For many years I used a simple audio rack that was reasonably sturdy and rigid but nothing to write poems about. Over time, however, so many of my audio friends and colleagues touted the performance benefits of stronger, higher-tech audio stands that I became curious and decided to try out the Solid Tech Rack of Silence Reference system from Sweden. Three things drew me to the system from the start: versatility, build-quality, and innovative design. When you first see the system it exudes an almost Bauhaus aesthetic, plus fine fit and finish that prove to be a visual and tactile delight. As you study the system, you quickly discover its elements are engineered to work together to provide an ideal combination of secure support and significant degrees of vibration isolation. Best of all, though, the Rack of Silence lives up to its name, creating deeper and more profound background silences while unlocking extra levels of sonic detail and nuance.
My test system was a pair of three-shelf Rack of Silence Reference 3 racks, though a taller four-shelf version (the Reference 4) is also available. Each rack uses four robust extruded-aluminum pillars to support slender but amazingly strong, skeletal, X-shaped component-support shelves. The shelves attach via extruded-aluminum “collars” that slip over the main support pillars. Shelf-spacing is infinitely adjustable, making it easy to accommodate oddly proportioned components.
As a means of providing basic vibration isolation, the top surfaces of each X-shaped shelf feature milled grooves that accept upward-facing ball bearings, which can be “tacked” in place with blobs of putty-like vibration-absorbing compound. Audio components, of course, rest upon the four ball bearings provided for each shelf—not on the arms of the shelf itself. To keep the bearings from skidding against or marring the undersides of audio components, Solid Tech provides small rubber O-rings that fit between components and the bearings.
Racks of Silence are offered in Regular and Reference configurations; all shelves in Regular racks are rigidly mounted, while Reference racks provide special center shelves, called “Super Shelves,” suspended by coil springs for superior vibration isolation. The weight-bearing capacity of the Super Shelves can be adjusted by adding or removing springs as necessary. To give users greater peace of mind, Solid Tech provides locking safety screws that prevent Super Shelves from falling should a spring ever break.
In addition to Super Shelves, Solid Tech also offers three specialized, add-on suspension/vibration modules for use with the Rack of Silence. The modules are called Iso-Clears, Feet of Silence, and Disks of Silence, and in a moment I’ll describe their basic design features and intended functions. But first let me mention that in order to use any of these add-on modules, Rack of Silence users must first buy sets of wooden adapters, called Foot Pods, which fit over the arms of the X-shaped shelves and can support any of the suspension modules mentioned above.
Iso-Clears are simple cost-effective suspension pods designed to support low-to-medium-weight components. Each pod features three to seven suspension springs, which are sandwiched between a pair of plastic plates (the deceptively simple-looking plates actually provide internal layers of viscous-elastic damping material). Just slip a set of Iso-Clear pods under your components and, voilà, your component instantly has a vibration-damped suspension system. By varying the number and type of suspension springs installed, Iso-Clear modules can support components weighing between 11 and 86 pounds, though I found the Iso-Clears tended to work best with lighter components.
Next, Feet of Silence are high-performance suspension/vibration-damping pods designed for use with medium-to-heavy components—preferably ones that have strong, stiff, flat-bottomed chassis. Looking much like gleaming works of industrial art, Feet of Silence modules provide polished ball-bearing contact points, an internal viscous-elastic vibration-damping layer, and a clever suspension system that uses O-rings as springs. Depending on whether light- or heavy-duty O-rings are installed, a set of four Feet of Silence can handle components weighing up to 110 pounds.