Speaker Positioning

I know from speaker position is critical in achieving the best results from a given system. Is there a dynamic way to measure placement of each speaker to make certain they are the exact same distances from back/side wall, cabinets, seating, etc. beyond a measuring tape and listening to the results? Seems to me if minor differences pay large returns, you could be tinkering with this a long time.  Thanks for the indulgence.  
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Short answer: no. Long answer: Because no such thing can be made to work.  

Speaker placement involves a lot of compromises that only you the listener can make. No dynamic AI or whatever is ever going to know exactly what you like. So sorry, but no way of getting around it, you're just going to have to work through it like everyone else.  

The most efficient setup technique I know is the one I have used for like 30+ years. First move the speakers around and listen from different places, listening only for tone and frequency response. Try and find the most even frequency response. If using subs (highly recommended) then forget low bass and pay attention only to the lower midrange on up. Don't spend a lot of time fussing with precision, doesn't hardly matter if the speakers are pointed perfectly or equidistant at all, you're not listening for that, only frequency response. Be sure to move the listening chair around because where you sit has as much effect as where the speakers sit.

Now with the speakers and chair pretty much where you want them take out that tape measure and make sure they are absolutely perfectly equidistant and toed exactly the same. Listen for imaging solidity and stage width and depth. Next toe the speakers in just slightly more. Then toe them out just slightly more. Notice when toed in more the image is more solid, and the sage deep. Toed out the stage is a bit wider and not quite as deep or solid. There is no right or wrong. Its what you like.

When you get what you like you are done. No stupid software. No dopey hardware. Just you, your brain, and your ears. You can be done in an hour. Or devote your life to it. Spoiler alert: devote your life to it and some day you find it doesn't even take an hour.
Dynamic meaning changing / constantly changing? You could put the speakers on wheels until you get it into the exact position you want, and then either lock the wheels or replace them with spikes in hopes you don't move the speaker too much during the replacement process. Using a laser measure would be more convenient and probably more accurate than using a tape measure.
My oppinion on this is to get it close but don’t loose sleep over 1/8 of an inch.  I also think that sometimes its better to not have them at the same exact distancE from the walls because of frequencies cancelling each other out.  Also, your room is probably not perfectly square.  I like to do what MC says but then use a string japed to where your head is then pull the string tight to one tweeter.  Hold that position on the string now walk over to the other speaker and make it the same distance.  
Distance to speakers and equal angles to the speakers is more important than equal distance to walls.

Shoot, speakers are going to have sliggt differences between the drivers and crossover components.

I’ve been using Sonarworks reference 4 correction software and my speakers measured slightly different between the 2 channels.  I was within + or - 3 db the whole range but with correction on, the image is perfectly centered and the frequency is flatter.  Im not certain the cost sonically speaking though of using this program.  A bit too early to tell if its something I will use all the time, part of the time or none.
Thanks gents.   By “dynamic” I was referring to physical location determined by more than just a tape measure,  Sonic measurements are of little value IMO unless you know the corresponding measurements for your left/right ear.  Once again and as anticipated, the ears have it!
I do appreciate everyone’s responses. 
I found a tape measure easiest to measure against room boundaries while making REW measurements at 4" intervals. When I was done with REW, I used a laser against a paper target at the listening position to mirror the speakers' distance to the listening position, and toe-in.
Well when you get to end of the setup, what else matters.. Still have to listen.

I understand difference in ear balance vs measured balance, vs SPL balance  (left and right speaker matching). It does vary quite a bit actually.
Depends on who made the stuff or if they even care..

ROOMS forget about it... no two are the same.. Anything goes..

To thine own room be true.....Know your room....:-)

Bosch laser measure, inexpensive model.  You can check the exact distance between you and the two speakers, and you don't need someone to hold the other end of the tape measure.
@twoleftears , +1 
A laser measure will be the most accurate.

There are other measurements that can be considered. Sound pressure level, frequency response are just two.
If you are serious, why not contact a high end dealer to assess your system?
I bet you'll learn a few things just watching.
Start with a laser to (+1 on Bosch) to get each within an inch of each appropriate ear. Then fine tune (especially toe in) according to soundstage. If the wall placements are equal move one until it sounds best and match the other first. If not good luck.
Measurement and dynamic are oxymoronic.
check out the book “Get better Sound” or Wilson’s Audio Setup procedure in YouTube
I have a pair of speakers, this is the directions for speaker placement of the tweeter AFTER the toe is set. Take a laser pointer. Make sure it has a flat base. Take the flat base and put it on the face of the tweeter screen face (it's a ribbon). Set the tweeter at 6" or so over the head at the seated position, and tighten the adj screws..FST Free Swinging Tweeter.

