Listening position/speaker position

I had a friend visit this weekend for some extended listening. I generally trust some of his suggestions, and his hearing may be better than mine, but I am 61 and don't have any hearing "issues." Also, in the interest of full disclosure, my friend and I are competitive with each other so there is always the possibility that he is busting on me.


I am very happy with my setup and my sound----the room is quiet, the system is quiet and I have low distortion, plenty of punch and volume, without sacrificing any detail. I have Revel 228be speakers, a McIntosh MC312 amp, C53 preamp, Pass XP-17 phono stage, Technics SL1200G TT run with an AT-art9xi MCC.


Anyway, my listening room is approximately 26' x 15' with less than 8-foot ceilings, plaster walls, wall to wall carpeting, lots of cushy furniture, and it's perfectly rectangular. I have my Revel 228's positioned on the narrow end of the room, a couple feet from the side wall and about 2-1/2 feet from the back wall. The listening position is about 10 feet from the speakers, or just shy of the midpoint of the room. My critical friend was suggesting that by having the speakers at one end of the room, I am asking them to "fill" a 26-foot room, despite the listening position being near midpoint depth. He suggested that I put the speakers in the middle of the room and move the listening position against the wall, so that the speakers are only tasked with filling half of the room. He also implied that I was under-powered with the MC312 which doesn't sound valid..


Obviously, the only way to know if I would get sound improvement would be to swap sides in the room, but his suggestion sounded so odd that I thought some of you with more experience might have an opinion.


He suggested that I put the speakers in the middle of the room and move the listening position against the wall...

Moving the listening position against the wall puts you in a room bass mode. Putting the speakers in the middle of the room places them in a bass mode as well. So, that advice is contrary to what most would recommend.

Moving the speakers into the room might be very helpful, though, provided the plane of the drivers is at a distance from the front wall that’s ⅓, ⅕, 1/7 or 1/9 the length of the room. Same applies to positioning the listening chair away from the back wall.

I suggest buying Jim Smith’s book, "Get Better Sound", and following his advice. It may be the best $40 you ever spend on audio.

That does not sound remotely like a good idea. I’m guessing he’s trying to see if he can get you to move everything. 

You loose normal bass reinforcement and add rear reflection problem.


If I were to comment on your setup. I think your triangle is too big. Typically an ~8’ triangle would be best.. depending on the speakers. I would move the speakers closer together and listening position closer. This is likely to sound fuller and more dynamic.

it’s just my instinct that you won’t get any improvement by moving the speakers to the middle. However 2,5’ from the wall is not much. With your room dimensions I would keep them 3.5 feet from the side and 4.5 feet from the back walls. This is from my experimenting with placement, and again, instinct. There are real experts here, I am not.

@tvad I agree with your Jim Smith recommendation. In general, using his 83% formula (width vs distance to the speaker) has worked incredibly well for me, and I feel a fantastic starting point.


Just to be clear the front wall is the one you are facing, the rear wall is the one behind your head.  If you are listening  11 feet from the front baffles then your speakers should be about 9 feet apart measured from the center of the front baffles. Try your speakers 5 feet 2 inches out from the front wall measured from the center of the front baffles, then move you listening position 11 feet back from that. This will "rough you in" then tweak as needed. Be patient, take you time and the results will be rewarding. But your friend is off base from his suggestion. Good luck.

Thanks @tvad for the book recommendation - I just ordered a copy of "Get Better Sound".

I owned the 228be and McIntosh 462 (picture under my profile). The only thing that matters for power is listening distance and sensitivity, Not room size. At 10’ you can’t be using more than 5-10 watts at ear bleeding volume. 

the 228be lacks bass extension and need some room gain without subs. If you move them out from the wall you will lose some bass unless you move them 8’ into the room. That is just based on 1/4th wave cancelation. 

