High Def Forum - Your High Definition Community & High Definition Resource

Go Back   High Def Forum - Your High Definition Community & High Definition Resource > General Chit Chat > Speakers & Surround Sound
Rules HDTV Forum Gallery LINK TO US! RSS - High Def Forum AddThis Feed Button AddThis Social Bookmark Button Groups

Speakers & Surround Sound A place to learn more about speakers, their functionality and how they can complement your entertainment experience. RSS - Speakers & Surround Sound

Surround Sound System Speaker Placement Guide

Reply
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
 
Thread Tools
Old 11-21-2008, 06:36 AM   #1
Former Super Moderator
 
Loves2Watch's Avatar
 

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: In Flux
Posts: 20,284
Default Surround Sound System Speaker Placement Guide

Almost on a daily basis I see forum users asking questions about speaker placement so I thought I would give some general guidelines to help you get the most out of your new or current audio system. Since surround sound is a large part of the Home Theater experience, proper speaker setup and placement will add to your experience and enjoyment.

A standard surround sound system has 6 channels of audio information coming across the speakers. 4 directional speakers, a center speakers (used mostly for dialog) and a sub woofer speaker. This is known as a 5.1 setup. 5 stands for the 4 directional speakers and 1 for the center speaker. The .1 stands for the sub woofer, which is non directional. There are a few other types of speaker setup; Stereo 2.0 or 2.1 (if you have a sub woofer), 3.1 (including a center channel), 6.1 (adding a rear center channel) or 7.1 (adding 2 rear surrounds). This guide is for the setup of the 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems. These same guidelines can be used for a 2.0, 2.1 or 3.1 system.

The speakers in a 5.1 surround sound system are labeled as the following. Center speaker (also known as C) is where most dialog is directed, it usually is placed directly in front of the listener. Front Left (also known as FL or LF) is a surround speaker, sound effects are passed to it and as its name describes sits in the front of the listener to the left. Front Right (also known as FR or RF), is a surround speaker, sound effects are passed to it and as its name describes sits in the front of the listener to the right. Both the FL and FR are used for stereo as well. NOTE: In action scenes like with fast moving cars, many times the sound is panned, that is the sound is heard from the FL then moves to the C and then on to the FR all seamlessly.
Surround Left (also known as SL), is a surround speaker and sound effects are passed to it and as its name describes sits on the side or slightly behind the listener to the left. Surround Right (also known as SR), is a surround speaker and sound effects are passed to it, as its name describes sits on the side or slightly behind the listener to the right. The sub woofer (also know as LFE or low frequency emitter) is non directional and can sit almost anywhere.
The standard set forth by the ITU (international telecommunications union), calls for varying positions and angles from the reference listening position and angling of speakers to provide the optimum listening experience with a surround sound system. That is, where to place the speakers so they sound the best. The standard calls for a placement of your speakers at varying degrees from the center. (see diagram for illustration)



The reference listening position is where you sit. Most people will place their couch or chair in front of the TV and thus in front of the center speaker, this is your reference listening position. If you are not in front of the TV then your "experience" will differ meaning the you will be out of the "sweet spot", a area where you hear all the speakers independently of each other.
Place your center speaker at 0 degrees from the reference listening position. Place your front left (FL) and front right (FR) at 22 to 30 degrees from the center. Place your surround left (SL) and surround right (SR) at 90 to 110 degrees from the center. It is strongly recommended to keep the 3 front speakers (FL, C, FR) at the height of the listeners ear and at the same distance to the listening position. It is also highly recommended to keep all of the front speakers on the same plane. That is to keep them in line with each other and not have the center speaker in front of, higher or lower than the LF and RF speakers.
The easiest way to find all the correct angles, is to use an analog clock. Here's how to do it. Place the analog clock in your "sweet spot” (reference listening position), directly in front of the TV in your chair or couch. Position the clock where 12 o'clock is pointing to the TV. On the front wall near your TV is where you are going to place your Front and Center speakers. The Center speaker is placed at 12o'clock . The front right speaker is placed at 11 o'clock on the front wall. The front left speaker is placed at 1 o'clock on the front wall. Your surround right speaker is then placed at 4 o'clock on the side wall right to the listener. Your surround left speaker is placed at 8 o'clock on the side wall left of the listener. That's it for your main speakers.
If you are one of those that own a 6.1 or a 7.1 surround sound system, the additional 1 or 2 speakers are back surround speakers (SB). These will mount directly behind the listener at 6'o'clock for a 6.1 system or 5 and 7 o'clock in a 7.1 system. (see diagrams for illustration)





