How to Properly Place your Front LCR Speakers in a Home Theater

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator


Integrating main loudspeakers into a home will always involve at least some compromise. This article explores this topic and also gives you guidelines on proper speaker selection, placement and set up.

The biggest mistake enthusiasts often make is placing a horizontal center channel below the screen. This is especially problematic for installs with more than one row of seating.

Ever wonder the real reason your speakers sound better when positioning them away from the back wall? We discuss this too.

Read: Tips for Proper Front LCR Speaker Placement and Configuration to Maximize Performance

Please share pictures of your home theater LCR set up in the thread below and let us know what compromises (if any) you had to make in your layout for it work in your particular listening space.
 
TheWarrior

TheWarrior

Audioholic Ninja
Kind of on topic, whom else is utilizing an all Scan Speak driver arrangement? I know their tweeters are revered, but those pulp fiber cones seem to have been largely ignored in the mass market.
 
Z

Zizik

Audiophyte
I always prefered vertically oriented center speakers and that's why I stuck with a B&W Matrix front soundstage with 805 (and later 803S2) and HTM for more than fifteen years.
Then, in 2008, began my search for something more powerful which after a few not very successful attempts with speakers from B&W and others, led in 2012 to three identical Focal Twin6 Be active speakers combined with my old Pioneer and in 2014 with a Yamaha CX-A5000. Four Focal Solo active surrounds along with two SVS PB13 Ultra subs complete the living room HT in a corner.
My 137" CIH screen is not perforated as every one that I viewed had moiré effect which I can't stand, so I had to tilt the center with a custom made adjustable stand to avoid early reflections from the floor. A carpet helped a lot, as did some absorbing treatment around the screen and on the left side.
I did initially place the speakers horizontally below the screen just to check, but the soundstage was very narrow and low as was expected. :)

I unfortunately don't have enough posts to attach a photo or a link.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I have to say Gene, that I have posted with just these views for years now.

The center does end up to be a problem with TV screens. You have placement issues plus aesthetics. The you have the space power problem. The just as important what is the optimal radiation pattern?

I agree that the most common horizontal MTM arrangement does leave you with a very compromised system. The radiation pattern is the opposite of everything desired.

One aspect you did not get into, was the interaction of the front three. In most domestic situations the speakers end up too close together. This can and does lead to interference between the speakers. In addition the reflections from the screen are a potential problem.

If aesthetics permit, I agree that the center is best above the screen, but this does leave the speaker too high. However I agree, better too high than too low. The height does have the advantage of broadcasting the dialog over the whole theater.

In my case having identical three front speakers would have been impractical. However my researches showed three identical speakers not to be the optimal solution.

In my view a coaxial or a good full ranger (the latter is a problem) is the best solution. This allows a radiation pattern covering the listening area and minimized speaker interference. The single sound source can be placed very close to the screen and the solution absolutely keeps voices locked to the screen.

So I deigned this little though wall center TL for the SEAS coaxial drivers.



It is installed to face the listening area.



This is the finished result.



The lower driver is crossed at 2.8 KHz and the upper driver carries BSC actively. With the protrusion from the wall BSC is required and those drivers seem to have an roll off in addition below 500 Hz. I did eventually create a network, that was far too much work to flatten the response irregularity in the 9 KHz region and flatten the response to 20 KHz. This utilizes the tweeter in the upper driver. If you put your ear to this tweeter you don't hear a lot from it, but the improvement is subtle and worthwhile and aids speech intelligibility.

The front sound stage is very stable and if you play all three mono they sound identical as you move across. I watch a lot of operas and they are no changes in the quality or the timbre of the voices as they move about the stage.

I have been very pleased with this center speaker. It has really good vocal quality that is uniform over the listening area for voice spoken and sung.



Now the system at our other residence that also contains a center speaker.





Now this is a Condo with a couple of shared walls, so I have to be careful.

