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Speaker Placement

Posted on June 20, 2017 at 6:25 PM


The quality of a sound system depends largely on the choice of speakers. It’s important to understand how the size and positioning of the speaker in relation to room boundaries affects the sound.  

The functioning of a loudspeaker is not complex, but the execution of a good design, capable of reproducing sound with absolute transparency and low distortion poses many challenges. A speaker enclosure stiffness and mass must be high, the crossover filter must ensure the time domain coherence of the sound reproduction and the drivers must be able to capture and restore every nuance with maximum precision.

A speaker placed in a small space, result in exaggerated and difficult to control lower frequencies. Similarly, a small speaker in a large room would not be optimal.

What many enthusiasts are unaware of, is that the location of the speaker inside the room, and especially the distance to the walls, is crucial for adequate performance. Mainly due to the interaction of the walls and the sound waves created by the movement of the speaker diaphragm. These waves move in all directions and reflect on the walls, causing them to reach the listener in different periods of time.

Wave reflections within a time frame of less than 20 milliseconds from the moment we perceive the first reflection, which is usually known as the direct sound, will affect the who we perceive sound. Our hearing and brains are not capable of processing this reflection correctly, which causes the perceived sound to be congested and unnatural.

Frequently, acoustic panels and diffusers are used to manage this problem, effectively controlling the time and strength at which these reflections reach the listener, but optimization of loudspeaker positioning within a room can go a long way toward reducing unwanted boundary anomalies, especially in the low frequencies, that are easily affected by adjacent walls and corners.

Adjustment in positioning provide substantial changes in the behavior of the sound waves. The closer the speaker placement to a wall or corner the stronger the bass frequencies will be, but the less detail and separation of notes there’ll be. At greater distance, the bass diminishes and resolution improves.

It is clever idea to start with large adjustments and gradually decrease until a good balance is reach. Also, the distance between the right and left speaker should not be excessive or diminutive since it will negatively affect the music soundstage presentation. A starting guide is to position the speakers at a distance equal to 3/4 that of the distance between the listener and the speakers.

Remember to avoid extremes, always look at you speaker manufacture manual for suggested distances. It’s also recommended to experiment with seat position in relation to the walls. If successful, there will be a notable improvement in low frequency balance and consistency of the stereo image.

Speaker positioning optimization is one of the most effective tweak to any system and the results can be astonishing. Best of all, it costs nothing, but there is a learning process envolve.

If you liked this article you may be interested on our turntable set-up guide. 

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Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate all of our old articles as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.

Categories: Turorial