A Hobby of Inches

I love sports and played football for eight years in school. I am all too aware how almost any sport is a game of inches. Until last night, it did not hit me that so is music reproduction. It also hit me how significantly those inches of speaker placement can change the perception of product performance up the audio chain.

Paul emphasizes all the time the importance of letting our ears do the judging. Rules like so many feet from the rear (or front) wall are guidance but that is all. There is so much truth in that.

My Focal 1038s driven by a BHK 250 stand six feet apart. I had them pointing straight ahead 28 inches from the rear wall. Music sounded good but the bass was not too strong and the imaging not quite right.

I moved them back almost against the rear wall. You would expect the bass to grow stronger at the expense of imaging. The image did collapse but the bass did not grow as expected. Mmmmmm. I did not dwell too much on the why. On instinct mostly, I moved the speakers ahead from their former positions at 24/24 to 28 on the inside and 29 on the outside (inches from rear).

I could have yelled Bingo! except it was 3 in the morning. Not that it mattered much. My spouse can sleep through an atomic blast and we don’t share wall space with condo neighbors on any side. I just enjoyed having the widest grin I remember as music realism arrived.

For those of you into classical music, Mahler’s 1st and 5th symphonies kicked ass… Beethoven never sounded to good. The interplay between violins, violas and basses was never as much in evidence. I got up to swing my aging hips to the rhythms of Talking Heads. I won’t mention what I did on disco.

I listened again first thing this morning to make sure it had not all been a dream. It hadn’t. I made small marks on the tile to remember the exact position of the speakers should they move on their own to screw with my mind.

My most musical PS Audio gear has never sounded so good and I’ve never felt as one with the music.

One small step for an audiophile, one giant leap for audiophilehood. Fives inches forward and one inch of toe-in. Who would have thunk!


As a Maggie owner, I could not agree more.


Hi Psalvet…

Over the course of time …I experimented with the same…bringing speakers out from wall, increasing the space between them, as well as toe in and tilt back a degree or two.

I am blessed with a good size listening room 16’ x 25’ L shaped…so I could bring the speakers out even farther out into the room. With each step the soundstage depth
width all grew larger and bass deeper and tighter…

In essence following the golden cuboid of audio room listening proportions.
The improvements gained are really really good.

If you have the room and the Mrs. says ok then give it a go. There is no furniture
to the sides or in front of speakers…( this includes the space behind the speakers except equipment rack) just free space for the sound waves to develop,
much like a rock thrown into a pond where the ripples move away fro the epicenter
of the rock hitting the water…
If there are any obstructions the ripples reflect back off of these muddling up
the original pattern of the wave…same thing in sound waves…

You are on key and tracking right…
a hobby of inches…so right on !!

Edit to say feet and inches…

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No truer audio statement has ever been made. Dipoles can go from damned to divine in a matter of millimeters it seems.

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Thanks for the tips. In a previous home we had built a dedicated audio room in the basement. Double walls and everything. Unfortunately, with retirement came downsizing and my range of placement options has gone down drastically. Oh, well, it is a different stage in my life. We do the best we can. If we could only manipulate a listening room as you said in our dreams and have the ability to listen as well… Maybe some day, with some helpful psychedelics :slight_smile:

Great alliteration there, Larry. I went from Maggies to Martin Logans to now Focals, hoping to reduce the foot/inch placement sensitivity. I don’t think it’s possible with good speakers, even if they are not dipoles.

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I’ve experimented with placement for a long time and with REW it does help a lot in getting the bass to behave by checking your placement to the results on REW. Then adjust toe in for imaging to your taste, do one more sweep to verify results. YMMV

I’ve heard of REW but have not read up on it or tried it. I will. Thanks for the reminder. I’m glad it worked for you.


A bit of a learning curve, very powerful and useful.


Decent mic for the money. Includes calibration files.

And that was how I ended up here, in the big boy’s time-out box, with a bight s^^t-eating grin on my face. And moving heavy Warfedales with spikes on carpet is a sure sign of insanity!
Long story short, CEO has given me permission to upgrade if I want to. Want to??? :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

More later.

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