Now this is a difficult room as the fireplace is opposite the screen. This makes for an unusual seating arrangement.



Initially I just installed a rudimentary system here. However my wife was adamant that something better was required.

Since the seats are at the margins of the right and left speakers a center would be desirable.

The main speaker look line 2.5 ways, but they actually are 3.5 ways, as there a couple of Morel 9" sub drivers in each cabinet.

The tweeters a Scanspeak crossed in at 3 KHz and the mid/bass drivers are Dynaudio high power extended range drivers. Each is in its own sealed enclosure. Extension is to 90 Hz. The bass units are coupled cavity isobarik, with one sealed and one ported compartment. 3db points are 27 Hz and 90 Hz. For this bandwidth I had to settle for a Q of 0.7. This obviously won't knock the house down, but in the confines of this condo the bass is more than adequate.

So what to do about the center? There is not much space, so I used one of my 4" Jordan Watts aluminum full range drivers. In that box, response extends to 90 Hz where there are crossed over. This little drivers have a very smooth extended response with zero peaked sudden break up modes. They are bend by design, and the cone is basically a tractrix piece of foil. The radiating area decreases linearly as frequency increases.



The result is excellent with clear dialog locked to the screen and another excellent blend with the mains!

I sent one of these drivers to fuzz and he built a sealed enclosure to my spec and was astonished as was Walter Dubuque who heard it there. I have never known anyone not astonished by these little drivers.

These appeared in 1959 and have proved that excellent wide band drivers are possible. Unfortunately most have ignored that fact.

Power is Quad 909 to the left and right top ends, a Quad 405 II on the bass section and one channel of a Quad 405 II on the center.

Then there is the possibility of no center.



In this confined area the lack is center is no problem. This is mainly a music system.

Speakers are three way, with two external subs.



Crossovers 400 Hz and 4 KHz. The excellent Dynaudio D76 covers the whole speech discrimination and speech is excellent.

In my view the advent of HT has made us up our game in many ways. I have included a TV in the mix since the invention of the VHS recorder.

In my view a speaker that can not reproduce natural speech is a lousy speaker period. Too many speakers fail right on this issue.
 
A

adidino

Audiophyte
Love the article Paul. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.
I've posted this around before. Here's a pic behind my AT screen. Matching LCR behind the screen was the single most significant upgrade I made in my theater.


I
11004570_10206502689744868_1502980361569173226_o.jpg
 
nathan_h

nathan_h

Audioholic Intern
so glad to see the center speaker regaining it's rightful place! for a single listener, a phantom center can be good. for multiple seats, do it right: same height, same model, as the L & R.

love the AT screen in the article. it really is a TINY compromise compared with poor placement or avoiding a center speaker altogether.
 
Paul Scarpelli

Paul Scarpelli

Audio Pragmatist
Kind of on topic, whom else is utilizing an all Scan Speak driver arrangement? I know their tweeters are revered, but those pulp fiber cones seem to have been largely ignored in the mass market.
I've been using three Gold Monitors from Triad with all-Scan drivers for ten years in my theater, and as much of a hobbyist as I am, I am not tempted to replace them. In my office, the front three speakers also use Scan-Speak drivers, as well. In my 2-channel room...Triad Gold MiniMonitors with 7" Scan-Speak woofers and Seas T27 tweeters. You might say I like them...
 
Paul Scarpelli

Paul Scarpelli

Audio Pragmatist
Love the article Paul. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.
I've posted this around before. Here's a pic behind my AT screen. Matching LCR behind the screen was the single most significant upgrade I made in my theater.


IView attachment 15037
Thanks, Tony. In case you can't tell what those speakers are, they're Triad InRoom Platinum LCRs. They use four Scan-Speak drivers and a premium Seas tweeter, have 94 dB sensitivity, they'll handle 500 watt peaks, and they still resolve detail and low-level information. Although it's not the only way to go, I am a big proponent of a projector with an AT screen and three really good front speakers. I used Platinum LCRs in my theater for three years until I got my Gold Monitors. The Monitors are probably better for my room which is 2,000 cubic feet.
 
