Equipment Rack Between Speakers...Good or Bad


This question came up in another current thread and I thought it would be more appropriate to start a new thread to address it. My rack is between my speakers. In the past I have tried it off to the side and didn't notice any sonic advantage. I have seen in in the past that there are some strong feelings on this subject, and I am interested in hearing what everyone has to say.
B187ac10 5526 4e5e 8dc4 e2c49a0f7083roxy54
Depends on the speakers its generally not great for soundstage and imaging.
Primary concern is Turntable of course.

Let's over state the case that 99% of setups have equipment between the speakers.

Music (mono or stereo): there are no center vibrations generated, only the illusion of center, by weak/strong/equal left and right vibrations, so, center can be best.

Video (mono, stereo or surround), Center Channel Speakers and/or TV Speakers, main L/R speakers definitely located just above and beside equipment. 

This is another reason I am not in favor of side, rear or downward firing drivers, radiators, ports, or subs. The lack of direction control especially with corner's random reinforcements is often problematic.

Subs, Music or Video need to be chosen/located with equipment vibration a large consideration, which is why I prefer front firing sub located away from the equipment, in my case on my end of the room, it's front and side blocked from me.

The flexibility of your floors and floor/wall connection should influence whether you couple or decouple your speakers to the floor, and couple/decouple your equipment to surfaces, especially TT.

Speaker enclosure design, to get 'all' vibrations toward you via the drivers, none transmitted by the case itself or movement of the entire case is always best IMO.
Post removed 
There’s worse things you could do. Many of them I can’t talk about because of the you know, banning. 
I would first try pulling the speakers out past the equipment rack. (At least when listening)In my room,absolutely no comparison when speakers are pulled out vs close to the front wall. It goes from music coming out of speakers,to music floating. 
Geez, the chances are actually pretty good you’re sitting smack dab in the middle of a standing wave anyway so what’s the difference? What’s needed is a system. What’s needed is mapping out the whole room with a SPL meter. Then at least you have a baseline. Don’t be a cube, rube. Go ape! 🦍 
The important consideration is whether the rack is flush with the speakers, or behind them. IME, if the rack is at least a foot or more behind the plane of the baffles, there won’t be much if any detriment. The big exception is panel speakers, they're sensitive to any and everything.
@roxy54   If the picture on your page is your setup, it must sound horrible. youve got a pair of big speakers in what looks like a room with bare walls and bare floors and pushed against the corners. The rack is the least of your problems
I think an empty space, or a very low rack is best, especially if the rack is even with the speakers.  As people have pointed out, however, that is going to be room dependent.  I've got 8 feet between my speakers and definitely noticed improvements in imaging when I removed my TV for a day.  Unfortunately it simply has to be in the non-optimal position back between the speakers (along with all the equipment).  If that weren't the case I'd definitely shift to a side position if at all possible.  Thankfully I am able to place the speakers 4 feet or so in front of the TV/rack though.  Agreed that some pulling forward is critical...

Given your room, I agree that I don't think it would make a difference.  I doubt there's enough space there for the change to matter... 
Floorstanding GIK panels can also be useful in these circumstances.
is that a pioneer pd-s95? awesome transport... i had one for a time.
@helomech, I suspect you’re right in that the speaker baffles should be in front of the rack or at least level. 

On the other hand I have also read that one noted speaker designer who believes that neither close wall placement or having the ubiquitous Hi-Fi / TV rack in between does anything harmful to the sound. In fact he promotes the idea on the grounds he can control the room / speaker dispersion patterns better and that the rack in between helps break up standing waves etc.

He may well be right, at least in regard to his deigns, and he probably (definitely in my case) knows more than the both of us combined regarding the science behind the matter. 

I did occasionally wish I had the room to find out for myself, but space considerations always forced me to use designs which allow close wall proximity (and the rack / wall mounted TV in between). And nowadays worrying about such audio finesses is the least of my concerns. But who knows the future, maybe one day I’ll get the itch back.

*Turntable placement on the other hand is another headache altogether - and that definitely matters.

kenjit,

It's an old picture, and the room is now carpeted and the speakers moved closer in. It sounds really good. Anyway, I'm not complaining about my setup, just asking what others think about both options.

d2girls,

It is a PDS-95, and I love it.

I have my system and tv in-between, no other choice so I deal with it. but I do find if I angle the TV (mounted on the wall) up apposed to down it makes a difference in the sound staging. quite noticeable. not sure what is better but it was an eyeopener as to how much sound is coming from the center in reflection. 

I need to find a nice way to do room acoustics that are not homely looking for a main living area (I live in a loft).
Put your speakers as far in front of the rack as your room allows.   Problem solved.
there are really 2 questions.

