Speaker Placement
Like real estate, speaker placement has three rules: location, location, location.
Speakers are affected by proximity to other objects, like walls or your desk,
and proximity to your ears. To get the best sound, follow these principles:
Keep your setup symmetrical: Place each monitor at an equal dis-
tance from other objects to maintain even sound throughout the room.
Move furniture if you have to.
Don’t put speakers in a corner or against a wall: Walls artificially
enhance bass; put a little bit of space between your speakers and
the walls.
Mind your ears: Generally, speakers should be approximately at ear
level, and far enough apart from each other and your ears that you
achieve correct stereo separation (Figure 3.2). Surround sound
requires additional adjustment to create the proper surround field.
˚
Sound Treatment Resources
Information about sound treatment alone could fill a book (and has), but you can find some great resources online:
Auralex (www.auralex.com) is the largest manufacturer of sound-treatment products, and its Web site is a treasure. It’s
the most comprehensive resource online, with tutorials, room calculators, and links to lots of information.
Primacoustic (www.primacoustic.com) carries a full range of acoustic-treatment products, including studio-in-a-box solu-
tions (starting at about $500), which contain everything you need to treat a room and are ideal for a home or
project studio.
Studiotips (www.studiotips.com) is an ideal first stop before you build a studio. It offers in-depth information on
acoustics, soundproofing, and wiring, plus a file area, various calculators, an active forum, and more.
Several sites aimed at improving home theater and music listening environments are just as useful to digital-audio
hobbyists and pros. Art Ludwig (www.silcom.com/~aludwig), an engineer and audiophile, has an extensive guide to
acoustics theory, including some practical information on do-it-yourself sound treatments. AudioRevolution
(www.audiorevolution.com/equip/cheaptreatments/index.html) has a DIY guide for sound treatments for under $100.
Sound on Sound magazine (www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul00/articles/faqacoustic.htm) has newbie-friendly, frequently
asked questions on sound treatment. For a printed reference, Paul White’s Basic Home Studio Design (Sanctuary Press,
2000) is indispensable. Its a simple guide aimed at home and project studios, and it doesn’t assume an extensive
grounding in acoustics or a big budget.
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Consider a stand: Placing a speaker directly on a shelf or desk creates
two problems: frequencies are transmitted through the surface and
reflect off it, impacting the sound, and the height of the speaker may be
incorrect. A speaker stand can resolve both these issues.
Experiment: No rules can completely describe the many minute
details of your personal audio space. Try moving speakers and other
objects to different locations, and see how changes impact the sound.
Better sound from monitors:
One of the cheapest, easiest ways to improve
sound in your studio is to add acoustic foam beneath your monitors.These isolate
your monitors, so that sound doesn’t travel into your desk, shelf, or stand. Auralex’s
(www.auralex.com) MoPADs, or Monitor Isolation Pads, cost about $30 a pair and can
be configured to tilt your monitors up or down if needed (Figure 3.3). Even if youre
using a stand, isolation pads can be a worthwhile investment.
Figure 3.2 The general rule
for determining stereo speaker
placement is to imagine an
equilateral triangle between
the listener and the two
speakers, so the distance
between the speakers is
about the same as the
distance from the speakers
to the listener.

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