Originally Posted by limsilas
So, for direct-radiating speakers - i.e. bookshelves - they should not
be pointed directly at the listener? This would mean that, regardless of whether I mount them on the sidewalls or the back wall, the speakers should still be pointed towards the center of the room as opposed to the MLP?
Well, this is one of those debates. In a movie theater, there are multiple surround speakers spaced around the back and sides of the screening room. Sound mixers, knowing this, tend to create diffuse, spacious, ambient surround tracks that don't localize specific sounds.
Reproducing this effect in a home using two speakers means either using speakers that themselves diffuse the sound -- which is why bipole and dipole speakers are often used as surrounds -- or by orienting direct-radiating speakers relative to the walls and/or ceiling so they use boundary reflections to create diffusion. In all cases, no speaker would be aimed directly at a listener.
But do you want this effect in your HT? Well, that's up to you. There are some kinds of program material -- notably multichannel audio recordings -- for which the optimal speaker configuration is five identical full-range speakers. Hard to set up in most rooms, but a matched set of direct-radiators and a sub comes close. For this you'd want all the speakers aimed at the listener... but that same system would be sub-optimal for most movies.
Add to this the differences in how we hear sounds that come from in front vs those that come from behind -- sounds from behind are harder to localize because of the way we're built, to be crudely over-simple about it -- and you come around to the fact that there are a number of ways to achieve satisfactory surround sound, all of them room-dependent. Generally, though, the advice you've gotten here -- mount the surrounds high, aimed in from the sides as in your option #2 -- is good. It would be better if you could get that couch away from the wall, but it's a small room for that much seating.
If you can come up with a way, using stepladders perhaps, to temporarily position your speakers for experimental listening, you can find the answer that sounds best to you.