Toe in vs Straight

Hey all, do you have your speakers toed in or firing straight. Most guides on the internet always mention the triangle and toe-in and this is what I had done for a while and whilst the sound was good, there was something missing. The speakers are about 2 feet from the back wall and about 7 feet apart with my sofa (listening position) around 7-8 feet. What I noticed was whilst I was getting good center vocal the image and soundstage itself felt a little claustrophobic. I decided to change my speakers from toe in to fire straight on. To me the difference was night and day, soundstage was now wider, I felt and could hear better imaging and overall better clarity.

I’m curious why magazines, forums, books always say to toe in ? IMHO from experimenting back and forth the best for mine is straight on vs toe in.

Speakers used: Wharfedale E-30s 94dB@1w/1m nominal 8ohm impedance 63Hz-18Khz

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I toe in to taste.


Straight is always my starting point and with most speakers it stays that way.

Every speaker I have owned, in every apartment I have lived in, have sounded best with enough toe in so that the speakers are firing over each shoulder in the sweet spot. This gives great image focus, great soundstage focus and minimizes reflections from the side walls.


I think toe-in is overdone, as it seems to often be unquestioned “conventional wisdom”.

Toe-in to taste, as @vee notes above, is the way to go.

I recommend straight ahead unless and until you can’t get a solid center image AND a good wide image with lots of speaker placement experimentation.

Then play with toe-in to tweak the center image.

My $0.02.

[PS - It is often a good thing to question conventional wisdom.]


Besides being an issue of preference, the speaker design (driver type) may have a lot to do with the best results. The setup recommendations for my speakers suggest straight profile for best results, and for me, that is correct. Obviously there are a bunch of factors that should be considered.


My experience is about the same. The imaginary lines from the speaker centres meet about 2ft - 3ft behind me, and my distance from each speaker is slightly further than the distance between the speakers. Mind you when using speakers with pleated tweeters, I had to toe less.


Yep. For example the unique design of the “tweeters” on my Anthony Gallo Acoustics Ref. 3.1 speakers definitely impact the “toe or no?” decision/performance effect in my case.

Every speaker, room, and system is different. Exhaustive trial and error will reveal what sounds best.
My speakers are revealing of the slightest change in positioning, which gives me plenty of options for dialing in the sound. Since installing Sunlight I’ve lessened the degree of toe-in on my speakers to almost firing straight ahead. The combination of Sunlight, speaker re-positioning, and a new HDMI cable have yielded amazing results, and It was a blast getting there.


Remarkable speakers which require an open mind in many ways, apparently also in set up.


Toe in is a matter of taste as vee pointed out…
Finding the sweet balance between toe or not to toe with
regard to phantom center acoustic images, depth of
the image from front of speaker plane to the entire backwall
behind the speakers and width of image beyond the
leftward most to rightward most of speakers…

For me this has been an excercise in finding the best compromise
placing the speakers to obtain the best possible.

I have Focal Aria 948s and have tried varying degrees of toe…
Currently my preferred listening position is about 15’ from
speakers. My preference is to have a panoramic acoustic
image rather than being close up…Speakers are pointed to a
spot about 18" behind my listening spot.

It is a matter of personal preferences…

Best wishes in your toe or no toe adventures


Great responses all thanks. It’s just amusing how almost every guide always says same thing but in reality it’s way different. The type of speaker, room size layout etc all makes a big difference.


That is why adjusting to for best effects to suit the hearer
is best approach…

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As many of us hobbyists often say, “everything matters.”

Side and back wall reflections (for example, how close your listening position is to the wall behind you) are important factors influencing imaging and clarity as well…which may impact the need for and extent of toe.


For me it depends on which speakers are connected. If the Infinity Modulus Speakers are connected with 100% tube pre and power amps, I have more toe-in versus less toe-in, though still not pointed at my ears. If Sonist Audio speakers are connected and driven by the BHK Signature Preamp feeding the M1200 power amps, speakers are set with only a minor amount of toe-in.

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Toe in is all about lowering the amount of reflections from your side walls. If you aim your speakers straight out, the speaker (typical box-types) can fire pretty much directly to the left and right of themselves and you get more energy blasting the side walls… and reflecting back into the room and you.

These short-echo reflections (reverberation) damage imaging. Long-echos can actually enhance imaging. This is kinda how Magnepan and other dipoles can create such a large sound stage, one of the ear-brain phenomena knows as the Haas Effect. Some speaker companies figured this out and have rear-firing tweeters to enhance imaging. Now to get technical, short-echos, reverberation, can give a sound the feel of a larger room, but these short-echos also damage perception of instrument locality.

I learned about the Haas effect back when I purchased my first set of Magnepan speakers… this effect was pointed out as a major factor of why Magnepans image so well.

These short-echo reflections can also alter your perceptions of tonal balance too.

Anywho… speakers image best when placed along the long wall and not the short wall due to these short vs long reflections. I always try and put diffraction surfaces on the side walls to smear the reverb out even more.

Like everything audio, your overall room acoustics have a huge affect on tonal balance and imaging so what may work in one room, with a given set of speakers may not be the same with a different variable. And then there is the issue of taste. Experimentation is in order… no set formula.

Bruce in Philly


It all depends on the speakers, the room and the listener. It’s whatever works for YOU!


Good points Bruce, thank you. Given my side walls are more than 5ft. from my speakers, I will test gradual reduction of toe in but make sure I do not lose the centre image.

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Losing the center image… the “Hole in the Middle” can be mitigated by moving the speakers in closer to each other… if you experience this, then, classically, your speakers are too far apart. (unless of course you are a disciple of Klipsh and his designs… but that is another story all together.)

The “old” way of finding the best speaker placement is to put the speakers about three feet from the rear wall and start moving them outward until you get the “hole in the middle” them move them back together. Now you are done with this aspect of placement. The next thing you do is forward and back to the rear wall listening for tonal balance, particularly in the bass. Then you screw with toe-in… that is the old fashion way of placing speakers.

If you own dipoles, like Magnepans, then forget everything… buy a large amount of liquor… and prepare your spouse for a prolonged rough-spot in your relationship.

I moved into an apartment once… with Magnepans… that had godawful acoustics… I ended up moving after just one year because of this one issue. I tried hanging blankets… incantations and spells… I learned a ton and the biggest lesson I learned is that your room can kill all the joy before you even begin.

Bruce in Philly


Some manufacturers prefer toe-in for their preferred positioning. I have Wilson’s and there is an ending point in the set up that spells out amount of toe-in. They’re toed in until you can “slightly see the inside edges” of the cabinets from your seating position.