1---looking at your picture, would it be better to move the rack to the side?
2---in a perfect situation, is it better to have the rack between the speakers or on the side.

answer 1---in your case it’s better to keep the rack there as it provides some break-up of reflections from the flat back wall. maybe if your room is big enough to get your speakers farther from the wall behind and you could add some diffusion on that wall, now maybe getting the rack out of the way would be a net gain.

answer 2---yes; when chasing perfection a rack between your speakers at some point becomes a liability. and while on the side is not perfect, the net gain is for the side location.

look at pictures of my system here for where it’s better on the side; my room is purpose built and finely tuned. much of which could not be done with gear between the speakers.

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/615


Its a trade off. In my room over the years its been quite the sound lab. At first completely empty it was easy to hear even the smallest change. Put just one amp on the floor between the speakers, or a TV screen, even way back a good 5 feet behind the speakers, doesn't matter the sound stage takes a hit. 

One time, true story, record company VP says sounds real nice, but left side, imaging not quite as good. Well I had left one record leaning up against the wall by the left speaker. So some of these record company honchos have pretty good ears. And yes even that one little record did make a difference.

There are things you can do to mitigate this- acoustic panels, tube trap, whatever. None are quite as good as nothing being there.

But then moving everything way off to the side or behind, that has costs too. Literally. As in, good wire ain't cheap. And let me tell you, the hit you take having something between the speakers is nothing compared to the hit you take running cheap wire. Which you have to do when its long. But not when its short.

So what did I say? Oh yeah: Its a trade off. You do what you can- listen, adjust, listen, compare. 

What else you gonna do? Listen to a bunch of interweb wanna bees?
Only my power amp is between the speakers which permits shorter cables.....anything else sounded compromised.
Try throwing a blanket on top, covering the sides, and you'll know the answer.

I do find that the floor between and behind speakers is more important than most people realize, especially for high frequency grit. It is often useful to damp that. Cheap experimentation with blankets, curtains and pillows may help you decide.
Thanks for all of the interesting responses so far. I want to make clear though that I am not personally looking for a solution. I am happy with the way my system sounds as it is, but I have heard this subject referred to before and I just wanted the views of others about the plusses and minuses in their opinions and experiences.

@mikelavigne Such an amazing room (and system)...

mikelavigne

You live within 3 days travel from me????

I truly admire your dedication and accomplishments involved, and your photography is superb also. 
Cal and Elliot,

thank you for the kind comments.

Elliot, i'm in the Seattle area and you would be most welcome to come listen any time.
The ideal system will have balanced input mono amps right behind the speakers keeping the speaker wires as short as possible. Balanced ins and outs let you use long low level signal cables without ill effect. Now you can put the rack anywhere in the room you want unless you have a turntable in which case you want to get it as far away from the speakers as possible in a place where the bass is not amplified. Mine is in an alcove off to my left side. 
mikelavigne, how did you find not one Studer but three.....?  Oh so lucky. 
In the search for SQ improvement from the room, I tried removing the rack and put the components on the floor (separated by the same wood and isolation devices used with the rack) and things improved, big enough I never even tried a reverse trial and moved the rack out of the room same day.  By things I mean less high level glare (my room/system's weak spot to my eras) and better soundstage.  The rack was about halfway between speakers and front wall.  My room is not ideal, 11.5 x 20.5, a bit of a tunnel, so YMMV.  This was before I added absorption at primary reflection points, so if I get bored one day maybe I'll pull the rack back in the room?  Next I will experiment with mix of diffusers and absorption on the front wall, which has a heavily curtained window.  The windows also have blinds, and sometimes I can convince myself I like the sound more when the curtains are open and blinds are reflecting, sometimes not. 

Full disclosure, the rack was a cheap Ikea table, veneer over foam, so hard to say if I improved reflections or isolation/vibration or both.
Dear @mikelavigne  : "   which could not be done with gear between the speakers. " and maybe for those two racks it's need more space between speakers.

Btw, for your system pictures looks as your seat position been at near field but maybe it's not. I love to listen at near field position that I don'tdo  it as often I like it in my system and only when I'm testing or fine tunning something critical.
At what distance from the inside towers are you seated?

Outstanding room/system, good.!!!