The placement of the sub woofer is not set in stone because the sub woofer is relatively non directional. Some manufacturers suggest placing this on the floor near to the center speaker, most just suggest to place where it sounds the best. I found the best position to usually be on the floor near either the LF or RF speaker.
A note about speaker heights: Front speaker height is crucial and it is always best to keep them at the listeners ear level when seated. If that can't be done then make sure that all three front speakers are at the same height. The surround and rear surround speakers should be mounted at 1' to 2' above the listeners ear level to prevent localization, distraction from the front speakers and to allow room filling surround.


__________________
It's always time for pie
Live everyday as if it was your last and plan on living forever...

Last edited by Loves2Watch; 08-02-2011 at 01:42 PM.
Loves2Watch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2008, 10:44 AM   #2
Administrator
 
rbinck's Avatar
 

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Katy, Texas
Posts: 15,994
Default

That is a great post. I would make a few comments.

Surround speakers are intended for surround effects as opposed to sounds being tied to the picture, in most cases. Most people do not regard the three front speakers as surround channels as the audio from all three can be tied to action on the screen. As in your example of the car moving across the screen.

The thing that most all movies will have in common is the audio from the surround speakers have little, if any, tie to the action on the screen. I can't recall a movie where there is someone talking in a surround channel if they were intended to be placed off screen by that effect. What I understand the reason for this is the filmmakers never want to set up a situation where the viewer will turn to see what is making the sound or who is talking. From what I understand in early testing of multichannel sound in movies, that sort of effect actually did make many people turn their heads. Therefore the closing comment, The surround and rear surround speakers should be mounted at 1' to 2' above the listeners ear level to prevent localization, distraction from the front speakers and to allow room filling surround." That can not be emphasized enough that while the surround channels are indeed discrete channels as far as the technology goes, they are surround channels not rear or side channels. Calling them rear or side channels implies there will be localization as there is with the front channels and rarely is this the case. And I do mean rarely because it takes a pretty unique scene to allow for truly localized sounds from the surround channels to be effective. Crowd noise at a sporting event, war scenes like the intro to Saving Private Ryan are a couple that come to mind. If one listens carefully to the war scene mentioned they will hear discrete gunfire and war sounds from the various surround speakers. That works because one it is over so fast no one would have time to turn to see who shot and something else happens directly after that is on screen to keep your attention to the screen. Check out the surround sounds and you will see they are just that. Sounds intended to fill the room with sounds that tend to place you in the vicinity of the action, but not sounds that are part of the action, for the most part.

If I were to change anything in the first post I would change the part where the front left and right speakers are referred to as surround speakers.
rbinck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2008, 10:57 AM   #3
High Definition is the definition of life.
 
tvine2000's Avatar
 

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: vermont
Age: 64
Posts: 1,209
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rbinck View Post
That is a great post. I would make a few comments.

Surround speakers are intended for surround effects as opposed to sounds being tied to the picture, in most cases. Most people do not regard the three front speakers as surround channels as the audio from all three can be tied to action on the screen. As in your example of the car moving across the screen.

