Equipment between speakers...

I've heard this over and over again, but wonder what the details are. I've just removed my cabinet and the equipment is on 3" platforms on the floor and on the fireplace hearth (at least I think it's a hearth). It does indeed seem much more interesting from a sound-stage perspective, with added resolution. This may be spurious, as there are other changes happening at the same time.

Nevertheless, my question for those in the know is... If I had a 13' wide, by 9' high front wall with my speakers 4' out from that wall, would a wall-to-wall book shelf with books, records, equipment (lets say 18" deep) be helpful or harmful? if helpful (difusing), then what of all this "don't put your equipment between your speakers" stuff? If harmful, is it the fact that the equipment is between the speakers or that there is anything between the speakers (other than wall)?

Given the choice, would you have the book shelf with equipment strategically (and artfully) placed, or would you have a dedicated audio stand (and not bookshelf) in between, or have nothing but wall in between (with equipment off to the side and long speaker cable runs).

Many thanks, as always.

"Nothing" between the speakers is your best bet. You are already beginning to hear the affects and you will hear more as time goes on. Once you are familiar with the difference of having "nothing" between the speakers you can't go back. You can leave your amp or amps on the floor and run a long interconnect to a side wall. Most good preamps shouldn't have a problem running a 20'-25' interconnect.

Now that you have progressed this far you will actually be able to hear changes in the system as you make improvements.

This is why High End Audio and Home Theater don't mix. There is nothing worse than a big screen TV between your speakers.
The bookcase idea would actually get you a bit more depth to your sound stage, by the diffusion of your system's back waves. It would also go far to eliminate slap echo/resonance nodes in the room. If you are using planars; equipment actually between the speakers is not as great an issue, as they are quite beamy. Box speakers need a clear space between them, for the best propagation of sound waves. You are not talking about anything BETWEEN the speakers anyway.
I say there is no way to really know for sure until you try it.
Post more pictures of your entire room. The one picture on your system page could be misleading, but it does look like you're leaving much of your system's potential untapped.

Think long and hard on what look you want to wind up with first! I’ve had to change things drastically a few times because I over looked details in the esthetic… mostly the note on exposed cable runs.

Write it all donw on paper. Then, when you’ve made up your mind… go over it again. Twice. It’ll save you $$$ and time.

My experience with having anything within the desired/proposed area for reproducing the virtual sound stage has shown me this…

Having a large ‘box’ (46 – 61in RPTV) made the sound stage accumulate around the TV. On top, to either side, and made the overall depth of the stage quite uneven. Even pulling the speakers out still further into the room, closer to the LP, didn’t help much. Room size constraints prevented them from going far enough into the room as to over come the ‘plug’ in the SS itself.

So I had a wall erected with a sort of fireplace look, and pushed the big TV into the alcove/cut out. Mucho Better ola! Eventually a pr of bi fold doors covered that hole in the wall/closet and a 100 x 60 in wide, on wall screen was mounted on hinges partially covring those bi folds, but still enabling access to the now, storage area that previous void had then become.

Personally I don’t see any issues with having gear immediately between the loud speakers, or rearward of them along the wall, for instance…. So long as the gear is kept close to the floor on open stands. This cold mean several single platforms though.

Open faced ‘boxes’ (bookshelfs) will collect and push the sound into and around them. Thus altering the cohesiveness of the sonic presentation.

I think you can mitigate this effect by having one that’s open on each side and on top. Not sure… other’s will say more on that idea I’m sure.

There is definitely something to diffusing the front wall or the one behind the speakers… I never seem to call that wall rightly. Although I would not use an 18 inch deep solid side wall bookshelf to do it, unless it was wall to wall, ceiling to floor, and even I would probably not care for that esthetic.

To shed some more light onto how important the er, ‘front wall’ is… following the addition of the fixed on wall large projection screen, I can tell easily a difference between when the draperies which I use to cover the screen with are open or closed. Open the sound is smarter, harder, more forward sounding (though not agressive) and a bit cleaner overall. Closed, the sound stage gains greater coherence, smoothness and better representation. There are plenty of folds in the panels so it looks nice and adds defraction on that wall as well. They aren’t sheer, and they aren’t thermals … but somewhere in between. You can see an over head light if you hold the material up to your eye and look at one… though not vividly. I went through several types of curtains before settling on this sort.

