Questions about placing surround speakers


Dec 20, 2006
Real Name
Kevin Deaton
I am brand new to the world of home theater and I'm not sure the best way to position my surround speakers in a 5.1 system. For a reference here is the equipment I currently have:
Receiver- Denon 2807
DVD- Sony DVP-NC85 (planning to upgrade soon)
Front mains- B&W 604 s3
Center channel- B&W LCR 600 s3
Sub- B&W ASW675 (probably should have done more research before buying)
Surround- B&W FP2

I do not have a dedicated theater room so the system is in my family room. This created a problem with placing the surround speakers because there is only one side wall which is mostly windows and the other side of the room opens into the kitchen. When I wired the house for speakers during construction I placed the speaker wire about 8.5' up on the back wall of the room.

Currently I have my speakers mounted at this 8.5' height on the back wall which is about 5 feet behind my main listening position firing straight ahead. With this setup I don't feeling like I am getting the best sound envelope out of the rear speakers. Do you think that angling the speakers down toward the listening area would help? I really don't have the option of moving the speakers to the sides of my listening area (which would require ceiling mounts) unless I am willing to sacrifice some marital bliss. The only other option I can think of is swapping out the speakers for the B&W DS-6 s3 which are bipolar. The shop I bough my speakers from told me that bipolars are not really needed for installations that require the surrounds to be on the back wall, but we all know that salesman are not always the most knowledgeable.

I look forward to any advice you can give me. Sorry for the long winded first post.



Senior HTF Member
Aug 22, 2000
Real Name
Pointing them down will help a lot. As well as setting the levels properly with an SPL meter.



Bounded In a Nutshell
Senior HTF Member
Jun 20, 2000
A Mile High
Real Name
Bipolars really are intended for use directly to the sides (or possibly slightly behind) the listening position. That is usually the ideal setup, but not always possible or acceptable to the "boss". So, the salesman is right on that one. The first thing I would do is get a calibration disc, an SPL meter from Rs and properly calibrate the output of all channels. That may mostly solve your dissatisfaction. You can adjust the monitor at the same time. Don't use an internal signal generator to calibrate the output. A disc gives a more "real world" result.

I personally don't think aiming the surrounds down/in is the first thing to do, but you could always try. Just don't aim them directly at the main listening point. Put them somewhere in between. Regardless, I would try proper calibration first. Also, some people prefer the surrounds set somewhat louder than the "correct" setting.

Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
Your receiver has a setting that allows you to add/subtract some volume to the center and each rear speaker. Grab your manual, find the setting and bump the level up a bunch.

You will need to find this setting to use the sound-meter and level-adjust your speakers anyway.

If you DO play with moving the angle of the rear speaker (or any of your speakers), do this:
  • Use a laser-pen held along side the speaker cabinent to see where it is pointing. You may be shocked at how far off you have things just by eyeballing it.
  • Get a copy of Avia or Digital Video Essentials and a Radio Shack SPL meter (analog if you can find it). These setup DVD's have tutorials on how to use the SPL meter to calibrate things.
  • Every time you turn a speaker to a new position, use the SPL meter to re-adjust the level. Otherwise you might skip a superior position just because of a volume shift.
  • After leveling, get a favorite effects-heavy scene on a DVD in a A->B loop, turn off the TV and listen. This will allow you to focus on the sound.
  • John made a good point: While we strive for accuracy, dont be afraid to bump the rear (or the subwoofer) volume up a bit past level if you like the effect. But use the SPL meter to get everything leveled first.

Hope this helps.

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