Yes, but what is behind the listener can be even more of a factor than the distance. The distance will often determine what should be there.
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It seems that the consensus is the listening chair should be a minimum of 4 feet from the back wall.
Since your topic is imaging and soundstaging, you might also try moving your speakers around a bit. There's an Allison rule that seems to work quite well for speaker placement. That is: (All measurements from the front center woofer driver)
Middle distance squared = shortest distance multiplied by longest distance.
Implementing this rule along with toed-in speakers so the tweeters and midranges are pointed directly at the listener's ear could be an excellent starting point toward obtaining pinpoint imaging and 3-d soundstaging. And perhaps even the ending point.
Cosmic_void, I believe the Allison rule is a good general-type rule. The strategy of this rule apparently is to have the distances as different as possible.
Therefore, averaging between the two woofer would probably work as well as any other alternative. Although, I'd probably try applying the rule first with the lowest woofer.
I can only say that my initial speaker placement worked quite well and then I stumbled across the Allison rule in an old issue of TAS. My measurements turned out to be near exact. I've since mentioned this rule to one other person and now he claims he's not able to go to sleep at any decent hour as this application has transformed his entire musical presentation into another league. And he has Maggie 3.6 speakers.
The way *I* understand it:-
Yes, seating distance from wall behind the listener does play a role in imaging & soundstaging.
The room will, usually, develop resonances between the centers of the wall behind the speakers & the wall behind the listener - i.e. along the center long dimension of the room. If left uncontrolled this will *likely* ruin your soundstaging & imaging. This could be fixed with some absorption directly behind the listener such as tube traps (what I got) or a low (3')LP shelf or book case. I found that it helps the most in the "warmth" region, which I understand to be the 100Hz - 300Hz region.
From my personal experience I found sitting 4' or more away from the back wall took out the back wall effects for me. My calc. show that 4' is 3.53mS if sound travels 1130ft/sec. So, it *appears* that the sound hitting the back wall, approx. seated ear level & higher, is not direct sound from the speakers & so it is weak signal. So, if one sits 4' away then the reflected signals off the back wall get attenuated enough by the time they reach your ear that they have very little effect.
I've seen some people use diffusion on the listener back wall off to the sides of the listener so as to improve hall/studio ambience. I personally haven't tried that as yet.
IMHO. FWIW. YMMV.
Read this ... it describes how the brain processes reflected sounds, and how the imaging of speakers depends on the delay of the reflected signal path (relative to the direct path) being outside a range.
With this in mind it should be OK to have the rear wall immediately behind you (i.e. right next to your head), or several feet behind you.
My personal experience is that several feet behind is better, not because of time delays and the like, but just because sitting close to the rear wall reinforces the bass too much, making the music sound congested.
stehno,,, my woofer is about 8" from the floor to center of the driver.. in order for this equation to work i would have to pull it very far from the back wall and move it close to the side wall.. while i have not given this a try,it is not very practical for my room... any suggestions,,, thanks steve.