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hey,

real quick, im in the basement doing wiring right now... whats the best way to arrange 5.1 speakers, if I remember correctly, there is a triangular positioning type forumula of where they should be? Or, should I just throw them up where they look right? This is for a multipurpose room, and the back of the theater is open to the bar area, so there is no real back wall. TIA
 

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The front speakers should be about the same distance apart as you are away from them. Many people adjust their exact positions and orientations until they provide the best sound.


Ideally, all of speakers would be the same distance from the central listening position. The rear speakers would be at the 120 degree points (30 degrees to the rear from the points directly to your sides). The distances really aren't all that critical: most modern receivers include delay (distance) and volume adjustments for each speaker to make them seem to be the right distance away.


I hope this helps a little.
 

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The problem with 120-degree placement for a single set of surrounds is that it wreaks havoc with side imaging--we simply do not hear stable lateral phantom images. 90 degrees gives the most stable imaging, but at the cost of a large gap in the rear. The 5.1 placement recommended by many experts is 110 degrees, though this is still a compromise. There really is no way to get a completely immersive soundfield with only 5 speakers--there will always be gaps.


But I think only looking at 5.1 is very short-sighted. Since you're doing the wiring anyway, why not plan ahead for 7.1--sides at 90 degrees, rears at 150 degrees? There are already recordings (as well as surround processors) that make use of the additional speakers, and there will only be more. Why obsolete yourself?


Cheers,

Philip Brandes
 

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Philip, thanks for the clarification.


The choice of speaker designs can make a difference, too. Some people have advocated the use of dipoles as surrounds so that the listener tends to hear primarily sounds reflected off the walls, not directly from the speakers. Others perfer "direct radiators", which make the side and rear sounds more directional (or localizable).
 
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