Installing a soundbar isn't hard if you know your options. Discover the most popular soundbar mounting ideas and placement tips for getting the best sound.
Soundbars and TVs go hand in hand.
But the correct soundbar placement relative to the flat-screen TV and the rest of your room is critical if you want to experience the best possible audio quality.
Setting the optimum height for watching and listening will ensure you enjoy the best sound quality.
You have three main choices when it comes to mounting your soundbar.
You can fix it to the TV or TV mount, attach it directly to the wall or position it using a cabinet.
With the soundbar designed to provide a surround sound effect, placing it inside a cabinet comes with particular challenges.
The recess cannot be too small; otherwise, it will muffle the sound.
So here are some soundbar mounting ideas that will assist you in getting the best from your audio-visual equipment.
- Why Choose a Soundbar?
- Where Should You Position Your Soundbar?
- Soundbar Mounting Ideas
- Places to Avoid Mounting a Soundbar
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Choose a Soundbar?
There are several reasons why using a soundbar is very popular:
- They give a better sound than TV speakers
- They are easier to install than large speaker systems
- Because they don’t need a bulky amplifier, they can be connected directly to the TV
- There are fewer wires required to connect everything together
- You can add a subwoofer or surround speakers to some soundbars later if you wish
As flat-screen TVs become thinner, it becomes more difficult for manufacturers to provide high-quality internal speakers to fit within the confines of the slim cases.
Even high-end TVs have restricted sound quality due to the space limitations of built-in speakers.
But rather than installing massive multi-speaker systems with several wires and an amplifier, soundbars provide an easy-to-install audio device that provides an active speaker connected directly to the TV.
With the advent of wireless speakers, adding surround sound and sub-woofers is easy without needing to manage yards of cable to and from the entertainment center.
For more details, check out the soundbar buying guide and learn what to look for in a soundbar.
Where Should You Position Your Soundbar?
As mentioned earlier, the placement of your compact soundbar is critical to its performance.
Even the highest quality audio device will fail to provide an excellent sound if positioned incorrectly.
Generally, the soundbar provides sound from a position just below the TV screen, and the speakers should point in the general direction of your ears.
Bear in mind that you will probably be sitting down, so the height of your soundbar will not be much more than 3 or 4 feet off the ground.
Naturally, you’ll have to consider the design of your room, which may, in some instances, be a sunken lounge or a raised subfloor, depending on the interior décor.
You should also consider architectural features that may affect any upward-firing speakers’ sound quality and direction.
If in doubt, a qualified sound professional can assess your room and make suggestions based on the specifics of your AV devices.
Should You Place Your Soundbar Above or Below Your TV?
While it may seem intuitive that the soundbar goes underneath your TV, that is not always the case.
The best acoustics may depend on your audio device’s design and the space available around your TV.
While mounting your soundbar below your TV may make it easier to hide the cables and drill holes, you may need to place the soundbar above your television if that’s the only available location.
If so, a soundbar above the TV should angle toward the listening position to get the best sound quality. If placed below the screen, the soundbar will likely be roughly level with your head already, so angling the speaker is less important.
Modern soundbars with Dolby Atmos upfiring speakers may benefit from a lower position as they direct the sound from the ceiling, which may be difficult if the speaker is too high.
For an optimum audio setup, high-quality soundbars are designed to bounce sound off the walls and ceiling to create an immersive sound experience that is hard to beat.
The best location may also depend on where your soundbar’s power cord will come from and the position of the connecting audio cables on the TV.
These are usually located on the bottom edge of the TV, which makes the placement under the TV sensible.
Soundbar Mounting Ideas
After deciding on the soundbar placement, you must choose a suitable mounting solution.
You have three possible ways to mount your soundbar.
- Mount it on the wall
- Attach it to the TV
- Place it on a custom cabinet or shelf
Each mounting solution has its advantages and disadvantages.
You can avoid drilling holes and making a mess by mounting your TV and soundbar on existing furniture or cabinets.
However, this is not always the best option, as you may compromise on the sound quality if the position interferes with the acoustics.
1. On the Wall
You can buy brand-specific soundbar wall mounts with custom fittings or generic universal mounts that fit most soundbars.
Due to the different wall types and structures, deciding on the specific kind of soundbar bracket can be challenging until the soundbar has been positioned and a final decision is made.
Luckily, many universal mounts available online can be used for numerous scenarios.
These mounts secure the soundbar to the wall using small adjustable brackets and come with various screws and plugs for mounting on studs, drywall, and masonry.
There are also brand-specific mounting brackets that can be purchased for your soundbar.
These are usually more discreet and have precise mounting points that provide a secure connection between the soundbar and the bracket – however, they will also cost more than a universal bracket.
For example, the article Sonos Beam vs. Arc has details of the Sonos wall mounts you can buy for their soundbars.
