Home Theater Installation: Where to Put the Speakers?

The right speaker placement ensures immersive, impactful surround sound

When most people think of a home theater installation, they get excited about a massive screen and cinema-style seats. But a high-tier audio system is equally important to the theater experience. You could say that audio, video, and room design fuse to create a perfect triad.

While soundbars and built-in speakers have come a long way, you’d be cutting yourself short not to implement surround sound in your theater. Whether it’s the roar of a stadium’s crowd or the roar of a fantasy dragon, high-tier audio makes you feel like you’re really amidst the action.

But it can be confusing to know what to look for in surround sound. Each speaker has an ideal placement. Where should yours go? As a home theater installer in Rhinebeck, NY, we have over a decade’s worth experience installing surround sound into homes. We’ll share a bit of our expertise below.

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5.1, 7.1: What Do the Numbers Mean?  

Surround sound systems are often described by a number. You may see a speaker setup labeled 5.1 or 11.2. But what does it mean? Each number represents an audio channel, and the first digit is the number of speakers. So, in a 5.1 setup, there are five channels, meaning five speakers.

The second number identifies how many subwoofers you have. In 5.1, you would have five speakers and one subwoofer. If you see a third number, like 5.1.2, that means you also have two Dolby Atmos upward-firing speakers. Surround sound systems can grow quite large, adding more depth and immersion with the more speakers added.


Where Do I Place Each Speaker?

Let’s start with the basics: a front left speaker, a front right speaker, and a center channel speaker. The center channel delivers most dialogue in films and should be mounted as close to ear-level as possible, either above or below your screen. If you can’t get the speaker close enough to ear level, you can angle it up or down to send sound towards listeners’ heads.

The front-left and front-right speakers should be on either side of the screen, ideally angled in towards the seats. If you expand to a 5.1 or 7.1 setup, you can add left and right speakers beside the seats, and then two rear speakers behind viewers. These speakers provide ambient sounds and, with more channels, let sound move across the room dynamically.

Lastly is the subwoofer, the powerful device that brings booming, rumbling sound to movie scenes. The placement of your subwoofer is somewhat flexible. It sits on the floor and could rest at the front, in a corner, or against a side wall. Ideally, it should not stand flat against a corner or wall, as it may cause muddy or harsh bass tones. Six inches away should be enough space for optimal sound.


An Alternative Route: Hidden Audio

There’s another option for the minimalistic homeowner. If you don’t want a clutter of speakers around the room, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers can bring surround sound to your entertainment space. We’ll install the speakers and subwoofers into your theater walls without even a wire in sight.


Ready for a Home Theater Installation?

If you’re looking for high-end speakers, a quality projector, or a professional to design and install your home theater, look no further than Cyber Technologies. For homeowners based near Rhinebeck, NY, call 845-223-1628 or contact us here to discuss your future home cinema.