Speaker Placement for Surround Sound

Surround sound means a sound that surrounds the listener from a complete angle of 360 degrees. Everyone wants the best music and movie experience, and proper speaker placement for surround sound creates a home theater environment. You can build an immersive sound experience in your home just by placing your speakers correctly.

Surround sound systems are also great for home parties. You can create your own fun with proper speaker placement. The main goal is to place the speakers in a the right locations for the best experience of special effects.

Surround sound system have gained great popularity in the past few years. As TV’s have gotten better, we have all been enjoying more of our movies and shows at home. So, now that you have that beautiful, crisp screen, your next step is the best sound. Proper placement of speakers has a big impact on the sound of your system. In fact, placement alone can elevate the average sounding system to an elite home theater experience.

Over the years, I have received many questions regarding speakers placement for home theater and surround sound. So, I decided to give a detailed guide here.

Speaker Placement for Surround Sound – Detailed Guide by Professionals

So, let’s look at all the proper placements for speakers.

SIDE NOTE: If you have a Sound Bar instead of individual speakers, please read our article on Proper Sound Bar Placement Here.

Left and Right Speaker Placement

You can start creating your surround sound experience with just two main, right and left, speakers.

  • Speaker Angle: With just two speakers, you have to start by adjusting them to the proper angles. To start, angle both the right and the left speakers in the direction of your main sitting place. (Which is usually directly in front of your TV.)
  • The perfect angle for the front left and right speakers from your main sitting position is 22-30 degrees. This is the perfect angle for speaker placement for surround sound. Of course, your actual placement will also depend on the design of your room. However, if your speaker placement is not able to get anywhere close to this angle, then this is an indicator that the room is improper. You might need to find another room for your system, or scale down your surround sound plans. (Maybe with a soundbar?)
  • Speaker Height: Sit in your main viewing area and visually check that your speakers’ tweeters are at your ear-level. If they are not at ear level, then adjust them so that they are. This is the recommended and proper position for enjoying clear and immersive sound.
  • Relative Wall Position: In addition to speaker height, both of these main speakers must be near to a wall. This will help create a deeper bass that will ultimately add life to the sound.

Center Channel Speaker Adjustment

These speakers are placed just above or below your TV depending upon the space available. To start, line up the center channel speaker in the middle. You can adjust it any way you want or find easy. This speaker is faced directly towards you. So, there are no angle adjustments. It just needs to be at a proper height position so the sound is at your ear-level.

Surround Speakers

The adjustment or placement of surround speakers depends on your room type. Your room will dictate if you can hang these speakers on your walls, or if you place them on speaker stands. If the room is designed in such a way that you can hang all the speakers easily, then go for it. Then, there is no need to buy any speaker stands. (The added bonus of hanging them is getting them out of the way and out of the reach of kids and pets.)

However, if you can’t hang them, then speaker stands will do the job just fine. Many people do this and it’s considered an easy, proper method too. Speakers, either adjusted on the walls or on the stands, must also be placed properly for required results. Otherwise, there is no difference between placement on walls or stands.

Let me share with you, the best available and popular surround sound systems.

5.1 Speakers Surround System

For the 5.1 Surround Sound System, place your speakers in the left and right position of your TV, directly facing towards your seating place. The other two speakers are on the left and right rear position of the room, as I have told you in first speaker placement. You can adjust the stand length so that speakers come to your ear height.

If this is impractical for you, then place those speakers a few feet away from your seating position. In this case, it is not necessary that speakers should match your ear levels. You can place them a few feet above your ear levels. The main thing is that they should be facing towards you.

5.1 channel systems give you a complete surround sound experience. Most of the shows on broadcast TV, DVDs, CDs and many of the other streaming sources are in 5.1 system channel. You can enjoy this set-up as a full surround sound system.

7.1 Speakers Surround System

7.1 Speaker Surround Systems are just amazing. They give you a cinema like experience. This surround system uses seven speakers and a subwoofer. That together lets you not just hear, but feel the sound experience.

First, choosing a central position/seating point is a must. After that, you can adjust all the system points properly. In order to create an optimal sound system, make yourself familiarize with the position of every speaker in your manual.

  • Angle the speakers towards your seating point. All of the speakers located at different places should be angled properly.
  • The suggested angle for this left and right surrounds is 90 to 110.
  • The two extra rear speakers should be at an angle of 135 to 150 degrees.

At this stage, you can check the sound. Sit in your specified location and listen to the sound. Adjust if the sound is not at your ear levels. Or if they are placed above your ear levels, and still sounds great, then it’s fine.

Let us continue on our speaker placement for surround sound journey to the next level…

9.1 Speakers Surround System

This system uses nine speakers for the delivery of a best in class sound. It basically has one subwoofer and nine speakers. It also gives a cinematic environment. It will help you create a theater experience in a larger room.

