Live

Watch CBSN Live

Step Two

Connect the speakers

Now decide where the speakers are to be placed. For the best sound possible, follow these guidelines:

  • The speakers should be at least six feet apart.
  • The area behind each should be similar. In other words, don't put one in front of the draperies and the other in front of a glass sliding door, or one in a corner and the other along a wall.
  • In a rectangular room, try to place the speakers along the 'long' wall, rather than the shorter one.
  • The fronts of the speakers should be on the same plane (level with each other).
  • The smallest driver (referred to as the "tweeter") should be about at ear level. This may mean placing smaller speakers on stands, or less desirably, on shelves. Consider whether you'll be seated when listening to your music.
  • Keep the area around the speakers clear. Don't block the fronts of them with furniture, and try to minimize clutter around them.
  • Corner placement will emphasize bass response. Placement along a wall will produce a more "open" sound. Keep in mind that music in a room with lots of drapes and padded surfaces will sound different than in a room with bare walls, and wooden furniture.
  • If using a three-piece system, with a subwoofer, try to keep that subwoofer in the same area of the room rather than very far away.

Most any system has what's called a "sweet spot". This is the area about six to ten feet in front of, and centered between the speakers. Serious listeners will place a couch or chair in that area, and spend most of their time there. This may be impossible for some people, but do your best.

  • Now measure the distance to the speaker that's farthest from the components. Keep in mind that if you want to hide the speaker wire as much as possible, run it along the base of the wall, or under a rug. Once you have that distance, add six inches for error and cut two equal pieces of speaker wire.

    Don't worry that the other speaker may be closer to the components. It's important that the two lengths of wire be close in length, and you might as well make them the same. The speaker wire should be at least 18 gauge, and 16 gauge is better.

  • Using a wire cutter/stripper (or scissors in an emergency), separate the last three inches of the paired wire, and strip the last 1/2 inch. Twist the strands so that they form a nice, smooth end. Repeat with the other three ends on each paired length of wire, for a total of eight stripped and twisted ends on both lengths.
  • One side of each paired wire should be identified, either by color or by type along the side, as distinct from the other. Take the marked side, and insert one end into the positive (red) connction on the back of the speaker that is to your right, as you face them. Insert the unmarked side into the other connection on the same speaker. Repeat with the other length of wire, and the other speaker.

Look at the back of your receiver. It probably has connections for more than one set of speakers. If it's a "surround sound" unit, it will have connections for four or five sets. You want the set marked "front speakers", if there are markings for "A" and "B" stick with the "A" group.

    Insert the wires that lead from your right-hand speaker (as you face the speakers) into the connections marked "R" or "right". The marked side of the paired length goes to the connection identified as "+" or "pos". The other side goes into the "-" or "neg" connection. Repeat this with the other length of paired wire, and the remaining connections in the "A" set of "front speakers". It's very important to make sure that no wires cross each other where they're stripped to bare wire.

To recap: what you're doing is connecting the positive terminals of the speakers to the positive terminals of the front speaker section of the receiver, then the negative to the negative. Keep within one set of connections, rather than putting one speaker into "A", and the other into "B". If your receiver does not have "front" or "back" connections, don't worry, just make the connections as described into the available "A" set.

Step Three
Top: Learn2 Set Up A Stereo System



The Nominees
With Two, You Get Eggroll
Must-Haves

Get Ready To Rock And Roll

This service is produced by Learn2.com, a partner of CBS.com

Buy It Now

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue