How far apart do you position your speakers ?

Of course it depends, but in many cases I discovered that 1.5-2.0 heights of a speaker work best for floorstanding speakers in smaller and medium-sized rooms.
What is your experience?
this is all dependent on room size and listening chair position from speakers.
Traditionally many"so called experts" recommend that your speakers and your listening position should form an equilateral triangle. Thais means that the distance of each speaker related to your seating position should be of equal distance, and that the distance between the two speakers should also be that same distance, of course this is just a basic guideline, albeit a good one to start from. Remember that there are certain speakers that are designed for specific positioning such as nearfield listening, or corner placement etc. With these types of speakers the traditional guidelines will not usually apply.
Are you saying the distance between the speakers should be 1.5-2 times the height of the speaker? That's just plain weird. I have never heard of that, and it doesn't make sense. Every speaker has a different dispersion pattern and sensitivities to side wall proximity etc, so how could the height influence the diatance between the speakers?
Speaker and room dependent. Gives the speaker and the room dimensions and we might be able to offer some guidance, though often, that will just be a starting point.
I thought the rule was the speaker width apart should be as wide as the distance from your seating position to the speakers? So if I'm sitting 12 ft away from my speakers they should be 12 ft wide as best as you can. As for distance of the rears of the speakers from the wall I just follow the instruction manual as best as I can. Right now from the rear of the speakers it is about 8" from the wall.
Triangulation is a rule of thumb, and usually much better than what some might do without any guidance. But getting it right for any particular speaker is dependent on the speaker, the room dimension, room treatment, and sitting position. But as a starting point the equalateral triangle is a good start, but that sound incredibly close to the rear wall and some [?] most [?], certainly not all, speakers will have a hard time with stereo center fill if they are 12 feet apart, more than 7 with mine and the image density is reduced, though it does make for a "wide" soundstage. The rule of thumb works, but rarely ideal - it is a starting point.
1.5 to 2 times the height of the speaker is probably just a coincidence because many floorstanders are in the 3 - 4' height range, which would put them 4.5 - 8' apart. That's about the distance of an EQ triangle in many small to medium rooms.
Get a pair of Maggies or Logans in there and it doesn't work.
I usually move them into the room to where the bass and midrange sounds good, then move them apart until the center image begins to get thin and diffuse, then move closer. This is usually pretty close to an EQ triangle but a little wider apart.
Jim Smith (of "Get Better Sound") says that the distance apart should be 83% of the distance to your ears. While I don't embrace all of his suggestions, this rule has worked well for me in the past. In fact, in placing my speakers via trail and error BEFORE I read Jim's book, I ended up with an 84% differential.

Is the 83% from inside edge to inside edge or outside to outside?

Also, I don't know about you but I don't have a fixed listening point; I move it depending on the recording, volume, mood etc.
Hi Rcrerar & Pubul57

Thanks for the education. It is appreciated and it should help me going forward.
I'm also curious about where the 83% measurement is being taken from. Is it the inside edge, outside edge or driver center?
Hi guys, been out of town and just picked up on this thread. In the past 3 to 4 months, I have done extensive testing of my speaker placement. Inititally, I used the Cardas Golden triangle system. It worked well, I use an mtm and always use the inside edge of the tweeter as my measureing point. My speakers are 111 inches apart and 111 inches from tweeter to ear. Full tow pointed to the outside of my head or to the ear. I built my speakers, they are very flat with excellent time end very good phase alignment, so they don't mind the tow.
I use the same woofer as the totem forest so I tried the totem idea of facing forward. My center stage collapsed, I started slowly and continually moving the speakers inward and at around 7 ft apart, I Ended up with a very slight tow on the speakers and Staging was fully restored with just the slightest bit more laid back sound in the upper mid to upper end, a slight loss of detail, but still a nice sound stage.
Oddly enough I hadn't heard this 83% idea, but had moved the speakers out until the tweeters were 99 inches apart and 120 inches to my ear...(82.5%) here, I had the tightest center, very good depth and heigth, pinpoint imaging was not quite as good as the Cardas method, but overall a nice effect.
I went back to the Cardas
I measure speaker distances from the center of the woofer.
Where you measure from depends on your speaker. On a 2 way it is normally on the top center of the woofer below the tweeter, on a 3 way it would be the center of the midrange. I have an MTM with a staggered tweeter.
Think about what it takes to time align your speakers and think of the center of that alignment. This will give you consistant results.

How about flat panel speakers?
Jim Smith arrives at the distance between speakers by measuring from the center of the tweeters. The distance to the listening position is from the tweeter to your ear. I'm sure there are situations where the 83% formula does not result in the best sound--every room and speaker are different--but I have found that this tends to work best when I've tried it not only on my own system but with friends as well. Another interesting "tip" in Jim's book is that you should sit fairly close to the rear wall--say between one and two feet. I did not sit anywhere near the rear wall in my old listening room but since moving and setting up in a different space I am now 16" from the wall behind me and am getting very good sound.
If you sit that close to the rear wall, I suggest you have some absorptive room treatment directly behind the listening position.
Sitting close to the rear wall can help bass response at times. There is no getting around that the reflection from the rear wall arrives very close to the direct sound of the speakers. Absorption will reduce the amplitude of the reflection but arrival time is still the same. In my case, this decreased resolution significantly by compromising impulse response and comb filtering. Diffusors may spread out the reflection arrival time but sitting very close to diffusors can be problematic too.
I have used the Cardas method as a starting point and incorporated some of Jim Smiths ideas. Under the Cardas method I felt I was a little too close to the speakers so I moved my listening position back to about 9 feet and increased the width between the speakers to be in line with the 83% to 84% guideline. I also have maintained a good distance from the rear wall. I think 2 feet is way to close and there will be some uneven bass build up at certain frequencies. I am 5 1/2 feet from the rear wall with the speakers toed in to pass on the outside of my ears.
Hi Mofimadness,
Ear height, center of panel.

Thank you sir!
The 83% rule doesn't seem workable in my room. Is there any theory behind it? It seems a rather arbitrary number.

I have no symmetry in my room, so I try to keep both speakers and my listening position at least 4 feet from any boundaries, since I can't even up any early reflections by symmetrical placement.

I sit about 10-15 cm further from my speakers than they are apart (about 2.56 m). I find I prefer my Vandie Quatros to be at least 8 feet apart for soundstage width. I like to be close enough for an immersive soundstage, but not so close that it becomes "heady".
As I stated above, I hadn't heard of it either, I have done many set ups recently and did the math after reading this thread. You will also read that I went back to the Cardas Method. I really recommend that you start there. Many have talked about the triangle, but there are several room measurements that help your speakers placed correctly realative to room boundries. I figured every one of them before placement, my finished results are very good. This doesn't work for everyone, but it has a very high success ratio. I have attached the web page below.
Good luck, Tim
My room is too irregular in shape for any geometric speaker placement method to work, though the irregularity may also work to break up modes.
Same / similar situation to Dave.
9 sided, completely asymmetric listening space. My panels are on 1 of the short walls, spaced 30->35" from the 'front' wall and about 6.5' apart, inside edge to inside edge. RH speaker has no wall near the side while the LH speaker loads into a corner....about 3' away. The sub is located near this corner, too. The ceiling is 'vaulted and about 11' high at the peak. 2 walls are at 45 degrees. The short wall opposite the speakers....maybe 24' away has a small tapestry hanging on it to diffuse and eliminate a slap-back echo I had when doing the initial installation about 24 years ago. OUCH!

A real mess, and no 'method' I can think of but trial and error works.

But accommodations have been made. I listen to the 'wrong' side of my panels and with the tweeters 'in' everything has gell'd. Bass is pretty uniform and the only problem is in the computer room....which is real boomy.
Hard surfaces reflect, corners or any angles amplify. The cardas measurements are really there with these things in mind. If you are 30 to 40 inches from any wall you are normally ok, less than that and you have a risk of bass being boosted or if firing forward, reflections. With a tow, this reflections are normally not a problem.
Corners on subs are normally not a problem if crossed very low... 40 or 50hz, you can normally tweek things with phase, volume and frequency controls, when you get near 60, this is an natural room amplifying frequency and above that is much harder to deal with.
I hope all of this helps, Tim
The 83% isn't a rule.

It's simply an observation made after having done hundreds of successful installations around North America and at shows.

