Reposition speakers after component change?

With the 2 ongoing betas I figured PS forum was a good place to ask this question…

  • Do you reposition your speakers after a component change?

Over the past 6 months I’ve replaced almost my entire system. DAC, pre-amp, and amp. Couple immediate changes (not all good):

  • Significantly more holographic imaging (good)
  • Better pinpoint imaging (bad, then good)
  • Deeper, now unbalanced, bass (bad)
  • More centered and articulate bass (good)
  • More localization of speakers in high frequencies (bad)
  • Shouty midrange (bad)

So, I went to work to reposition the speakers in order use the new equipment to its fullest and get rid of the bad. I think I have finally figured it out and will get a frequency sweep this weekend to compare to a sweep I did before swapping anything. This was many hours of work but now I can describe improvements as all good.

To add to the above:
Pinpoint imaging - At one point, best way to describe this, it was like looking through a paper towel tube. Voices and instruments were tiny and distant. They were coming from a very exact point in space but that space was unrealistically tiny. Additionally, anything panned only L or R sounded like it was coming directly from the center of the speaker cabinet. After repositioning the imaging is more dispersed but now appropriately sized. Separation of instruments and voice are still good but are now appropriately sized. Anything panned L or R only appears to come from a space “near” the speaker instead of directly from the cabinet. Speakers have truly disappeared with the benefit of better accuracy and a deeper soundstage.

Deeper, unbalanced, bass - This was corrected with adjusting gain on the subs as well as moving the speakers closer together (further away from the side walls). Unbalanced bass in my system causes the low-end to get muddy and the energy in the room overpowers any sense of movement. It can feel like all the walls are radiating energy and it destroys any sense of “being there”. Now bass is centered and buried deep behind the speakers. The energy has movement related to the soundstage again.

After getting the balance of the low-end sorted there is a clear improvement with bass articulation.

Shouty midrange - This one was a pain. I’ve never experienced a description of “shouty” before. It was fatiguing and destroyed any moderately long listening sessions. Not only were voices and mid-range louder than they should have been but they were pushed way forward. I’m happy that I was able to correct this with repositioning of the speakers. Was starting to believe I had made a horrible choice in electronics and was going to have to start sending things back.

Anyway… onto sweeps to verify my own hearing now. What your thoughts? Experience? Am I compensating for bad electronics or am I doing the right thing but adapting the electronics to the room?


Let’s start with room size and shape…

It took time for me after reading the Cardas Golden Cuboid description to
gradually find the sweet spot for my speakers…

This is the place to start…the least expensive tweek with biggest impact on you soundstage you could possibly have…

In my case the cuboid only served as a concept… my actual listening space is
is portioned somewhat different

Yes, that link is an excellent starting point. Along with the concept of “rule of thirds”. But it’s only a starting point. Unless you’re able to construct the perfect room, we should all be so lucky, adjustments from “perfect” must be made.

And, now, I’m finding that nice equipment interacts with the room far more than I anticipated. The exercise was worth the time but I wasn’t expecting I’d need to make the change. Thought I had it “dialed-in” with my old equipment.

Dialing in the toe in; recommended by Focal ( I have Focal Aria 948s) was
greatly assisted using a laser pointer placed on top of my speakers aiming
to a point converging 1.5 ft behind my head. Sort of like focusing binoclulas.

This alone brings great reward on the soundstage and quality thereof.

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I use a fluke laser measurer for this exact reason. Toe-in is a “try it and keep it if you like it” recommendation from my speaker manufacturer. From the various rooms I’ve had these speakers in sometimes I’ve used it and sometimes I have not. This latest relocation I’ve removed it as it was not needed with the improved imaging of the new equipment. This has provided much better depth when instruments / voices are panned L or R.


Makes perfect sense to play around with speaker positioning after making a change to the kit, or seating position, or furniture in the room, etc…

If you took some care with the original speaker placement, I would guess that you won’t be making grand changes to their location however.

FWIW, the Cardas site’s guidance is a good place to start, in terms of taking into account the general shape of your room. However, in my experience (my room is very nearly square - the front wall is just a touch narrower than the room is deep), it is important (in most cases) to get the speakers well out into the room and if you use a subwoofer in a 2.1 configuration get the subwoofer out of the corner and out into the room as well. If you are not familiar with the concept, look up “the rule of thirds” with regard to speaker placement. I always seem to fall back to that approach to establish a STARTING POINT for speaker placement and then fine tune with my ears.

My $0.02/enjoy the journey.

[Edit: Sorry, I just noticed that you already mentioned “the rule of thirds”. Sounds like you are on the right path. Here is another tip, since I did not share anything useful earlier :slight_smile: : Check out Jim Smith’s “Get Better Sound” – Just Google it. One of my favorite resources.]


