Which Rack Is Better?


I am in the market for an audio rack, and I've narrowed my options down to three: in order of increasing cost, the Atlantis Reference, the Polycrystal, and the Zoethecus Reference. As I see it, the advantages of each are as follows:

1) The Atlantis Reference is very heavy and sturdy, it has a larger space at the bottom for a power amp, all shelves are 3/4-inch MDF and are spike-decoupled, and the price is only around $500.

2) The Polycrystal has anti-resonant shelves, and has adjustable spacing between shelves. It has been very well reviewed, and costs a lot more money.

3) The Zoethecus has the anti-resonant z-slab shelves, is superior aesthetically to the Polycrystal, and is even more expensive. I would need to special-order it, unless I could find one with a larger space at the bottom on Audiogon.

I believe that my system (Denon 1650AR/Bryston BP-20/Aragon 8008BB/Thiel 3.6/Pro-SilwayII/Oval9) is good enough that I would hear any significant sonic differences between the racks.

Which of these racks would be the better choice, i.e., would there be enough of an improvement over the Atlantis Reference to justify the higher cost?

Thanks for your input.

Alan
a_hayman
I own an Atlantis Reference and looked closely at the Zoethecus. The Polycrystal is an unknown.

After a year of using the Atlantis here are the high points: Decent and reasonably durable finish (mine's the black lacquer). Shelves are wide and deep enough for all but the largest of gear. Adequate clearance between shelves as well. Downsides: Shelf bracket holes not properly aligned which makes leveling shelves a challenge. Threaded insert in base for footers poorly done; one of mine has worked loose and needs to be repaired. The latter two can be "re-engineered", but shouldn't be necessary. All in all, for the money it's a good deal, but not something to will to the kids.

The Zoethecus rack I looked at was impressive. Excellent fit, finish and eye toward detail. Wide variety of shelf options, too.

Were I to do it over I'd consider buying the Zoethecus rack, but instead of their shelves would go with the ones from Neuance. The latter would be cheaper (if memory serves well) and, according to reports here, are worth their cost.
Two months ago I was in the market for a rack, so I did alot of research and narrowed it down to the Arcici Suspension and the Polycrystal. A local dealer who carries both claims they're both good, but that the Arcici is better. I saw 2 demo Polycrystals for sale at fatwyre.com.
I like the Salamander Synergy racks. Easy to customize (lots of optional configurations).
one of the best roack is COPULARE from germany
I would avoid really thick and / or heavy shelves. Contrary to what common sense would say about wanting the rack / shelf as heavy and rigid as possible, i've found otherwise. Sean
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seems like your not getting any real feedback on experience except for the Atlantis discussion. I have a 5 shelf Zoethecus reference. Three Z-slabs, a Z-pod, and a Z-shelf. I purchased it used on Audiogon - an excellent deal. But enough of that. Contrary to the aesthetic appeal, the rack is constructed with knock down hardware that is hidden when the shelves are installed. The shelves themselves are suspended on thin composite strips attached to secure the corners of each shelve by 2 small screws at each end. I was not impressed with the construction. The unit I purchased had almost all of the cam locks loose when I received it, and 2 were completely missing. I'm very happy with the way the unit looks, but I can't really say I've noticed a sonic difference over the rack it replaced (Michael Green -just-a-rack deluxe) (components on the rack-proceed AVP/BPA3, PE DV-05, transparent audio cables). Another thing, Sugarbrie recommended the Synergy above for flexibility. I have one of those for my 'family' system. It certainly has some short comings for that application. But aestheically it looks pretty good (cherry, glass doors, cherry sides). The strips that hold the glass in place fall off regularly. The back doesn't really allow for much in the way of cable hiding (so it's in storage). Can't comment on the sonics due to the system that's contained in it. Newcastle receiver, Sony 6-DVD changer, thorens table).

Hope this epistle proves helpful.
I've been trying to choose a rack for a couple of months now and have found it one of the most frustrating audio system decisions I've ever faced. There are so many conflicting opinions as to which approach is best sonically--three different camps. It's not practical to audition these things. (Perhaps Ken Lyon will come by this thread and shed some light on the debate between the three different camps.)

I considered Zoethecus, Salamander Synergy, Billy Bags, Polycrystal, RixRax, Standesign, you name it. In the end, I punted and bought a discounted, discontinued Target rack as a stop-gap. The thing rings like a church bell when you knock it, but it's plenty rigid.

If I could be convinced that the Synergy stuff is not a major sonic compromise, that would probably be my first choice because of the combination of looks, price and flexibility it offers (I like the option of adding drawers). Eventually I want a RixRax, but only if I'm convinced that its sonics are good. Too expensive if it's mediocre-sounding, even if it's gorgeous furniture.

