It’s not just about what kind of speakers you get–where you put them can also make a huge difference in the soundscape of your room. Just like waves in the ocean, sound waves travel horizontally and they interact with objects in your room; crashing against hard surfaces and absorbing into soft surfaces. This is why you may notice that the intensity of sound can increase and decrease in different areas of the room.
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VG Tuesday Tips: How to Get the Best Speaker Placement
By Kanto Audio
The best speaker placement depends on four key elements
- Height of the speakers
- Placement in the room
- Width between the speakers
- Tweaking these elements to suit your height, room, and preference
Why is Speaker Placement Important?
Speaker placement helps you control how soundwaves interact in your space and enable you to customize the soundscape. You can experience more immersive quality of sound and get the feel of location and the perceived size of the sound.
This is similar to how the audience in a movie hall hears a character approaching or when a character is further away on screen, even though the placement of the speakers remains the same.
Similarly, in a video game, players can hear sounds coming from different directions which is why quality speakers are becoming so popular among gamers.
How to Determine the Height of Your Speakers?
Speakers disperse sound very well horizontally but not as well vertically. That’s why raising your speakers can make such a difference in the quality of sound–and for best results, position your speakers in line with your ears. If placed too high or too low, the sound may seem muffled–just right, the sound should be clear.
Once this is done, hop on your sofa or chair and see if the piece of tape is in line with your line of sight. You can then make adjustments to what feels right to you. Once you’re satisfied with your tape, measure that height and write it down–this is your line of sight height.
Now measure the distance between the tweeter and the bottom of the speaker, deduct this from the line of sight height that you had earlier. For instance, if the distance between the tweeter and the bottom of the speaker is 9″ inches, and the line of sight height is 42″ inches.
So, 42 – 9 = 33 inches, which is the height at which you need to place your speakers.
Determining the Placement of Your Speakers
Speaker placement refers to where your speakers are in the room in relation to where you sit. One of the best techniques to determine the best speaker placement is known as the rule of thirds.
Measure the entire distance of the room, from the wall behind where you sit (the rear wall) to the wall that you face (the front wall).
Place your speaker 1/3rd of the distance from your front wall, and your seat 1/3rd the distance from the rear wall. For example, if your room measures 15ft from wall to wall, place your seat 5 ft from the rear wall and your speaker 5 ft from the front wall.
Bear in mind that these measurements do not have to be precise–these are guidelines that help you keep your speakers away from the worst possible placement, which would be right up against the wall. We recommend putting at least a few feet of distance between the speakers and the wall.
Determining the Width of Your Speakers
Now it’s time to determine how wide the speakers should be from one another. We like to use the equilateral triangle theory, where we place ourselves as one point, and each speaker as the other points. Simply put, stereo imaging works well with this layout.
After you’ve placed your speakers, measure the distance between yourself from your seat and one of the speakers. Let’s say the distance is 56” you would then spread the speakers 56” apart from each other.
You might find that one of your speakers is especially close to a side wall. If that’s the case you’ll want to add some diffusion, which will help make the sound spread more evenly throughout the room. Things like plants, bookshelves, or a stack of vinyl records can all serve as diffusers. You just want to make sure your speaker isn’t right next to a hard, flat surface like a bare wall, because that would reduce sound quality.
Adjusting Your Speakers for Best Placement
Everything you’ve done up to this point is an estimate–now it’s time to fine-tune your speaker placement.
The first thing to listen to is bass response. Ideally you want your bass to be even–you don’t want certain notes or frequencies to be much louder than others. To test this, have a seat and play some bass heavy music. Feel free to use a playlist created by our Kanto sound experts.
If you’re finding that some frequencies are louder than others, try moving your speakers further back from where you’re sitting.
Stereo imaging or sound imaging refers to the perceived spatial placement of sound–in other words, if you can accurately tell where the sound is coming from, you have good imaging. If it’s hard to tell where the sound is coming from, that would be poor imaging.
When it comes to your speaker placement, imaging is all about the depth of the music. If done properly, it will sound like the music is coming from behind the speakers and perfectly pinned to the center between the speakers.
To test imaging, it helps to listen to vocal-heavy tracks. If it doesn’t sound like the sound is pinned to the center, angle your speakers slightly inward.
Some speakers will require more angling than others–it largely depends on your individual space which is why experimentation is key. If you have a speaker that’s close to a side wall, you’ll likely want to angle it inwards to avoid unwanted sound reflection.
At this point, your speakers should be at least 90% set up, but there are a few more tweaks that can take your soundscape to the next level.
One thing to listen for is mid-bass response, which are essentially kick drums and male vocals. If you find those sounds to be overwhelming, you can pull your speakers apart to smooth out the sound a bit more. On the other hand, if you find those sounds to be lacking, you can bring your speakers closer together.
Finally you can adjust the soundstage, in other words the width of your music. If it doesn’t quite sound like there’s music coming from beyond the speakers, you can try putting some diffusion behind the speakers, such as a bookshelf, plant, etc.
Floor Speaker Stands Create the Best Speaker Placement
Speaker stands can make a huge difference in creating the perfect soundscape.
While you can put your speakers on furniture, you may not be able to reposition them as easily or adjust the height to your needs. Placing speakers on the floor or on a hard surface can also diminish your sound quality and harm your speakers. Using speaker stands gives you better quality, safety, flexibility, and control.
Kanto speaker stands are designed to make speaker placement and adjustment hassle-free. Our low-profile speaker stands each feature a rotating top plate, heavy-duty steel to reduce undesirable vibration, and a hollow core to conceal cables and speaker wires. With domed rubber feet or carpet spikes, they can maintain stability on any surface.
Learn more about Kanto Speaker Stands here
The Best Speaker Placement is What Sounds Best to You
These guidelines are meant to give you some parameters to work with in terms of creating your ideal soundscape. Knowing how to experiment with quality sound speakers and speaker stands will give you the keys to unlocking new sound experiences that will help you enjoy shows, movies, and music like you’ve never heard them before.