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hobbyists's views for hobbyists
Speaker Placement & Positioning



Why should you decide to buy new loudspeaker systems
if you did not use the full potential of the speakers you currently own?

And how come that some people are complaining about a hole in
the middle of the sound stage and blame the recording engineers of
many a renowned label for this?

They better check the functioning of their own audio sets first, and read this page.

 

CHOOSE WHERE TO START READING ABOUT THE WHY AND HOW
FOR POSITIONING THE LOUDSPEAKERS CAREFULLY:
    
 
  
  
 
 

Make sure that components are connected correctly. Check if you are in doubt. Also cartridge, CD-player, headphones and the loudspeakers should be connected correctly. If not, the display of the musicians in the middle of the orchestra or the jazz formation will not occur because the middle part of the image is on the outside of each channel / speaker and will not 'connect' acoustically.

There's no  greater joy than to have
well positioned speakers.


Click to read the Spanish version:
Los altavoces bien posicionades en la sala

 

 

CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SUBJECT

 

DO YOU NEED NEW SPEAKERS?

Every time people talk to me about their intention to buy new components, I always ask them what gave them the idea that made them want to buy a new amplifier, a new set of cables or - in this case - a different pair of loudspeakers. Almost in every case there is a good reason to question their motives.

  • Some want to change speakers because they have read a mouthwatering review of big high end systems, written by the audio journalist in whom they trust.


  • While others would decide to go smaller - while maintaining quality - and consider buying bookshelf stereo speakers instead.


  • Or one may have been exposed to the sales talk of an importer at an audio show.


  • And there are people who act on an impulse to buy something for their audio sets (and their sets of ears) because they want to bring about a change in their personal lifes by nurturing the sound as if a hifi system is a plant that needs to be prepared for a changing season.

Do their motives justify the expenditure of new components? Maybe.
However, a few more questions and answers will help analyzing the problem.

CHECK THE FRONT END FIRST

It goes without saying that it is always right to ask about the equipment. It is important to know how the signal is managed and also how the components and loudspeakers are placed in the room.
Amplifiers do behave differently when placed in different audio racks, on different shelves and closer to the edge of the shelve near the pillar. Using racks with four legs is better than to use the three legged variety. And what is the material of the shelves?
Positioning amplifiers, turntables and CD-players is as important as it is in the case of loudspeakers, as you all know.
If components do not have the proper grounding (as the Goldmund people taught us in the nineteen eighties), how would you expect the loudspeaker systems to give maximum transient response?
So pay attention to the position and grounding of components. Pay attention to materials. And do throw these beautiful smoked glass shelves right out of your designer racks and substitute them for plain wood!!!
If this is no news for you, so much the better. Only then it is possible to know if the cartridge-arm-turntable combination and/or the CD-player are the limiting factors. In that case we have to contemplate their quality first before new speakers are bought.

The advice on this page is there to give you some insight and to stress that a less than optimum sound reproduction is not necessarily the speaker's fault.

WHAT ABOUT THE POWER AMPLIFIER?

In order to achieve maximum sound quality it is not sufficient to look at the front end. Also the design of the power amplifier should be considered. In that case we have to look at Watts, current and stability. And we should consider the phase pattern if two amplifiers are being used in a bi-amping configuration. Power amplifiers should have identical phase patterns/characteristics. And a preamplifier should well match the phase of the power amplifier. If not it is possible that a slight phase shift will limit the fidelity in the top of the frequency band and thus will inhibit the slam and the clean detailing of complex sound structures. You all know from experience that the same preamplifier functions better if connected to power amplifier X and does perform less well with power amp Y. There are a few things to consider:


  • Maybe your amplifier has circuits with too much negative feedback and cannot deliver the energy with sufficient speed.

  • Maybe it is an amplifier with not enough energy storage and instead has a large toroidal transformer from which the energy is drawn. Those amplifiers are suitable for high efficiency loudspeakers and are not able to deliver constant energy to make lower efficiency loudspeakers with complex filters work properly, especially speakers with an efficiency of 85 to 87 dB, like Harbeth, several Avalon systems, etc.


  • Maybe you have high efficiency loudspeaker systems (93 to 106 dB) like Cabasse and Klipsch, and you are feeding them with heavy, prowerfull, high capacity amplifiers. Especially high efficiency horns need fast and neat power.


