Speakers and rooms interact
You can change how your speakers sound by where you place them in a room.
How does this work?
The sound you hear is a mixture of direct sound, straight from the speaker and indirect reflected sound from walls, floors, furniture etc. The indirect sound arrives at a different time, and sounds different from the direct sound, and what you hear is a mixture of the two sounds.
Ideally you want lots of direct sound, and a bit of well balanced indirect sound. This is however easier said than done. So below we’ve put a few tips for different situations.
Background music at home
Here you want to concentrate on the music sounding intelligible and balanced. Here’s a few things you can try:
- Put small speakers up high, against a wall. If you haven’t got a SoundBucket, you’ll need a bit of bass reinforcement (see our Get more bass! article), and the wall will give you that. Putting them high up means there’s more chance that you’ll hear the high frequencies directly.
- If putting them on a surface, try putting them right at the edge. This stops the voice frequencies from being reflected off the surface with the same intensity as the direct sound. If you want them further back, try and put them on a piece of soft furnishing (cork tile, beer towel?) as this will absorb some of the reflection energy, and also protect the surface.
- Try to avoid putting them on the floor, voices could sound distant in comparison to the bass.
Party music at home
Having a party? You want to concentrate on the music sounding loud!
- Put the speakers in a corner, ideally at ceiling height (see our Get more bass! article) to get maximum bass and loudness boost. Putting them high up means there’s more chance that you’ll hear the high frequencies directly.
- Point the speaker drivers towards the centre of the room. Drivers are at their most powerful head on, and get lower in volume as you listen to them at an angle. Except for a SoundBucket!
- Use multiple speakers. Sounds a bit obvious, but more speakers = more volume.
- If you can, drive multiple speakers in mono. You can do this with special aux leads. Two mono speakers are twice as powerful as 2 stereo speakers. The SoundBucket lets you do this trick Bluetooth, as well as wires.
- Use the analogue inputs to overdrive them, rather than Bluetooth. Bluetooth, being digital has a maximum level, however you can clip the level with analogue signals. This will make the signal sound dirty, but it will be louder. – WARNING – severe clipping sounds nasty and could damage your speaker! But it will sound loud…
Gaming, PCs & TVs
SoundBuckets are the perfect speakers to boost up your media experience. Great sound is all part of the experience and really helps set the mood. Here’s some ideas:
- Ideally you need a stereo set of speakers that you can place either side of the screen. Most media is mixed to stereo (see our note on stereo), or can be automatically down-mixed to stereo if it was mixed in surround.
- Place the speakers about the same distance apart as you’re sitting from the screen, butif you’re sitting a distance away, separate them by about 6″ – 15cm from the edges of the screen.
- Use the analogue aux inputs, and a RCA to 3.5mm cable. If you haven’t got a SoundBucket with an aux output, you’ll need a special splitter cable.
- If you’ve only got a single speaker, try to place it just below a TV, or just behind a monitor. This will give you the best imaging.
Out and about
Camping, chilling in the park, BBQs? The biggest problem outdoors is that there are no walls to reflect the sound. This means that the bass sounds light, and it’s difficult to get consistent sound over a big area with one speaker.- here’s what to do:
- If you’re sitting on the ground, put the speakers on the ground, near you. The ground will act as a boundary, and you’ll get a bass boost (yes, once more see our Get more bass! article). Point the speaker drivers towards you. You’ll get more treble this way. Omni directional speakers like a SoundBucket work well outdoors, as they broadcast sounds in all directions.
- If you’re at a BBQ, or standing up, try and raise the speaker up, so everybody can hear the music, and it’s not being blocked by peoples legs.
- If you can, use multiple speakers to cover more area. You can drive them at a lower volume, and it will sound more natural. See above for mono/ stereo ideas.
Ok, you’ve got two SoundBuckets, and you want to get it right, where do you start? Well you need a room that is symmetrical, ideally carpeted floor and some soft furnishing. The speakers will need to be on stands, away from the walls, and you’ll want to be about 6 feet – 2m away from them. Details:
- You want to aim to mount each speakers on speaker stands about 25″ – 70cm high, so that the tweeter is about your chest height. Normal speakers require the tweeter to be ear height, but the SoundBuckets are designed to be placed lower than that.
- You want the speakers to be about 3ft – 1m away from any wall. This means that the room is going to be about 12ft – 3m wide, and about 14 ft -4m deep.
- Omni directional speakers like a SoundBucket are very good at providing uniform reflections, so they can be closer to a wall if needs be, but make them nearer to one wall (rear or side) rather than the same distance from rear and side wall. This will give more uniform reflections.
- You need to find a nice chair or sofa to listen in, and make sure it’s got some distance between it and the wall behind you.
- Don’t use stereo Bluetooth to get stereo ( see our stereo note), but use wires, or the SoundBuckets aux out system.
- Use the aux inputs from a good source for the best audio, and the external PSUs for the best dynamic range.
- It’s a lot of fuss to get this right, but the results will be spectacular!