The thing that most all movies will have in common is the audio from the surround speakers have little, if any, tie to the action on the screen. I can't recall a movie where there is someone talking in a surround channel if they were intended to be placed off screen by that effect. What I understand the reason for this is the filmmakers never want to set up a situation where the viewer will turn to see what is making the sound or who is talking. From what I understand in early testing of multichannel sound in movies, that sort of effect actually did make many people turn their heads. Therefore the closing comment, The surround and rear surround speakers should be mounted at 1' to 2' above the listeners ear level to prevent localization, distraction from the front speakers and to allow room filling surround." That can not be emphasized enough that while the surround channels are indeed discrete channels as far as the technology goes, they are surround channels not rear or side channels. Calling them rear or side channels implies there will be localization as there is with the front channels and rarely is this the case. And I do mean rarely because it takes a pretty unique scene to allow for truly localized sounds from the surround channels to be effective. Crowd noise at a sporting event, war scenes like the intro to Saving Private Ryan are a couple that come to mind. If one listens carefully to the war scene mentioned they will hear discrete gunfire and war sounds from the various surround speakers. That works because one it is over so fast no one would have time to turn to see who shot and something else happens directly after that is on screen to keep your attention to the screen. Check out the surround sounds and you will see they are just that. Sounds intended to fill the room with sounds that tend to place you in the vicinity of the action, but not sounds that are part of the action, for the most part.

If I were to change anything in the first post I would change the part where the front left and right speakers are referred to as surround speakers.
the other thing is in more cases then not its very hard to have the front left,right and center the same height.
if the tv is hanging on the wall,you have the center above the tv or below it,with the fl,fr on the sides of the tv.one time i had my center on the floor in back of the tv aiming at the ceiling ,then tried it in front of the tv ,and i coundn't tell the difference.if anything on the floor aiming at the ceiling it was hard to tell where it was coming from.btw i don't do that anymore!

i argee with everything else in post 1.
tvine2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2008, 11:29 AM   #4
Former Super Moderator
 
Loves2Watch's Avatar
 

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: In Flux
Posts: 20,284
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvine2000 View Post
the other thing is in more cases then not its very hard to have the front left,right and center the same height. True that is but, if the center isnt close to ear level or where the sound would emanate from the TV, the sound is less than acceptable and a slight replacemnt or aiming will give you the center stage that is needed.
if the tv is hanging on the wall,you have the center above the tv or below it,with the fl,fr on the sides of the tv.one time i had my center on the floor in back of the tv aiming at the ceiling ,then tried it in front of the tv ,and i coundn't tell the difference.if anything on the floor aiming at the ceiling it was hard to tell where it was coming from.btw i don't do that anymore!

i argee with everything else in post 1.
Whether you agree or not, this is the way it should be done.

Since the center channel speaker IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SPEAKER IN THE SYSTEM, it's placement is much more crucial then any other speaker. Not having it located properly will result in having to turn up the volume to a point that it is very loud just so you can hear the dialog and a fault many people have when improperly setting up their surround sound system. I have assisted many people here in relocating their center channel speaker (due to difficulty in hearing dialog at normal volume levels) with very positive and sometimes spectacular results.
__________________
It's always time for pie
Live everyday as if it was your last and plan on living forever...
Loves2Watch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2008, 12:05 PM   #5
What is HD?
 

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Posts: 1
Question

I'm new here, and I am hoping someone can help me with setup of my new Bose V20. For some reason I can't get my Sony DVD to output 5.1 thru the V20. It shows as 2.0. My SAT comes in OK at 5.1.
jwhatley5 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2008, 08:24 AM   #6
High Definition is the definition of life.
 
tvine2000's Avatar
 

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: vermont
Age: 64
Posts: 1,209
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loves2Watch View Post
Whether you agree or not, this is the way it should be done.

Since the center channel speaker IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SPEAKER IN THE SYSTEM, it's placement is much more crucial then any other speaker. Not having it located properly will result in having to turn up the volume to a point that it is very loud just so you can hear the dialog and a fault many people have when improperly setting up their surround sound system. I have assisted many people here in relocating their center channel speaker (due to difficulty in hearing dialog at normal volume levels) with very positive and sometimes spectacular results.
so are you saying if i had my center behind the tv ear level,aiming up a little? where is your center placed?
tvine2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2008, 08:32 AM   #7
Former Super Moderator
 
Loves2Watch's Avatar
 

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: In Flux
Posts: 20,284
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvine2000 View Post
so are you saying if i had my center behind the tv ear level,aiming up a little? where is your center placed?
My center channel speaker is placed on the shelf the TV rests on, in front of it aimed up slightly. Anything that gets in the way of the center speaker, even putting it in a shelf beneath the TV has a deleterious effect on it's performance. It needs to be completely in the open and generally right in front of the TV. Mounting it above or behind the TV is not a good option either.

