New Theater Surround Speaker Placement


Oct 4, 2006
Real Name
I working on the design for our new theater in our new house, the space available is 13' x 23' x 9'. There will be two rows of seating with three seats per row. The first row of seats has the viewers approximately 14.5' away from the 100" 16x9 screen and is on a 9" riser. The second row of seats has the viewers approximately 21.5' away from the screen and the back row is placed against the back wall, and is on a 18" riser. My question is where is the best location for surround speakers and the best type of speaker, ie, direct firing monopole or dipole speakers, and the best configuration, ie 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1? Thanks in advance for any advice.


Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002

If you have two rows, you will have to decide whether to put the surrounds in line with the second row, or the front row, or do an array. Each choice has its compromises, and will depend on how picky you are, and how picky your guests in the second row are.

monopiole and dipole/bipole is a subjective choice.

I would certainly do a 7.1 array if space allows, which it certainly does considering you have two rows.


Second Unit
May 27, 2002

I agree with the above reply. Your room dimensions are very close to mine, and this caused me to make comparisons, and to perhaps suggest some ideas and thoughts that I had.

First, why is your first row elevated? If this is due to some existing room constraints, then so be it. However, understand that raising the first row means you must then raise the second row that much higher, for purposes of sight lines.

Next -- placing the back row close to the back wall is not considered the ideal. In some cases, of course, it cannot be avoided. If this has become necessary due to some existing room constraint, then go ahead, by all means, and just understand that it is a compromise you will try to adjust for. Some sort of compromises are always necessary, no matter what. However, if it is not pre-determined, you might experiment with placements that would move row 2 forward, and also move row 1 forward. I also have 23 feet in length -- (23 feet, 2 inches) and my row 1 is at about 12 feet from the screen. My row 2 has the back of the seats at a full 4 feet from the back wall. This allows row 2 to experience the back surrounds as they are intended to be experienced. I am going with true home theater seating, some Berkline recliners, and I am placing them so that they should have optimal room for a full recline, according to Berkline's own specs and recommendations. If I can do this, using full recliners, then you should be able to as well, assuming there are no other constraints I am not aware of. And, assumign you will install a projector that can do 100 inches and look good for viewers at 12 feet away.

I realize that everything I am posting may be useless, as certain things in any space can "force" things to be placed where you might not originally want to. However, if you have control over these things above, you might consider re-thinking them, or at least make sure you have thought them through.

Finally, Di-pole versus Monopole... I am going with a Monitor Audio Silver Series choice for my speakers, and I have decided to go with a true 7.1 setup from the start. One bonus these speakers have is that all of my surrounds are "switchable." They can be set as either Dipole or Monopole with a simple flip of a switch. I did not choose them for this feature -- I chose them because I loved the sound, and also they have gotten some rave reviews which verified what I thought I was hearing... they are a "best bang for the buck," in their particular price range. I learned that the surrounds could be set either way only later. The four surrounds I bought are "on-wall" speakers, and I could play with setting them equidistant between rows one and two, or perhaps place them for an optimal "sweet spot" for my own seat, and allow others to compromise just a bit.

By the way, for the record... my room is 12 feet 10 inches by 23 feet 2 inches. My ceiling height is much less than yours -- only 7 foot 6 inches. I am going with a 108 inch 16 X 9 screen. I am also going with two rows of Berkline recliners -- three in the front row, and four in the second row. My only riser (for row 2) will be 12 inches high.

I am only having one aisle for access, on the left side. This offsets the room, of course, symmetrically -- an example of a forced compromise, due to some existing architectural constraints. Also, this means that one person in each row will be right up against a wall, which is also an audio compromise, since they will really be way too close to the side surround speakers. Again, a necessary compromise, in my own space. In my comments above, I was hoping to help you avoid the same issue in your own case, with the back surrounds.



Senior HTF Member
Nov 2, 2002
Real Name
My rears are on stands so I've been able to experement with the placement of my rear speakers. I've found that directly behind me is useless as the chair back blocks all of that sound. If the chair backs are below the ear then I'd guess that is not so much a problem. I found that immediately to my left and right and maybe slightly forward was the best for me. I would put yours beside and slightly in advance of the second row.

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