When you purchase a surround sound system setup, you want it to sound amazing. Proper placement of the speakers can make a huge impact on how the speaker system ends up sounding. You can have a full 7.1 home theater system, and if it’s not properly set up you will never achieve your desired results.
On the other hand, making sure you place everything the right way can make even subpar speaker systems work to make a theater-like experience in your home. You just have to know how to place everything. The best surround sound system setup can be easily achieved so long as you do your research. We have done that research for you and to make it simple will explain the best way to set up your brand-new speakers.
5.1 Or 7.1 Speaker Systems
The only real difference between a 5.1 and a 7.1 speaker system is the number of speakers that come with it. A 5.1 set is going to have 5 speakers. These are best placed with three in front of you, near your TV, and two off to the sides of where you plan to sit. A 7.1 set has 7 speakers. The best placement for these is almost exactly like the 5.1 speaker set. However, you have two extra speakers that are best placed behind you, giving you sound from all angles around your seating area.
Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Center Speaker
The first speaker you’re going to want to ensure the proper placement is the center channel speaker. This speaker is going to primarily deal with the dialogue in the movie or shows you are watching. Because of this, the best placement for this speaker is in line with the middle of your TV. Whether you place this speaker above or below your TV is not important, your only concern is to not place it too far away from the television. This is because placing the speaker too far away can make the sound and the picture on the TV not quite match up.
Hopefully, your intended seating space is also in line with the middle of the tv, as this will make it easier to have everything lined up. The absolute best height for this center speaker is in line with your head when you’re seated. This can ensure the most direct path for the soundwaves to travel from the speaker to your ears.
Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Front Left and Right Speakers
The front left and right speakers are usually going to be taller and meant to sit on the floor. However, you also want them to be at least close to being in line with the center speaker. This can help to ensure a proper balance when the sound from your television pans from one side to the other during a movie or show. Having an even sound can more completely immerse you in the illusion that you’re there with the characters of your movie, which is what surround sound experiences are supposed to do.
These speakers are designed to handle the music and sound effects in what you’re watching. However, they can sometimes play dialogue sound as well. This is why the balance between speakers can make or break your speaker setup. Placing these speakers an equal distance from the TV and on either side can help to keep the sound level and balanced when you watch your movies or shows. You also want them placed in such a way that they too point at your head. The most likely angle that will make these speakers is somewhere between 20 to 30 degrees. This is approximately how much you want to turn them inward to get the ideal sound experience.
Notes About the Three Front Speakers
If you can’t level the center, left, or right speaker with your ears, it’s not the end of the world. You can always tilt a speaker up to down slightly to make it as close as you can. Even if you can’t make it perfect, you can at least get it close enough to sound amazing.
You under no circumstances ever want to place a speaker even partially behind your TV and entertainment center. As neat and tidy as it could make everything look, the sound waves from the speakers will have to bend around anything in front of them. This can make the sound distorted or muffled before it ever gets a chance to reach your ears.
Using stands or brackets can be your best bet when trying to place speakers exactly right. These can make speaker installation a breeze, giving you more control of how and where you place them. A floor stand for your left and right speakers can be exactly the right tool to make the speakers in the line.
Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Surround Speakers
Next, you’re going to want to ensure the correct placement of the surround speakers. These speakers are where the magic of surround sound begins. The ideal placement for these speakers is slightly behind your seating position. There is a recommended angle of 110-120 degrees from your seat, that is sure to give you the best sound possible. This is also a great way to determine how far behind you your speakers need to go. Turned at this degree, you still want the speakers facing you, so you may want to place them forward or back accordingly.
If your room is not fit for speakers to be placed here, the next best thing is to follow a 90-degree angle. Placing the speakers on either side of your seating can be almost as good as slightly behind you. Just make sure they are still pointed toward where you intend to sit most often. This is how you’ll have to place them if the back of your couch rests against a wall and you can’t place anything behind it.
The surround speakers are meant to be up higher than your seating position, preferably between one and two feet higher. They are meant to handle the ambient sound in the room around you. Since you do not want the ambiance to take over the dialogue, you don’t want these speakers in line with your ears. This will help the ambient noise to stay in the background while still placing you in the world with your favorite TV characters.
