As a recovering audiophile, I have worked to elevate my media room to keep the highest audio performance while being fully integrated with Crestron automation, multi-zone audio, touch screen control and the latest in 1080p video, as well as hiding the most cutting edge acoustical treatments from RPG neatly behind fabric walls. One other way I have worked to get my system organized is to rack-mount my audiophile-grade home theater system. The product my installer used for the system was a dual Middle Atlantic AXS pullout rack.
My Middle Atlantic double AXS rack stands over seven feet tall and is 26 inches deep, leaving plenty of room for even the deepest of gear. You can get the racks shorter and shallower, if you desire. Middle Atlantic AXS racks have a number of performance advantages, specifically the ability to slide your equipment out from the internal rack to get easy access to the back of the gear and the cabling. In my system, in order to slide the racks out, you need to place “rack rails” on top of adjustable stands that allow the racks to move from the custom, air-cooled niche where my system is installed. In a perfect world, you would be able to have full access to the back of your rack without pulling your gear out. However, in my case, there is a smooth, troubled stucco wall behind my rack, which requires me to pull the gear out.
Middle Atlantic neatly offers AC receptacles up and down both sides of my dual rack, meaning that when I’m installing components with removable power cables, I can replace the longer stock ones with shorter cables, which cut down on cable clutter quite dramatically. There are also ample places to wire-tie your cables to the rack, so that your rack looks perfectly neat instead of the audiophile rat’s nest that develops over time with many traditional rack systems.
One of the coolest things about Middle Atlantic racks is their custom faceplate. They basically make a perfectly fitted rack and faceplate for any component you can dream of and, in the event you have something so obscure that they don’t have a shelf for it, they will make you one. When installed perfectly – often using rack building software to plan where each and every component will go – a finished Middle Atlantic rack looks nothing short of fantastic. All of the equipment is perfectly spaced. All of the sources are easy to access. There is plenty of space for the amplifiers to breathe and there may even be a drawer for remotes and manuals.
Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2
Heat is a major issue for most AXS rack systems. In my system, I have large fans pumping room temperature air into the rack on the right and another fan sucking the air out the left side towards the top of the rack (as heat rises). Work with your contractor and installer to make sure you move plenty of air through your system if you aspire to run your rig with heat-generating gear, as I have with the Mark Levinson 400-watt mono amplifiers. In my case, I can run the system at full throttle with the doors closed in front of the gear and not suffer any failures, but that requires some forethought before the installation.