In my previous home, I had my “home theater” set up in a living room entertainment unit. It looked pretty good, but I had to strategically stack my components to best distribute weight and so that nothing was blocking my router (can’t live without a good WiFi connection.) The unit had an open back so my receiver would only over heat from time to time.
The best part was that my two-year-old daughter loved to watch TV leaning over the entertainment unit with her face about two inches from the 51-inch screen and her little belly pushing against the dial on my Marantz receiver—which would constantly switch the inputs, and switch off her favorite show. If my wife and I weren’t paying attention, she would attempt to fix the input herself by turning the dial a hundred times until either her show came back on or the whole thing would freeze up. For all of you fanatics out there (like me), you can share in my “AHHHHH!!!” moment when you feel like you are running in slow motion to grab hold of her.
Although a lot of clients see an entertainment center as the only possible solution for housing their AV components, they need to be enlightened on the greater benefits of putting their equipment into a rack. It not only offers protection from inquisitive fingers, but it also allows for a much more organized and operationally safe environment that will maximize the life of your gear. Plus, for those audiophiles like me, a rack just makes the components look that much cooler.
Racks these days come completely customizable where entertainment pieces do not. Components come in all shapes and sizes and may not fit comfortably into the unit the client has chosen. When each piece of equipment is stacked on top of the other in the cabinet or furniture, it can not only cause wiring to be dislodged, but the specific vibrations that come naturally from such high powered equipment can negatively affect the operation of the surrounding pieces.
A rack is made to perfectly hold each AV component while still giving it the space it needs to operate and “breathe” effectively. It provides controlled cooling that will extend the life of the product. How many of us have had to actually cut into a client’s cabinet or furniture to allow airflow to keep the components from overheating? This can be avoided by suggesting a rack. It will not only provide room for ventilation, but will allow ample space for each individual component to operate at its best.
By having all of your equipment in one place, servicing and updating the system is effortless. All of your wiring is neatly zip-tied in the back, allowing you easy access to any maintenance that has to be done. If a client wants to add on to their system, this can be easily accomplished and will fit into your rack with minimal rearranging.
Besides all the logical reasons for investing in a rack, aesthetics are also better. How impressive does an organized, perfectly aligned rack look with your components lit up and gleaming back at you and all of the wires wrapped neatly down the back, completely hidden from sight? This is something worth showing off. Racks don’t always need to be hidden away in the closet but can be displayed in the living room or outside the home theater room in a glass cabinet to be viewed as you guide your guests into the room. It can be the perfect preview to their movie room experience.
A rack is a great option for clients who have a system that exceeds the standard one-room application. It will create an impressive display that the client can show off to their guests while keeping their components well ventilated and safe from prodding fingers. I may have had an entertainment center in my old home but have since learned that the rack is definitely the way to go. Now I can have all the bells and whistles that come with my system without my daughter tampering with it.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.