Best place for a Sub in my mini Theater


I am finishing half of my basement into a 10’ x 20’ theater room. The viewing area is only 10’ deep. The tv and credenza will be recessed 2 feet so that they are flush with the wall. Picture them stuck in a closet.   I have in wall speakers for the fronts. Where is the best place for the sub and facing which direction? It’s front firing.

I can recess it into the wall and have it face the audience but it would be firing into a wall only 10 feet away.

I’m thinking maybe I should put it in the front left corner and have it fire towards the 20’ length but it may be blocking. A closet. 

The couch is against the back wall. What if I put it against the back left corner?

As you can see I’m a bit confused. 


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The “best” place will depend on a lot of factors. The subwoofer, the rest of your equipment it’s playing with, and the rest of the room and what is in it (furniture, acoustic treatments, reflective surfaces vs absorptive ones, etc) all play a role. The good news is that there’s a pretty easy trick to find that “best” spot for you.

Put the subwoofer in the seat that you intend to be the best seat, play some bass test tracks or bass heavy material, and slowly crawl around the room (crawl because you want your ears to be near where the center of the sub driver will be) and try to decide where it sounds best to you...then place the subwoofer in that location. 
P.S. multiple subs will sound better than a single sub because it helps to lessen the effects of the room at any particular spot. If you have the option, I’d suggest having 2...or more :). 

I have worked in a very wide/short room like yours.  Having speakers on the widest front wall lacked a lot of bass/midbass.  In my specific room (which was very close to the 10' x 20' of yours), I had the best results from putting the speakers in the corners.  It also naturally boosts the bass frequencies if it's corner loaded (of course other rooms may have different responses).

Also, agree on 2 or more subs, but it's all about budget, right?

Also, in your situation, I don't think it matters much which exact corner the sub(s) are placed.
All great advice thanks you guys. I love that trick where you put the sub where you will be sitting and crawl around. I do have two of the same sub but that means I would have to steal it from my 2.1 system upstairs. :)

Also, Auxinput, when you say the speakers worked best in the corners did you mean your two fronts?

i spoke to Monitor Audio today and they recommended I stick with all in wall speakers since I don’t have a lot of room.

i am a bit confused the best way to arrange my surrounds in the 5.1. I have read to keep them at the sides 90 degrees ear level. I have heard to put them a foot or two above ear level.

the problem is that my couch will be against the back wall.

i have an extra pair of bookshelves I can keep on the sides on stands, or I could buy another set of in wall and put them a little above and towards the outside of the coach so they aren’t firing directly into the in wall fronts! 

Any suggestions?

It's actually the limitation that you have to put the viewing panel / main speakers on a long wall.  I always recommend that people use the "short wall" for placing the tv / screen / main speakers because it usually works out better acoustically in this fashion.  But this isn't always doable in certain rooms (like yours).

If you have to use the long wall for the main screen (like your room), then the subwoofer would be best in a corner for sure.  In my opinion, the main left/right speakers should be relatively close to the center channel.  I would say you could get away with putting the main speakers probably about 25% away from the corner.  The left/center/right should be close enough where they present a more "cohesive" sound.  You could always try them in the corners if you want, but you should definitely put some acoustic absorption panels within the corners to prevent standing waves in the midrange area.  In the corners of such a wide room, I would worry that you won't be able to identify direction of sound sources between the front left/right and the surround left/right, since they are so widely placed.

For surrounds, technically the left/right surrounds should be at the same height as your ears.  However, this is not always possible and can become difficult in a small room where you have one person that is closer to a surround speaker (i.e. if you're on the left, the left speaker is 2 feet away, but it's 5 feet away from the person on the right).  So you have to make some decisions and compromises on placement so that surround speakers are somewhat equalized between all audience members. 

I have a small room (at only 11 feet wide) and my surround speakers are on the side walls about 1.5 feet above listening.  It works out okay, but there is still a little imbalance even with 2 people on my loveseat. 

