You can pack your personal surround sound system with up to 11 speakers if you want, but the most common home theater audio systems use 5 or 7 speakers plus a subwoofer, arranged as shown.

Surround Sound

Location, Location, Location
Position your speakers at about head height — meaning the height your head will be when you’re watching a movie. You also want them level, not tilted. Sound waves should flow out into the room, not drive into the floor.
  1. If possible, you want your HDTV centered.
  2. Place one speaker directly under the set so main sounds seem to emanate from the center of the screen.
  3. Place one speaker to the front right and one to the front left, equally spaced if at all possible.
  4. The left and right surround speakers should be equally spaced to the sides of your seating area at the same height as your other speakers.
  5. If you’re going for 7.1 surround sound, place the left and right rear speakers equally spaced behind your seating area, and at the same height as the others.
  6. Put your subwoofer on the floor near a wall so the low frequencies rumble through the room. It can be positioned to either side of the screen, but don’t put it behind your seating area, and don’t enclose it in a piece of furniture.

Best Acoustics
For the best sound, set up your home theater in a fairly good-sized, enclosed, rectangular room — rooms that are more open have poor acoustics. If you must use an open room, look for ways to enclose the space with ceiling-hung curtains or fabric screens.

Going for the high end? A professional electrician may be able to conceal speaker wires in the wall for a clean look. Consider carpeting floors and curtaining walls to kill distracting echoes. Adding sound insulation will help prevent movie noise from escaping to other parts of the house or beyond.