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What Is Your Main Speaker Configuration?

Last week, I asked about your main video display. But as all enthusiasts know, video is only half of the home-theater experience—the other half is audio. Most home-theater content is created for a surround-sound system, usually with five main speakers (front left, center, right, plus two surround speakers at the sides of the listening area) and a subwoofer, which is designated as "5.1." Other configurations include 6.1 (5.1 with one extra surround speaker at the back of the room), 7.1 (5.1 with two additional surround speakers in back), 9.1 (7.1 with extra speakers above or outside the main front left and right), and even 11.1 (7.1 with the addition of both "height" and "wide" front speakers, depicted above).

At the other end of the spectrum are systems that include only two speakers with or without a sub (2.1 or 2.0, respectively) or maybe three front speakers (left, center, right) and a sub, which is designated as 3.1. Finally, many folks, especially those with their main system in a small room, opt for a soundbar—a long, thin cabinet with several speaker drivers that, in some cases, simulates the sound of a surround system and might or might not include a separate subwoofer.

So I ask you—what is the speaker configuration in your main system? Some elaborate systems might have more than one subwoofer, in which case, select the option that reflects the number of main speakers. Then, I really hope you'll leave a comment describing your speaker system, including brand, models, and placement.

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice.

What Is Your Main Speaker Configuration?
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uavtheo's picture


I have a Revel Performa setup for my fronts and got a great deal on Focal dipoles when Tweeter went out of business. I also had a small cube set of cambridge soundworks that I all setup in a 7.1 configuration a few years ago. Then, I when I switched to BluRay, I didn't have 7.1 inputs on my receiver and went down to 5.1. It should be noted that I noticed some timbre matching issues with the cambridge soundworks, Focals and Performas. So, I went to 5.1 with my Revels and Focals. Finally, I picked up a used set of the matching performa S30 surrounds and WOW, WOW. No 7.1 equivalent has ever bested the setup. Simply put the timbre matching and also the fact that the S30s are a grade up from the model focals I had simply was stunning. The NEW sense of envelopment and detail blew me away. Mind you, I'm in a *very* large room and some schools of thought would say I really need 7.1 just because of size. So to your question, while I would want to think that the more the better for speakers, I think the real thing people need to realize is that the quality of the speaker will always best the number of speakers... and I'm running my audio with an old Anthem AVM20 preamp and a Lexicon amp to drive the speakers and when it comes to multichannel uncompressed audio via the analog inputs, it's simply stunning and breath-taking.

aforms's picture

My system consist of the following: Fronts BP7000SC, Center Mythos Eight, Side surrounds BP7002SC, Rear surrounds BPVX, Sub SuperCube Reference. These speakers are powered by a Denon AVR-4806CI. My Blu-Ray player is a Oppo BDP-93, I also have a Sony PS3, Denon DVD-2930CI, DirecTv HD DVR and a MacMini in this set-up.

My TV at the moment is a Sony KDL-46XBR6.
Can't seem to talk the wife into letting me get rid of a piece of furniture to get a larger TV and then I could replace the Mythos Eight with the matching Definitive Technology CLR3000 center.

Jarod's picture

I have a 5.1 surround set-up in my 25x13.5ft dedicated basement home theater. For a receiver I have a Pioneer Elite VSX-32 running 4 Polk Monitor 40 matching bookshelfs and for center a timbre matched Polk CS-2. For the lowend I have a HSU Research VTF-2 MK-3 12in powered sub which really pulls its weight. It is positioned in the left front corner just to the left of my left front speaker. My left and right are on 34in Sanus stands and my center is on a homeade 28in stand. My Monitor 40s for the rear are on homeade 40 in stands slightly behind and to the rear of the main dual couches. My left and rights are also bi-amped. My speaker wire is 14-gauge from Monoprice. I really really love this set-up and it sounds great. I wish to upgrade in the future to higher grade speakers.

