or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Audio › Speakers › Rear surround speaker placement: side walls or back wall?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Rear surround speaker placement: side walls or back wall?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

For my particular room layout (please see picture below), where is the best placement for my rear surround speakers?



Here is the equipment I will be using for my 5.2 setup:

  • Denon AVR-2113Ci
  • Pioneer FS52s (fronts)
  • Pioneer C22 (center)
  • Pioneer BS22s (bookshelf rears)
  • (2) Klipsch RW-12Ds

And here's what I'm thinking in terms of the rear surrounds:

  • Option #1: Wall-mount the rears on the back wall so that they both face forward; or
  • Option #2: Wall-mount each rear on the side walls so that they face each other.

Unfortunately, due to the shallowness of the room, the main couch / primary listening position will have to be right up against the back wall, so there is no way to place the rears behind the primary listening position.

Given this room configuration, I have the following questions:

  1. Is the back wall or the side walls the best place for the rear surrounds?
  2. Does it matter that the rear surrounds will not be equidistant from the primary listening position? (One of them will only be off by a couple feet at most.)
  3. Is it best for the rears to fire either directly forward or directly sideways (i.e. at 90 degree angles to the wall), or should they be tilted towards the center of the room?
  4. Is the best height for the rear surrounds 2-3 feet above ear level while seated? The rears would mainly be used for movies.
  5. Should the rears be tilted downward towards the floor at all?
  6. Given the location of the foyer and den entrances, I have to run my speaker wire up the TV wall, through the (vaulted) ceiling, and then down to the back or side walls. Will14AWG speaker wire be sufficient for this?


Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 15
The surrounds in a 5.1 system are intended to be mounted on the side walls facing in (option 1). The layout of my room is very similar to yours, and one of my rear speakers is farther away from the MLP than the other. When you run the setup on your Denon, it will compensate for this by bumping up the volume on one of the surrounds.

It is also recommended that the rears be mounted above ear level.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsaville View Post

The surrounds in a 5.1 system are intended to be mounted on the side walls facing in (option 1). The layout of my room is very similar to yours, and one of my rear speakers is farther away from the MLP than the other. When you run the setup on your Denon, it will compensate for this by bumping up the volume on one of the surrounds.

It is also recommended that the rears be mounted above ear level.

Thanks, tsaville! Should the speakers be tilted at all, either on the horizontal plane (i.e. towards the center of the room) or on the vertical plane (i.e. towards the floor)?
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Also, if I go with option #1 (mounting the rear surrounds to the sidewalls, facing each other), should I place them as far towards the back wall as possible?
post #5 of 15
Since your couch is right up against the rear wall, mounting the surrounds either on the side or rear wall would work, so long as they are angled to face the MLP if mounted on the rear wall. The surrounds are meant to be parallel to the MLP, or a little bit behind.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tezster View Post

Since your couch is right up against the rear wall, mounting the surrounds either on the side or rear wall would work, so long as they are angled to face the MLP if mounted on the rear wall. The surrounds are meant to be parallel to the MLP, or a little bit behind.

Thanks, tezster. I'm leaning towards mounting them on the sidewalls, at the very back. If I do that, should the surrounds just point directly forward (i.e. towards each other and towards the MLP), or should they point towards the center of the room?
post #7 of 15
Since you have bookshelves i.e. direct radiating speakers, they should point towards the MLP.
post #8 of 15
In an HT surround system, diffusion is one goal for the surrounds. If these are direct-radiating speakers, don't aim them directly at the listeners. Letting the sound reflect off the back wall and/or the ceiling can actually help, an effect that can sometimes be achieved well enough just by corner-mounting.

If a system is used much for multichannel music (eg, 5.1 SACD etc.), this diffusion can work against you, and compromise is necessary.

PS: Just to be pedantic, you're talking about the "surround speakers." The "rear surrounds" or "back surrounds" are the additional channels in a 7.1 system. This distinction can matter when people mistakenly connect their surround speakers to the "rear surround" terminals on their AVRs.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdclark View Post

In an HT surround system, diffusion is one goal for the surrounds. If these are direct-radiating speakers, don't aim them directly at the listeners. Letting the sound reflect off the back wall and/or the ceiling can actually help, an effect that can sometimes be achieved well enough just by corner-mounting.

If a system is used much for multichannel music (eg, 5.1 SACD etc.), this diffusion can work against you, and compromise is necessary.

