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Turning speakers on their sides or upside down? Need solution for my desktop setup

JL8888

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I know I am not the only one with this challenge, and I suspect fleshing this out here will help others in the future. I spend a ton of time at my desk and want high-quality sound. My desktop setup, however, is not conducive to good speaker placement. I know turning almost any speaker on its side or upside-down is a big no-no for a variety of reasons, but I can't see any other way to setup my desk. Please allow me to briefly describe my situation and hopefully those with experience and/or knowledge can help provide some guidance.

I have a triple 27" monitor setup which are all touching with no gaps. I am seated 2 feet from the monitors. The top edge of the monitors is at eye/ear height. I use an electronic sit-stand desk, so the desk height is variable. The speaker placement options I see are as follows:

1. Below the monitors - NO. There is not enough room below the monitors (6 inches) for speakers.
2. Outside the monitors - NO. The gap between speakers is very large (6+ feet) and I would have limited sound stage. I also don't have the space to accomodate them.
3. Behind the monitors, on floor stands, normal vertical speaker orientation - NO. Because the desk height is variable, the speakers would be completely blocked by the computer monitors in one of the desk positions.
4. Above the monitors, on desk-mounted stands pointing downward, normal vertical speaker orientation - NOT GOOD. It would be hard to get the angle just right, the speakers would be dangling higher than I like, and I doubt how good the sound stage would be in that scenario.
5. Just above the monitors, on desk-mounted stands, flipped vertical speaker orientation (woofer on top) - MAYBE? With traditional 2-way speakers this won't because the mids would be too far off axis. But what about 3-way speakers with a concentric mid/tweeter design like the Elac Ubi 51/52? Although still not ideal, would I be able to get decent stereo imaging and sound stage in such configuration?
6. Just above the monitors, on desk-mounted stands, turned on their sides - MAYBE? Same as above, would concentric designs work here, and would it be better than the flipped vertical orientation? Should the mid/tweeter be inside or outside?

I hope people can comment on the accuracy of my assumptions above, especially options 5 & 6 (flipped vertical & side orientations). I am open to any and all suggestions for placement, speaker types, and specific speaker models. I am hoping someone will be able to confirm what works and what doesn't.

Regarding preferences...I will not be able to add a subwoofer as this room is directly above a sensitive sleeper. That being said, I don't need deep bass, anything that gets to ~50HZ and below would be sufficient. Additionally, I will not be playing at high volumes so high sensitivity and/or large sounding speakers are not required. I am fine with either active or passive speakers if I don't have a choice, whatever will allow me to retain the best imaging and sound stage given my restrictions. I may prefer passive as I am not a huge fan of class D in general, which most actives use. With regard to actual studio monitors, I am not so hot on those as my feeling is they would be a bit too stale/clinical for my liking. I admittedly don't like an ultra neutral sound, I do prefer something that has a bit warmer mids with a slight roll-off in the highs. I get treble fatigue somewhat easily.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I look forward to your feedback. If this specific case has already been covered, my apologies in advance and please provide the relevant link. Cheers.
 

eddantes

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I'm guessing - if your speaker is best to at tweeter axis then upsidedown is fine... The only thing is a speaker that counts on floor bounce to sound its best.. in that case you'll have less of that.
 

Inner Space

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Turning a speaker upside down is the smart thing to do, if it's mounted high. Even a 2-way. Turning it on its side isn't ideal, because the horizontal dispersion you depend on for performance is now the original vertical dispersion, which is likely much worse. A concentric can be used any way up, and lots of people set them sideways.
 

restorer-john

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Turning a speaker upside down is the smart thing to do, if it's mounted high.

Absolutely. Even Accuphase have their NS-1000Ms upside down!

1623987348550.png
 

XpanD

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Would vertical mounting of the displays be an option? Might conflict with the sit-stand setup (not too familiar with those), but that's what I ended up doing to get a lot more space for my speakers. (55" main screen, 27" above and below)

Definitely not for everyone, but it's a setup I've absolutely come to adore. Having a background media screen up there was a huge improvement over having it off to the side somewhere (less looking around for it, feels more natural to me), and the speakers now have plenty of breathing room.
 
