What Is Off-Axis Speaker Placement?

Speakers are necessary in audio production because they allow us to get audio out of our computers so our ears can hear it.

There are a lot of ways in which speakers are used and set up.

In most recording studios, the set up for speakers is pretty modest and not really complicated.

There is however something called off axis placement, which we are going to discuss in this post.

Without wasting too much time….lets get into it…

What is off axis speaker placement?

On axis speaker placement is when the speakers face the listener and are generally aimed towards the ears of the listener. In off axis speaker placement, the speakers are not directly aimed at the listener. In some cases, off axis speaker placement may involve the speakers not even being visible to the listener.

Both on and off axis speaker placement have their own merits and demerits.

Depending on what speakers you’re using and what you’re exactly looking to achieve.

Speaker placement is always something preferential, so there are really no rules to follow.

You just have to do a good job of using the speakers in a manner that allows you to get what you want which sound in this case.

On Axis Speaker Placement

On Axis speaker placement is the most common and most used by various people because it is less complicated than off axis placement.

However, it does take some testing to get right.

In off axis speaker placement the goal is to direct the flow of sound toward the listeners ears.

This means that the speakers will be angled toward the listener.

Let me get into some of the areas where speaker placement is sometimes used. You probably use it too and didn’t even know.

Recording studios

In most recording studios we work with studio monitor speakers which are the recommended speakers for delicate audio work that requires precise representation of audio.

With that said, most of the times the engineer will have two speakers (left and right) that are angled at around 30° towards them.

This is important because it allows them to get a full perception of audio.

Studio monitors are well balanced and don’t sound off, so you wont really get irritated even if they face you directly.

In cars

Car stereo systems some times utilze on axis placement to direct sound toward the passenger and the person riding shotgun.

In such situations you’ll usually have two speakers inside the dash of the car.

One of the speakers will be on the drivers part of the dash whole the other speaker will be on the shotgun riders part of the dash.

Live concerts

Live concerts are another arena in which on axis speaker placement is utilized.

If you’ve ever been to a concert then you have come across large speakers on both ends of the stage aimed at the crowd.

Off Axis speaker placement

In off axis speaker placement we of course have the speakers facing away from the listener.

They are placed at an angle where they don’t directly point at the listener.

In some situations it may not even be visually possible for the listener to see the speakers because they may be concealed like in the case of a car.

In off axis placement, the speakers are usually placed to the sides of the listener.

Application of off axis placement:

Home theater sound systems

When it comes to surround sound speaker placement which is usually the recommended placement for most Home theater sound systems.

You can count on off axis speaker placement because you won’t just be working with two speakers representing the left and right channel.

In a surround sound set up, speakers literally have to surround the listener which means some speakers will be placed behind the intended listening area.

Things like tweeters that sound too harsh when pointed directly at a listener will have to be angled away from the listening area so they sound better and improve the listening experience.

Car audio

In car audio we can have both on axis and off axis speaker placement.

For on axis speaker placement there are two speakers on both ends of the dash that aim toward the passenger and the driver.

In off axis speaker placement , there may be two or more speakers, placed to the sides of the listener.

These are usually the small speakers that you find inside your doors.

Final Thoughts

Bad off axis response means that you get a bad listening experience if the speakers are not facing you.

Bad on axis response means that you’re getting a bad listening experience if the speakers are facing you.

When dealing with speakers in general its wise to experiment and test various placement techniques depending on what you’re looking for.

Like I said, there are no rules which means its up to you to find your own sweet spot that can deliver the listening experience you want.