Objects Between Speakers

Here's an odd question: do objects between speakers (assume 2-channel setup) significantly affect the sound we hear from the speakers?

For example, I don't have a dedicated music room. I have two audio racks in my living room - one is the "home theatre" rack, and one is the "stereo" rack. The rear-ported "music speakers" sit on 30" stands 30" to either side of the edge of the TV/TV stand, and the front edge of the speakers are roughly 4" closer to the opposite wall than the front of the TV/TV stand. Does the fact that I have the TV between the speakers affect how well the speakers sound?

On a related note, I have the speakers set up on the short wall of an 11'x17' room. My L-shaped sectional sofa extends along the side wall to about a foot away from the right speaker, and the arm of the sofa (24" tall) is literally in front of, though slightly below, the right speaker. Is the sofa likely killing some of the sound coming from the speaker?

I've listened to electrostats and noticed they are very affected by objects being between them and the listener -even a coffee table produces a noticeable effect- but what about cone speakers?

Thanks for the insight to all.
Welcome to room treatments...

Yup, stuff between & in front of, etc. likely has some affect on the sound - the whole trick is what kind of affect & how much effect and do you care. Some things are just unavoidable - like, even your presence in the room has some minimal (but theoretically measurable) effect. Other things - like a glass-topped coffee table between you & a speaker - can have a noticeable and undesirable effect.

Your furniture will likely be acting as some sort of room treatments - potentially absorbing or diffusing some of the sound. The whole trick in all of this is how large is any effect and is it audible to you. That, and can you even do anything to change it (or afford the potential changes...).

There's no sense in worrying & wondering & wringing hands over this - it's basically a fact of life (unless you decide to build/buy your own huge anechoic & empty listening room ;~). There are some things you can do to put your mind more at ease or to find out if there are big measurable issues. For starters, you might want to do the routine w/ something like the Rives CD and the RS meter - that should help w/ identifying larger frequency response and L/R channel differences (and how much that sofa is really doing).

If you find out there are these real differences you might want to consider your options, and there are all sorts of Web sites you can peruse for hints and approaches. You really don't have to go crazy over this, though - if you like the way your stuff sounds then it's probably darned "close enough" and you're doin' just fine and anything much beyond that just borders on neurotic (or audiophile...;~).
Generally, large things situated between the speakers can have an effect on the sound, due to sound waves reflecting off these things.

The severity of this effect may vary depending on the location of the items, the reflectivity of the items, the room, the dispersion pattern of the speakers, and other variables.

When a TV is located between the speakers for HT use, it needs to be there, so some compromises may have to be made in the music-only behavior of your system to accommodate the HT system needs.

Yes, the sofa is absorbing some of the sound from the speaker behind it, but probably most of the sound is still making it to your listening position. It may slightly affect channel balance at some frequencies.

That being said, you must be able to live in the room, as well as playing music in it, so it's likely that you will have to employ some compromises. Just try to do the best you can, and enjoy yourself.
yes, i found that it im my room, the tv really affected the sound in a negative way, so i sold the thing and installed a projector.

problem solved.

Lazarus28 definitely has the ticket for good sound by installing a front projector. if you look at the pictures of my system, you will see how far out I have had to pull my speakers to get the best sound. When I want to take it to even the next level, I put a comfortor over the t.v. My next t.v. will definitely be a pj.

btw..the pics aren't completely current as there is an area rug in front of the speakers now.

just my 2c

Large things between the speakers can have a big effect on sound and imaging. Switching to front projection from a TV between my front speakers was one of the best things I've done.
I have dipole planars. I too got front projection and sold the TV. Also got the audio rack out from between my speakers some time ago (when I was 24). Haven't looked back. I couldn't go back.
Yep, I went with front projection also, I had a 56" RPTV in there and it sucked.

Having a TV and,or equipment racks between the speakers will really destroy the soundstage. If you have everything set up in an arc in front of your seating area, chances are the sound reproduction will also seem like the musicians are standing in that arc. If you can eliminate the clutter of racks, TVs etc, you will hear much more depth to the sound. For example it may seem like the singer is 6' away in front of you with the drums "behind". The other instruments may seem 8' away on the left and 10' on the right.
This is the major comprimise of having all in one systems. A front projector, as suggested above, is a great improvement.
One of the side benefits of getting the stuff out from between your speakers, other than the major sonic benefits, is you don't just sit in your chair staring at all of your great components with much pride! You can actually listen to the music with out this distraction. Yeh, I know you just don't do that, Uh Huh. :-) The only concession I will make is placement of the amps between the speakers, but that doesn't really affect the sound field. A side benefit is that all of the sources and pre-amp are in a zone of minimal airborne resonances.