I feel like an idiot; lessons learned

My last few years have not been kind to music listening. First, horrible work schedules (bad!), second, birth of first child (great!). Music has been played, but not really listened too. Recently, I have been able to spend more time listening to my system again. It is a VPI turntable, to a Manley Stingray integrated amp, to Thiel CS 2.4's. I am planning to replace the amp, as my little one is getting too close to the tubes for comfort, and it never really was the right one for the speakers. So, I start listening carefully again, and the system sounds awful. Really, really bad. Nothing coheres, the right channel seems just wrong. I poked and prodded to try to figure out what was going on, speakers seem ok, amp too, turntable...I got to the point that I was trying to figure out if I had some sort of hearing loss in my right ear, or if I needed some sort of electronic room geometry fix, or if I had to replace the speakers. Buying a new amp seemed crazy when the whole thing sounded so bad. Just weird.

So the night before last I am playing with my child who is crawling near the speakers. They are on outriggers, with adjustable feet, adjustable to deal with not-perfectly level floors. I notice that one of the feet is not stable, and needs to be extended a bit. It turns out I am to the limits of the possible extension, and I have to remove the washer to get the foot lower. I do so, and continue playing with kid. After crawling on the floor for a bit longer, I realize that both front feet are extended almost to the limit, on both speakers. I realize that I had been extending one to firmly set it out the ground, which makes the other front foot less firmly planted, so I extend that...and two years later both my speakers are tilted about an inch up (the front higher than the rear). After child goes to bed, I lower the front of both speakers, put on a record...and wow. It sounds lovely. Hearing fine, no electrical room conditioning needed, I don't need to lose the speakers I always wanted. And I feel a bit stupid, of course.

So, lessons learned: First off, trust your ears. If something sounds wrong, something probably is wrong. Second, speaker placement is really, really important (and cheap to experiment with). More: Thiels are famous for being picky, with proper placement particularly important. I am somewhat stunned as to what lowering the front an inch did to the sound. And, I suppose, try the little things, all of them, before you do anything significant. If you remember your system sounding good, and it doesn't now, it has that good sound stuck in it somewhere. Find it!

I am very glad I didn't sell my Thiels!
Great learning. I have learned that speaker placement is probably the biggest improvement in the grand scheme of "system setup". Replacing all your electronics may not yield as much a benefit as "careful" speaker placements give.
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy your music....but only after you are done playing with the little one!
No, no, no! You guys have it all wrong. If your system doesn't sound right you should buy an expensive line conditioner to filter out some of the nasty high frequencies. And if that doesn't do it you obviously need to install room treatment on all walls. And now that you have completely killed the sound you can brighten it up with a set of $2,000 points for the bottom of your speakers. If you haven't done so yet you should consider replacing all of the manufacturer supplied power cords because Pass Labs, Audio Research, Manley, VTL, Quicksilver Audio, and all of the other manufacturers of high end audio equipment do not have a clue. You know much more than those guys do. Be sure to include the power cord on your line conditioner or all else will be for nothing. If this doesn't do it for you just start replacing components one by one. Nervana is right around the corner.

Hard to tell if your post is tongue in cheek or not. My sarcasm meter might be on the fritz.

That said, room treatment is key and better power cords do enhance the sound. Neither is a myth.

If you were indeed kidding, disregard the above.

I read Rrog's response as "tongue in cheek" but didn't read it as saying room treatment and power cords are worthless. I think the (tacit) point being made is that there's a no cost improvement option (speaker placement) that ought to be explored before chasing costly enhancements.
It's really just common sense to make sure what you have is set up and performing to its max before changing anything. Getting speakers placed well/optimally is fundamental to best sound so do whatever you can to get that working first and do not be afraid to think out of the box with unconventional placement/orientation options if needed. Then you are in a position to tweak anything else desired, major or minor to get things tuned in better from there.
Always check the free fixes first. Unfortunately, that's a lesson that I've forgotten on more than one occasion.

