Speaker Placement Matters.

How you position your speakers makes or breaks your performance.

As you may have read in our article "Why (almost) every system needs a subwoofer", speaker placement matters. And much more than most people realise. Too often, particularly when people purchase a pair of speakers online without any consultation from a specialist dealer, speakers are just plonked in a living room, turned on, and away we go.

You may have come across the sentiment that auditioning a pair of speakers in a dealer has little relevance to the final result in your room. Well, yes, this is true. The room acoustics have a huge impact on the performance of the speaker. But so does the installation process. Trained, experience dealers will have taken the time to tune the speaker position to their demonstration rooms, maximising their performance, and so if the same pair of speakers aren't tuned in-situ in your home, they have little chance of being able to perform to their fullest potential.

And by speaker position, we don't mean increments of "about there, she'll be right mate". We are talking about degrees here - 2 to 3 degrees too much tow-in, 5 millimeters too far back will change the performance dramatically.

Tow-In Example

Here's an example of what we're talking about, featuring one of our favourite speakers of all time, the Wilson Audio Sabrina X.

The "Before" image is slightly towed out, where the "After" image has them slightly towed in.




In the room we have them in, the slightly towed out position produces a very wide soundstage with the right balance of vocal presence. It sounds like the singer is there, front and centre, with the band just behind the singer and spread out like they should be. The slightly towed in position narrows the soundstage slightly and brings the singer a lot further forward, so for us it doesn't sound natural.

Bring these same speakers and system to our room thats a bit more narrow but longer, and the optimal tow in position changes again. We find in this room, the towed-in angle works better.

This something you can try yourself, right now.

  • Go to your hifi system and queue up/insert a CD/drop a needle on a track, preferably something simpler, acoustic, with a single vocalist (this experiment works on all music but it's easier to pick up with a simpler track).
  • Play the song, say the first 30-40 seconds so you become familiar with the current setup.
  • Stop the track, then go to your speakers and toe them out, say 10 degrees towards the outside (so left speaker goes 10 degrees clockwise, and the right speaker goes 10 degrees counter-clockwise).
  • Play the same song, and observe the difference in the front/back position of where the voice is coming from.

If your speakers are of any decent quality, you'll likely hear that after the tow out, the singer sounds like they are singing from behind the wall, and that the energy is lost. The rest of the band is still there, but somehow the vocals have lost all the energy.

And that's just tow-in! This is normally the last step in tuning a speaker in the room. Even before you get to speaker positioning, there's equipment selection and cabling. Then when the speaker positioning process starts, there's bass, X axis placement, Y axis placement and listening position.

Speaker placement is something that is well emphasised by the manufacturers of speakers. Linn have their Tune Dem, Wilson have their WASP technique, but they're all talking about the same concept. It's so vitally important that this gets done. Yes, it takes time - we've spent up to 2 hours just tweaking the system until it sounds right. But if you've invested all these thousands of dollars into your system, don't you want to maximise it's performance?

If you want any assistance to get this done for your system, just reach out to us via hello@audioconnection.com.au, phone or live chat.

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