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THR33P4C
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Building a Custom Component Cabinet

Hey Guys,

I just finished purchasing all of the components for my first stereo system. Now that I have everything together my Dad and I are going to build a nice cabinet to put everything in.

Here is the order that I want to use.
(Top to Bottom)

1. Turntable (Will sit on top of the cabinet)
2. SACD/DVD-A Player
3. Cassette Deck
4. Tuner
5. Preamplifier
6. Power Amplifier
7. Power Conditioner

-The Cabinet itself will have solid side walls, possible open back, possible glass door(s)

-I have read that Spruce is a good wood to use for building a rack because of its structure. (anyone have sources to back this up / other recommendations for wood?)

-I am planning on leaving a blank space between my Amp and Preamp for venting (Using a dummy wood plate on the front of the cabinet to fill the space) How much space do I need on top of my Amp for proper ventilation? Its an NAD 2400 Power Amp -100w per channel if that makes any difference.

-A general question concerning venting... How much space should I allow on the top and sides of each component for adequate ventilation? Is there a general measurement that is used for that?

-Should I make each shelf fixed, or design the cabinet to be fully adjustable? Mix of both? (Fixed for Amp and Power conditioner - adjustable for sources)

-Any feelings on a glass door(s) For or Against?

-Is it better to leave the back open for cabling and such? Or should I have customized openings in the back for each component?

-Any suggestions for feet? (I don't know if I will have the cabinet setting on a hard surface or on carpeting - I am moving this summer)

*Sorry for the overload of questions, I really want to make a quality cabinet for my system.

-If anything else comes to mind about custom rack construction... (Isolation, Materials, Design) I would be happy to hear anything and everything.

Thanks,
-Ben-

Jan Vigne
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

Don't build a box. No glass doors. Mass is - most of the time - not your friend.

Otherwise, I would suggest you spend time doing a search for what is being done in audio furniture both aftermarket and DIY.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

The reason I want to build a cabinet rather than an open shelf type rack is because I am worried about dust...

http://www.soundscapehifi.com/hutter.htm

http://www.decibeldesigns.com/h100m.htm

The Hutter Racks are very High End I take it, Some of the models are almost completely closed on the sides.

The second link is more of what I am looking to do.

Whats so bad about a cabinet? If you provide some support I might reconsider, but frankly I don't think my system is High End enough for the rack to significantly effect the sound.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet


Quote:
Whats so bad about a cabinet?

Two slabs of wood, metal, plastic, etc. will have mulitple independent resonance frequencies. If you're really good, you can make those frequencies cancel each other.

Four slabs of wood can either multiply of reduce those resonances depending on your construction. If you are doing this without guidance, the chances are good you will end up mutliplying the resonances.

A six sided box - think guitar, piano, violin, etc. - will create a sounding board that amplifies the resonances.

What you are looking for is typically a lightweight, non-resonant, extremely rigid but decoupled structure. Each requirement negates the others. Do your homework and then make your decision. I would allow for some experimentation after the construction is done. If you are using a turntable, your system is sufficiently sensitive to these changes.

tomjtx
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet


Quote:
The reason I want to build a cabinet rather than an open shelf type rack is because I am worried about dust...

http://www.soundscapehifi.com/hutter.htm

http://www.decibeldesigns.com/h100m.htm

The Hutter Racks are very High End I take it, Some of the models are almost completely closed on the sides.

The second link is more of what I am looking to do.

Whats so bad about a cabinet? If you provide some support I might reconsider, but frankly I don't think my system is High End enough for the rack to significantly effect the sound.

Gat a good duster, problem solved :-)

Open racks are so much cooler, IMO

Consider a wall mount platform for your turntable. There are some excellent models out there.
You can jump and dance to your hearts content w/o making the needle skip.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

I will be building this with my Dad, he is a general contractor and an excellent cabinet builder. So the issue of reflections from poor construction is probably out.

I probably won't be listening to much vinyl... And I can always set my turntable somewhere else. The only component that I could actually see being effected by resonance is my CD player...

As far as decoupling goes what can be used? Should I put a layer of glass on each shelf. I don't understand how a DIY open shelf rack can decouple any better than a cabinet could.

Jan, If you have any links to DIY racks and such please post them, I would like to see what you are getting at...

Also I have like 5 other questions besides the open sides... If anyone can help me with those that would be great.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet


Quote:
As far as decoupling goes what can be used? Should I put a layer of glass on each shelf. I don't understand how a DIY open shelf rack can decouple any better than a cabinet could.

Jan, If you have any links to DIY racks and such please post them, I would like to see what you are getting at...

Just my opinion, but if you don't understand decoupling while maintaining rigidity and building in non-resonance, or why and how a component suffers from both airborne and mechanical feedback, then you should do some heavy reading before you begin this project.

I don't keep links like this in my bookmarks. They are available trhough a search engine but you have to search. Do not restrict yourself to DIY audio racks. Start with "TNT audio reviews" in a search engine and look through their DIY pages.

tomjtx
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet


Quote:
I will be building this with my Dad, he is a general contractor and an excellent cabinet builder. So the issue of reflections from poor construction is probably out.

I probably won't be listening to much vinyl... And I can always set my turntable somewhere else. The only component that I could actually see being effected by resonance is my CD player...

As far as decoupling goes what can be used? Should I put a layer of glass on each shelf. I don't understand how a DIY open shelf rack can decouple any better than a cabinet could.

Jan, If you have any links to DIY racks and such please post them, I would like to see what you are getting at...

Also I have like 5 other questions besides the open sides... If anyone can help me with those that would be great.

