Star Case Rack: U-Build-Em Studio Racks

The rollout of the Star Case Rack means no longer having to choose between a massively overbuilt server-style steel behemoth or one of those knockdown flakeboard music store numbers when you need to rack up only a few pieces.
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(click thumbnail)ARP likes how Star Case etched the rails of its racks with lines every 1 3/4 inches to show the exact point to mount components.Okay, it's a rack.

Maybe it's not the latest whizbang audio processor or the newest and most expensive piece of gear your station absolutely cannot live without. There certainly are enough of those to go around every month here in Studio Sessions.

It's... a... rack!

It's the thing into which you put all those whizbang components.

Notice however I did not say it's just a rack. To do so would be doing an injustice to the Star Case Mfg. Co. Inc. and the Star Case Rack, an innovative assemblage of rails, brackets and secure steel corners that come together in configurations and sizes that you choose for your own purpose.

The rollout of the Star Case Rack means no longer having to choose between a massively overbuilt server-style steel behemoth or one of those knockdown flakeboard music store numbers when you need to rack up only a few pieces. You pick only the size you need.

Measure out all the components you want to mount, pick a few rail sizes and get busy with your power screwdriver. You get a sturdy and secure equipment rack and you don't pay a ton for it. Nineteen-inch width racks range in price from $159.85 for the 4 RU x 13-inches deep size, to $264.85 for a unit that is 43 RU and 30-inches deep.

Right at home

To begin with, you have to like a company that set down roots in a town called Munster, Ind. If only Butch Patrick were their spokesperson...
Product CapsuleThumbs Up:

Flexible design lets you create only what you need.

Robust steel construction

1RU mounting markers

Thumbs down:

Hard to get excited about a rack, but this comes close.

Contact: The company in Indiana at (800) 822-STAR (7827) or (800) 782-CASE (2273), or visit www.starcase.com/rack.htm
The Star Case Rack is what you wish those gray, bendy steel shelves from the home improvement store were built like. In fact, putting one together may remind you of the last storage shelf you built: steel rails screwed down at the corners, along with a couple of crossbraces to hold it all together.

If you have built one or two of those in the past, forget all about it right now.

The corner braces on the Star Case Rack are heavy and serious, and screw directly into the 10-32 tapped screw holes in the rails - not into a set of hex nuts that can go loose.

Those optional crossbraces are not for show. Under fairly heavy loads, these add stability against bowing or twisting, unlike those home improvement shelves that bend like pipe cleaners under a single can of paint.

What you are going to like is the selection of rail sizes offered. Sure, it's a good bet you will be constructing a typical EIA 19-inch equipment rack, but at what depth?

Do you want to mount a cassette deck, a digital reverb and other shallow, lightweight components? Or do you have a need to go ultra-deep, as on a CRT monitor or (shudder) one of the old Scientific Atlanta satellite receivers?

Star Case Rack dimensions are cataloged as A (width), B (depth) and C (height), so when figuring out your best configuration, simply size up the steel rails that will work best for you. Need to go deep? Order the proper rails.

Need to add more vertical space? Star Case Racks can be stacked by nesting the corners of two or more frames vertically, then bolting them together.

Are you more interested in mounting computer units or creating a LAN workstation? You already know 19-inch racks are not the best choice for PCs and monitors, which is why Star Case Rack rails can also be ordered in 25-inch widths.

In fact, just how big a rack do you need? Sales literature from Star Case shows a large custom configuration nearly 80 inches on all sides. If it came with walls, it could almost qualify as a vocal booth!

Hole in one

Here is something I wish everybody did. Star Case etched the rails with lines every 1 3/4 inches to show you the exact point to mount components. How many times have we attempted to mount something new in a rack, only to find we didn't line the item up with those dopey holes? Each mark shows the mounting point of a typical 1 RU component.

Because the same holes exist on the height and depth rails as well as on the face rails, we have plenty of places to insert nylon cable ties to run those pesky cables. We shouldn't, but we do.

When ordering a Star Case Rack, it comes with a Master Pack consisting of corners, screws, a set of nylon levelers and four 17 1/2-inch width rails, which give you the necessary 19 inches after being assembled to the corners.

You also need to order a Package B and C to set the depth and the height necessary. You may go as deep as their standard 30 inches, and as tall as 78 3/4-inches.

Options? Sure. Side handles, cross braces, adjustable shelves, and also drawers, top and bottom steel cover panels, PVC plastic side panels and casters. A fully-loaded rack unit can take on about 400 lbs. worth of gear before you have to buy another one and bolt them side-by-side.

Summary

The Star Case Rack is a utility type rack. It does not have any decorative panel options, which means this would not be your first choice for prettying up the main on-air studio.

No, this rack begs for the brawny jobs. Bolt one together and mount your mobile RPU unit, Zephyr and a CD deck in it for the station promo vehicle.

Mount the console power supply and mic processors in one of the smaller units, away from the wandering fingers of curious jocks. Gang two or three together and fill it with RAIDs and a few rackmount CPUs.

With a set of casters, a Star Case Rack becomes a wheelaround unit you can pack with sound reinforcement gear, like an amp or two, a crossover and an EQ, then cap the whole thing off with a small mixer on rack ears mounted face up. It does not offer any side impact protection like a road case will, but they offer a 1/8-inch cosmetic enclosure side panel option made of attractive PVC as well as rigid steel top and bottom cover panels, and all components stay where you want them.

Similarly appealing as an option would be a bolt-on power strip, whether offered by Star Case or OEM'd from an established manufacturer of same.

But for now, if you are setting up a home studio or adding on to the rackmount needs at your station, the Star Case Rack makes it easy, affordable and totally unlike the cheap lumber panels we are all but resigned to buy right now.

It is hard to get jazzed about a rack, probably the least glamorous item in your studio. But I think you will appreciate what you get out of the Star Case Rack.

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