7.1 rear speaker placement


New member
Username: Dxjnorto

Saint George, Utah USA

Post Number: 10
Registered: Feb-05
What would you do with rear channel speakers if you had a sliding glass door centered about a foot behind your listening position? My living room is 18x14 feet, but the television is placed in the wide dimension, rather than the narrow dimension. I've even contemplated turning everything ninety degrees, but without buying different furniture or building on a dedicated home theater room, I'm really stuck with the way things are.

I was happy with my 5.1 setup, but I bought an Epson LS47P2 3LCD rear projection television, so then of course I spent $1000 upgrading speakers from the Panasonic SC-HT290 package to JBL EC35 center, E100 towers, E250 powered sub and E10 surrounds. Now under high volume load from battle scenes my Panasonic receiver experiences overload and shuts off, so I've upgraded my receiver to an Onkyo TX-SR602 [much better specs too] and I'd like to make use of the rear surrounds. From what I've read they don't need to be positioned optimally to do some good.

I'll number the scenarios below so that anyone responding can refer to them without ambiguity.

1) One suggestion was to put the rear surrounds behind my couch facing the rear wall [sliding glass door]. I could do that, but because the couch is a sectional, the couch can only occupy one position in the room. This means the rear surrounds would not be placed symmetrically on the room's center axis. If I placed them symmetrically, one of them would be sitting on the floor behind the couch, but the other would be sitting on the floor where we enter and exit the sliding glass door.

2) Another suggestion was to hang them from the ceiling, angled down and facing the rear wall. I could do this. My only reservation is that the backside of the JBL E10 surrounds is not very cosmetic. I'm more concerned with function than form however, so if I did this, would I hang the speakers parallel to the rear wall, or angle them outward or inward? Also, how far would you recommend that I hang them out from the back wall?

3) There's a nice floor to ceiling theater-type drape on a traverse rod that covers the entire back wall and sliding glass door when it's closed. If I simply hang the rear surrounds on the back wall facing the front of the room, this will interfere with the opening and closing of the drapes. I'm assuming that I can extend the drape hardware out from the wall somehow to allow it to clear the rear channel speakers, but because the room has little depth, this configuration is probably worst for back-front reversal. If I do this, how high should I place the rear surround speakers? If I don't place them as high as possible, they'll only be a few feet from the listening position. I've read that height doesn't matter much for sounds coming from the rear, but I don't want the sound to appear to come from the ceiling either. For comparison, the tops of my side surround speakers are five feet off the floor.

4) If height doesn't matter, can I just mount the rear surrounds on the ceiling facing directly down on the listening position [couch] as close to the back wall as possible?

Because of the problem with the drapes, I'm leaning toward configuration 2 right now. In configuration 2, the problem of symmetricity disappears also, but mounting the speakers on the ceiling facing directly down as in configuration 4 doesn't seem right for some reason.

I know I can experiment with the speakers and decide what sounds best, and I will. The receiver is scheduled to arrive this Wednesday. I'll place the speakers on ladders facing the rear wall and see how that sounds.

Meanwhile, this must be a fairly common problem, as most people in modest sized homes have their couch up against the wall rather than sitting out in the middle of the room. There's not much information out on the web, other than heated debates about back-front reversal and the like.

Any advice and experience from anyone is much appreciated.

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 1572
Registered: Aug-04
Personally, given the restraints of your room, I wouldn't bother with the extra two rears. But that's me and I don't have two extra speakers lying around. Providing those rears are designed to be wall mounted or such, you could try placing them on the floor facing up near the ends of the couch. Whatever you do, keep the heavy curtains between the glass and the speakers as the glass would cause bad reflections. For the most part, the extra two channels are matrixed and not channels designated by original sound mix - meaning DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1 with the exception of the ex and es versions which rarely offer 6.1.

Good Luck

Bronze Member
Username: Dxjnorto

Saint George, Utah USA

Post Number: 11
Registered: Feb-05
Thanks My Rantz,

Well, speakers are pretty cheap. I bought two more of the JBL E10 surrounds for $100 a pair and I've got the five Panasonics laying around for experimentation.

The Return of the King has EX 6.1 encoded. I figure it's only a matter of time before most new DVDs, especially the action type, carry some rear surround information.

We live in a consumer society, otherwise we would be more worried about where to get our next meal than the fine points of rear speaker placement. I know I've spent way too much time thinking about it in the last several days.

You're right though. I'm just going to have to put the speakers on the floor and then put them on ladders to see [or rather hear] which sounds best to me. Those are my best two options.

It's a little bit of an uncomfortable business running wires in my attic. Thirty-five years of pollen and blown-in dirt and glass wool insulation up there. I felt so bad for those in Florida last year swimming in the contents of their attics.

I know my room acoustics are unique, but most living rooms are around this size. Has anyone come up with their own creative or "best" solution to the problem of 7.1 rear speaker placement when there is no "rear" to the room?

Bronze Member
Username: Dxjnorto

Saint George, Utah USA

Post Number: 12
Registered: Feb-05
Oh, I forgot to ask, does anyone know how important it is for the rear surround speakers to be placed symmetrically? I'm thinking about wiring four of the leftover Panasonic speakers in a row behind the couch, two on each channel. I may even try them underneath the couch, that's "behind" when one is in a reclining position.
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