---dan
Everyone--check out the Sistrum rack by Starsound Technologies (email me for Robert's phone no. in Ohio). There are reviews available also. It is stunning looking and suspends all equipment on top of brass Audiopoints. The rack itself is carved metal shelves bolted to stainless steel rods filled with minute steel particles (like black sand, it will destroy your carpet so fill the rods outside, and don't breathe the dust!), with Audiopoints screwed onto the bottom of each rod. This rack sounds like getting a new component. Bass and detail are articulated, background is utterly silent. I bought a pair of their smaller stands designed for floorstanding speakers as well, for my Genesis 500s, and the bass and detail in recordings were even further enhanced. I think the Sistrum stands and platform and going to get a LOT of positive press, try them before the prices skyrocket. 5-shelf stand, including all Audiopoints and the steel fill, is approx $1600. I was using a Bright Star Rack of Gibraltar and a Solidsteel 5 shelf rack before the Sistrum. Big, big improvement.
Before deciding on a rack I will suggest that you go to the Neauance website (http://www.neuanceaudio.com/) and research their custom shelving. I went from a very heavy cabinet (400-500 lbs) equipped with sandwiches made of soft footers, maple platforms and brass cones to the Neuance shelving and am very pleased with the results. I cannot recommend my rack (which has had some of its shelf supports break under very little weight and I am also not receiving any help from the dealer). I can however recommend the Neuance shelving which delivers a very even handed sound. I do not quite understand what the shelving does (other than drain off vibration), but it sounds like the musicians are playing "better" (more in time) and there is more "play" to the music, no matter what type it is. Before with cones and such, I could get the system too kill (say on female vocals) but then when I put on a classical piece, things sounded a bit out of balance. If I moved things around to flatten out the mids on the classical piece, then female vocals did not sound as involving (it was crazy and I was never able to get everything to sound right without constant adjustment, especially the bass and highs). I could get it to sound exciting, but then the "exciting" sound would quickly tire me out in an hour or so and I would be fussing with things again. I have not touched a thing in the past week and half and all types of music sound good to me on the system. I don't even think of too much of this or too little of that anymore and just enjoy the music. If you do a search under Neuance you will find a few other members that also use the product. I originally read RedKiwi's post's and became interested in it myself. The Neuance website has a list of recommended racks to use with their shelving and they are in all price ranges. I just started out with two shelves, myself, and will order two more when I can budget them. They are not expensive ($150-$165 each) but I am cheap/poor.
I have a Neuance shelf on order for the top of my Target stand, and I'll put the turntable on it. The lower shelves fo the Target rack don't conform to the Neuance requirement for upward spike or knob support, unfortuantely, and my Sony 777ES is too heavy for Neuance. I'm anxious to see how this will work out.
Everyone--check out the Sistrum rack by Starsound Technologies (email me for Robert's phone no. in Ohio). There are reviews available also. It is stunning looking and suspends all equipment on top of brass Audiopoints. The rack itself is carved metal shelves bolted to stainless steel rods filled with minute steel particles (like black sand, it will destroy your carpet so fill the rods outside, and don't breathe the dust!), with Audiopoints screwed onto the bottom of each rod. This rack sounds like getting a new component. Bass and detail are articulated, background is utterly silent. I bought a pair of their smaller stands designed for floorstanding speakers as well, for my Genesis 500s, and the bass and detail in recordings were even further enhanced. I think the Sistrum stands and platform and going to get a LOT of positive press, try them before the prices skyrocket. 5-shelf stand, including all Audiopoints and the steel fill, is approx $1600. I was using a Bright Star Rack of Gibraltar and a Solidsteel 5 shelf rack before the Sistrum. Big, big improvement.
Dan, if you could be convinced the Salamander Synergy is not a sonic compromise? I had a devil of a time with my second system, sybillance, brightness, smear. When my Salamander Synergy stand finally arrived, all the problems disappeared. I had already committed to selling my little mini-monitors and replacing them with a slightly tubby larger speaker bythe same maker. After the Synergy, the little minimonitors were smooth and sweet. With the new (used) speakers, there is so much warmth, I want to walk up to them and touch them to see if Im hallucinating.