Great idea, WORST place on the planet to mount it.. I'm fixing it.. :-)

The placement of every driver in every direction is EVERYTHING.

Man oh man is that hard...

Check out what the experts say on speaker positioning to save you a lot of time to get the initial position before making the more precise movements. Check out the following sites: Cardas, jim smith, ps audio and others. There are formulas to use based upon wall width and ceiling height for example. I use the 1/3 formula (sometimes the 1/5 rule) where you divide up the length of the room into 1/3rd and you place your speakers 1/3 the room length from the back wall, then use Cardas formula for the distanc from the side wall and jim smith’s rule on placing the listening chair from the speakers. Then you start fine tuning. 
If you go to the Cardas site it will show you the Golden rule how to set up speakers that will work in any room. If you use the formula it will give you the exact spot from the back wall and the side walls where to put the speaker and I've used it and boy to my speaker sound great now.
Exact measurements become irrelevant when you don't have a bilaterally symetrical room. My system is in a 'sunken' living room. Right side has a large window behind the speaker, and a very large picture window to the right along the wall. Left speaker has an opening, some day a window, otherwise a long drywall surface. So not equivalent. The room opens to a dining room, staircase, etc., so no reflections to deal with. But speaker placement has to be done using the ears, not a tape measure, at least in this case. 
I found much better sound as I inched both speakers away from both the back wall and the sides... Just trust your ears!
Exact measurements become irrelevant when you don't have a bilaterally symetrical room.
What? Since when? Exact measurements become irrelevant when you are deaf in one ear. As long as you have two working ears its the distance between them and the speakers that determines imaging. That's why we have two ears. Two eyes, depth perception. Two ears, localization. If you can't localize the predator then guess what? Hey, you! Out of the gene pool!
Yuk-O Gene pool! No swimming for me... :-)


Only one mouth... Yet what gets used the most?

Don’t seem proportionate. Does it?

Rooms suck!!! Plane and simple.


2 posts
11-14-2020 7:38pm
Exact measurements become irrelevant when you don't have a bilaterally symetrical room. My system is in a 'sunken' living room.


Well there you have it.. you ever wonder why a prairie dog has a "mound", and conductor is in a "Pit"?

One wants to see and not be heard, the other wants to hear but not be seen. A simple turn of the head, in either case, gives the results they want...Are you in a PIT, or on a MOUND? Do you want to see or hear?

Just a question? Yea placement is everything... Not an average, as you infer...

Think on that one for a while... good, Better. BEST... ay..

If you follow the Cardas formula, you may wind up with speakers way out near the middle of the room. Maybe not too practical if it isn't a dedicated listening room.

Another method seems to work well for me.  I've seen it called the "Allison Rule":
"The Allison rule basically states that the distances from the woofer to the floor, woofer to the side wall, and woofer to the back wall should be as different as possible. To accomplish this, one would apply the following equation: Middle distance squared = shortest distance multiplied by longest distance."
(Don't know where I found this, maybe in an Audiogon discussion)

Once the speaker positioning is done, place the listening chair to form an equilateral triangle. Tweak to taste.

This method is flexible because it allows you to swap which ones are the short and the long distances.  For the woofer to side wall measurement, you might try starting with the Rule of Thirds. But even if you move the speakers farther apart than the RoT dictates, you still can apply the Allison Rule.
Dynaudio's website has some information on speaker setup. It involves the 1/5 concept. The center axis of the front plane of the speaker should be 1/5 the distance off the back wall of the depth of the room and 1/5 the distance off the side walls of the width of the room. If there is a wall behind your listening position, then that position should also be 1/5 the distance off the wall for the depth of the room. This concept should get you out of any standing waves and put you in the ball park of the sweet spot. Of course you still have to listen and adjust to make it sound best for YOU.

Happy Listening
Well, yes and no.  Some here say it is not possible, but set up 50+ pair of Magneplaners in every possible customer room you can think of and you learn a few things.

With Maggies, placement is EVERYTHING!  So, you learn by trial and error and experience where they need to be and even, in some rooms, how there is no place where they will be at their optimal placement.

Keep trying until you get the sound as close to what you heard at the concert hall in your room. For Maggies, this typically involves making some changes to the surfaces in the room--adding traps, changing curtains, etc.  Depends upon what you will "settle" for, I guess.  

