Optimal distance between loudspeakers

Paul McGowan writes .....

Before we get started on today’s subject I wanted to offer an apology as well as an explanation about the hats. I love these hats and wear mine proudly. I’ve been approached three times now, asking just what an audiophile is and the conversation is always a pleasure. Those of you that have sent me pictures wearing your audiophile hats have warmed my heart. Thank you. It’s a level of awareness we want to support. That said, I want to apologize for messing up.

In my original post to you about the hats, I told you they were hand-crafted by Legacy Athletics of Hannover, Pa. American made. That’s not entirely true. The hats themselves, known in the industry as “shells”, come from one of three approved manufacturing plants around the world: China, the Philippines, or Taiwan. The “decorating” embroidering work, bill forming, inspection, and packaging happen in the United States. My bad. Please accept my apologies for the misinformation. If you want a refund or wish to cancel your order just email me. Again, I am truly sorry.

It’s an unfortunate truth that few of us have the freedom to place our speakers where they sound best. Instead, we pull them out from the front wall as much as our living situations afford and call it good.

We need to know three basic things: how far out into the room is best, how close together they should be, and how much toe in.

With respect to the first question, we’d like to use the rule of thirds. This simple formula places the speaker pair 1/3 the way into the room as measured from the front wall (the wall behind the loudspeakers). The listener is then placed 1/3 the way into the room as measured from the rear wall (behind the listener).

The second question is how far apart should the pair be? Here, we want to form an equilateral triangle: the left and right speakers at two vertices, the listener at the remaining vertex.

Toe in (pointing the speakers at the listener) is really dependent on the type of speaker you have and its off-axis response. My advice is always start with the speakers facing straight ahead and toe in to solidify the center image without sacrificing stage width and depth.

These are great starting points for system setup. Depth of soundstage is controlled by front to back movement of the speakers (away from the front wall increases depth). Tonal balance changes with distance between the left and right channels (closer together increases midbass coupling giving a fuller sound).

Want more information? Check out this video I put together for you.