room makes or breaks

just a statement. i've been into this hobby for about eight years now, i adjusted and changed gear a good bit over the years. my last room was more long and about 14 foot wide, i recently moved and set up in a room about 20 foot wide and not as deep.
i am just amazed at how much better my system now sounds, speakers have vanished ,every aspect has improved, dont know if i lucked into a sweet spot, but the room has made a HUGE diff. im pleasantly blown away, like i bought a new system.
Now you've got the idea! Run with it.

Maybe, with a little (or a lot) of research into the proper set up of a stereo system and room acoustics, you can improve it even more. There are books written on the subject and a lot of folks about who have extensive knowledge/experience who will help if you elect to do this. It can be time consuming but the reward is great and usually is cheap if not free.
Two quotes I love and completely agree with are:

“You’ve got the sound system to die for but a listening room that’s killing you.” Rives Audio

“The room is the first thing we start with and the last thing we think about.” Unknown

My thesis is that the room tends to get neglected because it is one of the least understood influencers in the audio reproduction chain – and frequently one of the most challenging to change. Further, it does not help that equipment purchases are so damned exhilarating and that dealers can eagerly and readily demonstrate how cartridge X, DAC Y or amplifier Z is going to improve your world in a way that they can less easily with acoustic devices because of their room dependencies. More-over, often the very dealers upon which we depend for good advice have scant regard for room acoustics themselves – the proof of which can be seen by merely stepping into their show-rooms…

As Newbee says - run with it!
I tell every customer that "Your room is more than 50% of your sound!"

(Dealer disclaimer)
Without a doubt, the room is the most important component for determining sound.

Why? Because its usually the hardest thing to change. Other components can be easily adapted to the room, but there is only so much that can be done usually to adapt the room to the rest.
It seems that your new setup is more 'near field' than the previous one. You are also avoiding quick sidewall reflection times and now hearing more from the speakers and less from wall reflection. Just a guess.
"Other components can be easily adapted to the room, but there is only so much that can be done usually to adapt the room to the rest."

I'm gonna dissent here. Most rooms I've seen have done little or some hodge podge job of room treatments, let alone not addressing underlying structural issues. There is lots that can be done. Learning what should be done and finding someone who can implement it is probably the hardest part and why (along with the potentially considerable expense) it is relatively rarely addressed.
I finally invested the time and money to build out a music room and it was worth every minute away from music and dollar spent! It took 9 months...

It will make your system shine better than ever and make you stop looking so hard to find that component or cable to take you over the top when it could be your room. I still look but with a discerning eye!
I'm looking at the daunting prospect of having my room's issues treated, and fighting the urge to replace the speakers until I have done some treatments.

Which brings up a newbie question- Is there such a thing as 'prepping' a room to accept whatever speakers/components I later buy, or is the room truly a 'component', and therefore how it is treated is dependent on the gear? Right now it is VERY live. Laminate/wood floors, bare drywall walls, flat 8' ceiling. Left wall is flat/smooth, no windows, right wall has 2 3X5 windows with shutters. Front wall has a fireplace, rear wall is going to be half open to kitchen (with tile floors there.

Could be seen as a clean canvas, or a hopeless case.
IMO the “Elephant in the Room” as far as this Audio hobby is concerned is the room itself.

This can be seen by the Audiogon forum categories and number of posts represented as of today 08 17 2013.

Amps Preamps (26214)
Home Theater (5172)
Speakers (19407)
Digital (12500)
Analog (13103)
Cables (8581)
Music (5876)
Best of (941)
Tech talk (5150)
PC Audio (1730)
Audio Clubs (264)
Misc Audio (6441)
Disputes (98)

How do we find the numerous hints, tips, and advice that has been provided over the years on dealing with "the Room" by valued members?

A suggestion to the Audiogon staff.

Please add a category called “The Room” or something similar.

I'm agreeing with Pops and all others who place the room as utterly imperative to great sound. I spent over 1.5 yrs building a dedicated listening room and it was absolutely the best "audio" purchase I have ever made. Stick with it. BTW a room can be "generically" improved...there are a lot of basics that are good for most/all types of systems. Good luck.
Agree with Ct0517. A'gon should add a "Room" category to its list of topics. My rig is located in a finished basement with weird dimensions and a low ceiling. It is carpeted and furnished, which may be a good thing. I'm sure much more can be done, but the room is so weird I'm not sure where to start. Would be kinda helpful IF there was a consultant in the area (Zip - 19096) who really knew what they were doing AND IF the wife would give me some license to make changes. That's 2 big IFs.
The room and the way the speaker interfaces with the room is more important than anything I've experienced in my 35 plus years of doing this. (Assuming you have decent equipment to begin with.) A properly treated room with a pair of upper level Vandersteen's, 5's and above, that will allow you to equalize the bass for room placement, is really hard to beat in my opinion. I'm sure there are other speakers that allow you to tune them for the room that would be equally good but I don't have experience with them.

The room can make a bigger difference than anything. Upgrading cables and equipment racks without addressing the room first seems like pure folly to me.