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How Do I Position My Loudspeakers and Subwoofer For My Home Theater System?

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Question: How Do I Position My Loudspeakers and Subwoofer For My Home Theater System?
Probably the most critical part of a home theater set-up is the positioning of the loudspeakers and subwoofers. Factors, such as the type of loudspeakers, room shape, and acoustics definitely affect optimum loudspeaker placement.

However, there are some general loudspeaker position guidelines that can be followed as a starting point, and, for most basic installations, these guidelines may be sufficient.

Answer: The following examples are provided for a typical square or slightly rectangular room, you may need to adjust your placement for other room shapes, types of speakers, and additional acoustical factors.

5.1 Channel Speaker Placement

Front Center Channel Speaker: Place the Front Center Channel Speaker directly in front of the listening area, either above or below the television, video display, or projection screen.

Subwoofer: Place the Subwoofer to the left or right of the television.

Left and Right Main/Front Speakers: Place the Left and Right Main/Front speakers equidistant from the Front Center Channel speaker, about a 30 degree angle from the center channel.

Left and Right Surround Speakers: Place the Left and Right Surround Speakers to the left and right side, just to the side or slightly behind the listening position - about 90-110 degrees from the center channel. These speakers can be elevated above the listener.

For further reference, also view our Video Quick Tip: Proper Speaker Placement for a 5.1 Home Theater.

6.1 Channel Speaker Placement

The Front Center and Left/Right Main speakers and Subwoofer are the same as in a 5.1 Channel configuration.

Left and Right Surround Speakers: Place the Left and Right Surround Speakers to the left and right side of the listening position, in line with or slightly behind the listening position - about 90-110 degrees from the center. These speakers can be elevated above the listener.

Rear Center Channel Speaker: Directly behind the listening position, in line with the Front Center speaker - May be elevated.

For further reference, also view our Video Quick Tip: Proper Speaker Placement for a 6.1 Home Theater.

7.1 Channel Speaker Placement

The Front Center and Left/Right Main speakers and Subwoofer are the same as a 5.1 or 6.1 Channel set up.

Left and Right Surround Speakers: Place the Left and Right Surround Speakers to the left and right side of the listening position, in line with or slightly behind the listening position - about 90-110 degrees from the center. These speakers can be elevated above the listener.

Rear/Back Surround Speakers Place the Rear/Back Surround Speakers behind the listening position - slightly to the left and right (may be elevated above listener) - at about 140-150 degrees from the front center channel speaker. Rear/Back channel surround speakers can be elevated above the listening position.

For further reference, also view our Video Quick Tip: Proper Speaker Placement for a 7.1 Home Theater.

NOTE: To aid in your speaker setup, take advantage of the built-in Test Tone Generator that is available in many Home Theater Receivers to set your sound levels. All Speakers should be able to output at the same volume level. A inexpensive Sound Meter can also help with this task.

NOTE: The above setup description is a basic overview on what to expect when hooking speakers up to your home theater system. The set up may vary depending on how many and what types of loudspeakers you have, as well as your room size, shape, and acoustical properties.

For a visual presentation on home theater speaker setup, check out About.com's informative, easy-to-follow video: Home Theater Setup Tips.

Also, for more advanced tips on setting up speakers that can be adapted to a home theater system setup, check out the following articles from About.com Stereos: Five Ways To Get Best Performance From Your Stereo System, Bi-Wiring and Bi-Amplifying Stereo Speakers, Your Listening Room.

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