Andrew Robinson began his career as an art director in entertainment advertising in 2003, after graduating from Art Center College of Design. In 2006, he became a creative director at Crew Creative Advertising, and oversaw the agency's Television Division, where he worked for clients such as TNT, TBS, History, FX, and Bravo to name a few. He now has one of the most popular AV-related channels on YouTube.
Chief, maker of top-quality display and projector mounts, has always maintained a special place in my AV accessory heart, despite me never having the opportunity (or need) for one of its products. How is that possible, you ask? It's not that Chief doesn't make products that suit a wide range of displays, large and small, inexpensive or cost-no-object - the company does. However, I've always seen Chief as the maker of mounts for products beyond "normal" means. For example, 50-inch HDTV mounts are a dime a dozen nowadays, but 100-inch HDTV mounts are a bit harder to come by. Unless, of course, your name is Chief. That's what I mean by mounts for products beyond normal means. I recently took delivery of a fine projector, the SIM2 Nero 3D-2, which turned out to be too large and heavy for my usual Sanus VP1 mount. The Nero's arrival meant that not only would I be reviewing a cool projector, but that I'd also have the opportunity to experience a new Chief mount firsthand.
The mount in question is Chief's RPA Elite Universal mount (RPA), complete with custom plate, ceiling flange and column. Unlike mounts from, say, Sanus or OmniMount, Chief mounts can be acquired à la carte to ensure the maximum performance specific to your respective display. As configured for my Nero 3D-2, my RPA Elite Universal mount came out to be $361 total: $259 for the head plate and custom bracket, $73 for the adjustable column, and $29 for the ceiling flange. The ceiling flange and column are standard, meaning they'll work with virtually any other Chief mount, which I discovered when acquiring another mount for another project from Chief, the VCM Series.
The party piece of the RPA setup is the head unit, or the part that controls your projector's roll, pitch and yaw. The whole RPA setup can be ordered in one of three colors: black, silver, or white. All are painted over the RPA's steel and aluminum construction. The head unit features a handy quick-lock feature that literally locks the universal projector plate to the head unit via a simple thumb switch. This makes setup and tear-down a relative breeze, depending on the size and weight of your projector. Once attached, the head unit can provide for up to three degrees of roll, 20 degrees of pitch and a full 350 degrees of yaw. These movements are accomplished via single screws located on the head unit, allowing for true independent adjustment of each for better accuracy and fine-tuning. The head unit has a maximum weight capacity of 50 pounds, though the ceiling flange and extension pipe can support more - a lot more.
Chief makes a universal adapter plate that is compatible with the RPA. The plate features four spider-like arms that attach to your projector's three or four mounting points. Once the universal plate is attached to your projector, it attaches to the head unit via that quick release mechanism described above. So far, this is akin to what many no doubt envision when the term "universal projector mount" is used. However, Chief will do you one better, in that the company offers custom mounting plates unique to many of today's top front projectors and/or brands. For my SIM2 Nero 3D-2, this meant a purpose-built plate, no spider-like arms, which fit my SIM2 like a glove. It also made for a more tailored look, which isn't a bad thing, considering a) the SIM2's already stellar physical appearance and b) its retail cost. These are just a few of the options afforded to you when you decide to go with a Chief mount versus much of the competition. With the custom mounting plate installed, I was able to properly and securely mount my Nero 3D-2 to the RPA by myself and with zero drama. Aligning the projector to my 120-inch Elite Screen was equally trouble free, despite the SIM2's off-set lens configuration.
Read about the high points and low points of the Chief RPA mount on Page 2.
The RPA Elite Universal Mount is among the finest I've encountered to date, featuring rock-solid build quality and easy adjustability, all for an affordable price.
Making adjustments to the RPA once your projector is mounted is easy and trouble-free, thanks to its independent controls for roll, pitch and yaw.
So long as your projector weighs less than 50 pounds, the RPA is among the sturdiest and most secure mounts you can hope to find.
If you're willing to spend just a little more, you can forego the RPA's universal mounting plate and opt for a custom mounting plate that is tailor-made for your specific projector.
The RPA, despite being a universal design, cannot accommodate all front projectors, though where it may come up short, Chief will not, I assure you.
The RPA's head unit is a bit stiff initially, meaning adjustments are wholly crisp or precise, though after a second or two things loosen up nicely, though not dangerously so.
Competition and Comparison
As I mentioned earlier, mounts are becoming a dime a dozen, though few do it better or even to the same degree as Chief. While there are similarities between the RPA and my reference Sanus VP1, the RPA is superior in almost every way. This isn't a condemnation of the VP1, but rather a testament to just how good I believe the RPA to be, as the VP1 is a very capable mount. For more on these and other great display mounts, please visit Home Theater Review's Accessories page.
For around $350, depending upon your chosen configuration, I can think of few, if any, front projector mounts I trust more than Chief's RPA Elite Universal Mount. When outfitted with a projector-specific custom plate, the pairing is unbeatable, not to mention completely professional-looking when installed, even if you carry out the installation yourself. If your projector weighs less than 50 pounds but is on the larger size, then my recommendation to you would be to check out the Chief RPA Elite Universal Mount. You won't regret it.