O.C.D. Speaker placement

How o.c.d. are you in speaker placement, and how important is it? I am o.c.d. in many aspects of my life including speaker placement. I've always enjoyed what is known as a formal balance (symmetrical design). So this is my dilemma: I have the distance of my speakers equal, within an 1/8", from the side and back walls, and they are also level side to side and front to back but the distance from the center of my listening position to the tweeters is different by somewhere between 1/2"-3/4". Does this even really matter?
I'm sure I'll get all kinds of jokes towards this question, but whatever. I figure there has to be some other o.c.d. people here considering all of the products aimed towards audiophiles, from footers to cable risers to c.d. and i.c. polishing kits.
I can't imagine that it would make much difference, but I am wondering why your seating position cant be moved a bit to eliminate the problem.
Mismatched differences between your ears/speakers by an inch or less should make no significent difference. If it does your should pick it up in hearing a slight shift in the stereo imaging towards the speaker furthest way. But that is only with your head in a vise. Moving your head about, or shifting in your chair, will cause a greater shift than that.

Rather than concern yourself with such minor differences in distances, you might re-direct your energies in perfecting not only the direct sound, but the sound reflecting off the walls, ceiling, and floors. And fine tuning your toe in. Doing so will improve your sound much more and will certainly challenge your OCD problems. This can keep you busy fussing around for years.

FWIW, IMHO, Exact measurements in speaker/listening position set up can be useful in initial set up IF you just happen to know what measurements should be, but can also be detrimental. Exact measurements can cause a reinforcement of nulls and nodes which are potentially problematic.

Get OCD about your sound, not exact/balanced physical measurements.
If you're not using the speaker placement track on the XLO Test CD or similar you're not even close. Tip - speakers should be placed much closer together than most people think.
Having your speakers equal distances from the back and side walls may not be the best acoustically. I would try the golden ratio. Read the quick primer on speaker placement at the cardas website under "insights".

Also, no need for periods between OCD. Its an acronym. But thats a little OCD of me to mention.

First determine how far the speakers need to be out into the room for best tone/soundstage/bass/etc. Then make sure the speakers are the same distance from the side walls. Then tie a string to the middle of your listening chair and pull it to tweeter of one speaker. Keep your finger at that spot and pull it to the tweeter of the other speaker. This will put the speakers at the same distance from your ears/listening position and should give you balanced sound and symmetry if your room is symmetrical.
Lol tpreaves, my psychologist said it would be theraputic to talk about it ;-) please don't judge me, I know I'm crazy...

Thanks for the input guys, I think I should redirect my ocd'ness towards acoustic treatments and not worry about the other. Elescher, I measured the distance from the back of the speaker to the back wall, the sides to the side walls and have my chair centered in my room. When I do the string test from the center of my chair to the tweeters, I'm off by something like 1/2" to 3/4". Maybe my room isn't square? Anyways, I'm over it, for now. I was just partially curious if anyone else out there was as crazy about it as I was.

On a side note, i like all of your set-up's. Roxy, you ought to put your components on your page, maybe a couple of pics too :-)
Perhaps on to anal, I check my speaker distances weekly. I read some of your previous threads and I noticed you have a great thirst for knowledge. You took the time to do the speaker measurements it should be extremely easy to solve your problem. Only than will you know if it makes a difference. EVERYTHING MATTERS. Good luck.
Yes and yes (personally). I've ranted about placement before, and its's mission critical, far as I am concerned. But, unless your room is perfectly symmetrical, I wouldn't expect your optimum speaker placement to be either. I start with measurements, try to calculate room nodes, and plunk'em down where the tape measure and laser leveler suggests. Then I move them, and never look at the measuring tools again. One example, center-fill on the sound stage: with a perfectly measured symmetrical setup, in my room, squeues the image to the right. Move the right speaker about an inch further away, it balances perfectly. Asymmetrical, but in my room, where they work better. Then I throw some tape on the floor to mark the spot, as they get moved a lot (a bit of a high traffic area). Every now and then I revisit placement, but usually come back to the current marks -- which were the product of an afternoon of monkeying around with the help of a neighbor who's also a professional sound engineer. Which helped. A lot.
Speaker placement is THE most important part of home stereo. I guess I better add IMHO, before I come under attack for speaking in 'absolute' terms.

