Help Total Confusion

I just read where placing your equipment rack between your speakers is a no-no, collapsing sounstage, boomy bass, etc.

My problem is that I don't have a choice. So would it be better to buy a taller, thinner rack, creating more vertical space around my speakers, or a low slung, wider rack, creating more horizontal space around the speakers?

My speakers are monitors (Tyler Acoustic Linbrooks) and all my listening is near field, about 7 to 71/2 feet from listening chair. The speakers are 8 feet apart now and I detect a small hole in the center of the soundstage, so moving them closer an inch or two might be helpful.

I'm almost ready to buy a new rack, but none of the accesible stores will let me give the furniture a trial run, which I find curious because they'll all let me audition components in-home. Thanks so much in advance for your suggestions and comments fellow 'goners.

Personally, i prefer a taller rack than a longer rack. This might vary with different installations though.

Having said that, don't underestimate the the potential difference in sonics that a rack can make. I would HIGHLY suggest taking a look at this thread about what to look for in a rack. You might also want to do a search of the archives to find other related threads. Sean
Don't dispare,Dan.Life has larger problems. Might try one of them there room dividers. You know one of those free standing 3 panel thingies.
I'm not going to dispute those who say such things about the placement of equipment racks between speakers-they've probably found problems in their experience.
However not only do I have a very wide AV rack between my speakers,I also have a 28 inch widescreen TV on top of it!
The good news is my system sounds great,big soundstage and no boomy bass,in fact it sounds as good as most systems (except the very very expensive)that I've heard in Hi-fi shops were obviously there's been nothing between the speakers.
Maybe my system would sound better set up another way but that is not practical in my room.
Also I tried the suggestion from this forum to cover my TV screen with a towel etc. to stop reflection-I found no difference whatsoever.
My theory is that my speakers are about 2 metres diagonally in front of my rack therefore I believe the soundstage is projected in front the rack minimising it's effect.
My speakers are floor standers,Proac 150's.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the link, Sean; it was well worth the read! Ben, I'm with you on this one. Room limiations sometimes cannot be avoided, and you just have to live with them the best you can and enjoy the music. I'm seriously thinking about ripping out a major portion of my roof and adding a second floor dedicated HT, but short of that, which would obviuosly come at an enormous cost, I'll have to continue to live with real world room limitations. I don't think anyone who has posted above has argued differently, but it's comforting to know that well-informed folks such as Ben have achieved workable solutions.

One of the puzzling things about the audio hobby in my experience which is admittedly limited, is that if one tried to follow every bit of sage advice in a literal fashion, he would end up with an audio system that would be the equivalent of an Ed Norton golf swing! (For those of you who remember the Honeymooners episode where Ralph and Ed were trying to learn how to swing a golf club simply by reading a book.) Experience teaches, and that's where the link Sean has proved comes in - lots of good ideas to work with.
A single Argent Room Lens, placed about 18" in front of the TV when listening to two channel, will give you depth and stage that you would not have thought possible. Go to Audio Asylum to learn how to make your own for nearly nothing. Don
I have a rack between my speakers also and I have excellent centerfill. The trick is not to let the rack break the vertical plane between the speakers. Move your speakers out from the wall and keep your rack as close to the wall as possible. If you continue to have a hole-in-the-middle then I would further develop your front end and upgrade your cabling.
I have a 57" widescreen TV in the middle of my speakers. My speakers are about 2 feet closer to me than my TV. When I completely cover up my TV with a large sheet of duct board, which is made of 1 inch thick fiberglass, my soundstage becomes more transparent / open. There is definitely alot of audio energy coming off the back and sides of speakers. So, the audio rack or TV in the center of the speakers reflects alot of sound.
As others have said, you can make this work fine. Move your speakers out as much as you can. If you lack center fill they're either too far apart or you might try a bit more toe-in. Try pointing in until the center image is solid with a full-width stage.
When you say "between the speakers" do you mean it literally, as "actually between the speakers" or somewhat behind the plane of the speakers? While I cannot say that tremendous improvement has occurred, I did change my rather large rack 50"tall X 22"wide X 19"deep)for something that is not as deep (15")and not as high (32"). This resides along the front wall. Since the speakers are 44" from that wall, I am confident that the sound is not adversely affected. I think that the whole vibration thing is bogus. No valid proof exists that ss or even tubes, which are more microphonic, are affected by vibration. TTs are another story altogether. I do feel, however, that having any kind of furniture around the speakers and between speakers and listener affects the acoustics and should be avoided. Other than that, I wouldn't lose any sleep over these questions. Keep it as far from the speakers, as low and as narrow as you can insofar as furniture, racks etc. are concerned and enjoy the music. Good day.
I have my equipment between my speakers, set back about 2 feet, and I have put a DIY Argent room lens, centered between the speakers, just a few inches in front of the equipment, as Elgordo says, and my soundstage and image focus is awesome. I also have room lenses flanking the outside of each speaker, and one behind the listening chair.
I have an entertainment center (about 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide) between (but 2 or 3 feet behind) my speakers, and I don't notice any negative affects. I suppose it might sound better if it wasn't there...maybe...but what I don't know won't hurt me, will it? I think it's probably more important to worry about the space in front of the drivers.
Pbb, i find your comments interesting. If heavy footfalls / extremely powerful low frequency output can cause a digital source to skip ( which i and many others have experienced ), wouldn't lower level vibration potentially cause the player to potentially mis-track and / or use more error correction ?