If you’re using a 7.1 speaker setup, please be aware that you may want these speakers to be placed slightly differently. Rather than being behind you, you want them more to the side at a 90-110-degree angle.
Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Back Right and Left
If you are using a 7.1 speaker setup, these are the two extra speakers you get. They are meant to be almost completely behind you, at an angle ranging anywhere from 135-150 degrees. They handle more of the ambient sounds that help to immerse you into the world on your television screen. Due to this, like the surround speakers, you want them to be placed higher than your seated position by about a foot or two. Again, this is so your ambient sound doesn’t take over the more important dialogue and soundtracks of whatever you’re watching.
Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- The Subwoofer
The subwoofer is the easiest speaker to place because it doesn’t really have to have a specific place to work right. The subwoofer’s job is to give you clear and deep bass sounds during the soundtracks of what you watch. Due to this, it’s not nearly as important where you set it up. You can almost just find any place in the room and stick it there without having to worry about ruining your sound quality.
However, if you want to follow the best placement techniques for the subwoofer regardless, there are some tips and tricks that can help you decide where you want to place it.
Most people try to avoid placing their subwoofer in a corner. Bass frequencies, when coming from a room’s corner, can boom more than when they come from anywhere else. However, some people like the booming sound of bass played like this. So, it depends on the type of sound you prefer. The only real risk to making your bass boom like this is the risk that it might take over the other sounds coming from the TV. Trial and error can be your friend here until you figure out the placement you most prefer.
Setup System in an Entirely Square Room
If you’re setting up your system in an entirely square room, it’s a good idea to not place the subwoofer an equal distance from two opposite walls. If you do this, sound waves may hit the walls of the room and come back, colliding and canceling one another out before you ever get the chance to enjoy the deep bass sounds you want.
Another fix to making the bass sound as good as possible is simple, just get a second subwoofer. This can help level out the bass sounds throughout the room with ease, which can help to give you consistent levels of bass. You particularly want the bass to be consistent in the most important listening area. Trial and error can help you to determine what you prefer to help you pick the right subwoofer location for you.
Things to Avoid
As you’re placing your speakers, try to avoid placing them too close to the ceilings, walls, or floors. This is because these hard surfaces can distort or even muffle the sound that you certainly want to stay clear and loud. Also, you risk causing delays in the sounds that may make the picture and the sound look and sound out of sync. Some speakers are designed to be against walls, but unless your speaker is designed this way, it’s probably best to keep speakers a small distance away from the wall.
Don’t place your speakers in the corners of the room. For all the problems a wall, floor, and ceiling can cause the sound, you certainly do not want to place your speakers in an area where all three meet. This can compound the problems listed just a moment ago and make your sound quality even worse. In the worst-case scenario, this can make the sound from your speakers muddy, which has the ability to completely ruin anything you try to watch.
Ideally, what you want is for the sound to leave the speakers and go straight to your ears. To ensure this can happen, you never want to place your speakers behind anything. Not TV, furniture, or even curtains. Anything the sound has to travel through can muffle and delay the sound you receive, which can completely ruin your watching experience.
It’s not important to be specific when placing your speakers in your room. Not all rooms are the same, so what may work perfectly in one room may need to be tweaked and worked within another room. Due to this fact, the best thing you can do is follow these guidelines, but be ready to adjust as needed. Since not every room is the same, it’s all got to come down to what you enjoy the most. As you continue to adjust and tweak the setup around your seating area, you’ll start to figure out the correct placements for everything.
Remember, even if you can’t get the speakers positioned in their physical perfect position, there are AV receiver options and settings that can help to compensate for the speaker placements being off. So, if you are setting up in a room that is difficult to place speakers in, these settings can correct the issues that you can’t fix with placement.
Final Tip for Surround Sound System Setup
So, these are our tips and tricks on how to achieve the best surround sound system setup. Remember, these tips are not foolproof since every room is different. But they’re certainly a great starting place if you have nowhere to begin and need help setting up the perfect home theater system.
- 5.1 Or 7.1 Speaker Systems
- Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Center Speaker
- Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Front Left and Right Speakers
- Notes About the Three Front Speakers
- Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Surround Speakers
- Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- Back Right and Left
- Proper Speaker Setup Instructions- The Subwoofer
- Things to Avoid
- Wrapping Up