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
mikelavigne, how did you find not one Studer but three.....? Oh so lucky.
Glenn, i was very early to the tape revival. i bought the first (1/4") of the A-820's from a Studio in Austin, Texas in 2007 before anyone else was out looking. the second one (1/2") i bought from a studio in L.A. in 2011 still early before things got moving. the last one (both 1/4" and 1/2" heads) i bought last year from a local friend and paid dearly for it. 

love my Studers.
Btw, for your system pictures looks as your seat position been at near field but maybe it's not. I love to listen at near field position that I don'tdo it as often I like it in my system and only when I'm testing or fine tunning something critical.
At what distance from the inside towers are you seated?
Dear Raul, good to see you my friend.

my speaker towers are 84" tall and massive. and unless there is someone standing next to them in the picture to give them scale, they make my room look small and the distances shorter than they are. my room is 29' x 21' x 11'.

my tweeters are 115" apart.

my ears are 105" from each tweeter. so i sit in the nearfield. but as there is 9' 6" from my tweeters to the wall behind them, the way the room works it's not so near field in actual experience. that is lot's of space behind and around the speakers.

and i can tell you for years i could not sit that close. i did a huge amount of room tuning to bring it under control. and as i got closer and closer to getting it right i moved my seating position closer and closer. it is now super immersive and holographic. the bass is to die for. 

near field is the way to go if you can get a room to be optimal. otherwise the glare from distortion will drive you back. 

mikelavigne

I'm passing Cleveland, be there Friday 11AM!!!!!!

Oh my, I'm in NJ, but now have more reason to visit my nephew who lives near you. Perhaps some day, thanks for the welcoming invite.

Those tape machines are gorgeous. What do you do with them?

I have 2 of Teac's last Pro-sumer model x2000r, primarily to listen to factory pre-recorded tapes. Same as x1000r except Cobalt heads, and, the meters indicators pivot from the top rather than the bottom. Tape is my best/favorite sounding source material. The Mercuries, recorded 30 IPS, are amazing. I just bought new belts for my Viking 75 which has dedicated heads for either staggered or stacked 2 tracks. I may get it going for the few 2 tracks I am keeping, selling the rest on eBay.

I used to record R2R from live radio broadcasts, back when choices were far more limited than now, and live video is so easily obtained.

 
roxy54

So, back to you, have you decided to try anything different after various input?
The ideal system will have balanced input mono amps right behind the speakers keeping the speaker wires as short as possible. Balanced ins and outs let you use long low level signal cables without ill effect. Now you can put the rack anywhere in the room you want unless you have a turntable in which case you want to get it as far away from the speakers as possible in a place where the bass is not amplified.
^^ This.

My system is in my living room, which is connected to the dining room. My equipment rack is actually in the dining room, completely out of the direct radiation of the speakers; my amps reside right by my speakers with a balanced connection driving them. I did a frequency sweep of the room and found that it favored a certain bass frequency, then went around the living and dining room with my sound pressure meter and found the area where the bass was at its least. That space is occupied by my equipment stand. Fortunately readily accessible from the living room and out of the way of any activities in the dining room.


@atmasphere Would you care to mention the brand of XLR interconnects you are using into your amps? How long are they?

I have also been thinking of hiding my rack behind a wall. Some discussion posts on PRO balanced connections and long runs have made me seriously consider getting the rack out of the way. I likely need 20 - 25 feet of XLR to make that work.
Would you care to mention the brand of XLR interconnects you are using into your amps? How long are they?
My equipment supports the balanced line standard so the actual brand of cable doesn't affect the sound. I built some 30 foot cables using Mogami Neglex cable. I've used a variety of cables but they all sound the same. However, take away that bit about 'supports the balanced line standard' and that all goes out the window! FWIW a lot of the balanced line equipment I've seen in high end audio doesn't support the standard (also known as AES48) so YMMV depending on the equipment you use.
@mikelavigne 

I see you have MSB Select ll DAC with two mono powerbases (two separate mono PSU). Just curious, are you running a Femto 33 clock, which is its flagship clock? Spectacular setup/system by the way. 

I also have MSB Select ll DAC with two mono powerbases with a Femto 33 clock. I also purchased the MSB Select transport with its separate PSU for CD & SACD playbacks. 

As for linestage preamp & monoblock power amps I'm using Naim Statement NAC S1 linestage preamp & Naim Statement NAP S1 monoblock amps driving a pair of Magico M6 (Magico's flagship speakers). What are your speakers? They are very tall. Are those passive subwoofers or powered ones? 

For analog front end source components I'm using the same Clearaudio Statement Goldfinger cartridge as the one you have. For a turntable I'm using a Clearaudio Statement v2 with a Statement TT-1 tonearm. And I'm using a D'Agostino Momentum phonostage pre. 

For cablings, I'm using Transparent Magnum Opus speaker cables, XLR analog interconnects & power cables. Using Transparent Opus digital interconnects. What are your cablings? 
For AC power product I have Shunyata Hydra Triton/Typhon combo.
However, my Naim Statement NAP S1 monoblock amps are plugged directly to the wall, which have been upgraded as well. 

Just wondering, those Studer tape recording machines that you acquired, are they also put into use? 
mijostyn
Balanced ins and outs let you use long low level signal cables without ill effect.

