I've always had a minimalistic system and so small equipment racks. Years ago I confirmed the negative effect of putting an obstruction between speakers in a small HT system when the image of a panning sound effect was totally disrupted by the obstruction. But in the past year I went to the next step by replacing my very small rack with a piece of leftover shelving that I spiked to the floor (like a combined amp stand). This setup (seen in decades past) opened up the entire space between speakers and front wall.
So I'd recommend losing the obstruction and set up your gear as low to the floor as possible.