Technologies for today’s homes and offices are sophisticated, contemporary and elegant. Some elements- such as touch panels, custom-framed displays and speakers that look as incredible as they sound, are meant to be seen. But then there’s the behind-the-scenes components- the receivers, amplifiers, switchers…all the things with the blinking lights and shiny knobs that you choose to either feature or hide away. Either way, they all live somewhere and that somewhere has specific requirements.
Technology systems are comprised of various electronic components that require power which inherently produces heat. Like your laptop or other electronic devices, they need proper ventilation for reliable, peak performance. Not all furniture is suitable to house electronics.
Choices for housing audio video gear are numerous and offer clever solutions for providing air-flow, managing cables and allowing IR signal visibility when required. Regardless of whether your components are stored in an equipment rack in a remote storage closet, or front-and-center in a media cabinet or credenza, purpose-built AV furniture will provide these essential features.
The AV Rack
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 inside of a media cabinet, on a wall using a swing-out mount or placed on casters for ease of accessibility when servicing. For extensive whole-house or integrated commercial systems, multiple racks may be required. 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 away 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 properly dissipate.
Wireless, Not Cordless
The beauty of an integrated system is, well, that it’s integrated- each of the systems “talk” to one another. Talking equals connectivity and connectivity requires 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 rack “rails” or channels to attractively conceal or “manage” the wiring.
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 All Digital shines- We’ve got the tools and know-how to get cables from Point A to Point B with minimal impact, and we factor in future demands and incorporate those unattractive wires into an aesthetically pleasing (or even invisible) design!
Depth also needs to be factored in 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. Plan a minimum of 20” for depth. Knobs and control access are also a factor for various reasons. First, units with doors need suitable clearance to properly close. 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. With all that processing going on, game consoles give off considerably more heat than AV equipment, and while they are RF (radio frequency, which does not require sightline) allowing for entertainment unit doors to remain closed, gamers still need convenient access to the unit to charge their controllers. As for Media storage, even though it seems the logical 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 often preferred. Some people embrace the high-tech electronics and incorporate the sophisticated gear into the room’s design through custom-framed racks that face the room’s interior. We love this approach, but advise that they be installed at the back of the room so they are not a distraction while viewing an LED display or projection screen.
Another popular solution is that of the “floating” shelves or enclosed media unit. These units are bracketed to the wall without a base- as if they are hovering above the floor. With a fantastic selection of rack, shelf and media unit designs and finishes to suit any style, we’ve found that Salamander Designs offers some of the most dynamic, designer-centric pieces available. They even offer a “Design Your Own” feature. As a professional line of technology-centric furniture, all of their solutions provide the ventilation and dimension requirements discussed. If you’re feeling creative, check out their Custom Configurator!
For any of your custom installation work, ALL DIGITAL can provide you or your interior design team with detailed drawings and/or dimensions for millwork. We will also communicate with your electrician or other trades where power drops need to be located.
Form and Function are One!
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.