How to Arrange 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers

Written by diane dilov-schultheis
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If you have recently obtained a 5.1 surround sound speaker system (often called a home theatre system), it is very important to know how to arrange the components. It can make all the difference in the world in the sound you hear. Each room has its own acoustic capabilities, each person hears sounds differently, and every home theatre set-up is not the same. For these reasons, it is impossible to have a “perfect” overall placement. However, there are several things you can do to arrange your 5.1 surround sound speakers in your home for maximum efficiency. Read over the ideas presented here and use your ears to tweak the final placement. You will need to expend some time and effort, but the end result will truly be music to your ears, affording the same quality of sound you encounter in professional movie theatres.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Television
  • Measuring Tape

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  1. 1

    Survey all of the speakers and accessories. A 5.1 surround sound system includes a left and right front speaker, a left and right back (or surround) speaker, a centre-channel speaker and a subwoofer (sub). You will also need relevant wires for each one, and possibly speaker stands or mounts as well.

  2. 2

    Position the centre speaker. It should be centred immediately above or below your television. If you set it on top, it should be equal with the front edge of the set. Its height should be close to (if not the same as) that of the front left and right speakers. Keep the distance between the listener and the centre-channel speaker as close as possible to that between him and the front speakers.

  3. 3

    Position the front speakers. The right and left front speakers are best placed at equivalent distances from the main listening area, including the centre channel. The three speakers should all face the designated listening area and be the same distance from you, in an arced format. Use a measuring tape to determine the correct placement. The speakers should be set at the ear level of a seated listener.

  4. 4

    Arrange the two surround-sound speakers. The left and right rear (back or surround-sound) speakers should be either flush with or behind the listening area. Do not face them toward this region or placed them at the ear level of a seated listener. The exact positioning of these speakers can alter the overall sound significantly. Experiment with different locations to find what works best for your room.

  5. 5

    Set the subwoofer in position. The ideal site can vary from home to home, depending on the amount of bass you like to hear. To find this location, place the subwoofer in your main listening area with music playing. Go around the room to determine the spot with the best sound. Once you have discovered this spot, place the subwoofer there.

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