Speaker placement Quandary

Where to begin here? My question is that in my experience with speaker placement I "think" that it is best to have your speakers well out into the room to achieve the best in soundstage width and especially depth? For example my Legacy Focus XD's are 6.5 feet into the room from front baffle to front wall. I messed with them quite a bit but never went closer to the front wall than that in fear of losing that well spaced out soundstage or emphasizing bass.. Imagery seems rather good as well. The "sound" comes from deep into the front wall not near the speaker plane. I see many listening rooms (in forum members setups, you tube, etc) that seem to follow this thinking and I also see some rather sophisticated expensive high end systems (in dedicated rooms so no WAF effect) that have their speakers just 1-2 feet off the front wall between the rear of the speaker. Is this an element of a different preference in listening? Wouldn't the soundstage become flatter? Is there some tonal advantages to this? I realize some speakers are designed to be closer such as some Wilsons and it seems many the the B&W's end up like this.  I understand that locating speakers is room dependant and a huge variable too. 


My speakers weigh 140 pounds each and I have them sitting on Via Blue decouplers so I cannot move them by myself and replace them on the footers, so I have not tried to move them closer to the front wall. Additionally they are rear ported and as I understand it's best to keep them away from the wall. 


As many of you have probably experimented with speaker placements, what have you found that gives you that nice expansive soundstage and imagery  in your rooms? 

Also is it more an issue with room modes too?


My room is 14w X 18L x 7H  My speakers are 6.5" out, 39" off side walls and 8 feet apart measured from center of front baffle.. My listening position is 9.5 feet (Of the side triangle measurements) from the front baffles and I sit about 4 feet off the rear wall. I have side wall treatments, rear wall diffusion, front wall diffusion and bass absorption. 


I am not really looking for placement suggestions unless you see a real flaw here. I just wonder how so many different configurations work so well regarding less distance between speakers and the front wall? Thoughts?


Well, of course different speaker designs, as you said. Also the reflectivity of the rear wall and what is in between them, and how optimized they are. I see photos of your system, but those do not look like Legacy Focus XD speakers. So I am a bit confused.


I also think a lot of systems are probably not well optimized. It takes not only patience but good listening skills. It can take years to easily perceive holes in a soundstage.

From your description it sounds like the imaging in your system is not being constrained by the rear wall, because you have damped them. Often an undampened rear wall can truncate the sound stages .

Interference with a lot of equipment also can break up the image… I say this because of your photo. I am not sure if you had tried it, but I would try moving the equipment to the side, and dampening all the was to the floor… and the back lower corner. To avoid a huge investment to find out… I would get some cheap long interconnects to go between the preamp and amp. If it has a big improvement then invest in really good interconnects.


Recently I went over to a friends house who was working to optimize his system. I could easily hear the equipment hole… we removed the equipment and voile gone. I added a big stack of couch cushions on the back wall and the imaging improved a lot and back into the wall. I could hear the problems in seconds… and to his delight he could hear the better results immediately.

So, I’m guessing, different speaker designs, suboptimal setups are the most common.

I have box speakers, ports on rear, 3way. My room is similar to yours except a bit larger in all dimensions and a 9' ceiling. Regarding 'depth of image' minimum distance from the wall behind them is 4ft. Best imaging is about 5'. Speakers 9.5' apart and 10.5 ' distanced from chair in a triangle set up. No commercial wall treatments but lots of drapes, bookcases, etc, strategically placed. 

Your present set up sounds good, on paper at least.  Before you move them consider that you might not improve imaging that much but you might experience some bass changes (for good or bad?). 

@ghdprentice If you look at the last 2 pictures in my Virtual System you will see the new Legacys. Side equipment is not an option for 2 reasons. Dedicated lines location and no room to the side walls to set up equipment. My system is ever evolving so that picture is not current, I have made more changes with cleaned up equipment racks and front wal diffusion. Are you suggestion some absorption behind the listening position?


I guess this isn’t going the way I thought, not really looking for advice for my system. I was wondering about the placement question others have experienced.

Mine are placed similar to yours...mine sounded much better when I removed most of my room acoustic treatments (I had overdone that)...I also have dual subs, so do not have to optimize speakers for bass...just lots of variables and personal preferences...lots of trial and error...I put my speakers on furniture sliders until I found the exact position I preferred, then put the spikes back on...lots of debate about use of spikes too...

I’m also in a basement. I tried and removed all damping as it killed the sound.

The front wall to speakers distance along with the speaker distance to listener impact the bass and lower midrange balance substantially, like from ~40-150Hz. I had to solve for both of them at the same time, not set one then the other. The soundstage has no direct meaning to me during this part of setup, although issues in this range effect it. The speaker distance from the side walls has an easy-to-hear impact on stage/imaging, and it also affects tonal balance.

