How to calibrate a 5-channel speaker sound setting

Written by james clark
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How to calibrate a 5-channel speaker sound setting
Calibrate surround sound for optimal audio in home theatre. (sound system image by Pavel Losevsky from

A five-channel audio system uses front left and right speakers, a centre channel and two rear speakers to create surround sound effects. When properly calibrated, the surround sound receiver processes audio signals with a slight delay so the sound seems to flow from one part of the room to another, creating a sensation of action on the TV screen moving throughout the room. You can adjust the volume for each speaker to suit your listening preferences.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Turn on the receiver and activate the surround sound setting by pressing the "Surr" button on the remote control. On most remotes, the up and down arrow keys are used to toggle from one speaker to the next, and the left and right arrow keys adjust the volume.

  2. 2

    Set the levels for the front left and right channels to the same volume.

  3. 3

    Increase the volume on the centre channel above the setting for the front speakers when listening to dramatic programs that are dialogue-intensive. The centre channel supplies most of the dialogue in a multichannel audio system, so the speaker should be set at a higher level to offset music and directional sounds from the front speakers.

  4. 4

    Adjust the volume on the rear surround speakers so both are set to the same level. Once the basic volume levels are set for all five speakers, each will be proportional in loudness to the other speakers when increasing the main volume control. For example, if the front speakers are set to a higher volume level than the rear channels, the front speakers will continue to be louder than the rear speakers regardless of an increase in the overall volume setting of the system.

  5. 5

    Press the "Effect" button on the remote control to adjust the tonal qualities of the speaker system. For example, some receivers can process audio for different sonic effects to simulate the acoustics in different listening environments, such as a large auditorium or a small jazz club. These settings vary among different receiver models.

  6. 6

    Press the "Delay" button to calibrate the rear speakers. The delay should be increased to personal preferences, but generally, the greater the distance from the main seating area to the TV, the greater the delay setting should be. This sets the delay from sounds produced by the front speakers to sounds produced by the rear speakers, which creates the sensation of movement and spaciousness vital to home theatre.

Tips and warnings

  • The speakers may need recalibration following a prolonged power outage, which may cause the receiver to reset.

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