Technology is sleek and elegant. Some elements are meant to be seen; touch panels, exquisitely framed displays, speakers that are as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as they sound. And then there’s the behind-the-scenes components; the receivers, amplifiers, switchers…all the things with the blinky lights that you either showcase or hide away. Either way, they all live somewhere and that somewhere has requirements.
Technology systems are comprised of various electronic components that require power and inherently produce heat. Like your laptop or other electronic devices, they need proper ventilation for optimal and reliable performance. Not all furniture is suitable to house electronics.
Choices for housing audio video gear are numerous and offer sleek solutions for managing cables, providing air-flow and allowing IR signal visibility when required. Regardless of whether your components are stored in a dedicated equipment rack in a storage closet or in a highly visible media center or credenza in-room, purpose-built AV furniture will provide these features.
AV equipment racks are available in various heights, measured in rack spaces or units, depending on the requirement of the components. They can be installed on swing-out mounts, inside of a media cabinet or placed on casters for ease of accessibility when servicing. For extensive systems, multiple racks may be needed. Racks can be placed in the room or located in an off-area such as a centrally located, climate-controlled closet. Some installations will require forced ventilation through the use of thermostatic rack fans that will draw heat from the gear. When gear is stored in an enclosed unit, it is imperative that air be allowed to flow so that the heat can dissipate.
Wireless does not equal cord-free
The beauty of integrated systems is, well, the integration; all the systems “talking” to each other. Talking equals connectivity and connectivity equals cabling and cords, including wireless solutions. While wireless gear and speakers offer elegant, wire-free signal, electronics still require power. AV furniture provides access to the components as well as rails or channels for tidy wire management.
Once the cabling leaves the rack or unit, the best path for wire runs needs to be determined, along with factoring in the length of the run and calculating conduit specifications. This is where we shine. We’ve got the tools and know-how to get cables from point A to Point B with minimal impact while factoring in future demands and incorporating the unattractive wires into an aesthetically pleasing (or invisible) design).
Depth is also a consideration when placing components. In addition to allowing some space for airflow, connecters and cables add to the depth required for the back of the gear. At a minimum, plan for a depth of 20”. Knobs and control access are also a factor for various reasons. First, units with doors need suitable clearance to close properly and second, if the system is IR-controlled, a clear line-of-sight must be established otherwise an IR distribution system will be required.
Gaming consoles and media storage present additional considerations. Game consoles give off considerably more heat than AV equipment and, while gaming consoles are RF (radio frequency which does not require line of sight) allowing for entertainment unit doors to remain closed, gamers still need convenient access to the unit to charge their controllers. And even though it seems the thing to do, Media should be stored separately from electronic equipment so the heat does not affect the digital content.
Customization and communication
While audio/video racks and entertainment units are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, custom units are frequently sought. Some embrace the high-tech electronics and incorporate the sophisticated gear into the room’s design through custom-framed racks that face the interior. We love this approach but advise that they be installed at the back of room so as not to be a distraction while viewing an LED display or projection screen. Another popular solution is that of the “floating” shelves or enclosed media unit. For any of your custom work, we can provide you or your interior design professional with detailed drawings and/or dimensions for millwork. We will also communicate with your electrician or other trade where power drops need to be located.
The Form vs. Function Battle is Over
Today’s purpose-built AV furniture – credenzas, entertainment centers and glass étagères -will offer proper ventilation, accessibility to components and elegant wire management. We’ll determine the space requirements and share with you and your designer a variety of elegant choices or, when a custom solution is desired, provide the details needed to create the perfect solution for your home or office technology.