Everyone knows the advantages of having nothing between the speakers. It is on paper totally the way to go. What I realized a long time ago however is it comes at a very steep cost. Speaker cables and/or interconnects must be the highest possible quality you can afford. But we all have our limitations. No matter what level you are at, it should be obvious that you are not going to be able to afford as high quality wire at 10m as you can at 1m. You can dance around this all you want, and believe you me they will. But it just ain’t happening.
I have seen (and heard) the results first hand. The truth is the advice to put everything off to the side with nothing in between is perfectly fine - in theory. In practice however, different story.
Also even in practice there is more to it than just sound quality. There is also room decor, and practical considerations like are you willing to bend over and step over cables and stuff like that. Stuff no one ever talks about in the advice books. Stuff like that is my stock in trade. All the stuff the others miss.
This is my solution. Take the info and use it as you will. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
Whatever works and is convenient.
Anything goes. You never know what sounds best until you try and hear it.
It you do not have a turntable it makes no difference sonically where you put your equipment. From a cable perspective, it is best to keep mono amps right behind the speakers keeping the speaker cables as short as possible running balanced cables to the amps.
You want to keep turntables as far away from the speakers as possible
Ideally in another room.
I do not like equipment between the speakers for aesthetic reasons. I do not want to see cables and complexity. My system doubles as a theater so I have a big screen in the middle. The equipment is in a custom built in cabinet to my left side. Seated at the listening position you can not see a single wire. Perfect.
"...From a cable perspective, it is best to keep mono amps right behind the speakers keeping the speaker cables as short as possible running balanced cables to the amps..."
Why is it better to keep high level cables short and low level cables long?
Its not. But if ever someone says anything once, and it gets repeated, then before you know it everyone is saying it and convinced it must be true because.... someone said it.
Ideally nothing between the speakers but living environment is not always merciful.
It can't hurt to measure your room with a mic to see if there's a nice null off to side which would help make an informed decision.
The only audio equipment I have in my listening room are the speakers themselves. In a cabinet (with front doors that are closed when the music is playing) in an adjacent room are the turntable, pre-amp, tuner, and digital front end. The amp is in the basement under the speakers, driven by balanced cables coming through the floor from the preamp above. Since my turntable has a vacuum pump, I also put that in the basement below the cabinet.
Obviously lots of cables and tubes going up and down through my wood floors, but the holes aren't visible to guests. There are cable holes in the floors under the equipment cabinet and behind the speakers.
Guess I made a short story long. Separate everything as much as practicable, especially if you're using a turntable, and double especially if the turntable has a vacuum pump.
"...The only audio equipment I have in my listening room are the speakers themselves..."
I think that is an ideal set-up but not achievable for most people. Next best is having a low stand of equipment between the loudspeakers, certainly no TVs or huge pieces of furniture with closed doors.
"Since my turntable has a vacuum pump, I also put that in the basement below the cabinet."
You go down to the basement to change the side of the record? Audiophile of the year!
Just the pump.. LOL not the whole TT glupson. He would be on the A list for sure.. I'd hum to myself before I'd do a basement run.. I had to catch an opossum in mine last week, mercy. Huge old silver back. I didn't mind him visiting, just decided to take up residence, NO NO NO.. I was in Texas/Arizona for 6 weeks.. Tore the hell out of the place.. I fixed the entry point..
That's, that, now for the alligator in basement, (rodent control) :-)
Directly behind my speakers is a large closet. If my house had more storage space, I'd clear out the closet, move electronics, and run speaker wire through the wall. It would look better too. The sound works as-is so I don't sweat it too much.
The best location for a component rack is in front of the house by the curb. Be sure to use Craig's List or it may be there a while.
I have moved my rack off to the side. My listening space is small and it doubles as an office.
I am trying to convince my kids to let me take over the game room they do not use.
Use long XLR cables from your gear kept on the side to the amp in-between the speakers. If you have well designed gear the XLR quality should not make that much of a difference so you can use cheaper (but very good) XLR, such as pro XLR's. You can then get better and shorter speaker cables which I find make a huge difference.
My XLR's from the preamp to the amp are 15 feet (could be a longer If need be), and my speaker cables are only 3 or 4 foot. XLR's cost $250 and the speaker cables $3500.
All my equipment is off to the side, except my old Belles amp that sits on the floor between the speakers. Why? Well, as it makes sense to me, equipment between the speakers can screw with the imaging and soundstage in the center. I have a fireplace between the speakers, which is covered with diffusion panels. Also have absorption panels and diffusion panels behind the speakers flanking the fireplace. When I sprung for new speaker cables, I decided I didn’t want long speaker cable runs, so moved the Belles on the floor between the speakers (on the fireplace hearth). As has been suggested to me, it is better to have a longer RCA (in my case) run from the pre to the amp, rather than 16’ +/- speaker cables.
Works for me. Personally, I don’t like to see a rack between the speakers, but as I understand, can also provides sonic improvements.
The downside to all this, the fireplace doesn’t get used at all. I miss burning a nice fire in the winter, but when weighing the two, my rig and sound is more important to me.