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Home cinema setup tips

Everything you always wanted to know about how to set up a surround sound system

With a home cinema system, it’s very important that certain setup criteria be observed. With a pair of stereo speakers, it’s primarily important to regard their placement and distance from the listening position, with a surround sound set, there are many more variables. The most important thing, however, is to consider the entire room or part of the room where the television, screen and seating arrangements are to be found with a focus on the listening position vis–à–vis the screen.

The setup arrangements we recommend below ensure an optimal multichannel playback experience. We realize, however that not every room, interior (and sometimes not every partner) will permit an optimal placement. This should not deter you. Simply try to approximate the principles laid out here to the greatest extent possible. The latest A/V receivers offer a range of possibilities for electronically compensating and deficiencies in the room or setup. The following rule generally applies: Never be afraid to experiment with the recommendations laid out here in order to achieve the best visual and acoustic result for you. Always let your ears – and your eyes - decide.

5.1 systems

Setting up a 5.1 home cinema set with dipoles in the rear

With a 5.1 setup, the front speakers are set up like stereo speakers: The distance to the listener is the same for the left and right speaker. In addition, the TV/display should be placed midway between the two speakers or hung on the wall at equidistance between the two. The use of stands will automatically ensure that the front speakers achieve the optimal height.

For wall or shelf placement, the setup height should be between 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters. If a less than ideal height is necessary, the speakers can simply be angled towards the listening position. The important thing is to ensure that the two front speakers and the centre form a slight arch. Due to difference in propagation time, a homogenous sound may otherwise not result.

Since the centre reproduces the dialogue, the loudspeakers should be positioned midway along the display’s width - either below or above. This arrangement will enable the picture and tone to work as a single unit. If the centre needs to be placed outside of the ideal range of 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters, it should be slightly inclined towards the listener.

The dipoles should be placed to the side of the listening position at a height of between 1.4 and 2.1 meters. Many Teufel dipoles already come with integrated wall mounts which makes it easy to position them at an ideal height. The dipole speakers radiate their sound towards the front in the direction of the television and back of the room so that no direct sound can be discerned at the listening position. There should be at least 10 centimeters between the backwards facing dipole side and the wall.

Alternately, the dipoles can be placed directly behind the listening position at a height of 1.4 to 2.10 meters. Nearly all Teufel dipoles come with an integrated M6 screw for attaching the speaker. We recommend obtaining an optional wall mount so that the dipoles can be swiveled out and then situating the backwards facing loudspeaker at a 45 degree angle to the rear wall. The other side will be facing a side wall. The reflections off the rear and side walls will result in the desired diffuse quality in the sound. There should be a distance of at least 10 centimeters to the side wall.

In theory, dipoles can be placed on stands but we are unable to recommend any stands in the recommended height of 1.4 meters. Stability can only be guaranteed at this height with an extremely large base plate of about 1 x 1 meters which is not exactly practical or attractive. You may be able to think of another setup for your room that works, or have a carpenter construct something especially for this purpose. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to opt for a surround sound system with direct sound transducers in the back, ideally ones that share an identical construction with the front speakers.

The placement of the subwoofer with a recommended crossover frequency of under or about 120 Hz is flexible and will not influence the other loudspeakers. It is slightly preferable, however, to place the subwoofer in a straight line between the two front speakers.

Setting up a 5.1 home cinema set with direct sound transducers in the rear

The front speakers are set up like stereo speakers: The distance to the listener is the same for the left and right speakers. In addition, the TV/display should be placed midway between the two speakers or hung on the wall. The use of stands will automatically ensure that the front speakers achieve the optimal height.

With wall or shelf placement, the following applies: The height should be between 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters. If a less than ideal height is necessary, the speakers can be simply angled towards the listening position. The important thing is to ensure that the two front speakers and the centre form a slight arch. Due to difference in propagation time, a homogenous sound may otherwise not result.

Since the centre reproduces the dialogue, the loudspeakers should be positioned midway along the display’s width - either below or above. This arrangement will enable the picture and tone to work as a single unit. If the centre needs to be placed outside of the ideal range of 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters, it should be slightly inclined towards the listener.

With Teufel Concert Sets that use direct sound transducers as rear speakers, the rear speakers should be placed to the left and right of the sitting position. With direct sound transducers, the distance between the rear speakers and the listening position should not exceed 1 meter.

If you need to sit closer to the rear speakers, you should ensure that the speakers do not radiate their sound directly towards the listening position. It is better, in this case, to angle the speakers into the room, towards the television/display, for instance. Alternately, you can achieve the necessary distance to the listening position by hanging the speakers higher. Otherwise, with ideal distances of at least 1 meter to the listening positing, the rear speakers should be placed at the same height as the front speakers – optimally on stands – or mounted on a wall up to 2 meters high.

If the speakers are much higher or lower than an ideal placement, they can be angled towards the listening position. To achieve this, it’s best to use one of the specially designed wall mounts available in our webshop.

The location of the subwoofer when the crossover frequency is at or below 120 Hz will not affect the sound of the other loudspeakers. It is slightly preferable, however, to place the subwoofer in a straight line between the two front speakers.

