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I got one of these computers for Christmas. Overall, I thought it was a pretty average laptop....

enter image description here

...except for one thing, the speakers. The speakers are placed at the lower left and right hand corners of the laptop.

Ever since I bought the computer, I've been really put off by where they put the speakers. For me, it feels off. Normally, at least from what I've seen, speakers are placed towards front of the computer, but I'm not sure if this common practice.

I'm curious to know if this is standard practice on most laptops nowadays. Was this a good design choice in putting the speakers there? Or is there a better place to put speakers?

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Typically you want the sound coming from near the video. All that said, there is no 'typical' or 'better' place to put speakers on a laptop. It's all highly dependent on all sorts of factors. – DA01 Feb 19 '13 at 7:40
So it actually doesn't matter where the speakers go to ensure at least good quality? – pharmercy Feb 19 '13 at 7:49
There is no such thing as "most optimal"; it's either optimal or not :) – jensgram Feb 19 '13 at 7:50
Well, it probably would't make sens to put the speakers on the bottom of the laptop, but what matters is the overall industrial design of the product as a whole. That dictates optimal speaker placement, not some generic rule. – DA01 Feb 19 '13 at 8:45
The optimal place from the user perspective is probably to make the screen itself an electrostatic flat speaker, preferably using localized sections of the screen to provide stereo and for positioning the sound at the exact source location on screen. I suspect this isn't optimal for manufacturing, production costs and end-user pricing, so it depends on who or what it's optimal for. – Roger Attrill Feb 19 '13 at 9:03
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If I was to design a laptop, I would take some things into consideration when deciding upon the placement of the speakers:

  • Make sure the stereo width is as large as possible, thus place the stereo speakers on the left and right edges of the computer. That is because modern music is mixed for a stereo width of the speakers that is even wider than the width of the laptop.
  • Place the speakers so that the sound isn't muffled by anything. Thus - don't place the speakers underneath the laptop since it is probably that it will be placed on the user's knees, a table, or on something similar. Further, don't place the speakers where the user's hands or arms will cover them. This will create an unwanted blocking of high frequencies, thus creating a sound with too much low frequencies (try to put a pillow in front of a speaker to hear that effect).
  • In most cases, it will probably be better to aim the speakers towards the user than in another direction. Thus - don't place the speakers behind the screen. A direct path from the cones of the speakers towards the user will create the optimal sound (check how music studios have their speakers aimed directly at the producer). This design will also make sure that the highest volume will reach the user and not the surrounding, probably preferred by other people in the nearby area of the laptop.

These are - of course - general ideas. Another laptop can, for example, be designed to enhance playback of music so that it will reach the crowd better (might be good for a DJ at a local party) :)

I think that Apple has a good placement of their speakers. That placement fulfills the requirements stated above. Apple MacBook

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I would say it really depends on the brand. MBPs 13" have speakers directed towards the back side of the machine. My old Toshiba had them directed to the top and accessible when closed etc. Sound quality depends not only on this.

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