To begin, use the same protocol for placement from our 7.1 system for your 9.1 system placement. Make a target seating location and angle all the nine parts of this system toward it. If your room has such a design that all the speakers can be placed in it at some heighted wall placement or shelf option, then do this method. Otherwise, speaker stands are your best option.

Try to use this system in a bigger room. Otherwise, in a small room, all the speakers will come close to the walls. Another problem for this big of a system in too small of a room is that the sound waves start reflecting with hard objects. As a result, the sound effect completely changes and sounds confusing. That’s why it is advisable, not to choose a small room for a large surround sound system.

Bipolar and Dipolar Speaker Placement

Bipolar and dipolar speakers placement is also good. It just depends completely on your preference. Both of these speakers work the same. The best thing is that you don’t have to worry about their placement – as they radiate the sound in different directions.

Actually, there are two sets of drivers inside it that do this work. The sound keeps moving in the room. You will experience sound coming from different directions and it is a fun phenomena.

These speakers need to be placed close to the walls. However, you don’t need to adjust their angle as I have told you that they itself radiates sounds in all way. Bipole or bipolar speakers give you more flexibility with proper positioning. Their ideal angle is 90 degrees.

Dolby Atmos and DTS: X System

You can do a lot with placement of Dolby Atmos or the DTS: X sound systems. You can fix them within ceiling speakers or upward firing speakers as per your choice. This system actually starts with the 5.1 and 7.1 setups. From there, you can easily add at least 4 speakers in this system.

For DTS: X System, arrange the speakers at the best suitable height and position from your main sitting point – setting the speaker positions where the sound effects will be the best. Amazingly, Dolby Atmos has over 11 channels.

Subwoofer Placement

The reason for using the subwoofer is for the production of bass. It is hard to recognize where low bass frequencies are coming from. As a result, subwoofers placement is less critical than the speakers placement. After placing all the speakers of the system, place the subwoofers where the proper space is left.

But still, you can enhance the output of your subwoofer by placing it in a corner of the room. It will then reverberate against the walls. This will add to your bass experience. However, if you share a wall with a neighbor (or even with a bedroom someone is sleeping in), then they might not appreciate your enhanced sound.

Sometimes the location of the subwoofers can produce an overpowered bass that is inaudible for a longer period of time. Your room shape will also effect this a lot.

Additional Subwoofers

Another thing you can do, if you have a bigger room, is to add a 5.2 or 7.2 extra subwoofer setup. The simplest way to test the sound in this case is to have another person help you. Ask them to sit in your centered seating point. Then, move the subwoofer to different locations. Ask him that at which position the best effects are coming.

Don’t try to place the subwoofers at the exact same distance from opposite walls. (Or like having a subwoofer on the left and the right.) Speakers can be placed like this but subwoofers can’t. As the subwoofers placed in front of each other, cancel their waves. Because the waveforms are reflecting towards the same point they will ultimately cancel each other out.

Tips for Speaker Placement for Surround Sound

You can select any of these systems depending upon your room type and size. As every room is different from each other.

  • Larger sized rooms require larger sized systems.
  • You don’t have to panic about the distance of speakers form the walls. A good rule of thumb distance should be about two feet.
  • If your room is too small to get the right speaker placement angles, then try to do this placement in another room.
  • You can choose the 5.1. 7.1, 9.1 or any of the other surrounds system according to your choice and likings.
  • For systems which is also having a subwoofer for bass enhancement, place their subwoofers after adjusting all the speakers. Test proper placement for the best bass effects.
  • You can use stands or place the speakers higher as it suits your convenience.
  • You should test and manipulate everything. Ear-level positioning is ideal for speaker set-up.
  • Make sure the central location or the main seating point is almost in the center angle of your room. If your couch/ seating point is near the wall, then adjust the speakers accordingly. You can put the surround speakers at an angle of 90 degrees in this case. Surround sound system pacement is all about math.
  • Ideal angles for the front left and right speakers is 22-30 degrees.
  • Avoid placements in corners and try to remove obstructions as best as you can.

Speaker System Testing

One of the most important factors for speaker placement for surround sound systems is testing. Listening to your system and testing its various levels will give you the best experience for all your hard work.

Continuous testing of your speakers and subwoofers will keep your system in check. You can do this by yourself or with the help of another person. Try different positions with your subwoofer, and have the other person tell you what sounds best.

Play any song or constant music. Sit in the center position and listen to the sound carefully. This will give you a satisfaction that you have done the right placements. Asking another person will also give you a better idea, and they can confirm all your hard work.

Final Thoughts

There is nothing to get worried about. Just confidently place all the speakers and test every time. You will end up creating the best surround system in your home. Try to get the accurate or nearest angle the ideal ones.

So, by following this entire guide on Speaker Placement for Surround Sound, you can create and then enjoy your own home theater environment.

Team- Stereoauthority.com

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