New to this. How do I stack my stuff?

I'm new to hifi. I've asked a lot of questions here and some of you may already know my situation but I got the following by chance and for free: Audio Research LS16 tube pre-amp, Arcam CD92 cd player, Madrigal Proceed HPA2 amp. 

It is all up and running and I'm loving it. Now just trying to maximize the little things that I can. For instance, speakers had spike stands but spikes were missing so I made a set.

Now I read in the CD manual that it recommends sorbothane feet and says sound quality will be better.

I'm now figuring out that placement of components is important and that proper stands, expensive ones, are best. Well, expensive stands are not going to happen. But I can try to make accommodations that are cheap and won't turn the room upside down.

Here is how it is all situated now...let the ridicule flow, but keep in mind that I am space limited to a serious extent. Was not sure I'd get the system in my house at all:

The (very) heavy Proceed amp is sitting on a carpeted floor on strips of wood which raise the bottom of it well above the carpet. It is higher above the carpet than it would be above a hard surface just on its own feet.

The CD player is sitting on a small, simple, wooden, antique side table. It is sturdy. The pre-amp is on top of the CD player. I have no idea what this might mean in terms of SQ but the CD player actually puts out a fair amount to heat which rises up into the pre-amp of course. That concerns me.

So other than getting some sorbothane feet for the CD player, what else would be a priority here?

Finally are there issues with which cables contact which cables, how much speaker cables are looped, etc. (Most of the cabling is Transparent Super Bi-wire.)

Thanks for any assistance.
If you can do it put all the equipment either to your left or right.
The best imaging and depth to sound you’ll get is to have nothing between your speakers as far back as you can, and to the out side of the speakers.
Put equipment racks in between the speakers so you can gaze at your possessions while listening, and you are killing your sound stage imaging and depth.
Neville Thiele (rip) of Thiele and Small Speaker calculations fame, told me this when he was around, and he was so right, I’ve never looked back.

Cheers George
Take the preamp off the cd player and get it on something sturdy. Other than that if you're on a budget it's fine. In terms of footers there are plenty of options many quite inexpensive you can even make your own.

I am not sure what you mean by which cables contact which cables? And I would avoid leaving your speaker cables coiled if possible. I would imagine your cabling is pretty simple, a pair of interconnects cd player to preamp, and a pair of interconnects preamp to amp. Speaker cables amp to speakers. That's it.
Congrats btw that's a very nice system for free! What speakers are you using?
George, unfortunately there is no way for me to get the components outboard of the speakers. The speakers are out in front of the components by about a foot.

jond, behind the pre-amp and CD player the RCA and XLR cables are a bit of a rat's nest. I can straighten them out but not sure if it matters.

The speaker cables are 8 feet long each and the speakers are only about 4 feet on either side of the system. Again, no choice in the matter, so there is one loop of cable on each side. Not ideal I'm sure but the only other solution would be to have them hanging from the wall on a hook or something to prevent the loop.

The speaker s are Aerial Acoustics 7Bs.

