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Proper Home Theater Speaker Placement

Written on Mar 25, 2009 by Brian and filed under Knowledge Base

When it comes to home theater setups, including home theater in a box systems, we tend to over-buy. That is, we buy more specs and features than we could possibly need. In the case of home theater, this is a problem because a powerful system in a small room will result in “bad” sound. It’s important to understand your space before buying a HTiB system. Do you really need a 7.1 home theater system with 1250 watts or will a smaller 5.1 HTiB be fine, or even better? 


On their website, Dolby has a helpful guide when it comes to proper speaker placement. The system pictured above shows proper placement of the speakers in a 5.1 system, though the subwoofer can go about anywhere, we prefer a corner placement when possible. A 5.1 channel system provides five satellite speakers and one subwoofer. The speakers should be placed as pictured, left front, center, right front, left rear and right rear. 

But not all rooms are really designed for this type of layout. And some people don’t want to run speaker cable to the rear speakers (note: some HTiB systems offer wireless rear speakers). In many cases a soundbar or other more compact home theater system is more desirable. Of course there are larger systems as well, 6.1 and more commonly 7.1 channel systems. These essentially add an extra rear speaker to give more full sound and effects. 

When buying a home theater in a box system make sure to leverage tools like the Dolby speaker placement guide so you make the right purchase. Just because you can afford a bigger system doesn’t mean it’s right for your space. Of course when buying always make sure you understand the return policy. Even a system that’s designed well for your space might not sound good and could require return or exchange.

One Response to “Proper Home Theater Speaker Placement”

  1. Some of the limitations in speaker placement can be easily resolved. It is really expensive to try to run speaker cable after-the-fact, (if it is even possible) but there are other options. If your preferred HTiB doesn’t offer wireless speakers, you can get third party wireless speaker systems or adhesive super flat speaker wire.

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