Laser distance measurer is invaluable for me as I have stand mounts that come out for ‘listening’ and get ‘put away/back’ other times, though they’re mostly out.

It’s trivial to put them back in the precise spot I like without marks anywhere.

I reposition the speakers to suit a recording or my mood. A little closer together will warm up or fill out for example. Toe to adjust intensity of focus and alter reflections.

Playing the room I believe it’s called. Major advantage when speakers don’t weigh so much they can easily be moved though I bet ‘sliders’ would assist greatly.

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My room is carpet and my speakers sit on spikes. A few years back I purchased isolation discs for my spikes to sit in. Not because I thought it’d make any difference in sound but I was tired of the workouts it took to get accurate placement by lifting the things. Now I can just slide them around. :slight_smile:

So, yes, sliders are worth the price just to save your back if you’ve got floor standers.

Or could place speakers on a smooth bottom plinth to enable sliding speakers
along a carpeted floor…my Arias stand on their bases with spikes on a plinth. Thus
preserve the decoupling effect…works very well…

The whole assembly can be slid very very slowly into place…

I have a carpeted room as well.

Hmm. I’ve never changed my speaker position after a change either in software or hardware. I have always been of the mindset that room reflections and my position to those doesn’t change.


Each component change can/does alter the timing/phase and response of the system as a whole. This may or may not impact the realized sound but it never hurts to experiment.

There are no perfect rooms, no perfect speakers…all are compromises in some way or another.



You are right afaik…

Once the optimum speaker placement has been attained…there should not be a need for further repositioning…except for the overeager beaver tweeker just wanting to mess around experimenting for the heck of it…

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Right on Brett!

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I had to reposition my speakers after my new speaker cables and power cord for my DMP broken in. As these new cables settled in, I noticed a slight lack of sparkle on the top end, and overall lack of immediacy. I began to wonder if someone snuck into my house and replaced some of my cables with entry level cords. As I approached the right speaker I noticed that it was slightly toed out instead of firing straight into the room. After adjusting just the right speaker, no more than a 1/4 of an inch, all was right with the universe again. In fact things were sounding better than ever. Just the right amount of sparkle on the top end, combined with pinpoint imaging.

I would be interested to know if equipment reviewers move their speakers for reviews. I would be surprised if they did. If they do not then logically it follows that moving them would make reviewing components invalid. I wonder if Paul moved the IRS’s when they evaluated the AQ cables? I’d say once you have the speakers dialed in leave them and evaluate your other change so it’s A-B

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How many engineers does it require to move the IRS? (rhetorical)

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I would expect reviewers do not move their gear until, well, let me get to that in a min. A review is always a comparison against a “reference”. Not my reference or your reference but a reviewers reference. The words “more” or “less” are in reference to their reference. If a reviewer found there to be “more” bass and then adjusted the room to match their reference then the review would always be “the same”. And, I suspect, this could be done for a lot of gear. Or, at least, “same enough” to make it very difficult to articulate the differences in english (making for a very boring review).

Now, I was not doing an A / B. I was changing my reference. And, if a reviewer determined their review gear was so good as to change their reference, then I would expect they would re-optimize their placement to create a new reference for which all A / B would be compared going forward. That’s, effectively, what I did. I changed my reference. I could go back and A/B to my old system but that review would just be using the word “less” a lot.

I did make changes, one at a time, over the 6 month period with no less than a week apart. This allowed me to A/B but, ultimately, I knew I was leaving this new gear in so once I had enough time to understand what it was doing different, and what I liked/didn’t like, I was able to optimize.

Only other comment I’ll make is that I absolutely hope reviewers optimize placement of any speaker reviews. It would be foolish to review a speaker in a sub-optimal position and each speaker has its own design goals. Some like to be closer to a back wall. Some like to be in the middle of a room. Some with toe (can change off-axis response significantly), and some speakers are just simply forgiving, etc.

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No, I did not, but those beasts are impossible to move. I would say a couple of things. First, the notion of repositioning your speakers to accommodate or maximize the changes wrought by different cables and equipment is absolutely the right thing to do. It’s always helpful to remember you set them up in the first place with different synergy equipment. To think its static and cannot move is incorrect. You’re doing the right thing. Secondly, a system like the IRS, which is a true line source, benefits much less from moving to satisfy changes like these. That is because it overwhelms the room and once setup properly, rarely needs changing. That cannot be said for just about any other system.

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Thanks Paul. So I guess the ultimate answer is not that you judge the new equipment in a static reference set up but maximise the new set up. If after all the adjustments it as a whole sounds better then you’ve made a good choice. Does make it a tad more difficult to evaluate new equipment but since the goal is holistically bettering the system that’s what must be done. Interesting indeed