How to Arrange 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers

If you have recently obtained a 5.1 surround sound speaker system -- often called a home theater system -- it's important to know how to arrange the components to get the best sound. Each room has its own acoustic capabilities, each person hears sounds differently, and every home theater setup is not the same. For these reasons, it's impossible to have a “perfect” overall placement. However, there are several things you can do to arrange your 5.1 surround sound speakers in your home for maximum efficiency.

Speaker placement makes or breaks your home theater experience.

Step 1

Survey all of the speakers and accessories. A 5.1 surround sound system includes a left and right front speaker, a left and right back -- or surround -- speaker, a center-channel speaker and a subwoofer. You will also need relevant wires for each one and possibly speaker stands or mounts, as well.

Step 2

Position the center speaker. It should be centered immediately above or below your television. If you set it on top, it should be equal with the front edge of the set. Its height should be close to that of the front left and right speakers.

Step 3

Position the front speakers. The right and left front speakers are best placed at equivalent distances from the main listening area, including the center channel. The three speakers should all face the designated listening area and be the same distance from you, in an arced format. Use a measuring tape to determine the correct placement. The speakers should be set at the ear level of a seated listener.

Step 4

Arrange the two surround-sound speakers. The left and right rear speakers should be either flush with, or behind, the listening area. Do not place them at the ear level of a seated listener. The exact positioning of these speakers can alter the overall sound significantly. Experiment with different locations to find what works best for your room.

Step 5

Set the subwoofer in position. The ideal site can vary from home to home, depending on the amount of bass you like to hear. To find this location, place the subwoofer in your main listening area with music playing. Go around the room to determine the spot with the best sound. Once you have discovered this spot, position your subwoofer.


  • Playing your volume too loud can cause permanent hearing loss.

About the Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.