The speakers, the system or the living situation. The sound of music is enormously influenced by external factors – usually before the auditory canals are reached. A lot of quality is lost on the way from the system to the ear.
Oliver Schroll, the German head of the Scandinavian audio specialist HiFi Klubben, gives ten tips for the best sound in your own four walls.
Tip 1: The room – decoration makes the difference
All hard surfaces such as tiles, concrete or glass reflect the sound strongly, which makes the sound uncontrollable. Ceilings, curtains, potted plants, paintings, furniture or acoustic panels can be used for room damping. These refract the reflection of hard surfaces. A carpet in the right place is often enough to improve the sound enormously.
Tip 2: The location – away from the wall
Floor-standing speakers sound best when they are placed at a slight distance from the walls. Otherwise, there is too much bass. This also applies to the corners of the room. A tip: this phenomenon can be used the other way round if the speakers do not provide enough bass. However, only up to a certain degree, otherwise, the sound becomes “muddy”.
Tip 3: The Stereo Triangle – a little geometry in the living room
In the so-called stereo triangle, listener and loudspeaker form an equilateral triangle – that is, three sides of equal length with three equal angles. Sounds complicated, but it’s not. When aligning them, you only have to make sure that the speakers are not too close to each other. Otherwise, the stereo effect (room effect) disappears. This often happens with mini-systems and PC speakers. However, the speakers should also not be too far apart, as this will create a hole in the middle of the spatial sound.
Tip 4: The position – straight or screwed in
In addition to their location, the direction in which the loudspeakers point also audibly influences the sound. Some loudspeakers are built to radiate wide. They, therefore, sound better when they are not turned towards the listener, for example, towards the sofa. The manufacturer’s manual usually gives tips for the respective models.
Tip 5: The treble – I’m all ears
No matter how big they are: Speakers are best placed or mounted so that the tweeters are at about ear level. Why? High tones, unlike low tones, don’t spread thoroughly in the room, so they sound best at ear level.
Tip 6: Firm stand – in any environment
Speakers sound best when they are stable. Especially for large models, either pointed metal feet (spikes) for soft floors or special rubber dampers for hard surfaces (e.g. in a cabinet) should be used. This guarantees optimum floor contact. In this way, only a minimum of vibrations is transmitted to the floor surface. The result: better sound.
Tip 7: The speaker cables – short and flush
With the correct use of speaker cables, the sound quality increases enormously. For example, it is better not to make them longer than necessary – more than 15 metres should remain the exception. It is also essential to ensure that all connections to the speakers and the system are well connected. So-called banana plugs can help, which not only make combining them child’s play but also provide more contact surface and secure hold of the cables to the speakers and amplifier.
Tip 8: Movement is essential – even for technology
All-new speakers or even headphones contain several mechanical and electronic parts that need to be moved. Their sound becomes freer and more relaxed, with better bass and more details once they are used for a while. Usually, this takes between 50 and 100 hours. So there’s no need to worry if your new speakers sound a little rough the first time you use them.
Tip 9: The tone controls – only at the very end
Hands off the treble and bass: The system’s control of treble and bass can wait until the end when all other steps have been implemented. After all, most sound problems can be attributed to the room and the position of the speakers. It is therefore essential to eliminate these disturbing factors before changing the treble and bass.
Tip 10: Experiment
In addition to these tips, a little experimentation is also required. Perfect sound is entirely individual. Everyone has a different sound perception, and the various speakers and rooms have different “needs”. Often nuances decide, which are achieved by simple trial and error. Have fun!