Buying a Stand for your Music System?

Those of us with audio systems need somewhere to place them.  Audio equipment stands should fulfill 3 criterias;

  1. The Stand should be strong enough to hold your components and large enough for future additions.
  2. The stand should not overpower the other furniture in your room.
  3. Stand should not take away from the sound.

As avid fans of reproduced music, we all have gone out to check out what we is available in equipment stands.  At this point we all consider how many components do we have, are we considering new purchases, will the stand easily support the equipment, how will it fit with the other furniture in the room and finally, how does it sound. I realize that the last factor sounds sort of off the wall but it is extremely valuable and we will offer some observations as to why.

Our first consideration of the stand is “will it look OK”. Very valid as the last thing that a stand should do is take away from the room and its’ furnishings. You want to to complement, not detract. From a visual perspective, many stands are now finished in basic black with glass shelves – they look spiffy but detract from the sound and are limited in the weight they can support. It is, from a sound perspective, not great as glass is not very “sound friendly”. We have all heard large windows vibrate, it is also very reflective.

When considering the look of the stand, there are also different configurations as the stand can be tall or wide, whatever looks better. I like a wide stand called an audio bench as it almost is hidden behind furniture which makes the system less visable. It also allows me to place both my turntable and tube amp on the top shelf – lots of room for both breathing and adjusting the turntable. Shelves are also an important consideration, the thicker they are (within reason) usually the better sonically they will be. Shelves in most cases should be in a composite rather than a solid wood. Why? It’s all about resonances. Solid wood is wonderful however the resonances are had to control as they change with the grain of the wood. Support legs are also important as thin spindly legs lack strength and are not always able to control resonances. Solid woood can also be an issue as they transmit resonance based on grain again. Wood veneer stands covering a good composite (MDF etc) are ok, actually can often look and sound great. If your equipment is large and heavy racks are available to support great weights.

How does it look? do you want your music system to stand out or compliment your room? That is a personal decision between you and your partner. You will also want to consider your home. What kind of flooring, concrete, ceramic, carpet or wood. Most stands are equipped with spikes which is ok on carpet, but not so great on wood. Spike Shoes are available and fit between the spike and the floor, protecting the floor from scratches and controlling the harsh sounds that concrete or ceramic can add.

Does a stand impact on sound?  Absolutely! That’s why stands can be purchased well in excess of $10,000.00 Cdn. These stands usually are composed of composites, have floating shelves etc. They are not for we “average joes”.  There are however modestly priced stands available from about $200.00 Cdn that fulfill most of our requests. Why you visit your local audio store, surprise your sales person by asking 2 questions; which is your best sounding stand and if they were purchasing a stand, what would they buy and why? If their eyes glaze over, you’re in the wrong store!

Try to avoid most  furniture stores as their concern usually is “but is it furniture”.  You want your stand to take a “back-seat” to the rest of the room. Your stand is part of the feel of your home through the music.  Yes, it must look good, but not “outshine” the surroundings of the room.

For ideas on brands, please feel free to email me at; gord@allthatjazzhifi.com.

Thanks for allowing me a few minutes of your time.

P.S. Below please see an example of an Audio Bench. Note 1″ thick composite shelves and very heavy legs.