How to Set Up 5.1 Speakers in a Small Room

Norvan Martin

If you have a small room and are wondering whether you can enjoy the benefits of your surround sound, you’re in the right place. We’ll cover how you can connect your speakers in the room and all other essential details you require to get the best result.

With a 5.1 system in a small room, your surround speakers are best placed to the left and right of your listening position. Aim them directly toward you for the best sound. If side placement isn’t practical, place your surround speakers a few feet behind your listening position and face them forward.

Let’s dive into the details.

What is Considered a Small Room for 5.1 Surround Sound?

The term “small room” is relative. It can mean different things to different people. The truth is that some rooms can be too small for a 5.1 speaker setup.

5.1 Speakers in a Small Room

In this article, we’re talking about a room that’s approximately 12 inches by 15 inches. If you’ve got a good-sized TV and a compact surround sound system, you can set up your 5.1 speakers in this place.

Position your sofa in a strategic position for this to happen. You don’t need to be afraid to move it close to your TV.

How Do I Connect 5.1 Speakers in a Small Room?

As the above figure suggests, you need one speaker and a single subwoofer to set up your surround system. How you connect or arrange these speakers has a significant impact on the quality of the sound you’ll receive.

5.1 home theater configuration

Let’s see how you should connect your 5.1 speakers in your small room next.

Front Right and Left Speakers

These two speakers are tailored to reproduce the music and sound effects. For the best experience, you should angle them slightly towards the seat that’s positioned directly in front of your television. Moreover, all your tweeters should be at ear level when you’re seated.

You’ll get enhanced sonic performance if you pull the speakers from the wall. However, due to the size of the room, this may not be practical. The best solution is to play with how far they are from the wall.

Center Channel Speaker

The center channel speaker reproduces dialogue. It improves the sound stage when different people are talking. These speakers can deliver the cleanest and most immersive listening experience when you place them above the television. Angle them directly at head level.

You can also place yours below your TV.

Surround Speakers

You also need two surround speakers to deal with background and special effects sounds. It would help if you placed them on the right and left of your listening position. Due to room-size limitations, you can put them at the back of the listening position.

Experiment with different positions to receive the best sound quality.

Alternatively, you can place your surround speakers on speaker stands or mount them on the wall.


You’ll require one subwoofer to produce low-frequency audio. If possible, you should place it within 4-5 feet of your surround speakers. You can also try putting it near a corner or wall for the best effect. 

If the room is too small, you should consider using an in-wall or ceiling subwoofer. It might be a little costly to buy and install these models. However, they don’t require any additional space to give you the best experience.

Alternatively, you can place the sub along the room’s front. One strategic position is near your center unit.

It would be best if you also used a dipolar surround speaker. It creates a more diffuse sound field than standard direct-radiating speakers.


Does Size Matter with Speakers?

Yes, speaker size matters, and it can be a trickier issue if you want to set up your surround system in a small room. If you’re looking for speakers that play louder and make more bass, big speakers may be the best option. Perhaps, you can go for small speakers due to room size if room-shaking bass isn’t on your priority list.

If you value room-shaking bass, you need to buy slender center and bookshelf front speakers. You can position them on your bookshelves or TV stand. Ensure you don’t stray too far from the positioning guidelines we’ve seen in the previous sections.

You can also look for small bookshelf speakers that are wall-mounted. This works best if the TV is also wall-mounted.

Can a Subwoofer Be Too Big?

Just like a speaker, a subwoofer can’t be too big for your small room provided it fits in. If you are looking for a powerful sub that suits your needs, you can choose small and slender ones. You can then conceal them inside an entertainment center or behind your sofa or chair.

We’ve talked about ceiling and in-wall subwoofers. They are another décor-friendly option you can consider if the room is too small to accommodate larger subs.

How Should You Manage Your 5.1 Speaker Cables?

You should properly manage your cables to avoid having tangled and loose wires snaking across your small room. Here’s how you can do this:

1. Bundle Your Cables Using Wire Ties

Here’s what you need to do to bundle your cables that are running across the room:

  1. Bundle the wires after routing and connecting them (Don’t cinch the ties too tight for safety reasons).
  2. Sniff off excesses from the ties
  3. Bundle your power cables and A/V cables separately

2. Secure Your Wire Bundles Using Adhesive Pads or Cable Clamps

Use adhesive pads to hold cable bundles that are running from your wall-mounted TV against the wall.  

Alternatively, use cable clamps to attach your bundles. If you opt for this, you should:

  1. Match the clamp’s size and shape to the cable
  2. Use screws instead of tacks to secure the clamps
  3. If you err, you can remove and reattach the clamps to rearrange your cables

3. Conceal Your Cables Using Raceways

You can use these plastic or wooden channels to conceal and protect your bundle wires and wires. They attach easily to baseboards and walls. Most of them are also paintable. So you can make your raceways blend into the background.

4. Label Everything

Use labels that help you quickly identify each of your cables and other components of your home theater.

5. Organize Your Wires Behind Your Equipment Rack

You can use adhesive pads or tacks to secure the wires to the back of your cabinet or rack. At the same time, you can use them to secure the loose wires.

How Far Apart Should 5.1 Speakers Be?

Avoid setting the speakers significantly farther apart than the distance from each speaker to the listening position. 

Therefore, the speakers should be placed at least 7 feet apart for any listening position that will be 10 – 12 feet from the screen of a one-piece television; and no more than 10 feet apart.  

Are Small Rooms Better For Acoustics?

Arguably, there is a limited time window to handle small room acoustics compared with large rooms. This is because of reflection in large rooms, thus taking a little longer time for sound to get to our ears. Reflection from large room walls and ceilings adds up to increased reverberation times, thus answering the question that small rooms are better for acoustics. 


As you’ve seen, you have the power to stop your small room from getting in your way to achieving the best surround sound experience. To get the best result, use the simple tips discussed above and experiment with different 5.1 speaker placement styles.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin