How to Position your Speakers Correctly

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by Jeremy, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. Jeremy

    Jeremy Ancient Guru

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    How to position your speakers correctly...

    Speakers interact with the room in which they're used, so buying the right boxes is only half of the story - to get the best from them you need to position them correctly. Improper placement will result in the audio portion of your home theater not living up to its full potential in terms of fidelity, and can result in a sonic hodgepodge when it comes to home-theater viewing. Proper placement can help deliver the spatial and acoustic effects as well as the sonic illusion of "place," that can be created with properly engineered sound. Without question, your speakers, and how they're positioned, will have the biggest impact on how and where you hear things in your home theater. Here are some guidelines to follow when placing surround speakers in your listening area...



    Setting up your speakers for a 5.1 Surround sound effect...

    [​IMG]

    Center Channel
    The center channel speaker is one of the most important speakers to have in any TV/Home Theatre room setup. It delivers at least 50% of the soundtrack of a movie and most if not all of the dialog. It can either be placed on top of the screen, or if that is not possible on the ground and directed towards the audience (Figure A). It is important to consider the size of your television set and adjacent speakers when purchasing a center channel speaker. Satellite/Subwoofer combinations usually prefer a smaller center speaker, whilst tower configurations are well complemented with large speakers in the center to create an all-round equal effect.


    [​IMG]
    Figure A: As you can see the center speaker is placed directly above or
    below the television.



    Left and Right Channels
    The left and right hand speakers are placed at the same distance perpendicular from center of the screen. They need to be the exact distance from the center of the screen to acheive a true sound. The angle should be around 22-30 degrees from the audience. If you want you can try to angle these in to face the audience (Figure B).In most applications, these speakers should be placed between 8 and 12 feet apart, for adequate sonic separation.


    [​IMG]
    Figure B: Here the speakers are slightley angled towards the audience.


    Ideally, your front speakers, high-frequency drivers, or tweeters should be positioned at ear level (when you're seated). Our recommended height for the surrounds is above ear level, as soundtracks are likely to be optimized for that location.



    Subwoofer
    Beyond keeping it on the floor, there's no specific rule for placing the subwoofer, as bass sound is non-directional. However, the amount of bass may vary depending on room location. You might want to try a few different places to determine what's best for you (sometimes moving the speaker even a few inches can change the sound). Most people find that crawling along the ground seems to help find the correct location ie: Listen for depth, loudness, tightness and definition.

    Here are some specific steps for placing your subwoofer...

    1) First, try to place your subwoofer as close as possible to your main speakers. The sub's sound will integrate more closely with the speakers' sound that way. If that's a problem for any reason, consider placing the sub close to you (this trick works especially well in really big rooms and really small rooms).

    2) Actually, if you want to draw a map of the best places in the room for your subwoofer, consider putting it in your listening position. Since bass radiation is non-directional, if you play your strong bass-beat track with the sub in your chair and then walk through the room, you can make note of the spots where it sounds particularly good.

    3) Mark them with low-tack masking tape, and you'll have several places where you can place your subwoofer. (If you don't end up with any good-sounding spots, you might want to change your favorite listening position by a foot or so and then try again.)

    4) After you're satisfied that you've placed you subwoofer correclty, it's time to listen to some music. But don't just listen to bass-heavy music; listen to some vocals and solo instruments, as well. On most material, you shouldn't even be aware of anything coming from the subwoofer at all - the sound should seem to come from your main speakers.


    Rear Channels

    Generally in home theater the rears will be a little above the listening position. The tweeter should be 6-20 inches above ear level while sitting. With monopole speakers, 6inches is recommended. With multipolar a little higher is more recommended for a wider dispersion of sound. They should be placed close to the listening area for the best sound. In some rooms, however, free-standing speakers or speakers on stands can be in the way or create a traffic flow problem. Though there may be some sacrifice in sound, ceiling-mounted or suspended rear speakers are one alternative.

    The other and more common rule of thumb is that the satellites and the listener's head should be at the corners of an equilateral triangle, so that the distance between the speakers is the same as the distance from each speaker to the listener's head. See the Diagram F below...

    [​IMG]

    Diagram F: An example of the Equilateral traingle created when the
    speakers are positioned correctly, relative to the audience.




    Shopping for speakers...

    Most speaker manufacturers offer complete home theater systems, usually based on a satellite/subwoofer configuration. You're assured of speakers that match sonically (and cosmetically). Generally, the satellite speakers in these systems are shielded, so they can be placed close to your TV set. If your stereo speakers are not shielded, don't place them too close to the TV. (They're too close if the picture starts to distort.)

    If you're expanding a stereo system and want to keep the speakers you have, try to stick with the manufacturer of your current speakers when you choose your center channel, surrounds and subwoofer. Most speaker manufacturers can offer advice on complementary models.



    Room Acoustics...

    The shape of your room and how it's furnished will affect the sound you hear. For instance, too many bare surfaces can cause reflections that may add harshness to the sound. Adding carpeting and drapes can help.

    If you have a choice of rooms, avoid ones that are perfectly square or have one dimension exactly twice another. These rooms can aggravate resonances that color the sound.