  • Another reason for dull sound can sometimes be the use of two bridged stereo amplifiers, one for the left and one for the right channel. As you know bridging generally gives dull sound.

AND CABLES?

Did you pay enough attention to the interconnects between components? And what about the loudspeaker cables? Do they transmit a well balanced, well extended frequency band? If not, get better cables first.

ROOM: SHAPE, SIZE AND FURNITURE

Then there is the room you have positioned the speakers in. First of all we have to take the size of the room into account. It should be large enough to enable low frequency information to unfold. Then the shape is important. Is the room long and narrow? Is it a square? Is it a large room? And how is it damped by furniture, carpets, wallpaper, paintings, shelves with books and records. And what are the actual positions of the speaker systems?
It is all too often clear that quite a few music lovers do not give the loudspeakers the attention and care they really deserve - although they think they do! Or, if they do adhere plenty of significance, they do not always know how to get the last extra bit out of the capabilities of the design.
Furthermore I have noticed that some people do not want to put the speakers in the 'right' position because a large and deep sound stage is sort of distracting and asks too much of active listening, too much involvement. In this way they do miss much of the impact of the performance. Those music lovers often want to position the speakers in such a way that certain aspects of the frequency band are accentuated: a heavier low end and an accentuated top as if they have activated the loudness switch.

CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SUBJECT

  What do you get when the loudspeakers are well positioned:
  • extended frequency range
  • high dynamics and good transient response
  • minimum of distortion
  • the acoustics of the hall or studio were the recording was made is conveyed
  • subtle noises of instruments, the tapping of a foot, the humming of a conductor, noises made by musicians, and by the audience in case of a live performance, will be heard.
Speakers should mirror each other.

SPACE VERSUS HARMONICS

Although there must be only one right position for your loudspeakers in your specific listening room, providing maximum stage, with good transients, it is not always easy to obtain these qualities.

Even professionals can have trouble in getting it right. When the German magazine AUDIO (May 1996) tested Wilson's Grand Slam loudspeaker systems and Mark Goldman from Wilson had positioned the giants as they should be (so he said) and had marked the spots with tape, the AUDIO journalists were not entirely happy with the stereo image's depth and width. After Mr. Goldman had left Germany, the AUDIO staff let the tape where it was but changed the position of the speakers in order to get a better and beautiful sound stage while retaining an impressive reproduction. This of course also illustrated the subjectivity of the listening experience. Many times I have adjusted the speaker position in the listening room of a music lover and many times I had to come back to make the adjustments anew, because the owner had changed the position thinking to improve the sound, but could not get that beautiful image back.

CARE

Once again: Quite a few music lovers do not give the loudspeakers the attention and care they really deserve - although they think they do!
An importer of B&W speakers, Rowland Research amplifiers and Cardas cable stated that if the sound stage is realized to the maximum, than the harmonics are also correct. Yes, the harmonics as built in by the speaker designer are correct, but sections of the audio band may not have all the desired weight. If there is a lack of impetus, than you probably have the wrong speakers.

I have found - and maybe some of you have come to the same conclusion - that with certain designs "the right position" can make the sound thin. However, when weight and dynamics are there which give the instruments that tangible plasticity, than the speakers may not necessarily give that airy sound stage.

MIRROR IMAGE

Not all loudspeaker systems have the units placed in line, but only high price cabinets are configured to mirror each other. Take care that the tweeters are always on the inside. Not doing this will prevent the high frequencies to connect. The delicate frequencies will be blurred by the longer waves of the mid range units and or low mid transducers. The sound will become dull and it is difficult to realize a perfect stereo image. Even at the CES of 2006 in Las Vegas there was at least one manufacturer who had placed his expensive high end cabinets in such a way that the row with mid range units was obstructing the sound of the tweeters which were positioned at the outside.

How the high frequencies are obstructed by mid and low frequencies and the sound stage is incomplete.

The best speaker is the two-waydesign with the units placed in a vertical line.

