As your home recording studio grows you’re going to add a plethora of upgraded equipment to your home recording studio. With that, we all know how important organization is. That’s where studio racks come into play. Just like everything else in this world, there are a number of options out there.
So how do you filter out these options to find the right recording studio rack for your needs? Well that’s what I’m here for. In this guide I will break down my 5 favorite racks, and give you a brief summary of the more intricate details on this topic.
What goes in a studio rack?
It’s a simple question with a surprisingly simple answer. In fact, most of the studio gear that you would be installing into the rack is made to be rack mounted. Let me give you a few examples of these pieces of equipment.
- Audio interface
- Power conditioner
- Headphone amp
- Multi-channel microphone preamp
- High-end analog FX processors
Related: Audio Interfaces Guide
That’s just to name a few. Now, if you’re looking around for ultra-high-end versions of these types of devices for your studio, chances are you’ll find a rack mountable variant. They are usually pretty expensive, but there’s a reason why you need them right?
You don’t need all of that gear at once, obviously. It is nice to give yourself the breathing room to expand in the future though. That right there is a longer-form way of explaining the purpose of investing in a rack for your home recording studio.
Types of racks
There are 3 main styles of recording racks, each of them have a unique purpose. In my list of 5 best racks, I will include only two of these types of racks. Let’s break down what these are real quick.
- Basic Racks – the most affordable option. These types of racks are the most straightforward and usually come in a variety of sizes and space-counts. These are the most ideal for a home recording studio setup.
- Portable Racks – the most durable option. These racks are tailored to the traveling musician. That’s not to say that they aren’t meant for the home recording studio though. If you’re worried about keeping your equipment safe, then a portable rack might be worth looking at.
- Premium Racks – the not-so-affordable option. These types of racks are packed with features meant for a professional recording studio. Features like temperature control, soundproofing material, etc. These are very expensive items, therefore I don’t recommend them for a home recording studio setup.
My obvious recommendation is to go for a basic rack for your home recording studio. They’re typically plenty durable, and have a nice streamlined design to them. I mentioned sizes on racks earlier, and that’s the next important thing to consider here.
Studio rack sizes
In most cases, you aren’t going to be using up more than 5 spaces in your studio rack. That doesn’t mean you should give yourself more spaces than you need just in case, especially if you don’t plan on having multiple racks.
Most racks out there have a number of space-count options to choose from. Most common among them are 8, 12, 16, and 21 spaces.
8-spaces is a good place to start for most home recording studios as you probably won’t be getting more than 8 rack mount pieces of studio equipment for quite a while.
Filling in the gaps
As I stated above, you should go for a recording studio rack that has more spaces than you need. I say this not only for the potential future expansion of your gear, but also for some creative ways that you can take advantage of the extra spaces.
You can just leave those empty spaces open, but that doesn’t look very nice. Instead, I’ll give you a list of ideas on ways to use those spaces in a functional manner.
- Use a blank panel for aesthetic and cooling purposes.
- Add a cable management panel to reduce cable headaches.
- Throw a drawer in there to store any extra tools or smaller pieces of equipment.
- Slap on a vented panel for better airflow.
Efficiency is a life-saver in your home recording studio. Not only that, but protecting your gear by keeping them cool and dust-free is key. Use these ideas to accomplish both of these things with your rack until you add more pieces of equipment to it.
Okay, now that we’ve tackled the big stuff, let’s get into my list of the 5 best racks…
Best Studio Racks List
Samson SRK Series
“Overall, this is the best bang-for-the-buck value on this list, hence why I’ve made it my top pick.”
The Samson SRK is a convenient, heavy duty recording studio rack. It has a fully enclosed design with universal compatibility with 19” equipment. It comes in 4 sizes: 8, 12, 16 and 21 units (or spaces).
The SRK is very well-built being made almost entirely of steel. The weight capacity is respectable at 300lb (with casters), and 450lb (without casters). Overall, this is the best bang-for-the-buck value on this list, hence why I’ve made it my top pick among the other options.
Now, we all know issues that exist with buying items online that require some assembly. It can be a pain. This SRK rack is unfortunately not an exception to that. Some users have reported problems with screws being hard to put in. On top of that, folks have had their racks show up with defects.
Despite that single shortcoming, this rack has more positives than negatives. The included wheels add a level of convenience, and rest assured, they do roll on carpet. The SRK is simply an unbeatable value and a worthy option to house your precious studio equipment.
