Speaker Set-Up


I know this may be a bit of a hard question to ask here, but I’m going to anyways given the challenge I’m facing in setting up my speakers in an ideal manner.

My system is: Monitor Audio Silver Silver 300 speakers, PS Audio Gain Cell DAC, PS Audio S300 amp, Bluesound Node 2 (streaming Tidal Hifi), Onkyo CD player, and a PS Audio Duet - using bettercables.com interconnects and Belden 10 gauge speaker cable.

Monitor Audio says, per the manual, that the “ideal distance from the rear wall is…12-24 inches.” This seems very close to me, but it does give me great bass response (32Hz is what they reach down to).

They do indeed say that experimentation is advised (of course it is), but when I bring my speakers (about 5 ft from the rear walls) out as Paul and many others recommend I lose some of the bass but get improved imaging. Plus, when I do it this way the music seems to come from behind the speakers which is awesome (better soundstaging). But when I bring them closer to the wall this effect lessens greatly though it still sounds good with better bass. Set-up has proved a challenge.

To help show my speaker set-up in my room I’m attach a very poorly drawn picture to show my listening room/living room layout. I’ll go ahead and put my speakers where I like to have them now when I’m doing my more critical listening and what gives me the best imaging even though I lose a bit of bass (approx. 5 feet out from the walls). Picture is approximate - forgive the very amateur drawing.

Any thoughts on where I should experiment speaker placement and/or what would be ideal?

I know this is VERY DIFFICULT since none of you can join me in my listening room in Colorado Springs, CO, but I’m having a hard time deciding through experimentation what is best.



Several fellow audiophiles have reported success using the Sumiko Master Set technique.

I have used room measurement techniques to guide my setup, but the advantage of the Master Set process is that the only measuring devices required are you own ears.


Thank you, I haven’t heard of this method and I will be sure to give it a shot! Its seems quite approachable.



Does the sectional couch, come apart? If so, I would move the elbow to where you sit and put the end piece on the left, creating a “U”. That would get the piece on the right away from the right speaker. I usually try to get the speakers as far apart as possible without losing center fill. Then try a compromise between the 2’ & 5’ from rear wall, sitting as far back as possible. If any of that works, then try different toe-ins. If you can move the couch, it might help with first reflections.
My speakers are a bit larger, and in a 12’ wide room, I have them 8’ apart, center to center, and sit 10’ away.
I really don’t like open floor plans. I have never understood why that became the norm.
Eventually you should consider adding one or two subwoofers. That way you can setup your speakers for best imaging, and subs in best place for bass.


The sectional does come apart, but I know it won’t be coming apart and it will be staying there (L shaped only, and my wife loves it this way). Thanks for the other input - I will try these things and listen - it’s fun to play around with different options but sometimes challenging to get the right balance!

I agree about open floor plans…it certainly can be challenging as in this scenario, but they are nice given the “openness.”


You can have the best of both worlds. Set your tower speakers where they image the best and get a high quality subwoofer. You will eventually end up getting a subwoofer anyway as your expectations get higher.


Twenty even thirty years ago i tried multiple subs to improve my two channel sound. It was very frustrating, every combination including two Genesis 12 inch servo- subs added a thump but degraded the overall sound quality . I now have a pair of JL Audio 12" and their CR-1 crossover. These have given my ancient Thiel 2.2 a new lease on life. With a less than perfect listening room I think the flexibility subs provide may be required .


I have considered subs and I may venture into this territory in the future, but not immediately. The Monitor Audio’s provide quite a bit of bass, a very good amount in fact, so I don’t think this is the direction I will at least immediately head in. I’m more concerned about a balanced set-up where I get the best balance across the spectrum.


How are you managing the speaker cables? inside wall wiring from the component rack to near the fireplace?

I have an issue where I need my speakers to be moveable, so I built Oak speaker platforms and I can move the speakers {Monitor Audio GR 20 (2)} on the fly. Not sure how you would employ that on shag carpet, but this would help keep them out of the way AND maximize opportunities to experiment with different positions. Cheers.


Doug, exactly as you’ve found placing speakers near one or two walls will reinforce bass (waves), but limit soundstage which is a function of mid/high frequencies (which behave like rays). Fortunately there is a rather efficient solution: use of monitors for the rays and multiple smaller subs for the waves.

