How to set up my 2.1 home theatre so that I can have the better sound quality?

I have bought a 2.1 home theatre system, but I am unable to understand how to set it up in the room for better sound quality. . .


I have connected it. Should I place the woofer at the corner side? Please help.

Speaker and subwoofer placement is actually very important to get the best sound. Where you place speakers in the room will give you large variations in the frequency responce particularly from frequency's below 300 hz.

So the two things speaker placement effect is frequency responce, and soundstaging which is the position of instruments in the stereo field from two speakers. Stereo imaging is not just the position of instruments between the speakers from left to right, but also from front to back.

The goals for a good stereo system is to reproduce the natural tonal balance of instruments, with the least amount of coloration's, and to give a 3 dimensional soundstage. It should give you a good illusion of the artist playing in front of you, and not be reminded you listening to a stereo system but live music. Of course that is were higher end systems come in but even with a budget system that is the goal and you want to get as close to that as possible.

First thing is to play with the main left and right speakers (without the subwoofer in the system) to get the best bass responce from the main speakers. Distances from rear walls effect the quality of bass, and should be played with to get good low bass extension but with good detail. There is ideal speaker placement and then compromises as most people cannot place speaker in a room where they really need to go to get the best sound. Creating close to a equilateral triangle from the sitting position, start with speakers about 8ft apart, and 1/3 into the room from the back wall. Now most people cannot place speakers that far into the room, so then try 1/5th etc. Speakers should be several feet away from corners. Corners are the worst place for speakers or subwoofers as it emphasizes room nodes ( peaks and in the bass responce). Walls and corners increase the amount of bass output, but corners color the bass responce emphasizing certain bass notes. So you will not hear each note clearly and with detail.

Then play with the distance the speakers are apart to so you get good mono content (center image, voices etc) with a good wide image. The distance from the back wall also enhances the depth in the image from front to back so that is another reason it is good to have speakers away from walls.

Then once the main speakers are set and you are getting the best sound you can achieve, you want to hook up the subwoofer set everything to the middle and play with placement and then adjust it to blend seamlessly with the main speakers. All single subwoofer systems the subwoofer should be placed in the middle between the main speakers. One of the biggest misconceptions of subwoofers is that they are omnidirectional and it doesn't matter where you place it. That is 'Completely false”. First bass frequency's are directional all the way down to 30hz where at that point it becomes harder to detect. But even someone with trained ears can detect its position.

The issue is all subwoofers reproduce bass frequency's well above that so the position of the subwoofer is absolutely important. This was a marketing ploy by manufactures so people did not feel limited or intimated by placing a big box in their living rooms.

One limitation to 2.1 systems is that they make the bass frequency's mono. So this effects the soundstaging of instruments in the stereo field. Bass is stereo so ideally two subwoofer is really ideal to get the best sound. For example if a bass player is playing on the left side of the image, and you have the subwoofer in the middle or where ever, the musicians sounds are now be directed to where ever the subwoofer is placed. So it does not give a accurate creation of the placement of instruments in the stereo field. This is true for most instruments with low bass information. It also causes the soundstage to be smaller as it emphasizes instruments in the middle between the main speakers.

So with the single subwoofer in the middle, play with the position from the back wall to get the best bass detail and dynamics, and then play with the low pass so it blends seamlessly with the main speakers. You do not want the main speakers and subwoofer reproducing the same bass frequency's, you want to subwoofer to come in just were the main speakers start to roll off. Then set the level control just to the point where you don't hear the subwoofer. Most people set the levels much to high as it draws attention to the subwoofer, but in reality you don't want it to draw attention to the subwoofer, you want it to just extend and complement the main speakers.

I know its allot to absorb, just take your time, and play a bit with placement and settings and you can have a system that is more enjoyable.


40 years high end audio video specialist

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