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Studio Speaker Placement Secrets: Dos & Don’ts

Speaker placement plays a big role in getting the most out of your home studio. Where you place your speakers will have a significant impact on both low-end and frequency response regardless of the size and shape of the room you’re working in.

In this article, we will learn the best practices that will help you get the optimal sound from your speakers and other components in your studio. There is no need to buy the best speakers if you don’t understand the art of positioning them.  Here are quick tips to help you get the most out of your speakers; 

1. The Right Gear Isn’t Everything

According to Professional Sound Engineers from audiomention.com, speaker placement has a bigger impact on sound than the type and quality of the gear.  You’ll need to consider speaker placement before you figure out any acoustic treatment. Even if you have the latest software and the right tools, your sounds could still feel amateur if the speakers are not placed properly. 

Additionally, incorrect placement of speakers can lead to sound inconsistency in the frequency range, making some parts sound louder or even quieter than they are.   

2. Consider the Design of Your Room

The next aspect that you want to consider is the shape or the design of your room. If the room is rectangular, the speakers should face the length of the room while your sitting position will be by the shortest wall. If you have a big space to work with, keep the speakers away from the walls as much as possible.

On the other hand, if the room is smaller, try to leave as much space between your speakers and the walls to improve the bass response. Further, ensure there are no objects between your speakers and your listening position to help minimize as much sound reflections as possible. 

3. Good Room Acoustics Equals Good Sound

There is no doubt that there is a correlation between good room acoustics and getting good sound from your studio speakers. If you don’t get it right with the room acoustics, then it is will almost be impossible to get the desired sound even if you have the best speakers. When done properly, acoustic treatment will help your speakers sound more focused.

For instance, if your main issue is reflective walls, you can use recommended sound absorption panels placed throughout the room to help reduce the reflections. This practice also helps to reduce issues such as flutter echoes, thus making your sound tighter. However, the best way around this is to have a professional do room analysis and recommend the best intervention. 

4. Identify Your Listening Position

Choosing your listening or mixing position is equally important before placing your speakers. Ideally, the listening position should face the short wall as opposed to the long wall. This setup yields a flatter bass response while allowing you to maximize the distance between your ears and the rear walls. In most configurations, the back wall is designed to be at least 10 feet from your ears for optimal sound reproduction. Anything less or more than this requires acoustic treatment to fine-tune everything. 

Additionally, the listening position should not be at the halfway point of your room, lengthwise.  The 38% guideline by Wes Lachot suggests the ideal listening position should be at the 38% mark of your room length. The closer to the front wall, the better. This is because bass perks and other muddy sounds are worse at the rear walls due to the reflections happening at the back of your room. If you can’t place your speakers at the 38% point, you can experiment with other positions until you get the ideal spot. 

5. Establish the Recommended Angle

For best and accurate stereo imaging, the listening position and the speakers should be positioned in such a way that they form an equilateral triangle. The speakers should face inwards, and the distance between them and your listening position should be equal. 

For instance, if your speakers are positioned 2 feet from each other, then your sitting position should be equally 2 feet from both the right and left speakers. On the other hand, if the speakers are positioned 2 feet apart and the sitting position is less than 1 feet from the speakers, then you’ll need to find a way of narrowing the distance between the speakers. 

If your setup has surround speakers, the center channel speakers should be placed directly in front of you, with the surround speakers positioned at 110 to 120 degrees (in 5.1 setups) from your listening. However, each speaker should be placed at the same distance from your listening area. 

6. Adjust the Speaker Angle if Needed

Another important tip when placing is speakers is to angle them inward in such a way that they are pointed towards the listener. You can increase and decrease the angle gradually until you achieve that sweet spot. However, while toe-in the speakers make the sweet spot sweeter, it makes the rest of the room a little bit ‘less sweet’. As such, if you need great sound across a wider listening range, then you need to decrease the toe-in and find the optimal angle. The bottom line is, toe-in is effective if only one listening position is used most of the time. 

7. The Height Is Equally Important

The general rule of thumb is to have the tweeters at ear level and not centered between the ceiling and the floor. Once you have marked the best place to place your speakers, you’ll need to consider the height factor. For you to achieve the optimal listening height, we recommend placing the speakers on speaker stands.  Speaker stands are important when it comes to mounting the speakers, and they provide a range of studio benefits.   The apparent benefit of placing speakers on stands is that they help improve speaker performance. 

Ideally, you don’t want your speakers close to surfaces as the surfaces (walls, floor) cause reflections that distort the sound image. Speaker stands help reduce speaker cabinet vibrations for better sound reproduction, and this is why it is recommended to get your speakers off surfaces. Speakers placed on other surfaces such as desks or floors may sound a bit colored due to vibrations. 

There is a wide range of speaker stands, and they come in all sizes and shapes. The most popular ones are the ones that come with height adjustment features to help you adjust sound projection. As stated earlier, tweeters should be kept at ear level, and being able to adjust the height enables you to achieve this. You’ll need to ensure that the stands are strong enough to withstand the weight of your speakers to minimize movements that the speakers are playing. 

Summary

Positioning studio speakers is a process, so you should be prepared to invest a fair amount of time and possibly extra money to get it right. The process involves trial and error and sometimes compromises. It might not always be easy to implement every single step. However, basic rules such as keeping speakers away from walls and corners are simple and easy to implement and they will go a long way in making your sound better.  In some cases, you’ll need to rethink your speaker layout as well as get extra components to aid your setup.

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