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Spotlight on Racks & Mounts
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5 Great Looking Racks

Our annual ‘Great Looking Racks’ contest again shows us how CE pros impeccably install equipment and wiring.

Best Racks 2012
Equipment racks often take a back seat to that 180-inch screen, 3D projection system or killer surround-sound system when it comes to installation glory. Not this time.

Our annual “Great Looking Racks” contest, sponsored by Middle Atlantic, brings racks into the spotlight, showcasing those with both brains and beauty. The kind that meticulous custom installers are proud of and gloat about to friends.

Now in its sixth year, the Great Looking Racks contest continues to impress. This year we have a flawless rack that powers a 10,000-square-foot estate and 3D home theater, a rack created in 10 days squeezed inside a small mechanical room, and a full eight-rack system that links “over 48 miles” of wiring.

There is something sexy (in a tech-geek way) about a well-organized equipment rack. And our readers never let us down. Keep up the great work!

Click here for Best Racks of 2012.

Editor’s Note: Descriptions from the installers have been edited for publication.

Also, make sure to check out our past “Show Us Your Racks” contest: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

View the 20 photos attached to this entry

Spotlight on Racks & Mounts
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Article Topics

News · Slideshow · Mount · Equipment Racks · Middle Atlantic · All topics

About the Author

Steve Crowe, Web Editor
Steve is an editor for He graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Journalism. He joined the CE Pro staff in 2008. Steve is also a freelance sports writer for The Boston Globe and other various publications.

14 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Russ  on  12/20  at  04:08 PM

These are good looking racks, but not what I would consider great. Unless you are talking about size.

I know a lot of time was spent on the wiring and layout. But for me to consider a rack to be great is to see innovation. I am looking for a design that decreases the amount of spaghetti and bundles clogging the racks to the point where anyone coming in to find a problem and fix it creates a giant hairball of a mess.

Not to take away from all the hard work the cable pullers did, but what really differentiates these racks from other installs?

Posted by ricky  on  12/20  at  04:30 PM

Why are the IR emitters stuck to the front of the cable boxes? The black clear LCD screen cover pops out so you can bury the emitter in the device faceplate. Lack of lacing bars, zip ties on cat 6 instead of velcro and where do you have access to fit your hand in there to work on the back of equipment without bumping into other equipment wiring. Who rates this contest?

Posted by ERIC JOINER  on  12/20  at  07:17 PM


Posted by 39CentStamp  on  12/20  at  08:45 PM

I like Reslers racks the best. Maverick Integration is good too but you can see (way down on the other end) their network rack is a little out of hand. I would have given them first place if they ran a comb through that spaghetti before taking pics smile.

Posted by Russ  on  12/20  at  10:19 PM

So Rick and Russ I’m curious what ones did you work on ?

Posted by Adam  on  12/21  at  12:28 AM

Which pics do you speak of Ricky? lacking lacing bars?

Posted by Dennis  on  12/21  at  08:03 AM

At Russ, I agree with your comments and all these pictures are not from the same install. If you look at the lower right picture, all the riser wiring is included within the vertical cable chases out of the way of the components. The you will see horizontal lacing bars supporting all the wiring as they enter the components so there is not any tension on the connector and reduces changes or the connection coming lose during service. This method allows the service technician to look at the back of the components and clearly see all the labels on the components.  What is also not show is how this method allows all the heat to rise up into the plenum above the racks. Cable chases and lacing bars are not very scientific but I see very few companies add to their installation and I believe you need the extra space for the bundles of wire and support to improve the reliability.

Posted by Russ H.  on  12/21  at  10:10 AM

OK so as to differentiate me (the first russ) from the other responder russ I added the H.

Russ#2: not sure what you are asking. I didn’t work on any of these here. Unfortunately the most of the work I do precludes me from taking photos of my installs.

Dennis: I understand that these are of different installs. I guess my point is that these racks all look nice and clean. There was a lot of effort put into dressing the cables and tying them off in the racks. I totally agree that the need for proper vertical and horizontal lacing bars is critical in every rack. But I am not seeing anything here that strikes me as anything but a proper way to install a high end system.  Yes there are a few pictures where the quality looks a little lacking but overall a good group of projects. My concern is that after all these years we are still seeing large amounts of cables being used to distribute signals from a central location to individual components scattered around a building.

Maybe to illustrate my point I can use one of my recent projects. It was a government facility where there were about 20 computers and 8 large format projectors in one room with five other additional rooms being added with a collection of audio/video inputs and outputs all converging on one room where the equipment racks were located. Of the four equipment racks one was a 32x32 RGBHVA matrix system only. All the analog cables took up a huge amount of rack and cable tray space. We gutted the rack and pulled all the cables out (I really hate it when people allow ‘dead’ cables to remain in place). We the replaced the 42U of modules and installed a single 12U fiber matrix. We installed individual input and output modules as needed through the facility where needed. As you can imagine this changed the appearance and accessibility of the connections in that rack drastically. There were several other areas we improved also but the bottom line is we utilized current technology to not only improve audio and video quality but improve the functionality of the rack layout.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/21  at  08:41 PM

I applaud all the conscientious work here, but in 10 years we’re going to laugh at all of these big black boxes.

Posted by Chas  on  12/21  at  09:31 PM

This install isn’t from 2012. Unless they spend jbl synthesis money but want 2010 direct tv dvrs.

Posted by Andrew Southern  on  12/22  at  09:41 AM

These racks looks great. For the CE people here, we love this sort of gear porn. There is a lot of planning and careful execution shown in these photos.

But I think the CE industry is doing itself a major disservice going into 2013 to be focused on hulking handsome racks in a closet. We should be working to reduce these down to a single half rack on the wall, or smart component networked together into a system. Large AV systems with batteries, switched PDUs, always-on devices are a HUGE power suck, the opposite of green we try to explain on the front end when discussing lighting, hvac control, shading, etc. I challenge CEPro to start awarding ‘function vs efficiency’ over large ticket system. Heck, we actually segregate awards into dollar amounts, which I think is tacky.

Additionally, I love the look of ‘cut to length’ wiring also, but in terms of upgrades and maintenance year two and beyond, it pays to have (gulp) ugly service loops before each connection.

Posted by Mauricio  on  12/23  at  09:28 PM

Great job everyone!!!!!

Mauricio Barrientos
Audio Visual Consultant

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by Soundcon  on  12/31  at  07:59 AM

I would like to know what product/method was used for wire marking. Thanks.

Posted by David  on  09/20  at  11:56 PM

“the CE industry is doing itself a major disservice being focused on hulking handsome racks in a closet…we should be working to reduce these down to a single half rack on the wall.”

Maybe you could enter the itty bitty rack contest Andrew.

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