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HOW TO: Set up speakers properly

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Hopefully everyone reading this has at least a 2.0 set of speakers, if not a 2.1, 5.1, 6.1 or greater. I'm going to be touching on a few of these, with more speakers you'll get the idea of placement.

For simplification, there's three types of speakers.

Tweeters - Tweeters are small, don't have much excursion at all, and move ungodly fast. They play the higher notes in music, such as cymbals.

Mid-bass - Mid-bass speakers are usually around 3 inches and up. They hit most of the middle frequencies of music.

Woofer - Woofers are bigger speakers, usually with long excursion, and hit the low notes. For pc audio they usually start at 5 1/4 inch. For car audio that would be a mid-bass

Woofers are omni-directional. They carry their waves in all directions, so placement is not that important.

Tweeters are not omni-directional. They need to be aimed, and aimed properly. I'll get into that here in a second.

Midbass are omni-directional as well. They play lower frequency notes, but not as low as a woofer.

So let's say UPS just dropped you off a nice set of 5.1 speakers. Ima show you how to properly set them up.

We'll start with the center speaker. Put it just about dead center where you sit, aiming down at your face, or level with your face if you want to. Simple enough. If you have a 6.1 set, you're going to be doing the same for it, except it's going to be pointing at the back of your noggin.

Now your front left and right (and your rear left and right). These are going to be mounted at the same height your center channel speaker is, they're either going to be level with your head or facing down if that's not an option, and they're going to be equal distant apart. Why is that you ask? If they aren't, one side could sound louder or quieter than the other. And if you aim the tweeters up or away from you, you're going to lose a good bit of sound quality. Do the same with the rear set of speakers. Aim them towards you, either flat or angled depending on the situation. Make sure they're the same distance apart as the front set, and the same distance from the speaker to you.



Finally, let's put the subwoofer on a hard surface. Why a hard surface? Carpet absorbs sound. A hard surface will reflect sound, giving you a much better sound.

Ok, everything's set up, now what?

Most sound card companies include software to test the 5.1 capabilites. Play it. Realtek for example has a bee that flies around. You should be able to close your eyes and know exactly where that bee is.

Great, everything's set up, let's crank it!!!!!

Wait a second. In a perfect world with perfect power and 100% efficiency and no distortion, that would be great. Never turn the volume up 100 percent. When setting up car audio and setting gains, the volume is set to 3/4. Go no more than 3/4 of the volume. Want it louder? Buy something more powerful. You'll risk breaking something if not.

What if I have a 7.1 system?

Awesome, you're in for a treat! You'll set your front, center, and rear like you normally would. For your sides: Take your distance between your speakers, divide it by two, and add that to the distance of the front or rear set to give the distance of the sides.

For example: Your distance to you and spacing is 4 feet for the fronts, and the rears. 4 / 2 = 2. 4 + 2 = 6. Put the side speakers 6 feet from you, but since they're going in the center, they'll be spaced 2 feet from the front and 2 feet from the rear.
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post #2 of 47
Very nice guide. REP+
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post #3 of 47
It is also a good idea to make sure the speaker resistance (ohms) matches what the amplifier is made for. Can't tell you how many times people have asked me if it is ok to plug their car speakers into a house amp, or mix speaker brands (usually it is a bad idea). Too little resistance can overload/overheat the amp, which can result in a broken amp or a blown speaker channel.

Additionally, you want your speaker wires to be semetrical in relation to one another. For example, your right-rear and left-rear speakers should have the same length of speaker cable, this will ensure they get the same amount of power (longer wire, less power).
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post #4 of 47
Thread Starter 
Thank you. I added 7.1 since it's slightly different with the side speakers.
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post #5 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordikon View Post
It is also a good idea to make sure the speaker resistance (ohms) matches what the amplifier is made for. Can't tell you how many times people have asked me if it is ok to plug their car speakers into a house amp, or mix speaker brands (usually it is a bad idea). Too little resistance can overload/overheat the amp, which can result in a broken amp or a blown speaker channel.

Additionally, you want your speaker wires to be semetrical in relation to one another. For example, your right-rear and left-rear speakers should have the same length of speaker cable, this will ensure they get the same amount of power (longer wire, less power).
Dead on with the first part, sorta. Mixing car audio and home audio is usually a big no-no. Lower impedence means less resistance, more current. A 4 ohm speaker is a higher resistance than a 2 ohm speaker. The 4 ohm speaker gives double the resistance of the 2 ohm speaker, so the power is cut in 1/2 of the 2 ohm speaker.

Most home audio runs at 8, 16, or 6 ohm. Most car audio runs at 4 and 2 ohms.

As far as speaker wire - you're not going to notice a difference with an extra foot or two of wire. Longer runs, yes, because it adds resistance, hence cutting the power output. If you use too small of a gauge of wire, you will hear a difference compared to if you used the proper gauge wire.

I'm glad people are commenting and asking questions on this - I want to give you guys proper information and dispell any wrong information you have gotten in the past.
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post #6 of 47
good guide! thx.
one question, why not 100% volume? just too close to blowing out the speakers or what?
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post #7 of 47
I have my Center Speaker behind me. Is there an issue with that? Because there is no room for it on my desk in front of me... My setup still sounds good though...

Any who,

+ for the sweet guide!
    
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post #8 of 47
Might be a stupid question, but what is the ideal woofer position for a 2.1 system? I currently have it near my feet (only about 1-2 feet away since I don't have room to push my desk out any more). Is there anything better?
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post #9 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by nate911 View Post
Might be a stupid question, but what is the ideal woofer position for a 2.1 system? I currently have it near my feet (only about 1-2 feet away since I don't have room to push my desk out any more). Is there anything better?
Depends on the sound you're going for. For a cheap but more powerful bass effect you point the port-hole (if you have one) toward the wall. However you get a better quality bass by point the port-hole in a direction perpedicular to the way you're facing (aka, right or left). If you want powerful and high quality, you need a better subwoofer. Better subwoofer is somewhat subjective, but usually more power handling is a start. A larger speaker will give you a larger displacement of air which is what creates a large SPL, larger SPL usually means a stronger bass effect. Additionally, the larger the subwoofer is (8" = small, 12" = large), the lower the frequency it will likely output. Lower frequencies will be harder to "hear", which is a good thing, as you don't want to hear your bass, you want to FEEL it. A good subwoofer will let have a crossover built into the box that lets you adjust the frequency to find what is best.

Too much info? Maybe.

Here is another random tip. Copper corrodes when in contact with air, over time. This means your standard copper speaker wire ends will corrode over time and will lose efficiency in transferring electricity to your speakers. If you put a gold-plated air-tight connector on them you can stop this from happing. Radio Shack sells them, regular or Monster-Cable brand. You unscrew the connector, fit in the copper wire, screw the connector back together, which seals the copper wire in, and leaves you with a gold plated wire end, which is built onto the connector. Gold connectors also transfer electricity better, but unless you have a high-end system and a great set of ears you may not notice this.
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post #10 of 47
Would it have to do with my speakers at all? I have the porthole facing me--I have facing the porthole at the wall but I didn't like it...I will have to try perpendicular soon, it is ok to point it towards the computer, right?
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