Choosing where to place your television and stereo system is as important as selecting the equipment itself–follow a few simple guidelines to make sure you get the best out of these home-entertainment purchases.
Almost every household has a television and sound system, from the smallest CD player with miniature speakers to large-scale televisions with stereophonic sound. Getting the best from your home-entertainment equipment depends as much on how you position the units as on the systems themselves.
Once you’ve decided where to site your stereo and television, you need to decide how to store and display them. Many living-room storage systems offer a module for the television, separate video or DVD recorder, and stereo; some stand-alone units are specifically designed to house them.
If your home is high-tech and modern you can make a virtue out of your viewing and listening equipment and choose it to suit the style and decoration of the room. However, for more traditionally furnished homes, the overwhelming modern style of audio-visual systems can spoil the atmosphere, so you may decide to hide the equipment away completely.
Before you buy storage for a stereo system, think about how you use it, whether there is adequate access to it – stereo systems often require access from the front and top – and where in the room you want to place it. The key to enjoying your system at its best is to position the speakers where they give the highest quality sound. This depends to a large extent on the shape of the room and the type and size of speaker – some are designed to sit on the floor, some on a shelf or mounted on a wall, and others are designed to be used with a rigid stand.
The most important aspect of television storage is to make sure it is located where you can see the screen easily. When you buy a storage unit, check that it is the right size and height to house the television and the video recorder if that is separate.
Positioning the Stereo The operating height of the stereo is an important consideration. You should position the system either low enough so that you can kneel in front of it or high enough for you to stand comfortably while loading CDs.
Some storage units include room for speakers, but while these look neat, they probably don’t give you the best sound quality. The most effective position for the speakers is on the floor or high up on a wall in a corner of the room. Here, the sound output is reflected by the corner walls and the floor or ceiling. If this is not possible, the next effective option is to position them on the floor or near the ceiling against one wall. The further the speaker is from the corner, the more the sound is reduced.
In a small room, the speakers are often so close to the seating area that it is impossible to have any background music without it interfering with the conversation. In such a case, placing the speakers off the floor – either wall-mounted or on a shelf-can help. Wherever you decide to place your speakers, it’s a good idea to take time to experiment with a few arrangements to find out by trial and error which one suits you best.
Some of the more expensive speakers are supplied with detailed instructions about where they should be placed. These are the result of exhaustive listening tests by designers, so it’s as well to follow them to the letter.
Carpets, curtains, even items of furniture can all affect the quality of sound from the speakers. Bare walls and floors reflect the sound, making it much clearer and bigger, while thick carpets and curtains have a muffling effect.
Positioning the TV Your television should be easy to view from the most comfortable seats in the living room, but it shouldn’t dominate the room. You can meet both of these conditions by placing it on a cart or keeping it in a cabinet or cupboard with closing doors. However you house it, do make sure that it is on a stand of some sort or placed on a surface to keep it off the floor. The recommended minimum height from the base of the set to the floor is 48in (120cm). This allows you to maintain a good seating posture while viewing. Unfortunately, some commercial stands are much lower than this, forcing you to crane your neck forward or slump in your seat in order to see the screen.
Make sure the television is positioned so that there is minimum reflection off the screen from both the window and any lighting. At the same time, though, it is a good idea to have some lighting near the television when viewing, as looking away from the screen from time to time helps to reduce the eye fatigue caused by focusing on it for a long time. This relief is most effective if you look at something of a similar brightness to save your eyes from having to readjust to different levels of light.