World’s Cheapest Strongest Recording Equipment Rack

Brandon Drury —  October 25, 2010

Racks Are Way Too Expensive

If there is one area where you can blow outrageous amounts of cash with no real hope of retaining resale value, it has to be gear racks. Take a look around. For a “thingy” that does little more than hold your gear in place, a person can easily shell out $300. (The cheapest I found was this, but that one didn’t feel right.) I’m talking plain jane, no-frills, no shock absorption racks.

I can’t figure out why this price is justified. One can argue about aesthetics, but the kind of racks I like to look at have nothing to do with audio gear. When dealing with ugly racks, I find that it doesn’t take much work to get a few cheap pieces of wood to look “pretty”, if that’s your interest.

In terms of strength, the rack gear itself rarely needs much in the way of support. In fact, one could argue that they ARE the support. Unless you reside on the San Andreas fault or have a guy who looks mysteriously like Tesla performing resonance experiments under your apartment, I can’t see how strength is a huge priority anyway. I figure as long as drop kicking your rack does more damage to you than your gear, you should be in good shape.

The World’s Cheapest Strongest Rack

I’m fairly certain a person won’t be able to top this rack for strength, size, or budget. Hell, it probably ranks quite well in the ease of construction department as well. I have the construction skills of the guy down the street with seven fingers. If I can build this thing in 20 minutes, you Stag drinkers could build it in two. Even if you are a vegetarian, have never shot a gun, and talk with a lisp, the longest this would take would be 22 minutes assuming you had the right tools. (Note: I’d bet you HGTV style lisp-speakers will give the Stag drinkers a run for their money.)


2 – 2×4′s cut to 33.5”
2 – 2×4′s cut to 17”
2 – 18” rack rails (found at Musician’s Friend (#1 , #2) or Parts Express)
2.5” drywall screws
1” drywall screws

Total Price: $35 (approx)
Build Time: 2-22 minutes

Upward Angle

I highly recommend that you angle the rack rails so they point slightly upward. This has improved visibility immensely for me and I’ll require it on all racks I use.

What Size?

Some guys worry that using too large of rack could cause unwanted direct reflections from your monitors. You definitely don’t want this. If you are in a position where the monitor’s sound is not going to slam directly into the rack’s side and into your face, you can go pretty large (18 space and larger). If you think this may be a concern, a 12-space rack may be about as high as I want to go.

Upsides To This Rack

This rack design is extremely strong. When you give it a good push (with plenty of gear in it) it won’t budge. It feels extremely stable.

The rack has great ventilation. Some of my gear runs hot. By keeping the sides open, ventilation is improved dramatically over racks with solid sides.

Obviously, the price is right.

Downsides To This Rack

As is, the rack is unfinished. I’ve found that a little stain and polyurethane go a LONG way as you can see by the racks I use with my current setup.

The sides are exposed and this can look messy. At the time I built this rack, I wasn’t concerned with aesthetics. If you aren’t worried about ventilation, covering the sides with a prettier material is a no-brainer. On my latest design, I wanted to retain ventilation so I used fabric to cover up the sides. It does the trick and people who are into visual crap think it looks good.

This rack is not the most portable thing (whether within your room or taking it out on the road).

This rack design relies on the gear itself for strength. If you only have a few pieces, it may not be quite as strong as I’ve implied here. With it full, the thing is a tank. I’ve added a back support brace on my latest design to keep the rack square as I’ve found the back likes to expand outward a bit.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

21 responses to World’s Cheapest Strongest Recording Equipment Rack

  1. What worked good for me was angle iron bedrails(people always throw them away when they move) and plywood. You need a tap and die set but I’ve always had one. Casters were cheap too(about 3 bucks apiece).

