A soundbar’s positioning can make a world of difference in its acoustic performance. Even the best of these devices will have noticeably delayed or distorted audio if not correctly placed.
Keeping your soundbar below the TV provides superior audio performance in most situations, and the majority of soundbar models are designed for below TV usage. However, above TV positioning may be preferable with upward-firing speakers and specific home theatre set-ups.
This article will explain the different possible placements for soundbars and the variables that determine which is best for you.
The optimal placement of these speakers will ensure you get your money’s worth by providing crisp and resounding audio.
Also read: How To Make a Soundbar Turn On With the TV
For most situations, placing the soundbar below your TV is best and even recommended by the manufacturers.
There are several reasons why keeping this appliance under your screen is often the superior choice. Let’s go into these reasons in detail below.
Physically speaking, installing a soundbar under your TV is usually as simple as placing it there and plugging it in.
This choice is much easier than above-screen installation, which involves attaching the sound system to a mount like the Black Sesame Universal Soundbar Mount (from Amazon.com).
Although this design is small and unobtrusive, it will still require hands-on work when compared to simply placing the speaker on your entertainment unit.
Keeping your device below your TV also means less wrestling with cables since they’re closer to the ground and easier to hide.
Most soundbars project sound forward, meaning that having them at eye level to the listener with no obstructions provides the best audio quality.
When these devices are placed on the ground or above eye level, sound waves can bounce around the room before reaching the listener.
Your soundbar looks amazing beneath your TV!
Most of these gadgets are designed with that placement in mind, often sporting bases or having bottoms covered in labels. As a result, they can look awkward when situated above your screen.
Many TV cabinets and entertainment stations also contain various cubbies and alcoves to house your device below the television.
One of the most important factors to consider is easy to overlook during set-up: signal connection from your soundbar remote.
Remotes need a clear path to send infrared beams to your device that tell it what to do. Your soundbar should have little trouble receiving signals from your remote if it is beneath your television and unobstructed.
Mounting a soundbar above the TV means you may have to hold your remote above your head for it to work.
Conversely, a soundbar on the floor can mean having to keep your hand closer to the ground.
While it’s true that soundbars generally belong under your TV, there are specific circumstances where you should consider placing your device above the screen.
Some soundbars utilize upward-firing speakers, which bounce sound waves off your ceiling instead of directly to you.
The effect creates a sort of audio dome that envelops the listener in surround sound.
These upward-firing sound systems, typically utilizing Dolby Atmos technology, can be specifically designed for placement above the TV.
Even if designed to go above your TV, make sure they are not too close to your ceiling as speakers that are too elevated will produce a diminished acoustic performance since the soundwaves won’t disperse properly.
Not sure how high is too high? Don’t worry; typically, these above TV soundbars will list a minimum vertical clearance space in their manuals.
You might have younger kids around who tend to leave a path of destruction behind them. In that case, elevating your soundbar could save you from buying a replacement.
Like rambunctious kids, pets can also cause you problems.
Mischievous cats might push your soundbar off its stand while puppies tend to chew on electrical wires. Placing your device above your TV helps make your set-up more pet-friendly by mitigating those hazards.
In either case, you should consider elevating your soundbar if the room it is in sees a lot of traffic from younger kids or pets.
Certain rooms specifically designed as home theatres will benefit from having the soundbar above the TV.
Some factors that might make elevated soundbar placement optimal include:
- Multiple tiers of seating. Having seats at different elevations means your audio should be able to reach those in the back.
- Lowered viewing area. Screens that lack a stand or are relatively low to the ground can achieve more dynamic audio by housing their apparatus above them.
- High ceilings. For upward-firing speakers specifically, higher positioning in rooms with tall ceilings will provide the best acoustic quality.
Another point people ponder when setting up their soundbar is whether it should go in front of or behind their television.
A soundbar should always be in front of the TV when it is on the same surface. Otherwise, it may lose audio quality since its speakers are partially blocked. The remote sensor can also be non-functional if obstructed by the TV or its stand.
Soundbars should always face the listener and be horizontal as they almost universally utilize stereo sound, which simulates sound coming from different directions via multiple speakers.
Positioning your device behind you would quickly become disorienting since the audio would seem to be coming from the opposite direction of what your TV depicts.
Similarly, a vertical soundbar would make a car zooming by from left to right on-screen sound like it’s traveling from up to down.
Soundbars can improve your TV audio quality dramatically. The optimal placement of your device will significantly enhance acoustic performance, making your listening experience all the more dynamic and immersive.
Soundbars should go below your TV in most situations. Although, you can mount them above the screen in certain circumstances, such as having multiple tiers of seating or upward-firing speakers. Either way, your device should always be unobstructed and facing the audience.
- ResearchGate: Audio quality evaluation of soundbars using the multiple stimulus ideal profile method
- YouTube: AVS Forum: Revealing the Science Behind Dolby Atmos ® Enabled Speakers—Sponsored
- HowStuffWorks: How Remote Controls Work
- PetMeds: How to Keep Your Pet from Chewing Electrical Wires
- Abt: Samsung Full Manual HW-N550
- Georgia State University: HyperPhysics: Diffraction of Sound
- Georgia State University: HyperPhysics: Reflection of Sound
- Techopedia: Stereophonic Sound