Can I Use Back Surround Speakers If My Couch Is Against the Wall?

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Q I’ve got a smallish 10 x 12-foot viewing room. The room’s size isn’t necessarily a problem, but the seating is a modular couch set all the way against the back wall. Can I get any value out of in-wall surrounds right behind or beside the seating? I’m worried without any distance these will appear as obvious point sources and worse will not work well across the width of the couch. Any advice before I start cutting into walls? —Robert Greenwalt, via email

A I’d recommend against installing in-wall back surround speakers in your room since the sound coming from them would be easily localizable. A better suggestion would be to use side surround speakers mounted above ear-level or in-ceiling ones firing down at the seating area. Either option would create a more spacious surround effect than having drivers emit sound just a few inches from the back or side of a listener’s head.