The question for today is Can I use rear speakers as front speakers switched around? While we have a ton of great speaker reviews here on the site. One thing that people do sometimes wonder is if when they get a surround sound setup if they have to have the speakers the way the instructions tell them to. If you were to go to a giant store that sells those all in one rather affordable surround sound system, chances are on the back of each speaker will be a letter or a description for where it is supposed to go. Today, we are looking at how your surround sound system works and if you can switch the speakers around.
Knowing What Your Speakers Do
Here we are going to have a look at what the different speakers of a surround sound setup actually do.
The Centre Speaker: Usually the center speaker is longer and shorter than the other speakers. It is designed to go under the TV or projector screen.
This Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System is a great example of the usual look of a center speaker. Sometimes though the center speaker will actually be a soundbar, it still works the same, it just will have the two front speakers in the soundbar too.
The job of the center speaker is mainly to handle the majority of the dialogue. It is there to hit you face on so that it is clear and easy to understand. A movie like Transformers for example has a ton of action going on and through the speakers on a TV, it can be hard to pick up all of the dialogue. With a center speaker handling the majority of the hard work when it comes to dialogue, it makes it much clearer.
The Left And Right Speakers: Hmm, when it comes to the left and right (or sometimes referred to as front) there tend to be two clear cut styles.
Some such as this Enclave CineHome II 5.1 Wireless Home Theater Surround Sound System will have much larger tower speakers and these are designed with going beside the TV in mind and the center speaker pretty much in the middle. They look awesome, but they do take up a great deal of space.
Others like this Acoustic Audio AA5172 700W Bluetooth Home Theater will use the same size of speakers as the rear speakers for the front. In my experience, the larger speakers tend to offer more BOOM in the sound, but these smaller ones are usually much more convenient for most people’s homes.
It is these speakers that will provide you with most of the music, sound effects, and so on in a movie. It is also cool when you have an actor move from one area to another and the sound will move along the front speakers to show this. The speakers that are designed to go at the front left and right position do tend to be a bit higher quality than those at the rear.
The Subwoofer: To truly give you that big cinema style sound you need a subwoofer and in my experience, the majority of surround sound systems will come with a subwoofer. Of course, the quality of the subwoofer you get depends on the set you purchase. The subwoofer tends to sit near the front of the TV and on the floor. You do not want a subwoofer on the shelves or in your entertainment center as it can cause it to shake in a very annoying way.
The job of the subwoofer is very important and for action movies especially it gives you that extra bass and wow factor. A great example of this is the 2005 War of the Worlds movie. Look I know the actual movie is not great, but try watching this without a subwoofer and then with one! Some movies are made with deep bass and subwoofers in mind and it really does add to the overall experience.
The Rear Speakers: The rear speakers are usually not quite as high-quality as the front ones as in all honesty their job is not as important. However, do not dismiss them! Without a set of rear speakers, you do not technically have a home theatre. It is the surround sound that these provide which gives you that cinema all around you kind of sound. From sound effects coming behind you, characters talking and extra sound, these speakers add the little bits on top of the sound to give you a more rounded experience.
A great example I can give you of how surround sound is done properly is in Spider-Man: Homecoming. I love the MCU and think this is a very fun movie. There is an epic scene on a ferry where Iron Man and Spider-Man need to team up to fix the ferry which is ripped in half. It is scenes like this that surround sound is made for!
So, What About Using Rear Speakers As Front Speakers?
Ok, so we know what all of the speakers in your home theatre system are there for, but can you switch the front and rear speakers? Yes, you can! It is actually very easy to do, you just change where they are plugged in on the back of the receiver and that is it. The thing to keep in mind is that if you have a set of tower speakers at the front and are moving them to the back and are then having smaller bookshelf speakers at the front. There will be a notable difference in the sound quality you are experiencing.
Look, I get that for some people, they will buy something like this Fluance Elite High Definition Surround Sound Home Theater 7.1 Speaker System which does look cool, but then realize they do not have the real estate for those massive speakers at the front. In that case, I guess you have to do what you have to do. The bottom line is, this is possible, but you may notice a difference in sound quality so please be aware of that.
Hope that this post has been useful to you if you have been wondering if you can switch your rear speakers as your front speakers. You might also be interested in how important are rear surround speakers and if you can use tower speakers for surround sound.