Roughly a year ago I purchased two standard 14u studio racks for my newly built recording studio. Over the last year both these racks have been filling up with studio toys... mostly from Tegeler Audio. In recent months though a couple of issues caused by my studio rack situation developed that I couldn't ignore:
Back Pain: Most of my outboard that I use daily was screwed into my rack off to the left of my control surface at roughly knee height. This meant I had to lean down to the left and over from my mix position every time I wanted to set a dial on my gear. This wasn't a problem at first but this yoga style workout was starting to cause me lower back pain.
Rack Space: Within a year the left side 14U rack was full to the brim. I didn't want to replace the unit with a larger rack as I had only owned this unit for a year.
With those two problems in mind, I had a think about how I could possibly solve both those issues without wasting £120 by discarding a one-year-old studio rack. I put my "Cheap Fix" thinking cap on and got to work.
In this free video tutorial, we show you how to take a standard "off the shelf" studio rack and modify it to give you extra rack space and to get some of your gear positioned in a face-up position.
My Tegeler Audio Schwerkraftmaschine, EQP-1 and Creme are my main outboard units. I had to find a way of getting these better positioned for me to be able to reach the dials on these units comfortably from my main sitting/listening/mixing position. The only way I could achieve better ergonomics was by removing the top rack panel of the rack unit and replace it with new rack strips that would enable me to mount my outboard gear in a face-up position.
A nice added bonus to changing the format of my rack was extra rack real estate. There was going to be a reducant space under the face-up gear that I could take back in the forward facing section of the rack at the bottom of the unit. I measured my Tegeler units, all of which are just shy of 10 inches deep. I added an extra inch to allow easy access for audio and power cables and this plan proved I could get back between 3 to 4U of space in the newly modified rack unit, not bad.
For those of you clumsy by nature please do take health and safety seriously by wearing protective glasses and suitable work gloves when handling power tools.
A hacksaw, jigsaw or circular saw for trimming the rack strips
A drill and screwdriver
x2 bar clamps to hold rack strips in place
What I Needed To Buy
Thon Studio Rack 14U 50 white £119 (The rack I already owned)
2x Adam Hall 6162 Rack Strip £5 each (£10 for the pair)
x2 Thon Rack Panel 2U £5 each (£10 for the pair)
Bag of 16mm wood screws for attaching rack strips to unit
I'm really pleased with how this modification turned out. It was a cheap fix and a fun way to spend an afternoon. I've been working with my outboard gear in this new face-up position for over a week now and I'm pleased to report the pain I was getting in my lower back has not returned. I've put in x2 2u blank rack panels in the top along with power and audio cables plumbed into my interface so that I can easily drop in future outboard gear without the need to pull apart half my studio.
This is a simple DIY job that you can achieve on your own with some basic hand tools on a tiny budget. The secrets to getting this type of rack modification right are simple:
Make a plan based on your requirements
Take your time with tools
Measure twice, cut once
Have you modified a studio rack in the past? If so, please do share pictures of your racks in the comment section below.