Listening Height Adjustment -- Is This Why Two People Don't Hear the Same?

Just wanted to pass on a recent experience, and surprise, in my system

My room ( is set up for one person to listen. I have a medium height arm chair at the listening position and had always assumed that it left me with my ears broadly in line with the tweeters in my Magicos (i.e. 42-43" off the ground)

Well I checked and I was actually at 38-40" depending on how upright I sit. Wondering how much of a difference getting it just so would make I purchased a set of add on feet, each 3.5-4" tall and added them to my chair -- not a good look!

But wow, what an improvement in sound. Tonally the speakers take on a very different balance, upper mid range and vocal intelligibility is substantially improved, bass is lighter but better defined and overall integration across the frequency range is much much better than before

The odd thing is that I don’t have the tweeters pointed directly at me -- they’re angled about 2’ off to either side, so what would a couple of inches in the vertical make such a difference assuming the tweeter drop off is uniform in all directions? Is it more a matter of driver integration?

This experience leads me to wonder
a) how many of us have actually measured and adjusted our set height to optimal/tweeter level, and do we do this every time we audition a new speaker, and
b) if two individuals are not the same height do we adjust for the difference in height between them sitting -- say a 5’6 vs 6’ person that’s probably a 3" difference sitting -- unless your chair has adjustable feet the experience of the two individuals may be completely different
Well this is why where practicable the best method, technique and protocol for evaluating components in a Music Reproduction System is to rely on headphones.
IMO great designers include measurement of ear height in the setup instructions....I use a Leica Disto
reference Vandersteen setup for the proper tilt based on distance to tweeter and ear height..

i setup quite a few other systems besides Vandersteens and rarely rarely does best sound happen with tweeters pointed at ears.....
and yes when Michael visited recently to listen to my Treo CT with his Line Magnetic amp, first thing I did was measure his ear height....
Agreed tweeter at ear height may not be how thespeaker was designed. It is for Magicos but my point is more about how accurately we make the listening height adjustment for each listener and chair

There is also a separate point about making sure that each speaker is perfectly aligned relative to each other and the listener, both angle and tilt. Here I find differences of a mm or less at the speaker are significant, like you I have a system of lasers and levels to enable this. 
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It's not so much the height but the relative angle... this means you can do this adjustment by tilting the speakers themselves if you can. :) 

Speakers do sound different on angle. Some makers specifically recommend you not toe the speakers in. This is often due to how the tweeter or mids perform. Some makers specifically design for the mids to be the central focus, you often see them with tweets physically UNDER the mid-woofer. Looks weird, sounds good. 

Also, as a speaker maker, though I have designed speakers for on-tweeter axis, sometimes they do sound better closer to the mid-woofer. 

What's important is your long-term listening pleasure, but use manufacturer's recommendations as guides. 
@folkfreak Good point and question. I’ve experimented by moving myself around (quite a bit) before picking a spot that works for me.

This has led me to move further back and sit in a higher chair. My speakers are elevated by approximately 2 inches (due to isolation), which in my case, and for my speakers and preferences, means an (ideal) ear to floor distance of 51 inches.

Since I have the Tekton Design SEs, that puts my ear at about 2 inches above the topmost ’tweeter’ in the tweeter array, and just below center of the topmost 'mid-range' driver.
@erik_squires surely tilting causes all sorts of other issues however by changing the relationship of the mid range and bass drivers to the floor -- it also doesn't help if you have more than one listener and need to adjust quickly between the two
surely tilting causes all sorts of other issues however by changing the relationship of the mid range and bass drivers to the floor

Less than you think. 

-- it also doesn't help if you have more than one listener and need to adjust quickly between the two

True, but this is why having speakers with smooth off-axis response matters. I mean, with two users, only one is exactly in the middle, right? Why isn't the same vertically?  :) 

Different speakers have different horizontal and vertical sweet spots. Hopefully yours are broad enough to accommodate. 
Nope with Magico Q3s the vertical sweet spot is +/- 1" or less, sucks but that's what it is. The horizontal sweet spot in my room is maybe 1-2" at most. Like I say in my room description it's a big pair of headphones
Quick add is that the third dimensional ie towards the speakers is not sensitive, in fact it acts more like a depth of image function, move towards the speaker and the parts of the mix that are forward come towards you (while everything else stays in place) , move back and the reverse. It’s a kind of uncanny effect but presumably a result of controlling the room well
"Is This Why Two People Don’t Hear the Same?"

