Speaker Placement for Home Theater

Multi-channel Surround Sound Setup Tips

With today’s technological advances in sound quality, there is a world of difference between having speakers near your television and positioning a surround sound system around the room. Speaker position is also important when using a computer, as computers can split audio signals with exact precision. Just like the highest quality movie theaters, DVD and computer companies are turning out products that enhance the audio experience if you know what you are doing.

Speaker position within a room

LG HTIB For a typical 5.1 or 7.1 audio system —which means 5 speakers to 1 subwoofer, or 7 speakers to 1 subwoofer—you should determine where in a room the speakers will encircle the couch or desk or whatever it is you are resting on. You want each speaker the exact distance from where you’re sitting. Each speaker in a surround sound set will perform a specific function, such as transmitting the left or right side signals, as well as background signals and universal signals. The subwoofer in comparison can be placed near the screen, as bass signals are omni-directional and will travel outward in a wide circle, like dropping a stone into a pond. Treble signals, usually relayed by the other 5 or 7 speakers, are unidirectional, and will output audio in a straight line. In this sense you wouldn’t want a left side speaker to your right. For instance, if you were watching a DVD, and car enters the screen from the left, you want the audio signal to come from the left as well. As the car passes to the right, the signal should follow suit. To have the wrong speakers in the wrong place will throw off the experience. Today’s speakers come labeled to let you know which is which. It is important, however, that the speakers are angled towards the furniture you’re sitting on. If they’re facing outward toward the windows or walls, the audio signal will be faint and nuances will be lost.

Once you’ve figure out your front, left and right speakers and the backing surround speakers, place them on the wall about two feet above ear level in relation to where you will be sitting. If it is a small set of speakers for a laptop, the best general position is on either side of the screen, with the subwoofer below the computer or on a shelf above.

Bouncing Signals and Reflection

Keep in mind that audio signals will bounce off of walls and furniture. This can be both advantageous and hazardous. To keep sound from echoing as a reflection, you may want to angle your speakers downward or upward a bit. This will keep the speakers opposite each other from throwing signals into one another, and having them echo near the speaker across from them. Think of it like two guns—you wouldn’t shoot two bullets directly at each other because they would either collide in mid air or strike the gun across from it, creating chaos. By angling them down or up a hair, the signals will not collide and you can experience the audio with clarity.

For the Home Theater Professional

Many home theaters use padding on the walls to absorb sound. If you’ve been to a movie theater lately, you will notice some theaters have rippled walls, or some kind of ridged materials to absorb the sound and keep it from echoing. Most materials like this can be found in professional home audio stores. To get an idea of what type of speaker setup is best for you, peruse our inventory and feel free to call us for help.