ZAOR was founded in 2014 by Italian master piano-builder Michele Zullo. His company's product line of stylish, modular, studio furniture came to my attention just this year via Simon Côté of Audio Plus Services, ZAOR's new North American distributor. Among ZAOR's suave offerings, the Miza Griprack immediately piqued my interest. It's a simple, yet ingenious, combination rack unit and speaker shelf that slides onto the back of a desk or table, and clamps into place using large, underside thumbscrews.

The Griprack is available in 2 or 4RU—height configurations, and it features a modern, curvy design. Constructed from 1'' thick MDF and wood, it's available in three color schemes: grey/oak, gray/wengé, and black/cherry. For my room, I chose a pair of 4RU-sized Griprack 4s to use with an existing table. Units are shipped unassembled, but ZAOR's packaging job is really impeccable. There's not much to say regarding assembly, as the process is fairly self-explanatory. If you've ever put together IKEA furniture, the Griprack should be a breeze to assemble. (Note that the build quality of the ZAOR rack far outshines the quality of even the expensive IKEA stuff.) After great pause in order to admire the aforementioned packaging, both racks were easily assembled and slotted onto the back of my desk in less than 35 minutes.

The slots that fit around the desktop are about 1.5'' in height, which would seem to work well for most tables, though a table surface thinner than 0.75'' might not be robust enough, in my opinion. Something to be considered when matching a desk to the Griprack — the 4RU version weighs approximately 20 lb empty. Filled with gear and topped with powered monitors, the rack could be putting a lot of weight on the back of your desk. In my opinion, you'll want to favor a work surface with a heavier, sturdier build. Other potential hindrances to consider before choosing the slide-on racks include table-leg location and under-table buttressing that could impede the slots.

Once in place, the Griprack's side panels will have about a 9'' overhang from the back edge of your desk. If your desk is normally against a back wall, you'll have to pull it out by almost a foot. The Griprack 4 model rises 11'' above the tabletop, making the platform on top of the rack an ideal elevation for monitors when combined with an average desk height of 28-30''. I found the approximately 9'' deep by 20.5'' width, high-density urethane pad glued to the platform to be pretty damn good in decoupling the monitor from the rack (and thereby your desk). I tried adding some Auralex MoPads [Tape Op #30] for even more isolation, but the difference was negligible to my ears.

My favorite design feature of the Griprack is that when mounted on the back of an average-sized 30'' deep tabletop, the rack only occupies about a third of the tabletop's depth, which leaves a surprisingly large area in front of it free. With both racks mounted, there's still plenty of room for my full- size MIDI keyboard/controller, and I can continue to use my desk for non-audio related tasks (paying bills, accounting, miscellaneous Tape Op work, etc.) without feeling cramped. Because the side panels of the rack "bubble" out from behind, they hide messy cabling. Conveniently angled fronts allow for easy access to the installed gear's controls, regardless of clutter that may occupy the desk's surface. Due to the tilted front, rack gear slides in easily, and if a drink is spilled, the liquid goes under the rack, never touching any electronics. It really seems like ZAOR has thought of everything here. Even the rack rails are the type with square holes and clip-on cage nuts, a design I prefer — no worries about stripping a rail. Cage nuts and matching rack screws are included.

ZAOR obviously put a lot of effort into the Griprack's meticulous, "form that follows function" design, resulting in a beautiful, superbly conceptualized product. Now almost any table or desk can be transformed into an elegant and efficient audio workstation. By the time you read this, an improved Griprack Mk2, that's both stronger and lighter, should be available for purchase. Eccellente!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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