I deal more directly with soundstage by finding the center of the room and equalizing the distance and toe-in between each speaker and the room’s center. The measurements can be easy or hard to make depending of the speaker’s baffle.

Technically, no.  :)

You are describing having a dead end and most speakers don't do well that way, not just for frequency response but also for sound stage dimensions.  This is why diffusion behind and to the sides of the speakers can so often help improve imaging vs. pure aborbers. 

So, while it's really good to give your speakers breathing room, having them too far away from the side walls may be detrimental.  This varies a lot with the speakers and their dispersion patterns. 

It's not only distance from the wall, but. how far apart they are, tilt, etc.  The only way to be satisfied is to try everything and choose your best.  I have very heavy speakers too.....the joys of an audiophile

IME most dynamic speakers, unless designed specifically for near wall or corner placement, will create a better soundstage and sound more coherent when pulled out into the room. Some speakers may give up some fullness in the bass but otherwise will sound better away from the walls.

When I first setup my 133 pound speakers ( on Isoacoustics Gaia 1’s),  I put them on furniture sliders until I got close.  And since I have a carpeted floor, I got some pieces of granite from a place that makes and sells countertops and put the speakers on the granite and the sliders under the granite until I had the speakers exactly where I wanted them.

All the best.

Re diffusion....I ran into these awhile ago, thought that whenever I've a space that I can set up in a more 'semi-permanent fashion' I'd give 'em a go... 

There's other patterns & textures available...not all that heavy, either.  One could velcro to the wall to play about.  These apparently sized to be hung from a suspended ceiling framing...

One could perhaps apply over rockwool insulation for damping? 


.....since these panels are flexible, I’ve always wanted to ’infill’ a corner with a quarter-curve of these....say, 2~3 on the radius...just to see wth happened....

Bass traps end up being ’dust bunny’ hangouts....stuff the corner void with damping....don't recall anything being done quite like that....

@mapman ....just a shout-out..... *G* 

...being 'omni-people' that we is, what'd you think may happen with that latter 'concept'....?

Curious minds being such 'n all.... ;)

You can see mine in my system. 54" from front wall and 36" from side walls. Optimum for my room and speakers.


Another set or other sets of ears can assist in dialing in speaker placement. I have a friend with "self beholden golden" ears. 

I have the worst shaped house possible. I listen to over 60% mono and any setup with speakers to tight to the back lost depth - and with mono - that is your soundstage. The difference is more noticeable in mono. My compromise was a room dedicated to mono and a different room for stereo. 


Actually, it is not best to have your speakers well out into the room as long as the first reflection points on the front wall are damped. The position of the listening chair is way more important. What happens is bass being omnidirectional changes it's nodal pattern as you change the distance to the front wall. Usually you will notice a change in the quality of the midbass. Paul Klipsch always recommended that you put his speakers right up against the wall or in a corner, Cornwall. I think most of the tower speakers I have heard do well 2 to 3 feet away from the front wall again as long as the wall is treated correctly. My own speakers are planar dipoles. Since they are towed in the distance to the front wall is from 2 to 3 feet. The wall behind the speakers is covered with acoustic tile. I also have total EQ control over the systems frequency response and I measure the system's performance. 

Vision and hearing have a very complex relationship. What you see will affect what you hear. Close your eyes when you listen and imaging will become for distinct. 

The soundstage should always be as wide as the speakers unless some slick phasing is done as in Roger Water's Amused to Death album. If it is wider you are listening to reflections off the side wall which is bad because it ruins image specificity, distinctness. What most people interpret as depth is really echo added to the recording or venue the recording was recorded in. Echo makes you think you are in a larger room. Most systems do 2 dimensions fairly well. The third dimension is not the echo. It is the sense that the individual or instrument is a three dimensional object standing in space very much like a visual hologram. This is an effect that very few systems can manage. It also requires a good live recording. Studio recordings are usually all over the place.

There is lots of good advice here.  Corners can make the low end bloom.  Go to the corner when you are playing something that has some bass to it.  You'll hear it if it's there.  Also, try moving your happy seat forward and back a little at a time to optimize imaging and soundstaging.

The way I position my speakers is I put on one the left side and the other on the right side. Works every time.

There is no single right answer when it comes to best speaker placement. Each case is unique. It usually requires some experimentation to get best results.

It is always the case typically that distance from walls and corners determines bass levels. Soundstage and imaging is typically related to speaker sound radiation pattern. Good speaker reviews will measure that and it is useful to help identify what placement in a particular room might work best. The SPL levels in the direction of walls are important but have to be managed carefully for good soundstage and imaging. Omnidirectional, bipolar and rear ported designs will tend to require more distance to walls for best results compared to others.

