'Racks'. Important? Best bang for $$?

Hello, all you rack enthusiasts out there in Audioland. it has come to my attention, in pursuing ISOLATION devices, a rack can either add or detract from the sound one's gear is capable of producing... Wow!

I recently changed mine and went with something more esthetically pleasing, not knowing or even considering how it could affect the Sonics of a system! I found out the hard way. Things got worse. A lot worse! I imagined all sorts of issues and addressed them all, save the rack. .. and only by accident did I find it to be the source of the negative swing in sound quality to my system.

Being convinced, now, a good rack is an important & integral part of the 'system', I would like to prevail upon those of you who have found good quality racks, at affordable prices....

Should they have stone shelves, absorbant, wood, isolated, etc... Coupled or uncoupled?

I think several are in my future... one for preamp & amp. One for the sources, (3, no phono though), and another for proc & multi amp.... it would seem ..or some combination that supports those items. Access, cooling, and ease of assembly unless it/they come put together, are noteworthy too.

Sure would appreciate some other experiences here, if you please. Many thanks.
try the Finite Elemente Pagode or Grand Prix Audio racks. they are both technologically advanced, beautiful, and expensive. but think of all other isolation accessaries out here such as shelves and cones, which can also be very expensive, it is better bang for the buck to get a nice rack that benefits multiple components at once.

...apparently racks are NOT important. ..and here I was thinking, "Everything made a difference.", my bad.
Racks are certainly very important. As recommended already, check out the Finite Elemente racks, especially the Pagode which is simply excellent. Anybody hearing a demo on the Pagode racks (with vs without) will certainly leave their jaws on the floor..

The biggest improvement I've heard in quite awhile was when I got a Base Technology isolation platform and put my CD player on it (Nu-Vista 3D CD). Wow! The difference was night and day, and everything improved significantly. I highly recommend Base Technology platforms, if you can get them (they originate from Norway).

I do appreciate the input. I think racks are way important. however, given the influx or lack thereof, the input to the posed question, I'd have to say most audio nuts see racks as they see acoustic treatments. Last on the list, or very near it.

Super expensive racks such as the Elemente are simply not going to happen for me very likely.

I sought to find a more affordable path in initiating this thread. for myself, and surely for others too. My experience has shown me that some investment needs be made here and there, to bring a system up to a level that makes it special. i also know that expense doesn't always have to be outrageous. I feel that a well made, balanced rack that inherently has built into it a path for draining/containing resonance is sufficient. One with good mass. My plans are for one of wood and metal. Which wood and which metal? Beats me. but I suspect some of each to be a far superior solution to one without both.

Given the spindly contraption I have now, which I affectionately call the "Rack from a little south of heaven" and the results I have by way of sonics from my gear... racks play a significant role, yet they can be compensated for and without enormous expenditures. IMO
Yeah, I think you're right.. Many people neglect this aspect, which is a big mistake in my opinion. A good rack/support makes a BIG difference.

On a budget, I would strongly recommend trying to find a heavy and well-balanced platform of some sort to put at least your CD player on (I've found the CD to be most sensitive to vibrations, but that may differ between brands obviously). You may want to experiment with a self-made wooden block, a granite block or something similar. All materials will make a difference, it's up to your ears if it's for the better or not though.

After that, you could play around with some of the various equipment feet and support tweaks that are around. You can go a long way with a careful setup and not too much money. :)
check out the cambre core rack...its wood and metal, not super expensive and is supposed to work really well....though per haps not at the level of the pagode...but its one fifth the price.
I strongly recommend either building your own or getting a local carpenter to make you one to your design.

IMO Finite Element are probably the only racks worth spending a large amount on. If you're not willing to spend that kind of cash then I wouldn't bother with the cheaper common welded steel and glass racks. They always add an aggressive edge and reduce detail. Metal, glass, various minerals, MDF etc all have poor damping characteristics and won't remove micro vibration from the rack. Wood is a much better choice of material as the varying density of the grain structure allows differing frequencies to be absorbed. Better still, and this is where it gets really good for your bank balance is ply. The lattice grain structure of ply is almost taylor made for damping varied resonances from components and it's cheap. Ideally make the whole rack out of ply and if you have to use spikes for leveling purposes, sit the whole rack on a large, at least 40mm thick ply plinth.

