When it comes to home theaters, the right speaker setup is vital to creating an authentic, immersive experience. Understanding the purpose and placement of each speaker will help you build a better soundscape and get the most out of your speakers.

SWEET SPOT

First, you’ll need to find the sweet spot. This is your favorite seat in the room and will serve as the basis for how you position your speakers. Ideally, this will be about 8-12 feet away from the direct center of your TV. The ultimate goal of surround sound is to create a 360 degree radius with your speakers so that they all point to you. Once you’ve found the sweet spot, you can start positioning your speakers.

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CENTER SPEAKER

This speaker dishes out about 50% of the movie’s sounds including the majority of the dialogue and many other sound effects. It is typically much longer than other speakers so that it can emit a wide soundscape and volley sounds from the left and right speakers more seamlessly.

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Ideally you’ll put the center speaker at the base of your TV. As with most speakers, you’ll want to position this one at ear level when sitting – typically three and a half to four feet off the ground. Having it at this height will allow you to hear the dialogue most clearly.

SUBWOOFER

From booming thunder to raucous explosions, subwoofers are responsible for all of a movie’s low-frequency sounds. Its deep bass tones help bring about a tangible intensity that rocks the soundscape and makes action-packed sequences that much more enjoyable.

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Subwoofers are omnidirectional, meaning you can place them just about anywhere in the room and they’ll sound great. Most people position them on the ground towards the front of the room, though for more (albeit less crisp) bass, you can place them in a corner or up against a wall.

FRONT LEFT & RIGHT SPEAKERS

Probably the most versatile of your speakers, the front speakers are capable of providing sounds in both low and high frequencies. They work in tandem to complement the center speaker and provide a better depth and direction of sound.

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SATELLITE SPEAKERS

These “satellite” speakers are usually much smaller and exist to put the finishing touches on the soundscape. From cars passing to bird chirping, these speakers mainly accentuate a movie’s ambient and background noises.

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Position these speakers to the left or right (a little behind) of your favorite viewing position, 90 to 110 degrees relative to your favorite viewing position. Essentially, directly to your right or left, or just a little bit behind. Sometimes space requirements mean you have to make some compromises, like mounting them higher or putting them closer to you. Don’t, however, position them in front of you.

ENJOY!

Of course, every setup is dependent on the type of speakers and the layout of the room, so it might take a little bit of experimentation to get it perfect. However, these optimization tactics will serve as a good baseline for you to get started.

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