Where To Place Bookshelf Speakers for the Best Sound

Created by ELAC

The proper placement is the most crucial factor when it comes to getting the best sound quality out of your bookshelf speakers. When optimally placed, these speakers produce a balanced, fuller sound—with better imaging and separation—allowing you to maximize your listening experience in small to mid-sized spaces.

Poor speaker placement can take away from the full experience of your music, movies, or video games. It can cause frequency build-ups and unwanted reflections, making it difficult to hear various details.

In this guide, you’ll learn where to place bookshelf speakers, their benefits, how to set up a listening room, and how to create that sweet spot for an optimum listening experience.

Characteristics of Bookshelf Speakers

Not everyone has the space or budget for a set of large floor-standing speakers. For this reason, bookshelf speakers have become an excellent alternative. Despite their smaller size, they can give you that big powerful sound you’re looking for to improve your overall listening experience.

These speakers have the following features:

  • A smaller footprint allows you to position them almost anywhere in the room.
  • They can fit on a speaker stand, tabletop, or cabinet.
  • These speakers can provide a large sound stage.
  • You need to position them optimally to get the best stereo experience.

Many bookshelf speakers lack sound reproduction capabilities in the lower range. Due to this, they are often paired with a subwoofer, which can produce low-pitched audio frequencies.

However, some bookshelf models are designed with enhanced bass response, such as the ELAC Debut ConneX DCB41. This enhancement reduces ventilation noise and gives you a better overall bass extension.

Where To Place Bookshelf Speakers

The general rule is to ensure that bookshelf speakers are positioned around ear level, angling them at your preferred listening position. Bookshelf speakers are designed to be set on top of an elevated surface. You can set them up on a table, shelf, or stands to get the best sound. 

There are several factors you should consider when laying out speakers within a room. Avoid placing bookshelf speakers near uncarpeted floors, large windows, and blank walls. Curtains and carpets have a positive effect on a room’s acoustics by helping to reduce reverberation and absorb reflections. Consider adding them to your room if you hear a lot of sound reflections.

Room Setup

The first thing you need to consider when figuring out where to place bookshelf speakers is your room setup. Where your speakers go in the room depends on how you plan to use these speakers.

Bookshelf speakers are perfect for anyone serious about improving the overall quality of their home audio. Since the high frequencies are the most “directional,” the goal is to get your tweeters close to ear height. When they’re positioned too high or too low, the sound bounces off the roof, floor, and walls, which results in a loss of audio clarity.

If you’re setting up a home theater within a rectangular room, placing your bookshelf speakers at the far end of the room is best. This type of placement is best for eliminating sound reflections. 

The goal is to distance the front of the bookshelf speakers as far away as possible from the walls. This reduces the probability of the sounds bouncing off them and creating a buildup of bass. In addition, this position allows you to hear the sounds more clearly.

If you’re setting up your bookshelf speakers in a small room, placing both speakers the same distance away from the side walls is best. It is best to place them 1′ to 2′ away from the walls on their sides, and they should also be at least 2-3’ away from the walls at the rear.

This positioning minimizes bass buildup and reflections that cause an effect known as “comb-filtering,” which can reduce the quality and clarity of your audio.

Set the Angles

When bookshelf speakers are angled properly, they create a more balanced stereo image. After establishing your preferred listening position in the room, you can adjust the speaker angles toward you until you get the best stereo sound out of your speakers. This is often referred to as “toe-in” and is one of the golden rules of high fidelity with regard to loudspeaker positions.

However, this is just a starting point! Please refer to the manufacturer’s manual and experiment with different speaker angles to see what sounds best. It’s often best to try out 90 degrees (straight out from the wall) and a 60-degree angle (turned inward). Adjust until you get the best sound from your listening position—the angle doesn’t have to be exact—but you know you get there when both left and right channels sound glued together.

Creating That Sweet Spot

Audiophiles refer to that part of the room where you hear the full sound from the speakers as the “sweet spot,” which is usually somewhere around the middle of the room. It’s the ideal listening position where you get a balanced sound. It’s usually the area that becomes the focal point of both the left and right bookshelf speakers.

To create this sweet spot in the room, you should first determine where you want to sit, watch a movie, listen to music or play video games, which will become your target area. This is where you want to place your work chair or the couch where you’ll be watching your TV.

When positioning your bookshelf speakers, try to make an equilateral triangle with the couch or chair at the center. Make sure that the speakers are about the same distance from each other as you adjust the angles. As you adjust the distance and angles, be sure to maintain a clear stereo image. The goal is to be able to hear both speakers equally.

Test the Audio

Finally, it’s time to turn up the speakers and test the audio after making all the necessary adjustments. As you listen to the sounds, check for any balance issues. Adjust the distance of the speakers from the walls and their angles until you get a balanced sound.

Next, play the music with different instruments and ensure you hear everything clearly. Try to identify if any of the frequencies tend to overlap or blend. Adjust the position of the speakers as you test the sounds.

After that, check for smearing and sound reflections. As you sit back and listen to the music, can you hear the sounds directly from the speakers? See if the sounds are louder, as if they’re coming from the walls, ceiling, or some other area. You can stand up and walk around the room to check.

Check if the bass changes its tone when you move around. Finally, compare the sound quality from your designated listening area with other areas in the room. Adjust the height, position, and angle of your bookshelf speakers until you see an improvement in the stereo image coming from your speakers.

Bookshelf speakers give your home theater or playroom an excellent boost in sound quality. You can create the best sound experience with proper distancing, placement, and angling. Check out our top-of-the-line selection of bookshelf speakers to get the best stereo image.