PM me if you'd like any contruction advice.
Check out the Adona racks. You already have an excellent system, and these racks are quite excellent for the money. You can get a nice starter one for @ $700. Happy listening, Jeff
I am using SolidSteel 5.4 component rack. I highly recommend it as a good value and an excellent performer.
It has cones under each shelf(standard) and provides excellent isolation. To a point that the isolation devices that worked good on my previous rack have absolutely no effect on this one. This rack actually improved the sound of my system, which cought me by surprise....well sort of.....because prior to this rack I bought a VTI rack and this thing made my system sound like crap, so I knew if one rack can ruin the sound, the other one may improve it. I too found out the hard way. Good thing I was able to send the VTI back for a refund.

Depending on how many components you have, the SolidSTeel retails for about $600 for a 4 shelf unit.
Mbacinello thank you very much... I did a search online for Cambre and found a review that had it and several others in sort of a shootout. Still Points, Symposium Isis, and others I don't recall. Here's the link for the HTML version:

It is also in a pdf with pics... a google of cambre core will provide it for those who can or want to dig the pics.

the Still points as was reviewed, interested me most. Primarily as it is or can be a bit at a time type thing, if you want ready rolled appliances. Pay as ya go, ground up or otherwise. That path for me makes sense. That or taking a stab at it myself. though some aspects would need be done by someone with a good drill press.

"I strongly recommend either building your own or getting a local carpenter to make you one to your design."

My thoughts too.

"Better still, and this is where it gets really good for your bank balance is ply. The lattice grain structure of ply is almost taylor made for damping varied resonances from components and it's cheap. Ideally make the whole rack out of ply and if you have to use spikes for leveling purposes, sit the whole rack on a large, at least 40mm thick ply plinth."

I don't know if this is appropriate here, but having had several different wood blocks recently sent me in varying kinds of wood I found that some types were complimentary with my exsisting rack and some were not. going on the basis of which wood footers did best, both ebony and mahogany were both to my liking.

Going with that, I thought to 'sanndwhich' or 'ply these two types together as shelving for three levels... pre, and 2 sources. the amp would comprise the bottom most level. Either supportive or stand alone... I haven't decided which... making it a 'both' application would be, I think, the best approach.

Figuring to put the ebony on top and bottom with the Hahogany in the middle of each shelf. Past that as to the uprights, I'm pretty clueless. I did think to drill (if wooden) the uprights and use say some 'all thread' to run the length of the supports with silicone filling up the gaps of the all thread... some copper or brass 'coins' or rounds as inserts and spike each support. This fashion could make each 'shelf' actually a base or stand alone unit. then stack them if desired ...and I would.

I did not give any thought to having a plinth for a foundation. I've also not quite figured out how best to attach the shelving to the uprights either. Perhaps a tang or bracket of sorts. whichever, it'll need be done all the same for simplicities sake and so each base can be cut out and made as the one previous, sort of a cookie cutting approach. this path is difficult enough at this point for me to do anyway. Probably too much actually. But I'm game, and a table saw is something I've used in the past.

That's the best I can come up with presently and won't take a NASA engineer to do it.
Hey Blindjim,