When setting up the soundbar brackets, make sure you use a level so that the soundbar is not sitting at a different angle to the bottom edge of your TV.
If it is even slightly out of alignment, it can drive you to distraction.
Once you’ve lined up the soundbar, draw pencil lines on the wall indicating where the mounting bracket will go and pay attention to the soundbar’s feet as they can interfere with the mount.
Once you know where the brackets must go, use the level to mark a horizontal line and use the frame as a template to position the holes.
Take note of any wires you may be able to hide with the appropriate positioning of the soundbar, and if you are unsure, learn how to hook up a soundbar for more details on your wiring options.
Of course, you can also use a standard shelf to hold the soundbar – just ensure that the shelf supports the soundbar completely.
Apart from looking untidy, if the shelf isn’t large enough, it may affect the sound because most speakers will benefit from a solid base that doesn’t move when in use.
You may also benefit by placing the soundbar on a rubber or foam pad to reduce resonance with the surface.
2. Attached to the TV
Some TV wall mounts have brackets explicitly designed for soundbars.
The benefit of mounting your sound bar directly to the TV is less damage to the wall and fewer holes to align.
There are many different TV mounts that you can use to attach your TV to a wall; a popular solution is the MD5420 Universal Detachable Mount for its ease of installation.
This mount connects to the VESA mounting holes on the back of your TV, in addition to your standard TV wall mount.
Here is a video that explains how you would install this universal soundbar bracket:
Other advantages of this type of bracket are you can use them with your existing wall mount, and the soundbar will move with the TV.
You can also attach the soundbar at the top or bottom of the screen.
3. On a Cabinet or Table
If you don’t want to drill holes in the wall or your lease forbids you, you could mount your soundbar on a cabinet or table.
You have numerous options, from custom-designed furniture for your audio-visual equipment to using traditional lounge furniture.
However, putting a sound on a table or cabinet can affect the quality of the sound, which may echo or be muffled.
This is especially true of soundbars positioned inside cabinets with speakers designed to direct their sound sideways or upward.
Getting the soundbar into the optimum position is also challenging, so the sound is directed towards your ears.
Another problem is that the soundbar may block the TV screen or the remote sensor if the TV doesn’t stand high enough off the cabinet or table.
The picture above is a good example of placing the soundbar on a cabinet.
There is plenty of space around the soundbar, so the sound isn’t blocked, and the speaker unit doesn’t obstruct the screen.
The height will also be ideal for when sitting down to watch the TV.
Places to Avoid Mounting a Soundbar
Soundbars were designed to enhance the quality of your sound, but positioning them too high or too low won’t get the best from the speakers, and you’ll end up with poor sound quality.
Some soundbar mounts have a hinged feature that will allow you to direct the sound in the direction you wish it to go – so you can angle the speaker at the primary viewing position.
You should also avoid positioning the soundbar so it blocks the TV screen.
In this situation, consider mounting the sound above your TV and then angling it down towards your head to prevent obscuring your view – or raise the TV, so the screen isn’t obscured.
Wherever you install the soundbar, don’t block the speakers; ensure they are directed into the room and towards your seated location.
This ensures that the sound reaches your ears directly and isn’t delayed or muffled.
This includes placing the soundbar in a recess which can block the sound from the side or top and spoil the audio experience.
As you can see in the picture above, the soundbar is installed in a small recess under the TV.
You might get away with this if all the speaker drivers are front-firing, but any surround or Dolby Atmos effects will get blocked by the shelf above.
In this case, it would be best to install the soundbar in a location that doesn’t impair the sound – maybe, on the top shelf under the TV or on the wall above the screen.
It is pointless to install the speaker in a position that looks good but will reduce the performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Soundbars Be Wall Mounted?
Yes, soundbars can be wall-mounted. They can be attached directly to the wall with a mounting bracket or to the TV mount itself. You just need to make sure that the power cord will reach.
Where Should You Mount Your Soundbar?
Soundbars should be mounted as close to your TV as possible, either above or preferably below it. They can be attached to the wall using brackets or positioned to stand on a cabinet or table below the TV.
Should You Mount a Soundbar to the Wall or TV?
Soundbars can be successfully mounted to the wall or the TV. Some brackets are universal for any soundbar – or in some cases, you can buy brand-specific mounts designed for your specific soundbar.
Should You Hire a Professional to Install Your Soundbar Wall Mount?
If you have DIY experience and access to a drill, levels, and screwdrivers, you should be able to attach the soundbar yourself. But if you don’t feel confident in your DIY abilities, a professional can get it done quickly and without stress.
Can You Position a Soundbar Vertically?
You can position your soundbar vertically, but it is not advised. Soundbars are designed to be mounted horizontally, and placing them upright will affect the quality of your sound, and any 3D sound features will be lost.
About Home Cinema Guide
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has been a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment. You can find out more here.