The ill effect is the money the really long wire costs is money that can't be spent on a shorter interconnect that sounds a lot better. 
yyxsantabarbera, I use Canare D206 AES/EBU cable with Neutric gold XLRs. I use it for long balanced runs and also digital transfer in any length. it is an ultra wide bandwidth cable. 
Caphill, Magico's flagship speakers are the Q7 mkII. I expect you to have them next week!
@atmasphere  Thanks for the feedback. I was thinking of using the long runs based on a thread you commented on. I am thinking of using a Benchmark LA4 preamp, which I think supports the balanced standard as you described. 

I am getting 2 amps (one a backup or change of pace). One will be a Benchmark AHB2 amp, which I assume supports the balanced standard. I used to own the AHB2 and a Benchmark DAC3 preamp/DAC and I could not tell a difference with different XLR cables. The second amp I will get is a Luxman m900u. This one I am not sure if they follow the balanced standard. I shall see.

@mijostyn Thanks for your input. I would not of thought using a AES/EBU cable between a preamp and amp was possible. I will dig more into this combo. Not too expensive to test with a short run.

elliottnewcombjr,

I wasn't looking to change the position of my rack, just to see the opinions of others on the subject of rack positioning in general. Just for fun though, I put a plush blanket over my rack while playing music, playing a track with and without it several times, and I couldn't really hear a difference. 

Thanks for the feedback. I was thinking of using the long runs based on a thread you commented on. I am thinking of using a Benchmark LA4 preamp, which I think supports the balanced standard as you described.
@yyzsantabarbara I would not leave that bit about the balanced standard to chance or assumption! Ask them if the unit supports AES48. They should reply with a 'yes' or 'no' without obfuscation.
The tricky bit that most manufacturers have is the part about how the balanced line system ignores ground and as a result how the output of something like a preamp **doesn't reference ground** in order to work. So if they seem uncertain if the standard is supported, ask them if it will work if only a twisted pair is used to conduct the signal, using only pins 2 and 3 of the output. If they say 'no- that will cause a hum or buzz because pin 1 isn't hooked up' or words to that effect, then you will know that the standard is not supported. I looked at their website, but information like that wasn't available.
Millercarbon, what planet are you living on? Here on earth when dealing with very low impedance devices like loudspeakers you want a cable that has as low series and parallel resistance as is possible which means as short as possible. Since I make my own cables I don't have to worry about price much. Canare D206 can run in lengths up to 300 feet without a significant drop in bandwidth. Since all my cables are either digital or balance analog with the exception of my phono cables and speaker cables, I have perfectly performing cables at an extremely reasonable price. I could even put them in a fancy sheath, make up some marketing BS and sell them to people like you for $6000.00. But since I am stupid I make them for my friends usually as gifts. I buy the stuff in big rolls so I have all this wire hanging around.  
Dear @caphill  : Certainly I'm not the indicated person to answer what you ask to Mike but in the window where you seen the speakers along all his system is all the information you need.

Speakers?:   https://www.evolutionacoustics.com/loudspeakers/mm-series/mmseven/  

Specs:  http://evolutionacoustics.com/evolution-acoustics2/specifications-for-group-brochure-4.pdf

Yes, powered bass towers.


Btw, you own too really good system. Congratulations,

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Oh and yyzsantabarbera, Benchmark meets the AES standard so you are in great shape. Get another AHB2, strap them and put them behind your speakers. I promise you will love that. Thanx for the recognition:) 
@rauliruegas  

Thanks for the info. Much appreciated. I didn't see that earlier. 
Yes, we all shall enjoy the music, not distortions. I like that :)



I swapped out my metal turntable stand for 4 concrete blocks and the difference is a considerable upgrade. See systems pic.
I think the thread has gone a little off track.
OK, here’s one for you. If you have components or rack in between the speakers it’s not the end of the world. The most best thing to do is isolate the components, you know, since the potential for mechanical feedback from the speakers is quite high. The effect of acoustic waves on the components is less deleterious than floor-borne vibration.
@atmasphere  Just to follow up on the past post. I contacted Benchmark and their Engineering department confirmed the following:

Thanks for your patience. Yes, our units do support the AES48 standard.

As I mentioned previously, with my old Benchmark DAC3 + AHB2,  I could not tell a difference between using Bryston Canare XLR between the preamp + amp and Audience Au24 XLR.  The Bryston cost me about $60 about 20 years ago and the Audience was a few hundred used.

I contacted LuxmanUSA to ask about the AES48 standard and they are contacting Luxman Japan to ask engineering.

Just wanted to add this if anyone was interested.

Thanks for your patience. Yes, our units do support the AES48 standard.
:)