I also have a large room. 26’x30’ with openings that effectively extend the room to 40’ in length. I have tried the speakers 8’ into the room with my seats 10’ back. This still left 12’ behind me. This was a very good sounding setup but does not work for my video and I moved them back to 4’-ish feet off the wall which works well with subs highpassed but would cancel 60hz if not high passed…. 

anyway, moving speakers is free. You will lose bass between 3’ and 7’ off the wall. Once you are over 8’ the bass will come back and the soundstage will be better (deeper). At that point it is just a matter of balancing room modes and nulls. 

I think it was Audio Physics that recommended a similar loudspeaker/listener setup.  Have the loudspeakers along the long axis of the room spaced widely apart with the listener within a foot of the rear wall.  It was offered to maximize image width and depth.  The trade-offs of not having loudspeaker bass reinforcement and sitting in a high pressure zone roughly balance out.  There is no problem with rear reflection because of the short distance involved.

There are no real absolutes regarding loudspeaker/listener/room setup, only guidelines.

It doesn’t matter where in the room the speakers are, they will always have to pressurize the room. That’s just the silliest thing I’ve heard today. And that bar is pretty high because I’ve been following current events in our world.

Agreed with what others have said. I have read about a setup that divides room into 3 X 1/3. Place the speakers at the 1/3 mark (roughly 8 feet) from front wall and you sit on the 1/3 mark from the back wall. For the 15 feet width room, you might be able to place the speakers 4 feet from side wall and still have 7 feet, that can generate a great center image with amazing depth.

Experiment with your speaker position. I feel you will probably end up 6 feet from front wall. Move the chair also closer (towards the speakers), if you do that, and experiment that as well. Good luck and hope you end up with some amazing sound stage.

I’d say your friend is a fool.  You never want your listening chair up against a wall — major no no.  My room and speakers measure very similarly to yours, and from my experience I’d say your speakers are too far apart and too close to the back wall.  The fronts of my speakers are roughly 6’ from the back wall and 6’ apart and are toed in so they’re aimed just outside my shoulders at the listening position that’s about 10’ from the speakers (I’m not home or I’d give more specific measurements).  I’d suggest trying similar positioning and see what you think.  At these positions I achieve a great frequency balance and the speakers disappear and throw off a deep 3D soundstage.  Hey, it’s free and FWIW.

The Cardas speaker calculator would have your speakers about 6.5 ft from the front wall and 4ft from the side wall.

Not for a living space. If you have the dedicated room, possibly noticeable sonic upgrade.

Speaker Placement | Cardas Audio

Scroll to the bottom of the page 

Your Revel is a bass flaccid speaker. Get a pair of subwoofers.

This is what your room looks like. Position yourself, subs and speakers accordingly.


Well, It's your room and it's your audio system.  You set-up your system to please you and not your friend        

Without getting in to details, I will say your friend gave you a terrible advise. My room is the same width and length as yours. My speaker placement is very much the same as yours. Placing your listening chair against the back wall is a very bad idea! I cannot comment on your amp being under powered or not. If you want to play with the speaker placement, may be pull your speakers another 6-12" from the front wall. Trust your ears.

I recently repositioned my Cornwall IV's from toed in and only a foot or so out from the front wall  to straight out in roughly the same position. When I tried this 2 years ago and a few times since then. The straight out (and I've always tilted them up 10° since day one never sounded right.

Recently, I tried it again. I was amazed. The phantom center never got out of focus and the soundstage widened as did imaging. Room treatment was the major factor as was how some of my Amplification has also changed.

In my living room, I can bring out small Speakers on stands, 3ft.- 4ft. max. away from the front wall (along with skinny towers) but the big bulky Cornwall's have to go in the corners by design. 

Well, It's your room and it's your audio system.  You set-up your system to please you and not your friend      

Yes, and don't forget to face the speaker drivers directly into the floor.

After all, "it's your room."

The only recent speaker position change I've made is from reading about the Wilson Loke sub (they apparently didn't know that Schiit audio had copped the Loki name first...although a different spelling of the same Norse rascal), where they recommend the sub's cone aligns with the main speakers. Seems to work with  as one of the subs is between the speakers, and the other is to the right generally pulled away from the wall. Everyone should do exactly as I do as I'm real smart and have impeccable taste.