POSITION OF THE TWEETERS

When seen from the front it does not seems to be important to place a-symmetrical enclosures with the tweeters positioned in the inside. But when looked at the radiation pattern of the enclosures positioned with the tweeters to the outside, it is clear that the lobe of the low-mid frequency unit is obstructing the radiation coming from the tweeters, though it might seem not too severe. Nevertheless the better connection between left and right gives the best sound stage. The enclosures with the tweeter in the middle are symmetrical. There the radiation in both the vertical and horizontal planes are optimal. Although these drawings may seem just looking at the best placement in a theoretical way, you will see by experimenting that you will find the best sound stage when the tweeters are positioned inwards. What counts for the tweeters, also goes for mid range units if they are placed towards the edge of the baffle.

MONITOR SPEAKERS

This article describes the best setup for a pair of stereo speakers in your private listening room. When using monitor speakers in a studio, the positioning of the tweeters as indicated above, does not apply to monitors if these are inclined somewhat. In that case the tweeters should be at the outside.

How to place speakers with one woofer on the side.

If the loudspeaker system has one or two woofers in one side panel, be sure to place the cabinets in such a way that the woofers are at the outside of the sound stage. If you do not, the waves of the woofers will deteriorate the sound of mid range units and tweeters.

ATTACK

So initially all things depend on the designer of the loudspeaker system. Did he in his concept give bloom to violoncelli and violins, and enough weight to tubas and trombones? What about the possibility to provide a sharp and fast drum? And what are the dynamic capabilities of the lower mid section? After all the most important part is the region of 200 to 400 Hz. where the entire weight and the most power of the whole orchestra or jazz band comes into action. No designer in his right mind would neglect this fact.

LOW FREQUENCIES

And what about the rendition of the lower frequencies under 100 Hz. In that region most designs for the average consumer do badly connect with the room.
Famous French loudspeaker builder Georges Cabasse originally opted for bass units with powerful magnets in closed volumes with a relative early roll-off which provides a smoothly decreasing characteristic. These loudspeaker systems functioned well in all sorts of rooms. Although the giants from a few years ago like Goeland, Brigantin and Albatros prefer larger listening rooms, they also connect very well if compared to the older B&W 801 (vented cabinet) for instance.

TOO MUCH

Bass reflex systems have the advantage of being fast (and do not need powerful magnets), but the bigger designs often have a bass that is not easily controlled in every listening room. Fortunately nowadays many small 2-way bassreflex systems have an early roll-off and are at the same time quite dynamic.
If you have put the speakers in a position where only the lowest frequencies get the most of acoustic support compared to the low mid region, than you will never get the sound right. Transient response will be impaired which can be heard in an uneven and lumpy attack. If your loudspeaker systems produce heavy bass, no matter where and in what room they are placed, you have a valid argument to look for new speakers. But do not fall into the same low frequency trap.

A bookshelf speaker can be used outside the shelf but then the baffle has to be lenlarged.

In certain cases it can be beneficial to add panels to the baffle if the distance to the back wall is too long. This improves the midband and makes the instruments more tangible.

 

If you are not happy with your speakers I won't keep you from going to the shop and inquiring about the model that you read about in the review. But if the reason for the change is that you cannot get the sound right with the speakers you actually own, then you should read on before you go shopping.

Bear in mind that there is a chance that you will not easily get the full benefit from a new pair of speakers if you have not exercised and tried your old speaker's potential to the full. It therefore is advised that you give your current speakers the attention they deserve.

 

CONDITIONS

My record collection is growing and growing. Once in a while I have to put extra shelves along one of the walls of my listening room. Of late the growth factor has been rather high. The result is that I became more and more unhappy with the sound that my speakers were producing. The extra record storage had changed the position of my speakers without moving them.
So the functioning had to be checked anew by determining the position to the left and right wall and keeping the correct distance between the left and right speaker.

Tables in front of the speaker act as diffusers.

CLEAR THINKING

Generally speaking changes also can be brought about by a plant that is growing out of control or by adding a large painting or two to your collection on a wall. (Do never ever put plants in between the speakers or right behind one or both if you want the maximum of stage.) A new piece of furniture or a slight rearrangement of chairs also suffices to disrupt - although slightly - the familiarity of the acoustics. Even a little table in front of your listening chair does impair the stereo image and the correct flow of the sound.
Various changes can improve the acoustic properties of your room. If possible you should put no table (even the lowest) in between you and the loudspeakers.

