How to Make All Speakers Work on Surround Sound

Norvan Martin

Surround sound allows you to enrich the fidelity and depth of the sound you receive by using speakers surrounding you. Nevertheless, unfortunately, you can’t get your desired listening experience if some speakers are not working as required.

In this article, we take a deep look at how to make all speakers work on surround sound. In other words, we will show you how to play music through all surround sound speakers by fixing issues if not all of your surround sound speakers are working.

To make all speakers work on surround sound, set your receiver to at least 2.1 surround then restart the system if there was a power surge. Secondly, check all the connections and volume, ensure all channels are activated in the receiver and the crossover frequency for the front speakers is 80Hz.

Below is a summary of the different issues that may be affecting different surround speakers:

Speakers aren’t producing any sound: This may be due to a power surge. Unplug everything and restart

Surround speakers aren’t working: Make sure the volume is turned up, check all connections, and make sure all channels are activated under the DSP settings on the receiver

Height speakers aren’t working: Ensure they are activated in the receiver settings and the crossover settings are correct (should be 80Hz).

Below we explain these issues in detail.

All your Surround Speakers Not Working

If all your surround speakers are not working after placing your speakers in the correct positions, installing the wires, and doing the settings, do this:

  1. Unplug your receiver from the power supply- Ensure no power is coming through
  2. Inspect your connections and plug them correctly. Be sure the speaker wires and power cables are adequately pushed in, bare wires held tightly, and the like.
  3. If step 2 fails, go to the receiver and speaker settings. Adjust them to allow all your speakers to work.

Note: You should only follow these steps after ascertaining that a power surge is not the culprit

Poor Sound in Your Front Speakers

If your front speakers are not working as you desire, you can fix it by adjusting the receiver settings.  Poor Sound in Your Front Speakers

Remember, your receiver settings cover an extensive range. So, your front speakers can fail if you choose the wrong settings. Here is what you should do to correct this and make all your speakers work on surround sound:

  1. Go to your receiver’s settings.
  2. Go to size and choose “large” if you’ve tall freestanding or bulky front speakers. If you have satellite speakers, choose “small.”
  3. Adjust your subwoofer’s crossover
  4. Set your speaker frequency at 80 Hz and try adjusting it to see if the volume changes

Your Height Speakers Not Working

If you are getting poor sound from your height speakers and ceiling speakers, you can fix this by following the steps below.Your Height Speakers Not Working

  1. Adjust the receiver settings, especially the codec settings
  2. Move the speakers around- waves that bounce in the wrong direction could be responsible for this problem.
  3. Check the owner’s manual to determine whether a different position can help you make all the speakers work as required.

No Sound in Your Surround Speakers (Surround Back Speakers)

Sometimes, it might feel like your surround speakers don’t work if you keep the volume too low.No Sound in Your Surround Speakers

This particularly applies if you want to listen to quiet movies. You can fix this problem by doing this:

  1. Be sure your speaker connections are suitably set
  2. Ensure your songs are mixed for multiple channels
  3. Set your receiver to convert 2.1 audio to at least 5.1 audio
  4. Ensure your sources support full surround sound
  5. If you use a Blu-ray player, ensure the output is set to multiple channel stream

In some cases, depending on what you are looking for, many people will go with surround-back speakers instead of height speakers. Surround back speakers add more to the experience, especially in terms of ambiance, directional effects, and panning effects. 

Humming Noises in Your Speakers

As you try to make all your speakers work on surround sound, you are likely to end up with humming noises at one point or another. For example, you can experience this if two different pieces of equipment share the same electrical circuit.

 Eliminating the noise can be challenging but not impossible. So here’s how you can go about this:

  1. Discover the underlying cause of the trouble
  2. Find out whether the problem is in your receiver’s settings by adjusting the volume on the receiver (if the hum gets quieter or louder, the issue is here).
  3. If that’s not the case, select a different input and try listening for the hum.
  4. Eliminate all cables connecting the receiver with the entire sound system
  5. Ensure the speakers remain connected
  6. If you discover a problematic element that requires some repairs, consider calling an approved and experienced electrician.
  7. If the hum is originating from the cable television, you might have to purchase an isolation transformer (go for a ground isolator if you get another source)

How Can I Make My Surround Sound Better?

The following tips can help you get some better surround sound coming from your device. 

1.     Don’t Sideline The Subwoofer

While the subwoofer should be upright, also ensure that it isn’t touching anything but the floor to avoid any rattling that can disrupt the quality of sound of your home system.

2.     Position The Center Speaker Higher

It is recommended that you place your center channel speaker above your television set, centered horizontally. Another great way to achieve this is via a wall mount, rubber feet for angling, or a stand. If there is absolutely no way to do so, keep the center channel as close to the television as possible.

3.     Bigger Room Equals Bigger System

Whereas the 5.1 system is excellent, it may not necessarily work the best for the room in which you are currently enjoying your home entertainment center. For example, A 7.1 or 9.1 system may be your best bet if your room is a more unrestrained space or if you’re remodeling your current home theater system. 

4.     Proper Calibration Is Key

Always calibrate the speaker system’s output levels correctly. This single step brings out subtle sequences and nuances with more prominent, more explosive segments of your favorite action or horror movies.


How Can I Use All My Speakers at Once?

To use all your surround speakers at once, you should start by setting up as usual with their recommended settings and connections. Then, if some or all of the speakers fail to work, you should use the following tips to make all of them work on surround sound.

Can You Mix And Match Surround Sound Speakers?

Yes. You can mix and match speaker styles and brands without any problem. This means you should not worry about your speakers’ ability to work on surround sound if you’ve mixed various components from different manufacturers.  

Remember, various certifications like the THX certification standardize all electrical and output parameters, allowing certified speakers and receivers to work together without any issues. So, you can have box speakers for the front and in-ceiling or in-wall speakers for the surrounds.

However, it would help if you kept groups of speakers similar to ensure they work on surround sound efficiently. In other words, you should ensure your front speakers are from the same manufacturer and are compatible with each other. Moreover, the surround right and left speakers should be similar. The same applies to the surround-back speakers.

Should Surround Speakers Be Louder than Front?

No, that’s not necessary. It may not be necessary to implement these tips when you notice that your front speakers are louder than your surround speakers.

Then, there’s likely no problem. The only exception is when your surround speakers cannot help you with background noises or enhance the sounds in your favorite movies or shows.

Should Front Speakers Be Set To “Large” Or “Small”?

The right choice depends on whether you have a subwoofer or not. If you don’t have one, set your fronts to “large.” On the other hand, if you have towers or any other speakers with the ability to handle the entire audio spectrum with ease, you should set these speakers to “large” and then set internal crossovers to “LFE+Main.”

If your receiver doesn’t have this setting, choose one that’s similar to it.

Summing Up

We’ve seen how you can make all speakers work on surround sound. You can see that the right solution depends on the underlying cause of the problem. However, you can troubleshoot the issue whether you are an expert or not by using the tips we’ve shared here.

If some or all of your surround speakers are not working, use these tips to change this and get the listening experience you want.

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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