Arrange Your Own Theater Room: Sound and Video Systems
Some of us are particularly exact when it comes to the arrangement of the video and audio system. And any true movie addict will tell you that the sound in a movie is as important as what you see on the screen. And we all know that new models of home audio systems can be pretty hard to set up. Especially those 5.1 or 7.1 systems.
How to Arrange Home Audio and Video System
They have many satellites and a pile of cables (which you can get rid of following our guide). With all those satellites it’s pretty easy to get confused about which goes where. You have front right, front left, center subwoofer and the same for the back. I get confused even when I think of them. And I remember the first time I had to do this task…it was awful! My dorm room looked like a spider lair with wires running on every wall.
After much work and reading I managed to get it right, and thanks to this experience, I know first hand how hard it is to get it right. And that is why I try to give you some advice on how to do it, so you won’t have to fiddle so much with those speakers. I’ll try to explain the best I can which goes where and what is the optimum configuration for your sound system.
Center, Front Left and Right Speakers
If you’ve recently bought a 5.1 surround sound system, then you have to pay attention to where you mount your speakers. Position your TV in front of your sofa or the location where you will be sitting and from there, try to place as accurate as possible like so: the two front speakers for left and right channels should be placed on either side of the TV, at an angle of 22-30 degrees. Measure the angle by drawing a line from the very center of the TV to the center of the sofa you will be sitting on.
This will ensure that the speakers are at equal distance from you when you are sitting down. The left speaker will be at your left and the right speaker will be at your right, as you look towards your TV. The center speaker (or main speaker) should be placed on the 0 degrees line, to be exactly in front of you.
The subwoofer is the speaker that gives you bass. And that speaker should be placed as low to the ground as possible, in the angle that you feel it gives the best sound. Usually, it is placed to the right or left of the screen, between the TV and the Front Right speaker, but it’s totally up to you where you like it (I found that the subwoofer generates the deepest bass if positioned in the corner of the rook, facing inwards at an angle of 45 degrees or the diagonal of the room). But there is no rule here, you can place it where ever you like, because bass sound is omnidirectional.
Middle Left and Right Speakers
In 5.1 audio systems you have two speakers that go in the middle of the room. These should be positioned at an angle of 90 – 110 degrees, slightly higher than ear level (30 cm or more). This will ensure a pleasant sound and it won’t seem unrealistic. Also, the same rule as with the front speakers applies here also: the Middle Left speaker goes to your left side and the Middle Right speaker goes to your right, as you are looking at the screen.
For 7.1 sound systems, there will be another set of rear speakers. These are the ones that go all the way to the rear of the room to create more realism. These should be placed at an angle of 135 – 150 degrees. By placing them as close to 180 degrees as possible, the sound can trick our ear or brain in thinking that the sound from the rear actually comes from the front.
Tips To Arrange 5.1 or 7.1 Sound Systems:
- Never place speakers directly behind the screen, and here I’m talking about subwoofers and center speakers. This arrangement will distort the sound and result in poor sound quality.
- Never mount the speakers facing away from you. They should point towards the sitting area, otherwise the sound will sound fake.
- If you can, make your room as soundproof as possible and avoid echoes and surfaces that reflect sound. Place curtains on your windows, a nice thick rug on the floor or paintings on the walls. If the sound reflects off surfaces such as the walls or floor, the sound will have poor quality.
- Place the speakers at the same distance from the center point. This will ensure that the sound is equal in all directions.
Lighting the room is very important, you should remember never to place your screen opposite to a light source such as a window. The reflective surface of the screen will reflect the light coming from the windows and it will give you bad images. Also, the room does not have to be completely dark, some small intensity light might create a good atmosphere, such as those used in movie theatres.
If you have other sound systems that are not 5.1 or 7.1 surround, such as 2.1 or something similar, all you have to do is follow the same rules as before. For a 2.1 sound system, you only have to mount the front speakers and the subwoofer, also for 2.0 systems, where you have no subwoofer. The principle is the same as with the other configurations.
As for the video system, well, here is entirely up to you. If you use a projector, then you have to look very closely on the manufacturer’s manual to see how far from the screen to place it. If you own a TV, it’s really up to you where you place it, but keep in mind never to place it opposite to a light source. Also, if your TV has ambilight capabilities, then you should think of placing it near a wall so you can enjoy the light show.
Viewing distance is very important; you can check that in your TV manual. Don’t place yourself too close or too far from the screen. If you’ve got a huge screen, then you can place your sofa as back as possible; if you have a medium-sized TV, the viewing distance shouldn’t be bigger than 3-4 meters.
These are my tips for arranging your multimedia system. All you have to do now is get to work and start measuring and mounting, and then, sit back and relax!