The topic of setting up speakers in a vertical or horizontal position proves to be fairly divisive and has been argued for a long time. Especially when speakers reach a certain size, it can be advantageous to have them “lie down” in a horizontal position in order to better accommodate the surrounding environment. If the speaker is not equipped to be used in a horizontal position, this orientation can have a detrimental effect on the acoustic performance. PSI Audio first solved this issue with a swivelling baffle in 1992 in the Studer A5. Today, the Swiss manufacturer employs that very same solution its three-way studio monitor A23-M.
Speaker orientation in studio design
There are a lot of different reasons why someone would want their speakers to be placed “sideways”. They might consider it more aesthetically pleasing, or their studio room could be spatially restricted in a way that requires the speakers’ horizontal orientation. Unfortunately, most studio speakers cannot simply be put on their sides without causing some significant reduction of sonic fidelity. The sweet spot becomes considerably smaller and changes in the frequency spectrum occur, impairing the acoustic results in often unpredictable and even less treatable ways.
High frequency dispersion and wave guiding
The degradation of sound quality when operating speakers in a horizontal position is mainly due to its mid and high frequency dispersion. The higher the frequency, the more directional it generally becomes when projected from a sound transducer. Manufacturers put a lot of effort into developing midrange drivers and tweeters that cover a wide area horizontally while restricting vertical dispersion. Most users will move from left to right while working with the speakers, hence requiring a wider horizontal dispersion in order to provide for a more even sound distribution on the horizontal plane. They rarely move up and down though, but usually there are surfaces above and below the speakers that will colour the sound image with reflections, like the ceiling or the mixing desk.
When speakers optimised for an upright orientation are laid on their sides, their dispersion profile is reversed. As a result, they will have a very restricted horizontal dispersion and thus a minimized sweet spot, while the wide vertical dispersion causes reflections from the surfaces above and below, resulting in interferences that distort the frequency response. Even the greatest speakers, when positioned inappropriately, will not be able to perform optimally. Therefore, PSI Audio has taken measures with their A23-M to rectify the situation.
Problem solved: PSI Audio A23-M
In order to conquer this problem and maximize the users’ flexibility when setting up their speakers, PSI Audio opted to mount the tweeter with the signature midrange driver of the A23-M onto a square plate that can be detached, turned and re-attached to tailor their position to the intended speaker orientation. This technique is not new. PSI Audio already used it back when the manufacturer developed and built the A5 speakers for legendary Swiss brand Studer in 1992. By turning the plate, the dispersion problems are completely annulled and the outstanding sonic qualities of the speakers are retained. The A23-M leaves the orientation up to the user and the situation.
Three ways to perfection – the merits of the A23-M
In addition to the swivelling baffle, the PSI Audio A23-M offers all the qualities for which the Swiss manufacturer is known. Combining established proprietary technology like the Adaptive Output Impedance, Compensated Phase Response with Class G/H amplifiers and an all new specifically designed midrange driver, the A23-M is the perfect monitor for sophisticated audio applications from broadcast to music production and mastering.