Speaker set up tricks

After solving the problem of the centered image, I find myself faced with a new detail to deal with.

Only and exclusively when the cymbals play (louder) I perceive them only from the left channel, coming from the left speaker and not from the sound stage behind like the rest of the instruments.

This distracts me and somehow compromises the full enjoyment of the musical performance.

I observe the phenomenon while listening to jazz, where the cymbals are more present. They appear correctly when playing softly instead.


Can you suggest a track on Qobuz where cymbals sound perfectly in order to have some comparison about the depth field (on the stage) in which you perceive them located?


Is this all jazz recordings from all eras or just particular recordings from a particular time period?

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Check if it is your ears or the system first.

  1. Rotate yourself 180 degrees and listen again.
  2. if it is the system and not your ears, switch left and right speaker outputs to see if it is the system or one of the speakers.

Thanks, Paul. I tried both. Fortunately my ears work. And the speaker hasn’t any issue.

I think acoustic treatment can solve or mitigate the problem.

I’ve just got improvements managing first reflections on the left wall and on the left side of the front wall. Vinyls and CDs aren’t probably enough for cymbals (usually high freq are on the left channel). I was told to mix diffusion and absorption to increase diffraction.

How many things to learn, everyday!

Here for instance

For me, a good track for treble image stability is Beatles mono You’ve got to hide your love away. Since they are mono, you have to hear the maracas (at least I think they are maracas) dead center.


Luca, I can’t help but think you may be chasing your tail here.

Take the time to listen to a variety of recordings and see if the overall presentation and sound staging is just fine.

Sometimes, the recording engineering simply places certain instruments in certain places within the sound stage.

Unless you know what the staging is supposed to be, you have no way of knowing if something is askew with your playback system.

Also, now that you are pretty sure you have addressed the left and right first reflections, put on some test tracks that have known presentation of instruments and voices in space and see where things stand.

My $0.02.


Hello, give this a try:

Here’s an example from one of their pdf booklet pages showing where the musicians were recorded in the music tracks:

Good Luck!


Great resource.

Thanks for sharing.

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I listened to that album and don’t hear any left hand predominance of any instrument. Seems fairly balanced. If you keep trying to adjust your system based on certain albums like Scottie said you will be constantly chasing your tail. Get the balance using proper test tones and then leave it be.


Thanks all!

Just to summarize, I got 2 different problems in different moments.

  1. Mono recordings helped me a lot and last days I finally got back a perfectly centered image. Different speakers set-up was necessary, even slightly millimeters matter. First problem solved!

  2. Having changed the speakers placement to achieve a better centered image, as a collateral effect I suddenly heard an annoying prevalence of high frequencies from the left channel. Not always, not all recordings, not all high frequencies sounds. And most of all, only if that particular instrument (cymbals for instance) was playing at higher volume, forte vs piano so to speak.

I played familiar tracks that I know very well and never sounded wrong before. The second problem wasn’t related to a correct image of the instruments on the stage. It was like sometimes the left speaker didn’t disappear playing cymbals attack. I heard cymbals coming from the left speaker, occasionally and only in a certain louder passage.

This second problem, I found out was caused by the room and the way the left speaker was interacting with the walls.I’m still struggling with it but I’m on the right way to find a solution, after lot of experiments trying different treatments of first reflection points I found the way to mitigate the annoying sounds from the left speaker. Now the cymbals are coming from the left part of the stage, behind the speaker, for the most part of the playback.

A combination of diffusion and absorption seems to bring the most effective results. The left side of the front wall seems to be the right place to focus on. Hope to arrive soon to a definitive solution, I’ll keep you informed.


Just ordered, thanks for the recommendation!

I have to admit, after posting I couldn’t resist playing the music tracks and comparing system imaging to the recording diagrams. After making improvements over time in speaker setup, listening position and addressing sound reflections off walls and glass panes, the results are noticeably more convincing than when I started to fine tune.

Having recently retired, I spent months paying attention to speaker and listening position placement. Afterwards, the placement of the musicians and instruments in the sound stage wasn’t quite what I thought it should be. Like you, the final piece for me was addressing sound reflections in the room.

An audiophile friend came over and we listened to classical music. He pointed out he heard some “distortion” from where I recognized was a corner with windows. I trimmed the blinds and it went away. I added more tapestries to diffuse reflections off the back wall and the sound further improved.

Setup of the speakers and making the room as acoustically perfect as reasonable is very rewarding.




I played the album for hours looking at the pictures on the booklet, this helped a lot the fine tuning. Thanks for sharing that.
Improved remarkably imaging, really helpful.


That’s Great News!

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Luca, you have my attention sir! Did you figure this one out yet? Please advise!:blush: Beautiful lady!

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As I assume most of us do, I frequently move my speakers a bit here and there trying to fine tune my soundstage and tonal balance.

Yesterday I moved my columns 4" closer to the side walls (all 4 columns). Soundstage grew some but more importantly, tonal balance improved substantially.

Told a friend who asked me to run some measurements and ratios and turns out I am at 82.97% (distance between center or high frequency drivers over distance from high frequency drivers to my ears). By trial and error I ended up with the Jim Smith ratio. Interesting.

Food for thought.

EDIT: in other words, I increased the distance between speakers by 8" in total


The same thing happened to me. I fine-tuned my speakers when they first arrived, and I like the position best that turned out to be Jim Smith ratio too. So, there is something to it.


I’m also, by previous trial and error at roughly the Jim Smith 83% ratio. I can’t imagine any way to get that to 82.97% or measure it if I did.


After 1 week of audio Nirvana, I have to admit that speakers set up can significantly impact the sound quality.
I mean moving the speakers around their “usual” position, not a completely new set up of course.

Being obsessed by symmetry, visually and even more sonically, I found that sonic symmetry can be achieved also by asymmetrical positioning of the speakers. The way the speakers interact with the room makes a lot of difference.

I’m around 80% ratio now. This was the starting point. Laser meter and tape used to measure and fix some points, with patience and patience. Then I realized that little incremental movements were needed to get better results, this time “by ear”. At the end I spent a lot of time trying different toe-in combinations.

What surprised me more is the fact that if you find the sweet spot, once you hear the right interaction between the speakers, that magic moment when suddenly things are improved and the singer’s voice appears so live and palpable and at the same time the other instrument are equally distributed on the stage in a realistic presentation, once you get all these things right… you can go back and forth. Loosing the magic and getting it back, repeatedly and consistently.

Very subtle movements, and the perfection is ruined, simply gone. Back to the millimeter fixed by the tape on the floor and the magic is back again, along with a big smile on your face.

I experienced that “click” point when the speakers correctly find each other. I also removed curtains and objects (CDs and LPs} in a few specific points behind the speakers on the front wall. That made a huge difference.
The bass traps on the front wall were removed, this brought another big impact on breath and spaciousness effect, so I replaced them with new ones made on request that are simply “empty” frames covered by hifi transparent fabric, just for aesthetic reason.

Now I’m happy and I’ve only been listening to music for at least 8 days without the desire to change anything

Speakers distance tweeter to tweeter = 2.15 mt
From listening position around 2.5 - 2.6 mt (depends on chair reclining)
Room measures 5.7x3.9x2.5 mt
The Otellos have rear firing woofers.