Speaker Placement Issue/Thoughts

I'm not sure if it's my hearing, my rooms (I've had the stereo in three different ones over the past few years), or a recording bias, but I consistently hear my image being biased slightly left of center.

I've had to resort to balance controls to fix this issue, but have also tried various speaker placement solutions (Thiel 1.6s and now 2.4s). When thinking about how to address the problem, I regularly get stuck in what feels like a logical paradox.

So, to shift the center image to the right, I can alternatively convince myself either that I should A) make the right speaker louder by moving it closer to me, or B) move the right speaker further away to shift the actual center of stereo speakers. Unfortunately every time I try to test this, so much ends up changing (the damn spikes are so hard to deal with) that I never figure out which is the appropriate solution.

Maybe I just need to pay a professional to come in and place everything for me...
Or move *both* speakers just a wee bit to the right, thus shifting the center that way, too. Moving one speaker closer will mess with the timing too much. You might also consider using something like Audyssey XT32 to fix your probable room issues...

Pretty basic suggestion, but have you used a tape measure to make sure your speakers are equal distance (probably yes). How about sound absorption panels on the side walls-maybe a tapestry or something to help tame side wall reflections? That can help alot when trying to create a solid center image.
I have lived for years with a similar situation. The balance seems always weighted toward the left side. I tried everything you can try (speaker placement, component replacement, etc.). I have even had my hearing checked and found no difference, right to left. I have now--after years of torture--simply adjusted the balance control (or the volume controls on my Audible Illusions preamp) to establish the true apparent balance and have learned to live calmly with the situation.
It's living comfortably with the skewed balance control that is the hard part.
Some amps like the TAD Hibachis in my 2 channel a/v system have output level adjustments on-board which can be very effective for providing left/right balance when needed for whatever reason.

Placing speakers to match volume levels is probably not a productive approach as you have found. Placement is key for soundstage, imaging, bass levels etc. Placement to match loudness is likely different than placement to optimize these other areas where placement is the key.
I have a similar issue in my non-symetrical room. My expericnce has shown that it only takes a couple of inches, but I guess that will depend on factors secific to your situation.
As I see it you hae 3 choices:
1. Move the left speaker to the left, thereby moving it farther away from you
2. Move the right speaker to the left, thereby moving it closer to you
3. Move your seat to the right, thereby moving the left speaker farther and the right speaker closer

You could also do a little #1 and a little #2
If you've already tried swapping left/ right inputs to eliminate a mismatch at the source/cabling, try swapping the leads from the amp to speaker- in other words- remove the cable from the left speaker terminals and move them to the right speaker and vice-versa, leaving the connections at the amp end the same.
If your speakers are toed-in at all, try changing the toe-in angle on one speaker only, leaving the distance from the inside-rear corner of the speaker to the back wall the same-in other words:pivot on the inside front spike. See if the image moves. Don't be afraid to try a drastic change to make it obvious.If there's an equipment rack between the speakers check the distance from it's edges to the speaker- this was messing up the center image on my system at one point- making the distance equal took care of it. I put blue painters masking tape on the floor before I make these adjustments so I can always get back to where I was. If all else fails, move the listening chair a bit.
Lindsey Buckingham talked about this when he released his last solo album...he mentioned how there is no real center image as things naturally shift left in studio recording...which is why i switched to bipolar rear driver speakers...they throw a huge center image...
I had a similar experience only to find out I had a cable out of phase. Check all connections. Good Luck
Like Rpfef, I've started to become convinced that my hearing is at fault, as the situation has persisted across multiple listening rooms, full equipment changes, and careful interconnect and speaker cable switches (including just flipping the cables connections at the speaker inputs).

Right now, however, I think it is partially due to my room. As you can see from this little mockup (Listening Room Diagram), I've got a 1/2 dining room 1/2 living room with a fireplace (that we don't use because of the stereo) in the front left corner of the room. In order to be able to walk into the room, the couch has to sit at a weird angle, and because of the room shape, there's no way to get the speakers similar distances from the side walls. I toyed with placing the stereo on the left short wall, but unfortunately then the TV (50") will block the room's windows. The S.O. will never let that happen...

