Stereocheck Reviews:

Where to Place Bookshelf Speakers for Best Sound

Proper placement is the most important factor affecting the sound of bookshelf speakers. Optimal speaker placement promotes a more balanced and full-bodied presentation, with better focus and image...

Where to Place Bookshelf Speakers for Best Sound
Where to Place Bookshelf Speakers for Best Sound

Proper placement is the most important factor affecting the sound of bookshelf speakers. Optimal speaker placement promotes a more balanced and full-bodied presentation, with better focus and image integrity, allowing for maximum listening pleasure in small to medium-sized rooms.

Where to Place Bookshelf Speakers for Best Sound

On the contrary, a poor choice of location can lead to a deterioration in the experience of music, film or video games. It can also cause sound coloration and unwanted reflections that make it difficult to hear details.

In this guide, you will learn where it is best to place bookshelf speakers, what their benefits are, how to arrange a listening room and how to create a “comfort zone” in it where the most vivid impressions will be found.

Bookshelf Speaker Properties

Not every music lover has the space and budget for a set of large floor-standing speakers. Shelf models will be an excellent alternative to them. Despite their more compact dimensions, they are capable of creating a strong and large-scale sound and giving the owner true listening pleasure.

Such columns are endowed with the following properties:

  • The smaller footprint allows them to be placed almost anywhere in the room.
  • They are suitable for installation on racks, on a table or in a cabinet.
  • Such speakers are capable of creating a large-scale sound panorama.
  • To obtain the best stereo effect, they must be positioned optimally.

Many bookshelf speakers don’t have enough bass depth. In this regard, they are often used in conjunction with a subwoofer that can produce lower-frequency sounds.

However, some bookshelf models are specifically designed to produce plenty of low end, such as the ELAC Debut ConneX DCB41. Their design helps reduce airflow noise and provides improved bass reproduction.

Where to install bookshelf speakers

As a general rule, speakers are installed so that the tweeters are approximately at the level of the listener’s ears, and are turned towards his location. Bookshelf speakers are designed to be placed on something elevated – to get the best sound, they should be placed on a table, bookshelf or special stands.

When choosing a location in a room, there are several important factors to consider. Avoid placing speakers near uncarpeted floors, large windows, or blank walls. Curtains and carpets have a positive effect on room acoustics by reducing reverberation and absorbing reflections. Add them to the room’s decor if you hear an echo in the sound.

Taking into account the characteristics of the room

The first thing to consider when choosing a location is the configuration of the room. The location of the speakers in it depends on how you plan to use them.

Bookshelf speakers are an ideal option for those who are serious about upgrading the quality of their home audio system. Since high-frequency sounds are the most directional in the entire auditory range, position your speakers so that their tweeters are approximately at ear height. If they are placed too high or too low, the sound will reflect off the ceiling, floor and walls, resulting in poor sound clarity.

If your home theater room is rectangular in shape, bookshelf speakers are best placed at the far end; this will get rid of reflections of sound waves.

Your task is to move the front panels of the speakers away from the walls as much as possible. This helps reduce the volume of sounds reflected from them and the “swelling” of low frequencies. In addition, this situation leads to increased clarity.

If you are going to install speakers in a small room, it is best to place them at an equal distance from the side walls, approximately 30-60 cm; and no less than 60-90 cm from the back.

This configuration minimizes bass accentuation and reduces the level of reflected waves, leading to the “comb filtering” effect, which negatively affects the quality and clarity of the sound of the audio system.

At the right angle

Bookshelf speakers, oriented towards the listener at the right angle, create a more balanced stereo panorama. After choosing your preferred listening position, you can adjust the angle of the speakers in relation to it until you obtain the optimal stereo effect. This turn is one of the golden rules for obtaining high fidelity sound.

However, this is just a starting point! Refer to your owner’s manual and experiment with different speaker angles to find out when they play best. You should start at a 90-degree angle (that is, parallel to the wall), and then try a 60-degree turn inward. Change the angle until you get the best sound picture at your listening position; it doesn’t have to be exact, but you’ll know you’ve achieved your goal when the left and right channels play as one.

Creating a comfort zone

This is what audiophiles call the part of the room where the sound from the speakers is as full as possible; it usually forms approximately in the middle of the room. This is the ideal place to achieve balanced sound. Typically, it is in this area that the radiation from the left and right bookshelf speakers is focused.

To organize a “comfort zone” in a room, you must first determine the place where you plan to sit, watch movies, listen to music or play video games; this will be your target listener position. You should place a work chair or sofa in it from which you will watch TV.

When choosing a location for bookshelf speakers, try to create an equilateral triangle with your sofa or chair at the apex. When adjusting the turn, make sure that the speakers are approximately the same distance from you. When changing the distance and angle of rotation, make sure that the stereo panorama remains clear. During the process and as a result, both speakers should be heard equally.


Finally, after making all the necessary adjustments, it’s time to turn on the speakers and test the sound. When listening, check whether the tonal balance is disturbed. Adjust the distance of the speakers from the walls and the angle of their rotation towards the listener until you achieve a balanced sound.

Then play music with different instruments in the arrangement and make sure they can all be heard clearly. Try to determine if there is any aliasing or mixing of frequencies. Adjust the position of the speakers as you test. After this, check to see if there is any smearing or reflection of the sound waves. When you sit back in your chair and listen to music, do you hear sounds directly from the speakers? Assess whether they become louder, as if they are coming from the walls, ceiling, or some other location. To do this, you can get up and walk around the room.

Check to see if the bass tone changes while moving. Finally, compare the sound quality in your designated listening area and in other areas of the room. Change the height, position and angle of the speakers until you get stereo sound quality that is acceptable to you.

Bookshelf speakers can deliver superior sound in a home theater or gaming room. Correctly selected distance, location and angle of rotation allow you to achieve the best sound.