You could cut the speaker cables (shorter is better) and clamp the bare wire in the speaker terminals. Otherwise, not a big deal. Stacking components is not the best. I would move the preamp to the transformer-free side of the CD player. Replace the power cords with OFC cords like BLE Design on eBay for $30 each.
@n80- I guess you can ’stack’ equipment, but I always thought that was bad practice for a variety of reasons- heat, interference among components, etc. And your amp, though on wooden strips, is still cushioned by the carpeting- better, I think to spike through the carpet to the underlying floor boards using some kind of spike and constrained layer platform. (All that means is that the materials of the platform have different resonance characteristics, with some sort of elastic compound in the middle, so you are not hearing the sound of one particular material). You can actually make some of this stuff yourself if you are resourceful.
Some people like the sound of certain kinds of wood. You can read about people’s impressions of the sound of various materials simply by searching --maple or butcher block or acrylic, etc.
You don’t necessarily need specialty equipment stands. But the furniture you use to support the equipment will impart a character to the sound-- there was a school of thought with the old Linn turntable about using a very light, flimsy table beneath it. Others like massive pieces-- I used to use a huge old mahogany prayer table to support a 250 lb turntable. It required some sorbothane under the feet of the table itself, not under the gear. The gear sat on top of the prayer table without additional isolation or other material (except for the turntable, which was a special case).
Putting sorbothane under a piece of gear will change the sound. It may be better or not. Certainly cheap enough to experiment with, and you don’t necessarily have to buy the audiophlle branded products to do this. Read up a bit on the difference between coupling and decoupling--I experimented 5 or so years ago, maybe longer, with a bunch of different ’footers’ beneath the power supply to my phono preamp. From an old audiophile expensive cone -the Goldmund, to Herbies footers, to Aurios (don’t remember the model it was like an enclosed roller block so the equipment would shimmy sideways), to some HRS stuff, to Vibrapods (puck and cone) to Stillpoints SS. Believe it or not, the Vibrapod with cone was pretty decent in that particular set up and dirt cheap; the Aurios lent unbelievable clarity but created a strident edge to the sound; the Herbies sounded ’mushy’ to me; the Goldmunds didn’t seem to do much at all. I found the Stillpoints to give me the clarity without the drawbacks of the Aurios. They are money, though.
Hope that helps.
PS: probably not a bad idea to get Jim Smith's book, Get Better Sound. You can order it from Amazon. Even if some of it is known to you, I'll bet you'll learn a few things. Jim's thing is all about 'set-up' and 'playing the room.' That goes beyond your questions-- namely how to 'voice' the system and take advantage of the room, acoustically. But, Jim gets down into all the details of system set up in the process. Well worth reading. 
I agree that using Sorbothane under a component will affect the sound. IME, music will sound less lively, less open.
Herbies Extra firm Tenderfeet would provide good Isolation in your

Try to replace the side table so that each component has it's own shelf.

When I had my belt drive CEC cd player in the system Vibrapods without cones worked okay but Boston Audio graphite tune blocks were better in every respect. I use a combination of a 3" thick maple block and Boston Audio tune blocks under my Nottingham turntable and have no intention of changing this set-up. You can also try good brass cones under you player but it may ring, Audiopoints maybe. I use them under my integrated amplifier. If you can't avoid stacking you might want to put something under the feet of your pre-amp, maybe some cork/hard resin blocks like Mapleshade sells, and I got something very similar on Audiogon for my PS Audio power plant regenerator. As for the amp, I don't know if it is realistic to put it on a good spiked amp stand.
The sound must be very alive even if it is not exactly pure. To have both you would need a complicated and expensive set-up. Some swear by active K Minus and Herzan platforms. I think Whart has the former under his turntable.
I would get a modular open av rack like a salamander which would support that amp and place the other components on the upper racks. At the very least I would move the pre amp off the top of the cd player. 
@n80, there are all kinds of inexpensive racks out there new and used that could hold all of your equipment on an individual shelf per component. That's the route I would suggest at this time and don't worry about the rack being an audiophile quality rack or not. As long as we aren't talking about glass shelves you should be good to go.
If you don't care for that suggestion, pick up an inexpensive end table and if you do a search you can find a sturdy end table with a shelf on the bottom and you place preamp on top shelf and CDP on the bottom or vice versa. Or look for a four-foot (or longer) coffee table with a lower shelf and use it for all components.
Personally, I don't think it will really make much of a difference if your speaker cables are longer than what you need unless you start to pick up radio stations or interference in your area through your speakers. I would suggest you elevate the speaker cables off the floor by putting them ontop of anything you have around the house like 2"x4" blocks or some type of paper or styrofoam cups.
Unfortunately a rack is out of the question, at any price. My wife is already not happy with 'mission control' sitting at one end of the room.

Also, for me, there is no TT in the line up. I have one, don't use it much and it is junk. If I ever get into vinyl then TT set up will be a whole other can of worms. Right now it is just amp, pre-amp and CD player.

