The importance of component location...

I'm brand spankin new to the high end audio world, so I'm beginning my quest to someday call myself "knowledgable".

I've had the chance to look through the vast majority of systems on the gon. One thing I've noticed, at least from those postings that have pics, is that most people with dedicated listening rooms, have there amps located directly in the middle of the speakers ON THE FLOOR!!! Correct me if I'm wrong but I've always read is manuals NOT to place any component on the floor.

Now, just by looking at the pics, I can see that the amps location would reduce the long lengths of cable to the speakers. But does this location effect amp performace? If so, how?

Would this be the only reason to place the amp there?
As for myself, I don't have the option of placing my amp in this spot. Trust me, my wife would have a major objection, seeing my system is in the living room.

I guess the point I'm getting at is what would be the advatage of a system with its amp in the location over a system with its amp on an equipment rack?

Or is this what thing about amp location really a dead issue. Does it even matter.

Can anyone suggest a real world location to place the amp that would offer advantages in performance...outside of an equipment rack?

Thanks for you suggestions.
If you re-check the pics, you'll see that amps only 'appear' to be on the floor. In fact they're on short amp stands that lift them a few inches off the floor. This keeps out most dust, and prevents acidental blocking of the cooling vents on the bottom of the unit (most instructions caution against setting equipment on carpet for this reason).

Short speaker cables and longer amp-preamp interconnects are generally the preferred layout (especially if using tube amps which have limited ability to control (damp) the woofers, resulting in less than terrific (sloppy/muddy) bass.

If your significant other objects to an amp right in the middle of the room, you should consider a pair of monoblock (1 channel) amps located next to, or even behind each speaker, rather than a stereo amp between them.
Placing the amp between the speakers on a floor stand provides two potential sonic benefits.

First, It decreases speaker cable length as previously mentioned. Also the short footed amp stands are very rigid helping to couple the amp to the floor.

Secondly, it prevents you from sticking a big A$$ TV between your speakers! Although generally practical, have a big A$$ TV between your speakers can cause sonic issues.


May I also add that amps tend to be the heaviest and hottest components in most audio systems. Keeping them low decreases the chance of them falling over and possibly hurting something or someone. Keeping them low may also surround them with the coolest air. Futhermore most people like to keep amps as far away as possible from other equipment that may deal with more delicate signals.
I have mine on BIG thick Ikea Cutting boards. Put spikes on them painted them to match the rack and the sit on the floor next to the speakers. Keeps cable runs short.
as long as your amps have room for proper ventilation there is no one location thats better than another,put your amps where they best suit your needs.
One of the reasons you`ll see so many amps on the floor is that a lot of this hobby is "monkey see, monkey do". Had to love the CES photos with many rooms showing a gazillion $ worth of equipment on the floor.
Bigjoe, could you explain the science, with respect to amplifier location, behind your pronouncement:

"there is no one location thats better than another,put your amps where they best suit your needs."


the science of my statement directly reflects my disbelief in much of the standard audiophile wisdom regarding amp placement & also reflects my personal knowledge from running close to 50 different amplifiers in locations ranging from floor to other rooms & isolation shelves.

other than keeping the cost of exotic cables down to a minimum (or the look factor) there is no sonic benifit as to where you place an amplifier as long as it has ample room for air flow.
Nsgarch, Im one of your fans. you are very smart and I like the way you talk. reading your threads has made me a better audiophile.thanks!!!!!!
Null1, I was going to reply to Bigjoe, but after receiving your very generaous vote of confidence, I think I'll just leave it at that. Thanks.

Wallace, re: your question about spkr cable vs. IC length. It seems counterintuitive doesn't it that long ICs and short spkr cables are the preferred configuration, but there are several reasons for it and I'll list three in decending order of importance (to me anyway),

