Let's face it, in the ultra-high-end world of audiophile music systems, looks count. You aren't very likely to buy a $20,000 stereo preamp, no matter how good it sounds, if it comes in some store-bought case that looks like hell. You are also likely to want to show off the over-engineered and visually sexy audiophile goodies you have invested in, even if that showing off is just for your own personal gain. This means you need a very solid, very good-looking rack. Grand Prix is one name that comes to most people's minds when they think of high-end AV furniture, for good reason. These racks are big, beautiful and make a massive statement that you care for your gear's looks and, more importantly, its performance. Starting at $3,285 for a three-shelf version and going to close to $6,000 for a five-shelf model, these racks don't come cheap, but nothing worth having ever does.
The basic design is a three-point system, with machined aluminum legs held securely by a carbon fiber triangle, which acts as the shelf support. Geometry tells us that three points define a plane, which makes for even weight distribution and a highly stable platform for your gear, while the strength of carbon fiber makes these racks capable of handling even the heaviest of components. The stock rack comes with a clear acrylic shelf, but you can upgrade to the Formula shelf for an additional $950 per shelf.
To make sure the Monaco accommodates everyone, it comes in both a short and long wheelbase model, to allow adjustment for the depth of your components; the heights of the shelves are also configurable. The rack can handle over 600 pounds of gear and, no matter what you use, it will look better on a Grand Prix Monaco. Matching amp stands are also available. You can use spikes or Grand Prix's composite fiber footers to interface with your flooring. If all this isn't enough for the extremist in you, an SE model is available that adds dampening material to each leg for even further sonic gains.
• The Monaco is undeniably the "you have made it" audio-video equipment rack. Its massive size, huge carbon fiber arms and machined aluminum make for an attractive and functional rack with a very masculine appeal.
• The Monaco can handle very heavy components, thanks to the carbon arms and, if need be, carbon shelves to add further weight handling and vibration control.
• The modular design allows the rack to evolve as your system changes so that you can buy pieces rather than an entirely new rack.
• The large size and futuristic techno look aren't very wife-friendly. This likely isn't going into your living room unless you are single or have a really good pre-nup with a specific audiophile clause (not a bad idea, by the way).
• Taller units can wobble, depending on how you install your gear into it. Make sure the heavy stuff is on the bottom and that your installation passes the large animal and/or small child test. Careful placement will likely solve any concerns.
The Grand Prix Monaco is truly a world-class piece of AV furniture, one that has to be seen to truly appreciate its scale. The machined aluminum, carbon fiber and acrylic make a modern rack that screams for attention while offering protection and strength for holding even the heaviest gear. Upgraded feet and shelves can be purchased, as well as the SE model, to increase dampening in the legs, making this rack adjustable to any budget and system, as long as your budget is large.