6 Expert Tips To Choose Audio Racks And Stands

Searching for appropriate audio racks and stands can be a chore. There is an almost ridiculous number of options on the market, with just as many features to choose from. We've put together this list of pro tips to help you save time and make a quick, informed and appropriate choice of an audio rack for your home.

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1. How big should my audio rack be?

One of your first considerations when purchasing an audio rack or stand should be around how many components, you'll be housing. Audio systems can get complicated very quickly, especially when they're paired with DVD players, line power conditioners, center channel speakers and the other components that go into a solid set up.

Most likely, you're not necessarily considering having everything set up in one location. Center channel speakers can get bulky, so having them on the top of your audio rack can sometimes be impossible. This is especially true if you were considering placing a flat-screen TV there.

Before you commit to an audio rack, we recommend developing a written plan of what elements will be housed on your rack and where they will be. Having a written plan can help you foresee some of the issues that might pop up when you're physically putting things together.

When constructing your plan, be sure to consider:

  • The size of each component and how they'll fit on shelves
  • The location of speakers and other audio elements that require cable connections
  • The appearance of your rack or stand and how it interacts with the room

The typical audio rack is around 24 inches across, 17 inches deep and 30 inches high, which puts it just about waist height for convenient access. The space on each shelf can be anywhere between 7-9 inches tall, which can house most audio receivers comfortably.

We recommend strongly against stacking multiple components on a single shelf. Most A/V components need some level of ventilation to dissipate heat and function normally and the shelf space available in the standard-sized audio rack is designed to accommodate this.

2. What style should I choose for my audio rack or stand?

Not all audio racks are designed for connections to speakers and complicated systems. Some are designed with DJs and record enthusiasts in mind. If you're enthusiastic about either of these, then we'd recommend choosing an audio rack that comes equipped with a turntable shelf, wire cutouts for cable management and some additional shelving or drawers that can help you store your discs, headphones and other items.

Blackwood finishes lend a modern touch to any room; it frames small, colorful CD and record cases well, so go for black if you'd like to highlight the aesthetic of your disc or record collection.

Petite audio cabinets with a wide base are a prime example of modern versatility and affordable aesthetic display. Flat screen TVs can be hung from the wall above the cabinet or placed on a standing base on top of it. Most audio cabinets are fully capable of supporting the weight of the average TV.

Natural wood grains do a good job of blending in with the color scheme of most rooms, so you won't need to worry about color matching too much. Grey and black wood finishes do better in minimalist or modern households that have white or black base tones. Wide base audio racks also do a marvelous job of showcasing a number of decorations, books and even family photographs.

Petite Audio Stand Cabinet in Brown
Modern Wall Mounted Audio Rack in White
Multi-Level Audio Rack
Norwood Stand Audio Rack in Black
Audio Stand Cabinet in Black
Small Audio Rack in Cherry Wood

3. What material should I go for with my audio stand?

The material you choose for your audio rack will have a tremendous impact on:

  • Weight-bearing capacity
  • Ability to withstand decay
  • Ability to withstand collisions
  • Ability to withstand humidity and temperature change

Let's take a look at which materials are best for your consideration.

Hardwood

If you're searching for versatility and variety when it comes to style, wooden audio racks are probably the ideal choice for you. Woods can be finished in a variety of styles and tones that make them appealing in several decors and color themes.

Unfortunately, wood faces challenges in households with a lot of humidity or temperature fluctuation. For example, if you have very wet, but hot summers, you'll need to take extra care to ensure your wood treatments are well maintained. Untreated wood can quickly fall victim to warping, molding and peeling, which can ruin the aesthetic and structural integrity of your audio rack.

Hardwoods are probably the best choice you can make in wood since they have a remarkable resistance to temperate and humidity change. When you boost their natural resistance with a sealant like wax, lacquer or weather-resistant finish, you can expect a long lifespan from your rack.

Manufactured Wood Audio Tower in Brown
Wooden Wall Mounted Audio Rack in White
Solid and Manufactured Wood Audio Rack
Manufactured Wood with Metal Audio Rack
Solid and Manufactured Wood Multi-Level Audio Rack
Solid Wood Audio Cabinet in Yellow

Manufactured Wood

Manufactured woods are similar to hardwoods with regard to their visual appeal. They can be finished and crafted in just as many if not more ways than hardwoods can, but they fall victim to the same issues far more quickly.

Normally, manufactured wood is created by using a ply or hardwood core, which is then finished with a hardwood veneer to appear like hardwood at a fraction of the cost. Manufactured woods can also be humidity and water-resistant when very well cared for, but the layering used to create them leaves vulnerabilities.

