Can I Lay Bookshelf Speakers on their Sides? Hers’s How

Can I lay bookshelf speakers on their sides? If you are in a position to mount your bookshelf horizontally on its side, you want to know if there is any negative impact. Let’s find out.

You can lay bookshelf speakers on their sides in some cases if you have a concentric speaker design. Diffraction may still cause dispersion to be horizontal or vertical depending on the speaker design.

If your purpose of having bookshelf speakers is merely to listen to audio, it is okay but not totally fine to place them on their sides.

Can I lay bookshelf speakers on their sides?

A concentric speaker design does not really matter how you lay it as long as you secure it properly in its spot.

And although concentric/colocated bookshelf speakers will sometimes work, you have to consider specific speaker measurements/directivity plots to conclude.

Diffraction will sometimes cause dispersion to be different in the horizontal and vertical direction, which makes it highly dependent on the design of the speaker.

Vertical-oriented bookshelf speakers that use multiple drivers operating in the same range of frequency can exhibit noticeable cancellation effects, especially as you move up and down.

This is generally not a problem since the ear level will not change so much vertically.

The user’s side-to-side movement will affect the time alignment and phase, same as any rearwards or forwards movement. You will also get comb filtering or cancellation with head movement in that direction.

You will experience subtle, but abrupt shifts in the tonal balance from any head movement. This is a result of changing the relative spacing between the listener and ear.

In essence, although coaxial or concentric (collocated) and full-range drivers may perform well enough when laid on the side, you could still experience effects from a rotated baffle resulting from baffle diffraction.

The environment factor

Normally, if you lay a bookshelf speaker on its side, it changes its relationship with the rest of the environment.

In this case, you do not float the speaker in mid-air and rotate it at 90 degrees. Instead, you may be sticking it on some stand, which changes the coupling of the enclosure and how sound waves interact with the stand.

Rotating a bookshelf has its own effects but in many cases, this effect is completely overwhelmed by environmental factors.

All in all, the rotation will not cause noticeable effects in a simple bookshelf speaker in a tighter space.

Problems of mounting bookshelf speakers on their sides

Before you lay the bookshelf on its side, consider the following:

  • Stereo imaging problem

Laying a bookshelf speaker on its side can mess with stereo imaging because of the difference in the listening position angles to the midrange/woofer and tweeter.

The severity of this effect will depend on room acoustics, distance to the speakers, and separation between the drivers.

Tweeters are usually carefully aligned when building woofers in bookshelf speakers to keep their physical centers in an equal vertical line. Manufacturers also ensure that the sound reaches the listener at the same time.

When both bookshelf monitors are set up, you will receive the music from each at the same time, which creates a crisp, clear, and stable stereo image.

However, with the bookshelf speaker or monitor on its side, notwithstanding if the tweeters are on the outside or inside of the mix triangle, you will experience a fuzzy or blurry stereo image.

Apart from the sounds spreading out, the various frequencies of the same instruments tend to arrive from different places in the stereo field. This eliminates the possibility of a seated sweet spot for mixing.

  • The fate of the ribbon tweeter

Placing a two-way bookshelf speaker is generally not advisable since the vertical directivity is poor when compared to horizontal placement.

This will affect the ribbon tweeter, which notoriously performs poorly even on vertical off-axis response.

If you sit nearfield, typically in the sweet spot, the effect of side mounting may be tolerable. It all comes down to what you prefer to listen to, your room, and how much of the reflections are noticeable.

Nonetheless, your bookshelf on its side will not perform optimally, just as will any normal two-way.

  • Comb-filtering

Since the sound from both tweeters will reach the listener’s ears at a different time than the woofer sound, the listener will experience comb-filtering in the crossover regions.

The frequency range that two speakers will share in one speaker system is the crossover. Thus, the main woofers and tweeters share some of the same frequencies for creating a seamless and smooth transition, as will the subwoofer.

Comb-filtering occurs as a result of deconstructive interference in waveforms, amplified or attenuated frequencies, that create quieter parts or nulls while small sections of the waveform are boosted by constructive interference in amplitude.

This cycle occurs quickly, which creates a strange equalizer effect, disrupting any attempt to make accurate decisions when mixing with your bookshelf monitors.

  • Integration with mid/lows

The integration of the mid/low driver will be affected when you rotate the tweeter 45 degrees. This is a result of the distribution of non-symmetrical ribbon tweeter sound.

  • Affected vertical dispersion

The vertical dispersion in some bookshelf speakers is narrow to minimize the reflection issues off a ceiling or work surface.

A waveguide inside the tweeter of the speaker manages the dispersion invariably in the baffle.

As the bookshelf speaker is positioned on its side, the dispersion traits of the speaker are reversed. This causes a narrow sweet spot and stereo image.

  • General sound change

Speakers are typically placed with the tweeter at the height of the ear. You do need this height level placement but consider how the sound you hear is affected by the mid/low driver.

Consider the direction of the bookshelf speaker projection. Some bookshelf speakers are designed for specific angles in relation to the listener.

