How to Make Every Speaker Work With Surround Sound

If you’re a movie or music enthusiast, you know how important it is to have a good surround sound system. However, setting up and calibrating a surround sound device in your home can be intimidating, especially if you’re not familiar with the technicalities involved.

One of the most common issues you might face is getting every speaker to work with your surround sound system.

Whether you’re setting up a new surround sound system or trying to fix an existing one, this guide will help you make every speaker work with your surround sound.

We’ll walk you through the basics of surround sound and provide you with tips on how to plan and set up your surround sound system.

We’ll also show you how to select compatible speakers and integrate them into your system, as well as troubleshoot common issues that might arise. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite movies and music with a fully functional surround sound system.

How to Make Every Speaker Work With Surround Sound: A Comprehensive Guide

Surround sound is a fantastic way to make movie nights even more enjoyable. You can use most speakers for surround sound.

But how can you make every speaker work with surround sound?

Here’s how you can make every speaker work with surround sound:

  1. Use similar speakers (or pairs of speakers).
  2. Only use passive speakers.
  3. Check the impedance rating on your speakers and receiver.
  4. Mount the speakers.
  5. Wire the speakers.
  6. Plug the wires into the receiver.
  7. Set the correct mode on the receiver.
  8. Test the speakers.

There are a few important things you should know before building a customized surround sound system.

You can use pretty much any speaker if you know what you’re doing. So, keep reading to learn how.

1. Use Similar Speakers (or Pairs of Speakers)

Use Similar Speakers (or Pairs of Speakers)

You should use identical speakers in your surround sound system.

If you’re building a 7.1 surround sound system, you can get away with a pair of different speakers in the top corners.

In truth, some home-theater-in-a-box systems use different pairs of speakers. And it can work pretty well if you know what you’re doing.

For example, the Fluance Elite 7.1 Home Theater from uses three different pairs. There are larger and smaller bookshelf speakers as well as floor-standing ones.

This kind of setup allows for a lot of versatility when mounting.

The sound that you get from this system is hard to match, even with the best custom home theater.

So, if manufacturers combine different speakers, you can do it too.

Nonetheless, I strongly encourage you to use identical speakers for surround sound, so the result is a well-balanced, immersive sound experience.

If you mix and match different speakers, it can throw the balance out of whack.

At the very least, use identical pairs of speakers for every side.

For example, you can use larger speakers in the front corners. The rear speakers are less important, so put them in the back.

Frankly, you don’t need a central speaker, especially if you only use the system for music. But the center speaker is still pretty useful for dialogue.

Of course, the center speaker is the odd one out, so you can use a different one.

I recommend the Klipsch R-52C from It’s a large, powerful center speaker with two woofers and a tweeter.

Dialogues in movies sound crystal-clear, even in the middle of gunfire or explosions.

It’s a true high-end speaker for your home theater.

2. Only Use Passive Speakers

Passive Speakers

In case you didn’t know, there are active and passive speakers. Active speakers are self-contained because they have a built-in amplifier and typically plug into the socket.

On the other hand, passive speakers don’t have any electrical components. They just have the speaker driver and enclosure. You need an amplifier to power a passive speaker.

However, you can’t use active speakers with an amplifier. Even if you could theoretically plug them in, don’t do it.

You’ll destroy both the speakers and the amplifier in one fell swoop.

But how to tell them apart?

Passive speakers usually don’t have any wires coming out of them. You need to use your own.

Also, they don’t have any external power plugs.

Active speakers typically use the 3.5 mm (0.14 in) jack so that you can plug them into your TV or computer.

Therefore, only use passive speakers for your home theater system.

3. Check the Impedance Rating on Your Speakers and Receiver

Before you plug in anything, check the impedance rating. The most common are 6 and 8 ohms.

While you can combine different impedance ratings, you can only do it if the speakers are within the amplifier’s ohm rating.

The most common rating you’ll come across is the 6-12 ohm range.

To learn more about impedance ratings, watch this handy YouTube video:

Using speakers with higher or lower impedance than what your amplifier is rated for causes issues.

The speakers won’t work out right, there’ll be distortion, and the speakers might even die.

