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How To Place Your Hi-Fi Speakers: A Step-by-Step Guide

So, you bought some new high-quality speakers. They sound great, but you can’t help but wonder if they could sound even better if you placed them correctly. Where should you put Hi-Fi speakers so that you can make the most of them?

Here’s how you should place your Hi-Fi speakers:

  1. Determine your seating area.
  2. Place the speakers approximately where you want them.
  3. Adjust the speaker’s height to be in line with your head.
  4. Move the speakers away from all walls and corners.
  5. Adjust the distance between the speakers.
  6. Angle the speakers to get the best possible sound.
  7. Place the subwoofer.
  8. Remove any objects between the speakers and you.
  9. Place the rear speakers (for surround sound systems).
  10. Place the side speakers (for surround sound systems).
  11. Place the center speaker (for surround sound systems).
  12. (Optional) Do some acoustic treatment using foam panels.

Who would’ve guessed that positioning your Hi-Fi speakers could get so complex? Don’t worry – this article will walk you through the whole process, no matter how many Hi-Fi speakers you have. I’ll also answer a few questions that arise throughout the process.

Hi-Fi speaker placement next to TV

Where Do You Put Hi-Fi Speakers?

Place your Hi-Fi speakers on both sides and in the front of the seating area so that they (along with you) form a triangle. Angle the speakers so the sound coming from the speakers is directed slightly behind your head. Move them away from walls and corners, and keep them in line with your ears.

If you do all of this correctly, you’ll get a phenomenal listening experience.

Most speakers spread the sound quite a bit, but the sound is still somewhat directional. It’s best to orient the speakers to face slightly behind you.

Finding the perfect speaker placement isn’t easy to explain in just a few sentences. 

There are some factors I didn’t mention, such as how far apart the speakers should be or where you should be sitting.

If you’re wondering how these factors affect speaker placement, keep reading.

How Far Apart Should Hi-Fi Speakers Be?

In general, your Hi-Fi speakers should be placed 4-10 ft (1.21-3.04 m) apart from each other. However, this depends on how large and loud your speakers are, though. It’s best to test it yourself until you achieve the perfect sound.

You’re probably wondering what you should look for when placing the speakers away from one another.

Assuming the speakers are in line with your ears and angled correctly, placing them isn’t too difficult.

Start by placing them as far apart as you can.

Next, slowly bring them closer together until you hear the vocals loud and clear.

If the speakers are too far away, you lose a lot of the mids. 

Mids, also known as the mid-frequency, are between 200 and 2,000 Hz. In simpler terms, those are all vocals, pianos, most wind instruments, and a large chunk of an acoustic and electric guitar.

My advice is to find your favorite song, first which also has good vocals. You’ve heard it thousands of times, so you’ll know when it sounds “exactly right.”

Another rule of thumb is to keep the speakers quite far away from one another. This gives you a wider soundstage that makes you feel as if you were at a concert.

At the same time, you don’t want to lose any clarity and detail in vocals. That’s why you have to experiment to find the sweet spot. For most speakers, that’s between 4 and 10 feet (1.21-3.04 meters). That said, smaller speakers can get even closer, while larger speakers can be placed farther apart.

How To Place Your Hi-Fi Speakers

I’ve already explained how far the speakers should be, and that rule of thumb stays true no matter how many speakers you add.

So, let’s now switch our focus to positioning your Hi-Fi speakers one by one. Here’s how you do it, step-by-step.

1. Determine Your Seating Area

There are a lot of factors that determine where your speakers should be, including things like room size, height, and shape matter a lot.

However, the most important one by far is your seating area.

Not everyone has the luxury of moving their furniture around the room just for acoustics. That said, at the very least, you should try to position your sofa or couch in the center of your room. It’ll give you the best viewing and listening experience.

If you connect your hi-fi speakers to your TV to enhance the movie experience, the distance from the screen and speakers has more to do with your screen size than speakers.

You can follow this rule:

Screen size × 2 = Viewing distance.

