Originally Posted by David Analog
Ceiling speakers will always be a compromise as compared to free-standing speakers. But in some cases you have no choice, although it is not near the issue on the side and rear speakers.
Angled ceiling speakers can help somewhat on the front L & R and center. Plus, you can improve the angled ceiling speakers by keeping their radiation pattern (a little less than a 90 degree total cone) away from the side walls (so close to 45 degress radius away from the sides). Triad makes some expensive, yet spectacular, angled and fully enclosed in-ceiling speakers using the finest euro speaker components. These would be worth it on the front three speakers. Then you can fill in the rest with a less expensive series from the same brand with the same aesthetics.
Years ago, baluns (converts HDMI to Cat and back to HDMI) were not the best. Today they are very good and very dependable. Like anything else, get the better option. Also, run an extra Cat cable beyond what the balun dictates. Cat cable is cheap and you never know what the future holds.
I'm going to get picky here and say that HDMI boxes aren't 'baluns', they're extenders. They sometimes correct errors, they usually have some way to maintain the "handshake" voltage and some even have a way to fool the equipment into thinking there's no receiver between the source (DVD/BD player) and TV. Anyone who knows someone with/has had a BD player that worked fine when connected directly to the TV but not when the receiver was in the way (often older Panasonic Samsung BD and Onkyo/Sony/Denon receiver with Panasonic/Sony/Samsung TV) knows exactly what I'm referring to. Atlona was one of the first to come out with a piece that spoofs the EDID into working, but they're more common now. Then, there's CIC, which is part of the HDMI Control protocol, which makes ARC (Audio Return Channel) a royal PITA when the TV is used as the source for terrestrial TV reception. The TV turns on, powers the receiver on and sets it to the correct input, but if you try to use a different TV/receiver input, it will repeatedly switch the receiver to TV Audio. The easy way around this is to use a digital optical cable, unless the TV is a great distance from the receiver/preamp and in that case, it's probably best to use a separate TV tuner and just use the TV as a monitor.
Did I mention that I REALLY HATE HDMI?