Where do I Place my Front Speakers?
So your dream of having a stunning clutter free theatre room in your home is coming together.
Are you wondering… where should my speakers be placed?
We’re going to go over exactly what’s needed to get the best sound for your room while respecting the way you want your home to look.
And if you’re concerned about installing in the wrong spot, or you’re thinking they will be expensive to move… don’t stress.
Jensen Speakers are designed to be flexible so you can adjust them after they’re installed to get the best sound for your room. In fact, you’ve probably seen some of our customers install them in many different positions.
This guide will help you understand where to place them and how to adjust them for the best results, whether you’ve installed them already or not.
Note: We’re going to discuss in-wall and in-ceiling speakers specifically. Since home design is high on our priorities, these clutter-free home theatre speakers are the perfect solution.
Where should speakers be placed?
If you’re asking yourself this question, then you’re thinking critically about your new home sound system and that’s the first step to getting the most out of it.
I want to make this as easy to understand as I can. So let’s break everything down into three separate elements:
When you are mindful of all three of those points, you’re covering all bases.
1. Room Design for Front Speakers
What is your existing room like?
Here are the factors that you have to acknowledge before you worry about where your speakers are going to go:
How big is your room? What shape is it?
Clients that I’ve worked with have worried about the size of their room and what speakers will be enough for it. But this is actually much less important than they realise… a pair of JENSEN in-wall or in-ceiling speakers will produce a room-filling sound that will suit a surprisingly large space.
What you do need to know is, a larger room will usually mean you can scoot your listening seat back and separate the speakers a bit more — IF that suits your home design as well.
Where are the obstacles?
Obviously you can’t install your clutter-free in-wall or in-ceiling speakers where there is a window, door, picture rail, or stud. You have to make a note of where all these things are so you know what locations are definitely off the table.
Note: If your room isn’t built yet, then you’re in prime position! Read on to learn where the best place for your speakers will be and have the room built accordingly.
Where is the “gut feeling” spot for your entertainment system?
If you’re standing in your entertainment room, looking around and envisioning what it’s going to be like once it’s all decked out… you probably have that “gut feeling” spot that you feel the TV or speakers should go.
This will be your benchmark. If it’s facing the length of your room AND it’s avoiding unmovable obstacles, it’s a winner.
If you’re planning a lounge set and a TV (or projector screen), you probably have a vision of where you want it. Maybe you already know how big you want your screen to be.
Keep a note of that vision because it’s going to be your compass.
How do you want your room design to look?
Your home is a space you will call your own and you want it to feel perfect. The sound system and theatre room is only a part of that picture.
So I encourage you to keep your home design vision at the top of your mind while your project unfolds.
This is one reason why we’re going with in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, and I’m going to empower you with the exact information you need to get the best sound within your interior design goals.
As you read the rest of this guide and plan your setup, pay attention to things like height, symmetry, and location in relative to other objects (like corners or windows). For example:
- Equal distances from the edge of a screen looks better. (We find 100 mm to 1000 mm is a good range for in wall speakers on either side.)
- Being really close to the edge of a window or some trim looks cluttered, so adding a bit of space can help clean it up.
- Ceiling speakers should have a visually comfortable amount of space around them.
I’ll touch more on these things as I dig into setting them up for the best sound below.
What is the best TV size viewing distance for my room?
You may want to leave room for a larger screen later on — in the last 10 years the most common screen size of our customers has gone from 50” to 75”.
A great guideline for determining the maximum screen size for a room, without straining your eyes to see it, is as follows:
The distance from your TV wall to the back of your viewing seat should be two times the diagonal size of your screen.
So if you have 4 metres from the wall to the back of your seat, the perfect screen will be approximately 2 metres diagonal (that’s a 78” TV).
2. Sound quality
It’s time to unravel the mystery behind this often-asked question.
Where do I put my speakers so that they sound good?
If you’re worried that audio acoustics and speaker placement are magical, “exact science” things that you can really mess up… then take a deep breath because it’s not that complicated.
First what I’m going to do is show you the ideal outcome based on sound quality alone.
Then I’m going to show you how you can adjust it to ensure installability and to keep things looking smart.
Let’s start with your listening positions.
Refer back to your “gut feeling” location for your theatre system. Where did you want to put the seats?
Chances are you wanted to put them in front of the screen and speakers, centered, and back a little bit.
This is perfect. Imagine a spot dead-centre in that seating area, and imagine you’re sitting there.
That’s your ideal seat.
Now imagine you stand up and start walking around the room, hovering in the spaces that you’ll probably be using during parties or day-to-day activities.
Imagine you’d like to have some music playing while you’re in those spaces. Maybe you’re chatting with your spouse, or doing some chores. You’re not 100% focused on the sound but you are enjoying it.
That’s your background listening space.
What we want is the best sound possible for our ideal seat without ruining our background listening space.
Here’s how to do it:
Start with your ideal listening seat. The perfect setup will place your front left and front right speakers at two corners of a perfect, isosceles triangle with your seat at the third corner.
The best height for the speaker will result in the tweeters (the small, dome shaped part of the actual speaker) being at your ear level. It’s usually ideal to have the height centered with the TV screen. Alternatively, you can make the top (or bottom) edge of the speakers in line with the top (or bottom) edge of the TV screen.