If the bookshelf is designed for vertical mounting, and facing forward perpendicular to the listener’s plane, they project sound at a particular angle.

And when you put the bookshelf speaker on its side, the projection shoots the sound in a different direction, which causes an imperfect phase in the listening position.

  • Bass driver positioning

If your bookshelf speaker is designed to be placed horizontally and away from the bottom, placing it on its sides turns the bass driver closer to the stand surface of the speaker.

The result is affected bass response. If you are a power user, you get to experience vertical fins on the heat sink also in the horizontal. This will reduce your monitor’s cooling capabilities from the airflow in the room.

Putting bookshelf speakers on their side

The best but not a remedy practice is to place your bookshelf speakers on speaker stands. Ensure that the tweeters are at the ear level due to their directionality.

The stands should be placed some 3 feet away from the wall in front. This placement distance from the wall has to do with low frequencies being omnidirectional.

To eliminate the lobing effect, line up the midrange and tweeter vertically. If you have a two-way bookshelf speaker with only one woofer/midrange, do not position it horizontally.

Center speakers are built in a way that a midrange on each side of the tweeter makes the lobing effect symmetrical and does not eliminate it. This is why the center is known as the matched center (to the mains) and not the exact center.

Also, ensure to unscrew and rotate the guide 90 degrees if the guide of the tweeter is on the front.

Bookshelf speakers to place on the side

From the previous sections, you can now tell if it is worth it to place your bookshelf horizontally or leave them vertically as they are built.

If you still need a vertical bookshelf you can rotate at leisure but still retain good sound effects, consider any of the recommended bookshelves below:

Moukey MA20-1 powered bookshelf speakers pair- Bluetooth 5.0 studio monitors

Here is a bookshelf speaker you can rotate and place on its side while still experiencing sound in the best way. Below are features that make this possible:

Frequency

This is a three-way frequency speaker comprising 4”, 2”and 1”speakers. MA20-1 is built to deduce detail of the 20-20000Hz frequency band.

Its high frequency is mild and it pays attention to detail, which is excellently processed.

Speaking of the middle frequency, it highlights the human voice and restores the singer’s real voice irrespective of how you place it.

Bluetooth technology

MA20-1 bookshelf speaker features Bluetooth 5.0, an efficient and stable version of Bluetooth that lets you experience high-quality wireless audio. You can place this speaker in any part of your room and still get the best sound.

Input and output

It spots AUX input and output alongside a 3.5mm headphone. The RCA input of MA20-1 also gives you an additional option to listen to music.

You can switch between RCA, AUX, and Bluetooth by hitting the volume knob to switch.

Remote control

With the remote control, you can mute, change song order and adjust the volume on this bookshelf speaker without leaving your seat.

The main speaker side contains the control for the treble and bass.

Finish

To match your modern home, Moukey uses wood build to give this bookshelf speaker the needed catchy and matching look in your home.

BESTISAN powered Bluetooth bookshelf speakers, optical input, wireless studio monitors

Bestian is the second recommendation on this list. You can rotate the bookshelf speakers to their sides while receiving sound the way you want it, and how game developers, song producers, and movie makers want you to.

Get to experience the following:

Connections

Connections are possible both wirelessly and wired. Regarding wireless connection, this bookshelf speaker uses Bluetooth 5.0, which you can connect to any smart media device with the Bluetooth module. For wired connection, you have RCA and optical input.

Equalizer modes

Up to 3 different equalizer modes to make this bookshelf reach the zenith of your expectations. You can pick between movie, music, and dialogue modes. The remote feature also makes it possible to switch modes without moving a bone.

Sound quality

Welcome to superb sound quality from a bookshelf speaker you can place on its side when you feel like it.

Its 50W 4-inch subwoofer and 13mm silk dome tweeter combine to bring deep and crisp bass to your apartment.

Bass drivers and reflex port

4-inch bass drivers for a balanced natural sound. It also features a bass reflex port for bass enhancement.

Finish

Bestian provides this bookshelf using a classic wood finish to match the look of your home. The wood build is finished using vinyl for your home decor while your ears bibe with the beats.

Deciding when horizontally placing bookshelf speaker is OK for you

Speaker layout

Consider the specific speaker layout. Some bookshelf speakers do just okay if you are merely listening to audio.

However, nearfield monitors, for instance, may use specific projection characteristics. You do not want to place a bookshelf with slits instead of round holes as its reflex ports sideways.

What you want to hear

Your ears are always the better judge. If the listening quality downgrades dramatically, you have to turn it back vertically.

For example, your studio monitor bookshelf could be placed horizontally but your casual listening bookshelf may be on its side because both on either way give you what you want.

Bookshelf purpose

Placing a bookshelf speaker on its side may seem horrible but because filling the room for casual listening is its purpose, it becomes a good placement.

For ordinary listening to music, putting the bookshelf sideways could be okay. Then when its purpose on the sideways is done, you put it back upright.

Size

According to Bowers & Wilkins, “for most, it is OK to lay smaller stand-mount and bookshelf speakers on their side.” Therefore, it will not be okay to place larger bookshelf speakers on their sides.

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