Regardless how good of a loudspeaker system you have, it’s inconsequential to how it will perform in your room if it isn’t properly placed, set up and calibrated. Many have written articles on loudspeaker placement in the past, but I felt it is time to focus on the centre channel. The center channel is the most important speaker in a multi-channel system. It produces most of the movie dialogue and also serves as an anchor for the soundtrack.
Don’t Put The Centre Channel On The Ground!
No matter how good your centre channel speaker is, if it’s not firing directly into the listening area or if it is being obstructed by furniture or by peoples heads, the sound will be severely compromised.
Tilt The Centre Channel Up!
If you can get custom feet built for your stands to prop them higher, its a good endeavor to pursue over just dumping a good speaker stand that may be only a few inches too short. It would also be a good idea to perhaps make the front feet of the stands a bit longer than the back feet so that the speaker will have a slight tilt upward. You can then affix rubber sticky pads to the back of the stands to secure the speaker and prevent it from sliding off the stands. Its also should have enough tilt now so that when sitting in the back row, the drivers aren’t being blocked by the front row of seating. You can check this by placing a laser pointer on top of your centre channel speaker while aiming it towards your theatre chairs.
Calibration For Bass Management, Level Matching & Time Alignment
Once everything is set in place, it’s imperative to properly configure and calibrate all of your speakers. Most centre channel speakers should be set to “small” and crossed over at 80Hz as per THX recommendation so that the dedicated subwoofer handles bass duties. In the worst case scenario, use your automatic calibration system. It’s far from accurate, but it’s better than nothing. Preferably, of course, hire a professional sound calibrator to properly set up and calibrate your system. The end result of this calibration is a marked improvement of an already excellent sounding installation. I highly recommend you take the time to properly place and set up all of your speakers, and hire a professional sound calibrator in order to squeeze every drop of performance out of your receiver. A properly setup and calibrated $1,000 sound system will yield a far superior sound quality than a $2,000 set up using automatic calibration.