Thursday, January 31, 2008

Speaker Placement

Alright, by now we've probably seen the prices of good quality studio monitors. You may very well be asking: "Why are they so expensive?". To which your smart arse friend probably answers: "Because they are good quality." They are good quality because they have a flatter response than normal speakers, i.e. they output roughly the same power over all the frequencies in the audible spectrum. The more you pay, the flatter the response.

This, however, is not my point... my point is that if you spend all this money and set them up like an idiot, than its a waste. This is because the way they are set up in a room affects the frequency response. Below is a figure showing the correct method for setting up monitors.

In the figure, you are the ugly red thing and the grey squares are your monitors. The room is represented by the outer square. Firstly,you must be the same distance away from each of your speakers as they are from themselves (this is represented by distance X in the figure). Secondly, your speakers must be placed an equal distance from each wall (distance L in the figure). You can choose any distance you like to represent X and L.

Other posts you might find interesting:
Sound Proofing and Room Acoustic Basics
Tips for Recording Drums
Free Drum Lessons
How to Capture Audio from Video
Beginner's Guide to Ubuntu Recording


Topher said...

In my (very limited) experience, you can't always choose any value you like for the X-distance. Some monitors are designed for near-field and should be placed about 1 metre from each of your ears, where others have a sweet spot that's a bit further out. But I'd think that if that is the case, they would probably mention that kind of thing in the manual.

Brian said...

Fair enough, thanks for that. In that case, what I mean is that if the sweet spot is 1 m from your ear, than each speaker must be 1 m apart... thats all. The reason for the symmetry is merely a case of phase cancellation.

Jamie Jessup said...

Good Call,

Just got me some monitors as a high school grad present to myself. Not to mention a saffire pro with started smoking on initial startup, buts thats anther story. Going into electrical engineering school, I'll have to have something to keep me sane :P. But my room setup has certainly changed. I notice a small difference, however my "music room" is really small since bass response is pretty sparse. So I'm thinking a bigger room would better influence the results. But in any case my ears with limited experience do notice a sound that's distributed across the spectrum much better, as well as being able to hear each instrument much more clearly.

Brian said...

Hey Jamie,

Thanks again for this great feedback. I'm glad that this technique has helped you. There are methods for getting the best sound out of your room by placing certain objects and materials in various places around your room. I also plan to write a post on this because it is a very broad topic. Hopefully, with a bit of know-how, you will be able to pimp the sound in your room without having to buy a mansion.


P.S. Best of luck with Electrical Engineering - it is an extremely tough course but well worth the blood, sweat, tears, grey hair, baldness, wrinkles, depression, lack-of-social-life,...:)