Paul Scarpelli

Paul Scarpelli

Audio Pragmatist
so glad to see the center speaker regaining it's rightful place! for a single listener, a phantom center can be good. for multiple seats, do it right: same height, same model, as the L & R.

love the AT screen in the article. it really is a TINY compromise compared with poor placement or avoiding a center speaker altogether.
I agree with you, Nathan.
 
ahblaza

ahblaza

Audioholic Field Marshall
I have all three identical speakers up front with the center vertical. My 65" TV is mounted on the wall and all speakers are the same height with tweeters at ear level. My room is 13' wide and I have my mains approximately 2' from the edges of the TV. They are 3.5 feet from front wall and 9' apart. My question is should I move them further out from front wall and move the mains closer together so they will be closer than 2' from edges of TV? They are also about 1.5' from side walls.
Thank you.
Cheers Jeff
 
Paul Scarpelli

Paul Scarpelli

Audio Pragmatist
I have all three identical speakers up front with the center vertical. My 65" TV is mounted on the wall and all speakers are the same height with tweeters at ear level. My room is 13' wide and I have my mains approximately 2' from the edges of the TV. They are 3.5 feet from front wall and 9' apart. My question is should I move them further out from front wall and move the mains closer together so they will be closer than 2' from edges of TV? They are also about 1.5' from side walls.
Thank you.
Cheers Jeff
I can't tell without a picture, but I wouldn't pull the speakers out more than 3.5'. Avoid having the woofers in your front speakers the same distance from the floor and the side/and/or front wall. Also, consider acoustical treatment next to the left and right fronts because of the proximity to the side walls, and also behind the speakers on your front wall. I don't know how far back you sit, either, but if you're 8' to 12' back, you're okay.
 
ahblaza

ahblaza

Audioholic Field Marshall
I can't tell without a picture, but I wouldn't pull the speakers out more than 3.5'. Avoid having the woofers in your front speakers the same distance from the floor and the side/and/or front wall. Also, consider acoustical treatment next to the left and right fronts because of the proximity to the side walls, and also behind the speakers on your front wall. I don't know how far back you sit, either, but if you're 8' to 12' back, you're okay.

Thanks Paul, I have some treatment on the side walls but need to put some on the front wall. All woofers are not equal distances to the boundaries you mentioned and I do sit in the 8-12' range. So from your reply I should be OK, just need to add some front wall treatment. My subs are up front as well which are dual opposed drivers so any specific panels or treatment you may want to suggest. Thanks for the reply.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I have all three identical speakers up front with the center vertical. My 65" TV is mounted on the wall and all speakers are the same height with tweeters at ear level. My room is 13' wide and I have my mains approximately 2' from the edges of the TV. They are 3.5 feet from front wall and 9' apart. My question is should I move them further out from front wall and move the mains closer together so they will be closer than 2' from edges of TV? They are also about 1.5' from side walls.
Thank you.
Cheers Jeff
I think you are fine, especially as you listen to a lot of music. If you just are a film enthusiast, then moving the speakers close to the TV, to avoid the sound stage being bigger than the video stage is OK.

However, that spacing is too close for a 65" TV. If you do that you will degrade your stereo listening. Speakers too close is one of Linkwitz's pet peeves and I agree.

For most stereo pairs a 10' to 12' placement is optimal. I think you are plenty far from the side walls. I would experiment actually placing the speakers 10' apart.

With my first 50" screen the audio video discrepancy was a bit disconcerting. With the 65" it works fine, as at my viewing distance the edges of the screen are getting into peripheral vision territory.

I like a nice wide deep sound stage anyway, and want to get as close to concert hall/opera house illusion as possible.

Talking of that the sloped fronts of my mains was a good idea. I have to admit that was another idea, I stole from the late John Wright of TDL.

