TIP # 5:
Speakers are widely regarded as the most important part of the stereo system. While every speaker has its own unique “voice” or overall tonal balance, a speaker will only reproduce what it is fed. If we play a scratchy AM station on a very exotic set of speakers we can only expect scratchy AM. If we play a well recorded compact disc on a budget set, the results can be quite good. The bottom line is, to coin a computer phrase, garbage in garbage out. The manufacturer of your speakers has probably spent millions of dollars to design, test and manufacture your speakers. However with all the sophisticated computers, anechoic chambers, high powered designers and advanced manufacturing techniques, one of the most important parameters is unknown, the room they will play in.
If you have been to a few concert halls you probably noticed they all sound unique. This is due to their size, shape and construction. The same applies to your home. Hardwood floors, gyproc and glass will make a room reflective or “bright”. Conversely deep pile carpets, heavy drapes and furniture will tend to absorb sound, particularly high frequencies producing a “dark” overall sound.
While you may not be able to change your room, you can ensure your speakers give the best from what’s available. The first rule for speaker placement is to place the listener and speakers in an equilateral triangle. For example, eight feet from each speaker to the listener and eight feet from speaker to speaker. This ensures optimum centre fill. Next, ensure nothing sits between the speakers protruding further than a line drawn from the outside front of one speaker to the other. Speakers radiate 180 degrees from their faces and any obstruction in this path will lessen the stereo effect. Now make sure that the tweeters (the speaker which makes the highs) are at ear level when sitting in the listening position. Highs leave the tweeter straight, like a rifle bullet. Small bookshelf speakers on the floor tend to lose highs simply because they hit you in the ankles, not the ears. Toe the speakers in so that you can’t see either side of both speakers while listening.
If your case requires stands, highly rigid, heavy stands are best. They don’t rock and rob the speaker of bass through movement. If your speakers are in a shelving unit, the shelving unit will usually resonate with the speakers reducing articulate bass. Bracing the back of the speaker to the back of the cabinet with something rigid (a cassette case works well) will yield a noticeable improvement in the low end.
These tips will change the sound of your system, but they are only a small sampling of the many ways you can improve your listening enjoyment. Don’t be afraid to experiment, one evening of experimentation can yield results you never thought were possible.