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Surround Sound Speaker Placement

The correct positioning of your surround sound speakers will greatly maximize your home theatre system by dramatically enhancing your audio experience. You can have an exceptional surround sound system that’s been diligently made by some of the most tech-savvy engineers in the world, but if your speakers aren’t placed properly, the sound quality of your surround sound system can still suffer tremendously.

Thankfully, correctly arranging your surround sound speakers is as easy as pie when you follow some simple basic guidelines. Picture a triangle when thinking of the correct placement of your surround sound speakers. Imagine you’re at the top of the triangle and the speakers should be aligned all along the bottom of the triangle, which will be across the room from you. The speakers always need to be placed evenly on each side of the audio source and should be perfectly aligned with one another, forming a straight line. Here’s a helpful guide on how to perfectly place your speakers according to how many speakers you have:


Stereo audio only consists of two channels and requires very minimal work to set up. A 2.0 channel setup is a stereo speaker setup without a subwoofer. When a subwoofer is added, you will then have a 2.1 channel setup. Adding a subwoofer increases your low-end frequency. Without a subwoofer, correctly placing your two speakers is as simple as placing one speaker on the right side of your audio source and the other speaker on the left. As a rule of thumb, these speakers should be about 3-4 feet away from the centre of your audio source. Thus, the speakers should be 3-4 feet away from the centre of your computer or TV screen. They should be facing forward and angled inward slightly toward the audience or centre of the room. Your speakers should never be on or near the floor, but rather at ear level, so that you’ll experience the best possible audio effect out of them. Speaker stands are a great way to raise your speakers from ground level and to enhance their audio. With an added subwoofer, you’ll want to follow this arrangement and because the subwoofer is omnidirectional, you can place it anywhere in the room as long as it’s close to the receiver. One rule of thumb to keep in mind, however, is to not place the subwoofer in a corner or in an enclosed area such as inside a shelf or cabinet. This would limit its room-filling audio capabilities and make the low frequency sound more compressed and one-directional instead of omnidirectional.


The placement of a 3.1 channel surround sound is the same as the 2.1 channel setup, except you will have one additional speaker- the centre speaker. The centre speaker should be placed directly in the middle of the audio source, between the left and right speakers. This extra centre speaker improves the audio of movies and music by better separating the sounds and improving their clarity.


With a 4.1 channel setup, you’ll now have four speakers instead of three. The speaker placement will be the same as with the 3.1 channel setup. The only difference is, you won’t have a centre speaker and will now have two speakers on each side of your audio source instead of one.


A 5.1 channel setup will have 5 speakers total. The speakers will be arranged exactly the same as in the 3.1 channel speaker placement (a speaker on each side of the audio source and one in the centre) and the two additional speakers in the 5.1 channel surround sound system will go across the room and will be placed on each side of the audience and will be turned inward facing the listeners from the side. The placement of these two speakers is usually on each side of the couch, facing inward. Side tables on each end of your couch can be of assistance when placing these two speakers. Alternatively, these two speakers can also be mounted on the wall. These speakers sound best when placed 2-3 feet above the audience or at ear level.


In a 6.1 channel setup, the speakers will be arranged the same as in the 5.1 channel surround sound setup, except you will now have an additional rear speaker. This rear speaker will be placed in the center of the audience, right behind the seating area.


The 7.1 channel setup has the same speaker placement as the 6.1 channel setup. The only difference will be, now you have two extra rear speakers. These speakers will be placed directly behind the seating area and will face forward toward the audience, instead of inward toward them from each side of the seating area like the other two speakers placed on each side of the couch. These two additional rear speakers should be placed directly behind the audience just above head level for best results.

If you must compromise with the placement of some of your rear speakers, remember you’re always better off moving your rear speakers further back instead of closer forward toward the audience. It’s also much better to move your speakers closer together instead of further apart and to always elevate them higher instead of lower for best sound quality results.


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