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Proper Speaker Placement

The two most important elements in your sound system are your microphones and your loudspeakers. The first determines what sound enters your system; the second determines what sound exits your system. Assuming you have selected the appropriate mics and all that's in between, everything your system has achieved will be wasted if your loudspeakers are improperly placed.

Feedback is the first sign that your loudspeakers may not be properly located. Reverberating sound bouncing off room walls or dead spots in your coverage area are other symptoms of poorly placed speakers. Speaker placement is always dependent upon a room's acoustical characteristics, but some basic rules can offer guidance.

The primary rule is that loudspeakers need to cover your seating area. Every seat in the house needs to receive sound for every person to hear your message.

Man stacking speakers in a church settingSecondly, determine if your loudspeakers should be located centrally or on opposite sides of the stage. If your ceiling is high enough, a center cluster may be recommended. If your meeting place has low ceilings or is a temporary location, speakers placed on opposing sides may be the best alternative. Especially long rooms may require satellite speakers and a digital delay. (Ask your CCI Solutions representative for details if this might apply to you.)

Third, attempt to place your speakers between the first row of the audience and your microphones. Speakers emitting sound directly into a microphone will almost always cause feedback.

To avoid phase cancellation, a fourth rule of thumb applies if your loudspeakers are on opposing sides: make sure each speaker covers its own half of the room. Phase cancellation occurs when the sound waves from a pair of speakers cross. The sound waves cancel each other and leave a dead spot in the room with no sound.

A fifth rule is to raise your speakers to the proper height. Loudspeakers should be high enough for the sound to get over the heads of people in the front row, whether they're standing or sitting, and reach the back row. Sound has a difficult time traveling through solid objects. The less you put in its path, the better.

Other variables will determine the ideal location for your loudspeakers: room acoustics, loudspeaker efficiency, and your sound system's capabilities. But, these short guidelines will give you a starting point. Always feel free to call your CCI Solutions representative for assistance with your particular sound system's needs. You'll find a comprehensive selection of loudspeakers, ranging from the popular QSC K12 speakers to the amazing QSC KLA Active Line Array System for sound installations.