Where to Position Your Speakers to Receive the Best Sound Quality

Good sound will make or break your home theatre experience. It’s one of the most important elements of achieving that cinematic feeling, yet probably the most overlooked. While most of us spend hundreds, possibly thousands of pounds on picture quality and satellite installation, few invest the same for good speakers. Musicians, sound engineers and foley artists pour months of time into their work, meticulously listening to every beat and background noise to ensure it makes the grade. It would be a real shame to spoil their efforts with poor speaker placement. Here is a guide on how to set your own system up, but for the best audio visual service results, contact the professionals at ADS.

2.1 Channel Setup

2.1 speaker systems are stereo setups. This essentially means that they’ll have one left and one right speaker, and a subwoofer for the bass. Since subwoofers are omnidirectional (they emit sound all around them) they can be placed almost anywhere. However, to get the best results, refrain from placing them in the corner of the room or a semi-enclosed space.
The two primary stereo speakers should be approximately three feet from the centre of the viewing screen at roughly ear height – no more than six inches higher or lower. The speakers should be angled towards the seating area – usually 22-30 degrees for a sofa that directly faces the television screen.

5.1 Channel Setup

5.1 channel setups are often regarded as “standard” surround sound. Start by placing the centre stereo speakers using the 2.1 channel method above. And then add the centre speaker so it’s directly underneath the television facing the viewer head on. On a 5.1 surround sound setup, this is often the most important speaker as it will emit the dialogue.
Next, add the two rear speakers. Unlike the rest of the setup, these should be placed approximately two foot higher than the listener’s ear line. Depending on the shape and size of your room, these rear speakers can be placed either directly adjacent to the viewer or a few feet behind the viewer.

7.1 Channel Setup

7.1 channel setups are becoming more and more common. They utilise a similar setup to 5.1 channel systems, but with the addition of two speakers placed behind the viewer. As well, for a 7.1 surround sound setup, you may place one extra speaker to the rear in the centre. Remember to change the settings on your television and/or media player when testing your new setup. A 7.1 surround sound system won’t make a difference if it’s playing back a 5.1 mix.

No two rooms are alike. These rules are merely guidelines. While these setups will generally work well in square or rectangular rooms, furniture and structural materials will have a significant impact on the overall quality. Sometimes you will have to experiment and make minor adjustments in order to find the perfect balance.

What constitutes “good” sound quality is completely subjective. If you’d like to raise the volume of your rear speakers to emphasise background noise, or raise the centre speaker for louder dialogue, feel free to make adjustments. Just remember, every movie has been mixed and mastered differently. Don’t be surprised if you have to spend a few minutes tweaking your settings every now and then. While it may seem tedious, the results will be worth it.

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