How do I set up my 5.1 speakers?

Properly positioning 5.1 speakers in your living room can be a challenge. Before you get started, here are some tips to help you out.

What is behind the mysterious abbreviation 5.1? This designation refers to the layout of multi-channel systems. In a 5.1 configuration, there are five main speakers – two front and rear and a center speaker – and a subwoofer, symbolized by the one after the dot in the designation.

5.1 speakers will be an excellent choice for people who want to feel like they’re in a movie theater at home and dream of getting the best sound quality. This type of speakers gives the impression that the sound is spreading all around you, but to enjoy this effect, you need to remember to place the equipment in the right way. We explain how to do it.

How to choose the best 5.1 speakers?

Choosing the most suitable 5.1 speakers is not easy and may cause doubts. Before buying the equipment, pay attention to the fact that:

  • the speakers have good enough power – center speaker: 50 W, subwoofer: 150 W, satellite speaker: up to 50 W;
  • the set did not lack the headphone socket and remote control;
  • the subwoofer had pluggable cables and a wooden plate;
  • the power cord was long enough to fit our room.

It is also worth remembering that good speakers should have quality certificates, for example, Dolby Digital. Besides, if we choose a set with an amplifier, we will get better sound effects.


Proper placement of 5.1 speakers

5.1 speakers have a wide range of applications, because we can connect them to the computer or TV, as well as use them in the home theater. Regardless of what purpose we want to use our set, we have to remember about its correct positioning. If we do it wrong, the sound will not be coherent with the image displayed on the screen.

In a 5.1 system, the two front speakers and the center speaker are responsible for the most important sound effects, including voices and movie music. With the two effect speakers, you get surround sound. The subwoofer, on the other hand, provides bass effects.

First of all, the speakers should be placed at an equal distance from each other and from the viewer, then you will get a greater sense of spaciousness and some sounds will not be louder than others.

The center speaker should be placed, as the name suggests, most centrally, that is below or above the screen. Ideally, it should be located in front of the viewers, at the height of their ears. Two front speakers are also placed in front, on both sides of the screen, at an equal distance from the center speaker. The speakers should be facing each other at an appropriate angle – the angle separating the left and right speakers should be from 44° to 60°. This positioning will result in surround sound.

The rear speakers are responsible for the sounds of scenes that are playing “behind us”, for example, a car passing by or shooting. These speakers are placed behind the sofa or seats. The angle that separates the rear speakers from the center speaker must be 110° to 120°.

In the spacing of 5.1 speakers, the subwoofer responsible for bass is the least troublesome. You can place it anywhere, because human hearing does not detect in which direction the bass is spreading. However, it’s best to place the subwoofer at least a few feet away from the couch.

Main photo: Sandy Kawadkar/

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