Near and far

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Like it or not there is an optimum distance between listener and boxes for every speaker setup. Too close and imagining as well as frequency response suffers. Too far and the soundstage, as well as intimacy, fall to the wayside.

Whenever we set up at an audio show we start with getting the speaker pair far enough away from the front wall to breathe and then set the minimum distance for the first row of chairs. In smaller rooms, this can often determine the number of chair rows possible.

Factors to consider when determining the optimal seating distance include the speakers themselves. The more drivers a speaker has the farther afield it is typically advisable to sit. (An exception to this rule is the true line source loudspeaker). Others are distance between left and right and toe in. If you’re near-field and the left and right enclosures haven’t proper toe in you’ll be off-axis with the tweeter and highs will be muted.

One easy tip for setup is to remove the chair in the room. It’s then easy to move back and forth while making quick adjustments to find the best spot.

There’s really no easy panacea for optimal distance because speakers designs are not standardized. Here’s a good case of rolling your sleeves up and getting the best performance by trial and error.