Tag Archives: soundstage

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Good general tips for loudspeaker placement, although I don’t necessarily agree with all Paul is saying on the subject. Much has to do with size and shape of room and type of speakers.

Optimal distance between loudspeakers

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).

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

While I love the speakers I’m listening to music through, they perhaps aren’t the best imaging speakers I’ve owned, with regard to instrument specificity. However, everything is a trade off, to some degree and this isn’t the most important trait of a stereo system to me, as we don’t hear live music that way. I like it, but it’s not real.

However, my music system does  throw a great big soundstage with great center fill and it’s immersive, a word two different millennials used when they heard the system last weekend.

It is, indeed.

Improving center fill

Stereo is more than just two channel audio. It’s a least three channels—perhaps more—depending on how philosophical you are. For the sake of clarity let’s agree on three channels: left, right, and center.

Of course, the center channel is an illusion created by equal volume on the left and right. Close your eyes when a performer is perfectly centered, and it’s impossible to tell there isn’t a physical box generating that center image.

One of the first tasks when setting up a stereo system is to position the left and right channels to solidify the phantom center channel. Once you’ve managed a solid image, here’s a little trick you can use to make it more palpable.

Place a photograph, painting, artwork of some type on the front wall (behind the loudspeaker pair). Make sure it is perfectly centered between the two speakers and at the correct height for a standing person.

This might sound crazy. But it works to enhance the illusion.

And the stereo image is, after all, an illusion.