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  1. #1
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    How to set up Speakers for the best sound

    OK all - I know there are a lot of set up options out there, and it can vary depending on what type of speaker you are using.

    I've tried the golden triangle method where the distance between tweeters and listener is the same and the speakers were not toed in because the distance was about 6ft. I liked this method - it offered a lot of detail and a good punchy bass.

    Currently I am using the method suggested by Jim Smith in "get better sound" - where the distance between tweeters is about 80% of the distance from listener. The speakers are toed in a bit.

    I just moved into the new place so I assume it will take some time and some moving around to find the exact spot that sounds best in this method. But so far so good.

    I'm currently running monitors on stands. The toe in is aimed at just behind my head. Everything is about 6 or less feet apart.

    Now what are you using, why, and what type of speakers do you own?

  2. #2
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    Like you I have typically preferred not to toe my speakers in, not even with my Dynaudio. I currently have a pair of Klipsch Forte in my main system and I do have them toe'd in slightly, I think they need it due to the smaller dispersion pattern of the horns. Soundstage has been surprisingly good from the better Klipsch models.

  3. #3
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Measuring to the tweeters, my floorstanders are 6 feet apart, 3 feet from the side walls, and 3 feet to the rear walls. They're aimed straight ahead. The midpoint between the speakers is 9 feet from my head and the wall is 3 feet behind me.

  4. #4
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    My two sets of speakers are both little toed in mainly because of where they are placed.

    My mains are setup in such a way that one is too close to a wall and the other is out and away but behind it 4 feet is an opening to the main foyer.

    My family room speakers are in built in corner cabinets on the sides of the fireplace and are both angled in a little.How to set up Speakers for the best sound-img_1005.jpg

    How to set up Speakers for the best sound-jms.jpg

  5. #5
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    I need to just come over and hang at your place hyfi. Where are you on the east coast? I just left there 2 years ago and moved to the Mid west....shoot!

    frenchmon
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  6. #6
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    I wonder what it would sound like if you set two speakers facing each other and you sat right in the middle, sort of a headphone configuration only with speakers and the speakers several feet away from your ears? Maybe similar to door speakers in an auto but only on a larger scale.

  7. #7
    Swing rakeford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I wonder what it would sound like if you set two speakers facing each other and you sat right in the middle, sort of a headphone configuration only with speakers and the speakers several feet away from your ears? Maybe similar to door speakers in an auto but only on a larger scale.
    Due to room setup and needs, that's the way I've set up my Klipsch RF-7's. It's the most awesome set of headphones "you've ever heard".


    Last edited by rakeford; 10-26-2010 at 07:03 PM.
    Philips GA312/ Stanton 681EEE/ Jico D6800EEE-S Shibata ===>>|
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  8. #8
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi
    My two sets of speakers are both little toed in mainly because of where they are placed.

    My mains are setup in such a way that one is too close to a wall and the other is out and away but behind it 4 feet is an opening to the main foyer.

    My family room speakers are in built in corner cabinets on the sides of the fireplace and are both angled in a little.Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Choice!!

    I've got a pair of JM Labs monitors too. The tiny Micron Carats that I use in my computer setup. Small in size, but large in sound, and with a world class tweeter!

    http://gallery.audioreview.com/data/...er_500c_tt.jpg
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  9. #9
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Like you I have typically preferred not to toe my speakers in, not even with my Dynaudio. I currently have a pair of Klipsch Forte in my main system and I do have them toe'd in slightly, I think they need it due to the smaller dispersion pattern of the horns. Soundstage has been surprisingly good from the better Klipsch models.

    I toe my dynaudio speakers in somewhat and they perform awesome like that. I have them currently around 19 inches from the back walls and almost 2 feet from the side walls and they sound great in the new audio room in my new home in Springfield Mo. I have heard my dyns straight setting but still prefer them slightly toed in for what I would say better imaging and overall response but this is just my opinion and it also seems to wake up what some people are calling the dynaudio warmth that they have and make them slightly more live sounding which to me was not a weakness that I seem with dynaudio speakers in the first place. At some point I will post some pics of my new man cave when I get around to picking up my digital cam.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon
    I need to just come over and hang at your place hyfi. Where are you on the east coast? I just left there 2 years ago and moved to the Mid west....shoot!

    frenchmon
    I am in Lower Bucks County, just outside of the Philly Burbs. Where 132 and 232 cross. Come on over.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    Choice!!

