My speakers haven't moved very far from where they first landed on the night that John DeVore visited Jersey City. The Arros, after the Gibbons, found a similar home — a comfortable spot, if nothing else, which works fine enough for me. It's a spot that allows me to walk into my bedroom easily, without having to brush up against a side wall or trip over any turncoat cable. A spot that appreciates symmetry and cleanliness and my apartment's obsession with order.

While I was sick, though, for all those many days, I began to feel daring and bored, and so decided to:



as they say.

I started with the DeVores, toeing them in so that, if you were to draw invisible lines from the center of each tweeter, they'd meet at a space about two feet in front of my listening position.


I shrug my shoulders at why. Why not? I figured a drastic change in placement would result in a drastic change in sound — something I'd actually be able to hear and document — and all I really wanted was to be able to hear a difference. Good or bad didn't matter.

Music. There had to be music. I started with The Wood Brothers' "That's What Angels Can Do." Because I love it.

Initially, I heard no difference at all, and I was all like:

WTF, man? This blows.

Once the voice came in, however, I heard something. The image seemed higher and a bit more to the left, and, generally, a bit farther away — distant, not muffled, but curtained, so to speak.

I preferred the sound of the original placement. Though, I must admit, I kinda dug the way the speakers looked, all toed-in and angular, as they were. Tough.

Next, I cued up "Mockingbird" by Ryan Adams. Because I love it. I always thought Ryan Adams was an asshole until I started listening to his music. He can't be that much of an asshole, it seems to me, and still be able to write such beautiful songs. Right?

Listening with the speakers drastically toed-in and spread farther apart, I thought I heard a tightening of the band: as if they'd been practicing all night long, and finally learned how to play the song. Voices, too, were better separated, each living in their own special space, more independent and distinguishable.

So it seemed. When I returned the speakers to their original positions — back to where they first landed on the night that John DeVore visited Jersey City — I could detect no difference.

And I was all like:

Christian's picture

Fingers and toesFingers and toesForty things we shareI have never really found that toeing in the speakers will change the sound, but rather focus and contain the soundstage. I find when they are toed in vocals are better centered and positioned, coming from one location. When the speakers are further apart and not toed in the vocals start to sound more like they are coming from two sources (which they are). Here is an idea: try drastic changes to hear the effect. Toe in the speakers, and then toe out the speakers. When you sense the difference in a drastic change, maybe it will be easier to detect the subtle changes.

Al Marcy's picture

We claim we are learning/teaching about ear toys. We always claim we know what we are doing, and what it means. Perhaps. Perhaps.

ShawnP's picture

I think it's safe to say that Ryan Adams is still an asshole. But you're right, he does write beautiful songs. Sigh.