Purchasing your audio-visual equipment can be an exciting process. The choice of equipment is extensive and it is possible to spend many happy hours on websites and in stores collecting information to help narrow it down to the system you really want.
Opening the packages and connecting all the leads can be done in an hour of happy activity. But then . . . .
. . . you turn on your favourite TV show or start playing your favourite band and it sounds terrible!
You begin to feel that you have wasted a lot of money on something that isn’t fit for purpose.
Getting the best sound isn’t just about having everything connected correctly. It is also about having the speakers in the best position.
This is going to depend on a number of factors and, I will be honest, you can get as technical with this as you want. There are websites with diagrams, measurements and suggestions for special wall panels to improve the sound. Anyone technical enough to want that much information will probably go directly to those sites.
I’m going to assume that you are the ‘average Joe’ when it comes to audio visual equipment and provide a few suggestions that should help you to get your speakers positioned to best effect.
The most popular and common speaker systems at the moment are described as 5.1 – this simply indicates that there are five speakers around the room and one that sits below your television.
This layout gives a ‘surround sound’ effect because two of the speakers are at the back of the room. In a symmetrical room, the sub-woofer will be behind and to one side of the TV screen and the first two speakers evenly spaced either side. Of course, very few people have perfectly shaped rooms and televisions are often placed diagonally across a corner, which affects where the first speaker will be pointing.
When placing your speakers on bookshelves, cabinets or fixing them to the wall, aim to have them at head height when you are sitting on your sofa or favourite chair. The speakers at either side should be angled to form a triangle with your seating position while the speaker below (or above) your TV should be directly facing you.
The surround sound speakers will probably be attached to the wall, for preference beside your seating position. As they are on brackets it is simple to ensure that they are facing your seating position. Be careful that they are not too close to the corner as this will distort the sound. The same goes for the front speakers, which should not be resting against the wall.
Once you have the elements in a good general position, you can make small adjustments in positioning to get the exact sound you are looking for. Do this while playing a favourite album. Where the layout of your room is such that the speakers cannot be in the optimal position, there will probably be adjustments that you can make to the settings on your AV receiver to compensate.
Whether your system is bargain basement or top of the range, positioning the speakers is the key to getting the best sound quality.