  2. you might manage cheaper – apparently ikea has a few versatile solutions for modern living that also work out

  3. i agree. audio furniture is pricey. the stands i wanted for my hr828s cost $700. i built better ones for under $100.

    as for the diy rack i like the advantages of an open rack. better cooling, better access. maybe you don’t have a patch bay set up. and maybe you don’t have all front inputs on your gear. that means you have to go round back and make the connections. and all your gear is not the same depth. if you have an enclosure you basically end up reaching into a dark box. no thx.

    for about the same price as the above linked commercial rack i bought this:

    then i sold it because the posts were between my ear and speakers. it’s tall. still, it was super strong, on casters (casters!), downward tilt for better reading front panel. actually the tilt is a mixed bag imo. because the rear panel is downward tilt. not so helpful.

    thx brandon

    the gear i have mounted in there is not leaving the studio so no need for plastic tank protection.

  4. Another idea to increase stability (and possibly add functionality) could be to add rack rails on the rear as well. Screw in a 1U spacer on the bottom and a simple rack mount power strip on the top to keep the rear from expanding outward. This also lets you run all your power to the strip in the back and might even free up a space or two on the front.

  5. Yeah, I saw some metal rails at a Lowes for $5 that looked like they COULD work. If a person had the ability to tap and die these (or the even cheaper bedrails) would be great.


  6. The rail in the back would add considerably to the cost so I used a 2×4 in the back and it worked great on my other design. I never really felt like this design needed the rear stability, however.

  7. I found this wooden cabinet:

    It was already on casters, with a shelf on the bottom and half way up, and a removable lid, and I cut 2 big fucking rack-size holes in the front and a few in the back for cables and air.

    19″ gear screws right into the wood. (But I’m a cowboy).

  8. Nice post Brandon. I made my own racks like the ones Gnarlyswine posted made from Ikea bedside tables, but I trimmed mine down so I could put my computer monitors on top and not break my neck everytime I need to look at the screen. They still hold 4RU each.

  9. How about going extra-super quick’n'dirty’n'cheap… and just screwing the gear right into the wooden verticals in front with wood screws?

  10. I just mount my amps in an ikea table, they are £5.00 which is about $8.00

    super cheep and strong

  11. “Yeah, I saw some metal rails at a Lowes for $5 that looked like they COULD work.”

    We have a guy up here – i think in Quebec or Ottowa who sells on ebay and I think does exactly that , Ive picked up a few from him and they do a perfect job.

  12. This is awesome. I’ve been looking for a way to get around paying a crapload for a nice rack.

  13. Mongolian Fire Oil October 29, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Brandon – I built this like you said but I only ended up with one side. What did I do wrong?

  14. Awesome. That turned out pretty well! That’s basically what I built the last go-round. How much did you pay for the cabinet, Felix?

  15. Those look EXPENSIVE! Awesome work, Dyme! How much did the Ikea bedside tables cost you?

  16. Not a terrible way to go, but that would make it the world’s cheapest and NOT-strongest rack. I’d have a hard time recommending that one to everyone in the event that the thing fell apart. With that said, the structural integrity of the rack I’ve shown here relies on the equipment inside, so I guess my design isn’t THAT much stronger.

  17. Oh. You have to build two sides. Take a look at the front view and you’ll see what I’m talking about. When you have two sides, you kinda sorta have to balance the things and hope they don’t fall, go ahead and rack up a piece of gear and from there you are set.

  18. Ha, the cabinet was only a couple of bucks from the local rubbish tip (my favourite shop).

    When I outgrow it though I’ll definitely build something like yours. Great design.

  19. Brandon – From memory the Ikea bedside tables cost 20 bucks each. Just trimmed mine down, put them together and screwed in the rack rails. The width they come from Ikea is perfect..

  20. I have been finding mine at auctions. These are the old aluminum 7′ Phone equipment racks. two 3″ channels with 2 huge 6″ angles at the bottom that bolt to the floor. I can get them for a little more than scrap aluminum price from a local recycling center also. You can cut the channels and bolt them inside a cabinet at the right width and you have a very sturdy rack! or if you use the just standing up, I suggest a curtain that goes around it when not in use. This keeps dust out. Make sure you never close the curtain with the equipment still on. 7′ racks rock! (in the studio)

  21. For those of you who still want to buy your own rack I found a company that sells them for dirt cheap. As a matter of fact this company sells all custom made recording studio furniture and studio racks for 70% cheaper than the bigger name companies. The name of the company is Custom Studio Concepts. Look at their site they have some really amazing looking furniture, and you will not believe the prices