Watch (listen) to something on TV or play a movie, something that has surround sound and try different speaker placements. You will be amazed at how placement effects dialog. Correct placement will yield easily heard, intelligible dialog at normal or low volume.
__________________
It's always time for pie
Live everyday as if it was your last and plan on living forever...
Loves2Watch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2008, 08:35 AM   #8
High Definition is the definition of life.
 
tvine2000's Avatar
 

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: vermont
Age: 64
Posts: 1,209
Default

ok hears the deal.i have my hdtv on its own stand, on what was a cabinet.for a turntable,etc,so i'm not hanging the tv on the wall.so,where would the center go?
if you hang the center on the wall in back of the hdtv,that wouldn't be ear level.
if you place the center at the bottom of the tv, thats not ear level,so where do it go?i suppose i could put it above the tv and aim it down or at the bottom of the tv and aim it up.
tvine2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2008, 08:37 AM   #9
High Definition is the definition of life.
 
tvine2000's Avatar
 

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: vermont
Age: 64
Posts: 1,209
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loves2Watch View Post
My center channel speaker is placed on the shelf the TV rests on, in front of it aimed up slightly. Anything that gets in the way of the center speaker, even putting it in a shelf beneath the TV has a deleterious effect on it's performance. It needs to be completely in the open and generally right in front of the TV. Mounting it above or behind the TV is not a good option either.

Watch (listen) to something on TV or play a movie, something that has surround sound and try different speaker placements. You will be amazed at how placement effects dialog. Correct placement will yield easily heard, intelligible dialog at normal or low volume.
thanks i posted to early,i thought that would be my option
that makes perfect sense.
tvine2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2008, 08:58 AM   #10
Former Super Moderator
 
Loves2Watch's Avatar
 

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: In Flux
Posts: 20,284
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvine2000 View Post
thanks i posted to early,i thought that would be my option
that makes perfect sense.
Hope that helped and you get the ultimate audio experience to go with your great viewing experience...

P.S. I always thought that actor would make a perfect Vulcan (Spock) after seeing him play Skylar in Heroes.
__________________
It's always time for pie
Live everyday as if it was your last and plan on living forever...
Loves2Watch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-2008, 07:17 AM   #11
High Definition is the definition of life.
 
tvine2000's Avatar
 

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: vermont
Age: 64
Posts: 1,209
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loves2Watch View Post
Hope that helped and you get the ultimate audio experience to go with your great viewing experience...

P.S. I always thought that actor would make a perfect Vulcan (Spock) after seeing him play Skylar in Heroes.
yeh he really looks like a young nimoy.
i can't think off hand but there are a few actors out there that look like ,a young kirk,maybe once i see the movie,i'm sure i'll understand why they hired him to play kirk
tvine2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-2008, 02:51 PM   #12
HD fan
 

Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
Default mounting speakers high

Thanks for the great article and the discussions.

I have two rooms I need to setup.

1) media room - I am planning on using in-wall speakers in a 7.1 setup. had them pre-wired so the speakers will be about 3 1/2 ft from the floor, around eye level when sitting. I am planning on using the same speaker (Polk RC85i) for center as for the six surround speakers. as far as I have read that is an acceptable alternative to a dedicated (and more expensive) center speaker, especially when looking at in-wall. I am also planning on using 1 or 2 subs in the corners. The room is about 22 ft long so I will start with one sub in the front first.

One more thing ... I would like to have two rows of seats, so the second row would be slightly behind the left and right surround, but in front of the rear left and right surround.

