Center Channel Speaker Placement 101
Home theater setup tips, and center channel improvements. Can you mount a center channel above your television set? Technically, yes you can. Answering a few questions on center channel speakers - Axiom Audio.
Can I Mount a Center Channel Above My TV Set?
A few questions have come up about center channels and where to position them? We've done a number of videos covering home theater setup tips, and center channel improvements. So one of the questions that actually came up a few times in the last number of weeks is, can I mount a center channel above my television set? Technically absolutely yes, you can. There's no problem whatsoever in doing that. In some cases where televisions are commonly hung on a wall-mounted bracket, there may be an opportunity with a cabinet or a shelf or something that's above the TV to place the center channel.
All of the rules still apply. Don't bury it, don't have it pushed back deep from the edge of the shelf or cabinet. An in-wall will work fine in that application, and in-wall center channel. And if it's a conventional center channel and it's on a bracket or being placed on a shelf or in a cabinet, think about angling it downwards slightly so that it's aimed at your listening height. You don't want it sort of way up in the air and firing straight ahead, if you can avoid that.
Standard Bookshelf or Floor-Standing Speaker
Another question we've had regarding center channels is, can I use a standard bookshelf or floor-standing speaker? You know, some people either have the room for it, they have an acoustically transparent screen with a projector, so they could put a big floor standing speaker behind the screen. Again, the answer is absolutely yes, you can do that. And actually, that's ideal. If the three front channels can all be the same speaker, that technically is going to give you the best performance and the most seamless integration across the front stage.
I'll warn you about it though, "I got an extra pair of speakers, could I take one of them, you know, the bookshelf speaker, and put it on its side so it's more like a center channel?" I would recommend against doing that, because conventional upright, bookshelf and floor-standing speakers are designed to have a good design and wide horizontal radiation pattern. That pattern now, the horizontal becomes the vertical radiation pattern and in a center channel, what normally would be the vertical is the horizontal, because the speaker is essentially like a bookshelf or floor-standing on its side.
Center Channel Speaker Placement
You'll sometimes see multiple tweeters, multiple drive units, and between the crossover, the driver arrangement and the cabinet design, center channels that are dedicated for that use are designed and set up so that they have a wide, horizontal dispersion when mounted flat like this. If you take a conventional bookshelf speaker and put it on its side to be used as a center channel, the results are going to be unpredictable. I would recommend against that arrangement for your center channel speaker placement.
Improve TV Sound
Can I use an in-ceiling speaker for the center channel? I don't want to see a cabinet there, but I do have the ability to put an in-ceiling speaker. Yes, that's absolutely fine. Recommendations though, don't have that center channel in the ceiling really close to the back wall, where the TV is mounted, have it out a little bit. Ideally look for an in-ceiling speaker that has a rotatable or adjustable tweeter or tweeter and mid range combination to aim that sound down towards the listening position a little, instead of having it point straight down. You'll get better sound that way. There's some answers to some of the questions about center channels and center channel speaker placement.
About the Author
After graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering Andrew went on to join the R&D team at API (Audio Products International) makers of Energy and Mirage product lines. He was working directly for API's head of engineering Ian Paisley, who was also a member of that handful of loudspeaker designers who participated in the NRC research project, and to quote Ian Colquhoun "one of the finest loudspeaker designers to ever grace this planet". Andrew spent over 10 years at API and ended up being the head designer for all the Mirage products. Andrew is a brilliant loudspeaker designer who has a broad knowledge of everything audio and a particular expertise in the science relating to the omni-directional psychoacoustical effects of loudspeaker reproduction. Andrew joined Axiom in 2009.