The single greatest influence on the sound of a system is the room. Sound waves reflected from the boundaries of the room can completely change the characteristics of a speaker. You can, of course, change the acoustic character of the room by treating it with special materials, but this is not always practical in a lounge room.
If you can't change the acoustic character of the room, you may be able to change the placement and arrangement of the speakers in relation to the room boundaries and the listener's position.
Very few speakers are designed to sit close to a wall, so you should try to place speakers in from the front (or back), and side boundary walls. Moving the speakers in from boundary walls has the greatest effect on bass output of the speaker but will also effect, to some degree, the whole audio spectrum. The result should be tighter, cleaner bass and more clarity in the higher registers of music.
The general rule of thumb for speaker placement is to arrange the speakers and the listening position into an equilateral triangle, with the listener at the apex of the triangle. Most speakers benefit if they are toed in to the face the listener. It's also best to have the high frequency driver at ear level. Be prepared to move and adjust the speakers within the triangle because very small movements can have dramatic effects. Listen to music with a solo vocalist and a few other instruments and adjust the speaker positions to get the vocals coming from the centre and slightly forward of the other players. The ideal end result is to have the speakers disappear, leaving just a sound stage of music.
You could apply the same basic principles to the front speakers of a multi-channel A/V setup; however many more factors need to be addressed with A/V systems. We will address these factors in future tips.
- Terry Anderson