If you are a musician, DJ, or music recorder, you probably have some hi-fi setup. You’ve invested time and money into your equipment and want to be able to use it properly without any extra vibrations. The answer is a hi-fi rack, but why are they so pricey?
Hi-fi racks are so expensive because they are specialty furniture items made to hold high-end, professional hi-fi systems and other pricey equipment. They are made for a specific sub-group of buyers who are willing to invest more to receive a better sound quality.
In the rest of this article, we will discuss the several features that make for a good hi-fi rack and why they’re so expensive. We will also talk about the different kinds of racks used to minimize vibrations and provide some less expensive hi-fi setup alternatives. To learn more about these, keep on reading!
What Is a Hi-Fi Rack?
A hi-fi rack is essentially a storage rack for sound equipment. It is primarily made to reduce the tech and equipment’s vibrations and keep the sound clear and crisp. Usually, hi-fi racks are made of wood, with grooves to absorb vibrations and spiked feet to keep the stand grounded.
There have been debates as to whether a hi-fi rack makes a difference in the final sound. There’s no question that if you store your hi-fi setup on wood or metal, it will absorb the extra vibrations, but some people can’t tell the difference between a regular cabinet and a hi-fi rack. The distinction depends directly on your setup and how muddy the sound is without a rack.
Hi-fi racks are considered the final piece to complete a quality hi-fi setup – and it’s often very expensive. Indeed, it’s a worthy investment to protect all your pricey equipment and keep your sound smooth and clear.
Still, it seems like hi-fi racks shouldn’t be so expensive; they appear as mere wood and metal storage racks with some points on the feet, lack electronic or technological aspects, and are relatively simple to put together. So, why should they be several hundred dollars at the cheapest?
Hi-Fi Racks Are a Specialty Rack
While regular storage racks can be made out of any material, hi-fi racks are made for a specific purpose. They need to piece together properly and lock into the floor with strong joints, and have to be made of a material that will absorb excess sound vibrations. And since hi-fi racks are made for a technical purpose, they have to meet certain specifications.
The main difference between a regular storage rack and a hi-fi rack is the tightness of the joints. Any looseness at all would lead to bad vibrations and a less clean sound, so hi-fi racks are specially made to absorb and steady your hi-fi equipment. The floor spikes also help the sound by digging into the ground and stabilizing the rack.
Hi-Fi Racks Are a Very Niche Product
Hi-fi racks are relatively rare, and there is an issue of supply and demand as not many people use hi-fi setups in general. This lack of demand leads many companies to manufacture in small quantities, which is pricier than mass production, resulting in a higher retail price.
These racks are also made for specific audio equipment sizes. Manufacturers must know the common sizes and shapes of speakers, outputs, and sources and make their racks adjustable to these specifications. Some people have racks custom-made, which also adds to the price.
Because of the niche market for hi-fi racks, people know that their racks will be manufactured well in small batches. This means that hi-fi enthusiasts and audiophiles are usually willing to pay more for a well-made, custom-fit rack than for a regular piece of equipment or shelving.
What Features Make for a Good Hi-Fi Rack?
Various features are available for hi-fi racks, and some may be better for you than others. Shorter and broader frames tend to absorb vibrations better because they are low to the ground. Most brands offer an adjustable rack with as many shelves as you need. They can be wood, glass, or metal, and each provides a different aspect of sound quality.
There are debates in the hi-fi community on the different kinds of hi-fi racks and which material is best. The majority of experts suggest wood since that resonates warmth and absorbs vibrations better. However, some prefer metal or even glass to give the audio a cleaner and clearer sound.
The number one sign of a high-quality hi-fi rack is that it does its job. If a rack doesn’t absorb vibrations and keep your sound from being muddy, then it’s not working for you. This could be a space issue, a rack issue, or even a problem with how you put your rack together.
Less Expensive Alternatives to Buying a Hi-Fi Rack
Many people find they don’t need a custom-made rack, especially if they’re just beginning to buy hi-fi equipment or don’t have that many speakers. As long as you have something that absorbs vibrations effectively, there are ways to avoid this expensive purchase.
For one, you can buy a used hi-fi rack at a lower price. You can also simply repurpose an old frame or some cabinets as a rack– even just plywood and cinder blocks will suffice. Indeed, there are cheaper ways to make a hi-fi system with little to no extra vibrations, as long as you are willing to put some time in (and don’t care about appearance).
Buy a Resale Hi-Fi Rack
Many online auction sites have used or resale hi-fi racks for sale at lower prices. While some of the higher quality racks won’t be available or will still be expensive, you should be able to find some hi-fi racks for less money. If you keep an eye on the online auction sites or personal markets (Facebook Marketplace and eBay are both great options), you should be able to find some decent options for racks!
Because they are similarly designed, it’s possible to use a different kind of rack for your sound equipment. You can buy a cheap cabinet and rig it up so that it doesn’t vibrate. Alternatively, a more expensive cabinet might be closer in style to a regular hi-fi rack.
Make Your Own Hi-Fi Rack
If you are handy with tools or have a personal workshop, it’s also possible to make yourself a hi-fi rack. Heavy plywood and cinder blocks are the most popular DIY choice, but the benefit of making your own is that it’s fully customizable, and you can make it as straightforward or as fancy as you want.
Don’t Use a Hi-Fi Rack
Many people don’t notice the difference between an expensive hi-fi rack and a cheap one. Furthermore, some are unable to tell whether or not a hi-fi rack is even being used. If you don’t think that you need a hi-fi rack, you probably don’t. Besides, you can always buy one later if you change your mind and want to try for a cleaner sound.
Hi-fi racks are expensive because they are made for a specific use, and only a tiny percentage of the population uses them. However, they do help the sound quality of your recordings. Whether you buy a used rack, make your own, or take the plunge and buy a rack at full price, your sound system will be better off with a hi-fi rack designed primarily to reduce vibrations.