Can You Put Bookshelf Speakers on Their side?

Many of today’s bookshelf speakers are meant to stand vertically, with the tweeter positioned right on top of the woofer. But it is also common to see speakers flipped over on the sides. This trend is popular on social media and among sound engineers as it looks great while helping save room in tight areas like cluttered bookshelves or recording studios.

Can You Put Bookshelf Speakers on Their side?

Can you put bookshelf speakers on their sides, then? Will a horizontal placement of speakers affect the quality of their sound?

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. This article breaks down and explains what to expect if you put your bookshelf speaker on its side.

Can Bookshelf Speakers Be Placed on the Sides?

The answer is yes, you can place your bookshelf speakers on their sides. However, here’s the catch. This placement is not necessarily ideal. This is because of the possibility that it will hurt the sound quality. But then again, even if horizontal positioning may not be optimal, this may work just fine if you are only using your speakers for casual listening purposes.

Placing your bookshelf speakers is not the best choice for sound quality. Horizontal positioning may also be impossible in some cases. Other factors can also make it a bit tricky. The most common reason is often lack of space. Some people may also prefer how it looks in a certain room.

One thing you can do here is to try to listen to music with the bookshelf speakers placed in both positions. Doing this will let you determine if the horizontal position will have a severe effect on the quality. It is especially important if you like to get only the best sounds from the speakers. Those who are okay with this tradeoff might not be bothered by the difference.

What Will Happen If You Put Bookshelf Speakers Sideways?

Why is it not an ideal option to place bookshelf speakers on their sides, you ask? This placement can make a difference for listeners who want the best home theater and music experience. Three things can happen if you place your bookshelf speaker on its side:

No Cooling or Airflow

Active or powered bookshelf speakers feature heat sinks located at the back. The heat sinks are meant to push the air vertically for the speakers to stay cool. Laying bookshelf speakers in a horizontal position can affect the airflow. It can result in thermal problems which can damage your audio equipment.

Problem with Stereo Imaging

Stereo imaging is important to both audio production and critical listening. Placing your bookshelf speakers on the sides isn’t really how the speaker drivers are meant to function. When placed in a horizontal position, the bass driver and tweeter may have an uneven distribution of the sound waves.

This may lead to wonky or muddled stereo imaging. It affects the bass, high, and midrange frequencies, resulting in inaccurate sound reproduction. Speakers meant for vertical placement mainly rely on vertical dispersion and a horizontal placement can make it difficult.

Tweeter Not at Ear Level

Vertical speakers are considered the norm for a good reason. Tweeters on bookshelf speakers are ideally placed at ear level when you are at your particular listening position. it is the sweet spot for most loudspeakers’ placement to get the best sound quality. Achieving this with horizontal placement is more difficult.

Where to Place Bookshelf Speakers

You can place bookshelf speakers in different places and some of these include the following:


Bookshelves are the most obvious locations where you can place bookshelf speakers. You can also lay them on coffee tables, TV stands, and other similar furniture. These speakers can actually be placed on any flat and stable surface.

Just remember that not every location will be equally efficient or appropriate, so you need to experiment first to find the best one that works for you.

Mounted to the Wall

Another good way to position bookshelf speakers is by mounting them on the wall. While this method won’t necessarily work for every scenario, it is another good option you can consider. The process of mounting is more involved, which means that this one might not always be the most convenient. However, this is ideal if you have limited floor space.

Mounted bookshelf speakers work great for both rear and front speakers. Mounted speakers are more popular and common in most home theater setups. It might be a bit tricky to find floor space in rooms if you have more than 5 speakers.

Mounting might also not sound that bad if you have rear speakers, front speakers, surround speakers, a subwoofer, and a center channel.

Speakers Stands

You can also keep your bookshelf speakers on regular speaker stands. A speaker stand can offer much better flexibility compared to bookshelves, particularly if you have an adjustable one. You can just move around the speaker stand as you try to look for the best speaker placement.

Other Helpful Tips for Placement of Bookshelf Speakers

Now that you know some of the best locations for your bookshelf speakers, here are other tips to help you avoid the most common mistakes when placing these speakers.

Avoid Close Placement to the Wall

Bookshelf speakers are ideally positioned from the wall at a distance of 2 to 3 feet. Low frequencies will end up exaggerated if bookshelf speakers are placed too close to the wall. Once this happens, the high and mid frequencies might get lost in your audio mix. This results in an uneven frequency response of your bookshelf speaker.

Place at the Right Height

Once again, the best way to make a difference in the sound quality is to place your speakers at the right height. See to it that loudspeakers are placed in such a way that the tweeters are at ear level when seated. This will result in the best stereo imaging and audio experience.

Get Rid of Obstructions

This one is pretty obvious. Bookshelf speakers are ideally positioned at a distance of 4 to 5 feet from your preferred listening position. The space between your bookshelf speakers and ears must be free from any obstruction.