So if smooth and warm constiute sonic compromise, stay away fromt the Synergys.
Thank Paul!
I have an update on the equipment rack that I am now using. Audio Advisor finally responded (following my 3rd email which was rather threatening). They would not replace the faulty parts due to the sale being older than 30 days old (even though the rack had only been is use for less than a week), but they did forward the telephone of the manufacturer. The rack that I have is a Studio Tech PA-04 which retails for $249 and they have a 6 shelf version, the PA-06 that retails for $379. I had 6 (out of 16) support posts fail, but the rest of them are fine (I tested then with a substantial amount of weight, 80 LB, and they all held up), so this was just an isolated incident. The good thing is that I spoke with John at Studio Tech on Monday and received 16 replacement parts this morning via UPS (this was less than 24 hours after our telecom). I randomly tested the replacements in a vice with a torque wrench and they tested fine as well. This is a bolt together unit with 4 upturned spikes that support each shelf (not just the top shelf). I had mine mig welded into a one piece frame, but this may have been overkill as the fit of the parts and the sturdiness of the rack when bolted together was excellent. The design of the rack (the upturned spikes) is very desirable to use with after market shelves and the stock shelves are good as well (just not up to the performance of the Neuance shelving for my source and tube amp). Anyway, I feel that the rack is a steal, due to its design features and price, plus knowing that the manufacturer is great to deal with is an added blessing. I only know of one retailer in the Santa Monica, CA area (Audio Video City), but the direct number for Studio Tech is 1/800/887/8834 if you would like to find other dealers and I would guess that they will do direct sales if there is not one in your area.
The PA line is discontinued, alas.
I checked because my Target rack was damaged in shipment and was the last one. So now I'm back in decision mode again. Somebody shoot me, please.
Dan. What kind of floor will be under the rack? I'm really happy with my little Synergy rack on carpet over a slab. In my main system on a carpeted but suspended floor, I have a bigger and more massive Target rack that seems to be fine.

You might just try one of the smaller Synergys without accessories (and without the back panel). If you like it you can add side panels if you want. If you think it degrades the sound, get drawers and use it to house you cd collection.

Call Reference Audio Video. They'll give you a deal along with advice.
I may do just that. This is for the main system and the rack will go directly onto a hardwood suspended floor. As you say, if I don't like the way the synergy sounds, i can re-purpose it.
For a turntable or cdp, I think the ideal stand is a 1000 pound concrete post sunk into the ground. When you try to place either on a suspended floor, I dont know what's the right thing to do. I think as heavy and massive as possible to try to keep the floor from reverberating through the stand, but I don't know. I'm ok with what I have. Anyway (pay attention Kelly and whoever that was you were arguing with), I am ignorant of the sound of the Synergy stand on a hardwood floor. So, don't flame me if it doesn't work.
Drubin: John at Studio Tech said that they had the PA-06 in stock and I think he said that they will be making them again.
They had some left in rosewood, which I do not want. None in black, and they didn't say anything to me about making them again. I did not speak directly with John, and this was before I read your last post, dekay.

The current PS line does not have spiked support for the individual shelves. This is key if you want to use Neuance. The modular offerings from Standesign and Apollo (UK, via May Audi in N.A.) fit the ticket, however.
Not familiar with the PS line, but have you thought of refinishing one of the rosewood racks in black? Might be worth the effort if it is a good deal and a nice rack.
Drubin: I mentioned to John @ Studio Tech that the upturned spike design feature (for all of the shelves) is what most of us are now looking for in equipment racks as it opens up the possibilities quite a bit. Perhaps if you reiterate this to him he will consider coming out with a "new" design using this feature. I also pointed that one piece frames are also desirable, but of course are more expensive to warehouse and ship. I doubt if I would have had a problem though with the stock rack, though, as is was very solid, but decided to follow the Neuance formula and welded it into a one piece unit. I also mentioned to John that the hook on the PA series was the "price" as it had the features (upturned adjustable spikes for each shelf) that I needed at way less that what the competition charged for the one piece units equipped with such.
PS: The savings literally allowed me to update two of the "key" stock shelves with Neuance shelves and it sounds much better than my old setup.
Dekay: thanks for all of this. Would the rosewood finish be just on the shevles, or is it the posts also? Because if it's just on the shelves and I went Neuance on all the shelves, the rosewood wouldn't matter.
I seem to recall from the Audio Advisor photos that the finish was just on the shelves, though I would double check with John as to this. I originally tried my player on one of the stock shelves and it sounded better than my previous setup (heavy cabinet/Pods/Maple/cones). The Neuance though was even better. I just set up the DAC and power conditioners on the lower two shelves (which are stock) and could again hear an improvement over the pods/Maple/cones that I had on these before. I will have to mess around with the stock shelves and different footers some more. I have a pretty basic system, but if I went back now I would purchase the 6 shelf model which would cover more bases in the future.