In any home audio system, speaker placement can have a significant impact on the quality of sound you get. In fact, speaker positioning is among the biggest issues for most people, especially when furniture is a hindrance.
Proper speaker placement can transform an average-sounding surround sound system into one that gives you the experience of an elite home theatre.
However, proper positioning can be tricky, considering that the acoustics of every media room are different. As such, you might not be getting the audio experience that you desire from your system due to poor placement.
With your couch against the wall, you should remove any rear channel speakers and simply use them as surround sound speakers. This means there should be no speakers behind you. The surround speakers should be placed 90 degrees from the center front.
Let’s discuss more.
Why Is Speaker Positioning Important?
This guide will help you position your 5.1, 7.1, and 7.2 speaker systems for the best audio experience when your couch is set against the wall.
Keep in mind: placing your speakers in the wrong position can mess up the sound waves and affect the sound quality. However, every room is different, so you’ll have to experiment to get the best effect.
- For example, one of the best placements for hard-hitting bass is placing your subwoofer behind your couch.
- One of the worst placements is placing your subwoofer under the couch.
That said, let’s see the best way to position your speakers.
5.1 Speaker Placement Couch Against Wall
After buying a 5.1 speaker system, most people hardly go through the user manual to learn more about placement.
While the user manual won’t teach you everything about your room’s acoustics or all the placement options available, it’s important to read it before you set up your system.
Before you start the setup, it’s also crucial to learn a little about 5.1 speaker systems. These are the most common surround sound systems on the market, offering five channels with a single subwoofer.
That means your surround sound system comes with a center speaker and a pair of back and front speakers.
Positioning Your Subwoofer
The subwoofer outputs all the bass frequencies in your sound system. These bass frequencies are omnidirectional, giving you a lot of flexibility when it comes to positioning.
Nonetheless, you’ll want to place the subwoofer in an open space to ensure that the low frequencies aren’t squeezed through one area.
This is why you shouldn’t place your subwoofer under your couch, for example. Additionally, if the subwoofer comes in a ported enclosure, you don’t want to suffocate the sound.
Here are some important points for subwoofer positioning:
- Generally, placing the subwoofer next to a wall increases the bass.
- Positioning it in a corner also has the same effect, though it might not be as clean or tight as you’d like. Even worse, you might end up having sound issues with your neighbors and people in other rooms, as sound can travel through walls. Of course, you can soundproof your home theater walls to prevent this issue.
For the best audio performance, you’ll want to place your subwoofer next to your front speakers.
Some people consider placing the subwoofer on the sides, but that might not work out very well. That’s because the overall sound performance will be affected.
If you have an issue connecting your subwoofer with the surround speakers in your wired system, consider buying a wireless subwoofer conversion kit.
This will allow you to set up your subwoofer where it sounds best, eliminating tangled wires in your system without sacrificing the audio experience.
Surround Speakers Placement
When setting up your system, you can position your surround speakers using speaker stands or mount them on the wall.
However, you need to keep the cables neat around your house to avoid compromising your interior décor and aesthetic appeal.
Placing the Front Speakers
If you’re looking to enjoy a complete surround sound experience, we recommend placing the speakers at a listening level.
For the best audio performance, ensure that your couch is in a central position relative to where your TV is located. The speakers should also be at an equal distance on each side of your TV’s position.
While most speakers work best in this type of setup, others produce sound better when set perpendicularly against the rear wall.
As such, it’s essential to try out both positions and see what works best with the acoustics of your media room.
Center Speaker Placement
Fortunately, you can easily set up the speaker opposite your listening area for maximum impact.
This speaker is dominant in producing mid-range frequencies, unlike the front speakers, which mainly handle vocals and low frequencies.
In terms of performance, the center speaker has a minimal effect, but it’s essential in a surround sound system. After all, every little detail matters when it comes to enjoying sound quality.
Positioning the Rear
Setting up the front speakers might be easy, but the same cannot be said for connecting the rear speakers.
Having a couch in the room can significantly limit your space.
For most people, it takes time to figure things out, but the hassle is worth it once they do.
If your couch is set against the wall, you might not have the freedom to angle the rear speakers.
When side-by-side placement is possible, the best way to position the speakers is to place them at each end, facing the couch from an equal distance.
If side-by-side placement isn’t feasible, try hanging them on a wall behind your couch at an angle of 110 degrees from the center of your chair.
7.1 Speaker Placement Couch Against Wall
In a 7.1 channel sound system, you’ll be working with a total of seven speakers connected to a single subwoofer.
Unlike a 5.1 surround sound system, a 7.1 audio system comes with seven standard speakers, providing greater precision and depth when set up correctly.
- Seating position: Central to the audio system.
- Left and right speakers: Positioned on each side of your TV, angled at 30 degrees toward your couch.
- Center speaker: Positioned in the middle or right next to your TV, facing directly toward the center of your couch.
- Subwoofer: Flexible in positioning but typically closer to the front of the setup.
- Left and right surround speakers: Positioned on each side of your couch, facing it.
- Left and right rear surround speakers: Mounted on the wall behind your sofa, angled between 135 and 150 degrees toward your couch.
- Left and right top middle overhead speakers: Typically ceiling-mounted to ensure they project sound from above the listener.
