I have been using a very open architecture Billy Bags rack for the last seven years or so. I have found that even though the rack may be very open, it still can very negatively affect soundstage and imaging if placed too close to the speakers. You can see in the photo of my system how it is now configured, about 26" from the inside edge of the speakers to the edge of the rack. In the previous configuration, the audio rack was probably only 6" away on the left side speaker. The television was on a low open rack to the right of the audio rack and was also about 6" away from the right speaker. When I moved things around and got the speakers 2' away from the rack, the soundstage and imaging improved greatly. (The back of the speakers are aligned with the plane of the front of the television.) In comparison with systems I've heard that have no rack in center, my system is still slightly less than optimal, but much better than when things were more crowded. Like Scott, I just don't have any option but to leave the equipment rack in the center.