Crammed Speakers

In looking through the System Pics thread, I see a lot of great systems. But I can’t help but notice in many, if not most of them, the speakers are jammed up against a wall, stuck in a corner, or butting up against furniture. As we all know, almost all speaker design types perform optimally out into the room, away from walls and furniture. Usually, the more the better. Is this a function of generally smaller living spaces in the UK/Europe? Do people pull the speakers away when listening? Do people actually like this kind of placement? I’m just curious, as I find it hard to understand why people would invest so much in great gear then not set it up optimally for best results.


…do a search on “speaker positioning” and there are 50+ threads discussing the subject.

In my room my speakers are positioned 22 inches or 55.88 cm from the rear wall and they sound fantastic!


Also noticed that and was really wondering if people leave them as is. Would be a real waste of ressources. Speaker placement is one of the most important tweaks you can do and it is free! :slight_smile:

Sometimes its a compromise you have to make, like mine for example, but it still sounds very nice, i guess it could sound even better if i had a 100% free relm in the room , but i dont, thats why i had to very careful with my speaker choice, and tried a few, but the ones i use now, seem to work ok.

But having better gear, has for me helped in my room, certainly better than what i did have.

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IIRC, all Naim speakers before the Ovator range were designed to work best close to the wall behind them. As a satisfied owner of SBLs for over a quarter of a century, I much prefer this placement to having them out in the room taking up space and drawing attention to themselves.

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We all don’t all live alone, or have ‘dedicated listening rooms.’ Why I chose speakers that can work closely to walls/corners (no rear porting!). I have anther quirk - when I do get to listen (typically late at night or early morning) I often like to do yoga or stretching so I make sure when auditioning speakers I sit on the floor in front of them to see how they sound, and not relegated to the so called sweet spot. Resulted in the occasional side eye from other customers when entering the dealer’s audition room, but it works for me.!


I, too, have been surprised by some of the images I’ve seen of speaker positioning - and also sometimes descriptions that suggest some people sit with the back of tgeir seat right up against the opposite wall.

As for reasons, I don’t know about other parts of Europe, but the lounges of the majority of UK houses are relatively small. There was a move towards bigger lounges in the 1970s-80s, but in recent years the trend has been for them to be called large because they are long - but they became rather narrow, 10ft (3m) being quite a common width in many modern detached so-called “executive houses”. Abysmal trend in my view!

As for positioning, in my case in my present room, which is not so small but is problematic, best sound (measured with REW and confirmed by listening) is with the speakers’ front baffles about 65cm from wall (rear of speakers 25cm, but it is the front that counts) + 30cm at top half to the window glass when blind is open. However, that is for serious listening: much of the time they are further apart and against the wall to facilitate other room uses, particularly the projector screen that covers the 12ft wide window reveal. Reduction in sound quality is largely compensated for using DSP. I simply move the speakers for serious listening: although on the heavy side at 48kg, they are tall enough to ‘walk’ between locations - a bit of a hassle, but worth it to get the best sound when I’m in the room by myself just enjoying the music.

Incidentally, my listening position for best sound is just under 40% of distance from wall behind speakers to wall behind me.

I get what @joc6812 is saying, in that I have also noticed many speakers jammed into corners, or pushed up against centered equipment consoles, in photos. More so on other forums, than here.
And I’ve always found that the more open space I have between my speakers, improves the sound stage presentation.
He certainly wasn’t referring to speakers that are designed to be against a wall, nor rooms that are multi-purpose, or just too small to move the speakers out.

But there appear to be depicted situations where the speakers could be moved into the open, or the equipment rack could be moved to the side wall, but the picture poster has decided not to, to their own listening detriment.

Anyhoo, I believe that is what he was referring to; and I’m sure that many of us have wondered why these setups are as they are.

And btw, my own system is in a multi-functional evvironment, and leaves a lot to be desired. But I find that having Naim gear driving my speakers now, the music sounds very good, despite the less than desirable room setup. And possibly, this is what the others are finding as well.

Some photos can be misleading as they don’t give a fair representation of the space, and can bunch things up together. Especially so if taken from the hot seat.

Actually, among other questions the OP did ask: “ Is this a function of generally smaller living spaces in the UK/Europe?”, while multi-purpose use of room quite often may be an explanation for the positioning observed, so answering the primary question.

