Making speakers “disappear”…..

So I’m just setting up my new system and dial it in-

Benchmark AHB2

Benxhmark DAC 3

Totem1 speakers


all trial and error here but…..when you guys are dialing in speaker placement do you move them around, closer and further away until the sound doesn’t actually seem that it’s coming from the speakers? So far I’ve found that sitting in a “triangle” - equal distance from the listening position that the speakers are placed apart and so far so good - do you guys do this or have any tips for me on this?


So sounds like you’ve got a near-field setup that many people like because it largely removes the room from the equation.  I tend to like room reflections to add spaciousness to the sound, so I place the speakers about 5’ from the back wall and sit about 10’ from the speakers and toe them in so they fire just outside my shoulders.  Your Totems do a great disappearing act so keep experimenting to find what works best within your room and for your tastes.  The good news is, it’s free!

It sounds like you’re definitely going in the right direction.  Like football,speaker placement is a game of inches.  Or perhaps millimeters.  

Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule. Much depends on room geometry incl. height and damping. As a general rule on conventional speakers the time difference between direct sound and first reflection point has the most important impact on perceived spaciousness. That is why not moving speakers into corners and working with toe-in is important. Ideally the distance between back and sidewallls shouldn‘t be the same either; I suggest you get a speaker setup guide elaborationg on the 3/5th rule etc. There are numerous posts on speaker positioning on Agon.

Don't forget toe-in, which can not only affect imaging but widen the sweet spot. Some speakers sound better below the tweeter axis, and with little to no toe-in.

Getting your speakers to disappear is fundamental to good stereo sound and is relatively easy. Don't accept less. But, FWIW, that is only the starting point of good/great imaging to creating a 3d image which can be fun, addictive, and a lot of work if that type of sound would be important to you. A  triangle works works well but I always finding myself at slightly longer distance to the chair than between the speakers (i.e. mine speakers are (presently) 10 feet apart and 11 feet from my chair. 

Thanks guys, I will keep experimenting in the coming weeks. One thing I noticed when I got the speakers to disappear was the sound seemed to come from the amp etc straight in front of me….sounds crazy but I need to move that so there is nothing that distracts my perception.

Oh, one thing….because my room is only 8feet wide I have the speakers closer to the wall than I would like, or if I brought them in two feet each I’m only left with four feet between the speakers !

Anyway, I’ll keep playing around with the limitations I have.

The equilateral triangle should be considered a guide or a starting point. What works for some users in some rooms with some speakers may or may not work for you. The experimental process should be fun and not a chore. When you discover a placement you like, mark it with tape on the floor or document the dimensions and see if you can make any further improvements from small adjustments. If not, go back to your preferred positioning. The stereo image coming from your amp between the speakers is actually what you are striving for. If this bothers you, move the amp as you said or even better listen in the dark.

If possible, some treatment usually helps. At least first reflection areas on sidewalls 

Cheers iseland…..yes, I bought thick curtains for three walls, a pair per side so I can open to various degrees in the event of the curtains deadening the room too much. Still got work to do on room treatment/experimenting.


As @newbee suggested a little bit more distance to listening position might work better. I’ve read (and this works for me) the distance between tweeters is 1 and the distance from tweeters to ear is 1.2. Your room will be a big factor in final placement as noted above. If the amp is distracting you I recommend closing your eyes and dimming the lights when you listen. Then it’s just you and the music. 

As per Jim Smith, try to make the distance from Tweeter to Tweeter somewhere around 80-83% of the distance between each Tweeter and your ears when in your listening spot. Looks like a similar formula right above.

All good suggestions above.

Takes work and effort to get a system dialed in, but the results are worth it!

After all the hard work get the best sound by sitting in the sweet spot, not wearing glasses, and keeping eyes closed!

I would like to remind you that there is no EASY answer to this question and Much of any answer must include the design of the speaker. Your speakers design is a Major factor in what treatment is needed in your room. I was just discussing with a friend last evening how my own favorite design has the woofers up off of the floor quite a distance so that the emissions from the bottom of the speaker are not absorbed or reflected by the Floor/carpet. This would be opposed to manufacturers that put the woofer as close to the floor as possible for their own reasons. I am not discussing the validity of where speaker components as place but how it effects the reflective nature of the resultant sound.

Whatever your decision, I would pull in some HFTs from Synergistic Research. I've been playing with these the last several days and it changes the equation on what you can achieve and where you want to place your speakers.

