"Near-field listening"

Following a posting from someone with a pair of enormous floor-standing speakers in a relatively small room, I noticed this phrase.

I didn’t know it was a thing. Putting huge speaker columns in a small room seems to me to fly in the face of the accepted wisdom.

Anybody apart from “9” do this? Why?


The phrase is normally applied to small monitors specifically designed for near-field listening.


When I bought my Usher ‘speakers back in 2006, they were used in a typical Victorian bay-windowed house with a total combined room length of c26’ (ie front and back rooms now not divided).

FF to 2017, and having met my partner, sold my old house and bought a new one for us to both live in, I asked her as a matter of courtesy if I could use the 4th bedroom (sic) on the ground floor as a music room, leaving the lounge as a family room, as much as I would have liked to fill it with all my stereo gear.

The Ushers followed me to the new house and are sitting in a room 12’(l) by 10’(w). I did not want to sell them, and given their abysmal sales history, I am not sure many people would want them second hand…

Now, having spent a good few bob on my system this year, and removing my old subwoofer from between the speakers I feel they really sound good again.

If the room had come first, I would not have necessarily put 4’ tall 50+ kg speakers in it, but I really rate my Ushers and was loathe to part with them. Getting the amps serviced, new Chord Epic cables etc has transformed the sound quality.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison I guess.

I play across a room that’s 11’ x 22’.

The SL2 are about 2 inches from the wall behind them, and my chair is about a foot from the wall behind it.

So my ears are about 8 feet from where the soundwaves begin.

Sounds great to me.

Closefield - but not like desktop speakers.

1 Like

Kind of weird because I moved into a 3.5m x 3.5m listening space and brought my Proac D15’s with me. Sounded bloody awful. Changed to ATC 19’s.

Sounds brill.

What would be gained by putting in, say, S800’s as “9” has done?

I used PMC 20.21 in a very small room as for want of a better description…computer speakers… I was about 1.5m away from them. They sounded terrific … stereo was amazing…
I suppose its like looking at a 15 inch TV from 2 feet away compared to a 75 inch TV 25 feet away… One thing is when close monitoring…volume is less…bass room issues are virtually absent…and clarity is amazing…
I use the same setup now in a marginally bigger room … I am now fighting various room modes…so I think close monitoring has allot merits…

1 Like

One thing is when close monitoring…volume is less…bass room issues are virtually absent…and clarity is amazing…

I think that’s an important point, often overlooked. Room interaction problems are much less prominent as the volume is reduced and the closer you sit, the less volume you need.

1 Like

Yes, I generally listen on very low volumes.

Kids sleep in rooms above listening room.

And high volumes make you go deaf!

Surely the longer distance between the drive units of a speaker, the further you would have to sit away for them to integrate :thinking: if we are referring to the biggest head phones of this World. From a lateral dispersion point of view, you would also be completely dependant on said speaker being equal or damn close to its on-axis response, which for most parts would be highly unlikely.
I prefer to sit away from my Facts ( 3.6 meters) to create a believable image/ sound stage, but of course as mentioned this opens up some room issues, which we can then choose to deal with or leave as is. ATB Peter

1 Like

Let’s have another go.

My question is… why have enormous speakers in a small room, instead of (relatively) small ones?

What’s the advantage? Or point, even?

1 Like

I think he replied he sits 6 m from the speakers?

1 Like

Not sure there is one. You picked up on “9” as an example but he mentioned he’s 6m away, its the wide angle photo that makes things look close.

That said, I have seen lots of photos from Japanese audio enthusiasts, squeezing 12 and 15 inch driver speakers into small apartment rooms. I have never heard a system like that though, to know if it works or not - quite a popular setup though

I couldn’t find any distance referenxe in “9’s” posts but I take your point about image distortion.

Agreed. If you increase the distance between speakers, you end up sitting further back but then you’re no longer near field listening, unless the room is very large.

exactly. speakers designed to stand at the back of the mixer/desk and designed to handle the acoustic environment with a large flat surface (desk/mixer) immediately in front and the listener on the other end of the desk. some are switchable and can be used as a normal small speaker.

1 Like

I do believe some large speakers have been voiced for near field listening.

My experience is similar to BigAl’s, in that the speakers have stayed with me, migrating to a smaller listening room, and a far more capable Naim rig.

I was actually quite surprised these large floor standers work in my small listening room, as they are rear-ported and are closed to rear and side walls. My listening position is only 2.5m from either speaker.

The advantage is that you can listen at lower volumes and hence get less room issues. Also the tiniest of detail is more audible and music makes just a bit more sense. The main drawback is the soundstage is constricted and some vocals and instruments can sound larger than life.

It would seem that the success or otherwise of near-field listening depends much on the speakers and room.

1 Like

Hi Elfer, what I meant re drive units distance was actually how far the drive units themselves are apart on the actual individual speaker baffle. I remember once being sat 1.5mtrs. in front of a pair of Titans T88s and to my ears they didn’t integrate properly. ATB Peter

Ah, got you - hadn’t thought about it that way but it makes sense.

Presently I listen “near field” to full range speakers in a moderately large room, because that eliminates most adverse room effects (best position approx 38% of room length from front wall), so although my room is around 7m long and similar wide, best listening position is with the speaker centres about 2.7m apart just out from the front wall, and me a similar distance from them.