    I've got a pair of JM Labs monitors too. The tiny Micron Carats that I use in my computer setup. Small in size, but large in sound, and with a world class tweeter!

    http://gallery.audioreview.com/data/...er_500c_tt.jpg
    That looks like a nice little setup. I had an older pair of Infinitys in that spot when I moved there. When the woofers fell in one day, I tried to find the best sounding, large in size, bookshelf speaker in a reasonable range. I listened to several pairs of all makes in the $600 range and the Tantal 509 was the winner. The whole line was phased out for a newer catchy named line, that I cant even remember...lol.

    The JMs have the normal signature sound that goes all the way up the lines. Fast, detailed, accurate, distinct but not deep bass. The placement of my JMs, inside those boxes (shelves) add another 3rd as much bass by acting as a much larger cabinet than it is. I have taken them out and played them in the main room on stands. These guys fill the family room and kitchen with great sound. The beryllium tweeter is a much less fatiguing metal tweeter than others. Not quite up to the Danes or Clearfields silk though.

    JMs are a great speaker in any line, just like the Danes and B&Ws. You just have to like what they do to appreciate them.

  12. #12
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    I came across this speaker placement method years ago on another audio website. I found the lengthy and convoluted process to be worth it. Also, I was able to source the required tracks from my local library so I was in business. To be clear - this is not my post but the document can be easily found by googling "iron chef speaker placement".

