How to: Setup Your Home Theatre
High-quality in-home sound reproduction isn’t simply a matter of picking out an expensive system. As in real estate, location matters most—proper positioning of each component is essential to creating a truly immersive experience.
The first thing to consider is room dimension. Obviously you’ll be limited by your home’s architecture, but try to avoid setting up in perfectly square spaces. Experts recommend rectangular rooms, with the TV and front speakers along one of the short walls.
- It all starts with your television, which should be about 6 to 8 feet away from your main viewing area. Your centre speaker channel should be placed just beneath or, ideally, on top of your television set, with the front edges aligned perfectly with those of the TV set, and the tweeter close to ear level when you’re seated.
- Next up, the front right and front left speakers should be positioned on either side of the TV, 6 feet apart from one another, and at an equal distance to the centre speaker, forming a 45- to 60-degree angle with the central viewing area. Right, left and centre channels should be positioned the same distance from the primary viewing area to create a consistent wall of sound, with tweeter height more or less matching up.
- Place/mount surround speakers just off of the side and/or back walls for the best output, with the tweeter about 2 feet above ear-level for optimum effect. In a standard five-channel system, two speakers are arranged on either side or just behind the viewing area (the audio engineering gurus at Dolby Labs advise placement within 90 to 110 degrees on each side). For six- or seven-channel systems, two additional units should be placed further behind, within 135 to 150 degrees on either side. Exact angles and distances will be determined by trial and error, but ensure that each speaker matches up with its counterpart in both respects.
- One final consideration is sub-woofer placement. Technically, anywhere is fine—bass is non-directional—as long as it’s on the floor or the lower deck of a TV stand. Generally speaking, you’ll get higher output when the subwoofer is near a wall or, better yet, in a corner (though the latter can lead to increased low-frequency distortion). Many experts recommend placing the subwoofer in the centre of your viewing area, then playing audio with heavy bass and moving around the room until you find the spot with the cleanest, strongest output. When you find it, place the unit there. Adding a second subwoofer can help increase overall bass output and consistency.
In the end, you’ll know you’ve got everything right when you’re enveloped by sound, unaware of any individual source. MC