Acoustics 101: Getting Your Speaker Placement Right

Professional black color music studio monitor. Close-up.

There’s a sad but evident truth to buying expensive, high-end monitors: they’ll only sound as good as your room. But for this article’s sake, let’s say you’ve already got your room sounding fantastic (for a full article on getting your room to sound great, click here). Now, all that’s left is the matter of how to position your speaker setup so that you achieve the best listening position possible. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Black audio speakers on the floor


Let’s assume that you own a pair of studio monitors and a pair of adjustable stands. The aim here is to create an equilateral triangle that is relatively equidistant between the three points (that being your 2 monitors and your seat).
You’ll want to position your monitors about a metre away from the back wall to avoid any low-frequency build-up and reflections. Some frequencies have the tendency to bounce back and forth when placed too close to a surrounding wall, and add artificial “peaks”. Other frequencies can “phase out”, creating a dip in your frequency spectrum and result in cancellations. You don’t want either of that, so be sure to leave sufficient space between the monitors and the brick.

Music production and recording studio: workstation keyboard midi controller and monitors.

Angle and Height

You’ll want your speakers positioned at roughly a 30-degree angle from the centre. Warning! You do not want to be up and close to the monitors. Position your desk and chair so that your listening position is roughly 3 to 5 feet from the monitors. This will help to reinforce that equilateral triangle you are aiming for. Once you’ve done that, sit down in your chair, have a look at the monitors and stretch both your arms out towards each monitor to gauge if they are both facing your left and right ears respectively.
Regarding height, you’ll want to aim for ear level. Be careful: if the monitors are placed too high, the top frequencies will fly over your head. It is up to you to decide whether you prefer the tweeters or the woofer at ear level. Both can yield good results depending on your room and monitors, so experiment with varying heights to find the sweet spot.

A modern music studio filled with mixing boards, the latest DAW technology and speakers

Listen, and adjust

Once you’ve found the ideal sweet spot, it’s time to do a few listening tests. For this exercise you’ll want to dig up the highest quality files of tracks you know inside out. Choosing a familiar track will help you immensely in determining if anything sounds “off” about your monitor placement. Listen out for any exaggerated or subdued bass response, as well as the clarity of the mids and shimmer of the highs. If you feel that the tune sounds too bass-heavy for example, try reposition your monitors so that they are a bit further from the back wall. Bring them closer to the wall if the opposite is true.

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