Thus, if you have a 65 inch (5.41 ft) TV, the viewing distance will be 130 inches (10.83 ft or 3.30 m).

This is a very good rule to follow when determining the distance for your speakers as well. If you have limited room space and want a surround sound home theater, you can put the couch dead center in the room.

Also Read: How To Set Up a Home Theater Surround Sound System

2. Place the Speakers Approximately Where You Want Them

As mentioned earlier, your speakers should be placed 4-10 ft (1.21-3.04 m) apart. You should follow this rule to place your speakers roughly where you’d want them.

Again, this has more to do with your furniture and other stuff in the room than anything else.

Ideally, you’d do the sound test I mentioned above first so you can determine the distance between the speakers. However, you can do that only if you have the liberty of putting the speakers exactly where you want, and most people don’t.

But don’t worry too much about this. We’ll adjust the distance between speakers again later.

Simply put all your front, rear, and side speakers roughly where you’d want them to be. Make sure to keep everything symmetrical on all sides.

3. Adjust the Speaker’s Height To Be in Line With Your Head

While it isn’t a huge deal if you can’t do it, it is best to put the speakers parallel to your ears.

Again, however, this is much easier said than done. Your furniture will be the determining factor when deciding if this step is possible. 

For example, if you’re mounting your Hi-Fi speakers to the wall, you probably can’t or don’t want to do this, and that’s okay. Practicality and aesthetics are more important than minor improvements in sound quality.

Nonetheless, if you can, place the speakers directly in line with your ears.

You’ll hear the sound coming straight towards you rather than above or below you.

Hear this phenomenon yourself by standing above your speakers, sitting in front of them, and crouching below them – you’ll see that speakers sound best when they’re in line with your ears.

4. Move the Speakers Away From All Walls and Corners

Speakers should never be too close to the wall or some other surface. The worst position is in the corner.

Sound does travel somewhat directionally from your speakers, but it’s impossible to have it firing only towards you.

Inevitably, some weaker sound waves will travel behind the speaker and bounce against the wall. The closer the speaker is to the wall, the worse it sounds for the people in front of it.

If you must wall-mount your speakers, you can’t do much about this. That said, placing some acoustic foam behind the speaker can help.

Alternatively, you can use swiveling brackets like the WALI Wall Mounting Bracket from Amazon.com. The stand swivels up to 45 degrees to the left or right, and it’s very durable.

Rotating the speaker will remedy some of the distortion caused by wall bouncing, especially when you combine it with acoustic foam. For everybody else, moving the speaker closer to you is enough.

However, make sure to keep a distance of at least 4-5 inches (10.16-12.70 cm) from the wall.

5. Adjust the Distance Between the Speakers

By now, you should have a rough estimate of where your speakers are positioned and whether they’re in a horizontal line with your ears.

It’s now time to determine exactly how far apart the speakers should be. I explained how to do it in detail earlier, but here it is again in short.

Most speakers work best when you place them about 4-10 ft (1.21-3.04 m) away from one another.

When they’re further apart, you get a wider soundstage, which gives your sound an open, realistic feel. However, if they’re too far away, the sound splits and vocals sound horrible and divided.

You can start by placing the speakers far away from one another. Bring them closer until the vocals sound good and clear.

Vocals should sound as if they were coming directly from the front, the same way they would in a face-to-face conversation.

6. Angle the Speakers To Get the Best Possible Sound

This is one of the most important and trickiest bits of this whole setup process.

Ideally, you want to create a stereo triangle. But it’s not enough to position the speakers so that they face you directly.

You will need to adjust the toe-in so that the sound from the two speakers comes together just behind your head.

The easiest way to do this is to adjust the speakers to face you directly. 

Then, look at each speaker from your listening position. The drivers should be “staring” back at you when you look at them.

Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In this case, “good enough” will do. Next, rotate each speaker outwards very slightly, about 3-4 degrees.

The end result is that you get a more powerful direct sound. This direct sound overpowers any reflected sound, resulting in less perceived distortion from your seat.

