Home Theaters in a Box (HTIBs) are a popular way to get surround sound simply and reasonably cheaply. Countless studies have shown that most people aren't getting the best sound possible from their HTIBs. These include incorrect speaker placement, sub-optimal setup, and more. These 8 steps will help you make sure that your HTIB is performing its best.
1) Speaker Placement
Several surveys done in the past few years have found a substantial percentage of people with surround sound systems don't have the speakers set up correctly. If you have all five speakers lined up in a row in front of you, you're not getting surround sound. If you don't want to run the speaker wires, or don't have space behind you for the surround speakers, just disconnect them. They're doing more harm than good up front.
Ideally, the center speaker will be directly in front of you, as near the middle of the TV as possible. The front left and right speakers should be around 45 degrees from this center point. Aim your arms out like you're giving a big hug, and that's probably close to right.
The surround speakers should go behind you at about 120 degrees from the center channel. Stretch your arms out behind you like you're taking a swan dive, and that's about it.
Now, of course, these are ideals. No one's house is perfect enough to get it exactly right. If you need to put the surround speakers beside you, that's ok. Or if they're more directly behind you, that's ok too.
Check your owner's manual for what your HTIB's manufacturer recommends for specific placement.