I've read several speaker placement guides for the new HT system I'm planning, and while I now have a grasp on the "ideal" placement, they say very little about which deviations from that ideal, if it's not achievable in the real-world space, would have the least impact on sound quality. Basically, I want to find the right intersection between SQ and WAF -- I have the go-ahead from my wife to start planning a new system, but want to have a concrete set of answers for how it will be set up to present to her, and don't want to suggest or agree to an arrangement that looks nice, only to find out that it ruins the sound.
A picture of our viewing area is attached. The cardboard box in the picture is almost exactly the size of the speakers I'm planning to get (Infinity Primus P163).
The SQ ideal would supposedly be to add a shelf or table on each end of the credenza for the mains to go on so they're at ear height and spaced a couple of feet from the TV. This probably isn't going to fly for aesthetic reasons and the fact that they'd be in easy reach of our toddler.
A) The simplest option would be to just put the speakers on the sides of the credenza where the speakers are now. That would leave them only 60" apart, and touching the TV bezel, so I'm concerned it would damage the sound stage separation.
B) Building little shelves for them on either side of the TV, halfway up the wall, wouldn't be too hard. This would give them more separation, but would be a couple feet above the listening position, and there's no way to have the center channel at the same height.
C) I could build a big shelf running the length of the wall just above the TV and put all three speakers on it. This gives separation and puts them all on the same level, as well as being out of the way and aesthetically pleasing, but that level is way above the listening position.
The center channel causes its own problems. It's just a bit too tall to fit in the center under the TV, and moving the TV up enough to fit would be a less comfortable viewing angle. So if I went with option A or B, I'd then have to either:
1) Lay the center on its side. Again, the simplest option, but it seems like it might be worse for sound quality.
2) Get the PC-351 center channel instead, which would go over budget, take up a huge chunk of the credenza space, and not be as perfectly matched SQ-wise as using three identical speakers.
3) Build a little shelf for just the center channel above the TV, but then of course it would be both high above the listening position and at a different level from the mains.
As you can see, there are quite a few different ways this could go. I'm slightly leaning toward C), whose only sacrifice from ideal would be the height above the listening position, but if it turns out that total height has a bigger impact on sound quality than channel separation, unequal speaker heights, or one of the other tradeoffs in the mix, then I could go with a different setup.
Thanks a lot for any advice.