FJH's picture

I have a 5.1 system made up of Paradigm Signature S8's and C5 center for the front channels,2 Signet LCR speakers for surrounds, and a 15 inch powered Paradigm sub(non servo). I use Anthem and Adcom amps with a Marantz pre/pro and BD player. The room is a converted 24' by 28' attached garage. The two fronts sit about 3 1/2' from the back walls and 6' from the side walls.The two rear speakers are about 3' to 4' from the back wall, about 5' from the side walls, and toed in towards the couch I sit on. The center sits on top of a Sony 65" rear projection tv at 5 1/2' off the floor. Not crazy for this setup but my equipment sits on the floor in front of the tv. The ceiling is 9'10" at the center(14' wide the length of the room)and tapers down to 8' plus side walls. This configuration seems to yield very even bass resonse thru out the room. I prefer not using the Audyssey speaker setup. Manually entering speaker distances seems to work better for me. The sound is just great. Would I like to upgrade? Sure. But I think I would have to spend alot more money to make much of a difference.

uavSeanbenn's picture

5.1 Paradigm Monitor 11's up front, ADP 390's behind seating position "i know it should be to the side" and a monster cc-390 center!! I'm still in the building process so I have a cheap JBL sub. A older Yamaha 5790 runs them for now with a Samsung 67 inch LED DLP. I LOVE my speakers!! Getting more 390's for the sides later.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
Sounds like a very nice system overall, but why not put the ADPs on the sides and add more to the rear later? I would think you'd get weird pans from front to back the way you have it now. But hey, if it works for you, great!
uavSeanbenn's picture

It sounds good, better than you would think with the speakers on the rear wall. I'm getting new windows on the wall to the right of my main seating position and getting the wall fixed. I decided to run the side speakers last so I didn't have to worry about them during the construction. Since they are dipole speakers they don't sound that bad in the rear. The only problem I see is the the right rear and right side surround speakers are going to be pretty close together. Unless I run the sides a couple of feet in front of the main listening position. The setup of my room isn't normal and the wiring for the sides is going to be fun. The rear left side and right side can not be set up the same distance from each other. There is a fireplace to my rear left. I don't know what that will do for the sound.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I agree that quality beats quantity in this case. Also, as you so rightly point out, timbre matching is critical. Nice system!
Scott Wilkinson's picture
Sounds like you have your system dialed in pretty well! My only concern might be putting the sub in a corner. Tom Norton does just that, and he really likes it, but it boosts the bass too much for my personal taste. Still, if you're into bass, go for it!
abentrod's picture

I have KEF Q15 L,R RR & LR plus a Q95 for center and KEF Coda
Sub woofer being driven by a Onkyo TX-SR605 for the price I paid
very nice sounding system goes well with my Oppo BDP-83

Scott Wilkinson's picture
Several of you have indicated that you have "more than 11.1" speakers. I'd sure love to know about your systems! How many speakers are you using? Where have you placed them? How are you driving them? Please post a comment with some details!
Steve Caliendo's picture

My system consists of the following:

Aperion Audio Intimus 5T Fronts, Intimus 5C Center, Intimus 4BP Bipole Side Surrounds and Rear Surrounds and a Bravus 8D Sub. This is powered by an Onkyo SR-TX876 AVR and viewed on a David Abrams (previous HTG's podcast guest) calibrated Samsung 67

uavK.Reid's picture

My 3.0 system consists of B&W Matrix speakers - Matrix 802 Series 3 and Matrix HTM Center Channel. The 802s are 8 feet apart on the left and right sides of my television as well as being 18in. out from the rear wall. Since I have a old CRT TV Sony KD-34XBR960, the Matrix HTM sits on top. I made sure to place the Matrix 802 on Sound Anchor stands to firm up bass response and to make certain the tweeters are near the same height as the center channel. I also made sure the speakers are all on the same plane with each other. Wire is silver coated copper Tribuatries speaker cable. I really like the center channel as it is not a woofer-tweeter-woofer configuration; therefore, no lobing issues exist. Dialogue is really clear.

5.1 system consists of Definitive Technology BP20 Mains with Def Tech CLR 2500 Center Channel, Def. Tech BPX Bipolar Surrounds and Velodyne F1200 Sub. In this set up, the BP20s are 10 feet apart. The Center sits atop our rear projection TV (old Pioneer Elite) Speakers are about 12 feet from the listening position and set out from the back walls about 2 feet since the BP20s are bipolar. The rears are set 6 feet high on the side wall directly above the listening position so that the center of the speaker (null area) is perpendicular to the listener and drivers emit sound in front of and behind the listener. We had our older Velodyne F-1200 mid way along the side wall but due to remodel, it now sits in the front right corner, elevated off the floor. We had to back off the volume due to corner placement, otherwise we would be drowned in bass.

