I was reminded this week that it's always good to keep at least part of a "beginners mind" on hand when tying to solve a problem. Mine was imaging and depth regarding my speakers (Pro-Ac Response 2s).
Overall, I haven't felt the need to change much in my system for a few years now (shocking I know). After years of gradually getting it "right" I got to a place where it was time to say: "There! It's good enough!" Not perfect, but pretty damn good and with no single flaws annoying enough to really consider changing things up.
So it was all good except one slightly annoying feature, which was I never felt my depth or imaging was nearly as good as it could be. On balance, everything sounded right tonally, and it's not like things sounded muddy, it's just that voices or instruments seemed like they could be more focused. I messed with a number of different setup positions in the room: speakers closer, father, farther apart from each other, more toed in, less toed; you get the idea.
Now I've been into high-end well before I could even afford it, so I've set up many systems, including many friends, so I have a pretty good idea of how to get it all to work. Mostly I figured it was somehow the "room" maybe being slightly small (but at 12x14 it's not THAT small). Anyway, I found that facing 90 degrees definitely didn't work, and though toed in was better, the MORE toed in, approaching not seeing the sides sounded gradually worse. Eventually I settled on something like a 20 degree toe-in and just went with it.
Anyway, this week, I was out sick, sitting at home, not feeling great, but at least getting to listen on my own and have no distractions I got to thinking: what if I actually toed in PAST the front grill facing me mark? At that distance, they wouldn't exactly cross over the listening seat, but it seemed totally against everything I'd ever heard, seen or used as my own guidelines. But in my slightly fevered state I suddenly thought I should try it.
WTF?! It worked! Suddenly everything was like Wham! right in place. Nothing changed as far as the character of the system, but now I got that magic imaging I knew should be there. Actually bass was tighter too. I seriously could not believe it. I started putting on all my favorite records and every one showed that this was the answer.
And lest you think I was just hearing medicine induced improvements, the "magic" has not left in the days since. It was just that weird state that gave me the idea; the solution was real. Somehow I think if I has less experience I would have tried it a long time ago, so let this be a lesson to all my fellow experts. If it's not working quite yet, maybe get the advice of an interested novice.