Getting the most out of your hi-fi – Part 1

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Here at Richer Sounds we believe there is nothing better than sitting down and enjoying your favourite music on a hi-fi system.

After spending your hard-earned money on a fantastic new set up, we want to help you get the most out of your system with a series of tips, tweaks and low cost upgrades – from the very basic to the more advanced… and even some slightly unusual methods!

The first things to consider when setting up a two-channel hi-fi are the speakers. Correct placement can make the difference between an amazing setup and a much muddier soundstage. The ideal set-up will have the speakers about 2 meters apart for stand-mount speakers, moving up to about 3.5 meters for larger floorstanding speakers. Having the speakers too close will result in a poor stereo separation. Likewise, speakers too far apart will struggle to accurately plot the soundstage: voices and instruments will appear to float in-between the two speakers.

spk_placement_02Working out where to sit is just as important. Drawing a virtual triangle between the speakers and the seating position can give a good idea as to how it will sound. If the listener is seated the same distance from the middle of the speakers, as the speakers are apart, the soundstage will sound very “forward” – almost as if the listener is in the music or wearing headphones. Sitting further back, about one and a half times back, results in a soundstage in front of the listener. This gives a presentation similar to a live performance.

Each speaker requires different placement in the room. Most speakers will require at least six inches of clearance from the back wall, however through trial and error the best placement will be found. Front-ported speakers (with the bass port on the front of the speaker) or infinite baffle speakers (those without bass ports) can be positioned further back against the wall. If the speakers sound ‘boomy’ try moving them away from the wall, or vice versa if they sound slightly thin on the bass.

In an ideal set up, speakers should have ‘breathing room’. About a meter from the walls either side gives the speakers enough room to reflect the sound, giving a very wide soundstage – even projecting the sound outside of the room.

Most speakers sound best ‘toed-in’. Try positioning the speakers at such an angle so you can only see the baffle (front of the speaker). This helps create that ‘sweet spot’, where the best sound is heard from the listening position. Some speakers, such as the Dali Ikon range, sound better flat to the wall. As with most set-ups, experiment by listening to some familiar music; once with the speakers flat, then again toed in. There is no exact science to setting up your system – so take enough time to experiment and see what works best for you.

With a little knowhow and some trial and error, you should have the perfect positioning for your speakers. In our next post we will look at how to set up your amplifier and source equipment…