Once you have chosen an amplifier and speakers, you should consider the correct placement of your home audio system for the desired result. Our surround sound speaker placement guide will help you do it effortlessly.
Quality equipment is only half the battle for the great sound in your home theater. Remember that even the most expensive speakers without proper placement are a waste of money. Spend a little time figuring everything out, and you’ll get the most out of your entire sound system.
Center and pair of front speakers are the most essential, as they play the leading role in sound reproduction. But don’t underestimate the value of other sound devices.
Now, let’s look at the nuances of placing each of these speaker types.
Front left and right speakers placement
Their duty is to reproduce most of the film’s music and sound effects and also sometimes play up the dialogues. They should be a good complement to each other to create a balanced sound field in your room.
Ideally, they need to stand at the same distance from the TV, as well as from your seating place.
However, not all rooms are suitable for perfect placement, so one speaker may be slightly closer than the other. If so, don’t worry too much about it. Modern amps can neutralize the effects of uneven placement by changing the output level of the sound, taking into account differences in their location.
The angle diapason of these audio devices is between 22 and 30 degrees. If you follow these parameters, the result will meet your expectations.
Tweeters are small cones in your speaker. Preferably, they are at the level of your head, directing the sound directly to your ears in the viewing area in terms of speaker placement height. These parameters are relevant for floor standing and bookshelf speakers.
Many people like the ‘toeing-in’ effect for the speakers. It occurs when the speakers are angled slightly towards the central viewing area. But it depends on the listener’s personal preference and may not please everyone. So, feel free to experiment with the angle of the acoustics and find out at what level it will be more comfortable for you.
Center channel speaker placement
The right center speaker placement is especially vital for movie watching, as it is responsible for most dialogues.
The ideal position for watching anything is in front of the TV, and the center speaker should look directly at the viewer. It is usually situated above or below the middle of the screen, depending on where it is possible to place it. If, when watching a movie, it seems to you that the sound is coming too far from the screen, then this speaker is at a too big distance from it. Move it closer not to ruin the viewing experience.
For optimum sound, it is no less essential to place the center speaker correctly in height. As with the previous devices, this speaker’s tweeters should be at ear level when sitting. It is also desirable that the tweeters of all three of these speakers are at the same level.
If you have trouble placing the speaker at that level, you will have to try another angle. Twilling it up or down can help you fix the problem.
We do not recommend placing the center speaker behind the screen. Thus, the sound will first hit the TV set and then come to your ears. This can distort its quality.
Placement of the center speaker is often the most complicated part of the entire system adjustment. So don’t be afraid to use shelves, brackets, and other furniture. The main thing is that it should stand stably on a flat surface.
The main task of a subwoofer is to reproduce low-frequency bass sounds. Unfortunately, these sounds do not propagate like high-frequency sound waves, making their source more difficult to identify in a room.
This affects the subwoofer placement in the room, making its importance less critical than previous speakers. This is not bad because they are often not the most petite sizes.
In fact, you can place it anywhere you want, but there are a few guidelines to consider.
First, it is advisable not to locate this equipment directly in the corner. Low frequencies can create a hum in such a situation. On the other hand, positioning in a corner can enhance bass sound.
But then, the low frequencies will become more difficult to control.
Also, try not to place the subwoofer in the center between two room walls. Instead, it is better to place it closer to one of the room’s edges so as not to cause mutual cancellation of reflected signals.
Eventually, you can use the ‘subwoofer crawl’ method. You should crawl around the room with the device and listen to the low-frequency sound. In the place where you like the best, leave it there.
Adding a second subwoofer
Installing one more subwoofer can be optimal for larger spaces or rooms with several quiet zones. A second such speaker will help equalize bass throughout the room.
For the perfect placement of two subwoofers, two people are necessary. One will perform the role of the listener, and the other will move them around the room. This way, you will find the ideal combination.
This solution has its problems. Firstly, low-frequency waves from two places can dampen each other. Also, not all receivers support two subwoofers. Therefore, the decision to install a second device should be made based on the capabilities of the equipment and the characteristics of the room.
Surround sound speaker placement
Surround sound is the only way to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a movie right from home without going to the cinema.
Such systems use multiple channels and speakers to provide depth of immersion and a sense of reality. For an unforgettable experience, every surrounds sound speaker’s position matters, so we will discuss their correct placement in different systems below.
5.1 And 7.1 speakers placement
For the above-mentioned speakers in such systems, you can use the same recommendations.
- 5.1 speaker placement has the following peculiarities. The ideal angle for side surround speakers is 90-110 degrees. Recommended tweeter position is 2 feet above your head.
- 7.1 speaker placement should take into account the nuances of rear surround speakers allocation. They usually have an angle of 135-150 degrees and stand behind a sofa or other sitting place at the same height as side ones.
9.1 And 11.1 speakers placement
9- and 11-channel systems provide even greater immersion thanks to wide and height presence channels.
The wide ones need to be located between the main front and the side surround speakers with an angle of 60 degrees at the head level of the listener.
The right position for the height speaker channels is the top corners of the viewing stage. It is 40-45 degrees and 8 feet in height.
More than 11-channels speakers placement
Systems with more than 11 sound channels are the most advanced sound systems available today. In them, ceiling speakers are added to the channels of the previous systems, which are responsible for sound effects coming to the viewer from above.
Dolby Atmos setup explained
Dolby Atmos departs from the traditional channel system and allows sounds to move in all three dimensions. Sounds are not tied to pre-assigned output channels but go in the direction where they would be best suited at the moment.
You need to add 2 or 4 ceiling speakers to your existing surround sound system to create such a system. This configuration will receive one more character after the period in the name. So, for example, it could be 5.1.2 or 9.2.4.
In the end, we will give general guidelines for home theater speaker location. By following them, you will get as close as possible to the ideal sound and maximum efficiency of your equipment:
- There are practically no ideal rooms. This means that, most likely, you will not place the speakers at the exact ideal distance. But you can always adjust the receiver settings and get a great sound.
- Stay away from walls, floors, ceilings, and corners. This will help avoid the reflection of sound waves from surfaces and, accordingly, achieve a clearer high-quality sound.
- You should also avoid obstacles in the path of the sound wave. You will never get good sound if the furniture, objects, or the TV itself blocks the sound path to your ears. The sound wave should not bounce around the room but go straight from the speaker towards you.
- Feel free to experiment. Try to determine the sound changes while moving your acoustics or changing angles. You may wonder how even miserable changes can completely improve the whole picture. It is most convenient to do this together when somebody is listening and the other person is playing with the disposition of the speakers.
Correct acoustics position ensures you will enjoy your audio system all the time. Therefore, we hope that you will be able to achieve your goals in creating the best possible sound with this guide.
However, you should not worry if you can not fulfill all the recommendations exactly because each case is individual, and everyone has their preferences. So, try to follow them while adjusting to your specific conditions.