- definitely could be a contributing factor but isn’t perception a highly individualized thing to begin with? Do we taste flavors the same? do smells evoke the same reactions in all humans? you get the point...just thought I’d throw that into the mix.
I rarely, if ever, sit in one spot while music is playing. However, over the years, I got to the conclusion that I should figure out if I like the sound of some system regardless of ideal conditions. In fact, even in another room. If I have to work too hard to figure the differences out, they are not worth thinking about for me. Before I get crucified for this kind of blasphemy, I do understand that some people enjoy sitting and distinguishing each and every nuance from the recording and I admire their dedication and patience.

Going back to the original post, yes, every detail counts. It is just question how much.
Tilting affects time alignment between drivers. Competent designers spend much effort to get this as close to perfect as possible, so definitely at least start with manufacturers set up recommendation. 

Not saying this this is the only way, but I start with placement to best result, then toe in to best result, then raise/lower my a@@ to adjust ear height to best result. 
Snap, folkfreak.

My room is something of a bear, with my normal listening position quite lacking in bass. But a few inches higher, and the bass is much improved.

When I first discovered this, my first thought was to angle the speakers as Eric suggested. No joy, scarcely any difference at all.

As soon as I finish my DIY turntable, I’m going to fool around with active cancellation. We’ll see how that goes - wish me luck!

Quad 2905's.
"Well this is why where practicable the best method, technique and protocol for evaluating components in a Music Reproduction System is to rely on headphones."

Well, its a bit difficult to evaluate/compare speakers using a headphone.
Ha-Ha.  This is pretty funny these days now that various speaker manufacturers have decided to make many speakers 6' tall.  I WONDER where they got that idea (Magnepan) and what influenced their driver placement (Magnepan) and why they work on "imaging" so hard (Magnepan)?

Yes, your ears need to be in the center of the Maggie panel when seated for "serious" or "fun" listening IF you want that specific experience.

I remember many customers who sat down in the shop once the music was playing and watched their eyes light up and smiles appear as they realized how wonderful the listening experience was, and those were the days of STEREO--2 channels only.  Enjoy!
I have suffered the limitations of a very narrow sweet spot using old Quad (57) for many years-- to the point where many people consider the speaker impractical. (I still love them and consider their midrange peerless). My horns have limited off-axis dispersion and also require some attention to listening position relative to the tweeters. I had them nailed in my old room, and when I moved, it took some positioning to get them right-- not only seat height but distance and their relationship with each other. As for torso length of the listener, I suppose a height adjustable chair would help and let the listener fiddle with to suit, but I often give over the sweet spot to the guest and sit behind, back rowing it. 
Surprised nobody has mentioned Jim Smith book......that and good setup instructions from manufacturers plus laser tools and a willingness to experiment/listen = joy
Tweeter height relative to ears certainly matters but just one of many tweakable factors that determines how things sound.
We’ve been all over this before. There are many reasons people don’t get the soundstage height or any other dimension the way the big boys do. For starters, the speakers are almost always too far apart. One big reason is everything’s all messed up is the speakers are too far apart and the middle is MIA. To compensate, people toe the speakers in, making things even worse. You have to start with the speakers close together and slowly move them apart until the sounstage suddenly appears, like a bolt out of the blue⚡️. The height specifically isn’t there because of two things mostly, acoustic anomalies and not enough vibration isolation.

Trial and error without a methodology is like trying to solve some simultaneous equations in too many unknowns.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I prefer speakers with a wide listening arc, or I guess off-axis listening.  Often times I have friends over and I like to share in the great tunes. Moreover, I do not like to pinned to a specific spot in the room.
The room matters greatly in this discussion. There will always be null and standing wave nodes that can vary greatly from one another, dependent of course on room dimensions and speaker placement. And why not? It’s simply a function of wave physics. Of course, we do our best with finding the overall optima, but it is always a compromise. A position that is ideal in one spot may be horrible two feet away. The key is to find the overall sweet spot in set up and room treatment while not driving yourself bonkers. At some point, one can overreach in the search for "perfection" and then the law of diminishing returns takes over. Whenever frustration enters the process, it’s time for a break and clearing of the head, and only then pick up where you left off with fresh ears.

Also, for low bass, two subs are much better than one.

And, this is why those vertical and horizontal response measurements, that John Atkins is fond of, are so informative relative to the OP’s topic.
Well this seems to have wondered off into a discussion about speaker placement in the room in general which is fine ...