As it's currently set up, I'm about 11 feet from each speaker (they're not quite symmetrical though, so it doesn't form a perfect equilateral) when I sit at the far right end of the couch. The speakers are 9 feet apart and 18 inches from the rear wall, and 10" or 16" from the media cabinet that houses all the electronics and a TV. The left speaker is further away from the cabinet because there's a Thiel SS1 sub in between the two.

To address the room issues and center the image, I have to give the right speaker about 4 more db of volume. Or alternatively, I started playing with JRiver's room correction, and I can leave my pre-amp balance equalized and just tell JRiver that the left speaker is 10' from me, but the right speaker is 12' away.
This doesn't really matter, but I just found a real tape measure... and my speakers are actually only 7'6" apart, and I'm exactly 11" from the right speaker, and 10'8" from the left speaker.

Seems your image is left of center, and your left speaker is closer to your ear. This could create the issue you describe. As I mentioned in my above comment, dont trust your sight to judge distance, use a tape measure. Let us know if moving the speaker helps.
The disparity has everything to do with your room and set up, I'm sure. I have the same problem (imaging left of center) and I believe it's largely due to the unsymmetrical nature of my room layout. In particular, I have an entry way directly behind my right speaker. If I stand in the entry way while music is playing, it's clear a lot of musical info, esp bass, is going into that space.

I highly recommend getting a copy of Jim Smith's Get Better Sound. It's invaluable. For speaker set up, they need to be equidistant to you, and also equidistant to the center line that runs from the front wall through your listening chair. This is measured down to fractions of an inch. They also need to be level. FYI I found it very useful to use some yarn as a measuring device. Tape it anywhere on the center line, and use it to measure the front and rear corners of each speaker and adjust for both distance and toe in. Works great and no need for any sort of ruler. However, it may be impossible with your room and set up not to have to use the balance control.
FYI a 4db shift is quite a lot. I think you can ameliorate this to a degree just by getting your speakers dialed in equidistance-wise.
Nice suggestion on the yarn. I'll definitely do that. I also bought that book this weekend... I'm curious.
The book is an excellent resource for many things. Good luck
Well, last night I used a small rope to match the distance from my listening position to both speakers (inside and outside corners). Unfortunately it didn't correct the need for a 4db shift. I'm starting to blame the fireplace that's in the front left corner. I think it might be amplifying the sound from the left speaker, making that side louder, and muddying up the Thiels' imaging.
Just to reiterate...a majority of this is recording based...the Thiels are simply passing the information...
I'm wondering about two things that may be it.
First, you body position is canted making your left ear face the speaker more.
Second, your left speaker's output is coming at you, and also bouncing off the left wall and rear wall when reaching your left ear. Your right speakers output is reaching you, with some going past you and returning and a much greater percentage of it is bouncing back and forth between the right end and going out the doors. A lot of output from the right speaker seems also to be hitting the left wall and then going past and behind you and bouncing toward that short hall way.
Thus I see the first wave and the rebound waves all being more concentrated toward your left ear.
Just my 2 cents.
I suggest making an appointment with an audiologist.
PC and Jetson, I think you are both correct. I remember reading about someone with a McIntosh stereo amp actually noticing a difference in their right & left meters and getting worried that something was wrong, only to decide later that it was simply a louder left channel in a number of recordings.

That said, I think my room is still amplifying the left channel, and the fact that the left speaker is in a corner, while the right is truly on a long wall (but with a close by doorway) isn't going to help. Fortunately, I don't think the seating direction isn't really an issue, as I just sit facing directly forward (where the TV is) rather than actually following the plane of the couch.

I started reading the "Get Better Sound" book, it looks like it is going to be very valuable... and will be an easy, and interesting read at the worst.
I think your issue is set-up related. I have read "Get Better Sound"
and actually use a digital laser measuring device ($50 Home Depot) and got
everything to within 1/16th. It made a big difference. I placed a dot on the wall
behind my listening seat and reference toe-in, tweeter distance, and speaker
height to that spot. Also tweeter distance to the side walls. Each speaker is
symmetrical to within a 1/16th. It sounds obsessive, but the sonic improvement
was well worth the effort. A tape or thread is not accurate enough for this
important task.

