Positioning Speakers for Optimal Sound
Once you have selected the room in which your 2-channel stereo will operate and you have a set of speakers, you must determine the best place to put them. Many people will simply find the most suitable wall or furniture space that will accommodate the speakers, and consider it done. But there is a way to get the best sound possible if you observe a few basic rules.
When a speaker is flush up against a wall, it can generally improve low bass response, but can consequently make the midrange and mid-bass frequencies sound less resolute. By placing some distance between the wall and the speaker, you will improve on accuracy and detail. Your walls reflect sound, so much like with speakers, placement of furniture against a wall will reduce clarity and acoustic definition. By bringing your seating away from the wall as much as the décor permits, you will enjoy a more satisfying performance every time your listen to music.
As much as some of us did not enjoy geometry in school, it does play a pivotal role in how your stereo will sound. Your left and right speakers should be an equal distance apart from each other, as well as from your listening position, forming an equilateral triangle.
Most rooms into which a home theater system is installed are less than ideal. Our living rooms are not designed to replicate a movie theater, for the most part. So we are forced to work with room layout, furniture and the placement of TV’s or other display devices. But there are some guidelines that will help you optimize the sound of your entertainment investment.
Your center channel should be directly above or below your video display, and centered with it as much as possible. Front left and right speakers will ideally form a gentle arc along with the center channel, pointing toward the listening area and being equidistant to your listening position. If such exact placement is not possible, and often it is not, most modern AV equipment offers electronic calibration features which can compensate and overcome various spatial anomalies.
In a 5.1-channel system, Enhanced Home Systems recommends positioning surround speakers to the left and right of your listening position — either in line with it, or just behind it. When side placement isn't practical in your room, surround speakers should be positioned behind your listening sweet-spot, facing forward. Also, place the speakers around ear level when standing, thus preventing the harsh sound of speaker drivers blasting into your ears while seated.