For a while, I used a Standesign Design 5T rack. (Available at Audio Advisor for $499.) In black, it is fairly minimal in appearance -- the shelves are attached to a center post in the back. With components on the shelves, the post isn't visible, and the only part of the rack you see is the shelf under the component (which is unavoidable). The rack has 5 shelves, with a bigger space above the lowest shelf to accommodate amps and taller stuff. Negatives: (1) watch out for inadequate clearance in the back (against the post) for cabling and deep components; (2) the post is backward slanting so the shelves are staggered backwards, perhaps unattractively; (3) the shelves are not supported as rigidly as are shelves that would be supported in the typical 4 corner posts architecture; and (5) the gaps between shelves are not adjustable. I later switched to a Salamander Synergy rack. It has none of the negatives I noted above, and my wife said she liked it. It looks better at home than in the catalog or at the store. Good luck.
Check with Brooks Tanner - solid maple racks, better built than most furniture found today. I have one and another on order. Similar in look to Zoethecus, but better built and better finish work. www.bjtanner.com
If you're looking for something to blend in with high end furniture, you will find little or nothing in audio stores or catalogs.
Ever wonder why you will see little or no audio equipment on home decorating shows?
I use a large armoire to "hide" my gear (except speakers) and I paid about double your budget (and I got a 50% discount). I had to go to a high end furniture store to get this and it took 4 attempts to deliver the thing undamaged.
Other option is to get a cabinet maker to make you something. There are some who specialize in this, but again you will probably exceed your budget.
Sorry I can't offer more encouragement.
Maybe some others have had better experiences.
Disclaimer: We are a dealer for Solid Tech.
A rack line that you should investigate would be those from Solid Tech. Very high WAF and exceptional sonic performance/build quality.
Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
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All hail Ricks Racks, I feel they are by a large margin the best looking racks in audio- I don't have one, but if I did use a rack it would be a Ricks Rack.
What are people's feelings about materials. Is all wood OK, if it's a high density wood? I've got a Berning ZH270 and it should be kept away from steel or iron. That leaves wood, aluminum, glass. Any feedback on using these materials? I know there are racks out there that do.
Give Sanus a shot. I'll bet she likes their maple/glass products. Understated and classy.
I like these, and I know women that do to:http://www.quadraspire.com/
I would vote strongly with a cabinet maker. I had a fabulous rack built by a local firm that specializes in audiovisual work and whose owner is an audiophile/music lover. My wife and I gave a rough design and they smoothed it out. The end product is gorgeous, superb sonically and extremely well priced. If you wife helps in the design, she will be much more likely to find it acceptable. I'd be happy to discuss it with you if you have any questions.
Best sounding rack is the Sistrum rack. Component quality improvement in sound. Totally adjustable vertically, open for quick hookups. My wife likes it, my friends say it's very cool.
Too bad your wife doesn't like the Salamander units. With the budget you mention, it's going to be VERY difficult to find anything "nice" looking in your price range. Most of the so called "A/V" furniture made by fine furniture companies such as Ethan Allen, Thomasville, etc. are VERY expensive - and usually have poor provisions for ventilation, running cables, etc.
As I assume you have audiophile type electronics; do keep in mind that having suitable support for your equipment is critical. Also keep in mind that most 32" TV/Monitors weigh more than 140 lbs. You might point out these important facts to your wife; and let HER try to find something suitable that she can live with. I bet that Salamander unit will start looking MUCH BETTER in a hurry.
As for myself, I have a Salamander twin 30 rack with an
extra shelf that currently holds a 32" Sony TV/Monitor (155 lbs.) a Toshiba DVD Player, a Panasonic Professional S-VHS VCR (18 lbs.), a Music Hall CD Player, and McIntosh Tuner,
Preamp, and Amp (the amp alone is 88 lbs.) It all fits quite well, and the support is great. It really is the solution.
This rack has points on each shelf. Do you set the components
on a shelf on the points? I would not want points digging into
the bottom of my 50 pounds each components. Very nice looking
Optional coupling discs wiil protect your equipment and give you 99% of the performance benefits the rack will reward you with. The discs go between equipment and point thereby safe guarding your electronics. My madness tells me to go for that last 1%.. But thats a personal problem.. Tom
Hi, I went with Sanus`s Natural Funiture. I got a matching 3 shelf TV rack and 6 shelf A/V rack, all shelves vibration isolated, with forged 1/4 circle iron sides and 2 oak boards, one bordering the top and one bordering the bottom. Functional A/V furniture, solidly built, with a classical look. Highly recommended, IMHO. Robin