As important as it is to have quality equipment, it's just as important for your system to have a home that is sturdy and allows for proper installation and cable management, not to mention the ability to perform at their peak. That being said, one can easily build a rack out of parts found at your local hardware store that meets the above criteria. However, no DIY job will do all those things and look as good as the Solid Steel 5.3 equipment rack reviewed here.
Retailing for $579.00 and sold in the United States through Musicdirect.com, the Solid Steel 5.3 is as handsome as it is affordable. The 5.3 is a three shelf design featuring four steel legs and three, three quarter inch thick, MDF shelves in a matte finish. The 5.3 is rather compact at 28 inches tall by 22 inches wide and 18 inches deep, so while short in stature it can still house a modest or beginner two channel system consisting of an amplifier, preamp and source or integrated amp and two sources etc. The top shelf is a bit larger than the other two at 22 inches wide by 18 inches deep (versus 20 inches wide by 17 inches deep) to allow for a turntable or larger piece of equipment. If you need more shelves you can step up in the Solid Steel line to the 5.4 or 5.5, both of which have the same construction as the 5.3, just taller frames to allow for more shelves.
Speaking of shelves, the 5.3's are non adjustable. They sit at a fixed height resting on Solid Steel's own Duraluminum Cones to combat unwanted vibrations. The four main legs of the rack itself are capped, on the bottom, by substantial spikes that also help ward off vibrations as well as give it sure footing on both carpet and wood floors.
• The Solid Steel 5.3 equipment rack is one of the best modern design-looking equipment racks you're going to find for under a grand. Visually it competes with racks costing in the thousands of dollars, all for a sub $600 price tag.
• The 5.3 is, as its name suggests, very solid thanks in part to its steel construction. Even when loaded with heavier equipment the 5.3 exhibited very little sway, which is more than I can say for a lot of racks. Ridged and very sturdy are two words I'd use to describe the 5.3.
• The lack of adjustable shelves is bound to turn some folks off the 5.3, for it is a bit limiting, forcing you to have to either buy a higher end Solid Steel rack or build your system around its dimensions.
• There is no way to add a shelf or two to the 5.3 making it a bit of a one-stop shop. If you think you're going to need more than three shelves in the future I recommend buying a larger Solid Steel rack.
For under $600 the Solid Steel 5.3 equipment rack is as beautiful as it is functional. Sure there are cheaper three shelf racks out there; however they aren't going to be as sturdy, well constructed or look as good as the 5.3. If you need more than three shelves I recommend stepping up the larger Solid Steel 5.4 or 5.5, which like the 5.3 are still very affordable and share the same visual styling. But if three shelves are all you need then the Solid Steel 5.3 equipment rack is ready and waiting.