10 Tips On Speaker Placement
It can be a challenge to get the speakers in your hi-fi or home cinema sounding at their best in your listening room, but it’s more straightforward than you might think and simply requires a little patience and some handy tips.
1) Keep away from the walls
Your speakers should be at a distance of one foot or more from the rear and side walls. If your speakers are too close to the wall you may experience “boomy” bass. Experiment with positioning of your speakers as much as you can until the level of bass sounds right for the room.
2) Sounds clear at ear level
As a rule of thumb, the tweeters in your speakers should be at listening level. You can adjust the height of bookshelf speakers using appropriately high speaker stands, or adjust the height of floorstanding speakers if possible using floor plinths.
3) Subwoofer Placement
While next to the sofa might seem like the obvious place, experiment with different subwoofer positions to fund the best sound. A useful technique called “the subwoofer crawl” can be used to find the best possible location. (See Video) Normally the best places for a subwoofer are either close to the listening position or alongside the front speakers.
4) Get It Out!
Avoiding placing bookshelf speakers actually on a bookshelf, inside any furniture enclosures or on non-purpose made stands. Whilst this may seem counter intuitive, using specifically designed speaker stands can’t be underestimated enough and will give your speakers a platform from which to sing. The bass should be tighter, midrange smoother and treble more concise and clearer. All in all, it’ll sound more like a concert hall and less like a living room!
5) 5.1 vs. 7.1
Most home cinema set-ups are 5.1 which means five channels plus a subwoofer (which counts as 0.1 as its just bass and isn’t technically a full channel). For an even greater experience of being in the centre of the action many more recent set-ups are 7.1 which adds an additional pair of speakers to the rear. As a rule of thumb, the surround speakers in a 5.1 set-up should be placed at the back of the room. If you add an additional pair for 7.1, these should be placed to the side of the listening position.
6) The Sweet Spot
By making an equilateral triangle for your speakers, you may find yourself a “sweet spot”, where the speakers are about as far apart as they are to the best listening position, where you and the speakers are at the three points of the triangle. However, try not to put them too far apart as this can make your speakers sound unnatural. Again, some experimentation is useful here to find the best position, as all rooms are not created equal and the furnishings, chairs, curtains and other features can all affect the sound.
7) Use Speaker Stands!
If you hadn’t realised by reading this far, we can’t recommend using proper speaker stands enough. Using stands and/or spikes and isolation cones to raise the speakers will isolate them from external vibrations and keep them from moving when the speaker drivers create bass. You want the energy from the speaker to move the air – not the speaker!
8) Off The Floor
…similarly, if you have floorstanders, use the spikes they come supplied with along with floor protectors like Atacama Spike Shoes if you have non-carpeted floors. If you want to go one step further (or need to raise them to get the speaker tweeters closer to ear level), use speaker plinths to raise them off the floor and also helpful in protecting the bottoms of the speakers from passing feet and the vacuum cleaner.
9) Room Acoustics
If you have a choice of rooms, avoid ones that are perfectly square or have one dimension exactly twice another as such dimensions can aggravate resonances that colour the sound. In an ideal world, the perfectly sized listening room would agree to the “golden ratio”, where one wall is 1.618 times the length of the others in a rectangle. Having said that, in a world where many of us have to make the best of the living room we have, there are lots of things you can do to improve room acoustics. These include having features and furnishings that “soak” up sound waves rather than reflecting them.
Often times the worst thing you could do for the sound is to have nothing on the walls as they will bounce sound waves around and result in a “muddy” sound. If you can, having a bookcase full of books, thick curtains and thick fabric sofas will all help to soak up sound waves. As a final check, clap your hands! If your room doesn’t sound echoing, then you’ve done a good job. If it does, try adding some Advanced Acoustics room treatment panels to the walls. These can be ordered to look like canvas artwork while secretly improving the sound of your speakers.
10) Try and try again
If you’ve tried some or all of the above and are still not satisfied with the sound of your speakers, all we can say is try and try again. As long as they are placed at a similar distance from your listening position, you can experiment with their position as much as you need to until you find the sound that you like. If you’re still unhappy, it might be time for a new set of speakers! All things considered, we’re happy to help anyone with any further advice that may be needed by phone.