Speaker positioning and installation
At Dynaudio we appreciate that speakers should fit with your environment and lifestyle, not the other way around, so our speakers make no unusual room positioning demands. Even so, every listening room has its own acoustic character and is uniquely furnished, so there are always choices to be made to help ensure that your speakers can give their best. Don’t be afraid to experiment with adjusting the speaker positioning, and listening carefully, until you have it just right to your ears.
Speaker stands or wall mounting
Dynaudio speakers designed to sit on speaker stands can often also be placed on shelves, wall brackets or furniture units. Speaker stands, however, are likely to provide both the best performance and enable the greatest flexibility in positioning. They will also place the speakers at the correct height – approximately head height when listening. If you’d rather install your speakers on shelves, brackets or furniture units there are a few things to consider:
- Installing speakers on shelves, wall brackets or furniture units will lessen your ability to adjust speaker positioning. Make sure to read the General Layout paragraphs before deciding on shelf or bracket locations.
- Installing speakers on shelves, wall brackets or furniture units will result in increased bass volume and potentially less focussed stereo images due to reflections from the nearby back wall.
- The height of your speakers is important. They should be positioned approximately at head height when listening. Both speakers of the pair should be mounted at the same height.
- Shelves, brackets and furniture units should be easily able to support the weight of the speakers and be both rigid and non-resonant. Shelves or brackets attached to stud-work and plasterboard walls are unlikely to provide adequate strength or rigidity. If you’re unsure of your wall’s suitability, or of your ability to install shelf or bracket hardware, check with a qualified professional.
- Furniture that incorporates large unsupported panels might not be suitable for speaker mounting as the vibrations from the speakers can cause sympathetic panel vibrations. Similarly, locating speakers within furniture alcoves can result in a resonant air volume around and behind the speaker that could colour the sound.
Using speaker stands
If your Dynaudio speakers are supplied with stands, or you intend to use alternative Dynaudio stands, please follow the assembly instructions supplied with them. If you have lost the instructions, you can download them free of charge from the support section of the Dynaudio website. Instructions for using the feet supplied with the stands are also available.
If you intend to user speaker stands from an alternative manufacturer, please follow the assembly instructions supplied with them.
We always recommend that speakers mounted on stands are restrained on the stand-top plate by rubber pads or similar adhesive materials. Speakers mounted on stands without top-plate restraint can fall and potentially cause injury.
General layout – stereo systems
In the majority of cases, stereo speakers should be between 2 m and 4 m (6 ft and 13 ft) apart. If the speakers are too close together, the stereo image will lack scale; if they’re too far apart, the image might have a weak central focus. The distance from the loudspeakers to the listening area should be similar to, or slightly more than, their distance apart. The closer the listening area is to the loudspeakers, the closer the speakers can be to each other. Paying attention to the stereo image will help dictate optimum speaker positioning. Diagram 1 illustrates basic speaker positioning.
General Layout – multi-channel systems
In home-cinema systems, the locations of the centre- and front-channel speakers are the most important. The location of surround-channel speakers is less critical. However, to experience a film soundtrack the way its sound designer intended, the surround-channel speakers should be positioned appropriately. Diagram 2 illustrates multi-channel speaker positioning.
The front-channel speakers in a home-cinema system should be located either side of the screen. The top of the speakers should be approximately level with, or slightly above, the screen’s horizontal centre-line, and each speaker should be between 15 cm (6 in) to 60 cm (2 ft) away from the screen’s sides. The surround-channel in home-cinema systems tends to stretch stereo images so the front-channel speakers can be located a little closer together than in traditional stereo systems. Front channel audio can also become ‘detached’ from the video if the speakers are too far apart. Diagram 2 illustrates multi-channel speaker positioning.
The centre-channel speaker in a multi-channel home-cinema system can be located either directly above or below the screen on its vertical centre line. If the screen is located relatively high on the wall, the centre-channel speaker should always be located beneath. Diagram 2 illustrates multi-channel speaker positioning.
Surround-channel speakers in a home cinema system are sometimes described as rear-channel speakers. In 5.1 systems (five speakers and one subwoofer), the surround-channel speakers should in fact be placed either side of the listening area, just above head height. In systems with more than two surround channels, the extra speakers go behind the listening position, so deserve the title ‘rear’. Diagram 2 illustrates multi-channel speaker positioning.
Speaker positioning – room effects
Every loudspeaker radiates sound energy not only forward but also to the side and, particularly at lower frequencies, to the rear. As a result, reflections from the room boundaries occur that interfere with the speaker’s forward radiation. When loudspeakers are positioned too close to room boundaries their performance is affected.
Even with your speakers placed away from room boundaries, the material and acoustic character of the boundaries will still have an effect on the sound. Try to ensure that immediate surroundings of each speaker have similar acoustic qualities. Different acoustic qualities would be heavy curtains and bare walls, for example. The sound of any speaker will also be influenced by the furniture and other large objects within the listening room, and the material of its construction and wall covering. For example, a large room with little furniture and hard wall surfaces will result in a bright, diffuse sound, while a room with carpet, curtains and soft furnishings will result in a more focussed and less lively sound.
Dynaudio speakers are designed to perform at their best when positioned as far from any walls as possible. Ideally, try to aim for a minimum distance of 50 cm (18 in) from each speaker to any wall. Diagram 3 illustrates room boundary distances.
Speaker positioning – using port plugs
If your Dynaudio speakers have reflex ports and are supplied with foam plugs, these can be fitted to reduce the bass emphasis that may be apparent if the speakers are placed close to room boundaries. Some Dynaudio port plugs can be split to provide optional levels of bass volume reduction. For mild bass reduction, fit only the outer foam ring by sliding it in the port tube so that it sits just inside the flared port exit – making sure it retains its shape to minimise airflow turbulence. For more extreme bass reduction, fit the complete plug so that the port is blocked. Diagram 4 illustrates the use of port plugs and their effect on speaker frequency response.
Speaker positioning – inward angle
There is no rule that speakers must be angled inward, but depending on the dimensions and acoustic character of your listening room, it could improve the stereo image focus. Experiment and trust your ears – you’ll definitely know when it sounds its best.
Speakers used for front channels in home-cinema systems are less likely to benefit from inward angling as the centre-channel speaker tends to control the central image. Diagram 5 illustrates inward angle.
Speaker and stand foot options
Dynaudio floor-standing speakers and Dynaudio floor-stands intended for stand-mount speakers are supplied with two foot options: floor spikes and rubber feet. Diagram 6 illustrates the use of floor spikes and rubber feet.
Spikes are designed for use on carpets and rugs. They pierce the carpet to rest on the floor surface beneath, providing the speaker or stand with a solid foundation. When using floor spikes ensure that the spike length extends enough that the bottom of the speaker or stand is well clear of the carpet.
Spikes can also be used on non-carpeted floors with metallic discs (such as coins) placed between the spike tips and the floor. In this case the length of spike extending beneath the speakers or stands should be minimised.
The rubber feet are for when speakers or stands are used on uncovered wooden or tile floors. Make sure the length of foot adjustment extending beneath the speakers or stands is minimised.
Spikes or rubber feet should be adjusted so that the speakers or stands are vertical and don’t rock.
Always take great care when installing floor spikes or when moving speakers or stands with floor spikes fitted.
Never tilt a speaker or stand with floor spikes or rubber feet fitted so that its entire weight rests on one or two spikes or feet.