If you must choose a manufactured wood audio rack, be sure to choose one with hardwood or ply core, which is then finished with a veneer and properly treated. Try to avoid MDF where possible, since it decomposes quickly, especially in humid conditions. Stay diligent with your treatments, and you should encounter no problems with a manufactured wood audio rack.

Metal & Glass

Metal audio racks often come paired with glass shelving for aesthetic purposes. The contrast between metal and wood can be hard to get right so many manufacturers simply avoid it and instead opt for panels and shelves of tempered glass.

Metal has the greatest weight-bearing capacity of any material you can find for your audio rack. It also does well to resist any accidental collisions from clumsy family members or pets. Tempered glass has a similar capacity for toughness and shares metal's resistance to temperature change.

Metal frames can fall victim to rusting in the long-term if you live in an extremely humid environment but maintaining them can be much simpler than hardwoods. A simple yearly reapplication of weatherproof or rust prevention paint is generally good enough.

Metal and Glass 4-Tier Audio Rack
Metal and Glass Tower Audio Rack
Metal and Glass Audio Rack in Grey
Metal and Glass Audio Rack in Silver
Modern Metal and Glass Audio Rack
Metal and Glass Tower Audio Rack in Black

4. What features should I look for in audio stands and racks?

We've now considered most of the core elements of a good audio rack, so let's take a quick look at some extra features that can add to your comfort or aesthetic.

Record and DVD Racks

For the most part, CDs and records have all vanished from modern society. Which makes them all the more valuable to those of us who have large collections of them. Despite the fact that we probably haven't used them in a while, CDs and records offer a distinct aesthetic appeal to any audio or A/V room.

Being able to array your collection in a symmetrical way, using your racks 

Drawers

Every audio or A/V room comes with a number of floating, miscellaneous items that, when not stored properly, make your room look disorganized and chaotic. Purchasing an audio rack with drawers is a firm step in the right direction if you intend to preserve peace of mind and maintain the aesthetic of your room.

Cable Management Ports

Cable management was touched on from a safety perspective in our earlier section on children but deserves its own brief discussion when it comes to aesthetics. Having multiple components, inevitably means having multiple cables running back and forth.

Audio receivers, for example, have one or two cables running between themselves and each speaker they connect to. That's not including power cables, connections to DVD players and cables running to other audio devices.

As you can probably tell, there's likely to be a plethora of cables accompanying your audio or A/V set up, so having the ability to manage them matters. It's easy for cables to become incredibly unruly and detract from the aesthetic of your room, not to mention the possibility of them generating feedback when crossed.

Cable management ports in an audio rack are essential if you're hoping to minimize your stress and keep your room free of clutter. Cable management also goes a long way to preventing trips and falls due to unruly cables, so we strongly recommend them if you have older people sharing your home.

Audio Rack in Walnut with Cable Management
AV Audio Rack with Cable Management
Audio Rack with Cable Management and Adjustable Shelves in Grey
AV Audio Rack in Black
Wooden Audio Rack with Cable Management
Record Player Stand Audio Cabinet

5. Is a modular audio rack right for me?

A modular audio rack might sound like a complicated piece of furniture at first glance, but it's actually pretty straight forward. Modular audio racks are designed to come apart into "modules" or single units that can stack up, forming a larger shelf.

Modular audio racks also commonly allow you to adjust their maximum height or the height in between shelves freely. As a homeowner or A/V fan, you'll have the ability to configure your audio rack as you see fit and also make changes when you get bored of your current configuration.

6. Which audio stand to choose when you have children or pets at home?

When making a choice in audio racks or stands, it's incredibly important to take your children or pets into consideration. Young children both face and pose a particular risk to your audio equipment. The same goes for your pets, especially young ones who are still getting used to house rules.

In fact, growing children and rowdy pets have a few things in common:

  • They are both full of energy and need places to spend it
  • They tend to put things in their mouths and touch things they shouldn't
  • They commonly bump into things that do better without bumping

All these things considered, you'll probably want to consider purchasing a completely enclosed audio stand if you have curious kids, rowdy pets or both. Enclosed stands are far easier to secure and childproof than open ones.

Some even come equipped with built-in locks for an added layer of security, but there's no need to panic if your model doesn't. Childproofing kits work well on the door handles for audio racks, which will keep both pets and children out.

If you haven't given much thought to cable management, now is the time to do so. As well designed as modern wiring is, they can still be an electrical hazard to kids and pets that grab onto them or bite them. Having an enclosed audio rack or stand, with cable management ports will allow you to keep lengthy cables well-hidden and out of sight, preventing them from becoming a hazard to your family.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.