Sound is a funny thing. It bends and distorts around objects. It can amplify and distort itself if similar frequency outputs are too close together. This is all part of the study of acoustics.
Acoustics are the reason why a person may not be able to understand what someone says when they are 30 feet away in another room. Acoustics is also the reason why someone can clearly understand every note in an Opera singer’s voice in a crowded amphitheater despite being 800 feet away.
For anyone who spends money on fancy, high fidelity speakers for a stereo or home audio system it is essential to have a basic understanding of acoustics so that placement of speaker are set to optimal positions. What is the point of spending hundreds of dollars on high quality speakers if care is not also given to optimize speaker positioning.
The following is a guide to how to select placement of speakers for optimal sound quality.
The Importance of the Venue: The Room
The first step in understanding how to select placement of speakers is to find the correct room for the system. The sound heard is not one a single sound, even though it seems that way. In actuality sound is a mix of direct and indirect sounds. The direct sound will be the ones that come from the speakers directly to the ear. The indirect sounds will bounce off of objects and walls before hitting the ear. Indirect sounds will add to richness and quality of the overall sound to an extent. But if the room is broken by lots of objects and clutter, there are too many “indirect” sounds and this decreases overall sound quality.
Television/ Stereo Placement
Now that the best room to place speakers in has been decided the next important factor is to decide placement of the Television. Decide the exact spot where the exact “sweet spot” for listening to the music will be. Generally this will be a spot in the center of the room where people are sitting. All speakers will be set in reference to this important spot. Directly in front of this spot should be the television/ stereo with the important Channel Speaker. Take a measurement from this primary spot to the speaker. The easiest way to do this is with a tape measure or a piece of string. When all is “said and done,” every single speaker to be placed that exact distance measured from the “sweet spot” for top sound quality.
Placement of Stereo Front Right and Left Speakers
The front speakers should each be ½ of the distance that the “sweet spot” is from the center of the channel speaker. Therefore from speaker to speaker should be the same distance as channel speaker is to the sweet spot and sweet spot is to each left and right speaker.
For example if Sweet spot 10 Yards from The channel speaker it will be 10 yards from both left and right speakers. 5 yards to the right of the channel speaker shall be the right front speaker and 5 yards to the left is the left speaker.
Placement of Tweeters
If front and left speakers have tweeters these can either be elevated or not depending on personal preference. The important part is that they are aimed for directly for where the ears will be when a person is sitting at the sweet spot.
Placement of Stereo Surround Speakers
Imagine an arc going from the channel speaker through left and right front speakers ending up directly to the right or left of the “sweet spot”. This should be the placement for surround sound speakers. Like all arcs, the distance should also be the same distance as from sweet spot to channel speakers.
Distance from the Wall
Now that the speakers are placed but there is one final consideration: distance to the wall. Bass sound is created by low frequencies bouncing off of surfaces. If the speaker is pointed away from the wall there will be some extra bass sound if it is too close to a wall. Speakers should be 1-2 feet away from a wall to cancel out the extra bass effects and receive proper fidelity.
Final Installation tips on placement of Speakers
That is all that is needed to be known about selecting placement of speakers to ensure maximum fidelity and acoustics from speakers. Placing speakers with precision can make an average system sound great and a great system sound incredible.
The simplest way to remember this system is by having the speakers in a 180 arc with the desired “sweet spot” being the center of the arc.