I've done it both ways over the years depending on where I was living, and I never thought that the sound of my system suffered from having the equipment between the speakers.
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It depends on many things I would think. How high up are your components. Are they in the middle or are the speakers pulled forward of them? Dispersion patters I assume would be affected depending on your set up. i have not choice, plus I have a 50" TV on top of the small boy cabinet. I just pull the speakers about a foot forward and have had no problems with any of the systems I've installed in this room.
No advantage to having gear close to speakers. In between or otherwise.
Isolation of all components from each other is important to keep noise and
distortion minimal. That is always a key for best sound. Especially with
my preference is to isolate gear form speakers physically as best possible
using proper speaker wires. You need heavier gauge for longer runs in
I prefer to not have the electronics or rack between the speakers. I hear a wider deeper and taller soundstage. I prefer long ICs and short speaker cables. I believe in what Mr. Smith says. The exception is I use the Sumiko Master Set Method for speaker placement instead. It worked better in my room.
it does not 'just depend'.
as you chase the 'ideal'; dealing with the space between your speakers is one step closer to that ideal. the reality is that gear between your speakers is simply one aspect of the acoustical consequences of that whole area. and until you remove that gear and eliminate other negatives you will not be able to connect the dots on cause and effect.
every flat surface that potentially could be a first or second reflection is one; unless you neutralize them all one by one you will never know what detail is masked by smearing from reflections.
maybe look at the pictures on my system page and then read this post I wrote a few weeks ago on a related subject.
regarding cable lengths; properly matched amps and preamps should be able to drive longer interconnects without sonic consequences. could you hear the difference between 2 meters and 8 meters between and amp and preamp? it's possible but not likely. compared to proper acoustics? no way.
at the end of the day where your gear is is not a huge deal unless there is a large flat screen. the rest of the treatments between your speakers and on the ceiling are bigger issues. so if your room does not lend itself to moving your gear don't worry about it. just do all the other things to the wall floor and ceiling between the speakers and be happy.
It does depend on the specifics. A system with just a CD player driving powered loudspeakers presents a vastly smaller reflective surface area than say this. Placing equipment between the loudspeakers just isn't a problem in some situation, in others it is.
If we are going to talk about the ideal, then ideally your source components and electronics (power amps excepted) shouldn't be in the listening room, but in an adjacent dedicated, custom designed equipment room.
Zd and Onhwy61 my conclusions are similar to yours and that's why I wrote "it just depends". Depending on the size of the rack used, number/placement of components and proximity to the speakers. These variables can range from noticeable to minimal(or no audible effect) actual effect. Try both component placement arrangements and just listen.
Everything 'JUST DEPENDS" when you break it all down. I have been to MANY a showroom over the last 46 years. Many if not most have had mono blocks in between the speakers (when listening to their higher end speakers and gear). I've heard systems both with the amps in between and without. I have a decent ear and can't tell the difference between the two sets ups in nearly all cases. I've been close with many dealers as well as designers etc... yes, in a perfect world you have your gear outside of the listening room (there was a dealer just north of LA in a warehouse years ago who set up their rooms like this) and just have the speaker cables hooked up through the wall. They built the room to have no parallel surfaces and everything else you can do to make it better sounding. I really was one of the best sounding rooms I've listened in. I was amazing how great a 2500 system sounded (back in the mid 90's).
The irony about boards is that folks ask questions that can't really be answered properly since everything is dependent on each other. Take any of our systems into someone else's space or even a new space in your own home and the sound changes, so how can folks honestly tell someone what something will sound like to them etc.... We all answer because it's fun.
I still say it's dependent...
I tend to agree with Mikelavigne.
I believe we all chase the ideal even when constrained by budget, room bounds, other room uses. I also believe the room to be the most important component of a system and tuning of that room to be the greatest factor in getting at ones sonic ideal. Equipment placement is part of the room tuning process.
I am fortunate to having a dedicated room for audio and have tuned it to my liking, though this is an ongoing project. Equipment placement was part of that process.
My source equipment and preamp are positioned on a rack placed at my right side about 18 from the wall and forward of, and not in the path of, the 1st reflection point off that wall. My amp is placed on a stand close to and left of the rack. I am using 1M ICs and 5M speaker cables to facilitate this arrangement. I believe this gives me the best acoustic advantage and allows me to select music without leaving my chair. There is nothing within, nor between me and, the soundstage. The presentation is quite holographic. This is important to my sonic ideal.