I tired every so-called formula for placement. Each had it's good points. I measured to within 1/4 inch. Trying to get it exact is hard with spikes on a carpet.

Then a few weeks ago, I read on this site I think, that the best place for your listening position is when the speaker forward axis cross right in front of your face. So I got my laser pen and did it. leaving the toe-in as it was and just adjusted the chair. I moved it a little over 2 ft back. WOW! It was like getting new speakers. I am not too much into describing sound effects. But, the soundstage is wider with a lot more depth. Detail was greatly improved. I not only got what was up front but, also the folks behind the front guys. Great detail. It also seems as if I can play my system louder without overloading the room. And this was not a one time thing, it's still that way. I may have been near-field before. It's true what they say when it comes to speaker placement, factions of an inch do matter.
I totally get where you guys are coming from. In fact, I'm even more particular than that! I've actually been diagnosed as CDO, which is a lot like OCD but the letters are in the correct alphabetical order.
If you are measuring from your speakers to the wall you are most likely off by much more than you think. Rooms are not square. In fact they are far from it.

Try measuring from your listening position to each speaker with string. It is the only way to ensure the speaker are equal distance from you. Once you do this you will notice how the sound stage tightens up with better balance left to right.
"Tip - speakers should be placed much closer together than most people think."

It never worked for me on the long wall and with large speakers. Every situation is different and requires trial and error because all speakers react differently with the room. Only if it were that simple to use a CD or read a book, but it's not.
02-06-13: Geoffkait
If you're not using the speaker placement track on the XLO Test CD or similar you're not even close. Tip - speakers should be placed much closer together than most people think.

This coming from the seller of the Teleportation tweek and the clever little clock.
After some reflection I would suggest that you avoid something that, while it might help in initial speaker set up, would really activate your OCD to new levels.

Don't buy a sound meter and test disc and try to obain flat frequency response (at your listening position) as well as maximizing your systems potential to produce high quality sound, especially its ability to do 3 dimensional soundstaging. The odds are highly against success, so if you try don't say you weren't warned! :-)

Rok2id, I'll take credit for that bit of toe-in. I recommend it all the time, but for some reason I get little feed back - I think many folks here really are not into soundstage specificity as we anal folks are. FWIW, its biggest influence is the obvious, it reduces side wall reflections thusly making the on axis response much cleaner. A side benefit is that it will also change the reflection patterns off the ceiling, as well as all of the 2d reflection points. I think this works best in medium sized rooms where these issues predominate. Also, it can allow closer to side wall placement to widen the sound stage without lessening the center image's specificity. Lots ot trial and error though to get it right.
Newbie and Rok2id. I have to have my speakers about 13ft apart because of a built-in fireplace and bookshelves on both sides. I've moved my speakers every direction available to me. I now have them crossing in front of my listening position. I also have to consider my wife's position just to the left of me so she can enjoy the tunes too. If she only hears the speaker on her side, I've lost her and her enjoyment. It's important that she hears the vocalist in the center-fill as I do and musicians on the far soundstage with depth. This toe-in allows that. We both sit about 13 ft from the speakers (it's a fair-sized room) so we're still within the audio triangle.
Mt10425, That's a benefit I forgot to mention. It has to do with the fact that the length of the on-axis signal from both speakers is obviously unequal to the off center listener (your wife), but this inequality is balanced by the fact that she will get a more on axis signal from the furthest speaker whereas the closer speaker will be heard more off axis. That signal is usually more rolled off in the highs (usually but not always - depending on speaker design). These different signals blend and give a decent sense of soundstage. You lose only a little bit of specificity. It ain't perfect but it can be quite nice, just don't tell her it ain't perfect or she'll grab your chair! :-)
I suggest you buy the book "Get Better Sound" by Jim Smith and then you can put your OCD to good use. For example, he explains that the distance from the side and back walls being equal for both speakers is not the issue- what really matters is equal distance, toe in, height etc. of the speakers to the listening position, which really makes sense if you think about it. Also, get rid of the string/ruler and buy a <$100 digital laser tape measure. It does matter, but you need a guide as to what to be OCD about.
I suggest you buy the book "Get Better Sound" by Jim Smith and then you can put your OCD to good use. For example, he explains that the distance from the side and back walls being equal for both speakers is not the issue- what really matters is equal distance, toe in, height etc. of the speakers to the listening position, which really makes sense if you think about it. Also, get rid of the string/ruler and buy a <$100 digital laser tape measure. It does matter, but you need a guide as to what to be OCD about.
O.C.D. is not your problem,D.L.S.is what you suffer from. ( don't like speakers).No medication will cure that.
Maybe I should look into G.N.S. (getting new speakers) :-)
Hey Tpreaves, trade ya my studio 20's, $50 and a piece of bubblicious for them there Tylers ;-)
Almarg shares a good technique for when his wife joins him to listen.
She sits directly in front of him in a matching chair.
Of course he doesn't mention that her shoulders are right in reach for rubbing....
she's got THE sweet spot... he is smooth!! HA
I think that I've come to the conclusion that exact side wall and rear wall distances aren't nearly as critical as equal distance from a centerline from your seating position, and equal toe in and distance from the listening seat. The string test from the listening seat and toe'ing my speakers in more, with an equalateral triangle with speakers and seating position are paying large dividends in soundstage. The music is really coming together now :-)
02-08-13: B_limo
Maybe I should look into G.N.S. (getting new speakers) :-)
Hey Tpreaves, trade ya my studio 20's, $50 and a piece of bubblicious for them there Tylers ;-)

