Although at a basic level sound bars are incredibly simple to setup, there are a few basic tips anyone can follow to vastly improve the sound and performance of their compact audio system. While your soundbar will obviously be placed above or below your television (99/100 right below it) these simple adjustments can make a world of difference in the output and clarity of your system.
First, always make sure your sound bar is positioned at roughly eye level when sitting in the listening position. In this case listening position would be wherever you typically sit and watch your TV from. In most cases this will be eye level while sitting in your favorite chair or on the couch. Keeping your soundbar at eye level will guarantee that non-directional sound is coming to you directly without having the need to bounce off another object thus potentially degrading the sound. Placement of the soundbar at eye level also reduces the likelihood of your surround sounds (rear left and right) effects taking an unexpected bounce thereby not being placed correctly or becoming partially distorted.
Second, when possible avoid placing your soundbar in such a position that relies on having sound reflect off of windows. Windows represent a huge source of reflection and sound loss. This however avoiding windows is not a possibility for many people, so, in these cases use heavy window coverings to reduce your sound loss. Window coverings also help by dramatically reducing light when your watching your television which can be a nice added bonus while watching movies and TV.
Along the same line as the previous point try to recognize other potential sources of reflection such as large posters/pictures with glass in the frames, glass/wood tables, etc. These are all potential sources of sound loss and should be removed or covered with table cloths to maximize your sound.
While many sound bars are completely plug and play and use built in amplification, some require external amplifiers or receivers. These are sometimes referred to as “passive” sound bar systems. With these systems it’s imperative that you take the time to configure receiver per the manufacturers directions for setting speakers to the “small” or “bookshelf” setting. This step is often neglected in systems like this and over time could lead to potentially damaging your speaker system.
Lastly, although not directly related to your soundbar having a subwoofer is one of the most dramatic modifications anyone can make to the small home theater system. Subwoofers are capable of cranking out sound at lower frequencies than your soundbar is capable of and will provide a much fuller sound without impacting the overall look of your sound system too dramatically. Subwoofers also have an optimal placement as one might expect (although in my opinion it’s not as critical due to the low frequency nature of a subwoofers sound). However, optimally a subwoofer should be placed as close to a wall as possible to maximize bass output. Moving the subwoofer into a corner will help best equalize the bass across the entire room.
In conclusion, speaker placement is key to getting the most out of your soundbar (or any speakers). One should always try minimize the number of reflective surfaces such as glass or hardwoods and maximize softer surfaces using curtains and coverings. Having a subwoofer is one of the best enhancements to any sound system anyone can make so place it near to a wall will maximize this investment.