Unless your speakers are 10 feet apart, which would not be recomended, why are you sitting 10 feet away? I would think your seated position would/should be equidistant to the distance between each speaker, the equilateral triangle. You are listening too far away in my opinion. Speakers generally are placed about 7 to 7.5 feet apart. Any further than that and the stereo effect is diminished and it’s hard to achieve a good central image. I guess there may be some exceptions to this, but this is what I’ve done my entire time in hifi. There are also two general rules of thought concerning the toe-in. Some suggest the left/right channels converge just in front of your head/ears, some say just behind your head/ears. 



With all due respect, your friend is an idiot, or at the very least knows nothing about room acoustics. You are doing it right, I would just move the speakers a little further from the front wall, like close to 5ft. As far as the listening position, the space between the tweeters should be a little more than 80% of the distance between them and you. It does sound like you need some diffusion with all the carpeting and cushy furniture you describe. Try it at first reflection points first. It will brighten up the sound considerably.




I also had a friend who is in the stereo retail business come by to listen to my system [Maggie 3.7's, Hegel int.]  After 10 minutes he said 'try this for a while'' and moved the speakers another 20 inches apart.  I left them there for a week and then moved them back.  Experimentation allows learning is what I found.

My room is nearly the same exact size as yours. I am limited regarding speaker and listening position but I’ve played around with these and my speakers are about 3’ from the wall, 7’ apart with the listening position about 7’ from the speakers (an equilateral triangle). I have room treatments that tamed bass. The sound it very good and still gives me goose bumps from time to time. 

Not to hijack Willht thread, but I need some advice as well. I see all of the recommendations, and they are for box speakers. My question is how do these change (if at all) for open baffle speakers? I am finishing a listening room that will be 20L x 15W x 8H, and will mostly be using Clayton Shaw Caladan speakers.....not too far off of the Cardas recommendations, but this is as close as I can get.

++ for recommendations of Jim Smith's book; "Get Better Sound"  even better yet call Jim!  For a modest amount he will spend 30min with you.  You send him dimensions, pictures and a list of your equipment and he'll offer up his expertise on optimization.

Straight talk with Jim

Either your friend is none too bright when it comes to speaker placement or he is pulling your leg. Take your pick. Good advice above - I don't need to repeat.

However, your comment about having lots of cushy furniture is something I can identify with. I have a room a little bigger than yours and I have lots of furniture in the room including book cases, CD cases, chair, couch, desk, and other stuff but no room treatment. The room is somewhat live and it sounds really good. Punchy and dynamic with excellent imaging.

I realize that this doesn't exactly relate to your question but one of the best tools/skills you can use is the slap echo test. Clap your hands and listen for the echo and decay. Do this around your room and then try it in different rooms in your house. As you gain experience you can use this test to get a good feel for how a room sounds. If the sound you hear is a clearly defined echo with a fairly long decay then that indicates you will have a problem. If the sound is dead without hardly any decay, your system will sound lifeless. You want to hear a smooth decay without a clear slap echo. Once you get proficient with this go over to your buddy's house, clap your hands while moving about the room, and then tell him to move his listening chair 2" one direction, his rug 6" in another direction, and change the toe in by 8 degrees. 😁

My point here is that if you start moving stuff around or adding or deleting furniture there is a simple way to get a sense of what is going on with the room. It won't tell you where the bass nodes are but it's a good tool for managing absorption and diffusion. When you hear a different system it can also provide good information about why it sounds the way it does.

If you go on the Cardas site you can plug in your room width and it will give you the exact position from the front wall and the side wall to put your speakers I did that and the sound stage just opened up beautifully.

Take a look at the AM Acoustics room mode simulator for help in finding room modes and keeping your speakers and listening location out of the lowest modes.


Doing it all wrong.  I have found it best to start with a few glencairn and a bottle of nice scotch or bourbon, your pick.  Have a friend over and do major moves before breaking the neck of the bottle.  From there, you can toe in, toe out and move front to back in inches.  You would be amazed at what you discover.  I have spent hours doing this with some intense discussion as to who has best found the sweet spot.  You can really mess with it by wedging the front or back of the speaker.  If a decision is still pending, open another bottle. 