I believe the benefits of freeing the space between speakers and that between speakers and the listening position outweigh any costs of longer IC/SC lengths involved, regardless of the IC vs. SC length controversy. This controversy is most likely an equipment, and equipment placement issue.
Most people are stuck with something between their speakers.
The thing to discuss is not how the ideal room would or should be unless the point is to the futility of the idea. I'd love to have the wherewithal to have a dedicated listening room but I'm with the majority on this: I can't.
So, getting back to the OPs question, if you can isolate, as best you can, the equipment off to one side and not in the soundstage you listen to, then by all means, do it.
As for the rest of us, throw a big, wool, army blanket over your widescreen and rack and make sure your speakers are forward of the stuff between and see if it makes a difference. That's the advice I was given on another thread here and it worked. It was a very minor improvement, but it worked.
I no longer do it because of the hassle.
All the best,
"My monitors are pulled forward of the salamander rack. A good 12" forward. So maybe it wouldn't make that much difference...".
I wouldn't necessarily conclude that on my own without testing that assumption, but I think there's a simple enough way to answer the question for your particular setup without much fuss.
Simply pull your monitors forward (temporarily, for the sake of a short audition) out far enough into the room so that the front of the Salamander is a good 3-4' (or even more, if you can arrange it) behind the baffles. Don't bother listening for things like bass response or tone or whatever, just focus on depth and imaging. This should give you a clear indication of how much (if any) in that department you stand to gain by removing the equipment and rack from the middle. IOW, this test will give you a fairly good idea about how inherently capable of displaying depth your gear currently is, in your room. If there is no appreciable change, then it would likely not be worth the trouble to go through the motions to remove the rack. If you find a substantial improvement, then you can investigate further. Hope this helps.
I had the opportunity to place components outside of my room, or in a closet in the room, or to put them alongside the wall. I chose to place them right in the middle. The primary reason is the atrocious loss/degradation that occurs with longer cables. It cannot be escaped, and it is horrific. No placement of components will fix the damage done to a system by use of unnecessarily long cables.
There are compromises which must be made when building systems, and the room is certainly not the end all, be all solution for setting up rigs. It accounts for perhaps 50% of the experience, but neglecting things like cable length is a major mistake, imo.
Having a dedicated listening room is what separates the serious audiophile from the dilettantes. Having that room designed by a professional acoustic engineer the is the pinnacle. Many if not most audiophiles will not get to that point. It's like getting into the club, but not getting into the VIP area.
Remember, tomorrow is another day.
Too bad the potential for a good thread is wasted by some. I don't blame the thread from going the direction it has though.
I think the OP had a valid question and some of us tried to answer him honestly. Just because someone can't or won't afford the highest of high end equipment and put them in a dedicated room doesn't take away the fact that they are an audiophile. Be real. I assume that one post was a joke...at least I hope it was, lol.
I was thinking about this a little more, and as I said, I have done it both ways depending on my living situation with good results. What I was thinking yesterday though, assuming that you don't use a turntable, which I don't; is that the rack, and the components on it may in some way act as a room treatment in themselves.
What I mean is, when you look at the room treatments available, they fall into the categories of absorption and diffusion. (scattering) So why, as one poster said, would it always be desirable to have nothing in the center. I see some very high end systems here that have those protruding blocks on the center of the front wall with all of the random height blocks of different lengths.
My present system has a large rack between the speakers, and with eyes open or closed, the center image, and the soundstage as a whole is very focused and coherent. Many years ago, by necessity, I had a pair of Celestion Sl6 Si speakers on either side of a mohair upholstered 7' sofa and the sound was fantastic. That would have probably considered the opposite of what I have now, that was I suppose absorption. In each case, the sound was excellent. So, I am not suggesting that there is no difference, only that no single rule will apply to every room.
In any endeavor there are gradations of seriousness, some real, others only imagined. If you are truly a serious audiophile, then you will have a professionally designed dedicated listening room, or two. If you have $100k plus in equipment and you haven't truly dealt with your room, then what have you really done? You can be a Ferrari aficionado without actually owning one, but you can't be a serious Ferrari aficionado without owning 3 or 4. There are times when being extravagantly over the top is appropriate and necessary.
BTW, I currently have two dedicated listening room, neither of which were professionally designed. In one I have no acoustically treatment of any sort. The other room has two bass traps. One room has the equipment rack centered and five feet behind the loudspeaker. The other room has the rack to the right side of the room and I have a 27" computer monitor placed centered and midway between the loudspeakers and the listening chair. The monitor has no negative effect on soundstage or imaging.
