How to Set Up Surround Sound in Your Rec Room


A decent set of surround sound speakers can be a source of immense pleasure for any music or movie enthusiast. Having said that, there are some factors which greatly affect the audio performance of surround sound speakers, the most crucial of them being the placement and setting of the system around a room. One can have the very best of surround sound speaker systems, but, it won’t give the desired performance if it is not installed correctly.

Typically, a surround sound speaker system has the following components- the central channel speaker, the front left and right speakers, the surround speakers and the subwoofer. Additionally, the system might also have dipole/bipole surround speakers. Under normal circumstances, the location of the central channel speaker is used as a reference, according to which, other speakers are placed. It is advisable to place the central speaker along the length of the rec room, rather than the width. If the rec room has a TV, the channel speaker must be placed along the same vertical axis, i.e. either directly above or below it. At the same time, the central speaker must be so placed that the listening position is in front of it.

Once the position of the channel speaker has been decided, it’s time to shift attention to the front left and right speakers. Ideally, these two speakers should be placed at equal distance to the left and the right of the channel speaker, forming a sort of arc. This way, the left and right speakers will be almost equidistant from the listening position, thus granting uniformity to the whole set up. The height at which the speakers are placed is also important and must be considered carefully. The front left and right speakers should be placed at the level of your ears when you are seated.

The surround speakers are primarily responsible for the enveloping audio effect. Their ideal positioning has a lot to do with this particular function. It’s always a good idea to place the surround speakers behind the listening position, around the ear level when the listener is standing erect. This particular altitude heightens the enveloping effect of the surround speakers.

The subwoofer is, by far, the easiest component to place around the room. The subwoofer is basically meant to create low frequently sounds. Significantly, these sounds are unidirectional and thus, the position of the subwoofer doesn’t make a crucial difference to the sonic performance of the surround sound speaker system.

Now that the ideal positions have been described, the means of positioning need to be discussed. Experts believe that floor stands work best for left and right front speakers. However, if these are not available, the speakers can also be mounted to the walls. Normally, surround sound systems tend to function better in cleanly shaped rooms. On the other hand, if a room is oddly shaped with walls at acute angles, the sound quality can be negatively impacted. In such a scenario, always ensure that the listening position is somewhere in the middle of the room. Additionally, there must not be any large objects between the speakers and the listening position as these might impede the flow of sound.

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