7.1 systems

Setting up a 7.1 home cinema sets with dipoles in the back

The front speakers are set up like stereo speakers: The distance to the listener is the same for the left and right speakers. In addition, the TV/display should be placed midway between the two speakers or hung on the wall. The use of stands will automatically ensure that the front speakers achieve the optimal height.

With wall or shelf placement, the following applies: The height should be between 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters. If a less than ideal height is necessary, the speakers can be simply angled towards the listening position. The important thing is to ensure that the two front speakers and the centre form a slight arch. Due to difference in propagation time, a homogenous sound may otherwise not result. 

Since the centre reproduces the dialogue, the loudspeakers should be positioned midway along the display’s width - either below or above. This arrangement will enable the picture and tone to work as a single unit. If the centre needs to be placed outside of the ideal range of 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters, it should be slightly inclined towards the listener.

The dipoles should be placed to the side of the listening position in a height of between 1.4 and 2.1 meters. Many Teufel dipoles already come with integrated wall mounts which makes it easy to position them at an ideal height. The dipole speakers radiate their sound towards both the front in the direction of the television and towards the back of the room so that no direct sound can be discerned at the listening position. There should be at least 10 centimeters between the backwards facing dipole side and the wall.

If the distance to the listening position from the rear centre speakers (in a 7.1 arrangement) is less than 1 meter because, for instance, the sofa is located directly against the back wall of the room, we recommend the use of dipoles.

An ideally positioned 7.1 system has the rear effect speakers on the side walls next to the listening position and the rear center speakers on the back wall, both at a height between 1.40 and 2.10 meters.

For a 7.1 setup, the following applies: The four back speakers should be arranged in such a way that a line connecting them would form a trapezoid with sides that each have a minimum length of 1 meter. A less than ideal placement such as sides with different lengths or placement at different heights, can be corrected with the speaker management in the A/V receiver.

The location of the subwoofer when the crossover frequency is at or below 120 Hz will not affect the sound of the other loudspeakers. It is slightly preferable, however, to place the subwoofer in a straight line between the two front speakers.

Setting up a 7.1 home cinema sets with 2 direct sound transducers and 2 dipoles in the back

The front speakers are set up like stereo speakers: The distance to the listener is the same for the left and right speakers. In addition, the TV/display should be placed midway between the two speakers or hung on the wall. The use of stands will automatically ensure that the front speakers achieve the optimal height.

Setting up a 7.1 home cinema sets with 2 direct sound transducers and 2 dipoles in the back With wall or shelf placement, the following applies: The height should be between 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters. If a less than ideal height is necessary, the speakers can be simply angled towards the listening position. The important thing is to ensure that the two front speakers and the centre form a slight arch. Due to difference in propagation time, a homogenous sound may otherwise not result.

Since the centre reproduces the dialogue, the loudspeakers should be positioned midway along the display’s width - either below or above. This arrangement will enable the picture and tone to work as a single unit. If the centre needs to be placed outside of the ideal range of 40 centimeters and 1.20 meters, it should be slightly inclined towards the listener.

The dipoles should be placed to the side of the listening position in a height of between 1.40 and 2.10 meters. Many Teufel dipoles already come with integrated wall mounts which makes it easy to position them at an ideal height. The dipole speakers radiate their sound towards both the front in the direction of the television and towards the back of the room so that no direct sound can be discerned at the listening position. There should be at least 10 centimeters between the backwards facing dipole side and the wall.

If the distance to the listening position from the rear centre speakers (in a 7.1 arrangement) is less than 1 meter because, for instance, the sofa is located directly against the back wall of the room, we recommend the use of dipoles.

An ideally positioned 7.1 system has the rear effect speakers on the side walls next to the listening position and the rear center speakers on the back wall, both at a height of between 1.40 and 2.10 meters.

For a 7.1 setup, the following applies: The four back speakers should be arranged in such a way that a line connecting them would form a trapezoid with sides that each have a minimum length of 1 meter. A less than ideal placement such as sides with different lengths or placement at different heights, can be corrected with the speaker management in the A/V receiver.

The location of the subwoofer when the crossover frequency is at or below 120 Hz will not affect the sound of the other loudspeakers. It is slightly preferable, however, to place the subwoofer in a straight line between the two front speakers.

Setting up a 7.1 home cinema set with 4 direct sound transducers in the back

It is, of course, possible to use 4 direct sound transducers in the back, but all of the rear speakers should then be at least 1 meter from the listening position. If you need to sit closer, do not angle the loudspeakers directly at the listening position. The rear speakers should all be placed at a height of 1.40 to 2.10 meters.

Option: Front high loudspeakers

Front high loudspeakers will give your home cinema sound an extra touch of three-dimensionality and brilliance. Please note that in order to have this arrangement, your A/V receiver must have a front high or “presence” loudspeaker connection.

The front high loudspeakers should be positioned directly over the display or television and angled slightly towards the listening position. Front high loudspeakers can be added to either 5.1 or 7.1 sets.