The system really pressurizes the room nicely and is a thrill to listen to.

We have no formal acoustical treatment in the room, just bookcases (all full), large sectional sofa. I think it helps cut down on reflections somewhat.

Goldenhearing's picture

I like 5.1 and 7.1 configurations...and prefer the 7.1 with side and rear surround speakers for better action and special affects surrounding I do have four paradigm Signature subwoofers connected to my system...but now since I just got the Golden Ear Technology speakers with built in subwoofers...I actually have six subwoofers connected.....I've experimented alot with subwoofers and multiple subwoofers....and multiples does make a big difference....even with music...every bass detail and low note is heard....I had to increase my home insurance for the foundation...but whats more important...Sound!...And I run my system with the big Pioneer Elite receiver and Anthem blu-ray player....All my friends say they know when I'm home...because my windows are moving....I love good sound....Thank you God for my ears....

Ricky's picture

My system is a 5.1 surround sound setup. All my speakers are of the same make, which are Energy Reference Connoisseurs. But my subwoofer is a JL Audio Fathom F112. I have for my mains, RC-70's, center is a RC-LCR, and my rears are the RC-10's. My rears are positioned beside me in my system (not behind me). My subwoofer is not placed directly in the corner of my room. My right main speaker is in the corner with my sub placed beside it to the left. As for my other equipment, I have a Rotel processor (RSP-1068), a Rotel power amp (RMB-1075), and a Denon Blu-ray player (DVD-3800BDCI). My TV is a Panasonic 42" plasma. All my cables (audio/video) are Ultralink cables, with the exception of my speaker cables, which are Kimber Kables. All in all it makes for a pretty nice setup.

roy lewis's picture

Front left and right speakers are Def Techs BP8B's. They are placed at each end of the Sanus Java JFV60, and toed in to center listening position. Def Tech CLR 2002 for center placed on the Sanus. I'm using Def Tech ProMonitor 1000's for front heights, placed 4.5ft above and to the outside of the main left and right speakers. Def Tech ProMonitor 1000's for surrounds. A Def Tech SuperCube3 is in right front corner. All powered by Integra DTR-50.2. A Samsung UN55C8000 LED 3D, and Samsung BD-C6900 3D BluRay.

Jarod's picture

Thanks for the suggestion Scott! I've done the whole sub-crawl technique and actually I get the most even response in the corner as well as a nice boost without being too boomy. I must confess that I do love that gut-wrenching bass. Thaks again Scott!

jblakeney's picture

My setup consists of 65" Pioneer Elite PRO-141FD panel, which is just more than awesome! I just bought and hooked up a Pioneer SC-37 to a 5.1 (soon to be 7.1) setup consisting of Sinclair Audio Brighton speakers. BT36 fronts, BT15 sides and a BC26 center channel, and a Velodyne DPS-12 subwoofer to close of the setup. Currently building a custom HT room in my basement so I can complete what will hopefully be my dreak 7.1 setup in the near future!

waski's picture

I have a 5.1 set up. I find this more than enough for surround sound. Set up properly more speakers are unnecessary.
My system consists of b&w 805 as mains and rears,b&w htm1 as centre & velodyne 1200u as sub. Display is 50" pioneer kuro. Bluray is oppo. Processor is Cary cinema 11a, power amps are rotel RB 1080's x3. Interconnects are AZ matrix ref2,speaker cable is a combo of van den hul for high freq and qed for low freq. Room size is 4.5 metres x 6 metres. I love the sweet sound of my current system ;-)

ms_gomez's picture

We actually have 3 systems in our home #3 belongs to my wife.
1. 7.1 Axiom M60, QS8, VP150, and M2V2. with a SVS-PB12Plus
2. 5.1 Infinity Beta50, C360, Beta10. With a paradigm DSP 3400
3. 5.1 Infinity Beta 20(5ea) with a PSB Sub series 6
We also have the office and the kitchen wired as Zone 2s
My daughter has 2 Beta 50s in her bedroom.

Televisions are not much to speak of, a 46" sony and a 32" samsung
and an old CRT in the living room.
The 7.1 is in a dedicated room that is 15' X 21 and it's totally dark in there, so that's nice.
As you can tell we are primarily dedicated to audio as opposed to video.

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