The 19" rack is perhaps one of the most unbiqutous items in the recording studio, holding our audio interfaces and other hardware.
But there's some pretty low cost things that you should consider putting in your 19" rack to improve your workflow. Anything you can do to make the creative process flow uninterrupted is a a good investment, sometimes it's the smallest things that can make the biggest difference. Here are our picks;
19" XLR Patchbay
Most (if not all) of us are going to add a 19" jack patchbay into our rack. It's the easiest way of getting all those connections around the front and being able to patch things in fast. But another equally useful patchbay is an XLR patchbay - a mixed one is best. I use mine to be able to plug into the mic sockets on the back of my audio interface or high end rack hardware. It means I get balanced connections into this equipment without having to worry about using different cables to make the conversion. I don't need a lot so I got a patchbay that allowed me to be able to turn the XLRs around and mix both male and female sockets.
19" Rack Light
I like to work in as much natural light as I can, or when lights are needed then I use lamps and uplights. None of these are great when you need to see what you are doing in a rack, so a rack light can light your gear and just your gear.
19" IEC Power outlet
When getting power to all your rack equipment, rather than having endless 4 way trailing sockets consider using a 19" rack power outlet that gives multiple outlets via IEC sockets. They take up less space and enable you to turn on a lot of your rack gear with a single switch. These days most gear comes with an IEC power socket on the back so it's just a case of buying some short IEC - IEC leads to connect them all and reduce clutter.
19" Front socket power outlet.
I like to keep the studio as tidy as possible so another thing I like to have in my rack is a front socket power outlet when I need to plug equipment in that either sitting on the desk or an amp that is sat on the floor. Anthing to keep cable runs to a minimum is a bonus in my book.
19" Brush Cable Tidy
Perhaps the simplest but my favourite 19" rack accessory - the brush cable tidy. It can serve two purposes. Firstly it is a great way to get cables from the back of my desk to the desk itself. Secondly if you have a patchbay full of cables you can put one of these below the patchbay and push all the surplus cable ends into the brush.