Speaker set up tricks

Curious to know how members adjust speakers in order to get a perfect centered image.

Let me explain, assuming:

  • the room is symmetric and speakers are at the same distance from the side walls
  • the listening position is perfectly centered both with the room and the speakers

What do you suggest to shift a little bit the image to the right? I mean the singer mouth should appear exactly in the center of the front wall, isn’t it?
Regardless the recordings, I sometimes need to turn my head to “see” the singer perfectly in the middle. We are talking about millimeters.

  1. Moving 1 speaker to increase the distance from the front wall? Unfortunately the front wall has 1 cm of difference in depth from the right corner to the left one.

  2. Does toeing in the right speaker can help shifting the image to the right?

TIA

singers are not always recorded or mixed to be in the center, are they?

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I thought that one adjusts the speakers to the best dynamics possible given the room. Sound stage, depth etc. That is your corner stone.

The dynamics change as a result of the source. Mixing, variability of media, recording equipment , venue etc.

Not any one aspect will always be centered…

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Symmetry is my obsession, as you know. I’m managing with magnetic diffusors on the first and second reflection points of side walls…

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You do not want to do that since your mind will not rest from the non-symmetry layout. I will try “1” by moving one speaker a bit closer (mm, not cm).

I still have tubes in pre and amps, and I sometimes need to clean them, or even switch them to make the image center again. But you do not have that option anymore.

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Hi Luca,

General rules are just that. Different speakers have different characteristics dependent on a number of factors. Though one set of rules never applies the same for all speakers, there are some good starting points.

Planar or flat panel speakers, open baffle dipoles, front baffle width and speaker “height” all require different placement tuning values. Driver type and the materials can sure affect placement since some tweeters literally beam sound at the listener and are often less forgiving than other drivers within a design. Lastly, the room and dampening can vastly change speaker presentation.

Manufacturers are a good starting point for recommendations as well as asking other audiophiles with the same speakers to see what seems to work best for them. Start with the basics. Don’t load corners, use dissimilar distances from back and side walls, create an equal triangle with the seating at the distance equals the placement width. Unless you have a purposely built listening room you may have to deal with trade offs with even the basics. Use a tape measure and painters tape to mark distances and offer recovery points.

Speaker placement can be a challenge and don’t expect to have everything fine tuned without the key word. “Experiment” Don’t get frustrated and realize that even small adjustments can change things. Be patient, don’t rush. Those recovery points are just that.

By the way, I’m with you on symmetry😂! If that vocalist is not in the center then I go crazy.
Enjoy the process and more than anything, enjoy the music. This is a fun endeavor! Right?

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Hi Bob,

thanks, I’m moving speakers around my room for years and I’m speaking of millimeters… and there are so many variables that lessons never end. It’s part of the hobby indeed.

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Hi Luca,
It may be your outer ear geometry / physical shape difference that is causing the image shift. You would have to blame your parents if that is the case. :grin:

With that said you can try changing the toe in slightly (one degree should be a noticeable difference) on both speakers (left one more out and right one more in).

Then try the reverse shift in toe to see what happens.

In my room there is more reflective surfaces on the right side so the image is always off center a little to the right. Even the BACCH can’t fix the problem.

After a whole lot of speaker repositioning and absorber / diffuser tweaks what fixed the problem for me was to simply shift the balance control to the left about 1db.

In my room the speakers sound the best with the tweeters and toe symmetric within a few mm in order to keep from having timing (delay) issues in the higher frequencies.

Hope this helps!
Vern

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Luca, if all you want to focus on (for this purpose) is centering, find either a good mono recording of simple music - acapella vocal for instance - or a monophonic 1KHz tone. You can’t trust centering on stereo recordings.

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Good observation, thanks!

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I agree that experimentation and patience are a huge part of the path, yet considering the number of variables and the fineness of significant impact, you have to start with a methodology or prepare for madness.

Variables include distance between speakers, distance of speakers to back wall, sidewalls and each other, distance to listening position, and toe-in. Conventional wisdom holds that the spatial criteria are significant to a fraction of an inch, and toe-in to a few degrees.

If I was now starting from scratch, I’d do one of two things.

Use a calculated method for placement (the Cardas system worked well for me) and monkey around with toe-in. Or…

Use something empirical (loosely speaking) like the Wilson Audio approach (WASP).

Budget your time accordingly.

Happy listening!

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Hey Luca. In the land of giants I have little of offer other than my limited experience. I have nowhere near the symmetry you’ve created in your space but did have a similar center image problem. The image was shifted to the left and was resolved by pulling the RH speaker closer to the listening position.
Picking up on other’s comments, have you tried listening to the same tracks through headphones to confirm image location?
The center image location in my setup is now good, but I have an asymmetric space that creates unequal stage width. The right hand stage is collapsed towards the center. Whenever I want to confirm this I listen to the same track through headphones.
Good luck!

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I have a few anchor points fixed with tape on the floor (and measurements notes), taken during last months.
Each time I experiment with new subtle repositioning, it ends up coming back to the usual scenario (anchor point is always like arriving to the harbor after a storm).

My StressLess chair can rotate left/right and it’s always easy for me getting back a solid centered image, just turning millimeters my head. Like searching for a perpendicular angle between my eyes and the center of the front wall, so to speak!

I’m more than happy with current speakers set up in the room, bass, soundstage, width depth and hight, tonality, presence, realism. When i want to fine tune it, I always play 4 or 5 max very familiar albums, that I use as references.

I would like to keep everything that I have painstakingly obtained after months, yes it was a challenge to do so, but also to move the image to the right, a few millimetres, 1 centimeter maximum. I use an SR HT to mark the center on the front wall, this little button in my visual illusion usually IS the singer’s mouth.
I would like to easily see the singer voice immediately right centered without slightly turning the head, or the chair, each time. That’s my goal.

If I go too much away from the anchor point (harbor), there is always a storm out there!

This is the reason why I was asking what in your experience could work better. What can bring the voice a few millimeters to the right?
1 moving the right speaker closer to the listening position
2 reducing the toe in of the right speaker (increasing the toe in of the left one)
In both cases, we are talking about millimeters. We are talking about OCD symmetry.

Thanks.

I would think that increasing toe-in on the left speaker and reducing toe-in on the right speaker would move sounds to the left.

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That’s what I’m trying to understand, and the reason why I’m asking other members to share their knowledge with me. I had the opposite conviction but I’m obtaining unexpected result:

Right speaker + toe in and left speaker - toe in = move image to the RIGHT?

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While I do not have the exact technical background, the entire “imaging” is, in a way, all in our heads. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but when we hear sounds louder in the right ear, we perceive the sound as from the right of center. So if the right speaker were to have greater toe-in, and therefore the sounds would be louder out of the right speaker than if the right speaker was pointing straight ahead, we would perceive it as sounds to the right of center.

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Remember, the sounds aren’t actually coming from the center or left of center or right of center. The sounds are coming from the speakers, which are further left and further right from where the sounds “appear” to be coming from.

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In my crazy head I was considering the cone of sound projected from the mid drivers. The voice of a singer, speaking about frequencies, in what range is usually produced?
Thanks for your suggestion, precious food for thoughts!

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My guess is the tweeter is actually more responsible for perceived imaging.

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Happy Birthday Luca!!!

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