7. Place the Subwoofer

If you don’t have a subwoofer to go with your Hi-Fi speakers, you should get one. 

Hi-Fi speakers sound fantastic, but combined with a good sub, they become an unbeatable combination.

There are many subwoofers to choose from. 

However, I personally recommend the Polk Audio PSW10 from Amazon.com. It’s a 10″ (25.39 cm or 0.83 ft) subwoofer that reproduces a punchy, clear bass. It’s easy to integrate with other speakers because it has its own power cord.

But where exactly do you place a subwoofer in your room?

The short answer is, it doesn’t really matter. Bass is omnidirectional, which means the sound from the sub goes in all directions. It’ll sound more or less the same no matter where you put it.

The only rule is to keep it at least 15 inches (1.25 ft) away from any corner. It shouldn’t be too close to the wall, either.

If you have one subwoofer, put it somewhere below your TV. If you have two, put one on each side.

It doesn’t even have to be in line with your ears because you can always hear it.

8. Remove Any Objects Between the Speakers and You

This is more a suggestion rather than an actual step, and you can skip it if you want. However, I believe that you should never keep stuff between you and your speakers.

If you put something in front of the speaker, the object will block and disperse the soundwaves. This, in turn, leads to a ton of audible distortion. Instead, keep all your speakers within a clear line of sight.

Also Read: Speaker Placement in a Small Room: The Complete Guide

9. Place the Rear Speakers (for Surround Sound Systems)

If you have more than two Hi-Fi speakers, the next few steps are for you.

Rear speakers are the front speakers’ evil twin. I won’t go into too much detail on how to place them here. That said, you basically need to do all the same stuff you did for the front speakers.

Place them parallel to your front speakers, with the same distance from your couch as the front ones. Again, they should be in line with your ears vertically.

The only exception is when the stereo triangle should be angled so that it comes to a point in front of you.

Related article: The Difference Between Home Theaters and Music Systems

10. Place the Side Speakers (for Surround Sound Systems)

Side speakers in a surround sound system are the easiest to set up. You can bring them slightly closer to you, especially if they’re smaller.

Put the speakers on each side slightly behind the couch. Again, you want to angle them slightly towards the front, just like the back speakers.

They’re not very important, especially when compared to the front and rear speakers. They fill up some minor gaps in your surround sound, so you don’t need to spend too much time on them.

11. Place the Center Speaker (for Surround Sound Systems)

Remember how I mentioned that front speakers shouldn’t be too far apart because vocals get separated? 

The center speaker can alleviate that effect somewhat.

The main purpose of the center speaker is to reproduce dialogue in movies and vocals in your favorite tracks. Once again, the front speaker shouldn’t be too close to the wall and above or below your ears. Put it in line with your other front speakers, directly between them.

12. (Optional) Do Some Acoustic Treatment Using Foam Panels

Acoustic treatment is what the pros do to improve the sound of their Hi-Fi speakers. 

You don’t have to be as thorough as them. It’s enough to glue a few acoustic foam panels onto your walls and add bass traps.

Bass traps reduce the boomy sound you get from a subwoofer. Place bass traps in all corners of the room, from the floor to the ceiling.

For acoustic foam, one for each speaker should do the trick.

Use a mirror and run it along your wall until you see your speaker in the reflection. That’s where your acoustic foam panel should be. Then, repeat this step for all speakers, and you’ll get a symmetrical configuration for all panels.

The reason why you do this is to absorb sound that would otherwise hit the wall and reflect off of it. This causes a lot of distortion and ruins your sound quality.

That said, acoustic treating your living room isn’t very practical and doesn’t look great. That’s why this step is optional.

Final Thoughts

Placing your Hi-Fi speakers might seem complex at first because there are many things you have to pay attention to.

However, as long as you do everything carefully and step-by-step, you’ll get the perfect sound out of them. The main thing you need to pay attention to is creating a stereo triangle between your speakers and yourself.

To really maximize the performance of your audio system, you should definitely also read our guide to the 13 best ways to improve your Hi-Fi sound.