When setting up the sound system for your living room, you’re going to want to find the best place to put your speakers. It might sound like a good idea to put a soundbar behind your main sitting arrangement. Here’s my take on this.
It is not recommended that you put a soundbar behind you because soundbars are designed to be placed just under the TV to send sound waves straight out with no interference. This placement below the TV improves connectivity, ensures good sound quality, and doesn’t obscure the remote.
Also read: Is it ok to place a soundbar on the floor
Let’s take a closer look at why this placement won’t work and some other options for your soundbar.
What Is a Soundbar?
A surround sound system for your TV.
Soundbars are a great way to improve your TV’s audio and your overall experience. Whether you’re watching a movie, TV show, or playing a video game, a soundbar can add a bit of “movie-theater” quality to your home theater.
The speakers that come with your TV aren’t great. Generally, there are only so many manufacturers that can do audio quality with a paper-thin TV. This usually results in consumers turning up the volume to hear dialogue or simply turning on subtitles. Who really wants to read while they’re watching a movie?
Soundbars will make dialogue clear and distinct. Even a whispered scene can sound loud with a soundbar. That’s the kind of audio quality most TV users are looking for.
Check out this video on YouTube for more on what a soundbar is and why you should seriously consider getting one:
It’s Designed to Be Under Your TV
Soundbars are designed to be located right under your TV. Placing a soundbar in any other location other than that will affect your sound system’s overall acoustics. Audio travels on sound waves, and these waves will move in a straight direction, and bounce off objects it runs into.
A soundbar is designed to sit under your TV, so the sound waves travel straight to your ears from the direction you’re looking. Manufacturers of soundbars design their speakers to allow the sound waves to bounce off the walls of your room, which gives you that feeling of surround sound from just a single speaker.
Why not to put a soundbar behind you
If a soundbar is placed behind you or the TV, the sound waves will be obscured. Even by placing them behind your couch can distort the audio that comes out of the speakers. In a similar way to proper TV placement, you want your audio sound to come from the direction of where you’ll be looking.
The Closer to the TV the Better
One of the most annoying experiences when watching a movie or TV show is when the audio is out of sync with the visuals. Sometimes that is because of a bad connection between the TV and the external speakers. In this case, the soundbar.
In order to get the best possible connection between your TV and soundbar, you’ll want to get the soundbar as close to the TV as possible. This will ensure your TV and soundbar are synced, and you won’t suffer that delayed audio problem.
Blocking a Soundbar Abscures Sound
As mentioned earlier, sound waves travel in roughly a straight line. Sound is detected when vibrating air particles cause your eardrums to vibrate. This happens as the sound waves bounce off the objects in the room.
You might think that means it’d be easier to hear with all these vibrating air particles, but many objects absorb sound. Carpets and curtains will absorb sound waves and make it sound muffled, the same for couches. Hard surfaces will bounce sounds more, creating echos.
A soundbar is designed to send the waves at the walls to reflect off and surround you with sound. This can’t be adequately achieved if the soundbar isn’t placed under the TV. You risk ending up with a distorted and muffled sound as a result.
Better Access to the Remote
When you have a soundbar connected to your TV, you’re going to need access to the volume control through a remote. Sometimes these remotes are included, sometimes they’re not. Either way, you’ll want a clear line of sight to have uninterrupted control of your device.
If you place the soundbar anywhere, but in front of you, you’re going to struggle with settings control. You won’t be able to change the volume or any of the settings as easily. This can become bothersome, the longer you have to do it.
Other Things to Try Instead
This may not have been the answer you were looking for, so here are a few other options you could try:
Surround Sound Speakers
If you’re looking to have your audio experience closer to you, or simply want that all-encompassing home-theater experience, getting a bunch of surround sound speakers would be a good solution.
These speakers will work with your soundbar to deliver your audio directly to your ears. The best part is that they’re designed to be moved to the back of the room rather than the front. You can place these speakers behind your couch and listen as your audio hits you from all sides.
Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
If you decide that a soundbar isn’t the best option for you, you can give wireless Bluetooth speakers a try. Now, if you want to be able to put your speakers anywhere, you’ll need a smart TV to use Bluetooth speakers.
However, if you decided to go for speakers that’ll be placed near your TV, you might be in luck. As long as your TV has an audio port on it, you can use Bluetooth speakers on a non-smart TV. This means you’ll need the proper cables to connect, which is typically going to be a 3.5mm audio cable.
A sound base is similar to a soundbar, except that it’s usually deeper from front to back, but typically shorter in width. These are built to sit directly under your TV as a base. They have more space inside their shells. This makes their built-in amplification better, as well as their bass drivers.
Check out the video below to get an idea of the best placement for your speakers, not just your soundbar:
Other Soundbar Placement Options
- Mounted below the TV: If you have limited space on your TV stand, or your TV is already hanging on your wall, you can also mount your soundbar.
- Mounted above the TV: This isn’t as ideal because it can still be considered placing the soundbar behind your TV, which will obstruct the sound. However, if there aren’t many options for you, this can also work.
- Placed on the floor: Another common place to put your soundbar is on your floor but should be placed still in front of your TV. This still isn’t ideal, but it could work if you have limited TV stand space. However, if you have small children who spend a lot of time on the floor, this could be an issue.
Now, you can, of course, place your soundbar wherever it works best for your current setup. However, you may not end up with the results you’re hoping for. The best place for a soundbar for good audio quality is going to be under (and in front of) your TV.
Check out my top picks for soundbars in home theater.
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.