Having a small room doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of a home theater setup, surround sound and all.
But before you drop big bucks on a full sound system, it’s important to know how your room’s dimensions will come into play. Read on to find out how.
5.1 Speaker Setup In A Small Room
Surround sound speaker systems are referred to by the number of units and bass channels they have, such as 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, and 11.1.
The most common surround sound setup is the 5.1 system which consists of 5 speakers (3 in front and 2 behind you) and a subwoofer that delivers the bass.
See how all these unit placements make up a 5.1 speaker setup in small room dimensions.
Center Channel Speaker
The center speaker is arguably the most important surround sound speaker since it reproduces dialogue. Usually the widest unit, it enhances the sound stage when people are talking on-screen.
A center channel unit works best placed above the TV. Angle it directly at head level for the cleanest and most immersive listening experience.
The front left and right speakers are responsible for reproducing the music and sound effects in a film. They are best placed 90-110 degrees off-axis from the main listening area on the sofa.
Most brands will sell center and front speakers together. But if you have units from different brands, try tweaking the equalization on the AV receiver to try and balance the audio.
Left and Right Speakers
Typically known as “rear side surround system speakers”, these units are placed just behind the left and right listening positions of the audience.
While they mostly just handle background and special effects sounds, rear speakers have a higher amplitude compared to center and front surround speakers.
Place your rear surround speakers at a 135-150 degrees off-axis relative to your couch for enhanced rear panning effects.
Subwoofers handle low-frequency audio such as the booming bass sounds you hear in blockbuster action movies.
Place your subwoofer within 4-5 feet of your rear speakers for the smoothest possible blend. You can also try placing your subwoofer near a wall or corner to generate more bass.
In case you want to streamline your home theater speaker placement, consider buying in-wall models if you have special seating area restrictions.
Tips & Reminders for Proper Placement
When working with a small movie theater, speaker placement is key to maximizing both space and acoustics.
Keep these top tips in mind before you start setting up your home theater speakers.
Tilt Your Center Channel Speakers Upwards
There may be instances when it is not possible to place the unit above the TV screen or at ear height.
In case you need to place the central unit somewhere lower than your seating position, angle it upwards to improve the clarity of middle to high-frequency sounds.
You can also purchase systems that use technology to fire sounds upwards, like the Dolby Atmos  5.1.2 models that act just like ceiling speakers.
Mount Your Sound System To Save Space
A surround sound system doesn’t have to be placed on the floor if you want to free up space around your seating position.
Mix up your surround speaker placement by using bookshelf speakers, ceiling height speakers, or even wall speakers.
Soften Hard Surfaces
To prevent distortion from echoes, soften or remove hard surfaces like a hardwood floor or a coffee table in front of your seat. Use an area rug and side tables instead to diffuse the sounds.
Don't Put Your Sound System In A Cabinet
While it may be tempting to put your sound units in your media console, boxing them in will change the sound for the worse. If you really want to put them inside a shelf, line the shelf with acoustic foam.
How Do I Connect 5.1 Speakers To A Small Room?
The best 5.1 speaker setup in small room areas or home theaters will always be what’s specified in the manual your speaker system came with. However, the general placement for stereo speakers is to set your central unit directly in front of you at head level.
If this isn’t possible, tilt it upwards. Second, place each front speaker equidistant from your central unit. Make sure the tweeter is level with your ears. Third, place your side surround speakers to the left and right of your listening position, or place these rear speakers a few feet behind your couch. Finally, place the subwoofer along the front of the room, typically by your center unit.
Just as we’ve discussed, a small living room won’t get in the way of achieving the best 5.1 surround sound experience.
While these are general tips for 5.1 speaker setup in small room areas, what will work for you will be largely dependent on your room’s floor plan and specific needs.
Feel free to experiment with a different speaker placement style to see what gives you the best movie experience.
There are times that in a home theater setup, signals from the devices might be troublesome to be controlled by a remote, thus, setting up with an IR repeater is an excellent solution. Find out more about IR repeater here. Read next!