As to what to set the components on....I'm confused. Some of the things mentioned above are compliant to varying degrees. Some of them are hard and relatively non-compliant. So I am not clear on the purpose of different materials. If the goal is isolation why would you use something hard? 

Anyway, this is what I'm thinking about doing until I get  a bigger table:

End table: I'm stuck with it. Could easily have it sitting on spikes. Not sure if this is better or not?

Amp:  Leave on floor. I could easily make a low platform with spiked feet but have to wonder why it floating on the carpet is a bad idea. Seems like that would be ideal for isolation.

CD player: Leave it on the end table. Right now that is the only option until my wife warms up to all this. I can play with all sorts of things to put between it and the table surface. I'll start with some cheap sorbothane but I have all sorts of wood that I could make foot blocks out of. I could even make laminated wood blocks (like butcher block).

Pre-amp: It pretty much has to go over the CD player. I'm thinking about making an open wood box/cover that will sit over it and the pre-amp will sit on top. This box can have some sort of feet where it sits on the table and the pre-amp can have some sort of feet where it sits on the box.

On sorting out the difference between different kinds of "footers" or "isolation,"  here's a pretty good explanation from Gary Koh that made the rounds a while ago-- you can extrapolate from what he describes beyond loudspeakers: [url][/url]
I can understand the wife factor but with the componet rack it would only take up the floor space the amp is already taking up the other pieces go over it in the same space. It would make it look less like mission  control. If you're handy with wood then look up amp stands and make something similar. I made an open box like you're talking about and stacked a DAC over a cd  player once. 
I've been using Vibrapods (and another rubbery set of footers the brand of which I don't remember) under all my gear for years with excellent results, and they certainly do not render the sound "less lively." In a simple, somewhat "non audiophile" rack I have a tube SE amp running hot (as designed) on the middle shelf with open sides all around and 8" above it, the tube preamp above that on the next shelf with lots of air around it, and my CD player on the top with the dac and for me. The lowest shelf has a rarely used tuner and power conditioner for everything. Next to this stuff my turntable is on top of another sturdy rack/stand (this one is supposedly "audiophile") with the phono amp below it and some LPs on the bottom. Vibrapods under the Klipsch Heresy III speakers also. Lively, coherent, and very musical.
djones, I'm fairly handy with wood. I can't do anything fancy but I build built-in bookshelves with simple lines. There are plans to put built-in shelves where my system sits now but that project is months down the road and will require a re-design to accommodate this system (and for my wife to get used to the idea that it is staying.)

wloeb, that unit does not look bad at all (I was thinking steel and chrome) and it certainly is cheap. I'll let my wife take a look at it and see what she thinks. It is cheap enough that if it gets put aside when I build the built-ins it wouldn't be a huge waste of money. It says it will hold 75 pounds. I'll check the specs on the amp. It feels like it weighs 200 pounds but that is because all the weight is in the front. But I'm guessing 50 pounds.

What puzzles me about a rack is that structurally it is tying everything together which I thought was what you wanted to avoid. I suppose using some sort of isolating feet on each component might help that.

whart, I read that article. And it helps understand what is at stake but it did not seem to clarify whether the goal is isolation or integration. You guys have to admit that using graphite (very hard) in one application and rubber-like materials in another is confusing. I guess experimentation is key here.
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Thanks. I wouldn’t cut the speaker cables anyway. They have a thick outer coating and the ends have thick shrink rubber bonded to the cable end and the spades.

The speakers are out in front of all of this so no direct sound from the speakers should effect the components but I’m sure reflected sound and vibration through the floor does.

In my limited understanding of all this, it seems like isolation is the goal. To that end, it seems that 'disconnecting' the table from the floor would be better than, for instance, spiking it to the floor. It would seem to me that the table (which is quite sturdy) would be best on some sort of compliant, broad feet (even typical furniture floor protectors) that sit on top of the carpet. Again, I have no TT that needs to be stable.
Shoot, I don't think that Monoprice rack will work. And my wife thought it would be okay for a temporary thing. The amp weighs 94 pounds and it will barely fit on the dimensions of the shelves because it is 19.5 inches front to back.