2) living room - because of the layout and open setup, the 4 surround speakers (5.1 setup) are pre-wired at about 10 ft height. I also plan on using Polk RC85i (or RC65i) where the tweeter can be directed downwards. Is this going to be an issue to have the speakers so high ? Obviously I will be using the media room for the real movie experience.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Now if I could only find a deal on 12 identical Polk (7.1 + 5.1 setups) in-wall speakers.

Last edited by txcrude; 12-03-2008 at 02:59 PM. Reason: forgot one thing
txcrude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-2008, 03:52 PM   #13
Former Super Moderator
 
Loves2Watch's Avatar
 

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: In Flux
Posts: 20,284
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by txcrude View Post
Thanks for the great article and the discussions.

I have two rooms I need to setup.

1) media room - I am planning on using in-wall speakers in a 7.1 setup. had them pre-wired so the speakers will be about 3 1/2 ft from the floor, around eye level when sitting. I am planning on using the same speaker (Polk RC85i) for center as for the six surround speakers. as far as I have read that is an acceptable alternative to a dedicated (and more expensive) center speaker, especially when looking at in-wall. Actually having identical speakers is ideal! I am also planning on using 1 or 2 subs in the corners. The room is about 22 ft long so I will start with one sub in the front first. 2 subs in the front, 1 in each corner will be a better solution.

One more thing ... I would like to have two rows of seats, so the second row would be slightly behind the left and right surround, but in front of the rear left and right surround. That should be just fine

2) living room - because of the layout and open setup, the 4 surround speakers (5.1 setup) are pre-wired at about 10 ft height. I also plan on using Polk RC85i (or RC65i) where the tweeter can be directed downwards. Is this going to be an issue to have the speakers so high ? It will for the front speakers which almost demand being at ear level or close to it otherwise the sound can disorient you. Obviously I will be using the media room for the real movie experience.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Now if I could only find a deal on 12 identical Polk (7.1 + 5.1 setups) in-wall speakers.
The most important thing to remember as I have discussed earlier is the crucial center channel speaker placement. But in your case the fronts (L&R) are an issue as well.
__________________
It's always time for pie
Live everyday as if it was your last and plan on living forever...
Loves2Watch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-03-2008, 08:49 PM   #14
HD fan
 

Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
Default

Here is a reply from Polk (who, btw, are always very quick to reply):
A very balanced system would be using the RC65i in all of the positions, a single RC65i for center, would give ideal component matching across the front three speakers. Another approach is to use the TC65i as the center, since this can be bought as single speaker, owners like not having an "un-used" speaker if they buy a pair of the RC65i. But, if this doesn't bother you, then the RC65i will work fine.
Regards, Ken, Polk Audio
txcrude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2009, 08:54 PM   #15
What is HD?
 

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Pa
Posts: 1
Default Surrond placement

Thx for the info. really good! I have one question, my couch is on back wall and covers entire wall approx. 1 foot from adjacent walls. From your info, I should place my surround speakers 1-2 ft above head on those adjacent walls, correct? Is it better to use directional and place them in ceiling, or is wall always better? They will be 90 deg from couch approx 4.5 feet off floor. I wanna use B&W speakers because thats what I have in front.(towers and center)
One more out there question? If I used ceiling speakers as 5.1 surround speakers, could I still intstall 2 wall speakers, as talked about previously as 7.1 speakers or should they really be behind my couch a few feet? (which I dont have, couch against wall on back and sides, perfect box room) Any info greatly appreciated!
Didz is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Go Back   High Def Forum - Your High Definition Community & High Definition Resource > General Chit Chat > Speakers & Surround Sound
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads to Surround Sound System Speaker Placement Guide
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Onkyo 606 paired with Infinity TSS 500 golfinbill Speakers & Surround Sound 17 01-09-2009 11:47 PM
Bedroom system for around $500? MarkTX Speakers & Surround Sound 11 12-16-2008 01:37 AM
Speaker Placement (Height) chrism87 Speakers & Surround Sound 9 12-10-2008 06:21 AM
center speaker on a floating shelve? cdcrowell Mounts and Installs Forum 6 12-04-2008 06:07 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:44 AM.



Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2004 - 2008, High Def Forum