As I’m seemingly always reconfiguring my setup – with ergonomics, modularity, and aesthetics being the main driving forces – I was excited to get the opportunity to review AudioRax’s line of studio equipment racks. My oldest daughter had recently headed off to college, and I was given the green light from “management” to take over her bedroom as my home office/studio. I was psyched to have a dedicated space where I could integrate all of my gear (including a drum kit), plus make individual zones for specific tasks, while still allowing a workstation to be connected and within sight and reach. I own several black plastic and metal road cases from various manufacturers, but wanted to factor in visual appeal with a more elevated and intentional approach to working/playing for a creative space – I felt so grown up!

When I first visited the AudioRax website I was a bit overwhelmed by all the options: rack depth, joint style, finish type, rear rails, rail inset dimension, rubber feet, swivel casters, carry handles, ventilation slots, and more. Not being a “wood nerd,” I couldn’t decide on the best finish choice for durability, appearance, and cost. Initially, I was tempted to go with the cost-effective, but still handsome, Baltic Birch plywood option. However, given I was making a long-term commitment to my setup, I was attracted to some of the available hardwoods but still wanted to keep weight down. After a quick internet search on various wood types and qualities, I ultimately chose the Hard Maple for grain visibility, hardness rating, and moderate weight.

I first checked out their 200 series Triple Bay Workstation, as I wanted to both raise my nearfield monitors to ear level and create a bit more space on the desktop while also getting some more crucial gear nearby for easy tactile and/or visual access. But, because my setup is based upon a sit/stand desk, and plans were still a bit fluid, I was worried I would mess up the mounting of my computer display on a movable arm. After spinning on the seemingly infinite combinations, I was lucky enough to connect with the owner/founder, Joel Abbott, who patiently walked me through some ideas while reassuring me that I could do some tweaks to my order to give me the most flexibility I needed – you know you’re a high-maintenance customer when you need pre-sales support to order studio racks!

I ended up ordering three individual 2 Space desktop units instead, for the sake of size/weight, as well as modularity – in case I needed to move gear around. After placing the order, I got a confirmation email that very clearly laid out all the options I had chosen (rail inset, cabinet depth, wood, joining, stain colors, foot placement, etc.). Though my order suggested a lead time of four weeks, the racks shipped in ten days and arrived a few days later; a roughly two-week turn time, which was quite impressive given the custom nature of the order.

I eagerly popped them out of the box. They were nicely packed and well protected, but not overly padded with extra fill; it was clear they took care to ensure the product arrived unscathed. The racks were beautiful and the finish work was impeccable – super beefy but not too heavy. There was obvious attention and precision in how they were made, but also in the design and thought that went into the process of manufacturing – I chose Finger Joints for both the look and smooth radius on the corners. I was quietly regretting that I hadn’t ordered some additional colored rack screws (available at time of order) but was still stoked overall. AudioRax pricing is not cheap, but is quite fair and a good value given that these racks will last forever and can easily be resold. Traditionally, studio gear and furniture are simply dark-colored, boring, and often kinda cheap-looking. With the AudioRax racks, I felt I was treating myself to a simple, affordable luxury that elevated my studio to a new level.

Gear fit and installation/removal from the rack was easy and smooth. All the components were straight and true, without any of the fussing and coaxing that can be prevalent in many mass-produced racks. There is a nice, albeit tiny, bit of space between the inside edge of the cabinet, and the end of a standard 19-inch rack ear. Whether you are a working pro (or semi-pro), commercial studio, devoted hobbyist, or considering some upgrades to your setup and want to enter the adult world of professional studio furniture, I would give AudioRax a serious look. While the website is initially a bit daunting, and I would have liked to see some kind of configurator so you could get a better idea of what your specific order might look like when completed, the finished product is quite outstanding. I’ve heard some folks say, “How you do one thing is how you do most everything,” and if that holds true, I have to assume that most anything Joel and his team at AudioRax manufactures makes to be of excellent quality at a very reasonable price. They also have accessories, budget options, and clearance/sale items if you need a deal. One suggestion I have for potential buyers out there who might be considering a studio makeover as opposed to just getting a new rack or two, is to do some homework to map out their space, research a little on ergonomics, and then visit the AudioRax website a few times to imagine the possibilities before placing an order – because you’re worth it!

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

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