1.) It all started with (woofer) damping and tube amps. Tube amps require the mediation of a (output) transformer in order to couple the load (speaker) to the current valve (the power output tube). You cannot just hook a speaker to a tube like you can with a transistor (if you want to know why, read.) Problem is, with transformers, there's an inherent "magnetic lag" sometimes called "hysteresis" between one set of windings being energised by the tube and magnetizing the iron core which (and here comes the lag) then creates a current in the output windings which drive the speaker. Most tube amps have a maximum damping factor of 10. Think of this as braking power, and the number 10 as the multiple of reverse force the amp can apply to the woofer when the audio signal wants it to stop and go the other way (the faster it can do that, the cleaner your bass), Even having say 20 feet of speaker cable instead of 10 feet can reduce that damping factor from 10 down to 8 at 10 feet and 4 at 20 feet (I'm not going into "why" here.) So that's one reason to keep speaker wire short and wire size fat with tube amps. With SS amps, it's not damping so much (they generally have damping factors of as much as 100) but even at that, the inductances built up over long speaker runs produce a reverse load on the amps (the moving speaker actually generates an electrical current equal and opposite to the one driving it -- called reactance) which creates harmonic distortion and other nasties. This phenomenon, from what I've read screws most w/ SS amps but I could never figure out why.

2.) The (small) currents that must be carried by ICs compared to those of speaker cable mean that inductance and capacitance don't build up as readily. And time smear is often handled easily with special alloys, or a few different size wire strands or extra twists, whereas with a long speaker cable, this problem could only be solved (if at all) with a lot more material (ie heavy and expensive wire every foot.)

3.) Economics. Foot for foot, of similar quality goods, ICs are cheaper than speaker cable. That's why speaker cable is often the last thing folks upgrade.

There are other lesser reasons, some of which other folks mentioned. Another practical one that comes to mind is the fact that you are more likely to have an electrical outlet behind your speakers that's on (or could be put on) a different circuit from your front end stuff to give your amp(s) clean unshared power. Etc., etc., etc.

I am in your practical minded camp. I have never really bothered much where an amp goes as long as it is ventilated. I don't use any special pads or isolation either. The safest place for this kind of stuff is in a well ventilated cupboard so that nothing may spill on it inadvertently, and out of reach of the kids.

I suspect those who have their equipment out in the open are rightly proud and want the items displayed like a shrine harm in that either.

My interest is purely in the music rather than the visual fact I prefer things clean, tidy and out of the way. I got so fed up with CD jewel cases everywhere that I went for CD mega changers long ago and I have recently soffit mounted the speakers to make things tidy and improve the sound.
My understanding of a manufacturer stating not to have the amps on the floor is potential ventilation problems (i.e. reducing the "chimney" effect with the bottem plugged up with a shag rug :))
I keep my monoblock amps on the floor between the speakers and they run at a constant 400 watts each. There are runners on the bottom of my amps that keep them off of the berber carpeted cement floor about 1-2 inchs.
You can, of course have the amp(s) in a different position, you just have to be more aware of the lengths of interconnects/speaker wire (i.e. common sense stuff like do not have your amp 100 feet away from your speakers while using 24 gauge speaker wire).

Nsgarch, it is not up to Bigtoe to give a 'scientific' explanation for the placement of power amp not being critical, but for you to explain why placement makes a difference.
And, as for the reason why long speaker cable runs are worse than long IC runs, the reason why damping lowers with longer speaker cables is simply due to the added resistance of the cable, not to the other implied impedences (reactivity and capacitance) and is easily mitgated with the proper size cable.
I won't comment on the 'smearing' of signals contention, except to say that any 'smearing' that might occur in speaker cables is only theoretical and much smaller than the inherent smearing of the speakers themselves.
Bob P.
PS. I place my power amp near the speakers not for the reasons that you have stated, but for convenience - I can see the power level indicators and there is no room near my pre-amp.
Heat dissipation is the biggest concern. I have my tubed monoblocks in a rack due to my kids, but there is a good 3 feet of clearance above them. I suspect that this, along with potential for static discharge hosing something up, that manufacturers frown on placing amps directly on 70's style shag carpet. Amp stands can be had or built for relatively little money, or a lot, depending on how much concern one has for the relatively insignificant effects of resonance and vibration.
My mono blocks are suspended on chains below the floor between the speakers. This eliminates vibrations, little fingers touching hot tubes and dropping things on the amps. And my wife has never even mentioned their existence.
Listens2tubes, your wife never mentioned anything about that rather unique chandlier hanging in the basement?
Unsound, She knows they are there, it's just that she has more to say about speaker placement in relation to furniture in our living room.