Placement of Satellite Speakers: Does Height Really Matter?
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Where should I place my satellite speakers?
How high on the wall should I mount satellite speakers?
These are among the questions we have frequently been receiving from customers in the recent past. We’ve realized that more people are aware of the importance of speaker placement to the experience a home theater system provides.
We focused this article on all the fundamental ideas regarding the placement of satellite speakers. While installation height is not a concern unique to satellites, there is lesser information on satellite speakers compared to what’s available on other speaker types. Over the last few weeks, our research team focused their efforts on finding facts about speaker height placement. This in-depth write-up aims to answer the question: Does height really matter when installing satellite speakers?
Setting Up your Speakers for the Best Performance
Until lately, people have been underestimating the influence of speaker height on the listening experience. You have spent a lot of your precious time and money on selecting the right speakers for your space. So, you are sure that you have quality equipment that can potentially give the best bang for your hard-earned money.
But you are not there yet.
You are one step away from enjoying the absolute awesomeness of your new sound champions. This step is the proper speaker placement.
The way you install your speakers can make or break your home theater system. As you think about where and how you will connect your satellite speakers, it is essential to keep other types of speakers in mind. In most cases, satellites work with other speakers in the home theater system to give you well-balanced audio.
This article tries as much as possible to present the results of our research on the importance of height when placing satellite speakers. However, it does not shy away from mentioning other types of speakers that make up a typical home entertainment system. Remember, all the surround speakers should be in their best possible positions for you to get the best out of your system.
The role of satellite speakers in a home theater system
Satellite speakers are small speakers designed for the reproduction of mid- to high frequencies. In a properly equipped home theater, satellites mostly take care of the high-ends and leave other ranges to other speakers in the system. These speakers improve stereo imaging – the potential of your audio system to create a flawless soundstage. Precise stereo imaging ensures that you get properly harmonized sound. If you have settled on using satellite speakers, the way you place them will determine the preciseness of the overall sound that your home theater system gives.
Before we continue, it is noteworthy that there is no one “correct” way of placing speakers. Every space is unique, and so is every speaker in a home audio system. Your listening preferences are also unique. Thus, the ideas we present here will guide you to place your satellites to suit your situation and preferences. You can tweak the ideas as you wish in your quest for the best sound.
Consider the following factors to make sure that you install your satellite speakers at the optimal height
- Listening height
- Size of your room (this affects the distance between speakers)
i. Listening height
Do you always feel that something is lacking in the audio your home speakers give?
More likely than not, you have good satellite speakers, but they are placed too high or too low. Also, there’s a possibility that speaker units belonging to the same set sit at different heights. For instance, the five satellite speakers in a 5.1 system need to be placed at the same height in appropriate positions around the room. Otherwise, there is a high likelihood that the overall sound quality will get compromised.
So, how do you determine your listening height?
Generally, the optimal listening height for many mid- and high-frequency speakers is more or less the ear height. Please note that some speakers have specific listening height recommendations. For instance, for a 3-way system with top, mid, and subs, the placement of the woofer determines the listening height of the entire system. But without specific recommendations from the manufacturer, you should place your satellites such that they are at the ear level of a seated listener. Since these speakers are small and reasonably lightweight, you have a variety of placement options – on stands, furniture, or wall brackets.
The listening axis is the point on the speaker’s front baffle that the designer has chosen to be at the ear height of the listener. Knowing the exact position of the listening axis helps to set the speaker at the correct height, whether installing the speaker in the wall or mounting it on a stand. When you set the listening height at the level of the speaker’s listening axis, you will receive the smoothest and most linear frequency response.
Few people know much about the listening axis. Do not hesitate to ask your dealer about the exact point that represents the listening axis on the speaker you have selected.
For satellites with two-way and 3-way designs, the tweeter sits on the front baffle so that the speaker’s listening axis is the height of the tweeter. If your dealer or the manufacturer of the speaker doesn’t provide any information on the unit’s listening axis, the tweeter height is an excellent place to start as you determine the best listening height for your satellites.
Average ear height
According to expert views and user polls, the average ear height is about 37 inches from the floor. You can ascertain this by determining the distance between your ear canals and the floor when you sit at your favorite listening chair.
ii. Size of your room
The distance between speakers and the listener is a crucial consideration when determining the optimal height for satellite speakers’ placement. First, you need to make sure that speakers of the same type sit at precisely the same distance from the main listening chair. Precise stereo imaging requires that sound from each speaker arrives at the listening position at the same moment.
If you have a small room, you might not be able to achieve this recommendation, but that doesn’t mean that perfect imaging is impossible. You can mount your speakers at a higher height and then tilt your satellites slightly downwards. Aiming is all about adjusting the height of your speakers to ensure that sound is directed at the listener’s ears while maintaining the same distance between the listening axis and the midpoint of the listening chair for every speaker.
Aiming helps to adjust speaker inclination so that the speakers engulf listeners in the ambiance of diffused sound. Rather than letting the speakers call attention to themselves as sound sources, aiming directs all speakers to the listener. You receive an awesomely balanced sound that feels as though coming from one source.
- The right placement of satellite speakers offers significant benefits of precise sound imaging.
- The position of tweeters on satellite speakers approximates the listening height of the speaker.
- If you have a small room, mounting your satellites may involve speaker aiming and toe-in – adjusting speaker angle.
- For all speakers, including satellites, proper placement also means installing them at an appropriate distance from the listening area.
What is standing between you and the perfect sound you have been looking desiring?
With the information on speaker placement discussed above, you can successfully install your satellite speakers at the right height. Enjoy your favorite jams and movies in the comfort of your home.