Ideal location for generating mids/highs is not the same as for bass, which is why I’m not a fan of “full range” speakers. Using 3 or 4 smaller subs located along side walls in a random pattern will even out bass for various listening locations in the room and can be turned up or down to balance with your mains. This multiple sub approach ends up being rather insensitive to phase. Some even suggest elevating one of the subs. I’m currently using three subs, turned down to about 25% of full volume. One is near the front left corner, one is along the right side wall about 4 feet from the front wall, and the thirds is close to the mid point of the left wall.

Using a single bass generator or two side by side (especially parallel to the short wall) will exacerbate the peaks and dips inherent to the room geometry. Bass behaves in waves, like moving your hand back and forth lengthwise in a shallow bathtub. Waves will travel to the end, then bounce back. As the returning wave hits the oncoming waves they’re either in phase (be additive), out of phase (tend to cancel each other out), or something in between. These interactions can result in +/- 20 dB response, depending on position and frequency. Thus the distributed bass generation evens out response across the room and frequency range (something that room treatments and DSP can’t do).

Mistakes often made in the “satellite/sub” approach: using less than 3 subs; and going with monitors that are too small, thus losing the mid/bass body (I recommend minimum 6 inch mid/woofers). This method applies to HT as well. Earl Geddes, PhD in acoustics, for instance has a 7.3 HT system in a 14ft x 22ft room with the monitors having 8 inch woofers. We are up against the laws of physics here and like the old margarine ad says, “There’s no fooling mother nature”.


I run my speaker cables along the trim on the ground. I purposely bought white speaker cable (Belden 10 gauge cable) to run along this so it would blend in, and along the fireplace I run it underneath the trim that runs along the fireplace which is also white. No one knows it’s even there except me so it works out.

Those are some good looking oak platforms - well done! I simply pick my speakers up and move them around. They’re only 44 pounds a piece so it’s really not that difficult. So, I move them regularly when I can bring them out into the room and listen more critically, and place them back against the walls approx. 12 inches (within Monitor Audio’s recommendations) when it’s just background music. It’s the best I can manage right now with 6 kiddos from 1-13 years old :smile:


Thank you for this excellent information. I’ve generally found what you’ve said to be true in regards to the speaker phase with bass and the changes I’m experiencing in my room. It’s really interesting, actually. Though like you said, we’re bound by the limitations in our rooms! Just a matter of finding the best balance I suppose and being content with that - as much is possible :wink:


Thank you again for forwarding the Masterset process on to me. I’ve been playing with it today and I’ve definitely seen an improvement! And it’s funny because I’d say the speakers are only approximately 6 to 10 inches from where I’ve had them before and I see an improvement across the spectrum. Now I’ll just have to mess with the toe in and speaker height adjustment. Fun stuff!


My pleasure.

In my case, I’m also able to fine-tune bass nodes by moving the listening chair forward or backwards a matter of inches. I have a nasty peak at ~70 hz that corresponds to the 16ft dimension of the room. If I position my listening chair 4 ft from the back wall, it corresponds to a quarter wavelength null zone of that frequency. A change of 6 inches will raise or lower a 70 Hz tone by as much as 10 Db !

Crazy, but it works.


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Do you measure these tones?


I have a copy of the Rives Audio Test CD 2 with test tones. I simply let the cd play and measure SPL with the Studio 6 Audio Tools app on my iPhone (~$20 and worth every penny). When I want to check for hot spots in the room for specific nodes, I’ll set the track with the offending frequency on repeat and measure SPL at various points around the room. I’m not sure these CD’s are still available, unfortunately, but there are probably others out there that include similar test tones.

There are some tutorials on the Arqen website that explain quarter-wavelength cancellation, as well as free plans for diffusers: http://arqen.com/acoustics-101/speaker-placement-boundary-interference/

ASC (the Tube Traps people) have what’s called a MATT test for room “articulation.” Info here: http://www.asc-hifi.com/matt-test.htm

The test tones are downloadable as an mp3 file. I found it revealing, but not easily actionable.

I also use Room EQ WIZARD. It’s freeware that can be downloaded here, but there is a learning curve: https://www.roomeqwizard.com/

BUT, you need a calibrated mic to use it. It is a way to get very sophisticated measurements of room acoustics, but only at the listening position where the mic is placed. I picked up a USB mic from Dayton Audio that is recommended, and it works just fine. They are $120.00

Room EQ Wizard identified the frequency bands that were the problem areas. From there I used the test tones and SPL meter essentially to find standing wave null areas to guide speaker and listening spot placement.

Of course, the Master Set technique gets you to essentially the same goal by using a standard process and the listener’s ears. But I didn’t come across the technique until I did all of the above.

Hope this helps.


Mail](https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986) for Windows 10