Nearfield listening

Can someone define this for me. Is it in a small room relatively close up, or having speakers on a desk the listener is literally a couple of feet away, or is it both.

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Nearfield is a term used in studio environments where the speakers function more like headphones, with the goal of hearing as much detail as possible. Nearfield speakers generally have a smaller angle of sound direction compared to hifi speakers.

This is as an example a nearfield listening setup:

Technically, I’d say both. However, it can also be in a large room, too, listening at, say, 5’ or 6’ versus 10’ or 12’ away. Nearfield listening has a lot of great benefits, no doubt. Are you in a situation where you need to listen nearfield; is that why the question?

Sort of, I am about 7 feet away.

When I first setup my near field system, most sources recommended 3-5ft listening triangle. Anything beyond 5ft would be mid field… not sure when/where mid field ends.

I wouldn’t say you need the speakers on a desk exactly, solid unit or stands. Getting the right speakers is important if you can’t get them at least 30-50cm away from the walls.

In my setup, I’m 40" to 48" away from the speakers.

Near field is defined as anything where what you hear is predominately direct sound, rather than reflected sound from the room. Preferable in untreated rooms or, as mentioned, if you’re trying to mix a track! As a gross generalisation, it tends to work better with smaller speakers, because integration between drivers is better at closer distances.


Me, too @Charles. I’m exactly 7’ away at my LP. I wouldn’t define it as nearfield, though. Others have illustrated this pretty eloquently. We would definitely be considered midfield. I have a 17.5’x15.5’ dedicated listening room, with speakers approx. 4’ from front wall, 3+’ from sidewalls, 7’ from LP and 6’ from me to back wall. It works well for me so far (it’s a pretty new room, so am just getting used to speaker positioning, etc.), but I’m experimenting a few inches here and there. I would have tried moving my LP to 5’ or so, but there’s an ottoman I refuse to get rid of that prohibits me from trying.

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Agreed here. I have Harbeth P3ESRs in my office and I listen to those in nearfield, for certain. You describe this setup perfectly.

Here’s a link to an earlier discussion: "Near-field listening"

For best sound quality I listen relatively near field, if that is a term! In a symetrical room some 7m wide and 7m long, but not square, best listening position is sitting about 2.8m from front wall, speaker baffles at corners of equilateral triangle with sides about 2.7m, apex just behind my head. That way the main reflection from side walls has a path something like 6m, and from rear wall around 11m. And being relatively close to the speakers, for the same listening level they play 6dB quieter than if I sat near the rear wall, while this combined with the proportionately longer side and rear wall reflections means the side and rear reflections are proportionately quieter and so less significant.


Well that’s intriguing… non-parallel walls?

Two corners cut off diagonally, also a pair of stub walls of significant size where it had been extended, while the width of the extended part is a bit less than the original part. If we decide to stay in this house indefinitely we’ll have the stub walls cut right back.

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