 

 

 

OPENNESS

Keep the space as open as possible. Finally an unfamiliar sounding could be brought about by the fact that one or both speakers were slightly moved when the room was cleaned. Even worse is of course a smaller or larger table reflkecting and redirecting the soundwaves. Or a plant distorting the image. And do not forget that the components placed in between speakers also have their benificial and most of the time detrimental effect.
If you are content with the way your speakers sound, leave them were they are. But if you suspect that they have more potential (because you heard them have it in somebody else's home), than you could try once again to change their position. Before you go ahead however, make a simple drawing showing the enclosures and the exact distances to the walls, floor and the distance between them, so you always can go back to the position they were in before you started experimenting.

 

 

SHOE BOX

It is of the utmost importance to take the shape of the room into account. 
As you know, a room that has the shape of a shoe box (and is in essence a very small replica of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Symphony Hall in Boston or Gewandhaus in Leipzig), that room is better than an L shaped room or a very large square room.

L shapes and large square rooms have the disadvantage that there is not enough immediate reflection to be used in creating a well balanced sound. In general large and also irregular rooms are more appropriate for the bigger loudspeaker systems with baffles that are calculated in order to support the harmonious transition from one unit to the next without much help from the back and side walls. They need enough baffle in order to give weight to the sounds.

CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SUBJECT

Various position with 2 or 3 speakers.

SOUND BALANCE

In smaller rooms - like mine for instance which measures in centimeters the well appreciated  360 (W) x 610 (L) x 255 (H), a shoe box so to say - small speakers can attain an extremely high performance not only as far as the extension of the low end of the frequency band is concerned. By trying to regulate the best position it is possible to create a realistic sound balance.
The design of the speaker in relation to the listening room is of great importance. In general small 2-way systems if well designed give the best sound stage because of the use of a single driver for the low and mid frequencies. If cabinet and filters are well designed they will not introduce disturbing phase shifts.

TWO VERSUS THREE SPEAKER CABINETS

The Super Audio Digital Disc and the new formats which are being developed to give a more precise high resolution audio, make it possible to have a center channel as was originally recorded by the Mercury Living Presence team and proposed by C. Robert Fine. These recordings were also monitored on three loudspeaker systems. The insertion of a center channel and a center speaker may ask for a somewhat wider positioning of the left and right loudspeakers. In that case a narrow room does not allow the speakers to be positioned along the shortest wall. With three speakers the placement should be along the longest wall of the room. And there are two possibilities. One very straightforward as will be explained later, And the other the old fashioned way of angling the speakers so that the drivers are angled towards the listener(s) ears. See also
CINERAMA and Trinaural microphone Placement

The recessed baffle.
In certain cases the extra added baffle should be recessed. The total width can be up to 46 cm = 18 inches.

FOOLED?

Because of the physical properties of the cabinet (if it is a modern item), complaints are often heard that they do not sound at all what the reviewer was raving about or the manufacturer's brochure so eloquently promised. Sometimes loudspeaker systems are demonstrated in a shop while standing in a row with many other speakers. And of course the sound is completely different from what it should be.
Sometimes both the clerk in the shop and the music lover do not know how to create a coherent sound stage. Sometimes a not run-in speaker pair can give trouble as was the case with a new pair of Mission 750's (Jubilee design). Only after having used the speakers for a couple of days intensively the 750's started to sound more or less like the qualities the reviewer praised so much.

But then only after we went through a lot of trouble while matching the speaker's peculiar acoustic phase (at certain spots in the frequency band) with the nature of the room.

When reviewing loudspeakers we noticed that most had slam and sounded firmly at first but after a few days they lost their power and slam because the roll surround lost its firmness.

DESIGN

I count a few strongly high-end oriented audiophiles as my friends. They modified a commercial model by shortening the vertical distance between the tweeter and woofer by more or less eliminating the baffle and without redesigning the filter. As an extra they placed the small enclosures far away from walls and corners. 
The sound never gets the weight it should have and what my friends are striving for. Naturally they keep telling others that the designer choose the wrong units. Their complaints sound logic because you can hear in their demonstrations that the sound is too meager in the bass and lower mid section and that it has no refined highs. Improvement would be possible if they would listen carefully, not only to the sound of music, but also to the sound advise of friends, some dealers and unbiased experts.

