Speaker stands and how to use them

Speaker stands and how to use them

speaker-stand-with-small-speakerA bookshelf speaker is a term given to practically any speaker that isn’t a floor standing design.  It’s strange term really, since more often than not, what’s termed a bookshelf speaker is actually far too large to actually sit on a bookshelf and also is likely to be far too close to a wall to sound anywhere near its best.  What most bookshelf speakers actually need is a speaker stand of some sort.

Do it yourself

breezeblock

A speaker stand needs to be rigid and non-resonant – and if budget is tight then a pair of breeze blocks can work rather well.  Look for some cheap isolation cones to Blu-tack to the bottom of the blocks and then use more Blu-tack to attach the speakers to the blocks.  These work surprisingly well and cost very little.  If you’re feeling artistic, then spray them in any colour that takes your choice and hey presto, a set of rather good speaker stands in the colour of your choice.

Buying

Speaker stands are widely available and can cost anywhere from around £50.00 up to near stratospheric prices. The things to remember have already been mentioned but to repeat – RIGID and NON-RESONANT are really important.  A speaker needs to be held as still as possible and you really don’t want a large hollow stand singing along with the music you’re playing.  Hollow stands are easily filled to stop them ringing.  Dry silver sand is very good, as is cat litter, or there are several stand companies that offer special filling materials.  Whatever you choose, it is really worthwhile filling hollow stands with something.  As well as stopping ringing, it will also increase mass.

Spikes

Most speaker stands are supplied with spikes.  Spikes are cool and they do good things. They de-couple the stand from the floor, they allow you to level the speaker, they hold everything in place and they pierce the ends of your shoes when you’re not paying attention.  They are a pain (in most cases) to adjust properly, but spend time and the payback in terms of improved sound is very worthwhile.  Get them level, make sure they don’t rock (three spike stands are easier, but if you have children, four spike stands are safer) and tighten everything up properly.

But before you do any of the above, get them in the right position.  Where the right position is will vary from room to room and speaker to speaker.  The right place is also going to be defined by just how far out into the room you and your partner are prepared to tolerate a pair of speakers.  If this means close to the wall, have a real think about the speakers.  Ultimately you’ll get more enjoyment and pleasure from a speaker that’s happy close to wall, even if it wasn’t your first choice in the luxury of a dem room.

When it comes to placing speakers on stands, our preferred method is Blu-tack.  Some stands come with spikes fitted to the top but we find that most of the time Blu-tack seems to work better.  It holds the speaker firmly in place and (we suspect) provides a degree of mechanical de-coupling between speaker and stand.

Finding the best place for your speakers takes time and patience.  Remember you’re trying to find the place where they sound the most musically coherent.  Do this by using a favourite piece of music and moving the speakers until you get there, and then try a few other pieces of music.  From there try an inch forwards or an inch backwards.  It’s simple; you’re listening to where your music sound best.  Experiment with angles from firing straight across the room to angled quite acutely towards your favourite listening seat.  Only when you’re really happy, mark the position with masking tape and fit the spikes. The spikes will only make a good thing better.

My precious floor

Yes, spikes may well damage your floor but there are lots of protection devices available. These vary from simple and inexpensive discs with an indent for the spike, to complex and frankly wonderful devices like the Silent Mounts that we sell.  Expensive?  Yes, but with a high-end speaker very worthwhile.  Another really good solution to this problem is to use Soundcare SuperSpikes.  I like these, they are a spike and floor protector combined and I’ve used them with both floor standing and stand mount loud speakers.

Nigel Finn

See also: speaker positioning (including a handy video guide)

hi-fi-cables-what-are-they-for

 

 

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Technical Advice and general hi-fi tips

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DIY nigel finn position speaker stands spikes

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