    The closer you place a speaker to intersecting room surfaces (corners, wall and ceiling, wall and floor), the stronger the bass output. This can help bass-shy speakers, but it can also add too much bass. Again, just moving a speaker a few inches can often make a big difference in sound. Do not place satellite speakers next to walls. The walls will artificially raise the bass output and distort the sound. Place them at least a foot or two from walls and other verticals panels. Don't put the satellites in direct contact with anything like the monitor or a monitor stand; nothing should be touching them. Don't block them with crap, either. Speakers are not meant to be reading stands for instruction manuals or handy objects against which to lean teetering stacks of CDs.

    Note: The ideal arrangement of your listening room or home theater will depend, to some degree, on the equipment you're using. Large, floor-standing speakers and more powerful amplifiers may require a somewhat different set-up than bookshelf-size speakers and a less powerful receiver. Although the general principles remain constant, check the owners manual that comes with your equipment to see whether there are recommendations about room configuration, speaker placement, etc.




    Thanks,

    Jeremy2223



    Sources:

    http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/home_improvement/article/0,2037,DIY_13954_2273227,00.html
    http://www.dolby.com/consumer/home_entertainment/roomlayout.html
    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1840970,00.asp
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  2. MetalFox

    MetalFox Master Guru

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    Good thread was worth stickying.

    + Some good info for newbies here
    + Acoustics part was good

    And if you have normal speakers Remeber kids always set up them in phase !

    [​IMG]
     
  3. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    So that means makes sure your polarities are correct RED to RED, BLACK to BLACK. There is usually a white strip an the speaker wire or something of a color difference so you can tell the wires apart. If you mix up the phase by accident that means your speaker cone will be going out when it is supposed to be coming in and vice-versa. The speaker is 180 degrees out of phase. I know it sounds like something off of Star Trek but it's not. Your whole surround sound image will be messed up big time and it will sound really awful. Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2008
  4. anthony

    anthony Maha Guru

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    I would just like to add one thing. if you have a ported sub you can face the port towards a wall and it will amplify the sound to an extent. but dont get to close or you will cause to many vibrations
     

  5. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Yes, if you put the subwoofer in a corner you get even more bass -it's called corner loading
     
  6. Spezzy

    Spezzy Master Guru

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    Only thing I disagree about is the rears. Generally in home theater the rears will be a little above the listening position. The tweeter should be 6-20 inches above ear level while sitting. With monopole speakers, 6inches is recommended. With multipolar a little higher is more recommended for a wider dispersion of sound.
    7.1 layout help here: http://www.dtsonline.com/dts-hd/dtshd-speaker-remapping.php
     
  7. Jeremy

    Jeremy Ancient Guru

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    I will add that information thanks Spezzy.
     
  8. Spezzy

    Spezzy Master Guru

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    No problem.:coffee2:
     
  9. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    I placed some Densed Sponges (like the ones that protect cargo while shipping) under my subwoofer and some regular sponges (also those that protect cargo, but softer) as a mat (like a carpet) for my speakers, i think the sponges can help reduce noise coming from vibrations.

    (My speakers are not mounted on a wall but instead are placed on a wooden plank)

    Do you think i did good?
     
  10. Jeremy

    Jeremy Ancient Guru

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    Yeah, it will help especially on wood at minimizing vibrations like you said. Ensure that no fluff or anything blocks the airways of the sub woofer though.
     

  11. kanej2007

    kanej2007 Ancient Guru

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    Everyone should know how to position speakers, it's so easy!

    The speakers should be level with your ears and most importantly face you!

    All you need to do now is buy a descent pair of speakers and position them correctly!
     
  12. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    This thread was put here for people that don't know how.
     
  13. kanej2007

    kanej2007 Ancient Guru

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    True, my bad! At least now some noobs can reposition their speakers!

    Oh well, everyones gotta learn sometime! We were all a noob once upon a time!
     
  14. RejZoR

    RejZoR Ancient Guru

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    If you have THX settings for your soundcard, you can manually adjust speakers angle and distance from head. Subwoofer has to be placed as low as possible and as far away as possible from the listener. This creates much more powerful bass and depth of it as well.
     
  15. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    THX settings can help to fine tune your system but the closer your speakers are to being position optimally the better and more accurate sound you will have.
     

  16. Spirit02

    Spirit02 Active Member

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    I love how only 3 people who replied to this thread don't have a soundcard based on the CMI8788 :D
     
  17. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    I do....I have a X-Meridian 7.1 With X-Tension board and full LM4562's. -Wait, I changed out the LM's with OPA627's and 637's...
     
  18. Spirit02

    Spirit02 Active Member

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    I assumed as much... knew you *did* have one... good to see you still do ;)
     
  19. MrMoo232

    MrMoo232 New Member

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    The THX console in soundcards is to tell your soundcard how big your room is and how far apart each speakers is from each other and the listener, the angle adjustment is just for fine tuning, try to get the real angles (speaker positions) as close as possible to the correct position then use THX to make it sound that little bit better. IMO the sub should be in an opposite corner of the room to the listener, if you sit at the back of the room in the middle, the sub should be in the front left or right corner of the room (if you put the sub next to you in the rear left or right corners of the room you will be able to hear where the bass is comming from)
     
  20. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    A subwoofer is considered omni-directional. Meaning the human ears cannot pinpoint where bass is coming from aslong as it is not overly loud.
    This is why the Bass blends in to the sats in many smaller systems as the ear hears the bass but not from any particular direction.
     

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