Multiple uses, aesthetics being a larger priority for partners, and smaller rooms together account for much of the placement, I think.

I speak as someone who has invested a chunk into a better system, so much so that I’;m going to have to spend another chunk so that I can swap my 4m superlumina cables for 9m ones to move the electronics further from the speakers. And I’m going to have to move the wall-mounted stove, so that we can position the speakers optimally. They are out into the room but the projector screen can drop down between them.

What I also find odd is the “altar to hifi” approach, where the rack is positioned between the speakers. Again, the first sentence suggests why, but given a choice in dedicated rooms, this is still where people tend to gravitate to putting their kit, and it’s right in the path of key loudspeaker wave patterns and so less than ideal.

Interesting - I have been (on my rather loopy was active 2x300 v 1x500 but is now 808 thread) been considering where 808s would have to go in my room and I realised that the location of a rug is going to mean that the front spikes are (probably) going to be in the rug and the rear ones on the (stone) floor. Dang - more complications!

Here is our living room. As you can see the speakers are quite far apart and not much depth to the seating area (I’m standing with my back against the window on our 13 foot leather sofa) but it sounds good, and imo actually somewhat better with the French doors open as long as there’s no activity in the other room. The biggest (and imo only) drawback to having the gear to one side is the excess speaker cable to one side - in this case the Chord Rumor 2 goes up and around the doors and behind the painting (a fake btw done for a conceptual local art show many years ago of fakes). But one can see it’s a very shared space so I had to choose the speakers carefully


What I also find odd is the “altar to hifi” approach, where the rack is positioned between the speakers. Again, the first sentence suggests why, but given a choice in dedicated rooms, this is still where people tend to gravitate to putting their kit, and it’s right in the path of key loudspeaker wave patterns and so less than ideal.

I chose this approach in a dedicated room for a few reasons, one of which you highlighted - why use 9m of speaker cable when you can use 4. The front of my kit is around 1.3m behind the baffles and does not interfere with the sound in any audible way. Its also 0.6m from the front wall (not easy to do on a side wall in most scenarios) so its away from high pressure floor/wall interface and away from early reflections so, in (my) theory, less affected by airborne vibrations. It allows me to comfortably stand behind the rack for cable dressing without resorting to contortions. Finally, I have a more symmetrical room, conducive to a balanced sound and aesthetic.

My rationale might be nonsense but I believe it sounds better where it is than I remember it sounding in other positions in the same room (though Im happy to concede that might be nonsense too…)


Some racks are designed to be a solution between speakers.
My Finite elemente pagode with its parasitic resonators takes care of that.


A number of pictures not only show speakers close to the wall/s but close to turntables and other parts sensitive to airborn vibration. I.E. Everything at one end of the room?
I’ve always felt the best layout is for speakers to be at one end of the room and all the rest at the other. This assumes you can work with reasonably long speaker cables and the room will allow this.
To move my speakers with a weight of 90 kgs or so for a listening session and get them positioned optimatlly would not be practical.
My speaker backs are about 300mm from the rear wall and 600/700mm from the side. They dominate the room but work very well. Just ask my wife! Better source components have made any room driving bass a thing of the past.

The endgame would be room treatment if you haven’t yet done.

Other room uses and concern for aesthetics can limit what is practicable, but Given the money some systems cost, is rather surprising that room treatment so often seems rare or an afterthought.

I’ve seen this written and heard it said many times but my room size and layout means that’s exactly where my rack has to sit so if it is a compromise then I’m stuck with it.

The thing I don’t understand is that if it really does affect sound quality in an obvious way why does practically every exhibitor at every hifi show I’ve been to or looked at online set their gear up in this way. Surely the object of the exercise is to demonstrate the SQ of your gear so why wouldn’t you set it up in the best way possible. I accept that most demo rooms at shows are far from ideal but why add to the problems by positioning the gear so poorly?

I can imagine having something in line with the baffles might not be ideal but push it further back and I dont think you can tell. I have a deep, wide soundstage and a life size centre image. Close your eyes or turn off the lights (as I usually do) and the artist pretty much takes the place of the rack.

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Sometimes you need to forget about parameters and precision and just listen to music and stop worry about a cable laying to the left and not right.