I later hired Jim Smith to voice my system to my room. He ended up changing
my speaker locations and listening seat only a few inches, but it was a dramatic
improvement after many months of experimentation. For the relatively low cost,
it was by far the highest value improvement to my system's sound in ten years in
this hobby.
I think your issue may be set-up related. I have read "Get Better
Sound" and actually use a digital laser measuring device ($50 Home
Depot) and got everything to within 1/16th. It made a big difference. I
placed a dot on the wall behind my listening seat and reference toe-in,
tweeter distance, and speaker height to that spot. Also tweeter distance to
the side wall. Each speaker is symmetrical to within a 1/16th. It sounds
obsessive, but the sonic improvement was well worth the effort. A tape or
thread is not accurate enough for this important task.

I later hired Jim Smith to voice my system to my room. He ended up changing
my speaker locations and listening seat only a few inches, but it was a
dramatic improvement after many months of experimentation. For the
relatively low cost, it is by far the highest value improvement to my system's
I think I'm going to try the grid system suggested within "Get Better Sound" this weekend... I do find the prospect of hiring an audiologist attractive, but I doubt I live in this house for more than one or two more years, so I'd rather save that money for a longer-term living situation (how much do they cost, btw?). I'm also a researcher and scientist, so I find the prospect of solving the problem with my own two hands mildly attractive. I also agree with Jetson that the room is really funneling the sound from the left-speaker to the listening position, so perhaps there isn't going to be an easy solution without lots of acoustic treatment to deal with those room reflection points.
It's unfortunate the room setup seems compromised from the get go. But dialing in your speakers is the absolute first step before you do anything else. Once that is done and if you are still hearing anomalies, then you can address them. Good luck! I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Peternayer, I disagree with your assessment of the yarn measurement approach. I find I can actually get a more accurate measurement that way then with tape measure, laser pointer, etc. Once you have established your center line, the yarn method works wonderfully. Also, once you have established the center line, per Jim Smith's method, the outer walls are irrelevant. All measurements are based on the center line, which makes his method particularly valid in odd-sized rooms or layouts.
My apologies -- "Peterayer". I misspelled your username.
No problem, Tholt. Just be careful not to stretch or let sag the yarm 1/16th of an inch or more. And how do you assure that the same spot on the yarn hits the exact spot on each speaker. I have tried using string that does not stretch except under extreme pressure and found that the laser is more accurate. I'm not saying that the yarn won't work for you or that the laser is the best method. It's just what I prefer.

I also don't understand how the yarn can confirm that the speakers are toed-in to the exact same angle. The laser makes this extremely easy, and exact toe in matters with my speakers.
Put on a test CD (ie. Stereophile) and hook a meter up to the speaker outputs while playing some sounds (ie. pink noise) and measure whether there is any major difference in output. If so, find out which electronics further back in the chain are defective. If not, switch your speakers around to see if the high output stays with the left speaker. If so, try switching your speaker cables too to rule them out.

Use masking tape on the floor to mark the speaker positions before moving them.

Also have your ears cleaned out by a doctor.

Don't worry. A lot of us, including myself, have had the same problem. I wonder if lefties have problems with the right channel being too strong?
I was pretty close to buying this laser measure, Bosch DLR130K-RT, but figured I'd go the old tape measure route first. I'm going to remove the furniture from the room today and take my first stab at the grid method. Have to get it done now before my saturdays get filled with college football. Looking forward to the experience...
Hi Peterayer,

Using strong tape to attach the yarn to the floor along the centerline, I measure to the inside front and rear corners of each speaker and get each the same (ie front = front, rear = rear). This works twofold: for both distance and toe in.
Well, the living room has changed configurations, although the current setup might be temporary because it makes the room somewhat less user friendly. The speakers are now about 4-5 feet away from the front wall, and the couch is straight across the back of the room, about 3 feet from the back wall. I did manage to get most of the left shift out though, and it definitely sounds better.

Minus the laser measure, in the end I found Smith's suggestion of using an anchored tape measure the most useful. I took a small board, attached the tape measure to it using a finishing nail (through the measure's pre-made anchor hole, and then taped the board to the floor at my listening position. It was easy to stretch without slack to measure speaker distance. In the end I didn't actually use the grid very much, and probably could have just gotten away with only the tape measure. Really the only benefit was for helping me place the speakers an equal distance from the centerline...