If you got a brand-new soundbar for your TV, you probably care a lot about sound quality. Unfortunately, placing your soundbar below your TV isn’t always easy when you don’t have enough space on your TV stand or entertainment center. So, could a soundbar work behind the TV?
A soundbar will work behind your TV, but the sound quality will be severely affected. Placing your soundbar behind the TV means sound waves don’t travel directly into your ears. Instead, they reflect off the walls and solid objects, getting distorted in the process.
The rest of this article will explain if a soundbar will work behind your TV, whether a soundbar should be directly below the TV, where to place it, and if it should be above or below your TV. I’ll also answer if it can sit on the floor and present you with an excellent solution for your problem.
A soundbar will work behind your TV, but the TV will obstruct the sound waves. If you place a soundbar behind your TV so that it’s not blocked, it’ll work fine. However, if the soundbar is completely obstructed, it’s better to use the built-in TV speakers instead.
The whole point of buying a new soundbar is to get superior sound quality when watching movies, playing video games, and listening to music. Placing it behind the TV essentially makes sound quality worse than it was before you even bought the soundbar.
The only way to get your soundbar to sound better than your TV’s speakers is to put it somewhere where nothing will stand in its path. You can place your soundbar beneath your TV or on a shelf underneath it, but pushing it behind the TV will almost always result in poor-quality sound.
The reason why you don’t want your soundbar facing the TV or wall is acoustics. Room acoustics explain how sound waves travel around your room before reaching your ears.
When a sound wave from the soundbar reflects off the TV, floor, or wall, reverberation and echo can distort or add murkiness to the sound.
So, you should never place a soundbar behind your TV if the TV obstructs the soundbar in any way.
A soundbar should be placed directly below your TV to produce the best sound. You should mount a soundbar at ear level to allow sound waves to travel directly into your ear without obstructions.
I already explained earlier that a sound wave should be facing you directly if you want the best sound possible. A solid object between you and the soundbar will introduce reverb, which distorts the sound and results in echoes and distortion.
The ideal placement is almost always below your TV. Still, don’t place it too far down either, like on the floor, for example. The sound wave will reflect off the floor too soon and distort the soundwave if you do that.
Incidentally, the first-floor reflection phenomenon describes the first reflection point between you and the soundbar. However, you don’t have to worry about it if the soundbar isn’t very far away from your couch.
You don’t have to put your soundbar directly under your TV, but doing so will make the bar sound best. However, you should install upward-firing soundbars above your TV with the speaker pointing at the ceiling.
So, the only exception to the beneath-the-tv rule is when you have upward-firing soundbars. These soundbars are relatively uncommon compared to traditional front-firing speakers. If you bought an upward-firing soundbar, you probably already know how to mount it — they typically go above the TV and directly below the ceiling.
In most other cases, you should mount your soundbar directly below your TV to get the sound quality you’ve paid for. This rule is doubly true if you have Dolby Atmos or some other form of 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound.
If there is simply no way to install your soundbar below your TV, go for a spot directly above it. Putting it above the TV may introduce some echoing, but the sound quality will still be better than your TV speakers alone.
A soundbar can sit on the floor, but it’s not the ideal placement for it. When a speaker is on the floor, it can’t deliver the sound to your ears as efficiently, and it is prone to accumulating dust, which may cause technical errors and reduced sound quality over time.
You should place a soundbar below your TV in most scenarios. You should avoid placing your soundbar above the TV unless you have no other choice. A soundbar above your TV means the sound waves coming from it won’t travel into your ear directly.
In a nutshell, the only thing that a soundbar mounted above the TV has going for it is cable management. The cables are much easier to hide, giving your entertainment center a cleaner look.
However, sound quality matters way more than having a few cables hanging below your TV. I’d even argue that it looks more natural to put your soundbar in the correct spot.
If you don’t have enough space for a soundbar on your TV stand, the best solution is to wall-mount your TV. Doing so allows you to place the soundbar onto the TV stand.
Suppose you don’t have a TV stand. In that case, you can get the Mount-It! Universal Soundbar Mount (available on Amazon.com). It allows you to attach the soundbar to the TV, securing the soundbar directly below it.
If your TV does sit on your TV stand, you can still use the Mount-It! Soundbar Mount to install the soundbar to the front of your stand or cabinet. You can also choose to attach it to the wall above your TV. Although it’s not ideal, it’ll still work relatively well.
Although a soundbar can work behind your TV, it’ll usually sound much worse than the built-in speakers. The optimal placement for your soundbar is directly below the TV. If that’s not possible, you should mount it directly above the TV.
It’s worth noting that you can place your soundbar behind your TV if and only if the TV doesn’t obstruct the soundbar speakers in any meaningful way, shape, or form.
- Wikipedia: Entertainment center
- Wikipedia: Room acoustics
- Dolby: Dolby Atmos
- HiFi Audio Design: Calculate the First Floor Reflection
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.