Home Theater 101: How Do I Position My Surround Sound Speakers?

Polk Theater SetEach speaker has a specific role to play in your surround sound system. Understanding what each speaker does will help you shop smarter.

Center Channel Speaker

The primary purpose of a center channel speaker is to produce movie sound the director positioned in the center channel. When watching a movie more than 50% of the soundtrack, including almost all dialogue, is delivered through the center channel speaker. Since a great deal of action comes from this speaker, a good center channel speaker is crucial for a well-balanced home theater system.

Keep in mind a center channel speaker is best placed just below the TV, so make sure your speaker is an appropriate size for the intended placement. Most experts recommend getting 5 perfectly matched speakers for surround sound including the center channel speaker, but today many speakers will allow you to adjust the volume of each speaker separately making it easier to integrate a non matching center channel speaker.

When choosing a center channel speaker consider the other speakers in your surround sound system. Compact subwoofer/satellite systems usually use smaller center channel speakers, while tower speakers require a larger center channel model to maintain a balanced surround sound effect.

Front Left and Front Right Speakers

The front left and front right speakers provide a wide range of sounds that blend with the video to create a more realistic and exciting movie experience. The front speakers handle most of the special effects, which move back and forth between the two speakers in sync with the images on the screen.

In addition, front speakers also handle the sound of things happening off-camera, such as a car that is approaching but hasn’t come into view yet. Front speakers are also very important for music listening; they do all the work when it comes to stereo music reproduction.

When it comes to front speakers there are 3 types you can choose from:

Surround Speakers

The surround speakers produce atmospheric, ambient sounds – such as rain drops, the rustling of a newspaper, splashing in a pool, or footsteps. These atmospheric sounds and special effects are what make you feel like you’re actually in the middle of the action that’s taking place on screen.

The surround speakers are best placed to the left and right of your listening position. If side placement isn’t possible, place your surround speakers behind and above your listening position. Correct surround speaker placement is important for quality sound. Look for surround speakers that you can easily angle towards your listening area. Pivoting mounting brackets and speaker stands can help do the trick as well.

Consider where you will put your surround speakers and whether they will need to be stand-mounted, wall-mounted, or even placed in-wall or in-ceiling. For well-balanced sound, you should strive for your surround speakers to have the same performance capability as your front left and front right speakers.
A 5.1-channel surround system, with only one pair of surround speakers is the most common setup. If you have a larger space you may want to consider buying additional speakers to use as “back surrounds” in a 6.1 or 7.1-channel system.

Powered Subwoofer

A home theater system should include at least one powered subwoofer. Most movies, as well as TV shows and video game soundtracks, provide a dedicated channel for deep bass.

The bass is what makes your windows rattle and your house shake, during special effects like thunder or explosions. Most speakers can’t deliver that level of bass on their own; this is why a subwoofer is needed.

Since the deep-bass frequencies reproduced by the subwoofers are non-directional it is very difficult for our ears to actually pin-point the direction in which the sound is coming. That’s why we can only sense that the thunder or explosions seem to be all around us, rather than coming from a particular direction. As a result, the subwoofer can be placed anywhere in the room. However, placing a subwoofer near a wall or in a corner can increase bass impact noticeably. Experiment by placing your subwoofer in different locations; then choose the location that sounds the best to you. One subwoofer is the norm, but if you want to ensure even and smooth coverage, add a second subwoofer.

Need more help in deciding what speakers are best for your home theater system? Just stop into anyone of our P.C. Richard and Son Superstores and one of our expert sales representatives can help you find exactly what you’re looking for!


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Introduction to Surround Sound



Want to have that same surround sound experience you get at the movie theater in your own home? You can, and it’s really simple! Here is a basic “Do It Yourself” introduction to setting up a home theater system in your own home.

You will need a home theater receiver and at least six speakers; including a powered subwoofer. You can keep it simple by buying a pre-matched surround sound speaker system.

When purchasing your speaker system, keep the size of your room and TV size in mind.  If you have a big TV or a medium-to-large size room, choose larger speakers.  Where you position each speaker, depending upon the layout and shape of your room, may affect size or type of speaker as well.

Next, decide on your layout. Check the picture below for a basic set up of how speakers should be properly placed.



Remember you can get a cleaner look with in-wall speakers, in-ceiling speakers or custom flat panel speakers that integrate with your TV set.

Follow these steps for a quick set up:


  • Connect the surround sound receiver to your TV by inserting the HDMI cable into the “HDMI Out” jack on the back of the receiver and the “HDMI In” jack on the back of your TV.
  • Position the front-left and front-right speakers facing your audience on both sides of the TV. You may place the speakers on the ground, on a shelf or hang them with wall fasteners.
  • Position the center speaker above or below your television, level with the front speakers.
  • Position the subwoofer wherever it is convenient; placement does not have an impact on sound quality. In picture above we have it placed to the left center, but that may not be ideal for you.
  • Attach speaker wire to the correct speakers. (Samsung’s surround sound systems include color-coded speaker wire to assist in identifying wire placement). Insert the black end of each wire into the “Negative” port and the red end of each wire into the “Positive” port of each speaker.
  •  Match the speaker wire plugs to their corresponding jacks on the back of the surround sound receiver. If using a wireless system, insert the included TX card into the “TX card” slot, with the label reading “Wireless” facing up, and connect your rear surround sound speakers to the wireless receiver.
  • Plug in the surround sound receiver and power it on to enable your surround sound speakers.


Now pop in Jurassic Park and enjoy your at home theater experience! If you need more help with your installing your home theater system, electronic installations are available in the NY, NJ, PA, and CT areas through P.C. Richard & Son. For more information click here.



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