Last time we spoke briefly about setting up your home theatre speakers for best results. We spoke about Everything Orbiting The TV, the Symmetry between the speakers and Think Photo Shoot when pointing the speakers in your setup.
Today, we will talk a bit about the components of the home theatre system and how they interact when placed properly.
1. Speech, Speech, Speech.
The dialogue in any movie is where it is at, unless of course it is a silent movie! Speech is so important that in home theatre systems, manufacturers use a dedicated speaker for dialogue alone. This speaker is the centre speaker and it is extremely important that it is placed properly. The centre speaker should be placed directly above or below the middle of the TV set; mostly because, it would be weird if you heard the dialogue coming from the left when the person is directly in front of you. If all else fails, make sure this speaker is placed properly.
2. Stereo Field
The left and right front speakers give you the most information in the setup and because of this, they are to be installed at specific points to ensure an immersive and dynamic stereo field. When I say stereo field, I am not talking about listening to headphones in the park, I am talking about the illusion of directionality and perspective that the movie maker wants you to experience. Our ears tell us so much with regard to these directionality and perspective that re-creating this in a movie is paramount. Ideally these two speakers should be placed anywhere from a foot to about six feet on either side of the TV (of course using discretion as it pertains to the size of the room). The main point here is to make both sides the same distance from the TV so that they can 'trick' you more effectively!.
3. Look out behind you!
The rear speakers do the same as the front but have much less content and placement does not need to be as precise. Even though the placement is not as much of an issue, I would still recommend using measurements and place them either to the sides, if the seating is on the back wall, or mirror them with their counterparts on the front wall. These help with ambience, atmosphere and panorama like when helicopters fly overhead etc.
4. Roar, Rumble and Thump
Subwoofers always put a smile on my face. When you hear the roar of a dinosaur, the rumble of an earthquake or the thump of a belly searcher in a fight scene; you can guarantee a subwoofer makes you feel like you are right there in the middle of the movie. Most people place these in the corners which can add depth and volume to the experience, which I would also recommend, however try not to overdo it to the point where it is so loud that you can barely hear anything else. Low frequencies tend to be omnidirectional and because of this, you can put it in the corner without any worries about sound quality.
These tips are all rules of thumb and should be used in conjunction with the manufacturers manual to get the best sound from your system.
In summary, the centre speaker should be placed in the centre of the television either above or below it and of course not behind it (had to say it). The front speakers are to be placed on either side of the TV measured to a decent distance in your particular space and should be at ear height or if above, make sure it is pointed downwards. Rear speakers should mirror the front speakers where possible and the subwoofer could be safely put in the corner.
Next time we will continue with part 3