From what you've said I think you're well on your way to making a rack that would give 90% of what's available off the shelf (pardon the pun) a run for it's money. The wood you've already got, are they component sized blocks or just small footers ? If you've got component sized butchers block type pieces then all you need are uprights and some joining hardware. Basically three legs of some description, two on one side and one in the centre of the other side. I've experimented with independently spiked ply shelves (in comparison to one piece leg supports) that are then stacked on top of each other and there was a slight difference but I'm not convinced it was positive. Don't forget a spike is omnidirectional so it's pretty good at moving resonances up as well as down the rack. Like I said, I would get some solid wood or ply (if you haven't guessed I like ply) for the legs and then some screw-in (usually with a 5 or 6mm allen key) inserts that have a internal 6mm thread. Mount these into the sides of the wooden shelves/blocks you have, two holes per leg/per shelf. Then drill through the legs to align with the holes, leaving at least 10cm clearence on top of each component. Countersink the holes in the legs and use coresponding sized countersunk allen headed screws to attach the legs to the inserts. The only difficulty I see you having if your using solid wood for the shelves is when you have to drill into the end grain to mount the inserts. I usually make a clampable template for the drill when doing this as there is no way you will be able to drill consistantly straight holes into end grain with a hand drill. Like I previously said, I would then suggest putting the whole rack on a think ply plinth. The plinth only needs to be slightly larger than the outer legs of the rack. In my experience a plinth beats spiking hands down unless your making speaker stands which obviously need to be ridgid to allow the piston drivers to work effectively.

Anyway hope that helps and remember, measure twice, cut/drill once !
Good discussion here.

I often wonder with regard to this topic whether materials like those from Soundown would have some use.


I've used it in boats to deaden sound from engines.
Aquire a SolidSteel(used)and replace the MDF shelves with Symposium Sveltes. You'll save $$$'s and be ahead of the game with excellent sound as a result. The racks are sand/leadshot fillable.

I think some of that Soundown acoustic foam glued/sandwiched inbetween some thin siff wooden sheets like ply (oh no not again) would definitely be worth a try. Don't forget the vibrations and resonances you're trying to damp are very high frequency so high mass structures aren't IMO the way to go.
Here's what worked for me. Each shelf is filled with 50lbs of sand, making a seismic sink under each component.


RE drilling/counter sinking... hence the drill press aspect.
And the use of pilot holes in incrasing diameters.

RE measure twice cut once... that's why they call me Mr. Nubby... but I was drinking back then.

Re wood blocks were simple little footers.

RE resonances - only thing I know for sure about what materials introduce overtly, is the more brittle the material, the harsher the sound. it's like the sound is characterized by the materials more than anything. softer or more compliant materials yeild a sound that conforms more to that end.

that's why the ebony and mahogany look like good susptects. their grains are incongurent for one, ebony has some hardness to it, Mahogany doesn't... well and I think they should look pretty nice with natural stains. Light color in the middle and with a dark top and bottom.

the Key as I've seen other racks ()barely is how the shelves connect to the uprights. Iso the shelf? or secure it as rigidly as is possible. therefore the tang thingy... sandwiched into the uprights and the shelfs screwed onto them from underneath. that move might could be problematic, locating each tang at the exact right spot on the uprights...

RE base plinth - I agree that the foundation needs be addressed with a firm support. I don't think lag bolts into the floor are needed... just solidity. The idea of the plywood seems a good one.

RE uprights - another notion is to simply 'notch' the posts and slide the shelfs in.

...did you say two posts to one side, and one post opposite them? you did mean two in the rear and one up front or vice versa... not on the left and right of the stand (s), correct?

...the more I get into this the more I think I'd prefer another to do it from my drawings. Sheesh.
Before you pursue a rack system, it is important to determine what you want the rack to do. There are three distinctly different philosophies that must be understood and then you must decide which one you wish to pursue.

The three philosophies all have value, and all three have shortcomings. These are wooden /furniture shelf or cabinet, mass loaded steel or light and rigid.

The furniture is the wooden rack that will potentially have the highest WAF and can either hide or display your system. An all wood rack can be temping because of the ethic appeal, but in general a furniture type rack is neither light and rigid or mass loaded. These tend to have slow, bloated sonic characteristic yet can be excellent at taming overly bright systems. These tend to be the less expensive solid state system, and often the very best choice will be the muted characteristics of a wood/furniture rack. Do not however expect to receive the best imaging, transparency, high end extension or tightly defined solid bass. A wood/furniture type rack is generally not considered “audiophile” level.

The second type is the mass loaded. These are generally hollow metal posts with sand or lead shot inside the posts. These systems are likely to have shelves made from MDF, wood, acrylic, stone and composite materials. The philosophy is that vibration is drained from the component through footers, often rubber or through cones of lead, brass, composite, wood or most anything imaginable. In theory the vibration is stored in the mass, and if enough mass is available the vibration will affectively be dispersed. The mass loaded system is probably the most used “audiophile” level rack mostly because it has been around the longest.