I have been lucky enough to have had customers with excellent rooms who purchased the right hardware to bring Maggies to their finest possible sound, which, if you ever have a chance to hear, is so awesome you will swear off box speakers forever.  It ain't cheap, and it ain't especially easy however!

With boxes, just keep moving them around.  Do you have the newer "tall" boxes? (Gee, wonder where they got THAT idea??)  If so, you have a shot at getting it right as far as they go, anyway.

Best of luck, and Cheers!

millercarbon6,538 posts11-15-2020 3:30am
Exact measurements become irrelevant when you don't have a bilaterally symetrical room.
What? Since when? Exact measurements become irrelevant when you are deaf in one ear. As long as you have two working ears its the distance between them and the speakers that determines imaging. That's why we have two ears. Two eyes, depth perception. Two ears, localization. If you can't localize the predator then guess what? Hey, you! Out of the gene pool!

Localization occurs both from timing, relative volume, and spectral content which is related to timing and volume.  In the present embodiment of stereo with loudspeakers, timing information is often not well communicated due to lack of shading of the ear from the opposite speaker.

Then we get into the recording, which assuming a stereo recording, may contain only level differences, or level and timing differences depending on the microphone arrangement.  Of course, often what we are listening to was recorded monaural and then placed stereo during processing.

So yes, that poster was mostly right in saying that exact measurement becomes irrelevant when you don't have a symmetrical room. You can't address timing and ignore volume or vice versa.
Most of these 1/3 rules, 1/5 rules, etc. are nothing more than avoidance of room nodes.  It's 2020, we don't have to use simple rules any more.  They don't account well for room size, aesthetics, etc.   When you have simple online tools like amroc, it does not make sense to use "rules" or rudimentary calculators.


I would suggest taking into account the frequency response of your mains and where they are placed.

@sj00884, what you are asking is possible, you can get that from impulse responses with reflections.
Here is the Cardas calculator that’s mentioned.

Not ideal for a living space since you will be placing speakers out in the room. Naturally, your ears will tell you what sounds best, but it does give you a good starting point. Getting speakers 4-6’ out allows your speaker to sound its best.

The laser exact measurement doesn't mean anything for some industry vets who go by ear, and will have speakers positioned uneven due to gear channel imbalance. Setting them up like focusing  binoculars to "lock" a balanced sound can leave one speaker pushed forward of the other. Looks odd, but if you're going for sound, that's what it takes. I've participated in moving speakers/subs and heard the results.

My personal system/ears follow the Cardas guide.
So lots of potential solutions and even more information to fiddle with.   Anticipate a relo further form the back wall, may not be able to accommodate side wall optimization but it seems like always from walls is a constant.  
The sweet spot/toe in variable seems to lend itself to almost as much debate; do you adjust sweetness to a single location, or do you compromise to expand the geography? Another personal preference no doubt.

thanks again to everyone who took the time.
Other than following advice on how not to blow something up or catch fire, I take everything put it in a jar and shake well. Dump the mess on the floor and take a little from here, a pinch there, then let your ears decide.

LOL T-Jockey! That is exactly what I am doing, somewhere between 1/8-1/5, tweeter height, etc. etc. etc.  all great free things to try!

I did purchase the cheap Bosch laser rangefinder.  If only I could find a good used mass spectrometer. 8)
^^^What tablejockey said!

I use a variation of the Vandersteen method and Cardas.  Then adjust according to your tastes/preference.
I tried the Cardas formula and it seemed to work fine. I’m always trying any formula I can. The one that worked the best for me, ironically, was a formula on YouTube (can’t remember the source) for quick decent sound for most rectangular rooms with speakers against the short walls. I thought...what the heck and it yielded a better result. It was suggested that it’s only a starting point and to tweak from there.

It’s 1/5 width of room to the tweeter from the side walls.

And 1/5 depth of room to the tweeter from the backwall.

Next, experiment with seated position and speaker toe-in.

Best result I’ve had is nothing between the speakers. I moved my rack to the side wall.
This helped imaging immensely. It is said that a lot of the imaging/soundstage is killed by stuff between the speakers.

It sounded much better than the sound room at Upscale Audio. This room (no longer in that house) crushed most tailored sound rooms I’ve experienced. It also had an acoustic ceiling made from concrete (no asbestos) and wood floors. One wall was heavy stone so I attached high relief wood carvings (and cuckoo clock) all along the opposite wall to mirror the stone wall as much as possible.

I miss that room.


My experience is that no room is symmetrical; the room is challenged such that one speaker has to be closer to its side wall than the other speaker is to the other sidewall.

I used to fight with trying to get the bass to sound" right" versus one speaker sounding louder than the other speaker AND the central image not being where it was supposed to be.

