Should Surround Speakers Be Angled Down or Not?
In a 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, or any speaker system or setup, should surround speakers be angled down? You may have come across several surround sound angling degrees online but how true are they? Let us find out.
Angle your surround sound channels at about 90 to 110 degrees for optimal impact, relative to your listening position. Thus, the surround sound channel should be 10-20 degrees slightly behind your ears.
The catch is that nobody knows what or how you want to listen to audio. Try angling the surround channels in different ways until you get them to sound the best way. Test up to 3-4 positions during a movie for the best-sounding angle.
Should surround speakers be angled down?
Angle your surround speakers slightly forward but no angling if they are not 4′ below the listener’s ears. Otherwise, put the surround 2′ above without angling them down.
You must also take your speakers being monopoles, dipoles, bipoles, or other iterations into consideration.
If the surround speakers are monopoles, angle them towards the listening position. If they are other multipolar speaker iterations, run an experiment to discover the angle that sounds best.
Your surround speakers are built to create a spacious sense in the room. In a 5.1, for example, you want the surround sound configuration placed behind or slightly to the listening position.
Atmos in the ceiling
With Atmos in the ceiling, position your surround channel above the ear level. You can angle it with additional height if there is no ceiling at the top so that it is not difficult to differentiate between both systems.
For wide speakers, it is optimal to place the surround speaker at about 60 degrees off-axis, relative to the primary listening position.
Surround speaker placement in 5.1 and 7.1 systems
For your 5.1 or 7.1 speaker setup, consider the arrangement below:
Side surround speakers
For the side speakers, in a 5-channel system, for instance, mount the side surround speakers about 90-110 degrees off-axis.
The height of the tweeter should be about 2 feet above the level of the ear to gain a sense of spaciousness. Ensure to space the surround speakers from the front speakers, facing them towards the listener.
Rear surround speakers
In a 7.1 speaker setup, place the dedicated rear surround speakers behind your primary seating position to get improved rear panning effects.
Dolby recommends placing the rear surround speakers at 135-150 degrees off-axis, relative to the primary listening position.
Place the rear surround tweeters about 2 feet above the ear level of the listener, same as the side surround speaker configuration.
The thumb rule is to place the surround sound speaker directly to the right and left of the listeners at the back. If you have a single couch, like many households, place the surround speaker slightly behind it.
The idea is to avoid directing the speaker at the listener’s ear so that it does not compete against the front speakers, which is also why they are called surrounds.
Surround speakers at ear level in 5.1 and 7.1 speaker systems
In a 5.1 and 7.1 surround speaker system, it is recommended to position the speakers 1-2 feet above ear level.
Dolby currently refers to your 5-channel or 7-channel surround speakers as “being at listener level” since the introduction of Dolby Atmos audio. Thus, Dolby suggests positioning the surrounds at the ear level of the listener.
If you have dipoles or bipoles, the positioning may not be much of a problem because they generally diffuse sound. Otherwise, for monopoles, you place them above ear level on the wall, which is also what you find in most 5.1 schematics.
As mentioned above, your rear surrounds should give a sense of spaciousness and fill the void. Positioning them directly at ear level can conflict or overpower the fronts, which is why you keep them 2-3 feet above ear level.
In a non-Atmos speaker system, elevate the surround speakers at some height between the ceiling and ear level for optimal compromise between heights and surrounds. But in an Atmos system, move the surround speakers closer to ear level to create better separation from the ceiling speakers and height.
Surround speaker placement in 9.1 and 11.1 systems
The audio world gets to experience wide and height presence channels in the advent of 9- and 11-channel surround sound processors. This development also enhances immersion and spaciousness in the sound stage.
The use of an upconverting algorithm (Dolby ProLogic Iiz, Audyssey DSX, and DTS Neo:X) in the processor of the surround sound is required in the use of Wide or Height speakers. This is because only 7.1 surround systems support Blu-ray formats.
Angling down your surround speakers
If you are angling your surround speakers, position them slightly forward. And as mentioned earlier, only angle the surrounds down if lower than 4′ below the ear level. Otherwise, position the surround 2′ above without angling down.
To angle down or not to angle down your surround speakers also depends on the height relative to your MLP (Main Listening Position) and your distance from them.
The height of your seated head should be the ideal height. Nonetheless, you can position the surrounds higher to prevent other listeners from blocking the output. Keeping it at this height also reduces the output localization and adds more dispersion.
In essence, only raise the surrounds one or two feet above the heads of sitting listeners. If the surrounds are positioned too high, you will lose localization output. But angling them towards the main listening position can restore this loss a bit.
You do not want the surround speakers firing directly at you, it will also conflict with the fronts. Just lower them instead of angling to compensate.