It screens off the back wall and provides multiple reflections from the rear radiation, not just one.

It works like a charm and those speakers produce a glorious and realistic sound stage.

By the way, the influence and heritage of John Wright in those dual TL mains is massive and I appreciate his work and influence daily.
 
whatthedileo

whatthedileo

Audiophyte
SP32-02022015-101456.jpg
The LCR setup in my 11.2 surround system is a lesson in "Don't do this at Home". I've 'stacked' all three channels with qty(2) speakers wired in parallel for each channel. And my dual center channels are horizontal! I've gone through multiple iterations of center speaker configs: three different Phantom speakers (6.2, 525c, and 8.3) and two orientations (vert & horiz). The current/final LCR setup is very pleasing and natural, and I expect further improvement when I treat the walls (I'm having them carpeted). I've never experienced any kind of combing/lobing artifact during a movie.

I do wish I could have the center channel stack vertically oriented, like my L-R, but I made the compromise so I could keep my 60" plasma in the system for casual viewing. For movies, a 125" screen drops down in front of the LCR.

I got the 'stacking' idea because I have an extensive collection of Acoustic Research Phantom speakers that I've been buying up from eBay for well over a decade. I looked into it and found that in the 70's people stacked Advent speakers with dramatic results. So although I was aware of predicted combing interference I wanted to try it. Because I knew if I could overcome the concerns I would have copious amounts of headroom. My XPA-3 outputs up to 330wpc @ 4ohms, which is the observed load. I have angled the tweeters on the L-R's, so the bottom one is toed-in and the upper is firing straight ahead. The Phantom 8.3 is a 3-way on-wall speaker with 8" woofer, 3" mid and 1" tweeter. Crossed over at 80Hz, the Phantom 8.3's never break a sweat. All other speakers in the Phantom line are toys by comparison, and best suited for surround duties.
 
Last edited:
djembeman

djembeman

Enthusiast
Sorry, if I am posting to an old thread.

I have been building my home theater since 2013 starting with tearing out existing wood paneling mounted about an inch from the concrete foundation walls and drop ceiling panels. We framed with 2x4s and put drywall up on the walls and ceiling. It made my basement so much nicer. Someone told me that I should have used MDF instead of drywall for sound properties, but it was too late. I did use regular pink insulation in all walls and ceiling, which seems to help compared to a friends house that did not insulate between floors.

Anyway, I pre-wired my home theater/ family room for 9.2 channel audio using blue "smurf tube" and 5 way binding post outlets. I started out with a 7.2 Onkyo TX-NR737 receiver with the intent to upgrade to a 9.2 receiver later. 3 days ago (4.5 years later) I finally got my 9.2 Onkyo TX-RZ830 and love it (of course right before Onkyo sent me an offer to buy one for $500, I paid $670). Current speaker configuration is 7.1.2 with front height speakers mounted to the ceiling directly above my front left and right towers.

I currently have a decently sized TV stand/cabinet to hold my electronics and my center channel sits on top of it. Since I'm reading that the horizontal center channel speaker is a compromise, I wonder if it would be better to have two separate equipment racks on the left and right of a matching center tower. I don't have space for an equipment rack that is completely out of sight or out of the way. My TV is wall mounted and I think it would fit a tower speaker underneath it. If not a tower speaker, I could fit a matching bookshelf speaker on a stand in the middle. This sounds like it should work. What is interesting is that I replaced my Infinity Primus Center channel speaker with an Elac Uni-Fi C5 center speaker and it matches my Infinity Primus P363 towers better than the "matching" center. I never liked the sound of the Infinity Primus center and always had to crank it up about +5-7 on the receiver to hear dialogue. On the old receiver I still had to crank the Elac center, but it is a much better speaker so it sounds better. It even blends better. I wonder if the "concentric" design eliminates the problems of a horizontal center. The tweeter is in the middle of the midrange driver. I love the sound of my Primus towers and worry about purchasing an "upgrade" because I really do love them. They were only $150 each!!! When I go to stores to listen to speakers I don't like the sounds I'm hearing. Bowers and Wilkins and SVS Prime towers were too bright and harsh to my ears. I do believe it could have been due to the McIntosh receiver they were driving the speakers with, but they sounded terrible to my ears. Home audition might be the only way to figure it out, but I don't want to go through all of the shipping back and forth business. I'll just need to ask them to play using other A/V receivers and see if I hear what I want to hear. I will try to update this post with pictures and what I find for equipment racks.