The theoretical problem with mass loaded systems is if there is not enough mass to properly store the energy, it will be released, hopefully into the footers of the rack and into the floor. Many people believe this energy is re-released into the components in the form of vibration. The problem here is this is not a musical vibration and it is not in proper timing.

A poor rack system will allow a component to vibrate and in theory this vibration is heard through a high end system. But at least the vibration is timed with what is happening. If a high volume passage is vibrating the rack or component, micro or macro, the distortion created will correspond with an event. In the mass loaded system, the vibration may be released later, causing a new vibration to affect the sound. This may come at a highly refined period in the passage, causing a blurring or smear of what we here.

I believe the only way to properly execute a mass loaded system is to have a great deal of mass in every place possible. The shelf needs to me heavy, stone, steel, lead and something sandwich??? The frame need to properly couple to the shelf, and the frame then adds storage through its lead or sand mass. This must then be properly drained into a floor, and it should be a floor with more mass storage potential than the rack, meaning it would be best used on a concrete floor. The floor then becomes an extension of the mass loading, so coupling the rack to the floor is also important. I would be speculating, but if it was possible to bolt the rack to a concrete floor, the floor would be the additional mass required to successfully achieve the goal.

The third method is the newest and is the least understood, and possibly the most continental. In theory the vibration within a component is sent to a cone. The wide portion of the cone is coupled directly to the component, preferably at a structural element. The vibration, now affectively coupled, is send to the support shelf. The cone and shelf must be rigid, with little storage potential. Steel, brass and titanium are often used for cone material in the light rigid system. Wood, carbon fiber, lead and composites all store in comparison to the metal cones. The shelf can be either a fabricated light rigid product (Neuance for example) or glass and possibly metal if ringing can be controlled.

Generally speaking MDF and wood should be avoided again for their storage potential. The shelf can either then be directly in contact with a light rigid metal frame. (Apollo© is an excellent affordable system that works nearly as well as Mana©, which many feel is the ultimate in light rigid.) The thinner the frame the less storage potential and the faster it can transmit vibration. The idea is to then have the vibrations moving within the frame drain through points to the floor. In the event of concrete, the floor again has limitless storage potential. In the event of wood, the floor system has some potential to release these vibrations back into the rack. I believe this is where a bearing type product can be useful. The concept with bearings is to de-couple from the floor (or shelf) through vibration of one (or multiple) steel balls. These balls are in a cup (or trough) so that for vibrations from the floor (or shelf) to create vibration it must vibrate uphill to create movement (vibration) for a vibration to in effect lift a component or rack it would have to be very large, far larger than the vibrations we need to eliminate.

If you have the ability to weld, an excellent rack on the Mana© model. This would require small steel angle irons and threaded points made by grinding steel bolts.

I have spent over eight years testing and developing a very elaborate isolation system based on the light and rigid concepts. I have posted an in depth descriptions with photos at Audiogon as one of my “systems.” Please look at that and if I can be of assistance send me an email.

As always, these are only my experiences and observations. Others have had success with the other systems, but in my experience the light and rigid, quick vibration dispersion sounds the best. Meaning very quick, tight and extended bass, very clear imaging, smooth and extended highs with little smear or fuzziness. The leading edge of notes is sudden and crisp. Midrange of course is excellent with great imaging, focus, depth and definition.


I prefer two legs on one side and one on the other. It makes access to the rear of the components much easier. Like I said I've tried independently splke shelves and there was very little difference V's one piece legs, both using 1" width maple ply. As you said you could put a slot in the legs rather than a basic butt joint but you need a router I guess.

