Better Placement, Better Sound: Speaker Placement GuideJuly 13, 2014
Speaker placement is a complex topic that often falls by the wayside with new hi-fi enthusiasts eager to throw their system together and get the tunes pumping. But the truth is, unless you take the time to dial in the positioning of your speakers, your journey to Audio Nirvana is going to be short lived, and it won’t be the equipment’s fault.
Thankfully, there are a number of excellent resources across the web to help you place your 2-channel, surround sound and desktop speaker systems just right. Here are a few guides that you can trust:
Cardas is an elite name in the hi-fi world, and George Cardas has taken the time to put together his Room Setup & Speaker Placement Guide to help you get the best performance out of your system. This guide includes room setup designs, speaker placement calculators and other resources for rectangular rooms, square rooms, nearfield listening positions and more.
See the Cardas Guide.
PSB Speakers wrote up this article full of tips and guidelines for getting the best sound out of their speakers, but their concepts are certainly applicable to everyone. As they say, “The positioning of the left and right speaker can play a major role in their acoustic performance, so we highly suggest reading through this short list of tips and guidelines that will help you achieve real sound, in any room or setting.”
See the PSB Speakers Guide.
According to Sumiko, “The most important component in any audio or theater system is the proper placement and positioning of the speakers into the listening environment. Putting the speakers where they truly belong, so they don't fight each other, so they work in total unison not only with each other but also with the room, is the end all be all for proper music reproduction in the home.” Here’s a step-by-step guide written by Bob Robbins to their speaker set up method, the Sumiko Master Speaker Setup. It’s a bit of a longer read, and will take some time to do, but may be well worth the sonic gains.
See the Sumiko Guide.
For the home theater and surround sound music enthusiasts, dialing in the positioning of your 5.1, 7.1, and 9.1-channel systems is absolutely essential. Dolby’s guide will get you started with basic placement information, room considerations, and other tips.
See Dobly’s Guide.
According to THX, “Sound is fifty percent of the entertainment experience…. And speaker placement is essential to experiencing the true impact of movies, music and games.” In their guide THX offers speaker positioning tips for 7.1, 5.1 and desktop speaker systems.
See the THX Guide.
Another resource for speaker placement guidelines is your speakers’ owner’s manual. Several brands design their speakers to be placed in very specific positions. If this is the case, the owner’s manual or the brand’s website should have the guidelines published. Audio Physic has a nice guide as well.
Obviously, those of us without dedicated listening rooms or small listening spaces may have limitations for positioning. My suggestion is to use these guides and simply do the best you can and continue to tweak until you find the placement that sounds best to you.
Got a Subwoofer?
If you’re running a subwoofer in your music room or home theater, be sure to check out this video from Audioholics (also see their in-depth write-up on speaker placement):