Speaker placement is crucial for achieving optimal performance with your home cinema system, whether you work with a sophisticated high-end system or budget home. There are many factors that can affect the quality of sound you can achieve, and this guide will help you to create a basic understanding of how and where to place the speakers for the best possible surround sound experience.
Before you enter the theory behind surround sound speakers, we place some of the factors that may vary from room to room and may affect your sound quality. Each room is different, and you may need to make some minor adjustments to get the sound you aspire from your home theater system. For example, acoustics can be affected by tile floors and the presence of windows. Rugs and curtains or the wall can help "warm up" your sound, or can be removed if the sound is too damp. All furniture that can be placed between your listening area and your speakers can also interfere with the quality of the sound you achieve. But with some ingenuity and experiments you should be able to overcome some of these types of problems relatively easily.
Most surround sound systems fall into categories 5.1, 7.1 or 9.1, which means they include five, seven or nine different speakers plus a subwoofer. Usually there are front speakers, rear speakers, a midfield and subwoofer in a surround sound system. When you first start exploring the location of your different speakers, your best resources will be your operating instructions and your own ears. Often, the manufacturer will offer location information specific to the model you have purchased, and your ears will tell if something is turned off on the locations you choose for your speakers when you go.
The first speaker you want to position is your center speaker. The central speaker's main task is to anchor sounds and dialog on the screen, which means it must be placed directly above or below your TV. If your TV is in or on a cabinet or other furniture, you want to make sure that the center channel speaker is located at the edge of the cabinet so that the sound does not bounce off surrounding surfaces and distort. Ideally, the center channel speaker should be placed at approximately the same height as tweeters in your front speakers, and approximately the same distance from your listening area as your front speakers.
Next are your front speakers. These speakers are particularly important as they will be responsible for delivering all the audio while listening to music as well as managing the movie's audio tracks. Make sure your front left and right speakers are equal to distance from your listening area with the speakers placed at the ear level when sitting. Your front speakers along with your center speaker should form an arc around your listening area and anywhere from an angle of 22-30 degrees to your TV.
Your remaining speakers are surround speakers and should be placed along the sides or behind your main alarm area. These speakers should be placed higher than your front speakers; You may want to stand and place them so that the tweeter speakers are at about ear level while standing. You may also want to experiment with the angle of the surround speakers by pointing them up a bit - depending on your room, a smaller adjustment can make a big difference in your overall listening experience.
Finally, you want to place your subwoofer in a location that maximizes both the quantity and quality of the base it produces. Placing it closer to a wall increases the amount of bass, but placing it too close can reduce the overall quality of the bass. You can easily move your subwoofer and experiment with different movie sound tracks and music until you find the best spot for the sound quality you're looking for.
Depending on your room, you may find that you need to move a speaker up or down, or angle it in a certain way to compensate for furniture. Then you may need to adjust the sound produced by the individual speaker to achieve the best possible performance. Some home theater systems make it easy with an automatic speaker calibration feature.
While it may take some experiment and modification to achieve the perfect sound for your space, the recommendations described in this basic speaker placement guide will get started with installing your home theater system.