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How to set up speakers for 5.1 sound?

You might have bought a new home theatre system. Or perhaps, you’re repositioning a system. You have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to see How to set up speakers for 5.1 sound. It might sound tough at first but trust me, it is easier. I will guide you through all the tips and tricks on how to set up speakers for 5.1 sound.

How to set up speakers for 5.1 sound?

Why placement is necessary?

Placements which we are gonna see shortly is very important not only for multichannel sound but for stereo as well. In the case of a multichannel sound or 5.1 sound, there are speakers behind the listening person. Look at a home theatre setup like Yamaha yht 1840. In the studio, there exists a setup for mixing 5.1 sounds. The same has to be recreated in the home to listen to what the sound engineer intended while mixing audio. Hence at home as well, there are front and rear speakers to sing music. Let’s see each speaker in detail.

Setting up center

If you’re into movie watching, the center speaker is the most important one. This is where most of the vocals come from. Also, there are main sounds that come from the center speaker. Hence it is very important. It is always a nice idea to keep the center ear level. If you have a projector and an acoustic transparent screen, it is even better. You can put the speaker behind the screen and can level it up to ear level.

If you have an LCD TV, then you cannot install the center speaker to ear level as the TV occupies the spot. In that case, you can keep the center speaker under the TV. You just need to tilt the center speaker facing the ear. In this way, you get the maximum benefit out of the compromise we made to not keeping it to the ear level.

Setting up front speakers

Front speakers are very very important if you listen to music a lot. Even in movies, background sounds and other sounds come from these front speakers. Hence positioning them is important for awesome music/movie performance. First of all, the speakers have to be ear level. This creates a beautiful wide sound stage. Secondly, the speakers have to be 60 degrees apart. That is, from the center speaker, it has to be 30 degrees away with respect to the listening position. If you draw a line between the listening position and center speaker and the listening position and the front speakers, the angle created by the two lines is 30 degrees. 

Please refer to the figure for understanding. Adding to this, the speakers must face the user. This way, the intended sound can be reproduced in the living room. If the soundstage is small or if the treble is high, you can turn the speakers away from the user.

Setting up rear surround speakers

Rear speakers are the one that gives 3d spatial experience for movies. It not only sounds for anything happening behind the user but also has a reverberating sound that the sound engineer mixed for whatever in the front to give depth to whatever being played. As we have seen in the image, the two speakers have to be at 110 degrees from the center channel. Also, the height must be 1 to 2 feet above the ear level. The speakers need not point to the listener. Since it mostly consists of ambient sound, you can keep it facing the front too. It works best if it is placed focusing the listener’s ears.

Setting up of subwoofer

acoustic amplifier audio bass
Photo by Anthony on

The subwoofer is a critical component for both movie and music performance. It produces the bass. Since the main speakers of the home theatres are tiny, they cannot reproduce the bass in the recordings well. There is no replacement for a bigger speaker. Hence, the bass part of all the 5.0 channels is taken and given to the subwoofer. Mostly, it is 80HZ and below. This is because, below 80 Hz, it is tough to identify the directionality of the sound. This is an advantage because the subwoofer can be placed anywhere in the room.

However, for the best performance, you have to position the subwoofer by doing the subwoofer crawling. You place the subwoofer on the seat where you would sit and enjoy movies. Now, crawl like a baby across the room. Find a spot where the bass sounds the best. Now, keep the subwoofer in this spot. Congratulations! You have placed the sub in an optimized position.


This is how to set up speakers for 5.1 sound. 5.1 channel can be best enjoyed at home if the speakers are positioned correctly. By calibrating the system, you get to experience a theatre level performance at home. Get a home theatre system like Yamaha YHT 1840 and you can be given a furthermore adjustment in the settings. Set it up and you will get a better sounding home theatre system for both music and movies.

3 thoughts on “How to set up speakers for 5.1 sound?”

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