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How can you best place the speakers and subwoofer in home cinema system?

How speakers and subwoofer in home cinema can best be placed and what the 'rules' are for this? In this article you will find a short explanation.
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A home cinema system in the living room is something that can give watching films and series an extra dimension, but you only achieve the best performance when your speakers are placed correctly. A question that I often see is how speakers and subwoofer in home cinema can best be placed and what the ‘rules’ are for this. In this article you will find a short explanation per surround setup.

here are different surround / speaker setups you can choose from. You can buy a 2.1 home cinema system, a 5.1 home cinema system or even a 7.1 home cinema system. You can choose to purchase an all-in-one set or search for components yourself. 

There are several ways to place speakers and subwoofer in home cinema system and of course every living room or loudspeaker has its limitations. For example, due to a certain shape, a room may not be able to accommodate speakers in the correct angle or a certain speaker may not be hung for an optimal position due to its size. The guidelines about placing speakers and subwoofer in home cinema below give you a good starting point for a basic installation of your home cinema system, but you can deviate from them if the room or the type of speaker requires it.

2.1 speaker setup

2.1 channel speaker system consists of two speakers and a subwoofer. The speakers are placed on either side of the TV and serve to reproduce dialogue as well as other effects. Surround speakers are missing in this setup.

When you sit on the couch, in the position from which you normally watch a movie, the speakers should be at an angle of about 30 degrees. It is also important that the speakers face inward, in a straight line towards the listening position. The distance between the speakers and the TV should be about one meter and both speakers should be the same distance from the TV and the same distance from the listening position.

The rules for the subwoofer are less strict. A subwoofer delivers an omnidirectional sound, which makes placement less important. The only thing that is not advisable is to place the subwoofer in a corner. Because of this you can get too heavy and messy bass. If there is space, it is best to simply place the subwoofer on the left or right under the TV.

5.1 speaker setup for speakers and subwoofer in home cinema

With a 5.1 speaker system you get three extra speakers; one for the dialogue (the center speaker ) and two for the surround effects (the surround speakers). In addition, you still have a subwoofer for the reproduction of the low tones and two speakers at the front.

With regard to the placement of the speakers at the front and the subwoofer, the same rules apply as when setting up a 2.1-channel system. So keep the distance between the listening position and the speakers and between the speakers and the TV the same, and place the subwoofer somewhere between the TV and the speaker.

speakers and subwoofer in home cinema

The center speaker mainly serves for the reproduction of dialogue and is placed directly in front of the listening position, below or above the TV. The closer to ear height, the better. If you hang the TV, it is recommended to place the center speaker under the TV. This can sometimes take some effort but when placed correctly this speaker definitely adds value. There is nothing more annoying than poorly audible dialogues.

The surround speakers serve to reproduce the surround effects that naturally make the movie experience many times more intense. The best placement of these speakers is directly (or at a short distance) behind the listening position, to the left and right. Allow for an angle of about 100 degrees from the center speaker. For optimal performance, these speakers should be placed just above ear height and pointed towards the listening position.

7.1 speaker setup

7.1 speaker system adds two extra speakers to give the surround experience an extra dimension. You still keep the two speakers on either side of the TV, the subwoofer on the left or right under the TV and the center speaker directly below or above the TV. You can read how to best place these speakers under the heading of the 5.1 speaker setup.

speakers and subwoofer in home cinema

What changes compared to a 5.1 system is the placement of the two speakers for the surround effects. These speakers are now placed directly (or close to) the listening position, at an angle of about 90 degrees from the center. The speakers should also be directed towards the listening position and should (if possible) be placed just above ear height. The two additional speakers, often referred to as Rear / Back speakers, are placed behind the listening position, both slightly off center at an angle of about 145 degrees from the center. These speakers can also be placed just above ear height.

Other points for speakers and subwoofer in home cinema setting

There are of course exceptions to the above rules, for example when the shape of the room makes an arrangement impossible or when acoustic properties require a different arrangement. Some speakers ( upright columns ) also sometimes offer the possibility to take over the function of the subwoofer and thus reproduce the low tones. When this is possible, the subwoofer in the system is omitted.

Some all-in-one home cinema systems and many AV receivers have a built-in calibration function to optimally adjust the speakers and the sound reproduction to the environment. Use this feature to fine-tune the audio output after following the guidelines above, or adjust the audio output to accommodate different speaker placement due to room or speaker limitations.

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