For me equipment racks fall into one of two categories in terms of their appearance, cold and sterile or overly woody. I like modern furniture and minimal design, however my fiancée prefers the look of a log cabin and chandeliers made from animal antlers; needless to say our home décor is an endless exercise in compromise. When it comes to my AV equipment, regardless of which room it may be housed in, she largely lets me do my thing, that is until I wanted to put a full 5.1 system in our bedroom. I was going to simply put a Middle Atlantic rack in one of our two closets and fish the required cables to our HDTV already installed, as well as to some in-wall speakers. Well, the idea of another Middle Atlantic rack in our house proved too much to bear.
I started looking at affordable AV racks that were clean in design and appearance, yet had a touch of warmth in the finish that would please my fiancée. I found a number of expensive solutions but I knew if I spent more than $500 on a rack for the bedroom my wife to be would pitch a fit. That's when I discovered the Sanus Foundation Natural Series equipment racks, specifically the NFA245. The NFA245 is a five-shelf tower design featuring a hardwood frame with graphite finished steel supports and glass shelves. The NFA245 retails for $349.99 and is available in three wood finishes, black ash, mocha and natural cherry. The NFA245 measures in at 26 inches wide by 45 inches tall and 22 inches deep. The NFA245 can be placed virtually anywhere in a room including corners, thanks to the top shelf's slightly angular design in the back. All of the NFA245's shelves are tempered glass and can support weights up to 60 pounds for the top and middle shelves and 70 pounds for the bottom most shelf. The NFA245 is an open air design, meaning there are no side or rear walls to trap hot air so your equipment is able to run as cool as can be for better performance and system life. The NFA245 features a cable management system, which consists of two medium sized holes, located along the rear wood support just above each shelf. The idea is the user will fish unruly cables through the holes, hiding them from view behind the NFA245's wider back wooden pillar. Sanus also includes a pliable piece of plastic that bows over your cables and fits into a set of grooves to complete the professional installation look.
• The NFA245 is attractive when assembled, especially in its Mocha or cherry finish.
• The NFA245 is a stylish and affordable solution for housing basic home theater components.
• The cable management system used in the NFA245 is rather effective, though larger diameter cables don't always fit.
• While I like the look of the glass shelves against the wood, the glass can't handle a great deal of weight. While rated for 60-70 pounds I wouldn't push it, in fact I'd try to keep loads to less than 40 pounds per shelf if possible.
• The NFA245 is not the sturdiest of racks if I'm honest. Sanus makes some rock solid AV racks; however the NFA245 isn't one of them. It's far from the worst by a long shot, but the NFA245 can become wobbly, especially when loaded up with gear.
• The plastic strip that Sanus includes to help conceal messy cables is kind of a pain to work with and is prone to un-snapping itself from the grooves if the pressure of having to deal with too many cables gets to it.
If you're looking for a décor-friendly AV rack that doesn't cost an arm and a leg then you should definitely look into the Foundation Natural Series NFA245 equipment rack from Sanus. At $349.99 retail the NFA245 is an attractive AV rack at an attractive price. While it may not be the most sturdy AV rack out there, if your needs are simple and you're looking for a real world solution to house a home theater receiver and perhaps a DVR and Blu-ray player then the NFA245 should fit the bill nicely.