© 2010 Steve Feinstein, Atlantic Technology

Today’s question: How do I place my front channel speakers (the L-C-R’s) for the best sound?

What are the rules? Can I break them?

Good questions all, and we’ll give you some good answers.

To start with, remember that the front channel speakers in the Home Theater are there to support the visuals coming from the screen, to form a complete movie experience. The sound and picture have to integrate together seamlessly in order for your brain to accept it all as one convincing, lifelike event.

Here are the rules:

1. The L-C-R speakers should be vertically-aligned with each other within about 18,” and their midrange/tweeter arrays (if they’re 3-ways) or tweeters (if they’re 2-ways) should be at roughly seated ear height—around 40” off the floor. (See figure 1.) That’s ideal. Not coincidentally, that’s where the mids-tweets are for Atlantic’s floorstanding 6200e-8200e LRs.

2. Keep the L-C-R speakers fairly close to the screen, so the sound appears to originate from the picture. If the speakers (especially the Center) are too far away, the sound will seem “disembodied” from the picture. That’s very distracting.

3. If you’re using in-wall speakers, there is NO ACOUSTIC REASON AT ALL that you have to mount the Center speaker horizontally. Over the years, people have gotten used to mounting the C horizontally because a free-standing box speaker looks better when laid down on its side on top of the TV. But once they’re in the wall, you can mount them all vertically and get perfect acoustic alignment, which helps integrate the sound with the picture.

Best of all, Atlantic’s exclusive Directional Vector Control on our in-walls lets you electronically direct the sound down to the listeners, even if the speakers are high on the wall. (See figure 2.)

Here are the rules you can break:

1. If you want to mount the Center in-wall speaker horizontally, feel free to do so, but be aware that any speaker will sound better and have wider, more uniform horizontal dispersion if its drivers are in a VERTICAL line, not horizontal. That’s why we have a rotating mid-tweeter array on our best in-walls, and it’s why our free-standing Center speakers have the tweeter mounted centrally, above the dual woofers. We’re trying to get as close to a vertical alignment as we can, even when the cabinet is horizontal.

2. Our free-standing Center speakers all have an Atlantic exclusive rotating base that allows you to “aim” the Center speaker up or down a considerable angle. Very handy if your Center speaker is mounted more than 18” above or below the L-R speakers. (See figure 3.)

So, to sum things up: Keep ‘em all as close to the same height as practical, try to keep their tweets close to seated ear height, and don’t feel you have to mount an in-wall center-channel speaker horizontally.