All our studio tables feature rack space for your studio hardware, in different sizes and arrangements. But what exactly is this – a rack? And what should you consider when working with racks? In our current Studioguide episode we’ll give you valuable tips to help you make the best out of your studio furniture’s rack space and avoid common mistakes that not only affect your workflow but can also damage your equipment in the worst case.
Let’s start with the basics: A rack is an internationally standardized frame or enclosure for mounting multiple electronic equipment modules. The best-known form is the 19” rack, in which you can mount devices with a front panel width of exactly 48.26 centimeters (= 19”). In addition to rack width, rack height also plays a decisive role. For this purpose, there is the well-known scale HE (height unit) or U or RU (rack unit) in English for the standardized height of 4.445 cm or 1.75 inches of the front panels (note: this does not refer to the case height!). Studio hardware, such as a compressor, an audio interface or an external recorder, is specified in U.
In addition to 19” (width) and U (height), always consider the installation depth of the respective devices, because there are no standards that manufacturers must adhere to. In the following chapters, we will discuss the problems and dangers that may arise from carelessly placed rack hardware.
Be aware of:
We can assure you that our studio tables are already designed and professionally constructed so that you don’t have to worry about the safety of your hardware devices. For this, we treat each rack with an additional 1/2 U to ensure proper ventilation (a 12U rack is actually 12.5U high). At the same time, you have enough space to run specific connection cables from the back of your hardware to the front. In addition, all our racks are equipped with “rack rails” – a mechanical help with which you can move, position and fasten your 19” devices at any height as needed.
Nevertheless, there are some useful tips that you should follow in order to work as effectively as possible in the studio and to avoid stress and annoyance. An important tip that always applies: It never hurts to plan in more rack space than the sum of the added Us of your hardware collection. Let’s be honest: Who would claim to have enough equipment in his studio?
Electronic devices generate waste heat – some more, some less. While a digital effect device is usually harmless, tube processors, in particular, can generate considerable heat. Anyone who remembers his school days and the term “thermodynamics” knows that hot air always rises to the top. For this reason, it makes sense to place more heat-developing devices in the upper rack rails. This prevents the waste heat from heating up your other electronic components. Although our studio tables and racks are equipped with sufficient ventilation options, we cannot escape the laws of physics.
When looking at the dimensions of a rack and comparing them to the dimensions of your 19 “devices, you should always remember to allow enough space on the back of the rack for cabling – especially with analog hardware, whose common connectors (jack & XLR) take up more space than a USB or Toslink connector. In addition, jack cables can usually be replaced by space-saving, angled plug variants.
Keep an eye on meticulous cable management! It is best to mark each cable with a colored marker or coding ring. In addition, you should use cable ties with Velcro fasteners or similar to connect cables that you do not need every day (e.g. to patch your devices). Once done, you save yourself a lot of time – not least for annoying troubleshooting using the exclusion principle.