This also shows that the amateur speaker builder should actually build his design for a specific position in a room that has specific measurements and a corresponding volume. He could of course make his design compatible with other rooms. But then he would compromise the best possible solution and do what most commercial speaker builders do.

CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SUBJECT

 

ACOUSTICS

I often ask a prospective buyer who asks for advice to make a drawing of his listening room and let him indicate furniture, equipment, loudspeakers, etc. and I discuss with him the layout. It can be necessary to add some damping on the walls in the form of panels, a few square feet of carpet halfway the room and a piece on the back wall, and probably in one far corner as well. Nowadays the fashion is to put just a few pieces of furniture in the room as if it were a museum of modern art. Such a room will behave badly.

DAMPING

The drawings that accompany this article  show some solutions that can give you an idea of how the frequency characteristics of the room and of the speakers can be compensated for by adding damping panels (dp) to the left and right of the loudspeakers and in the corner to the left of the listening chair where the front end is located (record player, CD player and pre amplifier). The power amplifier is placed between the loudspeakers as is the custom nowadays.
If you have the bookshelf type of speakers that you have placed on the shelves you only need to experiment with the distance between them and the height. Here I deal with free standing and floor standing speakers.

At one time when I was changing equipment and loudspeakers I thought I could do without these damping panels and took them of the wall. But the new speakers did not sound well at all and I had to put the panels back. And was happy.

So if the acoustics are O.K., than you can start determining the right position of the speaker systems
.

CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SUBJECT

It is not what you have got, but what you do with it,
that counts.

DEMONSTRATION

Many years ago Farad Azima of Mission Electronics came to our country to introduce his Mission products for the first time. He set up a demonstration for an audience of over a hundred audio dealers. The Dutch importer had positioned the new Mission speakers on tables placed many feet apart so that the entire audience could see and hear the loudspeakers. Without hesitation Farad Azima took the two 770 speakers and put them right down on the floor, the distance between the speakers being not more than about six feet. The 770's sounded like music: harmonious, with remarkable transient response and extended frequency band. (I must add that the 770's had quite a remarkable and generous low end which was of great help of course.) Everyone was amazed. In order to let over one hundred audio dealers hear the music, most people had thought that it would be necessary to put the speakers on stands that were high enough to overlook the room and that they should be positioned at a great distance from each other in order to create a large stereo image. That proved to be a misconception. Many music lovers place their speakers much too far apart.

The principle of connecting loudspeakers acoustically in relation to the back wall and to each other.


STARTING POINT

A general rule is that the distance between speakers and listener(s) should be 1 1/2 times the distance between the speakers.
I soon learned that the distance between the left and right speaker could be some 5 1/2 feet initially, it does not matter if I listened at a distance of 5, 10 or 15 feet. So 5 1/2 feet - that is from center of speaker to center - could be your starting position if your listening room is small and you use relatively small speakers. In case you have a large room the distance to start with could be around 6 or 7 feet.

If the speakers have an early low end roll-off (a high -3 dB frequency) at some 70 Hz, then you would need more support from back wall (and eventually from side walls if they are not too far away) in order to "amplify" low frequencies, the low end.

After adjusting some components in the system and changing the position of the speakers more than once, I found that the sound had a shallow component in its character which made a solo violin too peaky and orchestral sound not massive enough. Gradually I found that the distance between the speakers would benefit from a larger distance of 6 feet and 2 inches. But then the distance towards the back wall should be shortened as well.
Only a harmonious sound can build up a real beautiful transient response, the fastness of which will depend first and foremost on the shape and vertical tracking angle of the diamond tip of your cartridge, and of the quality of the CD Player.

PERPENDICULAR

Take care that the fronts of the speakers are exactly on the same imaginary line, a line which is perpendicular to the walls (refer to the drawing at left). The distances to the walls on the left and the right should be about the same.
The general rule is that small speakers need a position at a short distance from the back wall, let's say 50 cm to start with. But if the side walls are rather close, than this distance can be greater.