Thanks for the kind offer B, but I'll pass.
The drivers should be perpendicular to a line directed exactly to your ears. This will make the intersection appear slightly back from your position. Best bottom-end and sound stage when distance behind speakers to wall is the same as the distance behind you to wall. Triangle does not have to be equilateral. Optimal distance between speakers is 8-10 feet.
Csontos, I never heard that the distance behind the speakers and behind the listener should be the same but thats exactly how I'm set up, just because that's where I get the cleanest bass and best imaging. I'm set-up in an extra bedroom so I'm sitting nearfield as my room is only 13' 1/2" long and both my speakers and my listening seat are around 40" out from the back wall. Thanks for the tip though, I'll end up adding that to the ocd speaker placement list!

Hey T, if you change your mind about my offer, just let me know. The Speakers and Gum are fully broken in, and the ink on the $50 bill may still be wet by the time you receive it :-)
Depends on the speaker. Some are more forgiving of speaker placement than others. You can follow the manufacturers recommendation as an initial guide line, but the final placement is very dependent on the room (size, shape, acoustic treatment, your taste, etc). I like my speakers far out into the room, at least 1/3 of the way from the front wall. But you have to be careful of room modes. Usually, 1/2 way into the room excites room modes more, if you have a fairly symmetric room. IME, all speakers have a sweet spot, and to get the best sound possible, it's worth the extra effort to take measurement down to 1/4" tolerance. I like to use a laser measuring device to accurately measure out the distances. So I guess I am OCD.
That may be so, but only as far as best room placement is concerned. The sweet spot is dependent on your listening position in relation to the speakers' direction. That doesn't change regardless of room placement.
IME, the sweet spot does change depending on where you place your speaker in the room among other variables. I've spend two years treating my dedicated audio room with acoustic diffusors and absorbers, changing the speaker and listening positions, and measuring freq response at the listening position with an SPL meter. The sweet spot is not just dependent on listening position in relation to speaker's direction. All the factors I've listed effect the sweet spot, unfortunately.
The level of OCD is dependant on the gear.
The less resolving gear will be more forgiving of differences in exact speaker /gear/room/electrical/vibration/conditions.

I have spent amy hours of trial and error and countless measuring sessions getting my electrostatic speakers to function at a level that I find quite pleasing.

Some speakers are much less finicky, and those are perhaps the best types of speakers for folks with OCD who can get overwhelmed with too many variables in speaker placement.

They should seek out speakers that have been reviewed to sound great just about anywhere in the room they are placed.
Speaker placement and how it interacts with the room also depends on the type of speaker you are using.

I've messed with toe in, distance from seating position and distance from side walls and distance between speakers.
Everything matters.What sounds right one day can be bettered the next with just a few inches of movement.

I've settled on the Cardas formula for placement of planar speakers for the moment.

But I still move the listening seat forward and back trying to get to the sweet spot.

I think the folks with small two way speakers who listen in the near field have the least to worry about.

Sort of like listening to headphones, the room has less effect.

We are listening to more of the room than most of us would care to believe, and adding room treatment in an uncontrolled manner can be as detrimental to the sound as adding none.