Put your shelves on spikes to decouple them.
Go to musicDirect.com and AudioAdvisor to see some of their racks/cabinets.
If there is a high end store in your area look at what they have.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

Ok. Ive been doing some reading and I will probably do a lot more over the next few days.

http://forum.ecoustics.com/bbs/messages/1/122849.html

I took a look at this forum, am I right in assuming J. Vigne is you

-The bottom line is that I am not Dead Serious about how the rack will effect my system. (right now all my components are just sitting on top of each other)-probably the worst possible thing I could do for the sound. Putting these components in a cabinet/rack will most likely improve the sound I am getting right now (not to mention make the system actually look like something) right?

I will do some research, familiarize myself with the terms and concepts you mentioned and then decide on what I should do next. I will probably arrive at a compromise between a cabinet and open rack with some form a isolation for each shelf.

jackfish
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet
Jan Vigne
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

That's me. The difference I see on a quick glance is the system was never installed in the closet but out in the room, the turntable stand has been replaced (as has the turntable) and I no longer suggest Sorbothane as the best solution to isolation supports.

mrlowry
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet


Quote:
http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/flexye.html

Jack, thanks for refreshing my memory. Ben, I built one of these in college and used it for many years. It was wonderful. Like Jan I would agree that you should avoid glass at all costs. Glass resonates like you wouldn't believe. The sound difference between a component resting on a glass shelf and one on MDF is startling. I've done it a couple of times. A glass door will resonate in sympathy with the music and some of that resonance would get transferred into the rack and from there into the components. The less surface area that the rack has the less material to pick up airborne vibrations and introduce them into the components. Ventilation is also better too. For ventilation purposes an average of 3 to 4" is pretty good unless someone is using equipment that runs super hot (like tubes or solid state Class A) but you aren't so the 3 to 4" should be good.

Different woods have different sounds. You'll hear musicians talk about the different "sounds" and those translate pretty accurately into hi-fi but their effect is much more subtle. The problem is that you won't really know for sure until the rack is finished. Plus most woods can warp or bow over time. MDF is a very good material for DIY racks because lack of a grain patter reduces resonances and it's easy to work. That's why they use it in speaker cabinets a lot. MDF is a sure bet, using other things is taking a bit of a leap of faith.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

Ok, Ive been doing a lot of reading...

Ive found a lot of sources on decoupling and such using cones and spikes... I understand the concept of separating the components so they are not influenced by each other. How does the Flexy Rack do this? Is it the rubber washers?

Couldn't I get similar results by attaching spikes to the bottoms of components and have them resting on the shelves of a cabinet?

Its harder to find information on airborne feedback and non-resonant construction. Tell me if I am wrong, but the concept is: The less surfaces you have reflecting vibrations the better. So with the Flexy Rack there are really only two surfaces - the top and the bottom shelf for each component. If I built a cabinet with no front or back I would have four surfaces for each component right? But wouldn't I also be adding rigidness?

I really like the Flexy Rack, you can make it look cool and it seems cheap and easy to make. However, a quality wood cabinet would look beautiful, how much are side walls really going to effect my sound? especially with the entry level system that will be going inside?

Do I really need to decouple my Amp? my Tuner?

As far as wood goes:

Hutter uses Spruce:
http://www.soundscapehifi.com/hutter.htm

Maple has also been suggested:
http://www.mapleshaderecords.com/audioproducts/platformsampstands_hub.php

That site kind of bashed MDF

-If I do build a cabinet MDF will NOT be used, I'm pretty sure my Dad would refuse.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet


Quote:
For ventilation purposes an average of 3 to 4" is pretty good

Oh, is that rule just for the space on top of a component or does that apply to the sides as well?

mrlowry
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

Yes adding sides does add rigidity but again it also adds surface area. Most of the audiophile equipment support systems to an extent try to minimize surface area, while maximizing rigidity. I wouldn't put too much stock in the mapleshade people, they are kind of nut jobs. If you need evidence of that check out their extremely dangerous looking power cord and that will scare you straight. In all seriousness I have a maple butcher block (cheap at IKEA) under my turntable. It originally wasn't there for sound reasons but instead to allow me to level my turntable. However it did make the sound faster and more agile.

Footers under the components won't make as much difference as a good rack does. It must be said that I use a good rack AND footers. I really like the Ayre wood blocks which are extremely affordable at $5 a piece. Three blocks are under each component, except the transport which has Black Diamond Racing Cones instead.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

lol, it looks like you are right about the mapleshade folks... Their power chords are AMAZING!

http://www.mapleshaderecords.com/audioproducts/powerstrip.php

That plastic wrap around the exposed wires must really help with shielding...

-So Mrlowry, do you think I will be ok going with a cabinet and using some sort of decoupling measure on the components or is the Flexy Rack a more desirable alternative?

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

What do you guys think of this design?
-I came across it on a random forum

Rack

Corner

Do you think that will isolate each shelf?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

It's better than a box.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

Do you think wooden cones like that will work or should I invest in some metal hardware?

tomjtx
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet


Quote:
What do you guys think of this design?
-I came across it on a random forum

Rack

Corner

Do you think that will isolate each shelf?

That looks like a great solution. You get the wood look you want with the rigidity and decoupling you need.
go with metal spikes. you can route the corners and inset the spikes .
Very cool.

THR33P4C
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Re: Building a Custom Component Cabinet

Does anyone know of a good source for cones in bulk? If I use them on every shelf I will need...

Turntable 4
CD player 4
Tape Deck 4
Tuner 4
Preamp 4
Amp 4
Conditioner 4
--------------
28

I don't want to buy expensive ones either (I'm in college and I have already spent enough on these components):)

-Also, Do I really need to isolate my Power Conditioner, Tuner, Tape Deck? Is there some alternate isolation method? Pads perhaps?

-Should I get cones that come with a metal base? What advantage does that have over direct contact with the wood?

-I should put a set of long spikes on the bottom of the rack itself right?

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