Ask any custom installer or integrator about their rack designs and installations and expect to get the kind of enthusiasm you'd expect from a proud father. They put a ton of work into making their systems look and perform fantastically, including custom face plates, cooling systems, neatly organized cables and more. For those looking to give their systems that "finished" or professional installation look, there are a number of increasingly affordable products in the market for you today. Case in point: the Sanus CFR144 85-inch AV Rack reviewed here. At $1,499.99 retail the CFR144 may seem like a lot of money but when you realize its price is all-inclusive, this makes it a pretty fantastic value when compared to products from the likes of, say, Middle Atlantic.
The CFR144 is a tall drink of water dressed in all black and measuring 85 inches tall by nearly 24 inches wide and 24 inches deep. It weighs a respectable 245 pounds, though it's easy to move thanks to its integrated casters. As large and as heavy as the CFR144 is, it pales in comparison to its capacity, which is a staggering 1,000 pounds. The CFR144 is made from welded steel and comes preassembled, offering up 44 usable rack spaces. At its retail price the CFR144 also comes complete with a rear panel as well as a frosted glass door to protect your AV components from curious hands yet still allow remote signals to pass through. The CFR144 ships with five, one rack space (1U) shelves; three, three rack space (3U) shelves; 11 1U-blanking panels and eight 2U-blanking panels. This combination of shelves and blanking panels should be enough for most users, though additional shelves and blanking panels are available at an extra charge. The 1U shelves each have a weight capacity of 30 pounds whereas the 3U shelves can support up to 80 pounds. The CFR144's convection designed cooling system, which is integrated into the construction of the CFR144 itself, comes in handy when cooling an eventual tower of power - though additional cooling options can be purchased afterwards if further cooling is required. In contrast, most Middle Atlantic systems are largely a-la carte and when all is said and done, cost more than the CFR144's sub $1,500 asking price.
Read about the high points and low points of the CFR114 AV rack on Page 2.
• If you're into the look or like the
functionality of a Middle Atlantic rack, then the CFR144 is going to be
ideal for you for it offers up all the same features of a Middle
Atlantic product but with more bang for your buck.
• The CFR144's
build quality is terrific and equal to that of Middle Atlantic so don't
think that just because the CFR144 costs less that it's a lesser quality
• For customization you simply cannot beat a utilitarian
rack such as the CFR144, for as long as the product isn't too heavy the
CFR144 and its myriad of shelves will hold it.
• While it may not
have a furniture grade finish, a properly laid out and installed AV
system inside a rack such as the CFR144 is a sight to behold and one of
the best ways to showcase any audiophile or home theater enthusiasts'
• If you're into super large
amplifiers such as the Krell 402e, then I wouldn't recommend the CFR144 for the 402e's boat-anchor-like
weight is too much for the CFR144's shelves. If you're more a fan of
moderate to heavy amplifiers such as the Parasound 5250 v2 or even Krell's 3250e you should be just fine.
• Once you've connected the requisite
cables, not all products conform to the CFR144's 24-inch depth, meaning
you have to remove the back panel or live without the front door, which
may or may not be a deal breaker. My Middle Atlantic rack suffers the
same fate so don't think it's an issue exclusive to the CFR144.
Competition and Comparison
course the obvious competitor for the CFR144 is any equipment rack from
Middle Atlantic. However there are other, non-Middle Atlantic, options also available
- options such as OmniMount's RE42. The RE42, like the CFR144 is an all-inclusive design, though the
RE42 has a higher weight capacity and integrated fan cooling versus the
CFR144's convection cooling system. The RE42 retails for $1,199.95.
more on AV racks including the latest news and reviews please check out
Home Theater Review's AV Racks and more page.
just under $1,500 retail the Sanus CFR144 85-inch AV Rack is a
wonderful value and a completely functional equipment housing solution.
While it may appear to be similar to a Middle Atlantic equipment rack,
don't let its appearance fool you, for the CFR144 is a much more
complete, much more inclusive solution making it an easy recommendation
for me to make - even if I was late to the party and spent too much on
my Middle Atlantic rack already.