You should always keep each in-wall speaker at equal distances
from the sides of your screen. Here you see the three
height options for a clean look.
To toe-in or not toe-in front speakers?
The reason we care about the direction the speakers are pointed is that high frequencies are directional. That means they don’t sound right if they’re pointing too far away from your ears.
This is why the tweeters of JENSEN in-wall speakers have a 25 degree adjustment. If your front speakers are much wider than the outer seating position you can adjust tweeters inward.
If you want to use in-ceiling speakers for your left and right fronts, you can still get an amazing stereo sound.
Just like with in-wall front speakers, you want each speaker to be the same distance from your ideal seat.
A good way to balance this with a clean visual design is to imagine a centreline on your ceiling, dead-centre above your ideal seat and through your screen. Each speaker should be the same distance from that centreline on each side.
In order for your ears to experience the sound coming from in front of you, where your screen will be, both speakers should also be forward of your seat.
The best place for this is near the wall that your screen is on, with a visually suitable distance from the wall to the speaker. (About 300mm to 500mm to the outer edge of the speakers would be good.) High quality in-ceiling speakers will be designed with a directional tilt built in, instead of having movable tweeters. Use this built-in tilt to point the speakers towards that space behind the ideal seat.
How to adjust for install and visual design
What if you can’t put your speakers in the places I’ve described above?
What if there are corners, windows, trim, or studs in the way?
What if the room is really wide and the ceiling speakers don’t look good?
No problem… This is where we make adjustments to suit your situation and still get great sound.
You won’t compromise your seated listening experience by any noticeable amount if you make slight adjustments to the distances. IF your room is big, adjust out. IF you want to keep a tighter look, adjust in.
But don’t adjust too much. A decent rule of thumb is 25% percent adjustment.
It’s okay because you’ll still point your tweeters towards that same spot behind your ideal seating position, and that should make the adjustment almost unnoticeable.
If you place them too far out, you could end up with a “dead space” in the middle where the sound isn’t quite right. You don’t want your ideal seat to fall into this dead space.
If you place them too far in, you could end up with a squashed soundstage that sounds more like a mono speaker playing by itself. This robs you of the true performance of your system, so make sure you follow these guidelines!
Worst case scenario — if you have to keep them relatively close together because of installability or visual design, you can always adjust the tweeters to point less inward.
This will help to keep a wide sound field even when the speakers are closer together (in relative to the width of the room).
What about room acoustics?
If you have hard floors or big floor to ceiling windows you may have room acoustics issues. No matter where you put your speakers, these things always have an effect. Check out this post about room acoustics to find out how to fix them!
Don’t feel like this guide covers your special circumstance?
Some install scenarios are completely unique and difficult to describe in a universal guide. If these guidelines don’t feel like they’re helping you with your unique situation, get in touch with our design team and we’ll make sure you have a plan that will get the best outcome possible.
Remember: If there are obstacles or structural members, you have to avoid them.
This is the main rule of installability. Yes we want a gorgeous home design and mind blowing sound… but… we must be practical!
In-wall and in-ceiling speakers must be installed where there are no structural members because they will occupy the space inside the wall where they’re pretty much invisible.
If you don’t have accurate plans or a stud finder tool, you may want to get a contractor to locate them. This is extremely important to the planning phase!
(Note: Horizontal studs may not be structural. If you run into them there’s a chance you can remove them.)
Beyond avoiding those unmovable obstacles you also have to consider speaker cable.
Each in-wall and in-ceiling speaker requires a cable to be run FROM wherever you choose to store your amplifier and electronics, TO where you choose to place it.
That means the space behind the wall has to be vacant, or the cable can be hidden another way.
(Again — if your room isn’t built yet, you have the huge advantage of running these cables ahead of time. So your options aren’t limited by cabling issues.)
Install is usually not an issue for most home theatre designs and once you clarify what’s possible, things will unfold smoothly.
The in-wall and in-ceiling speaker advantage
If you were asking me: “Where do I put my floorstander / bookshelf speakers?”...
…I would have to explain bass reflex, distance to wall, “bass traps”, and problems with corners.
That’s because box speakers leave the speaker cone in open air, and bass sound waves radiate outwards in a way that causes them to fold around the box. This leads to cancellation of some bass notes and unwanted boosting of others.
But there’s a shortcut that takes all those issues out of the picture, simplifies your planning, looks WAY better, and gives you a perfect bass response.
It’s using performance in-wall or in-ceiling speakers!
By embedding the front panel of your speaker (that holds the cones in place) into a wall or ceiling, you create what’s called an “infinite baffle.”
This eliminates all problems with bass folding from the back of the speaker around to the front — which is the hallmark concern of speaker placement guides and “trial and error” methods.
Instead of having to correct these issues, you end up with tight, punchy, powerful bass and a clean stereo image that will knock the socks off your friends… not to mention they’ll have no clue where it’s coming from!
If you want the best, “invisible” in-wall speakers for awe-inspiring theatre sound, rich and realistic musical performance, and unmatched stereo image — take a look at our Elite-303 speakers.
They’re the product of over 30 years of improvements in design and build, and the way they create a stereo image is completely unique.
Click here to learn more about them.
I hope this guide has served you well.
Be sure to refer to it anytime you’re involved in setting up a new, clutter-free home theatre room. And send it through to anyone you know that has plans of their own, who might find it useful.
Thanks for reading!