Middle Atlantic AXS Pull-out Equipment Rack System Reviewed

Middle Atlantic AXS Pull-out Equipment Rack System Reviewed

Audiophile racks are one thing but the Middle Atlantic AXS rack is the custom installer's choice. Complete with AC power on the back and a massive amount of custom equipment rack faceplates - custom AV guys take a ton of pride in making a home theater system look its best with a Middle Atlantic AXS rack.

Middle-Atlantic-AXS.jpgAs 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.

Additional Resources
• Read more AV racks and furniture reviews on HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Search for source components to stack on these racks.

 

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

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High Points
• The ease of access with a Middle Atlantic AXS rack is second to none. It’s an innovative design that is a first choice of many, if not most, custom installers.
• The AC power receptacles allow you to use a product like a PurePower APS 2000 to regenerate and battery back-up your entire rack without having to stretch your cables down (or up) to a single AC power device.
• The custom faceplates look absolutely great. A Sony PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 looks better in a Middle Atlantic rack with a custom faceplate than on their own. The remotes can be stored in a Middle Atlantic drawer. My installer actually even had a small custom rack plate say “Digital Screening Room for the Del Colliano Residence,” complete with his contact information. 

Low Points
• In my system, installing the rack rails each and every time that I need to access the rack is a major pain in the ass. The rack rails are heavy, as are the stands that they need. In my system, I need to remove a total of 26 rack screws, move furniture and make a trek to the backyard storage area to get the hardware. This is a minimum of 25 minutes to get access to the back of the rack. When the customer service drone (is it wrong to call a human being a drone?) at DirecTV tells you to simply restart your DVR, you want to kill this person. Thank God the latest DirecTV receivers now have a hard restart button on the front plate. This saves me 25 minutes of aggravation each time the unit freezes up.

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.

Conclusion
The Middle Atlantic AXS rack system is a thoughtful, well-designed and innovative solution that can effectively take the mess out of your home theater. The AXS system can present your system in a neat, organized and beautiful way, so that it looks like the ultimate installation that it is, rather than like hobbyist gear. While it’s a little bit of a pain to switch out gear week in and week out, the finished look of a fully done-up Middle Atlantic rack is the pinnacle of high-end audio/video installations.

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