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Five Tips for Setting up Your Surround Sound System

by on January 04, 2010
in Music and Video, Home Audio, Speakers, Home Theater Systems, Tech 101 :: 2 comments

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Stepping up to five speakers (plus a subwoofer) will greatly enhance your movie viewing experience. So why not make the most of it. We've compiled five tips to help you set up your home theater properly. For detailed set-up information check out Dolby's Home Theater Speaker Guide.

  1. Use digital or optical audio cables
    If you’re hooking up a Blu-ray or DVD player, use an HDMI cable, a digital audio or optical audio cable between the player and your A/V receiver. These types of cables will deliver the highest quality audio and provide the necessary encoding information to allow your receiver to produce the correct surround sound output. You don’t need to spend a lot—you can get a good quality cable for about $10 on Amazon or from Radio Shack that will sound exactly the same as the expensive cables many electronics retailers try to push on you.
  2. Dolby speaker placement guide

    Dolby speaker placement guide based on
    six to eight foot viewing distance.

    Place the center channel speaker directly above or below your TV
    Placement is important because you want dialog to sound as if it’s coming from the actors’ mouths. When the speaker is too far away from ear level, the sound appears to be out of sync. Take the extra time to try out your center channel speaker above and below your TV to see which sounds better.
  3. Boost center channel audio
    If you have trouble hearing dialog in movies, boost the center channel audio level relative to the right and left front channel speakers. Consult your A/V receiver’s manual to find out how to bring up the speaker setup menu, where you’ll find settings to adjust the center channel speaker volume.
  4. Place the subwoofer close to small front channel speakers
    If your front channel speakers have drivers that are eight inches or smaller, you’ll want to place the subwoofer within a few feet of one of the front channel speakers. With smaller speakers, most of the bass will be coming from your subwoofer. If you place your subwoofer too far away from your front speakers, the bass will seem unnaturally detached from the rest of your movie soundtrack.
  5. Placement of the rear channel speakers
    Rear channel speakers should never be in front of your head. Place them slightly behind and slightly above ear level, and aim them toward the seating area.


Discussion loading

Thanks for the tips on

From Ben Allen on February 06, 2017 :: 11:44 am

Thanks for the tips on how to set up your surround sound. I had no idea that there were so many little details that went into setting up a surround sound. I thought it was always mainly just where is looked best or worked best for you. My sister just got some stuff for their home theater system and they want to make sure it is set up right. I will be sure to share this information with her.



From Anthony C. on March 24, 2019 :: 3:43 pm

I was just doing some online research for my website that I’m trying to put together on my own. I ended up here…
I wanted to drop you a note to let you know that even though 9 years have passed from when this was posted, there’s still some nice clear, concise, and useful information on the page!


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