The only point I was trying to make was to observe that, in my room, with my speakers, even when they are optimally positioned the listener themselves must also be located to within +/- 1-2" in the vertical and lateral dimensions, with the ability to adjust front-back to taste

My room is basically set up as a near field system, truly a large set of headphones. It's not big enough to even have a second chair so allowing for more than one listener was never even part of the design. I will in future however try to ensure that if I have visitors I make sure their ears get to the perfect level!
This is from a Michael Fremer review of the W/P 7.                                           "Wilson's excellent setup guide includes specific vertical angling requirements for the WATT, based on the height and distance from the speaker of the listener's ears. Wilson provides four sets of rear spikes for the Puppy so that you can adjust the system's height to ensure that the WATT's tweeter and midrange driver are at the correct height relative to your ears. Guesswork is eliminated: Plug in the numbers, and Wilson tells you which set of spikes to use".

It never stops to amaze, I go in a house with 30-40K invested in system and never a thought but to just flop onto their couch .
I'm always playing with acoustics, including listener height and position.Even just placing a small pillow behind my head alters the sound (focuses and brightens to some degree).

In fact I suspect that at least some of the "component break in" phenomena that audiophiles ascribe to gear changing is due to the very real sonic alterations that happen when we move even a bit.  If you are listening for differences, and your head is even a slightly different position, or even a bit more upright, or a bit more slumped etc, we could attribute the sound difference to the component changing it's sound rather than to the acoustics that are happening.  Just a hunch.
Ah but Mr @schubert if they had 10-20 times that invested in the system then you'd definitely sit up and pay attention!
You have a good point @prof, hence it's important to a) be aware of these differences and know when you're experiencing them and b) have a setup that allows you the listener to get to a consistent and repeatable position. 

Hence probably a fairly firm chair, reliably located and so on.

One of the ones that always gets me is glasses on vs glasses off, this is both some sort of acoustic interference effect and also the removal of a layer of visual processing allowing more focus on the sound
Folky. I pay attention to everything.Even the well known scientific fact that your eyes are part of the nuro chain that determines what you hear .Which varies from person to person .
I feel it depends,on the speaker size and type..i have never been the type to just sit down in front of the system and listen  ,unless if i was watching a,movie or rock concert.
The shape, position and degree to which a persons ear protrude from the cranium make huge differences as well.  Try pressing your ears back or forward when listening...the results are quite shocking!
you can fix anything with a fifth margarita.....
seriously vandersteen adjusts tilt using number of washers......
Many people have talked about using tilt to align the tweeters with the listener. Leaving aside room interaction my concern with this method is how do you ensure each speaker is tilted the same amount?

I make sure that each of my speakers is perfectly level to within a fraction of a degree (I use a very accurate, very heavy spirit level). Just as with laser aligning for toe in having completely equal level is essential to tip top information retrieval

if you are adjusting tilt on each speaker how can you be certain they are the same? Especially if your floor is not absolutely even. Maybe you level each speaker and then adjust tilt, but that assumes you have a vernier system or the like to ensure absolute consistency on each speaker
I have a much smaller system.  But, I adjust height, separation, and angel *very* precisely. I find setting the speakers even a quarter inch higher, or lower changes to tonal balance. Stereo is an illusion and requires exactness if a very realistic sound is desired.  Here is a picture of what I use to solve my speaker height problem. I used my old drum rack and modified it. here is what it looks like when the system is set up around it..
I have no idea what to suggest for a system of your size.... There are height adjustable office chairs you might want to look for.
@genez nice super near field setup, very neat and precise

I solved my problems by screwing some 4” risers into the legs of my listening chair, leaves my feet swinging like a child but sounds so much better!
Maybe make something into a semi footstool....  I think you'll feel better?
My speaker maker tells me Where the tweeter should be and I should be sitting at.  But he wants me 9.5 or ,10 feet from speakers.  He even gives me a tool 10 degrees toe in.  I looked  at your set up awhile back
 It's some very nice equipment. I would like to
Listen to Quads  right against the wall There  I listened to a pair set up like that ,,,,,amazing. 
Hi Folkfreak,

It saddens me a bit to see how much money and effort you have plunged into your system only to find out afterwards that one of the most important things for great sound quality (speaker placement) wasn't optimal in the first place.

As Tomic601 mentioned, I'm very surprised nobody mentioned Jim Smith's 'Get Better Sound'. It's by far the best $35.- you can spend on your system. I took one look at your system page and the first two things I noticed before anything else were that your speakers are too far apart and you're sitting too close to the wall behind you.