So, technically, you can use every speaker with surround sound. Just make sure it’s within the receiver’s ohm range.

4. Mount the Speakers

Now that you checked all your speakers, it’s time to mount them.

Speaker placement is crucial for surround sound. Crutchfield explains how to place your speakers for both 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound.

If you’re using different pairs of speakers, mount them in the same places. For example, the left and right speakers should be identical.

The same goes for the rear and front speakers.

5. Wire the Speakers

Wire the Speakers

With the speakers in place, it’s time to wire them. But make sure you’re using the correct wire gauge for the distance and impedance rating.

Almost all speakers in a home theater system are happy with a 14 gauge wire. For that, I recommend the GearIT Speaker Wire from

It’s made of CCA, which doesn’t oxidize. The wire is also affordable and durable enough to outlast your speakers.

Speakers use several different plugs. You can use this glossary to learn which type of plug you need for your speakers and amplifiers.

Ultimately, you have the advantage of using the exact wire length you need for your custom surround sound.

Just cut the wire to the appropriate size, and plug it in.

6. Plug the Wires Into the Receiver

Plug the Wires Into the Receiver

Wiring the speakers was the easy part. Now you have to plug the wires into your amplifier or receiver.

Most use multi-channel RCA, as it’s the easiest one to work with for surround sound.

The ports are labeled, so plug the wires in accordingly. You can refer to your amplifier instruction manual if you need help.

For example, L and R are left and right, CEN is the center speaker, and SUB is the subwoofer.

If you see FR and FL, that’s the front right and front left.

I recommend the Denon AVR-S540BT 5.2 Receiver from It supports five speakers and two subwoofers for an immersive surround sound system.

Plus, it has Bluetooth.

7. Set the Correct Mode on the Receiver

Amplifiers and receivers have a few different DSP modes. They essentially tell the amplifier how to power the speakers.

You need to set your receiver to surround sound. You either do it with the remote or on the amplifier itself, though it depends on the model you have.

If you’re having trouble with this step, check the instruction manual.

8. Test the Speakers

Now that everything is up and running, it’s time to test your surround sound. Turn the system and your TV on, and put on your favorite movie.

Or, even better, use a surround test like the following one:

Take your time testing the speakers. And make sure that they all work and sound equal.

If the rear speakers are slightly quieter, don’t worry. That’s normal.

Understanding Surround Sound

Basics of Surround Sound

Surround sound is a type of audio system that creates a three-dimensional sound field, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the action. It is typically used in home theaters, gaming setups, and music studios. A surround sound system consists of several speakers placed around a room, each playing a different audio channel. This creates a more immersive experience than traditional stereo sound.

The most common type of surround sound system is the 5.1 setup, which consists of five speakers and one subwoofer. The five speakers are placed around the room: two in the front, two in the back, and one in the center. The subwoofer is usually placed on the floor near the front speakers.

Surround Sound Formats

There are several different surround sound formats, including Dolby Digital, DTS, and THX. Each format has its unique characteristics and is used in different types of media.

Dolby Digital is the most common surround sound format and is used in most movies and TV shows. It uses six channels of audio: front left, front center, front right, rear left, rear right, and a subwoofer channel.

DTS is another popular surround sound format and is known for its high-quality audio. It uses five channels of audio: front left, front center, front right, rear left, and rear right.

THX is a certification program for audio and video equipment that was created by George Lucas. It sets standards for audio quality and is used in movie theaters and home theaters.

Speaker Types for Surround Sound

Several different types of speakers can be used in a surround sound system, including floor-standing speakers, bookshelf speakers, in-wall speakers, and satellite speakers. Each type of speaker has its advantages and disadvantages.

Floor-standing speakers are large speakers that are designed to sit on the floor. They are typically used as the front left and right speakers in a surround sound system and provide a powerful, full-bodied sound.

Bookshelf speakers are smaller speakers that can be placed on a shelf or stand. They are typically used as the rear left and right speakers in a surround sound system and provide a more subtle, ambient sound.

In-wall speakers are speakers that are installed directly into the wall. They are typically used as the front center speaker in a surround sound system and provide a clean, unobtrusive look.