The distance to the back wall for big speakers should be about 1 meter to start with. Big speakers also can benefit from some acoustic support of the back wall of course, but as most big systems have large baffles, this distance will have to be much larger.
I have heard demonstrations of high end loudspeakers like the Avalon Accent, Avalon Osiris, the Sonus Faber Extrema (on these heavy stands) and various Watts that did not get enough support from the room and one could hear incisions in the frequency response (especially in the case of the Avalon Osiris).
Yes, I know that I am talking about complete freedom from any demand by your wife or partner. They may stifle you in your exploits for creating the full blown concert hall acoustics or jazz club atmosphere in your room (remember that even if you have equipment of modest stature this can be possible!). I am sorry, but for advice on relationary issues you have to consult someone else. Ask Dr. Phil.

 

FIXED FREQUENCY CHARACTERISTIC

The starting point is a complete loudspeakersystem having a crossover with fixed frequency settings, calculated slopes and levels. Both the dynamics and the frequency curve of such a system are determined during manufacture. Once the best placement is found, no further change by shifting the cabinets even half an inch is not necessary, unless the speakers were new and needed a burn in by feeding the systems with balanced music and from time to time administurning high current. When a friend of mine bought a new car he was very claever in driving it in the first weeks. It was advised not to drive the car beyond the advised speed limit. But the friend took the liberty to exeed that limit from time to time for only short periods. Thus the engine of the car did not become lazy. The same method can be advised for a loudspeaker system. Listen to all sorts of music and at reasonable levels. But do exceed the normal level of say 84 dB once in a while. After the speakers have been burned it it could be necessary to readjust the distance but by only a few milimeters of the distance to the back wall and side walls. Or maybe not.

SPEAKERS WITH ADJUSTABLE LEVELS FOR MID RANGE AND HIGH FREQUENCY UNITS

Placement can be less easy if you own loudspeaker systems with adjustable levels of mid and high frequency units, systems like Infinity, JBL and to a lesser extent Yamaha NS 1000 and the like. It all depends on the number of dBs and on the overall sound characteristic of the design. In thas case the well functioning depends specifically on the level of the mid range units. Every time after hangng these levels it may be necessary to increase or decrease the distance between the speakers in order to get the best sound stage with the best width and depth.

CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SUBJECT

Different shapes of room should be used to their advantage.

COMPROMISE

As said, the ideal listening room has the shape of the best concert halls in the world: the shoebox.
For most music lovers, and even for most audiophiles, the room arrangement will often (if not always) be a compromise. Therefore the drawings on this page show chairs and tables standing in the way and obstructing the sound waves. We all know from experience that the positioning of furniture and speakers is not an easy task and though most try to find the optimum solution, the room arrangement will always take the daily use into account. Those who have the possibility to have a separate listening room are of course the luckiest people.

ADJUSTMENTS

Once you have determined a basic position for the speakers, you can start by slightly increasing the distance between the speakers and place them also closer to the back wall. 
Do it with small increments of an inch and listen carefully what happens to the sound image, to the tonal balance, and to the cleanness of the sound. While varying the positions you will at one moment encounter a beautiful image without aggressiveness and a spacy atmosphere. Measure all the distances and note them on a piece of paper. Now you can 'fine tune' that position by making small corrections.

ART

If you are a newcomer to the art of adjustment you will learn that the ideal position is not reached in a few minutes or half an hour. Even if you think that it is right you may find the next day (ears relaxed) that it does not sound right. So take your time. It may take several days.
In making the distance between the speakers smaller you are connecting the sound patterns of the left and right channels. This works especially well for the mid band. The sound patterns (loops) have to be connected, they have to touch each other in order to be able to generate that Widescreen sound in your listening room. Always make the position as symmetrical as possible. One speaker that is positioned just a bit of an inch more forward into the room unbalances the stage and makes the sound of that speaker more prominent, even the smallest difference will effect the sound level.

Of great importance is also that there is enough space between your easy chair or social 3 sitter sofa and the wall behind it.

Bookshelf speakers placement.

NATURAL SPACE

Putting the speakers farther from all walls gives a leaner bass. If you want more support from the lower frequencies from the side walls and will put the speakers closer to these walls, then you have to put them also closer to the back wall at the same time. In practice this means that there is a line at 45 degrees (refer to drawing) along which the speaker can be moved to and fro.

The right position is the one that brings Ingrid Haebler's piano for instance slightly left from the middle and puts it in perspective. You will notice that the piano gets lifelike proportions in relation to the instruments of the orchestra and will be embedded in the fully generated sound. Her playing will become more meaningful. And you will hear, I have to admit, that this Philips recording does project its own acoustic field that differs greatly from that what we know from Decca and Mercury's (and from some early DG's as well as some early Philips's). This is what you have gained: the acoustics of studio and concert hall have become eminent and the sound of the instruments have a harmonious nature with transparency.

