It is frequently not understood that having outstanding high fidelity speakers is only one piece in the series of factors that contribute to high quality sound. In this article we will focus on the correct placement of stereo speakers.
Optimizing the speaker positioning is the cheapest way to improve sound quality. The best speakers can be a disappointment, if they are placed in the wrong room. You can do just fine with a moderate system as long as the room and speakers are set up correctly. Below we’ll discuss how to set up speakers so you can get the best performance out of your system. The guide should be seen as a helper for beginners, as it will surely stay on the surface of things and aim to improve the sound experience with little effort, money and without complex insulation or speaker setups.
Room Size and Objects
|Consider symmetry, work with drapes|
First of all, the room itself will factor into your speaker sound. The room should have good acoustics, which means that the produced echo from walls, the floor, a low ceiling and all objects around you should be as little as possible. Be aware of the furniture and other furnishings in the room, because hard surfaces will have a lot of sound reflection, while rooms with softer furnishings like curtains and rugs will be more ideal for listening due to a higher degree of sound absorption.
Windows are the biggest culprits for reflecting sound. Try hanging drapes or wall hangings to absorb the sound. narrow side walls and low ceilings can be fairly challenging, as they reflect the sound heavily. You can buy sound pillows and position them relatively high on the wall right in the middle of the distance between the speakers and the listener. When choosing your usual listening position also keep in mind how the room around you is positioned. Ideally, the objects on the left and right of you should be fairly symmetrical. If your right wall has different furniture, your left wall should not be completely empty. Think of how the sound might reflect from the different objects in your room and try to arrange things evenly.
Surfaces like windows and hardwood floors reflect sound and can cause reverberations that reduce the clarity of the sound. On the flip side, furniture and carpeting can absorb sound and reduce it. Most people are not planning to optimize a room solely for the ideal sound experience, but if you are aware of a few No-Gos and the influence objects have on sound waves, you will most likely find a satisfying way to set up your stereo system. And remember, usually you will need to find a compromise between practicality and sound optimization.
Choosing a Listening Position
|2-3 feet distance corners and walls|
After preparing the room appropriately you will need to choose your listening position. Frequently you will have difficulty doing so, as you do not design the room around your stereo system, but try to fit your speakers at a reasonable place in your already furnished room. However, there are a few things you should consider:
Assuming that you sit on a couch when listening, it is important to think of what is behind you. If your couch is standing directly at a window or wall it will cause certain frequencies to be cancelled out. As mentioned above, you can place drapes, rugs or sound pillows behind you to help with this problem to some extent. The best alternative is to leave a few feet of empty space behind the couch.
Placing Stereo Speakers: The Equilateral Triangle
Depending on what type of speakers you have, there are a variety of options of how to place them in your room. Floor speakers are a given, but bookshelf speakers are designed for being higher up, for instance. There are a few guidelines one can follow to start off, regardless of the type of speaker.
Keep speakers out of corners for starters. Try to keep them at least 2-3 feet away from the rear walls of the room. This way the bass won’t overpower the sound and will sharpen the sound. Many people may think floor standing speakers should be placed against a wall, but better sound is had when they’re kept at least a foot away from it. Try out different elevations of your speakers to see how the sound changes.
|The equilateral triangle|
There’s a good general rule that both speakers should form a equilateral triangle from where you’re sitting. Meaning, the speakers are the same distance from you as they are from each other and should form the third corner of the equilateral triangle. Your head should point towards the middle of the two speakers. (This means, each speaker is located at 30° from your viewing direction). The distance from you should be around 10 feet at the beginning, later you can adjust it to the needs of your room. After positioning the speakers at the right spot, you should consider their angle and elevation. So far, your speakers should face straight towards the rear wall. Now you should consider angling them slightly towards your couch (your future position). Tweeters produce sounds that are best perceived if the listener is positioned directly in front of them. Try experimenting by sitting in place where you’ll be listening, and have someone angle the speakers towards you until the sound is right.
Tip: Place bookshelf speakers not on bookshelves, but on speaker stands. It will be a great benefit to the sound stage.
To sum it up:
5 Rules for correct speaker positioning
- Place speakers at least 2 to 3 feet away from walls
- Do not place speakers in corners
- Form an equilateral triangle between you and speakers
- Choose the right elevation (tweeters on ear level)
- Angle the speakers slightly towards you