If you can keep the area from speaker plane to the wall behind them, and from side wall to side wall empty so the sound gets an opportunity to develop without pocketing it about those items within it, I feel you’re better off.

THEN, on that wall, you can address reflection via diffusion, and/or bass via absorption. I think thereafter too a simple path with a decent esthetic is merely to drape that wall. If used with on wall diffusers you can cover them with a sheer er, drape, if no, use a bit thicker drape. If no curtain panels are going in, there’s decorative choices in color schemes for several diffuser devices I’ve seen here and elsewhere online. Some you can paint!

Setting gear off to one side or another makes you use longer spkr cables of course, but then there’s the possible issue of addressing placement of ‘some thing’ directly across from the gear stand/rack to even out the unadorned opposite wall in the same area there… respectively.

Try to get a vivid vision of the final look in your head first of what you’d like and be detail oriented. Or merely move around the gear to see it’s effect here and there, first. Everybody going to be OK with lengthy exposed spkr wires racing across the floor and along one wall? What about traffic, kids, pets, and company? And speaker wires are costly too, the longer they are! Even underneath area rugs, or inside colored ‘socks’, some folks aren’t keen on the look of lots o wire here and there… then there’s that vaccumming business too and moving them about for that…. Just thinking out loud here.

Good luck.
keep your gear between the speakers and invest in a room correction amp/pre/processor ... makes the room more living friendly if you can have the furniure where it looks best
No, unless you you can acoustically isolate all sides of the cabinet, front, sides,back and top. Failure to do so will subject all your components to the attack of acoustic energy when the speakers are playing. Such condition will cause all the components to 'ring'. If possible put all the equipment in an adjacent room or a closet in the room itself. If a closet, be sure to ventilate it. So, do a test of taking everything out of the room so that only the speakers are in it. You will be surprised at the improvement in the sound.
Thanks for the input. More facts may help you visualize, sorry it's a new house so no pics to help. My new room is about 13' around in a "U" shape with the front wall being the middle of the "U" (ie 13' sides to left and right). This room opens into a 21'x17' area, with the listening position just outside the U. My equipment rack is a 250lb wood behemoth custom made and I'll use SRA or similar under the equipment in time. Speakers are Verity Sarastros and they will be 4' from front wall (measured from back of speaker, these are rear-firing woofers).

So, I can:
A) have speakers on front wall and nothing else on that wall (seems to be the consensus thus far).

B) have bookshelves built across all of the front wall (18" deep, so about 3.5' behind the back of the speakers). Shelves will be full of books, LPs etc, and potentially some of my equipment if I ditch the dedicated stand.

C) Variations...have a single book shelf take up the middle-third of the front wall, with nothing behind the speakers OR have book shelves behind the speakers with nothing in the middle.

From a room aesthetic/usage, it would be easiest to have the equipment in the middle either on the dedicated rack (2' deep, so still 2' behind the back of the speakers) or on a book shelf. In my current room my rack sits between, but is roughly in line with the back of the speakers.

If the bookshelves work, I can have them designed to take the weight of my equipment and use SRA (or similar) stands to augment. I can have them designed of 2" veneered ply for rigidity and a cooler look. The turntable, however, would need to be on a shelf (3" high or so) within the book-shelf that is bigger and rigidly reinforced (it will sit on an SRA or similar stand as well). Again, the bookshelves can be completely excluded, or be only in the middle, or be only on the sides (of the front wall)

I can't do an adjacent room unfortunately.

Side placement of the rack can be OK, as I can build some sort of base-board runner to hide cables (great point). In a narrow room, however, having a chunky 250lb 2' deep rack taking up valuable side real-estate. The cost of cables to run bi-wire 13' or so is going to be horrific!

Not sure if the extra color helps or changes anything. Again, thanks for all the detailed and helpful comments.
I prefer the equipment to the side. Another option would be a low boy (maybe 20-22 inches tall) between the speakers, or even wall to wall shelving. This would be less disruptive than something floor to ceiling or a normal height rack between the speakers. Good luck.