LP & CD

Some people think that CD is superior in establishing a real to life sound stage with height and depth. Due to the troubled manufacturing process of analogue Lp's with tape copies, matrix production and great numbers of Lp's being pressed from one matrix, this is often true. Many music lovers think that Lp's are not able to deliver the same quality of stereo image and depth. But there are a lot of Lp's that do and that is why they are so much in demand.
There are also people who blame certain recordings for a hole in the middle.
The other day I read this in the Internet:

'By the way, early Blue Note stereos do not suffer from the "hole in the middle" effect found on other labels, most notoriously on many Stereo/Contemporary and Atlantic releases - have a listen, for example, to Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." Blue Notes usually have a well-balanced sound stage. (PRIMYL VINYL EXCHANGE NEWSLETTER, vol. 2, no. 6, Nov - Dec, 1997.)

The author probably did not have his speakers well adjusted and blamed the Contemporary and Atlantic technicians and producers for the misalignment of his boxes.

Complicated room because of irragular back wall.

APERTURE

If you still do not get the sound picture in your living room right, then it is likely that you have overlooked a very important aspect of how to bring the stereo image to life. You may have overlooked the nature of the vertical aperture of your loudspeaker systems. It all depends on the dispersion characteristics. A 2 way system with a tweeter beneath the low midrange driver may have a loop that is directed upward. Short loudspeaker stands can be used. A d'Appolito-design has a loop that is pointing straight at you. In hat case your ears should be at the tweeters' height. For big loudspeaker systems the same is not always true. If you have placed the speakers and your listening chair at the correct height, then you should take care that the tops are perpendicular to the back wall. You can check this with a spirit level.

SYMMETRY

You will never get the right image if the speakers are not facing you exactly in the same way. Adjusting the spikes of the stands will help you in leveling the cabinets.
Also you will never get the right image if they are not only at the same height, but if they are not at the appropriate height. Mostly the manufacturer indicates the height of the stand. But if he gives a wide margin (because he does not know the height of the seat of your listening chair), than you must find the best height yourself.

ANGLE

In order to see if the height is correct you can adjust the angle of the speaker by putting a piece of wood underneath the cabinet at the back and listen again to know if the sound stage is improving. You can determine if you should change the height of the stands and to what extend.
So you see it is all about symmetry.

There is no way to get the best image possible if you cannot position the speakers in front of a flat background. Cupboards, shelves or desks at one side will disturb one channel. If there is obstruction on one side, alter the environment for the other channel so that the difference is minimized.

Also equipment placed in between the loudspeakers will limit your way to happiness. So put only a main amplifier on a low rack that does not interfere.

Furthermore I would like to stress that it is not at all a weak point in your character or a sign of incompetence if you ask some friends (music lovers) to listen with you and evaluate every adjustments together. Moving, positioning at exact and symmetrical distances and listening with two or three people is a must. You always can remove the tape when they are gone, like the staff of AUDIO.

Where to place speakers in an L-hoped room?

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

The general rule is not to place the speakers too far from each other. Always connect the mid band acoustically, no matter what size and shape of room you have. That is the most important issue. From there you can gradually adjust the distances, in very small increments. By adjusting the positions, you will learn about the nature of the loudspeaker system, about the positive and negative effects of you listening room. After some time you will discover the best position. That is the position which gives space, depth, which will improve focus. You will discover the acoustics of the hall or studio where the recording was made. You will also discover that mono recordings have a stage as well and that the sound is positioned in the center.
You may well become an expert in positioning your loudspeaker systems.

DIFFERENT HEARING
Genuine loudspeaker manufacturers indicate how to position their speakers.
If you have once again looked into the matter after reading these pages and you have come to the conclusion that no improvement is possible with your current speakers in your specific listening room, than it could be beneficial to pay a visit to your dealer and ask him about the speakers from the mouthwatering review and borrow these for a long weekend or a couple of days to try them in your own room. Then you have my blessing.

CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SUBJECT

© Rudolf A. Bruil - Page first published on the www in August 2001, and updated since.


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