Learn how you can position surround sound speakers to achieve top performance and amazing sound.
You’ve finally decided to invest hundreds, maybe even thousands, into those high-end speakers that you’ve had your eye on for years. After all, your home theatre wouldn’t be complete without them, but in order to achieve optimal sound and top performance of your speakers, they need to be positioned and installed in a way that will match your listening preferences and the optimal positioning in the room. When surround sound speakers are set up properly, they will work together to create engaging 360-degree effects.
Surround sound speakers produce fantastic atmospheric sounds that you will relish like footsteps crunching on gravel, trickling rain drops or a winter blizzard freeze (think, The Day After Tomorrow). These speakers work simultaneously with the other speakers within the system to create directional effects that will put you in the middle of the action, allowing whatever you’re watching to come to life whether it’s the big game or a high-octane action movie.
Positioning Speakers Using the Golden Rule
In general, regardless of how large or small your room is, it is best to place your speakers approx 90cm from the front wall. Doing this reduces any annoying bass reflections that can wreak havoc on your ear drums during a would-be pleasurable listening experience. Placing your speakers 90cm from the front wall tames the bass, providing good sound control.
With regards to the distance from the side walls in the room, there is a “Golden Rectangle Rule” that states that the speaker’s distance from the side wall should be 1.6 times the distance from the front wall. This means that if the distance from the front wall is approximately 90cm, the distance should be approximately 144cm from the side wall.
Once you’ve done this, you can angle (also called toe-in) the speakers towards your listening location. Following the “Golden Rectangle Rule” will help provide top sound performance, but first you will need to place each speaker in the correct location.
Perfectly Positioning a Surround Sound Speaker System with Subwoofer
A new surround-sound system will fall under one of the three types listed below:
- The 5.1-channel system which has five satellites and a subwoofer.
- The 6.1-channel systems which has six satellites and a subwoofer.
- The 7.1-channel system which has seven satellites and a subwoofer.
Regardless of which type of surround-sound system you’re setting up, you will start the process by placing the center speaker directly above or directly below your television. If you’re looking to minimize clutter, the center speaker can be mounted on the wall along with your television or placed in your entertainment center, unless the speaker has rear bass ports, then it is recommended that you use a speaker stand.
Depending on whether or not your front-right or front-left speakers have a rear-panel bass port, they can be wall mounted or placed on a stand. If, however, the speakers do have a real-panel bass port they should not be wall mounted.
These speakers should also be spaced an equal distance apart—the same distance as the distance between your center speaker and the listening location. Additionally, these speakers should be spaced no more than 60cm above or below your front-center speaker, tho in an optimal setup you should aim to have the tweeter drivers of all three front speakers at the same height.
In all cases, regardless of how large or small the room is, the surround-speakers should be installed just slightly behind or parallel to your listening spot for optimal sound. Just like the front-left and front-right speakers with rear-panel bass ports, if you have purchased surround-speakers with this rear bass port, they should be placed on speaker stands instead of being wall mounted.
After you have installed all of the other components of your new surround sound system, you will need to position your subwoofer. Since the bass frequencies of a subwoofer are non-directional it can be installed anywhere you please, in an assortment of locations. Depending on your preference and the layout of the room, you might see better results placing the subwoofer near a corner in the front of the room, while others might achieve better speaker performance if it is installed in the front of the room approximately six inches from the wall. There are some advanced methods for finding the ideal position for the subwoofer in a given room, but we will cover these more in-depth in a future article.
Regardless of what type of surround sound speakers you have decided to purchase or what size room you have, positioning the speakers in the ideal location and following the rules mentioned throughout this article will help provide you with fantastic results. There are a wide variety of speaker stands and wall mount speaker brackets on the market—and we stock these at affordable prices—that will make your ideal speaker setup process a far easier task.
You’ll be experiencing amazing audio in no time!
Remember if you are just getting started or are on a smaller budget, then we recommend having a look our Home Theatre Speaker Packages. These offer very good value for money and everything you need to get started.