Speaker shootout question -- do you position the same or differently, depending?

If you're comparing two speakers at home, do you position each the same or do you position each as (roughly) optimal for that speaker in your room?

I'm comparing a tower and a bookshelf now, and their design is different. It would seem that the best way to compare would be to figure out what is optimal for each and then compare them in (likely) different positions. 

What kind of process do you use for comparing two differently designed speakers?


The speakers should be placed optimally.  If one optimal location is not good for other reasons, such as aesthetics, then place it where it sounds best within the acceptable area.  The problem is that the optimal location for any speaker can be a quite time consuming process to determine so even an in-home trial may not fairly determine what is the best speaker for you if the two candidates are close.

Ask yourself who you are evaluating the speakers for.  Are you evaluating them for a lab report or are you making compromises in your living space and need to see what speaker works out better for you?

You can’t really reuse the same location in most cases except for bookshelves, and even that has perils.

I remember Stereophile refusing to take Crystal Cable’s recommendations for speaker placement into account and ending up with exactly what you’d expect for a review.

Another thing is toe-in. Beaming the tweeter to your ear is almost not the best place, and you may even like sitting below the tweeter axis. Focal’s inverted dome tweets to my ears tend to do better with little to no toe-in.

Any differences between speaker location(s) will enable room to change the outcome [of the comparison]. That’s why multiple speakers on a demo floor are just for visual display.

Setting one speaker on top of the other doesnt work either, as tweeter dispersion differences to your lcoation can alter results. You almost always hearing location differences + speaker differences and it is difficult to tell as a listener whether its location or speaker causing the differences. Replicating the exact location is the only way to compare A to B,

Flawed location may favor one design over another, so this is the other issue. A narrow dispersion vs wide dispersion in highly refelctive environment could favor the narrow dispersion speaker. This could lead one to believe that narrow is better- when that is not true EXCEPT in that one environment. Example is In a normal environment with first reflections controlled, wider is better. So there are a myriad of small technical issues that play a role.


Lone Mountain