One & Done:  Disconnect & move to another room. ;)

Sorry for the obvious pun...🤦‍♂️

@thomastrouble you started several posts with the same or overlapping questions within 36 hours and then you randomly follow up and respond to some suggestions. It’s not the first time I see this, but to me it seems counterproductive and redundant to say the least, I am confused about your intentions and how much value you will gain this way from all these well intentioned responses. It’s like a moving target.

I’m still somewhat new to hifi - about 18 months in - but here is what I did after a ton of reading and watching a few youtube vids. This was with my old speakers which were Sapphire M3s - my new to me speakers, Rivals went into similar place but were spread apart more with more toe in and a closer chair. I went from 78% with the M3s to about 91% with the Rivals:

1. I started with speakers and chair about 30% into the room with the speakers about 20%-ish in from the side walls and moved around from there.

2. As I moved the speakers around and chair back and forth, I made the priorites as follows: 1) each speaker the exact, or very, very close the same distance from each ear to each tweeter. 2) each speaker the same distance from each side wall, all measurements from the tweeter. 3) always making sure the chair was exaclty in the center of the room width-wise. I measured the chair and put a dot in the middle of it. 4) from what I’ve read, make sure the distance from the side walls is not the same as the distance to the front wall.

It took me about 12-15 hours over 4-5 weeks to get the M3 there but it was a Eureka moment. My wife was amused or thought I was (more) crazy. Of course you need a good recording. The immersion into the music was something I have never experienced before. I played Abby Rd, side 2 and it was emotional - not crying or sad but some kind of elation and stayed wtih me for a few days.

I had the same thing with DSofM, side 2 about a week ago with the Rivals. The Rivals were more difficult so I also did this which helped:

-disconnected the left speaker and then moved that 1 speaker, the right speaker around to where it sounded the best - mostly concentrating on the bass and then once set, worked on toe for mids and highs. That wasn’t too far off where I had them but was a few inches - toe was a bit further out. That was closer but still not quite there. I had a fantastic center image and imaging but the speakers were still there.

Then I "installed" the Townshend Podiums and they were gone. For me - it is a sound stage that is all around but mostly in front but can be to the sides. They are staying put there for a while. Maybe for a long time.

To "test it" I used this method - which is pretty freaky when you experience:


I have a small "L" shaped listening room; thus, I have a near field setup.  My room is 11'-5" wide; long wall is 28'-2"; short wall is 15'-7".  My speakers are 2'-5" from the side walls; 4'-0" from the front wall; 6'-10" apart; and toed-in about 3/4".  My listening position is 13'-5" from the front wall, i.e., 9'-5" from the speakers.

I spent a lot of time on Agon researching this topic and tried many different things trying to make my speakers disappear. I finally purchased Paul McGowan's Audiophile's Guide.  I found it both informative and very useful, and it helped me dial my system in.  By that I mean, depending on the music source and qualify of the recording, my speakers may or may not disappear; my soundstage may or may not be wider than my speakers; and I have not yet used any acoustic treatment on any wall. 

For the price of a book and suggestions found on Agon, and a lot of moving the speakers and sitting position, and adjusting the toe-in, most of the time my speakers do disappear.  I think the book helped the most.  I'm quite happy with my current setup.  

Hi guys, so many responses and I’m e trendelt grateful, so many responses on two other categories I can’t respond as I’m flying today - 30 hours with stop-overs but I will get to these in the coming weeks, just jumping on so you guys don’t think I’m ungrateful.

thanks to everybody so far !!!


Most folks know bookshelves pull off the "disappearing act" much easier than floor standers. When they don't it typically means there's something about the room setup (reflections and room modes) that's ruining the illusion.

Changing out any upstream gear (cables included) often requires a fresh examination of speaker placement. I just changed DAC's and that had me moving my speakers 5 inches closer to the rear wall and 6 inches closer to the side walls, with a tad less toe in.

Even with great room setup poor recordings will almost always tell you exactly where your speakers are. It's just something we sentimental people occasionally have to put up with.

Listener position is also a factor, which some forum members have already commented on. I have two positions that I like to bounce back and forth between. The first being the equilateral triangle, which gives me a smoother, more refined presentation. The second being the "89% setup" aka. nearfield. The "89% setup" gives me a more immersive and exciting experience. In my rig my speakers do a great job of disappearing at both listener positions, which should tell you listener position isn't the most critical factor, but nevertheless shouldn't be ignored.

