Positioning of speakers in a Home Theater configuration
For several years, the majority of audiovisual work sound tracks have been optimised for reproduction in different channels: the 5.1 configuration (2 front speakers for music and ambiance, 1 central speaker dedicated to dialogues, 2 surround speakers for effects, and 1 bass speaker for greater presence of low frequencies). Nowadays there are mixed sound tracks on a range of different systems such as 6.1 or 7.1. However, 5.1 remains the one predominantly used for Home Cinema.
Positioning of Home Theater front speakers
To position your home theatre front speakers, consult the page on positioning speakers in a Stereo hi-fi configuration.
Position of central speakers
Position of surround speakers
The subwoofer in Home Theater configuration
Contrary to an acoustic hifi speaker which must be sufficiently far away from walls and corners of the listening room, it is preferable to position the bass speaker (subwoofer) in a corner (fig. D, E). If the bass speaker is placed against a single wall or very far away from partitions, the very long wavelength of the low frequencies will randomly excite the resonances of the listening space. The response in terms of frequency will not be linear and this will affect the quality of the bass (lack of depth, "echo-like sound" effect, sloppy and/or unstable bass, difficult or impossible retrieval with the other speakers used).
By placing the subwoofer right in a corner, the resonances of the room will be excited in a more linear and more predictable manner. Not only will bass perception be optimal but also this arrangement will make it possible to increase the level of the bass (fig. F). If due to layout constraint issues, you are unable to position the bass speaker in a corner, try out different locations in a room until you find the best possible compromise. In general, it will be necessary to make sure that you position the bass speaker at the front of the listening room. As the frequency bands concerned are omni-directional, in principle the bass will not be affected by an object or an item of furniture positioned between the bass speaker and the listening point.
Attention: as for all other types of speakers, if the bass speaker is not shielded, it must be placed at least 50cm away from a television set and other sensitive elements to prevent them from being subjected to magnetic disturbance.
Amplifier compensation system
Audio / video 5.1 amplifiers feature compensation systems which make it possible to vary the delay applied to each speaker. This function makes it possible to compensate for any variation in distance between speakers and listeners. The most sophisticated soundtracks are mixed in 6.1 which requires the use of one or two surround centre speakers depending on the amplifier used, positioned behind the listening zone. If two effects speakers are used, ensure that they are not too far apart (less than one metre) in order to obtain the best results.