If x is the distance from your ear to the tweeter plane (our source of directionality), then y (in this case 83%) is the distance from the center of one tweeter to the other.

When speakers are too far apart, they can begin to sound too thin (although they image great). But do great-imaging-but-slightly-thin sounding systems involve you in the music - as opposed to the the sound?

Too close together, and the imaging suffers excessively.

The last system I voiced ended up at 88%. The distance is ALWAYS arrived at by listening, and sometimes we measure just to see how it turned out. But I've never been personally engaged by music that's harmonically threadbare, as opposed to rich.

Toe-in also effects that separation number, IMO, as well the dispersion of the loudspeaker, not to mention first reflection issues.

I often suggest a starting point somewhere between 80-85 (and up to 90) percent. But always, only after finding the best listening seat location ("best" meaning smoothest bass).

An equilateral triangle (y = 100%) or greater can yield uncanny imaging. But, IMO, a boring musical experience.
If you know what your speakers 30 Degree & 60 Degree off axis response curves look like, you will have a good idea if tow in is good for your speaker. Many, Many speakers have a high end rise on axis and at 30 degrees of axis are very smooth, these speakers typically will image on or off axis, but are much more musical when facing forward (off axis). Some speakers are capable of smooth on or off axis response and sound good either way. A speaker faced directly toward you (towed in) would not sound smooth and natural if had any frequency dips or peaks. There are other factors, but this is a major factor of tonal balance and imaging when listening on axis of off axis.
If you move speakers away from walls, dampen surfaces, use tube traps or something in corners for standing wave issues, and have silent heating and/or cooling and no furniture, you can't live in my house. Period. I think the sound of a room can add life and character to systems, and other than things rattling from a sub (I hate that), I think people get too crazy about this stuff. All speakers image differently and the 83% thing seems just silly, unless you're utterly clueless about listening or you review speakers for a living. Good gear can be enjoyed AND fit in a living space without sacrificing esthetics or removing the fireplace with a jackhammer. Put the speakers in front of you and toe 'em or not until they seem to sound good on most stuff, get a beer, relax, and enjoy. This method works 100% of the time.
Thanks, Hornguys, for the explanation. I guess my speakers are harmonically convergent at my current 95% position.
Wolf - Speakers will play music and can be enjoyed no matter how you set them up. If you pay attention to the details, they play much better.
Sebrof...I agree, but feel you may have missed my point. As long as the imageing and response of speakers meet my personal (and somewhat critical) tastes, I'm fine with some room sound. Many "audiogoners" might tweek the bejesus out of a room to obtain optimum response, but after many (over 40) years as a musician and sound tech I've come to prefer less padding and more ambience, and a specific personal living space esthetic. If the speakers sound less than ideal in some area, and it bothers my critical ear, I move 'em around. I had a neighbor who was a well regarded gear reviewer (Lars...he died a few years ago) who had a severely tweeked listening room...and he LOVED the sound of my non-tweeked room...go figure.
I find this en interesting thread. I will try out this 83% "rule" and see how it works for me. Also I have taken a look at the Cardas way of speaker placement. I do think it is a good way to place you speakers however in a normal living room it is hard to implement. I have also found out if I move my speakers to far from the back wall the sound will deteriorate. Maybe that has something to do that my speakers can and need a little bass boost I think. Also my speakers are bass reflex speakers with the port in the front.

Using the 83% "rule" my speakers would be about 249cm apart form tweeter to tweeter. That would me they are about 80cm from the side wall. The Cardas setup would place my speakers about 113cm from the side wall.

Anyway I'll play around with speaker placement.
Great tread , lot's of good advice for a change .

