Speaker Placement Tips

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Are In-wall speakers a good idea?

Alternate Home Theater Speaker Placement

Some people appreciate subtleties; they want a home theater system but don't want speakers taking up floor space. In this demographic, there is a wide selection of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers available for home theater use.

It is easiest to install internal home speakers at the initial construction period since you can run the necessary wires, and optimize placement. Once installed, in-wall speakers sit flush with your walls so they are virtually invisible. The only drawback is the finality of them--once their mounted and wired, it's difficult to move them.

Where should I mount my center channel speaker for the best sound?

Center Channel Placement

In a perfect world, your center channel speaker would be mounted behind the screen (as in a professional movie theater). In most home theaters,however, with direct view and rear projection TV's, the only option is mounting above or below the screen.

Mounting the center channel speaker above the screen usually provides the most intelligible center channel dialog (the main reason for a center channel speaker). If you have hardwood floors, it may help to place a small area rug between you and the front of the TV (this will prevent sound reflections from bouncing off the floor and destroying the clarity). As with any speaker placement, you should experiment. Remember that every home theater is different; what works in your friend's home theater may not work in yours.

What is the best way to make my speakers sound better?

Decoupling Your Speakers

Experiment with different room placement. In most cases, proper room placement will make a big improvement with all your choices in electronics. The next step is to improve the rooms' basic acoustic character with more or less absorbing and/or dispersive surfaces.

Where should I mount my surround speakers for the best sound?

Surround Speaker Placement

Successful surround sound speaker placement is very dependant on your home theater shape and layout. It may take some experimentation to find the best surround speaker location. Regardless, there are some guidelines to make it easier to get good result:

• Surround speakers should be mounted well above or below ear level (you want to be enveloped in the sound)
• Bipole are useful when you have to sit very close to them because you can aim the "null" axis at the listening area and bounce the main sound around before it gets to your ears
• Omnipole speakers are more forgiving of placement.
• If using direct radiating surround speakers, aim them into the back corners of the room (this will bounce the surround sound off the back walls and create a more diffuse surround field)

How should I set up my speakers for the best sound?

Stereo Speaker Placement

There are a few basic speaker placement guidelines to follow when setting up a two channel stereo system. Although there are a few special cases, such as line array speakers, and some electrostatic speaker designs, most speakers designed for home listening benefit from some experimenting.

Start by following the manufactures recommendation. Try to position the speaker so the midrange or woofer frequency is at ear level (remember you'll probably listen to your speakers sitting down, so take this into account). Speaker stands are an easy way to get bookshelf speakers at ear level. You can also experiment with 'toe-in'--try angling your speakers inward so the sound they produce crosses in front of you (a little 'toe-in' speaker placement can sharpen the imaging and soundstage of your system). Speakers should be no further apart than the listeners are back from them. Experiment!

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Byron White