Your speakers too far apart means you're missing out on warmth and the soundstage won't be anywhere near as good as it can be.

Your head being too close to the wall behind you means you'll hear reflections from behind you mixed with the sound coming from your speakers resulting in who knows what but definitely not good things.

Folkfreak, you obviously spend a lot of effort to optimising your system but you're on the wrong path. I know this might sound arrogant but that's not how I mean this. I'm telling you this because I was there once. I had my speakers setup in the same and wrong position for 25 years! It was only once I read 'Get Better Sound' that I learned how to get the best out of my system. The difference wasn't subtle. I've since replaced my system for one costing ten times as much but the increased sound quality hasn't gone up ten fold. Twice as good maybe. But the sound quality increase I got from setting my system up right was at least 5 fold. Yes, it was THAT much better.

I sure hope you will find a way to get the best out of your system. After all, you've put the effort in so you should be rewarded.

Good luck,

BTW, to adjust and measure tilt, use something (anything solid will do) under the level on the low side and 'level' the speaker out. Do the same with the same thing in the same spot on the other speaker and you'll have the speakers perfectly tilted to the same angle. To change angles, just use something ticker/thinner or move the position of whatever it is you're using.
@pimbo you are more than welcome to come and listen to my system and you may be rather surprised that while it may break some commonly accepted “rules” of setup it does sound surprisingly good 😉

The post by @bdp24 in my system description is helpful in this regard, posting having heard the system in action

You might also want to consider how you come across in your first post in response to a well established member ... its more than a little arrogant of you to suggest I’m a newbie neophyte when it comes to setup. There’s absolutely nothing in “Get Better Sound” I haven’t tried, tested and rejected or adopted based on how it works in my room. If you’d bothered to read the thread and my full system description you would understand how meticulously I have done this, to make the system work in my room, for me. I’ve also benefited from the advice of Art Noxon in the core setup arrangement. It’s always amazing how people can diagnose acoustics based on pictures and specs, I wish I had that ability!

Oh and by the way using shims under Magico Q3s on Townshend Podia will actually cause them to fall over! Don’t try this at home!
Also you said

one of the most important things for great sound quality (speaker placement) wasn’t optimal in the first place.

The whole point of this thread is that the height of each listener’s ears needs to be optimized to the position of the speakers, and that differences in listener torso dimensions need to be taken into account.

My entire premise was that you’d optimized speaker placement in all other regards already, and my surprise was that a small change in this one dimension (vertical) had such effect, whereas front back was very different. Your paraphrase is a gross misrepresentation, or maybe I’m just a terrible communicator 🤔

And also one one thing you cannot tell from pictures is that the wall behind my head is both built from scratch as a semi absorbent surface and bass trap and then further treated with ASC and SR products, I’m more than aware of the impact of close in reflections, see my discussion of the use of GOBOs to treat reflections from the equipment alongside me. Like I said in my first post, this is not new to me and I’m fully aware of how to treat a room

{ The whole point of this thread is that the height of each listener’s ears needs to be optimized to the position of the speakers, and that differences in listener torso dimensions need to be taken into account}. Depends on radiation pattern of loudspeaker not all designs are so picky that a few inches means great sound or poor sound. I would add that if your loudspeaker is so susceptible to such sonic changes than its a inferior in design.
This is a major issue for me.  I dislike speakers where the sound is not as pleasing to listeners who are not in the sweet spot.  I've owned speakers which drop off sonically when standing (worst-Acoustat X, the coffin speaker).  My current speakers (Legacy Focus and Signature IIIs) have a small loss of highs when standing but appear to maintain their sound from 2' to 5' high in the vertical realm.  Guests and my wife say they enjoy the sound across a 10' wide span couch as well.  There are many speakers very highly regarded that have a limited height and width seating/listening area.  I would rather own my less than SOTA speakers than those SOTA limited height and or width listening area speakers.
I’d opine there’s a whole lot more to soundstage height than speaker placement and sitting height. There’s also vibration isolation of the source and the speakers, room acoustics (duh!) and the myriad other things audiophiles do to improve SQ. All dimensions need to come along together, not just height. Think of it as an expanding three dimensional sphere. Or four dimensions, if you prefer. In fact, there’s not enough time left to do everything you would like to an *educated* consumer. 😥

”No matter how much you have in the end you would have had even more if you started out with more.” - old audiophile axiom

The higher you fly
The deeper you go
The deeper you go
The higher you fly

Your inside is out
Your outside is in
Your outside is in
Your inside is out