You’ve decided on the model, brought it home, and now you’re getting ready to install your new soundbar. The only problem, you’re not sure about the height. Should you mount the soundbar up high, or place it on a shelf underneath the TV? Where the soundbar is placed will affect audio quality so you want to place it at the right height. So what is the best height for a soundbar anyway?
The best height for the placement of a soundbar is usually around ear level. If it's placed higher or lower, you might not hear all of the audio frequencies accurately, which will end with a less-than-optimal listening and viewing experience.
While ear level is probably the best height for a soundbar in nearly all cases, there can be some questions on how to actually install it there. More importantly, some people ask what kind of effect this may have on the audio if it isn't placed at the standard height. Thankfully, getting your soundbar installed - whether it's a Sonos Playbar (on Amazon) or a Bose - at the appropriate level is a lot easier than you may think.
As I just said, trying to get your soundbar installed at ear level is often easier than you think. With that said, it also depends on how your entertainment system is set up, to begin with. Since soundbar manufacturers agree on height placement, it makes sense to follow their recommendation.
If your TV is mounted on the wall above a shelf - which we talk about more in our article - or even sitting on top of one, you won’t have any trouble placing the soundbar at the right height. Placing it directly below your TV and in the center of the shelf, helps ensure that you’ll hear optimal audio. How you position your sound system matters due to the speed and density of low and high frequencies, so make sure you take the time to find the proper placement.
If you’re the only one in the home watching TV and listening to the audio, you only need to consider your height in regards to the soundbar’s placement. However, if others are using the audio system, chances are there are different heights to take into consideration. In this case, you want to use the average height of everyone in the home.
To find the best height placement, you’ll start by measuring the couch or the chairs that people normally sit in while they’re watching TV in your home. Place the TV at everyone’s average eye level. The TV can be a little higher or lower depending on personal viewing preferences. Once you have your television at the right height, place the soundbar directly beneath it. You want to center the soundbar to ensure optimal audio quality.
Knowing the average person's height in your home and the height of the furniture is important when placing the TV and soundbar. It works great in most situations, although, it's useful to understand how soundbars actually work first (our guide here). Additionally, it's worth mentioning that not everyone has their room arranged with furniture directly in front of their television or their system set up in such a way to allow them to connect the soundbar underneath the TV.
Regardless of how the room is arranged or how the entertainment system installed, there are different ways you can get a soundbar at the correct height. It might take a little creativity and some rearranging of components, but it will be worth it when you sit down and actually start watching and listening to your TV.
If your TV is mounted on the wall and you can put a shelf or table beneath it. You won’t have any trouble placing your soundbar at the perfect level. One tip to keep in mind, is that you don’t want to place your soundbar more than 3” away from the TV screen. Greater distances can result in audio delays giving you a “lip-syncing” effect when you’re watching videos.
There is a drawback to placing the soundbar on a shelf below the TV. You may be tempted to add a few decorative pieces. These may look great but the items can interfere with sound quality. Instead of the sound waves bouncing off the walls, they may hit the decorations. It can result in the audio sounding muted.
Another option is to mount the soundbar above the TV, however, there are drawbacks depending on the television’s height. If your TV is mounted lower, you shouldn’t notice any decrease in audio quality if the soundbar is placed overhead. If the TV is at mid-level to high, then you might encounter dead zones throughout the room.
The reason audio quality can suffer is due to the position of the soundbar’s speakers. The ones in the middle are designed to output sound directly in front, while the two at either end are slightly angled upwards. It’s the two end speakers that you may not hear if the TV and soundbar are mounted too high.
Sometimes it’s not always possible to place the soundbar at the correct height, but this doesn’t mean that you have to live with poor audio quality. There are a few tricks that can boast sound without having to rearrange your furniture and entertainment setup.
Sometimes a larger soundbar, like the 700 from Bose (on Amazon), will compensate for a poor placement option. The soundbar doesn’t have to match the length of your TV. It does look better aesthetically but it can reduce sound quality. A larger soundbar will produce better audio in larger areas, especially if you can place the component at the best height. It also applies to smaller rooms, a large soundbar can distort audio regardless of whether it’s placed closer to the floor or higher up.
It’s easier to install an active soundbar than a passive one for a couple of different reasons. For example, an active soundbar doesn’t need to be connected to a receiver. Not only can you eliminate some cords, but it can also improve sound quality if you don’t have an amplifier connected to your system.
Since an active soundbar only needs to be connected to the TV, you also stay within the optimal range. You can also avoid signal delays (also called latency) and syncing issues that are occasional problems with passive soundbars. Put simply, you have a little more flexibility when it comes to placement with an active soundbar.
Aux and RCA cables will work, but they’re not the best option when it comes to audio quality. Unless you own an older model television, there shouldn’t be any problems upgrading to HDMI or HDMI ARC cables. You’ll get better audio quality due to the cables’ design, with less possibility of interference. HDMI cables are your best option since they relay both audio and visual signals, and most TVs are designed to support their use.
The best height for a soundbar is at your ear level, and the soundbar can be placed above or below the TV. However, this isn’t always possible. If your only option is to place the soundbar above or below, there are few things you can do to improve sound quality. Make sure that the soundbar is the right size for your space, and don’t forget about the connecting cables. Using HDMI not only ensures better audio quality but video as well.