Angling surround speakers to point at listeners
The key to this is experimentation, which lets you decide if it sounds better for surround sound to point directly at the audio listener.
When you point surrounds at the listener, the sound becomes more directed. At ear level, there will be a more diffuse sound but this may not be the case with direct radiators.
The directness of the sound also depends on the closeness to your seating area. If the surround speakers are very close, angling them might be just too directional.
If the speakers are about 9 ft or more away, the sound has the time to naturally diffuse before reaching the listener.
Consider not pointing the speakers directly at the listener. At least a few feet above the head level is okay and even recommended. Besides, surrounds are not supposed to be direct but create a spacious sound that surrounds and immerses the listener.
Bipole vs dipole placement influence
Throughout this publication, you have seen that having bipole or dipole surround speakers does not really require angling. The reason is that the bipole and dipole speaker designs provide the needed ambient sound.
In a 5.1 surround system, for example, you place the bipole speakers directly behind the listener’s position, i.e., point them towards the front speakers.
Position the surrounds about 1-2 feet above the listener, which could be slightly wider or in line with the fronts. If this is not possible, position the surrounds directly on either side. That should be 90 degrees to the position of the listener, also 1-2 feet above the listener.
For dipoles, 90 degrees on either side of the listener’s position is the correct place. The surrounds will now face the front and back, and not at the position of the listener. Remember to also keep them 1-2 feet above the head of the listener.
An advantage of bipoles over dipoles is that their positioning is more flexible. Meanwhile, bipoles are also called bipolar speakers.
Best surround sound system to buy
This section of the publication unveils the recommended surround speakers you need for your apartment. It is also up to you to decide if angling them is worth it, depending on how you love to listen to audio.
Consider buying any of the following surround sound systems:
Bobtot home theater system surround sound speakers – 800 Watts 6.5-inch subwoofer
This Bobtot surround system is just a perfect price for its high-quality professional performance. The features below contribute to it being a capable surround sound system:
This is a 5.1 channel surround sound with two modes, including 5.1 and 2.1 channels. You can switch between modes using the remote control.
This surround sound system reaches up to 800 watts of power. It features a 6.5-inch subwoofer for deep bass and a built-in receiver capable of professional, clean, and natural sound quality.
Using the pro surround function, you can independently control the volumes for your subwoofer and each speaker for your cinematic experience.
A perfect surround system with the sound you need, especially with the correct angling. The subwoofers are thoughtfully built for clear, crisp, and deep immersive bass. You do not also hear discernible distortion or rattling even when the volume or gain is high.
A 5.0 Bluetooth support to give you a wireless surround sound experience. You can connect your speaker system to any device with a Bluetooth module.
Fluance Elite high definition 2-Way bipolar surround speakers
This Fluance Elite surround system provides wide dispersion surround sound. Other features up for your experience include the following:
Welcome to bipolar radiation, which allows optimum surround imaging irrespective of the angle you position your surrounds. The sound effects are cinematic, you hear every footstep and breath just how producers want it.
A pair of 4-inch midrange drivers that improve the cinematic experience when you turn on your home theater.
Combined with the immersive bipolar surrounds, this surround system is able to reproduce movie theater sound and replicate cinematic tones, and soundstage you need.
Whether you angle this surround system or not, its premium components make sure there is serious performance, and the sound remains natural. It also features a smart timbre that matches your systems.
Do what works for you
At this point, you already understand the recommended need to position your surrounds slightly above the head of the listener.
However, setting up your surrounds may not give you the required sound, so you get to explore and discover what works – to angle down the surround speakers or not.
You may be able to improve the immersion on your own doing the following:
- Allow the speakers to break in. If you have a new 5.1 speaker setup, for example, you want the speakers to break in for their full potential. Just keep watching your favorite movies for up to 100 hours of run time for the speakers to break in. Pay attention to the sound quality improvements.
- Complete the calibration process. Some audio or video receivers arrive with a proprietary calibration system or calibrating software like the Audyssey. After calibration, you should notice an improved sound quality. After all the speakers break in, run the calibration again unless it is not necessary if you think the current sound is okay.
- Angle down the surrounds. After a complete break in and sound calibration, watch a few more of your favorite movies to understand the performance and sound quality. Tilt the surrounds down towards your ear level or primary listening position. Carefully judge the latest positioning for immersion and sound improvement by seeing one or two movie scenes. Scenes with ambient sounds, aerial combats, war, etc., are recommended.
Apart from pointing the speakers towards ear level, or a few inches from above the head, placing it below could be just what you need. If pointing it below ear level enhances the surround sound diffusion, there is your answer.
However, positioning surrounds below ear level can result in the sound hitting any floor object, which alters the sound quality.