Jadem6, Have you tried making a rack out of ply ? I think you'll find it's lighter, more than rigid enough and damps vibration far better than any metal. I think there's an argument to be made but mutiple layered composite materials like carbonfibre for instance, but metals are in general very poor for absorbing/damping vibration. There's a reason various musical instruments, photographic supports etc stay away from metals.
I found Plateau to make a reasonable priced rack and I found the quality first rate; they also do AV racks, which are lower and worked nicely in a HT application. See my system where I put two of the AV racks together to fit underneath screen. You need to determine if it's worth your time/energy to put half the cost into materials to end up with something that may not look as slick as a mass manufactured piece. If you consider your "hourly wage" in the fabrication of the stand(s) you may not be very far ahead in DIY. One site to look at is racksandstands.com
They have Plateau.
Douglas_schroeder ...nice looking rack. ...and good point. I've thought about that as well. time and materials add up. however my time is compensated by the end product. Consequently the energy in formulating and generating the exercise have more a value in the process, than perhaps the result as the purpose serves other areas. ...ex. Keeps me off the streets (always a good idea), I'm learning a whole lot here I didn't know previously, getting to build again something that ought to look decent and at least be a suitable platform, and the learning experience is I think worth it. then there's the acquisition of more power tools, and that's always fun.

though your statement is spot on valid. Thanks.

Given what I've been reading online about Stillpoints, rollerbolcks, tune blocks, etc... and the posts above, I don't see myself going far wrong making one. in fact, either way for that matter if suitable 'cups/points/blocks' are employed as well. It is a gamble. but so is everything else. Even the Symposium isis rack and others indicate added benefit from these little footers. Which to me says the structural support is not the end all be all for isoing a system... just a good foundation to add to... well I think I can make a good foundation... and would like to find out.

Now it's just feasability of gaining the tools. Seeing the numbers of it all will tell me what I need to do or which way to go.

the aspect that interests me most is the platform base approach. Wherein one unit can be made (and of course replicated) at a time for components... preamps and/or sources, primarily. thereafter, 'stacked' atop one another. that method allows me to see things as they interact a step at a time. Hopefully that should be of some benefit. Easier too I would think.

it seems sane enough to me. Finding such 'individual' bases already fashioned would also be a good thing... again, depending upon price per each.
Anybody familiar with Ultrasonic?


The deHavilland room at RMAF sounded great on these racks.

I've been looking at Grand Prix, but the coin is just, well, way up there, especially when you need a rack + 2 monoblocks stands.
Continuing to pursue this effort I saw some print online about "pARTicular" racks. Racks that can be upgraded after the fact. Entry level units aren't exceptionally high priced... but surely no give aways. the man sold his plans for one rack system to the people who now make them under the name of Lovren. Made a tidy sum too.

Anyone now using the pARTicular racks? thought I'd ask. the man, whose name escapes me now, was also winner of design awards as well as highly sought after early on in his endeavors by then newcomer BAT for shelving their devices at shows... along with many other makers of high enbd audio gear. Just thought it noteworthy to pass along.

I've likely made up my mind about the brand rack I'll try. I also will build one just to see how they compare... and I've enough stuff to fill both anyhow.

Any other over achievers or giant killer racks out there? I sure wouldn't mind hearing about them... it's not too late...

I have owned Solid Steel, Plateau (cheap starter racks with MDF shelfs (double wide will warp depending on the design), Billy Bags Pro 33 (nice rack but still ended up using Seismic sinks, BDR, etc on it).

I simplified my setup and bought a Sistrum Rack for my Audio system, and like it so much that I bought one for my video system. It is a dream to cable, ultimate ventilation, and most importantly it images like a dream! I have used Aurio Pro under my subwoofers and found the sistrum SP4 stands produced tighter more tuneful bass.

Adjustable shelfs are a huge plus especially when you are changing components periodically.

The pARTicula racks are beautiful, but ultra expensive once you start hanging them in the second rack frame. Their Amp stands are just big chunks of steel with a top... go elseware for a better sonic value.. They Look ultra cool and for $800+ each they should.

I apologize for taking so long to acknowledge your input... Thanks for the insights.... I was fast coming to that conclusion, 'spensive.

