Positioning Your Speakers for Optimum Sound Quality

Posted by Eric on 6/2/2014

You might have invested a big chunk of change for your speaker system, but unless you are able to configure the mix properly, you could wind up with a huge wash of poor quality sound. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to properly position a speaker or home theater system in a way in which the sound will magically transport listeners to hear perfection...all it takes is a little time , thought and attention to how to best manage it.

Reflective Sound

When you're listening to music or movies most of the sound that reaches your ears doesn't actually come directly from the speakers. What you're hearing is a lot of sound reflecting off the floor, ceiling, walls, and other objects in the room. Speakers actually work by "playing" the room. It's similar to the way in which light illuminates a room; the source of the light being the light fixture, but most of the light you see is reflected off the surfaces of the room. With speakers what you want to do is to minimize reflections in order to maximize the amount of direct sound heard.

The Proper Height

Stereo speakers should be placed with their tweeters at the ear height when listeners are sitting down. The left and right speakers should be exactly the same distance from the prime seating position or area. Keep them 18 or more inches away from room corners or large pieces of furniture.

Keep Moving Your Speakers Until They Sound Right

Placing stereo speakers up against or close to the wall behind them will "reinforce" their bass output, but some speakers produce “boomy” or overly thick bass when placed too close to a wall. By moving them further out into the room you may be able to smooth their bass response. Experiment with speaker-to-wall distance while playing bass-heavy music; and enlist the help of a friend to move the speakers while you're listening to speed the process. Beyond bass quantity, the overall sound quality will be affected by proximity to walls and large pieces of furniture. Try listening to well-recorded music with the speakers directly up against the wall, then one foot out from the wall, then two feet out from the wall. You may be surprised by how much the sound changes with each speaker move. You may want to conduct this test with your eyes closed.