Seven Tips to Make Speakers Sound Better

The only thing better than getting new speakers? Making yoru existing speakers sound even better! Check out these tips for stereo, home theater, seating and the room itself.

 

In our continuing series of quick tips and tricks you can use to tweak and optimize your home theater or even your audio system we're going to talk a little bit about generic speaker placement, things for your main left and right speakers if it's stereo, or your front left and right mains if it's a home theater, and also a little bit that you can do with your seating and the room to make speakers sound better.

And I'm not talking about having to go out and spend lots of money on dedicated acoustic panels and treatments and things like that. These are things that either you already have in your room or that you might have available in your home that you can try out and test. And so, there's a few things that you can try that can make real significant improvements.

First, let's look at those front left and right speakers. Now, how close are they to the back wall? Are they closer than 4 inches, let's say from the back of the cabinet to the back of the wall? In that case, please, try pulling them out an inch or two. I'm not talking a ton.

I know a lot of people aesthetically don't want the speakers sitting out in the room and being so objectionable sitting out there, but try pulling them just a couple of inches further away from the back wall. And listen, listen before you do that, and after, and you'll probably notice a significant improvement in bass performance.

Similarly, if they're really, really close to the sidewalls of your room, try pulling them in just a little bit. Again, an inch or two can make a massive difference in bass performance and sometimes even imaging. In previous videos, I've talked about tow-in, that's how you angle the speakers in towards the listening position.

If you haven't tried that or played with that angle, do it now, check it out. Take the time to sit down and listen to some familiar music and try towing the speakers out or in if you've already got them angled, and see if you can get a better image focus, better definition. What's really good is something with a a solo vocalist that should be nicely centered in the mix and should be reasonable and realistic size as if it was a real person singing in front of you in your room.

Now, if you've got a home theater setup, one thing that many people don't realize is that the setup of the front three loudspeakers, ideally will be the same distance from your main listening position. What that means is that if you draw an arc from the front left to the center to the right main speaker, you should be along that arc, along that section of the circle.

What that means is that in distance terms, the distance from your center listening position to those three speakers should all be the same. And what that means is that the front left and right should be pulled slightly forward of the position of the center channel. So, try that if you haven't, it can give you a better, more seamless front soundstage in your home theater system.

Now, let's talk a minute about your seating. If you've got a sofa, is it right up against the back wall? In some cases, this is unavoidable, but if you have the opportunity to pull it forward half a foot or a foot from the rear wall so that there's a little bit of space between where you're sitting and the back wall.

That can really improve focus and definition of the system because you're now moving those reflections from your speaker output off the back wall to your ears, you're moving it further apart, and it can sound actually more open and more spacious just by moving your couch or your listening chair forward a foot or two.

Now, even if you're not bounded by the seating position is right up against the wall, try playing with it a little bit. If you're 8 feet from your speakers, try 7 feet, try 9 feet, move it a little bit, see what the bass does. Again, this is not costing you anything other than the effort of actually moving your furniture a little bit, and it's not a massive move just to listen, and see what the effect is.

All of these things are impacting the interaction of the loudspeaker and your listening position with the reflections in the room. So, small changes can make big differences.

Now, one final thing, if you've got hardwood or solid surface flooring in your main listening room or your home theater, and you don't have an area rug or any coverings on the floor at all, here's a real quick tip.

Take a carpet or rug, if you have an area rug available, and place it fairly close to the speakers centered between them, and listen again, I guarantee you that in most cases, getting rid of and damping that floor reflection from your main front speakers a little bit can lead to huge improvements.

Now, if you don't have an area rug or a small carpet hanging around, take a comforter off your bed, and try throwing it down in place of where you would have an area rug. Now, this is just a test, but listen before and after and see what happens.

The final thing, because we're talking about reflections is look at things that can interfere with the output from your front speakers between you and the listening position. Coffee tables try moving them if they're a hard surface like glass or wood, try moving it forward or back a few inches, you're modifying the reflection off of that surface between the speakers and yourself.

And again, it can make huge differences in the performance. It may seem silly, but all of these acoustic interactions play great importance on how good your system is going to sound. So, try some of those tips out if you've got time at home and you want to play around a little bit and see if you can make your existing system better.

It's not going to cost you anything, and it's easy to try. Let me know in the comments below whether or not you tried any of these things and if they made improvement or made things worse. Thanks a lot for watching.

Andrew Welker

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