After much trial and area we ended up with the listening position just back of the triangle , that would likely put the speakers at about 83% apart .
My speakers are 12 feet apart. Because of aesthetics, 12 feet apart could not be changed. So, I just adjusted the seating distance until I found the right spot.
Since my speakers are light-ish skinny towers (Silverline Preludes), I move 'em out away from the back walls into a closer sweet spot when I feel like it, leaving my beloved old REL sub alone. I have the spot marked for returning them to "sweet spot #1". Does anybody else do this? Am I a bad person? Should I stop calling myself an audiophile?
Hi Wolf,
I used to do just that. I don't have a dedicated listening room and moved them back and forth. I finally made everyone go to the family room for tv/home theater and made my formal living room a listening room. I now just leave them out. No more tape on the carpet. They stay and so far for about 10 months now my wife has let me get away with it.
So...I AM a bad person! Damn...I forgot to mention that the speakers sound great without pulling 'em out into the room. I just do it to remind myself of how wise and attentive I am, and that I can be as geeky as the next freak.
this thread is so refreshing. I actually learned a lot.
You have a low threshold of refreshment.
Most speakers are set too far apart. Try moving them closer together, say 4 feet apart, as a starting point.
Hi Geoffkait,
Why do you say "Most speakers are too far apart"... it is all based on your room size, and listening position. Where does 4 feet apart come from? Just curious
Speakers 4 feet apart sounds funny and evokes pornographic imagery.
The reason I say that most speakers are too far apart is because many speakers sound better close together, relatively speaking. 4 feet is suggested as a starting point simply because some speakers will sound best at this distance, even though 4 feet might seem ridiculous.

The speaker set up track on the XLO Test CD should be used to establish the precise speaker locations rather than employing the relatively unreliable "move a little, listen a little" technique.
For those with the non symmetrical shaped rooms or just as an experiment you might want to try using the Master Set speaker placement. There's a review of it here on Agon
Or just search the web there's plenty of information on it.

My set up is in a alcove that's 13.5' wide X 5' deep but opens up to a room 28.5" wide. The right side is 20' from the listening position with the left side opening to a stair case that ascends to the upper level. I tried the Cardas method several time and could never figure out the math for it.

After reading about the Master Set I gave it a shot one rainy weekend and after two days of working with it by myself was surprised with how well it works. And trust me you will get tired of the song you use, haven't listened to "The Balled of a Runaway Horse" in months.

I'm not saying it will work for you but its just a option.

Good Luck
I started with finding the best seating position in my room. I did this by ear, listening for the best balance for a smooth and articulate bass response. Then I placed my speakers front to back for staging/depth while maintaining good bass balance , then distance from the sidewalls, listening to female vocals in mono for solidity and focus of the central image, and finally toe-in for a final check on tonal balance and detail. They ended up about 85% apart relative to my ear-to-tweeter distance and toed in to meat at a point about 4-5 feet behind my ears.

When this was complete, I then checked speaker height/rake angle and toe-in angle with a laser pointer aimed at marks on the back wall. Finally, I checked the distances from the tweeters to side walls and tweeters to a center point on the back with the laser measuring device. Everything is to the nearest 1/16th of an inch. Sounds pretty anal, but this last step with the laser pointer snapped imaging and focus in place and the speakers disappeared to a much better extent than before.

This procedure is basically described in Jim Smith's book, "Get Better Sound." I had tried various test tracks, listening tones, etc, but always became frustrated with a lack of progress. I did the set up listening to real music and following Jim's advice. I found it worked best for me.
Depends on room and how far away you sit.
Doesn't the nearly infinite disparity between various speaker's responses in rooms, including tweeter off and on axis dispersion and woofer loading sort of obviate set-up formulae? And...has anybody CHANGED the speaker position months after thinking one has dialed it in due to some personal tonal preference change of heart? And is "formulae" really a word? As an aside...yesterday I draped a blanket (tastefully of course) over the back of the leather couch I listen from (providing some high freq. absorption on either side of my head), and it dramatically cleaned things up.
Hi Wolf, To answer the question:
"Doesn't the nearly infinite disparity between various speaker's responses in rooms, including tweeter off and on axis dispersion and woofer loading sort of obviate set-up formulae?"
I don't thinks so. At least as far as how your speaker loads or couples to your room. The idea is to be far enough from walls to avoid reflection and be close enough for proper bass reinforcement. Then to be in the right seating position to get the most from your soundstage.
I don't think that Whether you are 83%, 95% or triangle is any more important than understanding standing wave, reflections and reinforcement, this is where some type of formula could come into play. On or off axis listening is a factor of what your final frequency curve is in the room. As, I'm sure that you know, as you take your speakers off axis, you change the top end response heading down to your mid range. If your room caused some sort of peak, much of this could be alieviated when you go off axis, or if you have a very flat response, most of us would like to listen on axis.
Either way, the boundries, could be summed up mathmatically.