If you’re taking your home entertainment system, then you might have entertained the idea of putting together a dedicated AV rack. Rather than simply piling your discrete devices beneath your television, you’d have a cabinet dedicated to dealing with them, with every unit bolted in position using traditional rack mounting, which will be familiar to those who deal with music studios and server rooms.
Why Install an AV Rack?
This approach confers a number of advantages.
Firstly, it means that you’ll be able to position the rack in a convenient place, and at a convenient height. The days of getting on your hands and knees to insert a Blu-ray disk will be gone if you position the Blu-ray player at waist height, with all of the other devices forming a convenient pile just beneath.
Secondly, it’s much neater and tidier to have all of your units clamped in rather than one on top of the other. If you need to take one unit out, then you don’t have to disassemble the entire pile, as each unit is screwed into a pair of perforated metal strips along the front of the rack. By the same token, it’s much easier to sort out the wiring at the front of the unit.
There’s also a security advantage to a rack mounted system. Not only is it more difficult to remove components that have been screwed in place, but you can easily attach a lockable door to the front of an AV rack.
How does rack mounting work?
At the sides of the front of certain AV devices you’ll find screws, which can be used to install ‘rack ears’. These are L-shaped pieces of metal via which the entire unit can be installed into a standard 19” rack. Rack space is measured in units 1.75” tall, so you’ll need to measure a cabinet that’s got room enough to accept all of your units. If a given device lacks the appropriate mounting holes, then you can find shelves which serve the same purpose.
Tips for Installing a Rack
You’ll want to install the heaviest units in your rack at the bottom of the unit. This will make everything more stable, and make life easier should you come to move the entire unit around.
As we’ve mentioned, it’s better to put the items that you need to be able to reach at the top of the rack. That might mean optical media devices at the top, and amps at the bottom. Devices that you never use, like ethernet switches, can be put right out of sight. Plan the layout of your rack before you screw anything into position.
Cable management is paramount. If you’re routing an audio signal from a single output to multiple speakers, then you will need the appropriate contact. Large strings of cabling can and should be tidied using ties and trunking. This will ensure adequate airflow through the unit.
If there are any empty spaces on your rack, then you can cover them with blanking plates. Perforated ones will conceal mess while ensuring the right airflow.