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Tips on Placing Your Home Theater Speakers

by Paul Sanders

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Home theater speakers around an HDTV

You can achieve an immersive home cinema experience by installing your own home theater speaker system. After you've selected your home theater speakers and other components, it may be necessary to experiment a little with the placement of your speakers. Your home theater system will need to adjust to the size, shape and construction of your theater room. Here are a few tips on how to place your home theater speakers for the best surround sound.

Home Theater Placement:

  1. Mounting your speakers: Using wall mounts to attach your home theater speakers to a wall or ceiling gives you more precise control over placing them than just setting them on a shelf or window sill. Built-in wall or ceiling home theater speakers have advantages, too. Though, it's best to install them before you complete the room's construction.

  2. Foreground speakers: All 5.1 and 7.1 systems include three front home theater speakers. The center foreground speaker will handle primarily dialogue and foreground sounds. You can place it in front of or above your TV or projector screen. The left and right home theater speakers can be placed to either side, pointed toward your seating area.

  3. Rear and side speakers: The 7.1 systems have four rear and side home theater speakers. Avoid placing them too close to your seating area but place them in a kind of arc or box around the seating area, pointed inward.

  4. Sound reflection: The wall, floor, ceiling and furniture construction of your room all affect the quality of sound from your home theater speakers. Reduce echo and reverberation by including softer, sound-absorbing materials toward the front of the room. The back of the room can include hard, reflective surfaces to diffuse sound from your home theater speakers evenly throughout the room.

  5. Subwoofers: Subwoofers are often neglected during the placement of home theater speakers. Low frequency sounds are non-directional, but you may need to experiment with placement, depending on your room dimensions and materials. Start with the subwoofer in the corner and play a CD with heavy bass. Adjust the distance between the subwoofer and your seating area until the bass sounds even without a hard "booming" effect. Also, avoid placing subwoofers in or on cabinets that may rattle.

  6. Speaker wire gauge: If you're running wire to home theater speakers more than 30 feet from the speaker, you may want to consider a thicker, high-gauge speaker wire, which will help reduce "noise" from creeping into your sound quality.

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