The Stereo Triangle: Optimisation of Set-Up With Loudspeakers

The sound quality of your stereo reproduction will be positively influenced by the correct positioning of the speakers and the appropriate listening position. The sound image appears more balanced and natural and creates an authentic music experience for the listener. In the following, we explain what the stereo stage is all about.

Trouble Shooting

In the best case a stage is created by the distribution of the sound in the room before the eyes of the listener. The sound of the loudspeakers can usually be used to find out what could be improved in the setup:

  • A diffuse sound speaks for loudspeakers that are too far apart or too much reverberation.
  • If the stereo effect is too low, the speakers are too close together.
  • Too much bass indicates that there is not enough space to the side or rear walls. The listening position could also be too close to the wall.
  • Too little bass, on the other hand, can be due to incorrect polarity reversal of the cable connections. If this is not the case, the seating position should also be changed.
  • A reverberation problem manifests itself in a sound image that is blurred or has little detail. A carpet or curtains can help.

A big difference in the sound quality is mainly achieved by the positioning of the speakers and the listening position, which we would like to discuss in more detail below. In order to be able to optimally reproduce the spatial sound impression, usually only a few steps are necessary: The speaker, wall and listening distances should be optimized and the loudspeakers fine-tuned.

Structure Of A Stereo Triangle

The symmetry between loudspeakers and listening position plays a decisive role in the optimal stereo stage. The fastest way to achieve this is to arrange the speakers and the listening position in an isosceles triangle. This means that the distance between the speakers is at best identical to the distance between listener and speaker. If this is not the case, the sound will be shifted in time between the right and left ear when the music is played: depending on which side it strikes first, it will be classified acoustically, which falsifies the balance of the recording. The spatial perception that arises in the brain when the tones on the right and left arrive simultaneously at our ears shifts. Therefore, symmetrical alignment means that the sound from the right and left loudspeakers needs the same time to arrive at the ear of the listener.

If the distance between the speakers is less than the listening distance, the mid-range location and focus of the presentation often improve, but the stereo image suffers, making the sound less wide and unnatural. If the distance between the speakers is again greater than the listening distance, the music may sound diffuse. So you can only try and test how and where the speakers sound best.

The listening distance should, of course, also be in proportion to the size of the loudspeakers, as its respective dispersion behaviour indicates the optimum distance: If a small speaker has too much listening distance, the sound of the room will dominate.

By the way: If the spatial conditions do not allow for isosceles alignment, some active loudspeakers can be run at times via software, frequency adjustments or height increases or decreases, which can compensate for uneven alignment. Read more in this article on active and passive speakers.

Acoustically Symmetrical Room Conditions

The minimisation of sound reflections from the side or rear walls must also be taken into account during installation. To avoid, for example, overemphasis in the bass range or excessive side reflections, loudspeakers are ideally positioned so that they are at a distance from the side-walls and the rear wall. The freer a speaker is positioned in the room, the less sound changes occur due to reflections. This is often not possible for spatial reasons. However, you should at least try to maintain symmetrical distances in this case and, if necessary, ensure that the walls have similar reflective properties, for example by hanging one of the walls with a curtain. It can also be helpful to turn the speakers to the listening position.

Der Schall tritt direkt bzw. via Wandreflektionen auf den Hörer

In this article we have compiled an overview of room acoustics for you. If you have any further questions about the optimal placement of your loudspeakers, we will be happy to help you. Just get in touch with us!

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