Your Home Theater System Bible

Surround Sound Speaker Placement


It does not matter if you are planning a budget Home Theater system, or working towards a high-end Home Theatre System, creating awareness of the location and positioning of your Home Theatre speakers usually pays off with an immense Surround Sound Speaker Placement heightimprovement in audio sonic performance. If you are considering a sightsee of choosing Home Theater  speakers, knowing the basics of speaker placement can help you make the smartest choice for your room.
When you have completed your basic speaker placement, only then you are ready to enjoy your Home Theater entertainment experience. Please keep in mind that every listening room is different; you might be able to further improve the sound by going within the general speaker guidelines and fine-tuning the speaker placement within your room. If you do not have time then you have the option to hire a professional Home Theatre installer; on the other hand, if you can just spend a little time and some precise focused listening, you will be able to do it yourself. Believe me it’s fun.

7.1 Surround Sound Speaker Placement
7.1 Home Theatre Surround System has seven discrete audio channels, Left, Centre, Right,   Left Surround, Right Surround, Left and Right Back Surround, and not forgetting the ( .1) which is the Subwoofer.

  • Speakers, Front Left & Right: Place the Front Left and Right speakers at ear height (level), producing a 45° angle as viewed from the main seat. This delivers a wide sound stage and precise localization of individual sounds
  • Speaker, Center Channel: Position the Center channel speaker either above or below the screen. Next, aim the speaker either up or down to point directly at the listener. If you have a projection screen, center this speaker horizontally just below the screen angled facing the listener
  • Speakers, Surround Left & Right: Position the SL & SR speakers between 90° to 110° to each side and 2 feet or higher above the listener. The SL & SR speakers recreate the enveloping sound and intense special effects that you experience in your local Cinema
  • Speakers, Surround Back Left & Right: The SBL & SBR speakers should be the dipole type and placed left and right on the back wall this will deliver its maximum surround effect
  • Low Frequency Speaker “Subwoofer”: Here are a few alternatives for subwoofer placement, depending on how many subwoofers you have in your room. If you have two, position them in the middle of side opposing walls. If you have one, place it in the off middle of the front wall along with your front speakers

Surround Sound Speaker Placement Height

Surround speakers should be placed high enough so that the drivers do not fire directly at your “Ears” when you are sitting down.  One rule of thumb is to place them at “Ear” level while standing that is about 2 feet above your ear level while you are seated. If your surround speakers fire directly at your ears, they will overpower your front speakers and can cause off balance of Cinema surround effects. If your surround speakers are mounted on the side walls on adjustable brackets, experiment with aiming them. You may get beneficial results from pointing them at the ceiling or toward the rear corners of the room.

If no side or rear walls are available for mounting your speakers, try placing a pair of traditional bookshelf speakers on speaker stand, and position them slightly behind, two feet above and to the sides of your listening position. Do not aim them directly at your ears like you do for the front speakers. Other options are you can also experiment with in-ceiling speakers, just behind you and two feet away from either side of wall.

Surround Sound Ceiling Speaker Placement Options

In-ceiling speakers are a possible alternative when room space is restricted or if you prefer a Home Theater setup that is less obtrusive. In-ceiling speakers, in particular, can be a real lifesaver when wall space is limited, a common problem in family rooms with fireplaces, large windows and heaps of artwork on the walls.

There are in ceiling speakers made by Yamaha, Bose, Sonance and Paradigm which are designed for this application.  These above various brands also make in ceiling speakers for the surround applications that have dual tweeters so the sound is less directional than a simple in- ceiling speaker. Improved options are using moveable tweeters and angled grilles, in-ceiling speakers which can be pointed toward the listening area to create a sonic experience that’s nearly as good as what you can get from wall-mounted speakers.

Important note to remember is that as far as Surround Sound is concerned,  ‘in-ceiling’ speakers for 5.1 or 7.1 will not give you “ actual “ surround sound due to the fact that “actual” surround sound is meant to fire imaginatively and with ceiling speakers it will be firing “downward”, or “surging “ over the listener. The physics of a ceiling mounted / vertically oriented system simply do not support what many hope to achieve gaols of any sort of reasonably effective multichannel surround reproduction.

Posted on January 14, 2013 by 0 Comments Short URL


Alphonso Soosay, an accomplished musician and sound recording specialist has been in the industry for more than 30 years. In this blog Alphonso shares all his experiences and knowledge in the recording and home theatre industry. Alphonso Soosay's Blog

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