"Racks & Cases, Tips & Buying Guide"


                  Rack & Case Topics
1.    Portable Rack Types
2.    Rackmounting Tips and Tricks
3.    What Is ATA
4.    Understanding the "U" in Portable Racks
5.    Rack Accessory Necessities

Carry your PA system around damage-free by choosing from HUNDREDS of different PA racks and cases. This Buying Guide includes information that can help you choose racks and cases for your needs.


1.    Portable Rack Types

When you transport your sound system to and from the gig the issues of rack mounting and protection come up. The details of rack mounting are described below. The importance of protecting your gear cannot be understated. However, you can scale your protection to the types of travel and hazards you're most likely to face.

If you are moving a small system from your house to the coffee house once a week, then soft racks may be sufficient. Soft Racks provide compact, lightweight protection from dust and minor scrapes.

Hard Cases are designed to protect your gear from the hazards of frequent loading and unloading: the bumps, collisions with other gear and scratches, as well as dust and dirt. Some hard cases include shock mounts and some are ATA-rated for airline travel. Whether made of plastic or plywood or some other material, hard cases are definitely a consideration for touring groups or those doing strings of one-night gigs around town.


2.    Rackmounting Tips and Tricks

The following are just a few tips and tricks that will add life to the gear you rack, make your life easier when transporting your rig from gig to gig and generally enhance your rack experience.

Choose the Right Rack Depth
Allow for space behind your rackmount gear, as well as room for any cables/connectors that need to stay plugged in when the rack is closed up. Some racks, such as the Gator GR-3S provide 14.5" of inside depth, while others, such as the Gator GR-4L allow for 16.5" of depth.

Balance the Rack
Mount heavier gear toward the bottom of the rack and lighter items at the top. This will help keep the rack balanced wherever it might be sitting, keep it from falling over as it's transported, and make it easier to carry and lift.

Allow for Airflow
Electronic audio and music equipment can really kick out theheats, and the surest way to shorten your gear's lifespan is to allow all that heat to build up. If a piece of gear gets really hot - any kind of amplifier, or anything with tubes, for example - leave at least one empty space above it in the rack to allow for airflow. Remember heat flows upward, so arrange the gear in your rack so that heat-producers aren't affecting each other. In some cases a rackmountable fan like the Middle Atlantic Products QFP-1 may be necessary to keep things cool.

Power to the People
Rackmountable power strips like the ETA PD-8 provide up to eight outlets in a single rackmountable strip. Using one of these strips lets you keep power cable mess to a minimum, and means you only need to find a single available power outlet in order to plug in your rack of gear.

Shed Some Light on the Subject
Working on a rack in a dark club or a dim studio can be challenging even for those with 20/20 vision! Rackmountable power conditioner/light modules like the Furman PL8 II and Alesis PowerTrip-8 provide three functions: they clean up the AC power, which makes your gear very happy and improves your sound. They have multiple outlets in one rackmountable strip. And they include retractable lights that you can pull out to illuminate your rack gear.


3.    What is ATA?


ATA rated racks are approved for air travel.


"ATA" is the abbreviation for the Air Transport Association. The ATA defines standards for how to transport cargo on aircraft, and among those are requirements for "approved" equipment cases. You will see the ATA designation associated with some flight or road case designs. This generally means that the case conforms to or meets the ATA's minimum requirements for an approved case of that size and type. Non-ATA cases can still be used for travel on airlines, but there are limits to the airline's liability for them and their contents.


4.    Understanding the "U" in Portable Racks


The width and height of rackmountable equipment is standardized in the audio industry. At the core of this standard is the "rackspace," or unit. One rackspace is defined as 1.75" from top to bottom and 19" in width.

Rack Space - Top to Bottom
Standard rack equipment conforms to this by either being 1.75" high, or some multiple of that. Equipment height is often measured in "rack units," where 1U (one unit) is 1.75", 2U is 3.5", and so on. When racks are built for equipment the "rack rails" have holes in them that correspond to this spacing so that equipment of any size (as long as it's in multiples of 1.75") can be mounted.

If you're not sure how many rack spaces your gear will need, you can use the Middle Atlantic Rack Ruler, which is essentially a measuring tape that offers rack unit intervals as well as inches!

Rack Space - Left to Right

From left to right, rack spaces are a standard 19" in width. Some gear is described as "half-rack" or "third-rack;" these sizes refer to width compared to the standard 19" rack-mount size. So, two "half-rack" units or three "third-rack" units would fit left to right into a rack respectively.

Rack spaces are a standard 19" in width


5.    Rack Accessory Necessities

Rack Screws
While there's not a lot of tech talk involved with rack screws, it is worth noting that rack screws come with different head types. You can always go with Phillips head rack screws which are convenient since you probably have a Phillips screw driver or three laying around the garage, trunk of the car or in that "other" drawer we all have in or around the kitchen. Square and Torx heads are great choices if you have the tendency to rack, unrack, then rack up again all your gear. Why? Well, by design, they're less likely to strip than Phillips. One final note, be sure to use washers that won't scratch your gear.

Rack Drawers
Planning for a drawer in your rack might not be vital to sounding great, but it sure is a handy place to put all that "other" stuff that needs to be with your gear such as pencils, pens, pad of paper, tape, media, remote controls, etc.

Rack Shelves
We have rack shelf solutions for when you need a flat surface for something, but don't necessarily need it to be securely racked, and for when you need to rack a piece of gear that wasn't necessarily designed to be racked in the first place.


Blank Panels
To give your rack a finished look, blank panels gets the call. You can choose from a wide assortment of blank panels in different heights and styles including vented and non-vented, flanged and non-flanged, or even hinged and designer types.

                    Case And Rack Factory Size and Catalog No. Order Info


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