Satellite speakers are small speakers that can be placed on a shelf or stand. They are typically used as the rear left and right speakers in a surround sound system and provide a compact, space-saving solution.

Planning Your Surround Sound Setup

When setting up a surround sound system, there are a few things to consider to ensure that every speaker works properly. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind:

Room Acoustics and Layout

The first step in setting up your surround sound system is to consider the acoustics and layout of the room. The size, shape, and materials of the room can all affect the sound quality of your system. For example, a small room with hard surfaces will likely produce a different sound than a large room with soft surfaces.

To optimize your room’s acoustics, you may want to consider adding acoustic panels or soundproofing materials to reduce echo or reverberation. You can also experiment with speaker placement to find the best sound quality for your space.

Speaker Placement Guidelines

When it comes to speaker placement, there are a few general guidelines to follow. For a typical 5.1 surround sound system, the front left, front right, and center speakers should be placed in front of the listener, while the rear left and rear right speakers should be placed behind the listener. The subwoofer can be placed anywhere in the room, but it’s usually best to place it near the front of the room for optimal bass response.

It’s also essential to consider the height of your speakers. For example, if you have ceiling speakers, you’ll want to make sure they’re positioned correctly to create an immersive sound experience.

Wiring and Connectivity

Finally, you’ll need to consider the wiring and connectivity of your surround sound system. Make sure that all of your speakers are properly wired and connected to your receiver or amplifier. You may also want to consider using high-quality speaker cables to ensure the best possible sound quality.

It’s also important to ensure that your receiver or amplifier is compatible with your speakers and that all of your components are properly connected. Double-check your connections and settings to make sure that everything is working correctly.

By taking the time to plan your surround sound setup carefully, you can ensure that every speaker works properly and that you get the best possible sound quality from your system.

Selecting Compatible Speakers

To make every speaker work with surround sound, it is essential to select compatible speakers that will work together seamlessly. Here are some factors to consider when choosing speakers for your surround sound system.

Speaker Specifications

When selecting speakers for your surround sound system, it is important to consider the specifications of each speaker. The speakers should be of the same size, power rating, and impedance to ensure that they work together harmoniously. If the speakers are not of the same specifications, it can cause sound distortion and imbalance in the audio output.

Brand Compatibility

Another factor to consider when selecting speakers for your surround sound system is brand compatibility. It is recommended to use speakers from the same brand or series to ensure that they are compatible with each other. Mixing and matching speakers from different brands can lead to compatibility issues and poor sound quality.

Wired vs Wireless Speakers

When selecting speakers for your surround sound system, you also need to decide whether you want wired or wireless speakers. Wired speakers are connected to the receiver with cables, while wireless speakers use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to connect to the receiver. Wired speakers are generally more reliable and have better sound quality, but wireless speakers offer more flexibility in terms of placement and ease of use.

By considering these factors, you can select compatible speakers that will work together to create a seamless and immersive surround sound experience.

Integration Techniques

If you want to make every speaker work with surround sound, there are several integration techniques you can use. In this section, we will discuss some of the most effective techniques to ensure that all of your speakers are working together seamlessly.

Using an AV Receiver

One of the easiest ways to integrate your speakers for surround sound is to use an AV receiver. This device acts as a hub for all of your audio and video components, allowing you to connect multiple speakers and control them from a single remote. When you use an AV receiver, you can easily adjust the volume, balance, and other settings for each speaker, ensuring that they are all working together to create the best possible sound.

Advanced Speaker Configuration

Another way to integrate your speakers is to use advanced speaker configuration settings. Most modern home theater systems come with a variety of settings that allow you to adjust the sound output for each speaker. For example, you can adjust the crossover frequency, which determines which frequencies are sent to each speaker. You can also adjust the phase and time alignment, which can help to eliminate any delays or echoes that might be present in the sound.

Calibration for Optimal Sound

Finally, it’s important to calibrate your speakers for optimal sound. This involves adjusting the settings on each speaker to ensure that they are all working together to create the best possible sound. You can use a sound meter to measure the volume and frequency response of each speaker, and then adjust the settings accordingly. You can also use calibration software to automatically adjust the settings for you, based on the specific characteristics of your room and speaker setup.

