For most of you, computer speakers are a very important component of your gaming setup. I’d be willing to be that your speakers are in use for the majority of your time spent online, if you’re not primarily a headphone user. The proper positioning of PC speakers is often overlooked in a Battlestation, and most people don’t realize the impact that good speaker placement has on sound quality and aesthetics. Because of this, you may be missing out on enjoying your online experience to the fullest!
Why does Speaker Positioning Matter?
Eluded to above, this really is a simple concept that comes down to two basic ideas: Functionality, and Aesthetics.
A set of speakers that are well positioned will provide you with improved sound quality, and this will result in a greater experience utilizing them. Whether it be for watching Netflix, gaming or listening to music, all of those experiences will be enhanced by something as simple as shifting your speakers and sub woofer a few inches in the right direction. For an embarrassingly long period of time, my speakers hid directly behind my monitors such that the sound was effectively muffled. I initially thought that it wasn’t a big deal and that the sound was ‘good enough’, but the positive impact it made exceeded my expectations!
Aesthetics will be a recurring theme across nearly all topics related to your Battlestation. It’s an important consideration, and computer speakers are no exception. An entirely separate discussion can be had for the different speaker’s and their appearances, but today we will just be talking about positioning.
Speaker positioning plays an important role in the overall aesthetics of your setup. If you place your speakers sloppily to ‘get the job done’, with one angled towards the ceiling and the other one on it’s side because there ‘wasn’t enough room’, that obviously won’t look too appealing or sound ideal. Positioning your speakers in absolute symmetry will make your Battlestation look clean and elegant, which is ideal if you’ve already spent boat-loads of money on ‘perfecting’ your setup.
The above Battlestation has a lot of unique functional and design aspects at play. Notice how the (mounted) speakers are perfectly symmetrical relative to the rest of the setup, providing for a very nice aesthetic appeal. This looks to also be positioned such that it maximizes sound quality for the user, /u/Openist.
A Brief Disclaimer on the Shape and Type of your Speaker(s)
There are a few different types of speakers and speaker arrangements. This includes sound bars, surround-sound speaker and regular computer speakers.
The proceeding guidance on properly positioning your speakers will be be solely related to typical, or ‘generic’ computer speakers. This includes two speakers that are placed in front and to the left and right of you, which usually comes with a sub woofer.
I plan on writing articles about these other types of speakers in the future, and I will be linking to them from here once I do.
How to Properly Position your Speakers
It’s time to get into the meat and bones of this article. A step by step guide isn’t the most practical approach for this since everybody has different speaker sizes, available desk space and pre-existing peripherals to work around. Instead, I’ll be discussing the different aspects, tips and tricks to ensure you are positioning your speakers as efficiently as you can.
Consider your Desk Space Availability
Desk space plays an important role regarding where you can position your speakers. If you have relatively confined desk space to work with, it’s not necessarily ideal to compromise your current arrangement of peripherals for the sake of ‘efficient’ speaker placement. While speakers are important, many would agree that peripherals such as monitors and keyboards should take priority when it comes to their own efficient placement within a gaming setup.
For example, people with one monitor may have an easier time positioning their speakers than those who have two or more. This is because with more monitors, the horizontal desk space is used up, making it difficult to find a good location for speakers. I current have three monitors placed side by side, and I won’t forego having a triple monitor gaming setup just to make space for speakers. The monitors occupy nearly all of my horizontal desk space, meaning speaker placement is tricky, with no extra space for them on either side. If I place the speakers in front of my monitors, they’ll block a part of the screens. And if I place the speakers behind my monitors, the sound will be slightly muffled. Neither are ideal situations, and if I had no other options, I would pick having my speakers placed behind my monitors. Having an obstructed view of my monitors would bother me endlessly, whereas having a slightly muffled sound quality I can live with. My solution was to use a different set of speakers that were small enough to fit behind my monitors without getting muffled.
The point of that example is that there are usually a few ways you can work around having limited desk space. I decided to change my speakers, but I could have also adjusted the height of my monitors (if I had monitors capable of that). Since there are thousands of variations of monitor heights and speaker sizes, among the arrangements of other peripherals, it’s impossible to provide individual advice. You need to consider your own Battlestation and decide how to make the space for your speakers, while compromising as little as you can.
You can see above that /u/Tap_thethird doesn’t have a whole lot of desk space to work with, so they decided to purchase a smaller set of pebble speakers that would fit beneath their monitor without obstructing it or getting muffled. They also look nice to boot!
Speaker Placement Tips and Best Practices
The following tips and best practices will help to make sure that you are positioning your speakers as efficiently as possible. Some of these tips may not be possible or viable given certain setups, but they should be followed as closely as possible.
- Ensure your speakers are away from the wall. Sound will bounce off walls if your speakers are close to them, reducing sound quality. Try and keep it one or more feet away from the wall. This might not be possible depending on if your desk is already up against a wall, which it usually is. In that case, keeping them as far away from the wall as possible is ideal.
- Angle your speakers towards you. A pretty obvious one, sound should be travelling towards you. It is usually best to angle your speakers slightly behind your head, giving you a wider listening area.
- Make sure nothing is obstructing the sound waves. Usually, obstructions are indicative of asymmetry or clutter on a desk. Regardless, obstructed sound waves will result in poorer sound quality.
- Your speakers should be level with your head. Once again, this is more of an idealism than a necessity. Most people’s desks will be low relative to their head, and so will the speakers placed upon them. Mounting your speakers is an option to keep them at an ideal height.
- Keep your speakers symmetrical and separated. Another straight forward one. From both an aesthetic and sound quality standpoint, this is important in any setup. Speakers should a fair distance away from one another depending on how close you are to them. This is usually dictated by the angle they are placed relative to where you sit. See below for a diagram.
- Sub woofers are easy. Usually there is ample space beneath your desk to place a sub woofer. Moving it slightly away from the wall will help prevent a ‘booming’ effect, which will reduce sound quality. Low end frequencies tend to travel well compared to high frequency sounds, so there is a fair bit of leeway for where you can place it.
The above diagram should give you a sense of how to properly position and angle your speakers. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty about proper relative angles, since I doubt you have a protractor handy. a close approximation is really all you need to obtain optimal sound quality and aesthetics. I would be skeptical if somebody claimed that they could hear the difference between their speakers being angled at 55 and 60 degree angles, for example.
Keep it simple, and if you follow the above general guidelines for positioning your speakers, you will receive effectively all of the sound and aesthetic benefits associated with it.
Speakers are often overlooked and underappreciated as peripherals, but as you now know, there are various benefits to ensuring they are positioned correctly. While not every Battlestation is made equal in terms of available desk space, I hope this post provided you with valuable information that will help you to properly position your speakers given your own restrictions and opportunities.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to either comment below or email me at YourBattlestationBlog@gmail.com