Studio Speakers Placement and Orientation

Studio Speakers Placement and Orientation

Studio Speakers Placement and Orientation

Studio Speakers Placement and Orientation – Studio monitor speakers are a crucial component of any recording or mixing studio. Their placement can significantly impact the quality of sound and the accuracy of the stereo image. This article explores whether studio monitor speakers can be placed on their sides, upside down, and the concept of on and off-axis listening.


Vertical vs. Horizontal Placement

Most studio monitor speakers are designed to be used vertically. The vertical alignment of the tweeter and bass driver ensures that the sounds from each arrive at the listener at the same time. This alignment contributes to a stable and accurate stereo image.

However, turning the speaker on its side will result in sounds from the two drivers arriving at different times. This usually results in a strange, unstable, and disconnected stereo image, where the different frequency components of a specific sound source will appear to come from a different place.

Moreover, through the crossover region where both drivers are trying to reproduce the same signals, the different path lengths from each driver to the listener will result in a comb-filtering effect due to phase cancellation. The sound will become colored and inaccurate. This is certainly not what the designer intended, and it significantly reduces the usefulness of the speakers as a reliable, accurate monitoring tool.

Upside-Down Placement of Studio Monitor Speakers

Turning studio monitor speakers upside down is not a common practice, but it’s not unheard of either. The orientation of the speakers can indeed affect the sound quality and the lifespan of the speakers.


  1. Improved Sound Quality: The primary benefit of using studio monitors upside down is that it can improve the sound quality of the speakers. When a monitor is placed upside down, the sound waves travel through the air differently. This can produce a more balanced sound, as the mid-range frequencies are not as muffled as they would be when the speaker is right side up.
  2. Alignment with High-End Drivers: Some engineers prefer to have their speakers upside down to align their ears with the high-end drivers. This can help to reduce the amount of bass that hits the back of the mixing desk, which can improve the overall sound quality.


  1. Heat Distribution: If you lay your monitors flat or upside down, the heat distribution inside them gets all wonky, which can damage the internal parts over time. So, that’s a big no-no if you want your equipment to last.
  2. Sound Reflection: The way you place your monitors can also affect how the sound vibes with the acoustics of your room. When you set up your monitors vertically, the sound waves they produce don’t bounce off the floor and ceiling as much, giving you a more direct, clean sound. On the flip side, if you lay your monitors horizontally, they spread the sound out more, which can cause extra echoes and warp the audio.


On and Off-Axis Listening

On-axis listening refers to the scenario where the speaker is pointed directly at the listener. The direct sound is described by the 0-degree, on-axis frequency response. The on-axis sound generally contains the most high-frequency energy.

Off-axis listening, on the other hand, occurs when you move out of line with the tweeter. At some point, as you move off-axis, the speaker will start to sound different. This is neither a good nor a bad thing. It is just true. It is what you do with this information that is important.

In general, a “good” off-axis response refers to a speaker sounding the same as on-axis for a wide range (usually up to 30 degrees). Poor off-axis speakers would change their sound quickly as you move off-axis.


While some speakers are designed to be usable horizontally, usually involving turning the tweeter waveguide around, and various other tweaks, it’s generally not a good idea to place your studio monitor speakers on their sides or upside down unless they’re specifically designed for that purpose. Always consult your manufacturer manual before placing your speakers on their sides or upside down.

Remember, the goal is to create a reliable, accurate monitoring tool. Therefore, understanding your speakers, their design, and how they interact with your specific room is essential. Happy mixing!.

Speaker placement calculator: https://noaudiophile.com/speakercalc/