The Golden Triangle For Speakers is a Lie!
A constant concern when playing speakers is their distance apart. Generally, your seat is fairly set. You know where that will go. You also know the general area where your speakers will live (flanking your TV or equipment stand). But you don’t have infinite placement options. Unfortunately, a quick search online reveals the “truth.” There is a “perfect” way to set up your front speakers to guarantee the best sound. It’s called the Golden Triangle. We’re here to tell you that the golden triangle for setting up your front speakers is a lie! It’s time to kill the golden triangle!
What is the Golden Triangle for Setting Up Speakers?
The golden triangle (sometimes called the golden ratio) is an outdated method for determining your front speaker placement. This recommendation was created so long ago that surround speakers (or even center speakers) weren’t commonly a thing. The reality is that the golden triangle was created before we really understood much about how your room affected the sound coming from your speakers.
There were two common schools of thought. The first was that your speakers should be as far apart from each other as each was from you. You’d recognize this as an equilateral triangle. If your left speaker was ten feet from your seat, then your right speaker should be as well and they should both be ten feet from each other.
The second golden triangle was more of an isosceles model. Your speakers should be as far apart from each other as you are from the midpoint between the two. In this case, the distance from you to each speaker would be equal to each other but slightly shorter than the distance between the two. Functionally, this doesn’t make much of a difference. If you are sitting ten feet from the midpoint between your two speakers (which are ten feet apart), then each speaker is just over 11 feet from you. Not a huge difference.
What Was the Point of the Golden Triangle
Rules of thumb are often created to give people an easy-to-remember starting point or to prevent common mistakes. In this case, it was probably a little of both but primarily the latter. The pictures of stereo systems often showed the speakers slammed right up against the equipment rack. The thing about people is that they believe what they see. Therefore, many homes had stereo setups that looked exactly like the pictures below.
The golden triangle wasn’t really meant to be a forever guide to setting up your speakers. It was designed to get people to pull their speakers apart so that they didn’t get essentially a mono presentation.
What About Now
Surround sound is definitely a thing. Even non-audiophiles know about it. We also have a ton of resources out there about how to best set up your speakers. We don’t agree with all of it, and people definitely still place speakers because of what they see in advertising, but most people know their left and right speakers should be separated. But how much?
The golden triangle for speaker placement isn’t so much a lie as it is completely outdated. We often have multiple people experiencing music or movies at the same time. Determining the distance to separate your speakers shouldn’t be based on one person’s location in the room. What if they sit very close to their TV? Should the speakers then be less wide than their couch? No! What if they sit very far away? Should their speakers be slammed up against the side walls? Again, no!
Some advice that was good when it was created becomes less relevant as time passes. The lie of the golden triangle placement for speakers is that it is still something we should strive to achieve. We know better now. Now we have angles and measurements. We room correction and upward-firing Atmos modules. Things have changed. It is time to put the golden triangle to rest.
Links to Speaker Setup Resources
- Home Theater 101: Basic Speaker Setup Guide
- Dolby Updates Speaker Placement Guidelines (But We Get No Credit)
- Is Symmetry Important For Home Theater Speaker Placement?
- Determining The Perfect Distance of Speakers from Walls
- Perfect Speaker Toe-In
- Cross-Firing Speaker Toe-In – When and Why
- Setting Up Dual Subwoofers
- Best Placement of Up-Firing Dolby Atmos Enabled Modules
- How To Place Surrounds for Off-Center Couch