Hi guys! Emmett here. It’s been awhile since I last posted on Room for Tuesday, but I’m back with a common debate. Based on the content of the title you can imagine Sarah has zero interest in this topic. However, I thought if Sarah and I have many heated discussions regarding surround sound, it’s likely many readers out there also battle this design versus tech dilemma with their significant other. Click through to see our compromise, and how we overcame our differences and ended up with surround sound (yessss)!
First, let me explain my reasoning for this article. Surround sound is as much of an upgrade to your regular TV speaker as 4k HD TV is an upgrade to watching VHS tapes. It is something that most people do not think they want- but like many things, you want it, you just don’t know it yet! It enhances the overall TV watching experience, plain and simple… and we’re Netflix / Hulu / Prime kind of people. While one might not appreciate the first time experiencing surround sound, I would bet after binge-watching a month’s worth of Netflix streaming with surround sound, it will definitely be a letdown when you go to a friend’s house and have to go without. I know, petty, right? Maybe. But installing a speaker system may be easier than you think, and with today’s technology, speakers scattered (or in Sarah’s case, hidden) around the room can be a little easier on the eyes.
Surround sound (without going into all the details and options) is essentially 6 speakers: Left Front, Center, Right Front, Left Rear, Right Rear, and a Subwoofer which can be positioned anywhere in the room.
Sarah’s primary argument for not wanting speakers was “they are ugly”. Imagine that- she only cares about the looks of the living room, not my TV viewing happiness! So my goal was to make them the least intrusive as possible, from location of the speakers to hiding the wires.
H I D I N G T H E W I R I N G
I knew I wanted to install a speaker system prior to beginning construction on our built-ins and fireplace. So before installing the drywall I ran some in-wall speaker wire to my Left Front, Center, Right Front and Subwoofer location. These speakers are usually the easiest to run the wires to because they are closest in proximity to the TV and control unit for the speakers. Other options are to tuck the wires under the baseboard (if the room is carpeted). There’s a “before” image below… you can see what’s happening behind our built-ins.
I also purchased low-voltage receptacles along with a speaker wire banana plug faceplate to give our bookcases a cleaner look without long speaker wires coiled up and zip tied in the corners. This also gave me the opportunity to unplug the speaker wires from the wall and remove the wire and speaker. Sarah utilizes this option when she styles the shelves and takes photos, but in real life- she just hides them alongside or behind decorative objects.
The rear speakers are the most difficult to wire because you have to get the wire from the front of the room to the back of the room. In our case, I ran the wire through the floor and through the crawlspace, then back up through the wall. The rear speaker wires were not a particular issue for me to install, however, if this troublesome, there are options to get wireless speakers. Wireless speakers tend to have less quality and the annoyance of frequently changing batteries, so I opted for hardwired.
L O C A T I O N
Placing the front speakers on shelves rather than mounting them on the walls allows the opportunity to style around them. As I mentioned, Sarah tries to disguise them with styling…. although I think they’re good looking speakers, so I’d be ok just leaving them exposed for guests to see.
We placed the center speaker on the mantle. For the rear speakers, it worked out perfectly to sit both of them on top of the credenza. They sort of blend in and get lost with all the other items sitting around them, as opposed to standing out if they were mounted on the wall.
I also specifically built the lower closed-in portion of the bookcases to fit the large subwoofer along with an electrical outlet. As I mentioned, the subwoofer can be placed anywhere in the room and even placed underneath a table or inside of a cabinet. The only caveat is the subwoofer has to have space around it and it has to be able to breathe. That is why we built the doors with perforated panels.
I hope these suggestions will sway your decision or convince your spouse that surround sound isn’t a giant eye sore. In my opinion it’s 100% worth it. If you’re interest in our exact model, here’s the link to our setup. I would love to see what clever solutions you come up with for “hiding” your surround sound.
Do you guys have a similar outlook as Sarah and myself? More times than not, it’s usually a husband who is pro surround sound and a wife who is not. I think I’ve convinced Sarah it’s pretty nice. I will say, I’m perfectly content with our living room now.
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