We don't live in anechoic chambers,so speakers that measure great in those instances may not sound good in a home.Sometimes those kind of of specs can be misleading.

Perhaps we need to see a speaker manufacturer make claims about his speaker sounding great in a normal room.

Then give some specs of how the speaker reacted in several different types of room sizes without any treatment other than standard furnishings.

This way one could find a room similar to their own and see if the speaker would be a fit.

This may ruffle a few feathers,but like I said perfectly flat response specs in an anechoic chamber only relates to that room, not mine.
I think speakers are the one item in a system that a person should have O.C.D. over. Speaker placement is very important and if done right delivers great results and if not the system will sound like sh...
I missed this thread but after reading through, Csontos recommendation is spot on with how my set up is. Speakers are about 10' apart, the speakers are about 9" out from the front wall and my head rests on a sofa against the back wall which makes it roughly 9" from said wall. The speakers each aim to where they fire less than a foot to either side of my skull which alleviates any beaming and allow as wide a soundstage as a recording can produce and creates a sweet spot big enough for Jabba the Hutt to enjoy.

As for the OPs OCD lament, it's just what we do to get the best out of what we have and it's really not that bad since once it's set, we forget.

All the best,
I've found a placement that dounds pretty good to me now. For me, once I began to understand how each of the different positions effects the sound it was much easier for me to just place the speakers and be done with it.

Too much bass, pull the speakers out from the wall, pull your listening chair out from the back wall.

No center stage, push speakers closer together.

Too narrow of a center stage? Pull the speakers apart.

Adding absorption panels on the side walls and front wall made me less picky about speaker placement and yeilded better results than a 1/4 inch here or 1/2 inch there, 5 degrees of toe in, etc.

I became much less picky about exact measurements (even though I'm pretty sure my speakers are still pretty dang close to identical mirror image) and more concerned about room treatments. With absorption panels on my side walls I'm able to put my speakers closer to those walls and get a wider soundstage. I'd like to become more ocd about room treatments now; adding a mixture of diffusors, bass traps and absorption. I think that will yield better results.
Get your hearing tested professionally and get a copy of the test results. Incorporate the results into your placement strategy. Or at least consider why exact measurements might not be the best bet, due to differences between each ear.
I would respectfully say you are wrong. Your premise is a second use for a balance control on your pre or separate attenuators on your amp.
Another thing I've tried is extreme toe in angles, in and out.

Also, I've experimented with placing the speakers in the corners and also placing the speakers on the diagonal,in a corner so that the centre of the two speakers is the junction of the two walls.

Which is correct?

They all sound good,but different.

In fact speaker positions can almost fool you into thinking that you're listening to a diffrernt pair of speakers.

In the end, after all the experimentation,the way the system looks plays an important role and can trump the sound improvements(diferences)of radical toe in, etc.

I think most of us settle for how the speakers sound when set up in the more conventional ways which please our eyes.

Which as I've stated ,isn't always the best.

Then we resort to whatever devices we have to tune the speakers to our liking and to make up for whatever deficiencies we may feel they have, or to fill in the gaps that our ears feel we need.

If that's wires, or EQ's or room tuning devices,you have a lot of choices to experiment with.

On second thought, maybe an anechoic room may not be so bad afterall.
Have you listened for a good while in each position before finally settling? You need a good shock effect from one to the other for a good perspective imo.
I've found pros and cons in all of the placements.
That's the puzzle, they all sound a bit different in certain areas,not one position for me was the best, so I settled for the Cardas placement for planar speakers and moved my listening seat further away from the speakers so that the 3 angled panels lock in better,so the triangle is far from equal.The speakers fire straight no toe in.

They are 73" from centre of speaker to side walls,58.09" from centre of speaker to wall behind them,95" apart(side of speaker not centre)and 160" to the listening chair.

This also is the most pleasing from a visual perspective.
If the question is directed at me, then my answer is that I have a number of discs that I use to determine if any type of change in my system is better ,the same or no different.

In my estimation,this is all the time I need to make up my mind.It is usually a few hours of listening, but a day of settle in time for wires etc.

I tend to think that the more time spent the more one will eventually forget what the original sound was like.

What I have discovered is that there are no hard rules, and that you find things to like/hate about all changes in speaker placement.

I liked the pinpoint spot on image of the speakers toed in ,and crossing a few feet in front of me.

