The location of speakers is a crucial part of setting up a home cinema, according to an expert from the international trade organisation for the home electronic systems industry.

Peter Aylett, director of professional development at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), says home cinema designers need "an artist's eye with an engineer's mindset".

Taking a purely aesthetic approach to placing the speakers for a home cinema audio system means sound will be compromised, although it is important to consider the design elements of a space, he points out.

"Ultimately, the best sounding home cinema is the one where these compromises are best balanced," he says.

His advice where there is only one pair of surround loudspeakers, such as a 5.1-channel system, is to place them within the angular range +/-100 to +/-120 degrees.

For a 7.1-channel system, where there are four surround loudspeakers, the side loudspeakers should be located symmetrically within the angular range spanning +/-60 degrees to about +/-100 degrees, and the rear loudspeakers within the angular range spanning approximately +/-135 degrees to +/-150 degrees.

Mr Aylett recommends that the signal for a 6.1-channel system, which only has a single centre-rear loudspeaker, be split between two rear loudspeakers. The centre speaker should be placed directly in front of the prime listening position with the left and right speakers placed from 22.5 degrees to 30 degrees from this centre line.