A critical part of planning for a home theater or stereo system is deciding where the components will be stored.
The most common solutions are a pre-built cabinet, a custom built cabinet or remotely located in an equipment rack. A properly designed cabinet or equipment rack will insure your equipment will perform and last while being concealed and out of sight. Deciding the best option for your project will be based on a combination of factors best discussed with your systems designer. However, in our years of systems design and selling quality cabinets and equipment racks, we have found there are commonalities that all great storage solutions possess and we’ve compiled them here for your reference.
Size & Spacing
The cabinet you choose should have enough space to safely house your electronics on their own shelves to give each component adequate breathing room. There should also be plenty of space behind each component to allow for the wiring that will be connected. If possible allow for a couple of open spaces which can be home to future components should your system grow.
Your electronics will produce heat and some will produce A LOT of heat. All these components have internal fans designed to keep them cool but when placed in an enclosed cabinet, the heat has nowhere to escape and instead builds raising the temperature inside the cabinet. When electronics get too hot it can cause them to behave erratically or fail all together. It is important that your cabinet have proper ventilation. In many cases, active cooling will also be required which is one fan that pulls in cool air and one fan that kicks out hot air.
In the life of your system, you may want to add, remove or service a component. In order to make this process easier it is important that you or your installer be able to access the equipment easily including the back where the connections and wiring are located. A good pre-built cabinet will have wheels and removable back panels. This will allow the cabinet to be moved away from the wall making the rear of the equipment easily accessible. If you are having a cabinet custom built, we recommend a pull out rack to be housed inside the cabinet. The pull-out rack attaches to the cabinet and using rack shelves, the equipment is installed inside the rack. The whole rack is then able to be pulled out and will swivel to allow access to the rear of the equipment.
On top of needing space behind your equipment for the cabling that will be connected you will also need a way to route the cable through the back of the cabinet between bays and a way to manage, in some cases, a thick bundle of wiring. Many cabinets come with tracks to run the wiring inside of but at a minimum you’ll want holes in the back of the shelves that allow you to safely route the wire between the bays.
Passing Sound & Signals
A standard remote uses infrared (IR) which relies on line of sight to talk to your equipment but obviously a door will block that signal (unless it is glass or similar material) so in order to control your equipment in an enclosed cabinet you will also need to plan for an RF or an IR system to relay the commands. Lastly, if you plan to also house speakers inside a cabinet, you will need transparent materials on the doors (i.e. speaker cloth) or no doors at all to allow sound to pass through.
Your Next Step
We display several samples of pre-built cabinets, custom built cabinetry and equipment racks in our showroom. If you would like to get some more information on cabinetry or would like to compare options for yourself, we encourage you to visit us and speak with one of our experienced consultants.