Nice system! My dedicated listening room is similar in size to yours, and I have my speakers placed almost exactly as you have yours. I have smaller 2-way towers that would benefit from some bass reinforcement if I moved them back a bit, but it comes at the price of a less deep 3D soundstage and not quite as good at pulling off a complete disappearing act, and that’s not a worthwhile trade off at least for my tastes. The only thing I’d consider if I’m you — and I’ve gotta try this too in my system and as the very wise @ghdprentice mentioned above — is to reduce the height of the equipment stack to about half what it is now. My stack is directly between my speakers and a bit over 3’ tall, and visually it’s just in the way and I’m sure doing me no favors sonically. Like you, and for similar reasons, I’m not willing to relocate my equipment to the side as much as I’d like to, but hopefully some day as I’d really love to eventually make that happen. That’s all I got FWIW.

@mijostyn  Exactly. The sweetest imaging is when the speakers disappear leaving a 3D tangible image in the space in front of the speaker plane. 

@OP - Ideally use an SPL meter and a set of test tones from 30-125 Hz to look for any major anomalies. If there are, then judicious experimentation with positioning, toe in, and the amount and placement of acoustic treatment in the room may yield improvements.  It's not axiomatic that moving the speakers closer to the wall than 6.5 feet will result in a less open soundstage or excessive bass - depending on the room, it can do the complete opposite. Taking some measurements and repeating them will greatly speed up the process. Movements of three to six inches at a time are all that's needed.

Rule of thirds

make an equilateral triangle to listening position so they are the same width apart as distance to your head!

then move speakers back until bass is boomy pull out until base is just right.

this is the most stupid proof way! If you want to widen them after to make triangle equal so that after base is optimized…then toe in tweeters to your ears until imaging is perfect.




If I had more room I would do the same and pull my speakers more away from the wall behind them.  Five feet from front baffle to wall is about optimum for the best bass depending on speaker design requirements.  At that distance there are no quarter wave bass cancellations that can affect bass output below 125hz or so.  After 5 feet out there is no more improvement in bass but as you have noted the sound stage depth is awesome.  IMO you have it right.  No need to move them back unless you want another foot and a half of room clearance.  

Some speakers need to be close to the wall and or corners for best bass.  I agree that sound stage depth is really lacking in that kind of setup.  


This is a great thread. I have been obsessing with my speakers distance from the front wall. They are out about 4"9". I get great soundstage width and tons of imaging but depth is still lacking. I think next I will tweak toe-in to see if that helps. My problem is moving these 500lbs monsters.


This is what “sliders” are for. Making it easy to move them around. I think it took me a year to get mine situated. I got to know them really well in the position of my old speakers. Then every week or two I would move them a little… and back, or not. 

I realized that many folks said they would vanish. But mine were not. Then, instead of having “the beams crossed” behind my head… I slowly, and incrementally toed them out until they pointed straight out… they disappeared.


The recommended position is just a starting point, slow and meticulous  positioning will make them sound the best.

@OP, there are conflicting comments about toe in in the posts. GHD Prentice's comment above is a good way to proceed. Different speakers require or don't require toe in - in varying amounts - so experimentation is needed.

OP (and Skinzy), I don’t know what you are using as a reference for ’depth of image’ but ’depth of image’ is not so much because of set up, once you have a good set up drilled down, i.e. 5’ +/- from the wall behind the speakers and first reflection points deadened or diffused, and not so much toe in which is mainly to help with reducing side wall reflections, as it is what is on your recording.

If you do not already have one, that you get a recording that has depth of image imbedded because of the recording of the music. I used a recording by Opus 3 called Depth of Image. This is not a real ’test’ disc, so much as a compilation of music by a bunch of Swedes playing a mix of pop/classic/jazz music using great recording technics. I have heard this played over a SOTA system and it is truly holographic. It can be spooky real! I highly recommend it. It can be found on CD or vinyl. I preferred the vinyl but the CD works as well. Good luck.

Current speakers came with recommendation to toe in,  so that sound crossed 3 feet behind listening position. Previous speakers were designed to point straight ahead.  Of course lots of trial and error, and each speaker not necessarily with identical toe in...

Opus 3 test disc …. depth of image…. should be in every system setup kit…..


Ok just purchased Opus 3 as a download.  Can you steer me to the best tract for soundstage depth.  I see 17 tracks.  Is there more than one disc?  Thanks

Not really. They are all excellent but different musical formats and instruments. I don't know about downloads, but the CD's and Vinyl recordings came with a description of each cut and what was on display sonically. You really need that. 

I enjoyed track #5, a polka from Shostakovich's Bolt, played by a 'symphonic band', Track #6 South American Pan Pipes, Track #7 Male singer with Guitar, Track #4, Jazz from the 20's, and Track #2, Guitar Music. 