In your room, I would consider these positions:

1. Bookshelves mounted on stands and directed towards the listeners. (your idea).

2.  Mounted on the back ceiling about 25% into the room angled down towards the listeners.

3. Mounted on the side walls maybe about 5% into the room at listener height (as long as there are no doors blocking).  The sound would reflect off the back wall for the listeners, which is find for surrounds.

4. Mounted on the back/top of the side walls angled towards the listeners.


Options 2/3 will have the surrounds placed far away from the listeners, which should decrease the imbalance where a listener may hear the left surround more than the right surround.

I actually like your idea of putting the surrounds on stands.   This allows you to adjust the position to where you think it sounds best.

You have helped me so much Auxinput, first with my ICs, now this. I really appreciate it. 

I found it interesting that you didn’t suggest mounting in-walls on the back wall since my couch is up against the back wall. 

The problem with mounting in walls on the side walls at 90 degrees is that the electrical panel is right in the spot the right surround would go. :( Otherise I think I would do that.

Also, I will have one set of atmos in wall ceiling speakers just in front of the couch. They are monitor audio FX speakers. 

I think i may go with speakers and stands at 90 degrees unless you recommend just putting In-walls in the back wall a bit wider than the couch. 



Yeah, have the surrounds be in-wall on the back wall wouldn't work too well because the left/right surrounds should really be aimed directly at the listeners.

There is an additional "rear surrounds" channel that can be process in 7.1 processors, but you don't have the room for this.  You really need space behind your couch, since the "rear surrounds" are processor ambient sound that will be reflected around on the rear side walls.  These "rear surrounds" are fine being mounted in-wall.

If you have to or want to use in-walls for your surrounds, they are definitely best on the side walls, but as you said, there is a physical block at one of the locations.

I generally don't recommend in-wall speakers because once you mount them, you cannot move them.  There are some tweaks such as changing the position or toe-in that can improve the sound.  It just depends.  If you are putting the couch right up against the back wall, then I think you will be fine if you choose to place normal tower speakers for your fronts.  Regular speakers have a benefit in that they are completely enclosed.  With in-wall, you are basically putting them into an infinite baffle loose enclosure.  Not the best, but they work.  Though, with in-wall, you generally don't have a problem with tweeter refraction on the edge of the cabinets.

Also, with in-wall speakers, you are limited to using CL rated speaker wire, which are generally the low cost version and most of them are basic stranded (even Audioquest and Kimber).  Don't know what your budget is.

Another thing is room acoustics (including bass).  Can you give me the exact room size, including the ceiling height?

http://www.audiogurus.com/learn/speakers/speaker-placement/100


I found this informative article that speaks to my situation. If I use my bookshelves on the sides of me it’s a more direct sound. If I get another pair of the Monitor Audio WT-CP380IDC to match my fronts they have a dipole switch to get more diffuse sound for the surrounds since they would be firing from the back wall instead of from the sides. 

What do you think? 

I cannot see a "dipole switch" on that CP380IDC.  It would not be a dipole speaker because it only has 1 woofer and 1 tweeter. 

I have seen some "dipole in-wall" speakers, but they use small drivers that are angled into each other.  It's not going to be a true di-pole because a di-pole speaker really needs to be outside the wall in a cabinet so that the sound can reflect or "plane" directly off the wall itself.

You can look at the Silver FX di-pole surround, but it's really only dipole from 2.5khz up, since it only has one "direct firing" woofer.

The Gold FX does a better job at di-pole since it has two sets of midrange and tweeters - firing both forward and backward.  The "direct firing" woofer is find because it's very difficult for us to identify the direction/source of bass/midbass frequencies.

However, in your situation a di-pole wouldn't work because you don't have space behind your couch.  If you really wanted, the only way I see is to somehow mount a di-pole directly on the ceiling at the back of the room about 25% away from the side walls.  This way, it will reflect across the ceiling as well as the side walls.

