In the guide that follows we will show you how to place audio speakers for PC, Smart TV, and console in order to have perfect sound when we watch a movie or an evening in front of the TV, listen to music, and watch films from the computer or be able to play our favorite games at the highest possible sound quality.
READ ALSO: Best Home Theater: a guide to buying the audio system
1) Models of audio systems
First of all, you have to understand what Stereo, Surround and what is meant by audio channels so you can understand the difference between the various types of audio systems.
When listening to music with headphones or when watching television without plugging in any external equipment or even when listening to the radio, the sound is stereo. Stereo audio provides two audio channels, left and right. This simple two-channel configuration is defined as system 2.0 (or 2 channels without a subwoofer).
To the previous configuration, we can add a subwoofer, so as to amplify the bass: Adding a subwoofer we will get a system 2.1. Unlike simple 2-channel systems, where the sound is generated from the main device (e.g. TV), systems for multichannel surround sound generally require a separate component that acts as a receiver or amplifier, which distributes the audio signals of the source (such as the Blu-ray player or the decoder) to the various speakers which can be 5 or 7 or even more.
The vast majority of receivers currently support 5.1 and 7.1-channel surround sound; furthermore, it wouldn’t do much good as only a few Blu-ray movies can broadcast audio to multiple channels.
In the following chapters, we will show you how to position the speakers for the various types of systems (2.1, 5.1, and 7.1) as well as present a guide to buying the best models for each type of system.
2) Positioning of the audio speakers 2.1
If in a two-speaker system all sound effects, music, and dialogue from the speakers will be transmitted towards you from the front and it goes without saying that one must be on the listener’s right and the other on his left. The two speakers should ideally be positioned approximately 3-4 meters from the center of the screen.
The height should be, more or less, equivalent to that of the listener’s ears, so no more than 2 meters from the ground, otherwise it will seem that the voices are coming from above or below). The angle of the speakers should then be inwards and towards the listener, with an ideal angle between 22/30 degrees, creating a perfect listening cone towards the center (for example the center seat on the sofa).
It remains only to see where to put the subwoofer. The low-frequency sound generated by the subwoofer is omnidirectional so there are not many rules and you can put it anywhere you want perhaps so that it is easy to connect.
The only precaution to observe is to not place the subwoofer in a corner or inside a cabinet, because close to walls and in semi-enclosed spaces the audio, which should be omnidirectional, would find an impediment to its diffusion with the consequence of a louder and booming sound. If such positioning cannot be avoided, then the bass volume should be turned down to compensate.
3) Configure a system 5.1
5.1ch audio is the most popular and best for creating immersive surround sound. The 5.1 channel configuration starts with the layout explained for 2.1 speakers, with the addition of a center channel and a left and right surround sound channel.
Therefore, what has already been said about the positioning of the subwoofer and the front left and right channels is valid. The central speaker of a 5.1 system plays a very important role because it is the one from which the audio of the dialogues of the film is heard, so as to perceive that the speaker’s voice comes directly from the actor on the screen.
The center channel should be placed as close as possible to the TV or monitor above or below the screen, centered and without inclinations, possibly at the same height as the listener’s ear.
If it is not possible to position the speaker at the ideal height, it can be tilted up or down to direct the sound towards the listener’s head. The other two surrounding left and right channels, as well as the center channel, lighten the work of the left and right speakers of setup 2.1.
The surround sound channels transmit ambient and background sounds for example, in a concert, the applause of the audience is heard from these speakers, creating the auditory illusion of being in the front row.
The position of the surround speakers is lateral to the listening position, left and right, or slightly behind, at an angle of 90-110 degrees from the listening position, practically next to each of the ears and slightly above the viewer’s head.
If you cannot respect the ideal configuration, keep in mind that it is better to keep the surround channels further back and higher rather than forward and down (it becomes disorienting to have background noises as if they come from the front, instead of the sides and back).
4) Configure a 7.1 or higher system
If you like watching movies on Blu Ray then a 7.1 surround system is worth buying which is currently the state of the art for systems that can be created in the home environment.
This configuration presents two additional surround sound channels for an even more engaging and auditory realistic experience. The two extra speakers that are obtained with the 7.1 are positioned behind the viewer, oriented towards them at about 135-150 degrees, just above the level of the head.
There are also higher configurations on the market (8.1 and 9.1) where the additional satellites are added at the rear of the listening point (respectively above and below, so as to be able to take advantage of the Dolby ATMOS).
5) Additional tips
To get the most out of your new system, we recommend that you read the following tips:
- The pairs of speakers that go to the right and left must always be positioned at the same distance from the center, in a balanced way, without keeping them further away and one closer.
- Use the automatic calibration function to test the sound. This is always available in your computer’s audio management program or even in home theater systems, it should be in the settings. In some more advanced systems, you can find included a small microphone that must be positioned in the place of the listener so that the system adjusts the sound in an optimized and automatic way.
- Adjust the volume of the center channel so that you can hear the dialogue clearly, perhaps lowering the overall volume, so that you do not find yourself jumping out of your chair in case of explosions or loud noises.
To test the surround sound system we can use free audio testing videos available on YouTube: 5.1 Dolby Surround Test e DOLBY ATMOS Demonstration TrueHD 7.1.
6) Buying Guide
After having seen how to place the various types of implants, let’s see together the best models that you can buy online directly from Amazon, so as to save something on the final price and get all the necessary assistance in case of problems.
The cheapest system we can buy consists of a soundbar (which produces stereo sound) and a subwoofer, as seen in the system Soundbar Creative Stage V2. This system features Sound Blaster, Clear Dialog and Surround technology, multiple audio inputs (HDMI ARC, optical input, AUX, Bluetooth and USB), dedicated remote control and a custom-tuned mid-range driver.
One of the best 5.1 systems we can place at home is the Sony HT-S40Rwhich features a three-channel center soundbar, two rear wireless satellites (connected via a dedicated wireless unit), wired subwoofer, 600W 5.1ch Dolby Digital surround sound, HDMI ARC connection, Bluetooth connection, USB port, and optical input.
Impianto home theater premium
The most powerful system that we can install in the living room is the JBL BAR 9.1 True Wireless Surroundequipped with 9 satellites and a subwoofer (9.1 system), Bluetooth connection, Wireless Subwoofer and speakers, Dedicated remote control, Dolby Atmos technology, HDMI ARC connection, Optical Connection, Ultra HD 4K Pass-through support and 820 W maximum system power.
Compared to the home theater systems of the past (equipped with an amplifier), today all systems have a more or less large soundbar and various satellites to be connected via cable or wireless, so as to adapt well to any living room or listening point.
Although the systems seen above are recommended for Smart TVs, nothing prevents them from connecting them directly to the PC or console, using various types of cables and connections for carrying audio.
To learn more we can read our guides on how to enable surround between Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Echo (Dolby) come on how to activate surround on TV.