Opus 3 also had several other similar 'test' discs covering other areas but I don't recall their names or if they are currently available. For myself, Depth of Image was enough.

I have a purpose built listening room and simply could not make it work with conventional wisdom. In desperation I tried speakers on the long wall, 4 ESL's ( two T-configuations) close to the wall but angled, backed by records, the T's 4' apart. Seating is 5' from the speaker face. Good but no bass.

Then I played with Magnepan bass panels, DWM's to fill in the missing two octaves and an isobaric sub in one corner.

Magic. Now it's the best room I've ever heard. Smooth and enticing. I've actually heard cymbals from the corner of the room, far outside the angle of the speakers.

Like @ghdprentice and @stringreen  said, try everything.

Do you use ROON? If so, then look at this company. Genius level stuff that is measured and setup remotely.

Digital Room Calibration Services, Convolvers, Headphone Filtersets (accuratesound.ca)

Send me a DM if you want to get more details, though the principle at that company, Mitch, will give you a great explanation.

I had a small room and crappy sound, so I looked into this book, by Mitch, and then decided to get him to do all the work for me.

Amazon.com: Accurate Sound Reproduction Using DSP eBook : Barnett, Mitch: Kindle Store

I no longer use the tech that I am suggesting here because I adjusted my room's contents along with some ugly acoustic panels from GTT (sp?).



I like long wall not short wall.  Stay away from those sidewalls. They really do reflect the sound.  It can almost be like a third speaker.

+1 on getting the sliders. 

Many references to Jim Smith's Get Better Sound on other threads here. 

Book, DVD


Jim also does direct consultations. 

Highly recommended. 

I really love the red room light and curious to know how you achieve it. Because it’s getting closer to Christmas maybe you should enhance the room with some green lighting too . My thought is to introduce a few pieces of furniture into the room to get rid of the open space and you have a lot of acoustical stuff going on in the room especially in the rear wall. I think furniture spread throughout the room is the best diffuser in the world.  I've always wondered what a few diffuser panels on the wall really really do, most of the time it's a waste of effort unless you can find something looks really nice on your wall. I think all the acoustical stuff may be deadening the sound.  My basement wall offers lovely texture from a plaster cement finish and that's an amazing place for the system but the ceiling height is 7 feet, the materials that were used the ceiling tiles compressed board fiber material have done really well for me.  Maybe remove some of the acoustical stuff.

Maybe the rear speakers should be closer to the back wall with a gap of three or four feet.

Do you do any DSP curves to measure the sound in your room? Before and after. I don't know too many people who actually do this because those dsp software packages are incredibly difficult to work with. The interfaces are horrifying and then you have lots of signal errors when you're doing test. Wish someone would do better job with this DSP stuff

Great thread!  Good resources, suggestions. I saw an intriguing suggestion a couple years ago about setting your system up diagonally in the room. So instead of facing a wall from the listening position, you face a corner. I can’t try this for technical, architectural, and marital reasons. Wondering if anyone on this thread has?

I am using an Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core room correction device that covers the entire sound spectrum....but I only use it for signals at 200 Hz or lower. I also use one SVS 4000 sub for frequencies below 45 Hz. The main speakers are Harbeth 40.1's arranged about 9 feet apart(4 feet from the backwall) into a very large room. The resultant sound is truly spectacular

That's a well set up room and looks well planned.

Did a ton of research myself on equipment placement (see my systems page).

Several generalities apply:

Each room and speaker set up is unique and no specific set up is best in all cases.

Most speakers sound better away from room boundaries.

Source and amp equipment is best placed along side walls or on floor behind speakers.

Listening position in the room is possibly the most important factor and is dictated by bass room modes.  The smoothest and best bass determines the listening spot.

Adjust initial speaker position partly based on listening position and partly on bass smoothness.

Use toe and tilt and fine movements of the speaker to "lock in" imaging. 

The smaller the room the greater the challenges.

One of the best systems I've ever heard was at Jeff Catalano's flat (High Water Sound).  In that system, the speakers were positioned along the short wall in a room approximately 50 feet long by 16 feet wide by 14 feet high.  The speakers were approximately 8 feet center to center apart, about 15 feet from front wall and about 12 or more feet to the listening position.  I estimate that the listening spot was 35% or so into the room from the back wall.  Of note, other than about 20,000 lp's (not kidding) flanking both side walls floor to ceiling, and 2-foot deep beams along the length of said ceiling, no room treatments were in use. 

Of note Jeff's rooms are typically the best or among the best at shows worldwide, so the guy knows what he's doing.  Study some photos from his set ups (google) for tips/hints.

The Jim Smith book also a great resource.