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I got some monitor speakers for my studio (Yamaha HS8), but they seems to sound better if I keep them 4 or 5 feet from the walls. When I move them near the walls they don't sound equally good. Does anyone know why this happens?

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"Most people have noticed that when a speaker of any size is placed against a wall, it’ll deliver stronger bass response. This can be a strong temptation to use this acoustic phenomenon (a function of standing waves) to provide some additional heft, especially from smaller (less than 8”) woofers. But this room-enhanced bass will have an uneven frequency balance, and can trip you up when making critical decisions about low-end EQ, and the balance of key mix elements like kick drum and bass guitar. Many, if not most, monitors are designed to deliver the smoothest low-end response when placed at least a foot or two from the nearest room boundary (wall, floor, or ceiling), and while this free-standing placement, without reinforcement from room boundaries, won’t deliver as much thump, the bass that is present will be a more correct indication of the low-frequency energy that’s actually present in the recording, which is extremely important. One of the most common flaws of small- or home-studio mixes is either too much or too little low end, or uneven bass, caused by EQing to compensate for irregularities that are unique only to the room and monitors in use during mixing." Source: link

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    Correct, and the worst thing about resonances (in my opinion of course) is not the bass boost, which most often does not correspond to the low energy in the mix, but the fact that they ring for quite some time... This can make the sound muddy, covering a big part of the mix (due to other psychoacoustical reasons too) and the impulse response of the listening spot spread out quite drastically in the low end. – ZaellixA Oct 11 at 14:03
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That's caused by reflections off the walls interfering with the direct sound from the speaker. At some frequencies, the reflection will cancel out the direct sound, at other frequencies they will add up, so the frequency response changes from the intended one.

The manual may contain some information on the intended placement of the speakers.

Some speakers are designed to take advantage of this (e.g. bookshelf speakers), again this will be stated in the manual.

  • In addition to this excellent answer, if moving the speakers closer to the walls is desired (ex: for layout or aesthetic purposes), absorption could be added to the walls (like acoustic panels) to minimize the reflections – Johannes Oct 17 at 17:34
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One of the best resources that deals with this subject is to be found on the site of Genelec, speaker manufacturer.

https://www.genelec.com/sites/default/files/media/Studio%20monitors/Catalogues/monitor_setup_guide_2017.pdf

Specifically, page 9 of this document is worth a read.

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The reason, as already explained, is resonance - standing waves that form when you are in proximity to a wall.
Note this also applies to all other walls in the room, not just the one the speakers are against.

If you are working in a space where you can't really do much to alter the space itself, then sometimes you can get a free ride by playing with the angles.

I discovered this almost by accident at home, after having worked for many years in a 'real' studio that was designed with the desk in a 'flying V' shape, which I wanted to recreate at home.
The only way to do it in a more confined space was to turn my work area into the corner rather than against the flat of a wall. This allowed me to arrange keyboards & ancillary equipment in easy reach, left & right.

Here follows the worst piece of CAD ever made ;) showing how I achieved my almost accidental setup - which I've had tested & comes out remarkably flat, considering.
The speakers are elevated, so I have work room below, inc computer monitor etc. Not really to scale & the work area doesn't convey how well it works in practice, I had enough difficulty getting it this 'pretty'. It's really very ergonomically sound. The grey squares are the speakers, I couldn't persuade them to line up any better… good job I never wanted to be an architect.

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