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JL8888

JL8888

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Turning a speaker upside down is the smart thing to do, if it's mounted high. Even a 2-way. Turning it on its side isn't ideal, because the horizontal dispersion you depend on for performance is now the original vertical dispersion, which is likely much worse. A concentric can be used any way up, and lots of people set them sideways.

I am basically looking to confirm if this in fact works properly, hopefully from those who have this kind of setup. Do speakers like the Elac Ubi 51/52 work as their tweeter/mid is concentric but with a separate woofer, or does it have to be something like a KEF LS series that is completely concentric?
 
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JL8888

JL8888

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Would vertical mounting of the displays be an option? Might conflict with the sit-stand setup (not too familiar with those), but that's what I ended up doing to get a lot more space for my speakers. (55" main screen, 27" above and below)

Definitely not for everyone, but it's a setup I've absolutely come to adore. Having a background media screen up there was a huge improvement over having it off to the side somewhere (less looking around for it, feels more natural to me), and the speakers now have plenty of breathing room.
Unfortunately this is not an option. I need all three monitors in the standard configuration.
 

maxxevv

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Your best option might be a quality soundbar with a tethered subwoofer.

I've seen a few gamers with multi-monitor setups do that.

Worth some consideration imo.
 

weasels

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I don't think there is any inherent problem with turning your speakers upside down.

Sideways is a different issue, as what was horizontal directivity now is vertical, and depending on the dispersion characteristics of your speaker this could make for poorer sound.
 

Marc v E

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Headphones?
Placing the speakers behind you (on the wall/ ceiling)?
 
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JL8888

JL8888

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I don't think there is any inherent problem with turning your speakers upside down.

Sideways is a different issue, as what was horizontal directivity now is vertical, and depending on the dispersion characteristics of your speaker this could make for poorer sound.
If the speakers were at a normal height, I would agree, but in my instance it would be placing the woofer/mid quite a bit above my head so that is my concern.
 
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JL8888

JL8888

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Headphones?
Placing the speakers behind you?
I would go crazy if I had to wear headphones for 10 hours, but it would be the perfect solution otherwise as it's much easier to get good sound with headphones. Behind would not work.
 
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JL8888

JL8888

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Your best option might be a quality soundbar with a tethered subwoofer.

I've seen a few gamers with multi-monitor setups do that.

Worth some consideration imo.
I considered that, but after looking I kept asking myself are there any really good sound bars out there? I haven't seen any that I would consider good in terms of sound quality and imaging compared to a proper 2-way setup. The ones that are decent seem to be very overpriced to boot. Maybe there is something out there I just haven't seen it.
 

LTig

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If the speakers were at a normal height, I would agree, but in my instance it would be placing the woofer/mid quite a bit above my head so that is my concern.
No need to worry at all. I think for a desktop it might be even better to have the woofer higher to reduce desktop bounce.
 
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JL8888

JL8888

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No need to worry at all. I think for a desktop it might be even better to have the woofer higher to reduce desktop bounce.
Good point. I think again it comes down to the design of the speaker. If it's a concentric design the mids are coming primarily from the same height as the tweeter. If it's a standard 2-way then the mids are coming from the woofer and therein lies the rub I think.
 

tomtoo

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If the speakers were at a normal height, I would agree, but in my instance it would be placing the woofer/mid quite a bit above my head so that is my concern.

Oh come on, just try it, could be, the result is much better than you think. Nothing speaks against it.
 

LTig

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Good point. I think again it comes down to the design of the speaker. If it's a concentric design the mids are coming primarily from the same height as the tweeter. If it's a standard 2-way then the mids are coming from the woofer and therein lies the rub I think.
There's no problem with that. If the distance between tweeter and midwoofer is so big that it becomes audible then this is true for all orientations.
 

tomtoo

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Good buil two way speakers its easy, reference axe is tweeter or between tweeter and midbass. So try, thats easy.
 
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