For me, the solution is to get the bass right, and, then, use the measuring tape to ensure the tweeters are equal distance from my ears at the seating position. 

Center image becomes focused.

The problem, then, becomes adjusting the speaker position from the front wall to improve the soundstage without losing bass. It's a trade off.

If the speaker is not too large for the room, you should achieve some amount of the desired disappearing act. 

Again, my experience, FWIW.

Thanks for listening,

The sweet spot/toe in variable seems to lend itself to almost as much debate; do you adjust sweetness to a single location, or do you compromise to expand the geography? Another personal preference no doubt.

Right. Most speakers will image best pointed almost straight at you. But imaging isn't everything, there's balance and space and width, and no right answers only your personal preference. 

My personal preference is of course amazingly fantastic, but even I cannot tell you how to achieve it via remote control. However wonderfully worded the advice may be it all comes down to you.

I would place a definite marker or marker to initialise  the base of of your speakers.
them move them incrementally to a preferred toe in (a narrower soundstage) or toe our out for a wider but weaker soundstage. (Depending on your productive system .
Your room is something you will need to sort out
However let’s not get lost

Depending on your “seat”, or at the various hearts or “stages you’ll are going with the living room and other most important rooms.

what I am trying to say, move
your speakers until they are right for you.

All the very best
Adrian 🇦🇺

...then there’s the room.

Speaker position without understanding the qualities of the room or even the equipment rack position is like dealing with 1/3 the problem.

I have moved across the country many times for work...rooms have their own power. Acoustic ceilings can be amazing. Such a
shame they when out of style.
I've always found the Odd Dimensions Placement, advocated by Richard Vandersteen, to work well in every application. In my current listening space, the speakers are located 1/3 of the room width from the side walls and 1/5 of the room length from the front of the speakers to the front wall. Toe-in axes intersect approximately 4-5 feet behind listening position. Acoustical panels on wall behind listening position was money well spent.

Read jim smith’s book on getting better sound. He describes when it’s appropriate to use certain setups even when setting up diagonally in a corner. Most formulas only involve where to place the speakers whereas jim has a formula for the listening chair(s) which is just as important as positioning the speakers. Your better speakers also have time alignment formulas.

When you go to a musical event, you may sit toward the front, back, sides......people may be shuffeling programs, coughing, moving about. I use the classic T , a Bosch laser, and a/v receiver room correction followed by some manual alteration. My ral thought though is dont obsess too much and enjoy the music.
millercarbon is right, but for kicks and giggles. I want to add:  Not all rooms are symmetric in design or furnishings.  A little compensation can be added, for example, for a big Sofa on one side of the room, a large mirror or door, etc.  Listen!
The Wilson set up method (referred to in a previous response) is very good - we did mine using a laser range finder to arrange equal angles to each speaker and then calibrate the cant angle of the upper module (mid/highs) which is finely adjustable with my Wilsons. After all that I intentionally moved my listening chair around (after marking the original position) and wa interested to find that yes, as little as 6" shift was easily detectable by ear.

The Wilson method presupposes that having the speakers angled so as to point right at you is the way to go (I have no doubt that it is, for the Wilsons) but some speakers I have owned worked best pointing along the long room axis rather than at the listener, so preliminary experimentation by ear is called for if your speaker manufacturer gives you no guidelines.
RE: Speaker Positioning:

Hi - Speaker positioning is critical to achieving the best sound possible. Actually, there is such an instrument that can tell you if your speakers are placed correctly and/or in the best space possible. It's called your ears. And if you cannot tell the difference, have an audiophile buddy come over to give you a hand (and an ear!).  
I agree with the statement above. You used your ears to select the type of speakers you purchased, why stop there. Just take your time positioning your speakers for the best possible sound, patience will have its rewards.
A tip if you have a symmetric room and are trying to get the speakers in the same spot with same toe-in.  Cut 3 boards or dowels.  On that is the distance from the front wall to the rear corner of the speaker.  One that is the distance from the side wall to the rear spike and one that is the distance from the side wall to the front spike.  You can then use these three to set the other speaker in the exact position relative to the front and side wall and the toe-in will be the exact same.  Again, this is only relevant if you have a symmetric room.
Is speaker placement not also dependent on the type of speaker? I've had dynamic, electrostats, and currently horns and each required significantly different positions and room treatments to get the "best" sound. 
There is no perfect way. Put in a position where they sing to you. At that point you can add room treatments. If you feel you need a lot of room treatment you might have the wrong speakers or preamp or Amp.