How to Get the Best Sound Layout for Home Theaters

by Carolyn Kraus 12/27/2021

When you plan to include a home theater in your house, getting the ideal sound quality is highly important. Having the right size screen and setting up the best viewing distance help ensure excellent video quality. However, having poor audio quality can affect your viewing experience. The sound layout for your home theater involves more than just putting speakers around the room. You also need to know which sound system would work best and which positions are ideal for your speakers. Keep the following tips in mind to make sure your home theater ends up with the best sound layout possible.

7-Speaker System vs. 5-Speaker System

The speaker system you choose for your home theater can have a big impact on sound quality. A 7-speaker setup can offer the best sound quality overall, while a 5-speaker setup can offer high-quality sound at a better value in terms of cost. The speaker system you choose also depends on how much space you have in your home theater and its layout. Some systems provide enhanced sound quality when you’re able to place speakers in the ceiling, for example.

7-Speaker Placement

For a sound system with seven speakers, the ideal placement involves putting the primary right and left speakers at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees to your seating. The center speaker should be placed as close to the center of the screen as possible. You should put the center, right and left key speakers at ear level for the best sound experience. If needed, you can position the center speaker right under the screen if you’re using a large-screen TV in your home theater. The side surround speakers should be placed at ear level on either side of your seating, while the rear surround speakers should be positioned at a 45-degree angle on both sides of your seating.

5-Speaker Placement

For a sound system with five speakers, put the primary right, left and center speakers in the same positions as a 7-speaker system. However, the ideal surround speaker setup for these systems is slightly different, since you’re working with fewer speakers. Here, the surround speakers should be placed at ear level at angles of 110 degrees on each side. This puts these speakers behind your seating while providing excellent sound quality.

Seating Considerations

When setting up your sound system in a home theater, consider your seating layout. If you’re going to have multiple rows or a second row on a riser, you’ll need to be careful about where you put your surround speakers. Since those in the second or back rows will sit slightly higher, you’ll need to keep this in mind. Here, your speakers might work best being placed in a more central position overall in terms of height rather than aiming for ear level, since you’ll have different ear levels for each row. This placement helps ensure that everyone sitting in your home theater can experience outstanding sound quality while watching movies.

Acoustic Factors

Other acoustic factors to keep in mind include the shape of the room and windows. Ideally, your home theater should be in a rectangular room rather than a square one, which can distort sounds. You should also choose a room with few or no windows, since sound can bounce off of these. If you have windows, hang curtains to ensure better sound quality.

About the Author

Carolyn Kraus

Hi, I'm Carolyn Kraus and I'd love to assist you. Whether you're in the research phase at the beginning of your real estate search or you know exactly what you're looking for, you'll benefit from having a real estate professional by your side. I'd be honored to put my real estate experience to work for you.