    SUMIKO “IRON CHEF” SPEAKER SETUP PROTOCOL

    This protocol was presented to me by John Hunter the owner of Sumiko. They are USA distributors for SME, Sumiko, Sonus Faber, Vienna Acoustics, REL and others. This is the best room set up tool I have ever used.
    The most critical part is getting the speaker rake angle adjusted after you have them finally situated. So I hope your speakers have spikes. You will need them to set the rake angle.
    If you have no spikes, you can get door shims at Home Depot or Lowes. These are wedges are used to hang the door frames to the studs surrounding the doors. There will be people to help you find these shims. They are inexpensive and you can use them to figure the angle you need, and then find something more in tune with your decore to provide the final angle.
    So here is the Iron Chef Speaker Set Up Protocol
    Proper speaker set up requires music. John Hunter of Sumiko uses a Rob Wasserman song featuring Jennifer Warnes called "Ballad of the Runaway Horse". You will find this on his “Duets” cd and his “Trio” CD as well. This is the best set up song I have ever found. So get a copy of this. You will always be glad you did. Another tool I like to use for fine tuning the speakers is Bob Chesky's Jazz Sampler Number 1. Cuts 10 and above really help you nail it down solid.
    Step 1 will be to remove whatever removable sound absorbers you have. Take them out of the room. Anything that is permanently fixed and all your furniture and stuff are ok to leave alone.
    Step 2 recommends you either remove the speaker stand spikes to make moving the speakers easier, or at least level all the spikes so the speaker is completely level. If you own heavy speakers you are probably better off adjusting the speakers with the spikes in place and set level.
    Step 3 is to establish your listening seat. Optimally you will set up the speakers and your listening seat in the shape of an triangle. I like my speakers at least 8-12 ft apart and the listening seat 12-15 ft back. When properly set up, the speaker will be out at least 18” from the rear boundary wall. Your listening seat likewise should be at least 24 inches from a back boundary.
    Step 4 places both left and right speakers directly against their wall facing straight out into the room. No inward “toe in” angle should be attempted yet.
    The left speaker is going to become the anchor for the set up.
    Step 5 gets you grooving. Now you can begin playing the “Ballad”. What makes this song so effective for set up is that the plucked string bass is at realistic volume at realistic timber. So the goal is to get the bass properly coupled to the room and the drivers.
    Play this track at volumes where you can easily detect bass quality. I am usually between 80-95 db when I do a set up. Sometimes you will need to crank it up a bit. Just make sure it is loud enough to fully engage the room.
    Step 6 involves a buddy. Have your buddy slide your left speaker (the anchor) out into the room until the bass becomes solid and authoritative. Mark this spot with some masking tape.
    Now slide the speaker right and left to find the best bass quality. Mark this spot.
    Now slide the speaker further out in the room to find other points where the bass couples properly in your room. There are likely to be a dozen spots within a 3 ft diameter of your first spot. Be patient. 1/3 of an inch is all that differentiates a good bass quality from a lifeless bass sound.
    Listen to all of these good bass points until you find your favorite bass spot.
    All this is done with just the left speaker playing straight out. The right speaker is playing straight into the room from the back wall. Each speaker playing at the same volume.
    Step 7 establishes the “toe in” angle of your left speaker toward your listening seat. You want the widest possible sound stage without the sound being too thin. I usually end up seeing about 2/3 of the inside wall of the speaker when I have this about right. Do not toe in excessively, you will just ruin your sound stage. A little dab will do you! If the toe in is right, the sound will be very natural, if it is too wide the sound will be thin, and with too much the sound will seem to come from two speakers not from the space in between.
    Your anchor is now set. Mark this spot carefully with masking tape.
    Step 8 requires reinsertion of the left speaker's spikes leaving the speaker level at this time.
    Step 9 is to set up the right speaker position. Simply slide or move the right speaker out into the room. Move it slowly listening for the sound stage to line up equally before you. By this I mean a stage is flat in front of you. The sound stage should not sound tilted, like one speaker sounding closer to you than the other. Remember to keep the speaker oriented directly straight ahead. No angle yet.
    Step 10 involves moving the speaker right and left until you hear the soundstage become cohesive, and Jennifer should sound like she is right dab in the middle.
    Step 11 Then toe in the angle the speaker very slighly until you hear Jennifer Warnes voice become a “body” centered in the sound field. You will hear the sound congeal nicely at this time. Things are really beginning to sound better now.
    You should now have accomplished sound coupling of the speakers to your room boundaries. To test if this is the case, you should be able to stand directly over either speaker and clearly hear the other speaker.
    It may be necessary to make very minor angle adjustments of the right speaker to get her voice centered. Be patient and you will be rewarded.
    Now if the sound stage is not linear, meaning one speaker sounds more forward than the other, then simply slide that right speaker front or back until the sound field is "level." (Moving it right or left adjusts the centering of Jennifer Warnes voice).
    Make sure you mark the final location of both speakers with masking tape.
    Insert the right speaker spikes.
    Step 12 begins with adjustments to the rake angle of the left speaker. You accomplish this by adjusting the spikes to get the speaker level across the front, and raked back to get the beam of the tweeter firing above your ears. You need to listen to the quality of Jennifer Warnes voice. She should appear to be ear level or slightly above ear level in the sound field. This is a personal choice. Many of my friends prefer ear level because it is a slightly fuller sound. I prefer a little above ear level cause I like the voice to sound ultra natural, like a live musical event.
    Carefully listen to the tweeter response of the left speaker and make sure that the "beam" is at least an inch or two above your ear when you are seated in your listening seat.
    Step 13 begins by adjusting the spikes on your right speaker to match the "height" of the left speaker.
    At this time, you should hear her voice almost as a whisper, when originally it may have sounded shrill and harsh. Her voice should be centered in the sound field now, with solid and good quality bass.
    Step 14 suggests you take measurements of the speaker location to the walls. Take digital photos. Someone will mess with your set up some time. You need to have these so you don't have to repeat the process unnecessarily. When you have this locked in, don't let anybody touch your set up!
    I like to follow up the set-up with some confirmation tests. I prefer the Bob Chesky Jazz Sampler 1 CD. On cut 10 the speaker starts out 2 ft from the microphone in center stage. Then he moves midway right, full right, and off-stage right. He then repeats this on the left. Simply slide your right speaker right or left to get the sound staging perfect. Then use cut 11 which is “Over”, “Lateral”, “Under” and “Up” to verify your rake angles.
    Your friends will be amazed. Just two CD’s let you make the magic. Rob Wasserman’s Duo or Trio CD, and Bob Chesky’s Jazz Sampler 1.
    Step 15 bring back any sound absorbers and reflectors to see if you can improve upon the sound. But don't touch the speaker’s location.
    What you have done, in short, is to couple the speaker's response to your room based upon your listening seat.
    This process will take me 20-30 minutes or longer. On your first dozen set ups it may take longer.
    Let me know if you have any questions about this process. I can do this all alone. Having a buddy slide your speaker is much faster and easier. If you have hard floors instead of carpet, you can set the speaker on a soft towel to assist in the sliding.
    Make sure your buddy stands behind the speaker when he/she moves it, because their body will affect the sound if they stand along side of the speaker.
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  13. #13
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    speakers in corner, toed in at 30 degree angle to you ears.