When it comes to positioning the speakers, the setup process is similar to that of the 5.1 system, with just a few more speakers to factor in.
7.2 Speaker Placement Couch Against Wall
With a 7.2 surround sound system, you get everything in a 7.1 system plus an additional subwoofer.
The second subwoofer is invaluable for balancing the bass in your media room, especially in the areas where people sit.
- Seating position
- Left and right speakers
- Center speaker
- Left and right surround speakers
- Left and right rear surround speakers
- Left and right top middle overhead speakers
For the best audio performance with a 7.2 surround sound system, you need to move around a little as you test different positions in the room.
That means you’ll need to have a keen ear to notice any changes in the bass levels. Choose a position where the bass level is consistent throughout the room.
Though there isn’t a perfect position for placing the second subwoofer, there are a few tricks you can use to determine what suits your room.
For starters, you can have one person sit in the listening area, while another moves the subwoofer around. You’ll be surprised by the difference that a few inches can make in your audio experience.
As you might have noted, setting up a 7.2 surround sound system can be tricky because you have two subwoofers in a single room.
That’s because the low-frequency sound waves will be starting at two different places, and they can begin to cancel each other out if positioned incorrectly. As a result, your bass might end up being worse than before.
If you’re stuck with the positioning and the subwoofers start to cancel each other out, it might be time to call in a sound expert.
Though you’ll incur extra costs, the expert will have a sound meter that will allow him or her to test your room and place the subwoofers in the right positions. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to try using your ears to listen and try to set up before calling an expert.
5 Useful Points To Remember When Positioning Your Speakers
Now that we’ve looked at the placement of different surround sound system speakers, there are a few points worth remembering when connecting your system. They include:
1. Every room is different
As previously mentioned, every room has different acoustics. Additionally, your media room might not be the perfect place to house a surround sound system.
As such, it might be challenging to find the perfect position to set up your speakers. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that trying to get the best audio performance from your speakers and the subwoofer is an exercise in futility.
Though it might take time before you get everything right, you’ll still make the best out of your available space. However, most people have to compromise on the location of some speakers.
That’s still fine, considering that you will balance the audio settings after choosing the right placement for your speakers.
Modern AV receivers come with automatic room correction, helping to compensate for the speaker placement in your room. That can be very effective, especially if you’re not very experienced with sound settings, though you can tweak it manually.
2. Avoid corners
Corners are where your ceiling, walls, and floor meet. As such, most speakers and subwoofers tend to sound louder in corners, but the audio quality is not always optimal.
In most cases, the bass will sound “muddy” if the speakers are set in the corners. However, that can boost the boom coming from a less powerful subwoofer.
3. Try a listening test
To determine whether your speaker placement provides the best audio performance, you must conduct a listening test.
Consistently play a familiar sound while sitting in your usual position on the couch and listen carefully. You can try moving the speakers a few inches or pointing them at a different angle and note how that affects the sound.
It’s easier to conduct the listening test with another person; one can sit and listen while the other moves the speakers. This test is particularly useful when positioning a subwoofer or setting up a 7.2 home theater system.
4. Avoid obstructions
Obstructions cause sound waves to bounce around your media room before reaching your ears. Ideally, you want the sound to travel directly from the speakers to your ears.
You might need to move your speakers forward a bit, even if they’re on a shelf. The goal is to ensure the speaker directs the sound to your listening position.
5. Create some space from the walls
If you have a spacious room, it’s essential to position the speakers away from the walls to prevent sound waves from bouncing off them.
Additionally, putting your subwoofer next to the wall can lead to noise leakage in other rooms. However, you can use your wall to boost the amount of bass that your subwoofer produces.
6. Type of speakers
The type of speakers you choose to use is also very important when considering speaker placement. For example, are they front ported or rear-ported speakers? This will decide if you can place the speakers against the wall or not.
1. Should speakers be angled or straight?
Sound is distributed evenly across the left and right speakers. The best sounds are obtained by positioning the speakers at a 60-degree angle.
2. What is the best height for center speakers?
For fine sound quality, the center speaker should be at ear level for a sitting audience, which is normally 30 to 50 inches from the ground. If space restrictions prevent placing your speaker this high, consider angling it up towards ear level to improve your audio experience.
3. Does the height of speakers matter?
Speaker height is critical in ensuring that your music is heard as it should be. Slight tweaks to your speakers’ height and location can truly make a significant difference in overall performance.
4. Can I put surround speakers under the couch?
Subs under a sofa might be a good idea, but the surrounds will sound hardly audible due to the extreme attenuation of the mids and highs. So, it is best to position them somewhere else and not under.
5. Where should wall-mounted speakers be placed?
Wall installation is frequently the simplest solution. It is essential that the speakers be situated at ear level and equidistant from each side of the TV. Furthermore, there should be at least one meter between the speakers and any side walls.
Following the guidelines, you’ll be able to find the best speaker placement for any surround sound system. Remember that these are just guidelines, so it’s essential to consider the features of your media room as you follow them while positioning your speakers.
Nonetheless, these guidelines will ensure that you realize the full potential of your surround sound system with the right positioning.
In addition, the wall reverberation effect also happens in vehicles. To learn more, check out our article on the best position for a subwoofer in an SUV.