Choosing the size and placement of the speakers in your surround sound system will directly impact the overall quality of sound you are able to achieve. But, with many variables from one home theater to another, you might be wondering how large your surround speakers should be.
Surround speakers are closer to the listening position and do not have to work as hard as other speakers in a home theater. Hence, large surround sound speakers are not required for small and medium-sized (up to 3000 sq ft) rooms. However, for rooms larger than 3000 sq ft, bigger speakers may be required.
Also read: Can You Use Any Speakers for Surround Sound?
Still, knowing how big your surround speakers should be will vary based on your personal setup as well as your home theater specifications.
With many different factors to consider, you can find the perfect speakers for your home theater. Then, in choosing the right size, output, and placement for your sound system equipment, you can achieve the sound quality you were hoping to. Let’s take a closer look.
How to Choose the Right Size Surround Speakers
As you compare various recommendations and consider how your unique situation fits into these, you can come with a list of factors that you will need to take a closer look at.
Having these recommendations can take what you already know, what others recommend, and the natural acoustics of your home theater space all into account as you pick the right sized surround speakers for your home theater room.
There are many things to consider when choosing the right size surround speakers including:
Size of the Room
The size of the room that you are attempting to stream your audio in (be it with a movie or music) will play an incredibly important role in how big your surround speakers should be.
While high-quality sound equipment is always a good choice, you need to pay attention to the needs of your particular space considering the intricate science and design that goes into planning your home theater room’s sound system.
For instance, you would not need the same size surround speakers in a professional theater that you would need in the living room of a 400 square foot apartment.
The dynamics are simply not the same, and the needs of the audio equipment are consequently different. You would not want to blast away your guests with overpowering speakers, yet you would not want to be struggling to hear the audio coming from a tiny, cheap surround that you installed on a whim.
It is a delicate balance. So, while choosing the right size for your surround speakers, consider the overall size of the room. This includes the square footage, the height of the ceiling (that will dramatically affect the sound quality of your sound system), any furniture and decorations, and the number of people that your home theater will seat.
If you are using a smaller room, such as an office or a room that would fit one sofa and maybe a few other chairs, then you can opt for smaller speakers.
Similarly, if you are using a medium-sized room, such as a larger living room or an open-concept type of space that the sound will travel farther away, then you should adjust the size of your surround speakers accordingly.
Finally, if you are in an industrially large space, then your surround speakers should match this in size. Regardless, you can see how the differently sized rooms will dramatically affect the quality and needs of the sound equipment chosen specifically for that space.
Frequency Range and Output Capacity
The frequency range and output capacity are other components that you need to consider when choosing how big your surrounds will be.
In this way, the size of the speaker becomes less relevant to physical dimensions and more focused on how well the equipment can pump out high-quality audio. Remember, you want to focus on quality here.
Still, you cannot argue with the physical components that make up the overall sound effects. After all, the shape, size, and physics behind various components of speakers are what can help each piece of sound equipment to achieve the sound that it is able to emit.
So, while paying attention to the size of the speakers and the size of the room, you want to consider how much sound your surround speakers will be able to produce and how well they are able to produce this sound.
For example, if you are using front speakers that can go as low as 35-60Hz, then you want to make sure that your surround speakers are also able to go at least to 60Hz.
You might opt for surround speakers that only go down to 80Hz which is pretty typical for surround speakers. In this case, you would want your rear speakers to go at least as low as 100-120Hz.
Still, you need to make sure that there will not be a gap in the range of audio that can be achieved by your entire sound system. Along with this, you need to make sure that the output capacity for your speakers is going to match.
If you have an overpowering front and your surround speakers are getting washed out, then you will need to adjust this to ensure a cohesive sound quality.
Matching Sound Equipment
Matching the other sound equipment that you already have installed (or are planning to install) also plays a large role in how big your surround speakers should be.
As mentioned above, you do not want your surround speakers to be overpowering, but you also do not want them to be underpowering either. This can be a bit overwhelming for someone who is new to the audio game, but it has a lot to do with the setup that you choose to put in place.
For example, you can opt for the output capacity to be matched between speakers that come from different sets by making sure that the crossover is paired appropriately with each device. Similarly, you can adjust the amplification for each speaker so that one does not overpower the other.
With this in mind, it is not required that the entire surround sound system’s speakers come from the same line- although matching surround sound speakers certainly make the setup process easier on the user.
Still, as long as your front speakers match each other and are able to produce clear audio that can be heard over the booming low-frequency audio emissions from your subwoofer, you should be in a good spot.
Again, this comes back to your ability to make unmatching speakers end up matching in their output capacity and frequency range.
When choosing how big the surround speakers in your sound system should be, make sure that they are not louder and larger than your front speakers, but ensure that they are large enough to carry the audio they emit throughout the entirety of the room.
Number of Speakers
The number of speakers in your entire sound system will also have a large influence on how big your surround speakers need to be. For example, in using a 5.1 surround sound system setup compared to a 7.1 system, you can see that the additional speakers incorporated will add to the overall sound quality that you are able to achieve.
In this case, you would want to make sure that if you are using fewer speakers, they are appropriately placed and are well-matched to the other speakers in your sound system.
Still, at the same time, even if you are using more speakers in your surround sound system setup, you will want to make sure that you are not underpowering them just because there are more parts.
Instead, you will want to make sure that the speakers all match (regardless of how many there are), and choose the right size for your unique space.
It might be wise to consider investing in higher quality surround speakers (along with high-quality components for the rest of your system) before just trying to add as many speakers as you can into your home theater room.
When it comes to the overall quality of sound you will be able to achieve, the quality of the sound equipment (speakers, cables, receivers, amps, etc.) that you use is just as much if not more important than the number and size of each device.
Similar to the number of speakers that you have in your sound system, the speaker placement will also play a large role in how big your surround sound speakers should be.
If you are using larger and louder front speakers in a smaller home theater room, you might not need your surrounds to be quite as big to be able to play into the dynamics of the space.
Still, if you are using speakers with a moderate output in the front audio channels, then you should select matching surround speakers for the sides and rear.
You will need to test the output capacity of each speaker depending on the placement that you decide on. This includes the elevation as well as the distance apart that each speaker sits from the other, the receiver, and the listener.
As you rotate your speakers and find the perfect placement for each one in your home theater room, you will be able to hear the difference that a higher quality speaker can make on the audio experience. Once you find the perfect fit, it will all be true music to your ears.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.