I'll have to look at some others but doubt I'll find anything cheap that will hold that amp.
It’s not fancy, but it’s dirt cheap, quick and solid............cinder block with board shelving between them. You can go wide or straight up depending on your setup.......and wife. You can paint or stain the boards, even paint the block to dress it up for the time being. It will hold anything, even your back-breaker amp. It’s temporary and when you don’t need them anymore you can reuse them for some other project or toss them at very little loss. Don’t cut your cables, one day you’ll need that extra couple feet and have to buy a new set..........Do not stack gear on gear or put them in an enclosed cabinet. Heat kills electronics faster than just about anything, especially that monster amp of yours, they have to be able to breath. Do whatever it takes to get Mamma on board. In the long run having her on your side will make the hobby much more enjoyable for both of you............Take your time, you don’t have to get everything "right" this week............I’ve been playing with my stuff for 45 years, it’s part of the fun of the hobby.
I think I may combine ideas here. I think I might buy the Monoprice rack linked to above ($90) and just make an amp stand and have it sitting down low beside the rack. There are dedicated amp stands for $50 or more but even many of those low end ones aren't rated for 95 pounds and making one would be super easy and it would be nearly invisible under the amp.
A 95 pound amp is heavy, but even plywood would support it with 4 feet or spikes or whatever you want. That's less than 25 pounds per corner. 3/4 ply or just about anything else that you wanted to build, butcher block, layered plywood, whatever. It's a small, low, simple platform, so even a scrap of granite counter top from a local shop could work if you could cut it down to size.......really not that difficult with the right tool. ....have fun with this and include your wife in the process when possible. Buy a couple of her favorite CD's and let her see how great they sound on the new gear. Explain to her why you're doing what you're doing and why x-y and z matter......Did that with my wife and it went a long way...........If mamma is happy, you'll be happy.
You can go to Lowes and have them cut a piece of "finished wood."

94 pounds and it will barely fit on the dimensions of the shelves because it is 19.5 inches front to back.
The large SS amps are usually too deep to fit on standard shelving.
The front of my amp stuck out 1-2 inches in front and the same in back. Actually, it looked very cool at the bottom of my rack.

Good luck on your journey, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy the music, plane and simple.
There is a Sanus rack that will hold the weight and is large enough. It is $200 and pretty ugly though.

Still thinking about getting creative and seeing what I come up with in my shop.
Hey, I’m a woodworker as well as a stereo guy. I built the cabinet my stuff sits in. As the number of components grew, I built stands to place pieces above other pieces within the cabinet. I also built platforms for my speakers. It gave me more things to do to play with my system. Keeping me busy, and out of trouble, usually keeps my wife happy.
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Elizabeth, is your concern about wood under and amplifier purely a safety concern or a sound concern?

I've been digging around in my basement and have found a 3x3 inch walnut post. I am planning on cutting it into 3x3 inch cubes to use as feet under the amp (which might still be sitting on carpet with those feet under it) That should get the amp well above the carpet. I will bore out a depression in the center of the block for the amp feet to rest in with the ability to but various materials (like a silicone washer, sorbothane disk of even brass etc) into the depression between the wood and amp feet. This walnut has some checking in it so it will not look perfect but when sanded and finished it should still look beautiful.

I will probably make similar but lower(1x3") feet to put under the CDP and pre-amp as well if I have enough material left.

I also found a 19"x22" 1 inch thick marble slab. I may make similar feet to go under that once I polish it up. Then I could put the amp on that or even my crappy TT.
Couldn't you put the 3x3 feet you're planning on putting under the amp under the marble slab instead and put the amp on that? 
I guess I am not quite understanding what you're trying to do. I use an audio rack I bought about 20 years ago, heavy metal frame with heavy wood shelving that would hold a tank. I simply place my components on the shelves using the "feet" of the components. I havd never had an amp or cd player or anything that didn't come with some type of foot or base. I did make a table or box that fit over a cd player once to place a dac so it could fit in the same space. You don't any type of special rubber or stuff to put under you components existing feet. They make items you can use and after you get everything placed try them then if you want I have never noticed a difference the couple if times I tried them about 10 years ago have no idea what I did with them probably tossed em. 
Yes. That’s what I mentioned in the last line. The nice thing about these block feet (if they ever happen) is that they could be very versatile. I could even fit a sorbothane disk between the foot and the marble.

