The Rack – Results

I need to go and buy a cable organiser. Otherwise, it looks pretty cool.

The Minimalist Rack In Action

The Minimalist Rack In Action

OK, so a number of people have been following me on this journey. Here’s the info you wanted:

- Total cost of materials: about $500 AUD. The acrylic was around $300, but was cut to size and all I had to do was polish the edges. The steel was around $50. The rest was paint, sand paper, etc. I did get the feet for free and they may cost a bit normally, but I suppose you could use something like spikes on a metal floorprotector or something. My only concern with that is if you accidentally put that into your floor or your foot, the results will not be pretty. The entire rack weighs probably around 60kg or so. I completely botched up the calculations before. The shelves weren’t 2kg each, they’re about 8.5kg each. So just the shelves weigh in at 34kgs.

- Welding can be difficult at the start but if you practice a bit, you’ll get the hang of it. I wouldn’t recommend building a rack like this if you’ve never welded before, due to the 90 degree joints which are much more difficult to weld than a flat butt joint. So if you’re doing this for the first time I’d recommend practising HEAPS before you start zapping your final work. One good thing about welding is that you can grind down any mistakes.

- I hate filling. I HATE filling. Did I mention that I hate it? Maybe it’s because of the hot weather and my inexperience, but I had to redo some of the filling about 8 times before I got it right. It’ll certainly be easier next time, but can I just say…I hate filling. The sanding part kills me.

- When I first approached my design I thought alot about rigidity and lowering resonance by having high structural strength. But if I had to do it again I’d be more adventurous with the design. The steel I’ve used is extremely strong. Even when really stretched they hardly flex at all, and after some research (& my own experimentation) I found them to be less resonant than aluminium. Next time I’m thinking of removing the T joint at the top, and be even more minimalist…

- The whole thing took me around a week to build, working about 8 hours a day. Not exactly worth the time strictly, but it was a lot of fun in the end and even though my fingers are still a bit red fron sanding, I’d do it again.

- Next time I build a rack (this time next year at earliest) I’m going to try fill it in with lead shot as well as sand. This would make it even more rigid and less resonant.

Anyway, so here’s what really matters:

I can’t say if it makes a huge impact on the sound, but it certainly makes some impact. It’s rather hard to “test” given that I can’t easily shift my system on and off my rack. But I’ve noticed that it improves the sound of my CD/SACDs much more than LP. I used to listen to CDs and find it slightly more detailed but quite colder than LP. But now it’s really getting quite close to LP quality in terms of “thickness”. It’s obviously still not as warm or a “charming” kind of sound, but with this rack I’d say that for the first time in my hifi life I’ve considered selling my turntable.

But fear not! For I won’t. I have too many records and the phonostage is a crappy old one I built years ago. I’m quite certain if I replaced it then LP would be back in front, but it’s an indication that the rack may be doing something right.

Detail, realism, “thickness”, height and to some extent soundstage were the key improvements on CD. The LP improved slightly but I don’t feel that it was a huge gain in any department. They’re my initial thoughts on the sound. I’ll keep listening and report on results…

If you guys have any more questions, please feel free to fire it my way. Use the contact page up top that Ed has kindly set up.

  • Share/Bookmark
  1. #1 by Bob on September 20, 2010 - 9:17 pm

    Well done! I loved reading your journey. I’m recently into hifi and have learnt heaps – great friends and lots of research. I’ve been looking for a rack but have been not impressed with the ridiculous prices. So I’ve been thinking of making one. Yours is fantastic – inspirational. But I’m not a metal-worker. So I decided another plan:
    Find a second hand rack with all the important qualities, flexibilities, and potential to improve and adjust it to make it fantastic.
    So I found one – a factory second

    It has a few defects like small paint spots and incorrect size shelves that can be fixed easily. It has a metal frame with MDF shelves and looks very similar to yours. It also has spikes for each shelf level so the shelves can be separated easily and reconfigured. The I will put the kiln-dry sand into it. May be I’ll have to seal a few places – but I’m thinking Sealey’s filler will do this. I’ll experiment and then consider changing the shelves to thicker wood or granite perhaps. The current shelves are 8mm. MDF .
    So thanks for your journey it really helped give me confidence and search for a ‘compromise’ that ticked all the boxes.
    Kind regards, Bob from Melbourne

(will not be published)