Whether you’re a KEF fan, love Spendor Audio, worship Harbeth, or adore Acoustic Energy, audiophiles who invest in loudspeakers of any brand are striving for one common goal - an exceptional listening experience. Yet, regardless of your budget when it comes to speakers, placing them on the incorrect piece of furniture in your home can make that initial investment ultimately counter-intuitive - with the crisp quality you were expecting marred by fuzziness and distortion. And that’s because, in the hunt for sonic perfection, one key aspect of the audio set-up is commonly overlooked and underestimated - speaker stands!
Much more than simply a bit of furniture to raise your speakers to the correct height, stands play an incredibly significant role on the overall sound quality, providing your speakers of choice with the perfect environment to operate. The difference in sound clarity and accuracy can truly be night and day. Are you missing out on some of the magic in your music? In this blog, we’ll explore a few of the key benefits of speaker stands, and why they are quite so vital in achieving hi-fi nirvana.
Harbeth Audio P3ESRs on Satin Black Harbeth Speaker Stands - Photo courtesy of Hernáno
1) Sound Reflections
Time smearing occurs when the direct sound waves from your speakers reach your ears and mix with reflected sound waves, with minute differences in the time of arrival. These early reflections can cause the initial impacts of sounds (such as a note on a piano or the tap of a drumstick on a snare drum) to blend into the surrounding music - resulting in muddy, unclear sound with reduced differentiation between individual instruments. In addition, when multiple sounds arrive at your ears at slightly different times, some frequencies can be heard louder than others, which distorts tonal balance and clarity. This is called comb filtering, named as such due to the peaks and dips shown on the frequency curve of a spectral meter.
Adding speaker stands to your audio system adds much-needed distance between the loudspeakers themselves and surfaces surrounding the room. This removes reflections that could potentially confuse your ears about the precise source location for certain sounds, with first reflections occurring at a greater distance from the listener than the direct signal from the speakers. Your music will gain both clarity and definition, where each instrument and section of the song becomes more tangible, easier to distinguish from one another. You will hear more clearly, especially in complex passages, as if someone has turned up the volume on your system, but without increasing peak volume levels.
Acoustic Energy AE-100² Speaker Stands in Solid Oak with a Walnut Finish & Black Legs
2) Hitting the Sweet Spot
Everyone’s height is different. No two people are the same. Some like to listen to music standing up or at their desk, whilst others prefer to lie down on the sofa and absorb the moment. But what is the ‘sweet spot’? The sweet spot or reference position is the optimal listening position for hearing your music exactly how it was intended to be heard, calculated by the creation of an imaginary equilateral triangle between your two speakers and yourself. This allows the sound from either speaker to reach both of your ears at the same time, versus a mixture of direct and reflected sound.
Placing your speakers on dedicated speaker stands tailored to your bespoke height enables you to achieve the correct vertical placement for your listening sweet spot. From this position, you’ll experience the full potential of your system’s soundstage, immersing you in the music by allowing you to hear the location of the different instruments, and providing proper directionality, depth, and body to your acoustics.
Harbeth Audio on Solid Oak Podium T5 IV Speaker Stands - Photo courtesy of Charles
3) Vibration Management
Speaker stands allow for more than height personalisation and the control of sound reflections - they also allow for decoupling or mechanical isolation between the speaker and the floor. These terms may not mean anything to the average music listener, but for the audiophiles, you’ll know it's a key metric to great performance. Decoupling is a method of minimising the impact of vibrations on your speakers by preventing transmission, which results in significantly reduced distortion and colouration.
But why are vibrations the enemy? Vibrations can interfere with your speakers’ ability to create precise sound. The best way to understand this is to think about how a vehicle truck passing by outside can rattle your windows. If that’s what large vibrations do to glass objects, imagine what they can do and how they interfere with the sensitive components of a speaker? For even the most high-end loudspeaker brands, vibrations from other hi-fi components, footfall, traffic, or other sources, can hugely impair the listening experience they provide. With your speakers placed on dedicated speaker stands, however, these vibrations are absorbed by the stand and dissipated into the floor; ensuring only clean, undistorted sound reaches your ears.
At Hi Fi Racks, we’re committed to the pursuit of the best possible listening experience. Developed through years of research and development, our extensive range of high-quality solid hardwood speaker stands are precision-engineered to your choice of bespoke height (to the millimetre), designed to enable you to enjoy your music to its fullest potential. Our products go through rigorous testing for exceptional acoustic performance without compromise, often in conjunction with leading speaker manufacturers, before being released to the market. Browse the range today!