Those "solid Steel" goobersmoochers look decent and I'm inclined to go that way about 90%. I still like the notion of DIY wooden stackable stands, which can be locked in to form a singular unit. it's taking me forever to find a decent inexpensive table saw and finish runing the power to the 'shop' though.
Blindjim, another factor to consider is once you've spent your coin on the tools, it'll take you a while to master using them. And then there's the finishing of the product, stains, polyurethane, etc. When we moved into our first home w. beautiful oak floors that needed refinishing, I thought I'd be "Mr. Impressive" and redo them myself. Sanding was a PAIN in the ass, but edging with the hand sander broke the deal. Almost impossible to steady, kept making waves in the surface of the wood, stripping bits off the moulding. Did about five feet of that and said, "That's it, I'm done. I'm NOT wrecking my home for my ego's sake." Paid to have it done and results were far better. A person has to learn when to leave their pride aside. If you have the skills developed then ok, but if it's all new to you and you're just mucking with it, it's gonna be a long learning session.

Cytocycle, wow, you must be dealing with some seriously heavy gear if your warping the Plaeau racks! I have components up to 60 or so pounds don't make them sweat. Narry a warp or bend. Different models may vary, but they've been rock solid for me.
Not that I have to defend Plateau; they were just a good economical purchase from my experience.
Douglas Schroeder: The single wide Plateau racks are probably no problem and if it is double wide make sure it has a support or make sure you get another metal bar to screw on the underside. Shelves had approx 125 lbs each ( 2 amplifiers per shelf...). I saw a more recent plateau rack and they were better built than the one I owned 10 years ago.. (mine had metal supports on each side screwed into the MDF shelfs and not supported across the double wide shelf.. hense the warping/sagging problem.)

+1 on wood floor refinishing is for professionals.
Thanks Douglas

It's been a while, sure. I was most handy however in a wood shop. I could see far better back then too. it's a challenge, but the plans are quite simple. The finishing past the rough sanding, I'll sub it out. For myself it's a big deal on another level as well... if you think about it some, you'll understand that part I'm sure.
Blindjim, yes, for sure. I think you'd likely make a more lovely finished product than I could, sight or not! When I built my HT I did the rough carpentry work, but had the carpeting, drop ceiling and drywall finishing (everything that meets the eye) done by the pro's. Well worth the $. When I was in my 20's and single I could live with a "hack rack" - it didn't matter what it looked like. I remember when I didn't have any money and had to outfit my first apartment, I used a microwave shelving unit I got at a garage sale for a couple bucks as my first audio rack! It was dark wood laminated and after the glass door on the storage shelves were removed it held three components. Now, I desire aesthetics to be on a par with the perceived sound quality. Guess I'm older and pickier now.


Micro stand as equipment stand? Absolutely. I'm still using one in my bedroom. only thing I had which could support a 150 lb tv. Roll down door covers the gear too. For me, for that app. it's fine.

It is funny when I'm selecting stuff and color comes up. I'll ask some additional questions there and get some inquiries to my prefs. I tell them so long as it goes with the rest of my stuff it will be fine. Following Q: What's the rest of your stuff's colors?

Don't know for sure but I think they are... but I can't really see them. Follow up: Why's that?

Well, I'm a little hard of seeing. Usually they'll laugh, or nervously wait until I do as I explain further. Personally, I find it quite funny almost all the time.

I've three systems in all to address... if things aren't well put, for public viewing, I know where a microwave stand is that wants to retire.

If it's just OK... yet not attractive, there's a 65 inch TV that would like very much for someone to reduce it's now burden to only those duties of video. No longer a TV and carriage too.

personally, I don't 'see' a downside to it at all. lol
i can understand the importance of a quality rack in a high-end system to isolate floor borne vibrations such as nearby foot traffic. god knows i could use one since i currently have a "walmart special" rack. maybe i am wrong, but i would think that just as important is isolating vibrations from your speakers BEFORE they even reach your rack thru the floor. i have a platform under each of my speaker stands that i made from a combination of ceramic tiles, wood and rubber matting. works pretty well considering my neighbor below me in my apartment building has stopped complaining about the pounding bass! yipee!

now about upgrading that "walmart special".......ahhhhhh, that's a topic for another day.


Blindjim, LOL! Hilarious! I can 'see' your point!