Speaker positioning: why do audiophiles neglect this so much?

Went to a recent seminar featuring Jim Smith, well known author of the book  "Get Better Sound"  and hi fi set up guru.

The basic gist of the discussion was that the most important elements of a high end stereo installation are listening position and speaker positioning, in that order.  The actual hardware (speakers, amplifiers, source, cables etc) are of less importance relatively speaking.

Yet it is clear from this web site and it's contents, that set up is discussed much less than the actual hardware.

When I look at the Virtual Systems page on site, I'm estimating that, maybe, 10% of the systems posted are close to well set up.  Thus, hardly any of the featured hardware is performing close to it's maximum potential.

Shame, and why is it so?  Not sexy enough to talk about system set up in depth?  Lack of knowledge?  Or is it simply too hard to do and too complex a subject?

Just my 2 cents ...


“A good way to check for that is to listen to a mono recording, and mono recording will do.”… agree.  If you have a bluesound node, you can go into the settings and select mono signal.  

The system components give you potential, realising it is another matter. At least that’s been my experience. 

I’ve tried Sumiko Masterset for speaker placement but always get lost after the first speaker is set, nevertheless I did achieve its goal of a walk around stereo image the first time I used it so keep trying it when I have suitable speakers.

My current speakers are not suitable, they’re designed to go as close to the wall behind them as possible, which needs to be a solid one, 5.5cm seems to balance the bass about right and with the aid of some if Herbie's Gliders I can adjust them to the mm. Lateral placement seems to have a big impact on the sense if scale.

Current setup sees two adjacent chairs, as I don’t listen alone a lot of the time, a couple of m from the wall behind them. Speakers are against the front wall, there’s 1.2 and 1.5m to the side walls and a wall mounted TV between them. The system’s off to the side, and yes one of the racks is in a corner but this is mostly power supplies, the sensitive stuff is on the adjacent rack. The stereo image goes back into the wall, enough to give a pretty good impression of a symphony orchestra in there with the right recording but more importantly the music can swing and has a life to it that draws me in, It’s sounding the best it ever has.

And now I’m about to blow it by moving, and the house I’m moving to has dry lined walls throughout. I think I’ll need to change speakers but at least the living room, though asymmetrical, is a decent size so both speakers and listening chairs can be at least a metre from the nearest wall. I’ve a feeling this will take some sorting out.

Perfect speaker and listening position may not be inexpensive in the long run… it could end up costing half of everything you own plus alimony ;). Nearly all systems require some compromises to be made (budget, room size, placement limitations, home electrical system, etc etc etc)…we make those that we have to and do the best we can to work around them. 

My systems are definitely suboptimal, but I enjoy upgrading and trying new gear and seeing how things change/improve. Even if it could be “better” by eliminating the compromises I’ve agreed to live with, sometimes it’s just fun to get a new toy. 

Speakers produce sound wave by using electromagnetic field. Amplifier is used for increasing the intensity of sound. Sound signal travels form amplifier to speaker through wire an analog signal. Any resistance can damage sound quality. It is think that, sound wave make collision and sound wave quality is damaged. More explanation is in Headphonicity. 

You can read there for abidance for this.

I don’t think it’s so much “neglected” as it is “reasonably located” within what is, normally, a room used and shared by other members of a household.  Not many are lucky enough to have a dedicated listening room.  

Now take that small group lucky enough to have a listening room - the majority of them will be utilizing a smaller room or a weirdly shaped room that’s difficult to make into a nice listening environment.  Not many have the wherewithal to have the spacious listening rooms with the proper acoustic treatment that most on this forum fantasize about.  But folks are still proud of what they’ve accomplished (to their ears) in what they’ve got to work with and share via photos.  

And to them, it probably sounds really great!