My own preference is for direct sound on the surround speakers because it's more impactful and better resolution.  It all comes down to a personal preference.

Sorry I have you the wrong model number it’s WT380IDC. They are also enclosed.

i read that although the surrounds should be pointed at the listeners from the sides, they should not be directly in line with the head. It said it should be a tad behind so that it creates more ambient sound. Since the couch is against the wall, it is why I was thinking I could place bookshelves at the sides. 

I totally agree with you for having loose independent speakers to move around, but I already purchased the in wall speakers. I also have a set of round FX speakers for atmos.

ok don’t laugh but the ceiling height is only 7 feet high so 10’ x 20’ x 7’.

The thing is is that I already bought the in wall wt380idc’s.

Do I now stick them in the front, or stick them in the back?
Also, you are right in the switch. I thought they were dipole switches but it’s a boundary switch in case you are close to an adjacent wall I guess.

I am literally thinking about building a mini wall on the other side of the couch just to mount this thing on the side.

I’m assuming it would have to be out from the wall at least a foot and a half though so the wall would have to come out like 32”.
Finally, monitor audio did not recommend towers for the fronts since they would be in a cubby/closet cutout for the TV/credenza. I was thinking that they still have 10” behind them and would be flush with the wall, but they seemed to think that the in wall would sound better. I just thought that even a tower or bookshelf up against a wall would sound better than an in wall but who knows.
The mini wall is not going to work. It looks like it’s down to me literally placing the two sets of speakers temporarily and trying it in different locations I think. At least the in walls are enclosed to get an idea. 

yeah, I wouldn't build a mini wall because it can mess with acoustics. If you don't like the idea of bookshelves on stand, then I would probably mount them in the ceiling.  If you want to use the wt380idc for surrounds, I would mount them in the ceiling about 10-15% away from the side walls (or as long as it gives you some equalization between listeners).  The wt380idc is actually a pretty good one because it’s completely sealed in its own enclosure and you can tilt the tweeter a bit to direct a little more towards the listener.

Also, not laughing on your ceiling height because we all have our environment limitations.  I am actually asking for a reason:

https://amcoustics.com/tools/amroc?l=10&w=20&h=7&ft=true&r60=0.6

Based on your exact room size, it appears that you have a bass node at 56hz and a couple more at 80 and 84hz.  If you get your subs in the room and still feel you are lacking bass, then you can add some acoustic treatments to absorb the bass.  If you wanted to do this, I would call GIK Acoustics and have them make a special T55 Scopus trap (they will do this).  The traps are 24” x 24” and probably around 8-9” thick.  Cost will probably be around $240 each.  I would buy 4 and stack them in the rear floor corners.  I know it sounds like a lot ($960), but this is essentially like adding another subwoofer.  The T55 scopus will actually absorb a little at the 80-84hz area as well.

I have two huge 12” subwoofer cabinets in my room powered by a 1,000 watt amplifier.  I also have two sets of tuned membrane bass traps, one pair for 63hz and another pair for 50hz.  It wasn’t until I added the 50hz tuned membrane traps that I had a significant increase of bass in the 40 to 60 hz area!  So the size and power of the subwoofer doesn’t really matter if you have room nodes that are cancelling out the bass frequencies.

You can always do this in the future if you feel you need to.

Crazy! Good to know about the absorption.


I will still try the bookshelves in the back because like you I like having them directly at my sides.

Also, I didn’t know you needed the exact measurements so I remeasured. The room is actually 25’ long. 

That actually makes things more difficult, lol.

https://amcoustics.com/tools/amroc?l=10&w=25&h=7&ft=true&r60=0.6

Nodes at 45hz, 56hz, and 67hz.   Best you could probably do is get two T50 and two T70 Scopus. (or as many as you want.)

You may not like where it is but this is one way to find it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4o13mNmlaA