Until I tried the Cardas planar placement method,which changed the placement of the speakers in the room placing them further from the side walls, closer to the back wall and with no toe in.

I moved the seating position further away from the speakers, which made the focus more like toeing them in did.

I do have some modest room treatment,mostly DIY, but it's a step in the right direction, having none in such a large live room is not nice.

The old Acoustats can be very revealing,but they are also very easy to enjoy in just about any type of speaker set up.

The task is to think about the smallest adjustments,the fine tweaking,to get them to move to the next level of resolution.
Less than inch adjustments of toe in.
But that's just my point. A stark contrast is the best comparison so it's best to get used to an adjustment before changing it. It's interesting you have pinpoint imaging with speakers crossed in front of you. My experience with that set up is a relatively 2 dimensional sound stage whereas when the lines converge through my ears, I have much better depth perspective.
Your correct,soundstage suffers, width wise,but I perhaps should have said that radical toe in gives a very precise image, or clarity, at least with my speakers/room.

Wide spaced with little toe in and the image is wide, but the information is not as clearly presented, perhaps using box speakers would have a different result.

As I've stated you have a choice and who knows which way is correct,I'm thinking both could be, depending on what you value in music reproduction.

I'm more detail oriented than image oriented,so anything that detracts from image specificity is a no-no for me.

By sitting further away from the speakers(the Acoustats have 3 panels per speaker only the centre panel is not angled)all the panels come together much as multi driver speakers need some spave before the drivers align themselves properly at one's ears,that is most of the one's I am accustomed to.

Most two ways seem more seemless than multi driver systems and you can do some serious near field listening with them.

As far as getting used to a particular speaker arrangement,I seem to be able to do that without a lot of time involved.

It either comes together or it doesn't with my set up, so there's no need to ponder or nit pick.
I think we all need to "listen and enjoy the music more and worry less about the equipment
Enjoying the music is what the gear is for.

Great gear, set up poorly never gave me musical enjoyment.

Poor gear,set up poorly is even worse.

I've been listening and enjoying the music(and playing it)for over 40 years.

What I found out very early on, was that the level of musical enjoyment was determined by the effort I put in.

As such,the more I paricipated in the hobby, the more enjoyment, the closer I got to what it sounds like when I play live.

I disagreed with HP years ago, no system I've owned or listened to every came close to the absolute sound.
But some gear was better than others at the illusion of a live performance.

Also, those same components could get you even closer to the ideal when you tweaked them with better cables, fuses, power, racks and room tuning.

The "we all need to listen and enjoy the music more and worry less about the equipment"types I feel, don't listen or enjoy the music as much as those of us who do sweat the details.Not to say they aren't content, just saying I wouldn't be with a compromised set up of stock gear, with no power conditioning or room treatment.

All the access to all the music in the world is only as good as the gear it's played thru and how that gear is set up.

I can be pleased listening to music in my car,but I know that's not as good as it gets.

I've been spoiled.I've had friends who've enjoyed great systems and the sound of the music thru their systems was much better than mine was in those early years.

So my journey started about 40 years ago,and TAS influenced me. Had it not been for that and other mags I would be richer in the bank account but would never have had the enjoyment of listening to the music thru system that let all the music thru not just some of it.

Owning thousands of cd's, lp's,and downloaded music mean nothing if you are only hearing a fraction of what's been recorded because of compromised gear and set up.

As much as I admire the car collection of Jay Leno, he can only drive one at a time.
So best to make that drive the best one that you can.

Best to listen and enjoy that one selection of music as best it can be reproduced.

I think the trend today towards mediocrity and not perfection,is a major reason why things have gone downhill in more ways than just music.

For me,it's more about the pusuit than the end of the hunt that gives me pleasure, not pain in this hobby.No worries here,just anticipation and excitement about what's over the next audio hill and into the promised land.
If I have any worry, it's that I may not live long enough to enjoy the treasures yet to be discovered.

Everytime I've ended at where I felt it was as good as it can get, I'm over and done, and it's time to just listen to the music, I got bored shortly thereafter.

It's why the merrygoround never goes out of fashion, and dogs have so much fun chasing after their own tails.

If there was no fun in it, then both would have vanished long ago.

When the fun of this hobby is over for me,then it will be time to join the "for listeners only" club.
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