By using these integration techniques, you can ensure that every speaker in your home theater system is working together to create the best possible sound. Whether you’re watching movies, playing games, or listening to music, you’ll be able to enjoy a truly immersive audio experience that will bring your entertainment to life.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

When it comes to setting up your surround sound system, there are a few common issues that can arise. Here are some troubleshooting tips for the most common problems.

Connectivity Problems

One of the most common issues with surround sound systems is connectivity problems. If you’re having trouble getting all of your speakers to work, the first thing you should check is your connections. Make sure that all of your speakers are properly connected to your receiver and that your receiver is properly connected to your TV or other audio source.

If you’re still having trouble, try unplugging and replugging all of your connections. Sometimes a loose connection can cause problems with sound quality or speaker functionality. Additionally, check that your speaker wires are not damaged or frayed. Damaged wires can cause connectivity problems and even damage your speakers.

Audio Sync and Delay

Another common issue with surround sound systems is audio sync and delay. This can be especially noticeable when watching movies or playing video games, where the audio and video need to be in sync for an optimal experience.

If you’re experiencing audio sync or delay issues, check your receiver settings to make sure that your audio delay is properly calibrated. Some receivers have an automatic calibration feature that can help you set the correct delay time for your system.

If your receiver doesn’t have an automatic calibration feature, you can manually adjust the delay time in the settings menu. Start by adjusting the delay time in small increments until the audio and video are properly synced.

Sound Quality Optimization

Finally, if you’re experiencing sound quality issues with your surround sound system, there are a few things you can do to optimize your audio. First, make sure that your speakers are properly positioned and angled for optimal sound quality. Additionally, check that your receiver settings are properly calibrated for your speakers.

You can also adjust the EQ settings on your receiver to optimize your sound quality. Experiment with different settings to find the best sound for your room and personal preferences. Finally, consider upgrading your speakers or receiver if you’re still not satisfied with the sound quality of your system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for speakers to be compatible with a surround sound system?

For a speaker to be compatible with a surround sound system, it should have a minimum of three speakers, including a center channel, and left, and right speakers. The speakers should be able to handle the same amount of power and have the same impedance rating. It is important to choose speakers that have a frequency response that matches the frequency range of the audio content you want to play.

How can I integrate floor-standing speakers into a surround sound setup?

Floor-standing speakers can be integrated into a surround sound setup by positioning them as the front left and right speakers. You can also use them as rear speakers if you have a 7.1 surround sound system. Make sure to match the power handling and impedance ratings of the floor-standing speakers with the other speakers in the system.

What are the key features to look for when choosing a surround sound system?

When choosing a surround sound system, you should consider the number of channels, power output, frequency response, and connectivity options. A good surround sound system should have a minimum of five channels, including a center channel, left and right front speakers, and left and right rear speakers. It should also have a subwoofer for low-frequency sounds.

How can I optimize my surround sound system for listening to music?

To optimize your surround sound system for listening to music, you should disable any sound processing features, such as Dolby Digital or DTS, and set the audio mode to stereo. You should also adjust the EQ settings to enhance the mid and high frequencies and reduce the bass. It is also important to position the speakers correctly to achieve the best sound quality.

What steps should I take if only one of my surround sound speakers is working?

If only one of your surround sound speakers is working, you should first check the connections to make sure they are secure. You should also check the speaker settings to ensure that the speaker is enabled and that the volume is not muted. If the problem persists, you may need to replace the speaker or the wiring.

What are the best practices for configuring a 7.1 surround sound system for music?

To configure a 7.1 surround sound system for music, you should position the front left and right speakers, center channel, and subwoofer in the same way as a standard 5.1 system. The rear left and right speakers should be positioned behind the listening area, and the side left and right speakers should be positioned to the left and right of the listening area. You should also adjust the EQ settings to balance the sound across all the speakers.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to make every speaker work with surround sound.

You don’t need any special “left” and “right” speakers because any speaker can work in any position.

You just need to use passive speakers with the appropriate impedance rating.

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