The last time, about 9 months ago, one speaker was sounding lifeless, so I put my ear up to the tweeter and sure enough, there was no output. My first thought was that I had blown out the tweeter. I popped the tweeter out and in desperate search for a replacement. After a day or two, and no luck looking for a replacement, I decided to see if maybe there were fuses in the crossover, maybe one of the fuses blew (I hoped). As I was lowering the speaker to the floor, I noticed that one of the high frequency speaker cable leads had come loose. Plug up the leads, pop the tweeter back in, problem solved. DUH!!!
One takeaway from the OP's ordeal is the importance of speaker rake angle. Some people claim it's the most important part of the Sumiko Master Set procedure.
Don't feel bad I had the same experience with my Focals. I went from Thiels which sounded better fired straight out to Focals which sounded much better toed in toward the listener. I didn't realize this for a few months of having them fire straight ahead. They sounded good but really opened up when I toed them toward the listener.
Every so often we get this nonsense. Someone claiming that in order for us to get the best sound we change power cords to anaconda proportion and all is well.Power cords are a myth. Many A&B blind testing's and no one I mean no one can pick out the more expensive cord over the box cord...just go and squeeze your brain and try it.
You also might clean all of the connections, if you haven't done so already. I know after a while when my system wasn't grabbing me the way it used to, and I was considering what to upgrade, I would clean all connections and it would spring back to life.
My experience has been that speaker placement has a tremendous impact on the overall sound. I have always been limited by existing spaces and not been able to always get the most out of speaker placement. I have to do the best I can within the confines of my family room. I've found that height is very important also and I don't always put them at the height the mfg rec's. Getting a speaker up and clear of furnishings etc. seem to open up congestion, similar to what the original o.p. experienced.

Relax, don't have a cow. Not everyone has a system that can discern cable differences. If this is you, don't sweat it. Just enjoy what you do have.

Don't assume your walls are straight either like I did years ago. Take a measurement from the speaeker to you listening position. Being and inch off matters with some speakers.

When I first got into this hobby my system wasn't refined enough to tell the difference in power cords or setup. As I upgraded the system and the stage became more 3 dimensional I started to notice little changes made a difference within the stage and tone in general.

First reflection points were also recognize as being problematic. The way the room interacts within the sytem is just amazing. I wish I had a near perfect room!!
Shakeydeal, don't mind Schipo, he's our resident troll (mrtycraft?). He hates all things audio related. He believes himself to be the Emperor of the audio world, and he alone decides how all should spend their coin. LOL!!!
A digital level will help make speaker set up easier/faster/more exact!! A laser pointer simplifies getting the tweeters to fire at the same height target(s).
Only an "empty chair" wouldn't know that Rrog's response was "tongue in cheek"

I am glad you mentioned the Sumiko Master Set method. If anyone out there is just getting started, I recommend it highly. After trying every other method, it's the one the worked the best for me. Indeed, if any serious listener hasn't set their system and speakers up precisely, all the purchases in the world will be a waste of money.
WOW, someone ( Schipo ) that can't hear the difference power cords make . Even my non audiophile friends can pick out clear changes In blind A/B power cord tests.
Tmsorosk, that's odd, none of the cord manufacturers have ever offered A/B proof. Seems like your friends could make a lot of money consulting for the cord companies...

As far as cleaning, I use a DeOxit kit that I bought from Music Direct. It has all the tools, cleaners, and conditioner needed. It seems about every 6 months the magic fades on my system. A freshening up and cleaning always brings it back.

Ahh yes, it makes sense now. I seem to remember a mrtycraft on Audio Asylum years ago. And I do remember his, how to say, skewed point of view.

"Paranormal Powers " Schipo you really are a newbe , you need to get out more .
I have been listening and involved most likely longer than you have walked on the planet. I remember when walking into a very upscale audio emporium in the NY area and seeing for the first time what was called the music hose..at the time an expensive option. I had a good customer relationship with them at the Time so it was no problem making a borrow. I can tell u I was much younger with most likely better hearing. I listened with a friend comparing them to 14awg with no difference in sound but a big hit in my pocket. So since then I have been very suspicious and all should be.. Oh and yes I do get out maybe u should get your head out of your you know what ...