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January 2nd, 2008 by Joe Chianese Page 1 Page 2Page 3


The Surround Sound Experience

Ask any home theater enthusiast what is the most important aspect of the movie going experience. They'll all tell you the same answer: sound. Without the right surround sound experience, you aren't getting the full experience out of your movies. Some experts say that 70% of the movie-watching experience is in the sound. That's why we go to such lengths of positioning our speakers, using the right connections, and picking out the best components. To do anything less is, well, not caring very much about watching movies and TV. And if you don't care, why do you even want surround sound?

Planning your Surround Experience

Its important to understand that you can't just plop your speakers (or subwoofer) just any old place in your room. You need to consider distance, angle, level (vertical height), and if there is anything blocking the sound.

Distance from Speakers

You should make sure that your front speakers and center channel are are located close to the TV. Its OK to space your front left and right channels out towards the walls, but don't put them further out than where you'd be sitting. For instance, if your seating goes all the way against the wall, you could have the speaker against the wall. But if your seating ends say 10ft from the wall, don't put your speaker past that point.

Rear speakers should be spaced out equally to the fronts (or close to it). They will also need to be as directly behind your seating as possible. Don't put them 10ft behind where you sit if you can get them closer. They don't do a lot of work in most movies, and most of the work they do is typically quiet compared to the front speakers.

The subwoofer can be anywhere between where you sit and the TV. Optimally, place it closer to the TV and more to the center of the room. Don't block the side of the subwoofer where the air comes out. That's the speaker itself (usually covered by a grill). Blocking this will smother your bass.

You also don't want to put the subwoofer behind dense objects, doors, walls, or in closets. When possible, let the subwoofer rest on the floor itself. Putting it in a cabinet or anything else that raises it off the floor will diminish its effects.

Position and Angle of Surround Sound Speakers

Make sure the front, the center, and the rear speakers are aimed straight out towards where you sit. The subwoofer doesn't matter as much as long as it is not directly blocked by anything. You obviously don't want your speakers facing the floor, the wall, or the ceiling.

Placing Speakers Ear Level

The height of your speakers should match your ear level when sitting. You don't have to get it dead on, but try to keep all your speakers as close to ear level as possible. That means if you're mounting your speakers, don't put them at ceiling height. The subwoofer is always best on the floor, and rear speakers need to be as close to ear level as possible.

An exception is the center channel. Its not always possible to get it just where you want it since it is, afterall, in the center - right where your TV is. You can safely place a center channel above or below your television, but keep it away from the ceiling and the floor.



>>Next: Completing your Surround Sound Setup

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