Now I wish I had a bench belt know, in this attempt to do-it-myself and save money......;-)
Sold all my old wood working tools on letgo before I downsized to a condo less  than half the sq ft of my house. Suppose that's why it's called downsizing. 
A block of ice makes an ideal amp stand but unfortunately it melts almost immediately rendering it less than ideal.
djones51 said:

"I guess I am not quite understanding what you're trying to do."   

Its complicated. ;-)

First, I'm just playing the game. It seems like everything in the audiophile world needs some sort of special treatment. A lot of it sounds silly to me (but I am only a beginner so who am I to say).

Second, I'm trying to play the game for cheap.

Third, as is my pre-amp is sitting on my CD and everyone says that is no good and I agree, even if it doesn't make a difference to SQ

Fourth, my current set up is ugly. The amp is on the floor on strips of bare rough cut wood. 

Fifth, I'm a project guy. I like the challenge of doing something well, cheaply.

So if I can do a few cheap things, which might include buying a low end rack of some sort then I'll piddle around with it. If nothing else, these walnut feet should look nice and elevate the amp off the floor a little more and look pretty doing it. Still working out where to put the pre-amp.

Also, as mentioned above, the big project will be built in shelves which were planned before I got this stuff. Integrating this stuff into those is going to be a design challenge but that's a ways down the road.
I'm a wood worker, not a terribly GOOD one, but I enjoy building things. I recently finished a simple rack for my gear that to all intents resembles a coffee table with a lower shelf. Used 1x3 red oak for legs,  triple laminated..glued and screwed, trimmed down on a table saw, 1x3 red oak to trim out and stiffen the 3/4 oak plywood top and bottom shelf. I routed out slots below where the amps sit, just under and the full length of the heat sinks for improved ventilation. Installed LED's beneath the top shelf, just for fun and it looks cool at night. The rack is holding about 175 lbs of gear easily. It's low and solid. Stained and poly'd it and for less than $200 I think it looks great. Of course, I've you had more money and less sense you could drop a few K on an "Uber rack" that might make your gear sound better, but I'm quite happy with the one I built for a few bucks..................Don't beat me up for that one folks, I just think there are better ways to spend my audio budget.........Your money, your choice, ain't personal.

When you get to your built in's just keep in mind ventilation, particularly for amps. My larger amp tends to get quite warm when I crank it even though the rack is open on all sides. I picked up a high end, very quite 120mm cooling fan for around $15, built a little cage for it and set it on top of the amp.......Looks fine and problem solved, amp stays cool no matter how  hot the music gets...............Heat and electronics do NOT mix well.

Wolf said:

A block of ice makes an ideal amp stand but unfortunately it melts almost immediately rendering it less than ideal.

You are not thinking like a real audiophile. IF ice is a good platform it would not be that hard to make a small cooling unit to put under the ice block....think tiny skating rink......of course, there would be noise and interference from the compressor........but there are ways around that too if you are really dedicated to getting just the right SQ....
JELLO makes an excellent iso stand, believe it or not. It isolates in almost all directions. No unsightly springs or air bladders. Plus you can nibble while you listen. But I have to say the king of all the various food groups for vibration control is SPAM. Good old Hormel spam, the stuff we loved as kids and still love today for all our vibration damping needs. Again, nibble whilst listening. Spam, the versatile food. Not too soft, not too hard. Mmmmmm, good!

“There’s always room for JELLO!”
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@n80, this is one thread in which a pic of your setup would help. Too bad the forum isn’t set up with that functionality.

Having your speakers flanking your other gear is not uncommon.

