Can You Use Bookshelf Speakers For Surround? (Answered)

Homelytainment earn commissions (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

It is a well-known question in the home theater circle. We need to answer it with facts and proven reasoning. So, can you use bookshelf speakers for surround sound?

At A Glance: As proven from experience, using the same tonality speakers for each position in the surround sound gives you error-free and desynchronization-free sound. That’s why using bookshelf speakers for surround sound is the best approach.

Stay tuned as we will be discussing many more angles of the answer to this question. We will also be discussing some pros and cons, and also a brief buying guide for bookshelf speakers.

Why It’s the best idea to use bookshelves for surround sound?

  • The bookshelf speakers usually have a small size that is very friendly for your home theater. It can be organized easily and will also give a pro look to your home theater.
  • They are typically cheap and hence save you money.
  • They don’t offer bass, and you will have to install a separate subwoofer for it. Now, you will be asking why it is a good idea to have a separate subwoofer. Because the bass doesn’t sound good in all areas of the room. There are several sweet spots you have to identify for the subwoofers. That’s why when speakers are not giving you the bass, then it is a good idea. You don’t want the bass to come from those areas which are not suitable for the bass to come out of. Get answers to such questions from my this guide Are Subwoofers Worth It In A Home Theater? (Dual Vs Single).
  • The last and the most important reason is that when all the speakers in the surround sound are from the same model, same brand, and the same type. They all will communicate and synchronize well and will give you the best possible sound.

Will You Use Bookshelf Speakers for each position in surround sound? FB Poll.

OptionsPoll Stats
The Yes and No, Depends On Room & Budget.46.67%
Yeah, I do33.33%
No, I don’t20%
There were 38 participants

I conducted this poll in a Facebook group.

Keep reading as we will be analyzing its performance in each position, and also we will be discussing improvement tips.

Bookshelf Speakers For Center Channel

The bookshelf speakers when used for the center channel. They must be kept in the vertical position and not in the horizontal just to match the orientation of the center speakers. 

This will ensure that the dispersion layout of the sound is not disturbed, and you get the dialogues in a horizontal dispersion layout.

The center channel is intended to spread the dialogues from left to right of the room. And by placing the bookshelf vertically, you are making sure to keep this tradition of the center speaker alive. 

And don’t try to break this tradition.

Read my guide about the best center speaker for home theater. You will know many more things about them.

Bookshelf Speakers As Fronts And Side Surround

Using one bookshelf speaker model for all these areas is the best idea, but it comes with a catch.

You have to keep the tweeter almost at your ear level. If you can’t achieve this placement, then the sound quality will not be pleasing for you.

If you don’t have a shelf or table to place these speakers at the front and surround sound, then you must buy stands for them.

The stands must be sturdy and very hard to rattle. Because after that, it will actually contribute to the sound of the speakers.

First, it will keep the tweeter at your ear level and secondly, it will erase the buzz sound that will be created from the rattling of the table on which it might be kept.

Bookshelf Speakers As Atmos

It is not a good idea to use bookshelf speakers for height Atmos speakers if you are a newbie to the home theater.

Because you will have to mount it, but bookshelf speakers are not mounted friendly. Also, the mounting hardware that is required will cost you an extra $80-100. 

After the cost and installation work, you have to mount it at such an angle. That your ears’ angle comes at the middle of its tweeter and woofer.

I don’t recommend them for Atmos because you have to drill holes in the speaker body as well to mount them. Here I am not recommending them to even pro home theater enthusiasts.

That’s why it is better to go with mountable height Atmos speakers. They have built-in specialized mounting hardware.

Know from my this guide, are Atmos speakers worth it. Read the poll stats to know about their most useful type.

Bookshelf Speakers As Rear

Here is the choice for you to go with it or not.

Personally, I don’t like a $200+ speaker here in this position. If you are buying bookshelf speakers that are $200+ then don’t install them in the rear because the rear has not had that much work to do. 

That’s why a cheaper speaker can do pretty well here.

But if you are concerned more about the tonality and not about the budget, then you can install your $200+ bookshelf speakers here too.

Tips For Having The Best Out of Them

Here are simple tips that can elevate the overall experience of your home theater.

  • If you place the speakers in a closed cabinet or near the wall, then buy those speakers that have a front-firing port. This will erase the port nose and will also deliver the bass forward. This will result in a clean sound.
  • Also, at least choose the same model speakers for the front LCR speakers if you can’t install bookshelf speakers in the surround or rear sides.
  • Keep their tweeter at your ear level.

Know about the simple 5 steps to perfect the entire audio system of the home theater. I have included those steps which are learned from experience.

What to look for before going for the bookshelf?

Again, here is the brief buying guide for the bookshelf speakers based on surround sound.

  • First, check if you have shelves or tables that can accommodate the speakers. Otherwise, you will have to go for stands and those stands will cost you more. So, keep this extra cost in your mind.
  • Secondly, check if the bookshelf speakers you are buying will satisfy the size of your room. If your room is small then standard bookshelf speakers are good, but if it is medium or large then you will have to go for large speakers. A 4 to 5-inch woofer speaker is a good fit for the majority of home theater rooms.

Did you get something out of this bookshelf speaker guide? Hold On We Have Something Exciting To Share.


Will any speakers work for surround sound?

Every speaker can’t work for surround sound. Because you need at least a 2-way speaker to play a role in the surround sound.

I say 2-way because the speaker should be able to hit both mid and high-range speakers very well. After that, the speaker can play all the frequencies that surround sound produces.

What speakers should I use for surround sound?

You can use a plethora of types of speakers in the surround sound. You can use in-wall, wall mount, bookshelf, tower, or satellite speakers.

There is a wide variety of speakers available for surround sound, but choose it for yourself only when they are at least a 2-way speaker.

Can bookshelf speakers be placed on their side?

You should never place the bookshelf speaker on its side. Because the sound dispersion of the bookshelf is created horizontally. To keep that sound dispersion satisfied, you have to place them vertically.

When you keep them on the side, then the sound dispersion will be vertical. Now, there will be a serious issue for the speaker to cover the whole room from left and right.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. Know more on how to use different speakers for surround sound from AVgadgets. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. Know more from this discussion on Reddit. (Resource for the third answer)

Watch To Learn More

This article was first posted on
Ayaan Khan
Ayaan Khan

I'm Ayaan khan, a freelancer and a Computer Science degree holder from P.E.S. College. After my degree, I started an internship with my father in his home theater showroom. After working for a month I realized that this is the best job in the world for me and it could be turned into a passion. Fast forward to when my internship ended, I joined my father as a full-time home theater equipment tester. I test new equipment and approve it before it can be installed in the customer's house. I love to test equipment and sometimes love to install it by myself in the customer's theater room. I have the right experience and knowledge to learn from my articles. In my Free time I write & answer questions here on AVSFORUM. Every Article on Homelytainment is curated according to Homelytainment's Editorial Policy and Sponsorship Policy. If you have any questions for me. Reach out to my email (Support(AT)

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

eight + three =