So it's really an alchemy of these five factors (gear/recording quality/room treatment/listening position/speaker placement) that determine whether or not your speakers "disappear", and the only way to achieve this is to experiment. Rules of thumb are great, just don't fall into the trap of any one dogma. The best in the business have spent decades crafting their setup skills. The whole process of exploring what works and what doesn't isn't just about finding the sweet spot (for you), it helps train your ears.

Then there's the whole realm of psychoacoustics to explore, but that's another topic and deserves a good bottle of wine to go with it ; ) 

Happy listening!

Since you are playing around with set up and have endless option make sure you try the off axes corner set up. Almost every room at the audio shows us this method. It contributes to the soundstage and adds a 3d sound.

Don't forget toe-in, which can not only affect imaging but widen the sweet spot. Some speakers sound better below the tweeter axis, and with little to no toe-in.

For me, that vast majority of speakers I've had "disappear" better when I don't toe them in much - i.e. closer to angled straight ahead.   Toe in tends to bring in more image precision, but also tends to tighten up and squeeze the imaging and soundtaging.  Toeing back out loosens things up, expands the soundstage and imaging, and seems to free it more from the speaker.  Sort of like the difference a lot of people hear between a classic solid state amp (heavy toe in) and a classic tube amp (toe out).


Oh, one thing….because my room is only 8feet wide I have the speakers closer to the wall than I would like, or if I brought them in two feet each I’m only left with four feet between the speakers !

I have a 12' room and dipoles. Because of room configuration and because it is not a dedicated room, I have the speakers at 4' exactly between the centers (so 4' from both side walls) and 7' from the front wall. I sit at 10'. The imaging is very good (it extends a feet from the outer edges of the speakers) and the soundstage is huge. The speakers have acoustically disappeared. 

So, depending on how much reflections you get on the side, pulling them apart may have a more of a negative impact on the image and soundstage. 

^^^ P.S.: They are toed in at 13 degrees so the "beams" cross about 2' in front of the center seat. 

Right, I learned to set up LS3 5As back in 1979, the prototype for this sort of speaker. I was working for a HiFi shop in Miami, FL at the time.

As for speakers that can disappear you chose wisely, or just lucky? They need to be on stands with the tweeters at ear height. You want them just a little closer together than an equilateral triangle with your head. They need to be in a symmetrical environment. Three feet away or more from side walls and between two and three feet from the front wall. If one speaker is in a corner the other one has to be in a corner also. I would not want to see them more than eight feet apart. A 14 foot wall would be the max. I prefer corner placement. You will need to use some sound absorption on the side and front walls. 

You next mission should you choose to accept it will be subwoofers. You will need two, using a 2 way digital crossover with full bass management, crossing at 100 Hz. Why so high? To reduce distortion levels in that little woofer. In the process you will turn David into an absolute gorilla. 

I just set up this system for my son in law with Harbeth P3s. 


As per Jim Smith, try to make the distance from Tweeter to Tweeter somewhere around 80-83% of the distance between each Tweeter and your ears when in your listening spot. Looks like a similar formula right above.

Agreed. Jim’s 83% rule almost always works for me, and regardless, a great starting point.

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Takes a lot of time (unless you can get an assiatant) but it made a huge difference in my room. Lickily it's in my basement on a conctere floor, so I can mark the exact location and angle of each speaker and listening chair.


Good question. Good answers. FWIW I kinda get it about the direct sound and the first reflected wave. Probably took two months to make a set of spanky new Wharfdale Heritage Lintons disappear in a big asymmetrical 1924 bungalow bedroom, but it wasn’t horrible work, LOL

I did not initially see the post where you mention that the speakers are going on an 8 foot wall. You can place the Totems (on stands) 1 foot away from both the side and front walls but you will have to cover the side and front wall with acoustic tile from the corner to two feet in front of and to the side of the speakers, or three feet out from the corner. If you do not do this you will lose detail and your center image. On the bright side this placement will improve your bass. The other very important issue is that you want the listening position in the middle of the room, preferably the middle third but not dead center. You may also have to deaden the rear wall if the room is so small the latest reflections are still early. 

I find one really important issue is very accurate channel matching, and very similar overall response from each speaker at the listening position. This requires a high degree of room symmetry, at least at the speaker end of the room. Playing pink noise alternately through left and right speakers, the sound should seem identical. I can hardly ever get this to happen but fortunately it doesn't have to be perfect with real music to get a good soundstage. Distance to each ear is also very important.

 Getting the tone to a very fine and realistic balance also enhances the sense that the speakers cannot be the source of the sound.