den and, like many before me, I am considering the Onkyo HT 760 or 770, Yamaha YHT-450 or the Denon 485 XP. It seems that many people are passionate about the 770 (in spite of some problems such as excessive receiver heat and the center, surround speakers or subwoofer not performing as expected) and the Yamaha was highly rated by CR in their Nov 04 issue. I have a Denon 3802 in my family room that seems to have lots of flexibility and has performed well. I plan to use this system for viewing DVDs and satellite TV and listening to CDs and Directv music channels. In a room the size of my den, which system is likely to produce the most satisfying results (ie, quality performance with no significant or recurring problems)?

I am also challenged with speaker placement. My TV (a Sony HDTV with HDMI connectivity) is recessed about 2 feet into a larger unit with bookcases on either side (the bookcases are about 16 inches in front of and on either side the TV). The total span of the entire unit is about 10 feet. The center channel speaker can only be placed directly below the TV while the front speakers have to be placed somewhere on the 3-foot wide bookcases on either side 4-foot center opening where the TV is located. The TV also sits up higher than normal at about 5 -6 feet above the floor. What height is recommended for front speakers in this situation? I have a couple of options regarding the 3 surround speakers. I can either mount them on stands, on the wall or at the ceiling. If mounted on the wall, how far below the 9-foot ceiling should they be placed for optimal performance?

Finally, as previously noted, my TV has HDMI connectivity. Should this be factored into deciding on what receiver I buy? I do like the idea of spending no more than $400-$500 (excluding cables) for a reliable, quality system. Thanks, your comments will be most welcome. /AVAP
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