Placement question

I'm setting up my listening room again after some remodeling. The room allows 15' from (a damped and treated) wall to a railing that opens into a large common area. Seating is a sofa which, for decor reasons, must be flush to either the treated wall or the railing. This allows 2 possible set-up schemes:

1) The speakers can be backed up right to the railing. In this case there is a huge distance from the back of the speaker to the "phantom front wall" in the common area adjacent to the room and the speaker to listener distance is app 14 feet. However, the listening position is less than 1 foot from the treated rear wall.

2) Alternatively, the speaker can be placed app 4' from the treated front wall and the listener seated app 10' away -against the railing- with a great distance to any reflective surface behind him.

I'd appreciate any comments for the pros/cons of these 2 placements as you may have them for various speaker types. I'm curious mainly about which reflective surface (behind your head/behind the speaker) people focus on and the 10' vs 14' listening path, which I understand is speaker type dependent.

Thanks in advance

I believe I'd prefer scenario 2, since the speakers have a good 4 foot distance between them and the front wall, and because the listening position does not have a wall close behind. I believe having a wall 1 foot from the listening chair would put you in a bass node.

Also, do you have the ability to spread the speakers 10 feet apart (or 14 feet apart)?
Agree with Tvad. Position 2 should give you the best imaging,soundstage,and bass.
My past experience tells me that #2 would sound best....still, try them both, if you can?

Agree with Tvad and So good. Go for #2.

FWIWI had a similar option by just reversing the speakers and listening chair using the same distances. One end had a 7x7 ft opening into the dining room the other was a closed a wall. My listening chair is 5ft from the opening so I have effectively taken the back wall out of the sonic piciture the speakers are 5 ft from the solid wall which has domestically approved 'stuff' spread around to act as a diffusor for reflections off the wall. I've tried reversing the set up with the speakers on either side of the opening (still 5 ft into the room) and it just didn't sound good at all. I've tried this with panels, electrostats, and dynamic (cone) speakers with the same result.

In your case the only issue I can see, which you have not mentioned, is the spread of the speakers. Remember to think in terms of equalateral triangles (or close there to)in set up of speakers and chair for best imaging results.
Thanks all for the quick feedback. #2 is also the more decor friendly way to go. So, my wife thanks you, too,

I'd love to try both, but the 4 million pound sectional sofa is first into the room.


The speakers are app 10' apart from each other (inside to inside), for the group of speakers currently in rotation -Merlin VSMs, Verity P/E and sometimes Zingali 3s. This leaves app 3' to the side walls. Of course, if I were to substiture wider speakers (say Sound Labs) the spacing would be reduced.
That's pretty good geometry.
Go to and click on to the 5A's owners' manual. In there they will give you specific measurements and graphs for speaker placement. I found this to be very valuable and can attest that following these suggestions make a very real difference. You need to measure, and do the math, but its worth it.
Do a search for the Iron Chef Speaker Set Up Protocol. Its the best speaker set up method my ears have heard. It takes some effort but in the end its well worth the trouble. Throw out square straight and plume and do this set up a super way of positioning speakers for the best sound.
I believe Zu Audio utilizes a version of the Sumiko method as well.

Essentially, optimally placing either the right or the left speaker, and then placing the opposite speaker.

Zu has the placement method on their website.
Thanks again,

I'll check out the Zu site.

You'll find in this Zu Audio Users Guide that Zu uses a version of the Sumiko technique whereby one speaker is dialed-in initially for bass response, then fine tuned, and finally the other speaker placed.

Following is an edited version of the Iron Chef method posted on AA by "tubesforever" on AA.

Iron Chef Speaker Set Up Protocol:

John Hunter of Sumiko uses a Rob Wasserman song featuring Jennifer Warnes called "Ballad of the Runaway Horse". You will find this on his “Duets” cd and his “Trio” CD as well.

Step 1 will be to remove whatever removable sound absorbers you have. Take them out of the room. Anything that is permanently fixed and all your furniture and stuff is ok to leave alone.

Step 2 remove the speaker stand spikes to make moving the speakers easier.

Step 3 is to establish your listening seat. Optimally you will set up the speakers and your listening seat in the shape of a triangle. When properly set up, the speaker will be out at least 18” from the rear boundary wall. Your listening seat likewise should be at least 24 inches from a back boundary.

Step 4 places both left and right speakers directly against their wall facing straight out into the room. No inward “toe in” angle should be attempted yet.
The left speaker is going to become the anchor for the set up.

Step 5 Begin playing the “Ballad”. What makes this song so effective for set up is that the plucked string bass is at realistic volume at realistic timber. So the goal is to get the bass properly coupled to the room and the drivers.
Play this track at volumes where you can easily detect bass quality.

Step 6 involves a buddy. Have your buddy slide your left speaker (the anchor) out into the room until the bass becomes solid and authoritative. Mark this spot with some masking tape. Now slide the speaker right and left to find the best bass quality. Mark this spot. Now slide the speaker further out in the room to find other points where the bass couples properly in your room. There are likely to be a dozen spots within a 3 ft diameter of your first spot. Be patient. 1/3 of an inch is all that differentiates a good bass quality from a lifeless bass sound. Listen to all of these good bass points until you find your favorite bass spot. All this is done with just the left speaker playing straight out. The right speaker is playing straight into the room from the back wall. Each speaker playing at the same volume.

Step 7 establishes the “toe in” angle of your left speaker toward your listening seat. You want the widest possible sound stage without the sound being too thin. If the toe in is right, the sound will be very natural, if it is too wide the sound will be thin, and with too much the sound will seem to come from two speakers not from the space in between. Your anchor is now set. Mark this spot carefully with masking tape.

Step 8 requires reinsertion of the left speaker's spikes leaving the speaker level at this time.

Step 9 is to set up the right speaker position. Simply slide or move the right speaker out into the room. Move it slowly listening for the sound stage to line up equally before you. Remember to keep the speaker oriented directly straight ahead. No angle yet.

Step 10 involves moving the speaker right and left until you hear the soundstage become cohesive, and Jennifer should sound like she is right dab in the middle.

Step 11 Toe in the angle the speaker very slightly until you hear Jennifer Warnes voice become a “body” centered in the sound field. You will hear the sound congeal nicely at this time. You should now have accomplished sound coupling of the speakers to your room boundaries. To test if this is the case, you should be able to stand directly over either speaker and clearly hear the other speaker. It may be necessary to make very minor angle adjustments of the right speaker to get her voice centered. Now if the sound stage is not linear, meaning one speaker sounds more forward than the other, then simply slide that right speaker front or back until the sound field is "level." (Moving it right or left adjusts the centering of Jennifer Warnes voice). Mark the final location of both speakers with masking tape. Insert the right speaker spikes.

Step 12 begins with adjustments to the rake angle of the left speaker. You accomplish this by adjusting the spikes to get the speaker level across the front, and raked back to get the beam of the tweeter firing above your ears. You need to listen to the quality of Jennifer Warnes voice. She should appear to be ear level or slightly above ear level in the sound field. This is a personal choice. Carefully listen to the tweeter response of the left speaker and make sure that the "beam" is at least an inch or two above your ear when you are seated in your listening seat.

Step 13 begins by adjusting the spikes on your right speaker to match the "height" of the left speaker. At this time, you should hear her voice almost as a whisper, when originally it may have sounded shrill and harsh. Her voice should be centered in the sound field now, with solid and good quality bass.

Step 14 suggests you take measurements of the speaker location to the walls. Take digital photos.