Can Bookshelf Speakers Be Used As Surround Speakers

Yes bookshelf speakers can be used as surround speakers! You will need an amplifier that supports surround sound and your source should be mastered to serve the sound as integrated parts. Your source is the content you play. For example almost all movies are created to send sound through multiple audio channels. For example voices, backgrounds, bass and side sounds. Your center speaker will do most of the heavy listening while your fronts, middles, bass and rears fill in the background sounds to create a true home theater experience.

Reasons To Use Bookshelf Speakers As Surround Sound

If you’re looking to upgrade from the tinny sounds coming from your tell a vision or listen to your favorite music using bookshelf speakers there should be no problems to do just that.

If your space is limited you might be considering bookshelf speakers. You are using bookshelf speakers because thats what fits. There are probably many reasons why you are using book shelf speakers. Shelves are a good way to use speakers while still preserving floor space. You may not have the space needed or maybe you already have shelves existing and want to incorporate these speakers into your existing scheme.

Do you already have a set of old bookshelf speakers lying around? Here are some questions to consider when using bookshelf speakers as surround sound speakers. If you are buying new speakers or reusing old ones.

Amplifier Connections

Is your amp rated to drive surround sound? Look at the back of your amp there should be multiple outlets going to serve all the stages of surround sound. For example it should say front, center, right and surround. Speaker connections such as:
Surround Left/Right
Front Left/Right
Surround Back Left/Right (or Zone 2)
Presence Left/Right (Atmos/Dts:X – or Zone 2)
There should be some kind of indication like this. Without this your bookshelf speakers will not work as a surround sound set up. You could also consider it a receiver.

Amplifier Example

Connection Types

Another variable to consider is the speaker connection. WIFI, bluetooth or wired? WIFI grabs the signal from your router and bluetooth grabs the signal from your amp. Wired speakers grab the signal from the amp through direct wire connections. This option gets you the best quality sound but the trade off is how and where you run the wires. Hiding the wires can be cumbersome and expensive.

Where Do You Position Bookshelf Speakers

You can place your speakers on stands, on furniture, on bookshelves any flat surface. Ideal position is at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. Height should be ear level while sitting. Doesn’t have to be exact but somewhere between 36 and 42 inches from the floor. Have you considered bookshelf speaker wall mounts? You could also mount small shelves for just the speakers. Another idea is to cut a hole in the wall, finish it off with tape and spackle. Now you have a space saver spot for your speakers. If you dont like spackling nail together a jamb and nail moulding around the edges and place the unit in the opening and nail the unit into the opening. Now you have a fancy moulded look. This technique works great if you have a brad nailer and nail gun.

If buying new speakers your budget will have the most impact. Then there are the many different types of speakers manufactured. You have wireless WIFI and bluetooth to traditional wired. You also have many shapes and sizes available in a plethora of form factors, models, and configurations. You will still get plenty of sound out of a quality set of bookshelf speakers.

Many bookshelf speakers deliver enough bass power for listening to music. Although anyone building a home theater will want to add a subwoofer especially for those who crave big bass. Don’t let the smaller size of bookshelf speakers fool you. They may require just as much power as full size speakers. Some bookshelf speakers may actually require more power than floorstanding speakers. A good rule of thumb is to feed your speakers with the highest quality power you can afford. If you have a great amp your speakers will most likely sound great but if your amp is on the less capable side spending extra on good speakers will be a waste.

Bookshelf speakers are fairly versatile. You can install them into your surround sound system, you can incorporate them into your stereo, and if you add in a subwoofer you will complete the whole dynamic range of performance throughout the frequency spectrum.

Bookshelf speaker pricing varies as much as their full sized counterparts do. You’ll find decent speakers for as little as $99 a pair, but if you want high-quality sound, you’ll likely want to spend around $499 a pair or more. Don’t forget, you’ll need to run wires to these speakers, so plan on some quality speaker wire, and think about how you’ll want to hide it for a cleaner look.

Bookshelf Speaker Wiring

Quality wiring is set by the gauge of wire you buy. Any standard speaker wire will most likely be worthy but the rule of thumb is thicker is better. Most popular gauges of wire are 10, 12, 14 and 16 and 18. The smaller the gauge the thicker the wire. If you are running wire to your home theater in one room 16 gauge should be just fine. If you have a roll lying around chances are it is good to use. Below is a chart explaining gauges, speaker ohms and linear feet. Use the table below to properly choose the correct gauge speaker wire.

Gauge2 ohm speakers4 ohm speakers6 ohm speakers8 ohm speakers
10 awg3 feet6 feet9 feet12 feet
12 awg5 feet10 feet15 feet20 feet
14 awg8 feet16 feet24 feet32 feet
16 awg12 feet24 feet36 feet48 feet
18 awg20 feet40 feet60 feet80 feet
20 awg30 feet60 feet90 feet120 feet
22 awg50 feet100 feet150 feet200 feet
Speaker Wire Gauge To Length Ratios

With the proper amp and proper connection you can definitely use bookshelf speakers as surround speakers. Whether they are WIFI, Bluetooth or wired these speakers can easily be integrated to your home theater. Do some research on wiring techniques before you tackle this project it will help you determine the best route to take. Good luck and we hope you found this useful.