Equipment stands have evolved from run of the mill, wood-shelving units to state of the art vibration thwarting machines. As equipment racks have made the move from mere wood and nails to alloys, carbon fiber and suspension systems, in a range of prices, some costing more than the combined total price of the equipment resting on them. What's a budget conscious audiophile to do? Well there's always the DIY route or you could go with a more mass-produced rack typically found at a big box electronics retailer, though both options aren't necessarily going to provide you the peace of mind knowing your gear is safe and secure, let alone performing at its peak, free from vibration.
One option is the Solid Steel HyperSpike Junior series reviewed here. Coming in either a two, three or four shelf configuration, the HyperSpike equipment rack isn't the cheapest offering from Solid Steel; however it's far from the price of its competitors, starting at $1,095.00. The HyperSpike rack I'm focusing on here is the four shelf or HJ-4 version which retails for $1,995 and is sold through its US distributor Musicdirect.com. Now I know $1,995 may sound like a great deal of money, but it's less than half as much as another touted four shelf stand that utilizes the same principles behind the HJ-4's design. Not to mention the two racks look eerily similar when you get right to it.
The HJ-4 is a modular design consisting of four MDF shelves coated in a special anti-resonance rubberized paint. Because of this special paint process the HJ-4 is available only in matte black. The shelves are supported via three solid steel legs in a tripod configuration, though the legs themselves are not solid top to bottom; instead they screw into the bottom of each shelf then rest in a small disc on the top of the next shelf via three heavy duty spikes. This spike/disc mounting system helps combat unwanted vibrations while still remaining very sturdy under weight, as well as allowing for additional shelves to be added at a later date should your system require it. In its four shelf configuration the HJ-4 measures in at a little over 23 inches wide by 34 and a half inches tall and nearly 21 inches deep. The width of each shelf minus the solid steel supports is just under 20 inches and the space between the four shelves is 11 inches for the bottom and a little over seven inches for the remaining shelves. Obviously the bottom shelf is designed with a power amplifier or two in mind, whereas the other shelves are geared more towards preamplifiers and/or sources. The top shelf doesn't have to contend with solid steel supports so its size is a full 23 by 21 inches in size making it ideal for turntables large and small.
• From a "form follows function" standpoint, the HJ-4 is the perfect blend, providing ample support and isolation all the while looking good.
• Though its design might look all that ridged, it's using gravity to keep it together. After all, it's surprisingly ridged, though not as much as some other racks from Solid Steel.
• I like the HJ-4's modular design, which allows the rack to expand with the user's needs and system changes. It also means that you can purchase the smaller, less expensive HJ-3 or HJ-2 then add to it later.
• While ridged under weight the HJ-4 does still have a bit of flex. Not so much that you'll be living in fear of it suddenly crashing down around you, but those with small children or hyper pets may want to take that into consideration before deciding if the HJ-4 is right for you or where you're going to place it in your home.
For just under $2,000 the Solid Steel HyperSpike Junior Series HJ-4 is not cheap. However when you compare it against the competition, it's nowhere near their asking prices and in many cases the HJ-4 costs half as much. Ultimately you'll have to be the one to decide if the HJ-4's looks and performance are worth the price and right for your system's needs. Should you decide to go with the HJ-4 you'll have one of the finer looking, highest performing equipment racks out there today. Not bad.