PS: Just to be pedantic, you're talking about the "surround speakers." The "rear surrounds" or "back surrounds" are the additional channels in a 7.1 system. This distinction can matter when people mistakenly connect their surround speakers to the "rear surround" terminals on their AVRs.

Thanks, rdclark - and you're absolutely right, I do mean the "surround speakers" and not the "rear surrounds." I forgot about that.

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?
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by limsilas View Post


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.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdclark View Post

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.

Yeah, I also wish the couch did not have to be right up against the back wall - but with such a "narrow" room, I fear it's not avoidable.

Okay, then I will mount relatively high (maybe 3 feet above seated ear level), aim in towards the center of the room, and tilt down slightly towards the floor.

And I would love to experiment with speaker-placement in the real world, but this is for a new place that I haven't yet moved into, and my contractor is willing to layout the speaker wire for free since I am having other work done to the living room - only catch is I have to give him my speaker placements by tomorrow!
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by limsilas View Post

Yeah, I also wish the couch did not have to be right up against the back wall - but with such a "narrow" room, I fear it's not avoidable.

Okay, then I will mount relatively high (maybe 3 feet above seated ear level), aim in towards the center of the room, and tilt down slightly towards the floor.

And I would love to experiment with speaker-placement in the real world, but this is for a new place that I haven't yet moved into, and my contractor is willing to layout the speaker wire for free since I am having other work done to the living room - only catch is I have to give him my speaker placements by tomorrow!

Isn't the couch facing the screen the primary seating? Why aim the speakers (a) away from the primary seating and (b) away from any nearby reflective surfaces that could help diffuse the sound? It seems like your plan is to aim them directly at an empty space where nobody will ever sit, and to create as little diffusion as possible.

If anything, I would move them a foot towards the front of the room and aim them slightly back towards the back wall, and even a little upwards, so that you'll diffuse the sound off the back wall and the ceiling. Failing that, just aim them straight across -- right at each other -- and mount them close to the ceiling.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdclark View Post

Isn't the couch facing the screen the primary seating? Why aim the speakers (a) away from the primary seating and (b) away from any nearby reflective surfaces that could help diffuse the sound? It seems like your plan is to aim them directly at an empty space where nobody will ever sit, and to create as little diffusion as possible.

If anything, I would move them a foot towards the front of the room and aim them slightly back towards the back wall, and even a little upwards, so that you'll diffuse the sound off the back wall and the ceiling. Failing that, just aim them straight across -- right at each other -- and mount them close to the ceiling.

Yes, the couch facing the screen is the primary seating. Earlier you stated to not aim directly-radiating speakers towards the listener, so as to better achieve diffusion. But you make an interesting point about utilizing the corner to bounce sound off one wall and the ceiling.

So mounting surrounds near the ceiling isn't "too high"?

If it's not too high, then I will plan to mount to the sidewalls, high up towards the ceiling, and almost against the back wall. Then, I can play around with swiveling the surrounds a little bit towards the back wall, and tilting them up a little bit towards the ceiling. Thanks!
post #14 of 15
Unless you and your family are freakishly tall, a speaker aimed at a point 8 feet above the floor is not aimed at a seated listener. smile.gif

Assuming you are not using ported speakers or some other design that requires some minimum spacing from the nearest wall, then yes, aim 'em high and place them near the back wall. The direct sound from the nearer speaker will pass mostly over your heads and you'll hear a diffused mix of reflections, and more of the direct sound from the speaker farther from you. The result will be the kind of surround ambience you hear in a theater. Obviously, don't do this if that's not the result you want.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdclark View Post

Assuming you are not using ported speakers or some other design that requires some minimum spacing from the nearest wall, then yes, aim 'em high and place them near the back wall. The direct sound from the nearer speaker will pass mostly over your heads and you'll hear a diffused mix of reflections, and more of the direct sound from the speaker farther from you. The result will be the kind of surround ambience you hear in a theater. Obviously, don't do this if that's not the result you want.

That sounds - pun intended! - exactly like the result I would like. However, I do believe the BS22s are ported - there is a "big hole" in the back, and I think the specifications state they should be at least 6 inches from the wall. But other AVSers seem to wall-mount them just how I plan to...and the mount I plan to use (Pinpoint AM-40B) gives at least a bit of breathing room for the speakers.

I hope the wall clearance will not be an issue for these speakers.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Speakers
AVS › AVS Forum › Audio › Speakers › Rear surround speaker placement: side walls or back wall?