@vthokie83   I suggest you try the speaker front baffles about 6.5 feet from the front wall. If you can add some diffusion on that front  wall it will deepen and expand the soundstage. Do not put any absorption on the wall behind the speakers, Open baffle need to breath from what I have researched. But you can just pull them out with a "bare" front wall to test it. If I am right your soundstage will be enormous. Now how about the Aric Audio ML XL report?


Sorry that will take a bit, I've got to completely redo my audio rack because the Motherlode XL is a "two box" configuration to isolate the power source from the signal components......connected by an umbilical. I can tell you that it is one of the most beautiful pieces of tube gear I have ever laid eyes on.....mine is finished in maple.

Just another suggestion is that you might want to try the Wilson Audio set up guide.  Just relying on mathmatical calculations may not be the best solution since all your furnishings would affect the sound.  Just trust your ears but your friends advise in my opinion is bogus.

@willyht I haven't read through all the comments in this thread.  So, this is based on personal experience with similar components and, of course, my opinion.

My listening room (i.e.  living room) is almost identical to yours, both size and shape-wise.  However, acoustical properties are different.  I've got the wall-to-wall carpeting and cushy furniture.  However, my ceiling is 9' high and it and the walls are solid wood (i.e.  log cabin).  I have a pair of Revel F206 powered by a MAC integrated.  The speakers are approximately 22" from the wall behind them and separated from each other by approximately 6'.  More would be better.  However, I am forced to deal with living space and aesthetic concerns; not to mention SWMBO (She Who Mus Be Obeyed).  Listening position is approximately 8' from the speakers with about 2' of space behind that.  Again, a little more would be better in this regard, if not for the aforementioned limitations.

If memory serves correctly, the 228be have Beryllium tweeters.  While I haven't done much seat-time with Beryllium tweeters, my sense is that having a healthy amount of empty space behind the listening position with these would be an advantage, especially with regard to listening fatigue, much in the same way as it would be with AMT tweeters.  I've found that pointing my F206 straight out at the listening position is better than toeing them in and encourage you to experiment with this, if you haven't already.  Off-axis performance with the F206 is about the best I've ever heard.  My guess is your 228be probably excel in this regard, as well.

While you can, of course, go through the bother & effort of what your friend has suggested for your equipment, my suspicion is that this will result in time & effort wasted.  If you do experiment, however, please let us know what comes of it.

The 8' triangle formula has always worked well for me; but, the room dimensions and furniture & speaker placement options always dictated that. More often than not, the listening position usually ended up being 9 - 10' away; thus, fulling the 1.2 tweeter ratio. So, I can vouch for that formula too.


I'd say the easiest and most affordable thing to do is experiment with "toe in" and/or how close or far apart your speakers are from the wall(s) and/or listening position.

For a small investment, you could try adding two room divider screens (approx 6' x 6' each) behind the sofa to create a partial back wall. 

For a moderate investment, you could add something like the Iso Acoustic "Gaia" speaker footers (with carpet spikes) to see if that helps the overall sound quality. At least with those or the Townsend "Platforms," those come with a money back guarantee; so, nothing to lose on that option.


you would have to have vibration issues to need speaker footers, I would think of it as very low priority

"He suggested that I put the speakers in the middle of the room and move the listening position against the wall"

Are you sure this guy is actually a friend?

Maybe he was joking with you.

Jim Smith would tell you to first find the location in the room where your listening position has the most even bass.   Then set your speakers according to his rule of thumb of 83%.  The overall best setup in your room will likely be within a foot of that starting point.

@willyht your friend is FOS. Putting the listening position against a wall is the worst thing you can do.  You have it right. Now you should find all the first reflection points and deaden them. You may want to try moving the listening position forward or backwards a little till you find the best bass balance. In the future you should consider two or more subwoofers. Two 15" subs would be the minimum. If you really want to give your system a huge leap into the future, replace the Mac preamp with a DEQX Pre 4 then add passive subwoofers.