I recommend moving your preamp off the surface of the CD player. CD players put out both heat and vibration, neither of which is good for a tube preamp.

Your amp appears to be ~15.5” (W) x ~19.5” (D) (width, W, being the footer-footer distance).  I recommend using a set of ceramic floor tiles (11”x11” to 13”x13” squares should work) underneath your amp. That material would improve the air flow under the amp, provide greater safety than using wood, and enable greater choice of color options with respect to matching the carpet, should the WAF come into play.

The wires and cables nest is often unavoidable. I would try to minimize the power cord interactions with the signal interconnects and speaker cables. 

Why not take a picture of your system as currently organized and load that to the Virtual Systems? Won’t be as convenient as embedding something in the thread itself but will accomplish the same purpose as @celander has in mind.
Not sure what all the fuss about wood is......yes, it's flammable, but if your gear gets THAT hot something is seriously wrong. Probably tens of thousands of wooden stands or wooden shelves being used out there for gear. Never heard of it burning anybodies house down...........Anything CAN happen, but come on guys.....................and jello/spam.........the man is looking for actual advice. At least be courteous enough to respect that. Lots of folks here with great gear and setups, help the guy out.
I made these (see picture below) this afternoon. I don't think there is any risk from the heat of the amp since the wood isn't really under the hot parts or heat sinks. It also sits another inch higher over the carpet so it should cool even better.

If I get a rack that will hold that monster I can still use the feet under it. It would still help with cooling and look good too.
shadow, I was never really worried about the prospect of wood catching on fire. Quite a few heavy duty racks are made of MDF board. This amp has a tremendous heat sink that flows from bottom to can see right through it. The heat sink elements get hot but not so hot you can’t touch them and you do not really feel heat rising off of it at all. It is leaving the amp for sure but it is widely distributed. I wouldn’t want anything flammable touching the heat sink but that would take so real trying to make that happen.

ghost, there is a link to a picture of my system below. Not much to look at. Ignore the crappy TT on the floor and the little speaker on the wall belongs to surround sound system for TV. The distance between the speakers is just under 10’.

Primary goal at this point is getting pre-amp off CD.

Ooops, forgot the link:

Nice!!.....and the walnut blocks great. You'd spend "silly money" for those "tweaks" from a vendor. Definitely gonna need to work on your speaker placement and room treats at some point, lots of good info out there for free......All this stuff takes time amigo.........Nobody gets it right....or even close overnight. Enjoy what you have and the way it sounds now and make improvements as time and money allow. It's a hobby, so by definition it's an ongoing thing that gives you pleasure. Take some time to research things, speaker placement, room acoustics, whatever pops into your head. Keep in mind that much of the hobby is subjective and EVERYBODY has an opinion......occasionally some of them might even be useful :).... Best thing I've found is to be patient and experiment until you like the results.
@n80, I love your small footer riser solution. You can relocate both the CD player and preamp to another place in the room if you use a long run (e.g., 15’-40’) of balanced interconnects from the preamp to the power amp.
Looks nice, have you thought about making 4 more feet and putting the pre amp beside the amp unless that little green chair can't be moved. 
djones, the chair can be moved. I had not thought about putting the pre-amp down low, but can do it easily. There is other furniture in the house that I could also use in place of the little table. A simple but very sturdy and heavy oak desk. But it could hold the pre-amp and CD player side by side rather than stacked. PITA getting it downstairs and will require the approval of she-who-must-be-obeyed.

celander, the XLR cable between pre-amp and amp are about six feet long and the RCAs between the CD and pre-amp are about four feet. They are very nice Transparent cables. I don't think I could afford to spend the kind of money to get longer cables of the same quality.

shadow, unfortunately the speakers have nowhere else to go. Even if I could get them on the long wall the listening distance would be too close since the room is 10'x20'. They could be twenty feet apart but listening distance would be less than 8 feet. Fortunately, I think, ceilings are 10' high and the other walls have windows with heavy drapes on them. There is not much echo in the room. I will do some reading but any changes I'll be able to make will be minor.