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Lead image

3 reasons why you need stands for your bookshelf speakers

Take your speakers off the shelf to improve their performance

In all my years at Crutchfield, there's one thing I've never seen a speaker company do — demo their speakers on a bookshelf! That's because so-called bookshelf speakers sound waaaay better when they're on a good pair of well-positioned stands. Here are three reasons why.

1. Proper speaker placement is crucial to excellent sound

Putting your speakers on stands gives you more freedom to put them where they'll sound their best.

Positioning them the same distance from each other as they are from you creates a listening "sweet spot." This helps give you an authentic sense of the stage or studio where the band is playing. It also helps you clearly visualize where each instrument or voice is coming from.

Read my article on stereo speaker placement for more tips on fine-tuning your system.

Diagram of how to set up the speakers

A pair of speaker stands helps you get the best sound from your speakers by creating a listening "sweet spot" where you sit.

2. Reducing reflections gives you purer sound

When you listen to music, you're not just hearing the sound that's emanating directly from your speakers. You're also hearing reflected sounds from walls and other nearby surfaces. These reflections can muddy what you're hearing, sometimes to a surprising degree.

Getting your speakers off the bookshelf reduces these close-proximity reflections. This lets you hear more direct sound from the speakers, and less reflected sound from the bookcase walls and shelves.

It's also important to avoid using a bookcase because the shelves themselves can vibrate. This is especially important if your audio components are on the same shelf as your speakers (turntables in particular are especially troubled by shelf vibration).

As an added bonus, some speaker stands have hollow columns that you can fill with sand or shot for increased mass, stability, and vibration reduction.

KEF Performance Speaker Stands

Some high-end speaker stands (like these custom-made LS50 stands from KEF) can be filled with sand or shot for increased mass and stability.

3. Having the tweeters at ear level is really important

One of the reasons why floor-standing speakers sound so good is that their tweeters are naturally positioned at ear level when seated. Placing your bookshelf speakers on the appropriate height stands lets you hear the tweeter's high frequencies as clearly as possible.

So what size stands are ideal for your system? Start by measuring the height of your ears when seated. Then subtract half the height of your speakers to know what size stands you'll want for your room. Some speaker stands can be raised or lowered, which is handy if you change speakers or furniture.

Speakers on stands.

Crutchfield editor Steve Kindig uses carefully positioned stands with his Dynaudio Excite X18 stand-mount speakers. They help deliver exceptionally clear sound with music and movies in his media room.

Bonus tip: hide wires and cables for a neat, clean installation

Are your speakers currently on a shelf because you want to keep their wires hidden away? Then you'll be pleased to know that many speaker stands offer built-in cable management to conceal wires. This is especially helpful if you're using stands for surround speakers in a home theater system and want to keep things looking as tidy as possible.

ELAC ABST-101-BK custom speaker stand for the ELAC Adante AS-61 stand-mount speaker

Many speaker stands, like this custom ELAC model, have integrated cable management that allows speaker wire to be neatly hidden away.

Get free personalized advice from a music enthusiast

Have questions about choosing the right stands for your system? Our expert advisors know the gear inside and out. Contact us today.

Free lifetime tech support is included with your Crutchfield purchase.

  • Joel in Austin from Austin

    Posted on 3/10/2021

    Is placing a speaker at an angle aimed directly at your ears almost as good as putting it at ear height?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 3/15/2021

    Hi Joel. Yes, angling a stand or mount to direct high frequencies toward your ears is a great approach. In some cases, it can sound as good as having the speakers directly at ear level.
  • Scott from Duluth

    Posted on 2/27/2021

    I'm looking for a stand that will work with the Revel Performa M20. Do you have anything that would work?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 3/3/2021

    Hi Scott, something like the Pangea Audio DS400s would be an excellent choice for your speakers. They're ultra-sturdy, and are a good value for the price in my experience.
  • Enrique from Ciudad de México

    Posted on 2/10/2021

    ¿Que material es más recomendable para un soporte? He visto de madera y de metal. Mis altavoces son unos Polk RTI6 y la habitación donde los escucho es de piso firme (cemento). Gracias.

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 2/11/2021

    Hola Enrique, gracias por ponerte en contacto con nosotros. Te recomiendo que compres estantes de acero. Te proporcionarán una base sólida para tus altavoces en tu piso de concreto, y además se pueden llenar de arena para mayor estabilidad.
  • Thomas from Cincinnati

    Posted on 12/12/2018

    Also, if possible, fill the stands with play sand or even lead shot. The heavier the better. And, if possible, use spikes on the bottom of the stands penetrating the carpet if there us any. This will reduce the stand from rocking ever so slightly forward and backwards from the speakers woofers pushing and pulling the air creating its sound wave.

  • Alan from West Palm Beach

    Posted on 12/4/2018

    Bookshelve, not towers?

  • Dale Mayo

    Posted on 12/4/2018

    Explain what height stands to use with bookshelf speakers and additional ATMOS speakers on top .

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 12/5/2018

    Hi Dale, even if you're using an Atmos topper you'll still want the stand-mounted speaker's tweeter at ear level. So I'd measure for the stand height the same way as if you weren't using an Atmos speaker — the height of the stand will be the same in both cases.