I think there is some wisdom in approaching things audiophile as an experimental question, not as conformity to a particular dogma a priori. I appreciate Jim Smiths book, but I have yet to live in a house where I can reasonably put his recommendation into practice. This may be heresy, but I think most of us will do well to consider some limited compromises to sound to accommodate room aesthetics. When I go into my listening room, it is an engaging of all the senses, yes, even smell. Sometimes I have to run my Shelty out of the room when he needs to have his teeth cleaned! I spent a lot of time addressing the visual aspect of my room, carefully selecting furnishings, artwork, and lighting that was very pleasing and comfortable. My enjoyment of the listening experience was significantly enhanced. More perhaps, than an equivalent investment in equipment upgrades. Many rooms will present limited options for placement of equipment. If that is the case, the decision is made for you. If you have options, it makes sense to invest in enough cabling so that you can evaluate the impact of placement on acoustics. One can always buy used and resell what is not needed long term. But I suggest you also evaluate placement holistically, from the point of view of which placement affords the most pleasurable total experience, not as a single variable assessment based on sonics alone.
Hi all. In typical net pattern, responses have ranged from helpful to snarky, extending to rejecting, spurious to critical. And, also in a familiar pattern, along the way my original question was blunted and redefined. But I'm quite appreciative of all the advice and opinion. To sum up:
1. It sounds like removing the components from between the speakers CAN have some positive effect on soundstage and precision.
2. It also sounds as if that effect is worthwhile only in conjunction with other diffusing, absorbing, and deflecting strategies and techniques.
3. Since I do listen to my turntable about 65% of the time, one of my reasons for inquiring about the side placement is to give the tt a more stable base than the top rack of a Salamander stand not really designed for a 70 lb turntable.
4. However, even to experiment with a new placement I'll have to buy longer speaker cables. I don't know if I want to make that investment if I'm going to be marginally, at best, happy with any sonic improvement. I could buy used and then resell, of course. Much of the fun of this hobby is trying new things.
5. Holistically, my listening room/basement doubles as a laundry room and an ersatz kid play area. Yes, I've decorated and furnished and lighted it enough to demarcate it from the rest of the area, but with its small size and low ceilings, it's definitely not ideal. And, as noted above, placement options are limited. The maker of my speakers suggested I place them along the long wall of the room, but that's impossible what with utility room and closet doors, etc.
6. I'm a music-to-color/pattern synesthete. That is, when i hear pitches and chords and notes, I see colors and patterns. Thus, very few concert light shows are ever "correct" for me :) And so when I listen to good recordings on my system, it's a sidestage visual experience alongside the mainstage aural experience. When I discovered hi-end audio, my visual side suddenly became more pronounced, more clear, more palpable. And so I make any affordable tweaks or changes I can to see what might happen. This is all drug-free, of course. Well, since 1997.
7. I think I'll keep the components where they are - and maybe move the de Capos out another 6" or so -- and play the new lp reissue of Steve Reich "Music for 18 Musicians" and be happy with music and colors.
To really satisfy your curiosity, buying used good quality speaker cable of the required length would settle this. If no meaningful improvement then reselling the cable wouldn't be difficult or cost you much. As I wrote earlier, you can achieve wonderful results with components between the speakers. I've done it as havs other posters here.
Brownsfan is spot on.
Your brain controls what you hear and uses all your senses to decide what that is. Uses memory to a great extent as well which makes hearing live acoustic unamplified music critical as well.
I first got a clue when it dawned on me than when my house was cluttered and messy so was my thought process.
The brain research done in the last decade is a miracle of science.
Maybe the OP can simply keep the rack where must be due to cost and wires and simply move the speakers to accommodate it. When Sumiko demonstrated gear at audio shows they were stuck with horrible hotel rooms. The Master Set method of speaker placement places the speakers where they sound best regardless of or in spite of what's in the room. Racks, furniture, TV or washer/dryer, you can do it. There is no formula that reliably predicts the exact placement. The speakers will not be in an exact equilateral but with patience, will sound their best. Play the room. Try it.
In my room it's not feasible to put the rack on a side wall. However, I have gotten better soundstage depth and imaging by keeping the rack and gear as low as possible. I have Harbeth mini monitors, so anything that is at their hight between them affects the acoustics negatively. A two shelf double-wide rack is much better than a single-width four-shelf version, at least in my room to my ears. And adding additional isolation under each component and under the speakers is crucial.