Odyssey CRS Series
“If you’re looking for a simple rack that does it’s job well, then this might be the one for you.”
Odyssey is a respected name in the music industry. They’ve been in the business of making cases and racks for about 25 years. They know what they’re doing.
The CRS series of racks is a popular option for those with a smaller home recording studio due to its small footprint. The dimensions are 21” wide, 19” high, and 12” deep. That’s a very convenient size that you can fit anywhere you need it to, including on your recording studio desk. The width of the rack is more than enough to fit almost all 19” rack mountable equipment.
The build quality is solid, but not entirely immune to being damaged. It’s made of plywood and covered in carpet.
It’s fair to point out that a few users have reported that their racks started growing mold in wet environments. Consider keeping humidifiers away from this thing. Also, if you live in a humid area, find a dry room to keep it in.
Unfortunately, the CRS doesn’t come with any screws, but they’re pretty easy to find separately.
Overall, the Odyssey CRS series is a great recording studio rack from a trusted name. If you’re looking for a simple rack that does it’s job well, then this might be the one for you and your recording studio.
Middle Atlantic RK
“All in all, the RK series of racks from Middle Atlantic is a no frills option for those of you who enjoy minimalism.”
Middle Atlantic makes simple, but effective racks. Their RK series encapsulates that sentiment perfectly. It’s a modest rack with little extra features. That said, it has one job and it does that job well.
The frame is made of a solid-feeling wood with a laminate to prevent scratches. It’s wide enough to fit those universal 19” pieces of equipment.
The interesting thing about this studio rack is it’s minimalistic design. You can easily put two of these guys on top of each other and get really creative with how you use them.
Keep in mind that the edges are a little sharp, but there are ways to deal with that.
All in all, the RK series of racks from Middle Atlantic is a no frills option for those of you who enjoy minimalism.
Rugged & Durable
Gator Cases Pro Series
“If you’re the kind of person who wants their gear ultra-protected, then this is the route to go.”
Gator needs no introduction. They’re well-known for making sturdy cases for gigging musicians that can withstand a lot of shock. Their Pro Series molded racks are an incredible companion for those needing to protect their rackmountable studio gear.
The case is made from roto molded polyethylene plastic (similar to a Pelican case) and features powder coated twist latches. It also has removable front and rear lids.
I know, it seems like this case is solely meant for touring musicians, but it can easily be used in a home recording studio setup. If you are the kind of person who wants their gear ultra-protected, then this is the route to go.
Conversely, if you are in fact someone that travels with their studio gear frequently then you should know that this case isn’t impervious to everything. Users have reported that even though this case is tough as nails, it doesn’t completely seal air-tight. Some users have fixed this with some DIY methods, but it has a tendency to let in some precipitation if exposed to weather.
At the end of the day, this Gator case will protect your studio gear from falls or virtually any shock-damage. Nothing beats that.
“The On-Stage RS7030 rack stand is sturdy and very affordable.”
The one and only open-frame rack that I’ve included on this list. Open-frame designs do have some key benefits to them, namely better airflow for your gear.
The On-Stage RS7030 studio rack stand is sturdy and very affordable. This rack stand has 12-spaces, and is made almost entirely of steel.
What’s nice about this unit is the fact that it comes with rack screws, which is surprisingly rare. The threads are among some of the best I’ve found on a studio rack as well.
Now we come to the reason why this is the one single open-frame rack on this list. Open-frame racks like this do not like any extra weight leaning on them. The weight capacity of this particular rack is 75 pounds which is enough for your studio equipment, but you need to be careful around it.
Also, the slanted design might make it hard to fit equipment with deeper dimensions on the bottom-most spaces. It’s not a super common issue, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
The RS7030 is a great entry-level option though. Open-frame racks like this won’t offer the same amount of protection as an enclosed rack, but they have some positives of their own, especially for those on a budget.
There you have it. If you’re at the point in your music-making journey that you need more organization, then a studio rack will be a helpful addition to your home recording studio.
My top pick, the Samson SRK Series, is a wonderful and well-rounded option. This rack will add some functionality and protection to your most cherished studio gear.
No matter what size rack you decide to go with, just remember to give yourself some room to expand in the future. As long as you take that into account, then you’re on the right track to find the right home for your recording studio equipment.
I hope this guide has given you some insight on this topic. As always, feel free to drop me a line with any questions you might have.