    When u have the time, build 4" thick bass traps. I use 6. Two behind the speakers. Speakers about 20" from traps. Then place one trap to each side of your speakers. Take a floor standing mirror and lay in against each side bass trap. When you are in your listening position and you can see the reflection of your speakers in the mirror, you have them placed correctly.

    If you have a carpeted room dont worry about forward deflection.

    If you dont, then lay your mirror on the floor directly in front of each speaker. While sitting in your listening position, place your rug or other absorptive material on the floor where you see the speaker reflection in the mirror.

    Some people will do this on the cieling as well.

    In doing this you will remove most reflective sound waves [and avoid wave cancellation], thus directing sound from the speakers right to your tympanic membranes (i.e. ear drums).

  14. #14
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    IME, placing most speakers in corners usually gives bloated indistinct bass with a lessening of imaging. Speakers that are designed for corner placement (Klipshhorns for ex.) take advantage of the bass boost and are designed not to sound bloated or loose imaging. There is a current thread on AK about such placement.

    My ESL's (dipoles) are 7.5' apart (center to center), 28" from the side walls, 59" from the front wall (behind the speakers) and toed in to point directly at my chair which is 10.5' away. The back wall (behind my chair) is 8' away. My rear ESL's (used for MC and surround only) are 3' from the back wall and the same distance from the side walls as my fronts. I have throw rugs, LP's, CD's books and a variety of acoustic treatments to help with room response problems.
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  15. #15
    Forum Regular dwayne.aycock's Avatar
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    I have tried this method and it works for me:
    After setting everything up, ( source, amplification, interconnects and cables) I focus on one speaker at a time. I usually start with the Left speaker, and my listening position. I try to get the fullest most resonant sound out of the speaker by adjusting in 3 Axes ( front to back, left to right, and toe in and out). Once I have this worked out, I focus on the right speaker with all the same steps. I have found that based on room nodes, resonance, reflection and echo, the speaker placement will rarely be symmetrical. Once I have set the left and right speaker placements, I now play them together. The tweaks at this point are relatively minor. I do the same steps in HT applications, by running the full stereo signal to each of the surrounds and going through the steps listed above. I do the same for back speakers we well. Finally, I play the center channel in mono and listen for the fullest midrange and vocal sounds. I try to avoid resonance of the center as it may sound chesty and localized. I rould rather have resonance produced by the other speakers in the system. Finally, I get another set of ears and do some listening tests.
    If my "new set of ears" hears sounds and voices coming from areas that I know no sound is being produced (ex. subject hears voice from right in front of them, but no center channel speaker is on) I know that the sound stage and imaging is correct. Further tweaks are isolators, spikes, interconnects, cables, diffusers etc, but this comes with time and experience in the hobby. In my most recent speaker set up, I have tried the triangle method, the iron chef, the curve, the V set up and finally the 4 square set up where i measure the distance from each corner, and tune the system to the corners of the room. I however find these methods to be highly dependent on source material, room temp and humidity as well as furniture placement and movement. The method I have listed above has proven stable over time in terms of placement, temp, and humidity. Since I keep the Wife out of my "man pit" I don't have to worry about furniture placement or movement. (LOL)
    Dwayne

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