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How close can you get your mains to your side walls?

heboil

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I keep fiddling with my speaker placement (JM Lab Cobalt 816) in my hybrid HT/listening room, and I have settled on equilateral triangle, around 9ft in all directions. This puts my speakers in the neighborhood of 20-24" from the side walls (toed in - measured from front center of speaker).

I have acoustic panels along my first reflection points. I have tried to keep as much space as I can inject between the speaker and the side walls. I keep leaning in a bit when I settle in my placement. I like the width when I am just a touch inside that equilateral triangle.

I don't want to move my speakers any further out in the room. They are already three feet out from the front grill to front wall. So, how close do you bring your speakers to the side walls? My room is only 12' wide. I don't have much more they can move before they almost touching the walls (10" from the back corner of one speaker to the acoustic panel with current toe-in).

If you watch YouTube, you will see reviewers with speakers and gear far exceeding mine in cost, with speakers almost against walls, in corners etc. I know I can measure with REW, but that doesn't show me soundstage (width and depth... and center image... at least that I know of).

I was hoping those of you that know more than I (which I am believing is the vast majority), can help me on this. In an imperfect world (my listening room), should I stick to my guns about keeping the speakers away from the side walls? My biggest goal is dead center image, wide and deep soundstage and accurate placement (sounds like everything, but I mean that is more important to me than the response curve... which is also important).

Thanks!
 

Basic Channel

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If you watch YouTube, you will see reviewers with speakers and gear far exceeding mine in cost, with speakers almost against walls, in corners etc. I know I can measure with REW, but that doesn't show me soundstage (width and depth... and center image... at least that I know of).

You can to some extent. assuming soundstage (aside from speaker capablity) is the volume and symmetry of early reflections, particular within the first 10ms. More reasonably from a human living space point of view, I suppose 4 or 5ms.

You can see this in REW if you do sweeps, viewing ETC in the impulse window with smoothing.
 

VMAT4

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I'm not anywhere near an expert. But, rather than measuring this and that then calculating optimum placement, continue with trial and error.

I was in a similar situation not too long ago. I was using DIRAC. I opted to sacrifice distance between speakers for more distance to side walls.
I also prefer to sit farther back than the vertex of the top an equilateral triangle with sides equal to the distance between the speakers.
 
OP
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heboil

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I'm not anywhere near an expert. But, rather than measuring this and that then calculating optimum placement, continue with trial and error.

I was in a similar situation not too long ago. I was using DIRAC. I opted to sacrifice distance between speakers for more distance to side walls.
I also prefer to sit farther back than the vertex of the top an equilateral triangle with sides equal to the distance between the speakers.
:) I was afraid of that! I can, will and want to keep the experimentation going, but it is far more challenging for me than for most (I am making an assumption here). But, based on my HT config and natural boundaries, the spot where my right front speaker would go, is very challenging. My room is situated in the basement (concrete slab), and almost exactly where my right front speaker should go, is directly over the basement drain. There is a significant natural slope all around that drain that makes placing a speaker above it very difficult. I can't level the speaker in more than 75% of the spots I would like to try. I can move the speaker close to the front wall or closer to the side walls, but it's a crapshoot in the sweet spot.

Thanks.

HT.jpg
 

Kal Rubinson

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There is a significant natural slope all around that drain that makes placing a speaker above it very difficult.
Get some wooden pallets for your experimenting and build a decent-looking platform when you know the final placement.
 

VMAT4

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I found these on Amazon. Lookie here:
41g+vP0izRL._AC_.jpg

and here:
31g3g70E78L._AC_.jpg
.
I would think it's optional whether to screw these onto your speakers or not.
 

Pareto Pragmatic

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Get some wooden pallets for your experimenting and build a decent-looking platform when you know the final placement.
I found these on Amazon. Lookie here:

Pallets are never level. but that is a good idea for exploring effects in a given area. I would use a flat surface on the pallet, then level that whole assembly.

The amazon stands look to be a good permanent solution.

I suggest wooden shims for trying things out. A pack is super cheap, you can level the speaker easily with them, and then listen. Move a bit, slide the shims in and out, try again. Once you find the spot, go with something more permanent to get them level long term. Having very non-level floors, I have done this a lot, and it works well for experimentation.

If you watch YouTube, you will see reviewers with speakers and gear far exceeding mine in cost, with speakers almost against walls, in corners etc. I know I can measure with REW, but that doesn't show me soundstage (width and depth... and center image... at least that I know of).

Ah, I remember this room!

Not that you should do what YouTubers do, but corner placements have been around a long time. And you will rarely see the back end of those rooms, so you really don't know what the room is like. And for example, I have my AV speakers set as (almost) corner horns 2' from the sidewalls with a pretty extreme toe in, but for very differently designed standmounts for music in the same room, I set them up 9' out and 4' from the sides with very little toe in. That's how things work best for me. And that's due to the room, and almost entirely the sides and behind the listening position. Which you would never see if I had a Youtube channel reviewing audio.

What other people do is not really relevant to you and your room and your tastes. Or mine.

The closer to the side wall, the more sidewall reflection you get all things being equal. What this means for you is that changes in toe will swing things left or right a lot more than if you had 4' to the sidewalls. So try VERY small changes.

And given your issues with asymmetry, you might need to have a slightly asymmetrical toe in set up to get what you want. Looking at the diagram, maybe try the L/F speaker a bit more toed out. Like a couple of degrees more. How that will be affected by your issues with the bump out on the left side I don't know, but if your previous fixes to that worked as you said, I don't think you need to worry much about that.

It really is a trial and error situation. I spent quite a bit of time moving my newest speakers a couple inches this way and that. If I go 4" wider, things get stacked up on the l/r, if I go 4" narrower the soundstage is stuck between the speakers and there is not much instrument separation. An inch or two is a big deal, the difference between very good and as good as it gets.

You can measure each speaker and try to get things balanced that way, but it will take more time, and then you will need to consider what that does to the entire seating area. So go by ear, sit center, then left, then right. Take notes on what you hear. After a few trials you will get to know what's going on, that's my guess. Try changing one speaker at a time to address imbalance issues. Wider toe, wider stage. Wider on one side, that will pull things that are on BOTH channels that way, but not affect things that are 100% on the other side at all.

Personally, I do sound stage by ear, not measurements. I measure after and fine tune, sure, but that's not going to change the staging. Headphones/iems will give you something to reference that is not room dependent, so I suggest whatever track(s) you use, you start with that and then go to the speakers.

Good luck!
 

Dumdum

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My speakers are tight against my side walls… roughly 5-6” I’d guess, it pushes the comb filter way up, and then I experimented with the distance from the rear… I also have 6cu ft 15” sub enclosures behind them in the corners of the room, works very well, measure and test at the listening position
 
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