5.1 Side Surround Placement.... Smaller 'satellite' speakers at 90 degrees or 'better' ones slightly in-front of MLP?


Active Member
Hi Guys,

If you had a rectangular room.. sofa about 6" away from the rear, large screen at the far end of the room length-ways, 5.1.4 setup which option would you choose for your 'side surrounds' ?

  • Option 1) Q-Acoustics 7000LR type speaker at 90 degrees to MLP (maybe just a tad behind). (I actually have some Q-Acoustics QAV Surround speakers still, the BMR type but I think the consensus these days is their response isn't great compared to 'normal' speakers.
  • Option 2) Q-Acoustics 3010 / 3010i speakers but slightly in-front of the MLP, probably at about 65-75 degrees
Current Setup - Fronts are Q-Acoustics 1030i Floor standers and matching centre, all crossed at 100Hz across the room as it measured best with my setup.

I did look at the KEF T-101s for the side surrounds for Option 1, but I don't think they'll give me the frequency response that will match the other speakers well plus they're not timbre matched to the Q-Acoustics front bed layer and I don't want to replace the lot at the moment.

If I wanted to go with a 'nicer' bookshelf type side surround like the 1010i, 2010i, 3010i etc. I'd have to go slightly ahead of MLP due to the sofa being almost against the back wall and a doorway being directly to the left of the MLP.

I did read that Dr Floyd Toole did a lot of testing and found side surrounds slightly ahead of the MLP actually gave a more immersive sound-stage (although I can't find the exact paragraph in his book at the moment as I have a copy here) so I did think maybe going for Option 2 wasn't such a bad idea 🤔

What do I have now? I actually have a 5.1.2 setup with the 2 side surrounds currently plugged into the rear of the .4 on the ceiling, which for 5.1 content is fine but obviously it kills the Atmos effect having the side surrounds up there on the same level as the front 'height' channels 😏

Limitations? There's no room to put the bookshelf speakers on stands at 90 degrees to the sofa as you'd trip over the Side-Left walking into the room (and the Mrs would be upset :laugh: ) I did think about putting the left speaker just above the door frame of MLP at 90 degrees, but as I've only got about 8.5ft ceilings it would be firing in the right direction to the MLP but it would only be about 18" from the 'height layer' and not give that ear level separation I'm looking for on the bed layer. Sofa is unable to come forwards anymore as there's a soft along the left wall as well and you wouldn't have room to walk unto the room (circle back to the Mrs not being happy again 😆 ).

This is the sort of layout I have (with the door beautifully penned in red :D )

Yellow = Option 1 - Shoe-horned in there.
Blue = Option 2 - Bookshelf (on floor stand or bracket)

Green = Not really an option in my mind as it's too close to the height layer that I'm trying to move back to .4 from .2




How far would you be from the side surrounds if they were in position 2?
And what AVR are you running?


Active Member
Hi Conrad, just measured.. 5.5ft to the blue dot location.

AVR is an x4700h

Forgot to say, the ceiling speakers are relatively capable as well (8”), hence my thoughts of bookshelf sides rather than less capable very compact units as they would be a bit of a mismatch in that respect to the rest of the setup

(I am crossed at 100hz though but I know that’s not a straight cut)


Then I’d go blue. I had my side surrounds a little forward and it worked surprisingly well. My issue was that they were too close but 5/6ft should be ok.

I’d start there. Bookshelves should be fine. I have to we’re up front and bookshelves at the sides.


Active Member
Good to hear the feedback that you’ve tried it. I think I’m thinking that is the ticket for me as I’m swaying that way of the two options, after all they’re ‘side surrounds’ in a 5.1 bed-layer not rears 😄 (and I’m hoping the dispersion of the speakers at that distance will help).

Did you toe yours in to the MLP, or fire across slightly in-front of you (nearer to 90 degrees) so they weren’t so directional?

Do you get much immersion ‘surround’ feel?

Interestingly the current Top Rear placement drivers I’m using that do sit a few inches behind ear line give a nice sense of immersion on 5.1 playback, but obviously not great for Atmos as you can be aware sound is coming from above when there’s a directional effect from those channels.


So I started in a similar position to you. For space reasons I had all four of my surrounds in a 7.1 system up in the junction of the walls and the ceiling. It worked surprisingly well.

Then I added a pair of speakers at the rear corners and repurposed the four elevated surrounds as Atmos. They weren't in the right place, but it gave a good sense of height.

Then I added a pair of minx 22s which sat on top of my acoustic panels on the left and right walls, they pointed at MLP. The left one was only about 2ft away, although slightly above head height.

They were fine for what they were, they held up pretty well and I had a good sense of things "passing by" me from front, to side, to rear. It was quite specific though, I could hear things move from one speaker to the next, but that's due to the proximity of the speakers.

Have you considered bi/di/tri-pole speakers? They never worked for me but lots of people like them, especially when you're quite close to the sides or rears?


Active Member
I did think about bi/di-poles etc. with their clever little built in null to spread the sound but was unsure about how that would fair with any panning effects from the front, good for ambiance I guess though (rain, jungle noises etc.). Maybe I'll have another look at options.

I mean in theory my NXT 'Ultra-Wide'/BMR QAV speakers are quite a wide dispersion speaker (these are the ones - -Q ACOUSTICS Q AV BMR REAR SPEAKERS WHITE (PAIR))

Tonally they weren't quite in the ballpark of a traditional speaker though. I could give them a whirl in a temporary setup sitting on something a foot or two off of the ground (a bit low I know but don't really want to drill the walls unnecessarily :) )

Any good recommendations for a panning 5.1 track? I think I remember a good spin around the room with a singular tone in Iron Man 2 when he's making the new element, although it is pretty low in frequency so probably the subs doing most of the work :)


I would absolutely hook the speakers up and put them close to where you think they'd work and give them a test. My room currently is a sea of speaker cable while I work out where everything will live.

Try Gravity for panning content, there's lot of movement in the opening scenes while they're working and dealing with the debris.

Sessen Ryu

Active Member
Another vote for tripoles, and another vote for experimenting with various positions.
I have played with all sorts of positions with my surrounds on my 5.1 set up, and so far the best position for me was directly either side of my ears (approx 1 foot higher). the tripoles I have (M&K K4s), send most of the sound out of the front, but do a wonderful job of connecting to the front sound stage. I have had many bookshelfs before acting as surrounds and I personally I would never go back to that.
Incidentally, I also tried a 6.1 set up but it muddied/ruined the rear sound stage.


Active Member
We've just got the Christmas decorations out of the way actually so I'm going to play with what I have.

What were your thoughts of side surrounds slightly ahead of MLP when you were playing @Sessen Ryu ? Did it keep immersion or just end up with a super wide sort of stereo soundstage?

Sessen Ryu

Active Member
In my case I thought the sound was more "localised" when the surrounds were slightly in front (I had them about a foot above my ears). I am sure people have various results with different speakers in different rooms however :)

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