Home Cinema Design

Home Cinema DesignThere are specific home cinema design criteria that a system must meet to reproduce films precisely as the director intended.

These standards are rarely met which is why so few home cinemas provide the quality they should.

If you’re looking for the best from your home cinema, reproducing the speaker layout used in the studio is the best way to start.

Speaker Positioning

The distance between your home cinema speakers and the main listening position is often ignored but is one that is critical for playback of films at they were intended. During your home cinema design phase it’s important to understand that films should be capable of being replayed at a fixed reference volume level so that a gunshot for example will sound truly lifelike.

Even at just 4m, few speakers are capable of these volume levels so where possible we recommend sitting no more than 4m from your front speakers for optimal results.

Centre Speaker Placement

The starting point for any surround system is the centre speaker. This speaker plays far more of a movie soundtrack than any other while also reproducing the majority of speech – the sound that humans are most familiar with.

Centre Speaker Placement

Where a projection system will be used, the perfect location for the centre speaker is upright behind a woven projection screen. The centre speaker should be placed centrally, half way to 2/3 rds of the way up the height of the screen. Higher speaker placement allows all listeners to have a clear line site to the speakers if rows of seats will be used.

Viewing Distance Distance Between Front Main Speakers
3500 2900
4000 3320
4500 3720
5000 4140
5500 4560
6000 4980

Where a plasma or flat screen TV will be used, the centre speaker should be placed on its side immediately above or below the screen. Be careful not to place anything between the front of the speaker and the listener and where possible the speaker should be pointed to face head height at the main listening position.

Most centre speakers place the tweeter between two mid-range drive units. This layout compromises performance unless the speaker is placed upright. All M&K speakers avoid this layout and so are suitable for placement on their side.

To read more on home cinema design go to http://www.audioholics.com/education/loudspeaker-basics/vertical-vs-horizontal-speaker-designs

Left & Right Speaker Placement

Left & Right Speaker Placement

Once the centre speaker has been placed, identical left and right front speakers should be used at the same height as this speaker. Place the main left and right speakers at a 45 degree angle to each other.

In projection based cinemas when the correct size of screen is used, this will mean that the main left and right speakers will should be placed a little wider than the width of the screen and where possible toed in to point towards the listener.

Rear Speaker Placement

When using M&K Tripolar surround speakers in 5.1 systems, the rear speaker should be placed at right angles or just behind the listening position.

In 7.1 systems side speakers should be placed directly to the side of the listener, with rear speakers separated to give a 60 degree angle from the listening position.

Sound quality will typically be improved by “toeing in” or aiming all speakers towards the principal listening position if aesthetics permit.

It is critical that all listeners should have a clear line of site to all the speakers in a surround system. Often this will require the surround speakers to be placed 1.8 – 2.2m off the floor level. This will not compromise the sound quality of Tripolar surround speakers due to their wide off axis response.

Subwoofer Location

Optimal sub locations are impossible to guarantee in advance. The only way to achieve the best bass response with any subwoofer is through experimenting with all practical locations when the system is being installed during the home cinema design phase.

Typically a subwoofer will give the best results when placed against a solid wall or corner. The use of multiple subwoofer locations will give more predictable results whilst adding considerable headroom or power to a system.

If in doubt, always pre wire for as many locations as possible and choose the more powerful subwoofer – no one ever complained that a correctly calibrated system had too much power!

You can read more about home cinema design and subwoofer placement here – The Best Place for Bass

For help with your system, contact Gecko on 0845 262 2882.

Projection Screen Width

The following chart shows the recommended width of screen that should be used in relation to the viewing distance. The wider screen size is suitable where just high definition formats will be used, the smaller size is recommended where the very best picture quality is required.

Viewing Distance Widest Screen Optimum Screen Width
3500 2554 2201
4000 2919 2515
4500 3286 2830
5000 3649 3144
5500 4014 3459
6000 4379 3773

Home Cinema Design Downloads

You can download the following guides to help you when setting out your home cinema system: