Speaker positioning

Speaker positioning is a notoriously tricky science. The size of the speakers, the space they're given and how manufacturers tune them will a ect the performance. It pays to experiment, and these tips will help you on your way...

What's in a name?

You've heard of bookshelf speakers, right? The name is a misnomer – they are not meant to be placed on an actual bookshelf and the same goes for most speakers. Place them on a rickety or unstable support and performance will degrade because of a lack of rigidity and resonances. Speakers need a steady and robust support, so it's best to invest in a pair of speaker stands. Bear in mind that no one stand will work well with all speakers. Spend a bit of time and find out what works for you.

Where to put them?

We prefer to place the speakers at the points of an equilateral triangle, with the listener at the top. Use the triangle as a starting point and then experiment and fine tune the positioning to your satisfaction.

Ear me

Loudspeakers need care in positioning. Placing them close to a wall can help performance but it can negatively affect it too, depending on how the speaker has been tuned. Give them too much roomand the performance may lack solidity and energy. Place them too close and there's a chance they'll sound overblown with boomy bass. Every speaker will react differently. Start near to the rear wall and play 30 seconds of music you're familiar with. Then stop, move and repeat the process until you find an area you're happy with.

Toe the line

What is speaker toe-in? Simply the degree at which a speaker is angled in towards the listener. Some manufacturers have specific angles, but it's your ears that'll notice the difference. Play a snippet of a track you know and tweak the toe-in by shifting your speaker an inch or so until the stereo imaging snaps into focus.

This guide can only get you so far. To really know the precision art of speaker positioning talk to some of the best in the industry at the What Hi Fi Show. The community is more than willing to share knowledge and you might learn a bit more than what you had hoped for too.