I've also experienced a MAJOR change in system sonics simply by changing racks. I would not have believed it if i had not experienced it first-hand. This was NOT subtle nor was it "for the better". After shelling out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for a new rack in one of my systems, i was NOT pleased with the results AT ALL. The rack i was using weighed well under 40 lbs at most. The new rack clocked in at 150 lbs. Nothing else changed as i kept all of the same components and cabling, etc... I can see no reason for a change in system sonics when changing a rack other than the equipment being "sensitive" to vibrations and other forms of energy transfer.

My brother, who comes over frequently and listens with me, commented almost instantly that the system sounded like "mud" i.e. slow, heavy, lacking air and space. He stated this the first time that he heard this system with the new rack installed. This system normally had very powerful bass with excellent "slam" and phenomenal harmonic structure and air. I had noticed the same thing but did not know if i was imagining things or not. I did not want to think that my "new investment" had taken me several steps backward. Changing the amp tilted the tonal balance back towards neutrality but the system was still lacking the finesse that it once had. Going back to the original rack solved the problem. Once i had done that, the system was back to sounding somewhat lean but now had the harmonic structure and air that i was used to. I then switched back to the original amp i had in the system and everything was back to normal.

I think that this system change was the result of several factors working at one time. The added weight of the rack changed the resonance of the floor. You see, this system is on a suspended floor and the floor DOES vibrate. By changing the resonance of the floor, the amount of energy coupled from the speakers was also influenced. Besides that, the rack was noticeably taller than original one being used. Since the speakers in this system are omnidirectional, i have no doubt that this might have affected the radiation / reflections in the room, changing the amount of direct vs reflected sound that i was hearing. I will not deny that these factors MIGHT have played a very important part of the differences that i heard.

Having said that, i began changing shelves in a couple of different racks using different types / weights / densities of materials for the shelves. Some shelves made a marked difference in the sound of the system. This leads me to believe that the ability of a shelf to transfer or absorb energy DOES influence the sound of a system. Whether you as an individual have experienced this or want to acknowledge the potential for variances in sonic reproduction would be dependent on your mind-set. I know that i was VERY much a "doubter" when it came to racks, speaker cables, interconnects, power cords, "tweaks", etc... a few years back. Being an electronics professional by trade tells me that none of this type of stuff "should" affect anything. Personal experimentation and having an open mind ( not initially though ) has made a world of difference. Not only is this difference apparent in my attitude, it is apparent in the performance of my system. Sean
I have a wide low Plateau rack between my speakers and it works very well. My ESL panels extend up a lot higher than the rack, which probably helps, and I also use a room lens, but behind my rack instead of in front, which works great to focus the imaging and tighten the bass. (Those room lenses really can work wonders!)

One thing to consider for those who have the rack close to the front wall -- that's a location where the bass frequencies will be strong and can potentially induce mechanical feedback into your equipment. Moving the rack up a couple of feet from the wall will usually result in a lot less bass hitting the rack. If you have a turntable, this could be an important consideration...
Here's my problem. I really can't get the speakers more than a couple of inches in front of the rack. But I could get each speaker a couple of feet away from the sides of the rack. To put the monitors two feet in front of the rack would mean moving the speakers every time I listened. The speakers weigh 75 lbs apiece and the stands weigh 100 lbs. apiece. I would then be listening at a total distance of about 5 feet--that's really nearfield!
If the speakers are a couple of inches in front of the rack, and are not excessively toed in (so that any sound waves going towards the rack are greatly attenuated) then I don't think you'll have any problem.
Also watch out for the side walls ... those primary reflection points on the side walls will kill imaging. Don't put the speakers overly far from the rack and end up with side walls too close.

All that said, I wouldn't buy a rack without a home demo. It would be like riveting your speakers to the floor before listening to them and hoping that you'd put them in the optimum place. Placement make more difference that the quality of the equipment itself in my experience.
I have read that if you must do this, keep the rack lower-profile vs. taller.
No experience with this myself, but from those who have tried it that's the advice given. YMMV