ONKYO TX-RZ830 9.2 Receiver
HSU VTF-2 MK5 subwoofer
Infinity Primus P363 Left/Right Towers
Elac Uni-FI C5 Center
Infinity Primus P153 Left/Right Surrounds
Fluance XLBP Bipolar Rear Surrounds
NHT SuperZero Satellite front heights
 
R

Rajat_497

Audiophyte


Integrating main loudspeakers into a home will always involve at least some compromise. This article explores this topic and also gives you guidelines on proper speaker selection, placement and set up.

The biggest mistake enthusiasts often make is placing a horizontal center channel below the screen. This is especially problematic for installs with more than one row of seating.

Ever wonder the real reason your speakers sound better when positioning them away from the back wall? We discuss this too.

Read: Tips for Proper Front LCR Speaker Placement and Configuration to Maximize Performance

Please share pictures of your home theater LCR set up in the thread below and let us know what compromises (if any) you had to make in your layout for it work in your particular listening space.


I am attaching the drawing for the master bedroom. Need 5.1/7.1 setup in this. I would be going for a Projector Screen on the front wall (Bathroom Door), marked it in the attachment. I have no space left for the center speaker which is the most important one in a surround setup.

What would be an innovative way to place my LCRs? In wall left right would be good, for center should I go for ceiling? Or is it better to go for ceiling LCRs with angled speakers? Or any other innovative solution?

Do help out!
 

Attachments

R

Rajat_497

Audiophyte


Integrating main loudspeakers into a home will always involve at least some compromise. This article explores this topic and also gives you guidelines on proper speaker selection, placement and set up.

The biggest mistake enthusiasts often make is placing a horizontal center channel below the screen. This is especially problematic for installs with more than one row of seating.

Ever wonder the real reason your speakers sound better when positioning them away from the back wall? We discuss this too.

Read: Tips for Proper Front LCR Speaker Placement and Configuration to Maximize Performance

Please share pictures of your home theater LCR set up in the thread below and let us know what compromises (if any) you had to make in your layout for it work in your particular listening space.
I am attaching the drawing for the master bedroom. Need 5.1/7.1 setup in this. I would be going for a Projector Screen on the front wall (Bathroom Door), marked it in the attachment. I have no space left for the center speaker which is the most important one in a surround setup.

What would be an innovative way to place my LCRs? In wall left right would be good, for center should I go for ceiling? Or is it better to go for ceiling LCRs with angled speakers? Or any other innovative solution?

Do help out!
 

Attachments

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
I am attaching the drawing for the master bedroom. Need 5.1/7.1 setup in this. I would be going for a Projector Screen on the front wall (Bathroom Door), marked it in the attachment. I have no space left for the center speaker which is the most important one in a surround setup.

What would be an innovative way to place my LCRs? In wall left right would be good, for center should I go for ceiling? Or is it better to go for ceiling LCRs with angled speakers? Or any other innovative solution?

Do help out!
In your case, I would just skip the center speaker. No center speaker would be better than a very poorly placed center, and a ceiling-mounted center would be a very poorly placed center indeed. The left and right speakers can carry center speaker duties just fine, and the only caveat to a system like that is that sound will not be anchored to the screen if you are listening in an off-axis. It should be just fine otherwise.
 

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