Equipment Rack & Gear
There's really only one photo necessary for this, so I'll get right to it (pardon the dust!):
The rack itself is an Omnimount RE-27
. I was lucky and found it locally on Craigslist from a guy who was getting out of the home theater hobby and reselling all of his gear. Only cost me $250 and it just barely fit in my Acura RSX hatchback to get it home
I like the rack a lot and would recommend it for those on a budget. It's very sturdy and reasonably priced, plus it comes with several shelves and blanking plates that would cost extra on higher end racks. I did swap out the top fan tray, however. It comes with two 80mm fans up top that aren't what I'd consider quiet. I cut a larger hole in the fan tray and mounted a 240mm fan which is essentially silent.
Starting from the bottom, I'll go through each slot in the rack and any relevant story behind how I acquired it:
Emotiva XPA-5 (4U)
I use this to power my primary five bed channels, LCR and the two surrounds. I don't own the rack ears conversion kit, so I have it sitting on one of the 2U shelves that came with the rack. I bought this almost 10 years ago off Craigslist from a guy in Las Vegas who lost his job and was selling all his AV gear. It cost me $400 plus $90 for shipping, and it's been an absolute beast of an amp. Paired with my previous Infinity speakers and now the DIYSG speakers, both very sensitive, it can drive them insanely loud very cleanly. A year or two after I bought it an internal fuse blew and I had to ship it back to Emotiva, who repaired it free under the original 5-year warranty. Nothing but positive things to say about Emotiva and their equipment, especially with that transferable warranty.
Blank plate (1U)
Even though the Emotiva is always cool to the touch, I like to keep one slot free above it for ventilation. The EP2500 runs really hot so I didn't want it sitting directly on top of the Emo.
Behringer EP2500 (2U)
Another great Craigslist find, this one cost me $150 from a local band who was splitting up and getting rid of their gear. It took almost a year of searching to find one at that price, but it was well worth it. I use this to power the subwoofers, and it puts out ~650W per channel in stereo mode. With two subs in series hanging off each side, they see ~325W each, which is more than enough for an IB. Any more and I'd be afraid of them ripping themselves apart! A few months after buying this amp it started shutting down on me in the middle of listening to music, and I realized it was getting *very* hot. It turns out the fan has siezed up so it was getting no ventilation. Fortunately, doing a fan swap on this amp is a pretty common thing to do anyway, so I bought a quieter fan and fixed it right up. The only downside now is that it dumps a ton of heat into the rack, which causes the AVR to run even hotter than it would normally. I'm currently working on a solution to duct the hot air out the bottom of the rack so I can close the rear door without spiking the AVR temps.
Behringer DSP1124p (1U)
The good old MiniDSP of yesteryear, aka Feedback Destroyer Pro. To be honest I don't even use this anymore, but in the old days it was an essential component to getting good LFE. Nowadays I'd recommend folks pick up a MiniDSP instead, but you can still find these for $20-30 on Ebay if you want to save some cash. Somehow I got extremely lucky and the Audyssey XT32 with subEQ does a fantastic job with my subwoofers, leaving next to nothing for this unit to correct. I've considered pulling it from the rack, maybe even selling it, but for now it's there in bypass mode, essentially being used as a VU meter. When the LFE gets really heavy I can glance over and see the LED meter blipping yellow and know that things aren't clipping. Old habits die hard I guess.
Denon AVR-X4300H (4U)
No real explanation needed here. It was the cheapest AVR available that could run 7.2.4 and also contained a decent room EQ solution. Not to start a flame war but in my opinion only Dirac, ARC and Audyssey XT32 constitute "decent" room EQ solutions, though I'd have been willing to give MCACC a shot if Pioneer had a comparable unit to try. YPAO and whatever Onkyo calls their solution after they dumped Audyssey do not impress me. I bought this AVR brand new as soon as the next-gen X4400H was announced, which is typically how I buy anything that I can't find used. At $799 I think it was a total steal. Since the unit isn't rack mountable it sits on another 2U shelf which came with the rack. The internal amps are used to drive my rear surrounds as well as all 4 Atmos channels, but as sensitive as they are it has no trouble taking them to reference levels.
AC Infinity Aircom T8 (1U)
This is a cooling unit containing 3 blowers that suck air from the bottom and blow it out the rear. They make other models that blow it out the top, front or sides, but for my rack the rear exit seemed ideal. I noticed that my Denon was running quite warm to the touch, especially when the rack doors were closed and the EP2500 was cranking out hot air. I got this unit on sale but even at the retail price of $99 I feel it's worth it for a little peace of mind. It has a digital readout for the intake air temperature, which is the air coming out the top of the AVR. It's also programmable with 6 different blower speeds that can be engaged to stay below a temperature setpoint. If nothing else it's a little bling for the rack, and maybe if you're lucky a little life extension for the AVR due to running with less heat.
Blank plate (1U)
Before I bought the Aircom unit I had a 2U blank plate here to leave 3.5" of space for ventilation above the AVR. After adding the Aircom I wanted to be able to see the LCD readout, so I swapped for a 1U blank.
I'm not a big believer in power conditioning, but I got this cheap many years ago for the old theater when it was first discontinued. It was $250 at the time and I've used it for nearly a decade to sequence power in the rack. Unfortunately the DSP1124 doesn't have soft start circuitry, so if everything is powered on together the subs produce a terrible thump. Using this Panamax the AVR turns on first, then the DSP1124, and finally the EP2500, so there is no thump. A lot to spend to avoid thumping your subs, but maybe I'm getting some benefit from the power conditioning too. To be honest I think the VA meters add great bling to the rack so I'm not too upset about the money spent.
In the new theater I had the builder run two dedicated 20A circuits to the wall behind the rack. As such, I thought I should keep my eye out for a second Panamax unit to plug into the second circuit and add more outlets in the rack. I scoured Ebay for months and finally found one for $200 that included the rack ears. Seems like most people no longer had the ears so I considered that a good find, and it's a bit more bling for the rack now.
At the top of the rack I installed the three remaining 2U shelves with the intent of using them to support various sources. Streaming boxes, gaming consoles, BR players, etc. For now they're mostly empty or holding media we intend to watch soon, but the bottom shelf does have two devices on it:
Sony UBP-x800 (1U)
I couldn't justify spending what the OPPO cost after it was discontinued, and this seemed to be one of the better UHD players out there at a reasonable price. Panasonic players weren't out yet, and even if they were I don't think I'd have jumped on one at launch price. I ended up getting this open box unit from Best Buy for $99, so it won't hurt so bad if I end up upgrading to something higher end down the road. For now though, I have absolutely zero complaints. It seems to be a great player.
Logitech Harmony Home Hub
I've always been a fan of the Harmony line of remotes, and this one is no exception. I own one for the theater and a second for the living room.
As you can see, between DIY construction, second hand and closeout gear, I'm very much a budget shopper. This is an expensive hobby but I feel like I've cobbled together a more than respectable system at a reasonable cost. It just takes a lot of persistence on Ebay and Craigslist, and a willingness to always buy last-year's toys instead of the newest oh-shiny