what other audio rack brands worth mentioning?
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Agree that the Rix Rax line is simply stunning, as is the price.
Have you looked into Zoethecus? Also has a furniture look, and while not cheap seems to be well made.
Another that you may want to check out is the Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference line.
Perhaps not quite the furniture look of the first two but makes liberal use of wood and supposedly stands up to the best in terms of sonic quality. It's made in Germany and distributed by Immedia (http://www.immediasound.com/), who you could check with to see if there's a dealer nearby.
I've pondered the same question. Really prefer a nice double-wide wood rack (this is my present setup) to the steel framed alternatives. I'm isolating the rack's shelving from the equipment with Vibrapods, topped with Black Diamond shelves. I use cones to couple the equipment to the isolated dead-mass BD shelves. This sandwhich method seems to work well enough, but I can't say that I've compared this to an open frame rack with Neuance shelving, which seems to be a recommended approach. I really wondered how a Neuance would work in place of, or coupled to a Black Diamond, but I never received a reply from Ken Lyon so although I'd like to try it, I have no idea.
You might want to consider the Salamander Synergy line. Not
the best in terms of rigid support - but if you have a home
with decent furniture (i.e. - Baker, Ethan Allen, etc.)
it will not stick out like a sore thumb, either.
Available in a variety of finishes; and you can add doors, end panels, media drawers, etc. to set up for your
needs. Probably one of the biggest knocks on the Synergy
line is that the side panels fit into a metal channel and
can resonate a bit. This can be easily cured with a few
pieces of Dynomat applied to the inner surface of the panels and some thin foam inserted into the metal channels.
Also - you won't pay a king's ransom for the Synergy
racks. I have a Twin 30 model in walnut with walnut end
panels and an extra component shelf and bought the entire
set up for well below $1K. And since the shelves can be
adjusted for height - you can allow plenty of space to
install Vibrapods, Isolation Shelves, etc. under your
Check out BJ Tanner's work. He does completely custom racks, I have one in birds' eye maple (solid hardwood, veneered MDF shelves) that is stunning, and was 1/2 the price or less of a comprably sized Zoethecus, and better made/better looking to boot. (I have a Zoethecus amp stand for comparison). www.bjtanner.com I think. He's in NH. The rack I got from him is sized to accept standard-sized Symposium shelves, if so desired. (19x21"). Spiked, sand-filled legs, etc. A nice piece. His work is far better than his website, btw.
Here's my two cents worth (if it's worth that).
I am a woodworker just as much as I am an audiophile. I build all my own racks/entertainment centers. It's much cheaper that way. For me to build exaclty what I want, and to have it very sturdy isn't a problem. It also doesn't come with the 6000 dollar price tag. And I get my choice of wood and stain color without waiting for it to be shipped to the dealer. I can't comment on the increase of sound quality using platforms or spikes under my equipment, but if you find a rack you are happy with, it will atleast look good. Regardless of whether or not it does more than just hold your equipment off the floor.
My racks are nothing more than to display my equipment and keep it off the ground. I doubt it helps the sound any.
I use Salamander racks as a good-looking compromise (cherry and black) and use Signal Guard II isolation platforms under all key components with the spikes of the Signal Guards resting in Aurios Pro isolation devices. It all grew up over time, but works beautifully, and I'm not sure I'd do it any differently if starting from scratch.
You can realy get even with buying cheap or non-audio racks but you will loose necessary isolation. I possess a standesign quatro rack and it's considered to be a basic meaning that there is no isolation what-so-ever. I cut extra mdf shelves and place them on the top of stock shelves using vibrapods. In addition I've screwed Michell spikes onto each stocked shelf. In one-more addition I've welded an extra-heavy base onto the bottom of that rack to hold-up an extra-component.
I too ran into this dilema. As my system was going into a newly rennovated living room my wife was very explicit it had better look great or it wasn't staying. I looked through every available rack on the net and would agree there were a lot of wonderful looking ones, though most tend to be very modern rather than classical (ie open with no backs). Prices too were also incredible. We ultimately went with a local chap who manufactures and is an audiophile. We drew up a rough draft of what we wanted it to look like and the he drafted the final blueprints. He put together a price is no limit option which came in at 3500 canadian which was a bit more than we had wanted. We therefor got a slightly tuned down model for about 2500 canadian. It is heavy slabs of mdf with sand filled sides and central struts. It weighs a ton (4 guys to lift) and sits on carbon blocks. The sound is quite good I believe (my system by the way is audiomeca mephisto II and ekianthus and romance turntable, musical fidelity integrated m3 nuvista, with piega p8ltd speakers, and audiotekne/hms wiring) though I did notice that with the audiomeca cd the isolation was not perfect. I went on to try out darumas which improved things substantially (much more open) but have not noticed any improvement by trying to isolate any of the other components so I suspect it is working very well. One option you might wish is to contact the chap I worked with as if you are in the states the conversion rate is excellent. We have since had a dining room table done by him and all the work has been gorgeous, both in finish and quality. He is very prompt and reliable. If you have any interest drop me a note. Otherwise you should be able to find someone locally, you may just need to do a diligent search. I think you will get a lot more bang for your buck and if looks are important you can get what you want.