One of the most underrated parts of any home stereo system is the furniture that houses all of the equipment. Racks and stands will never hold the same place in an audiophile’s heart as their favorite amp or speakers, but they are quite important to the overall success of any audio system—especially a reviewer’s. Many value-minded AV enthusiasts use ultra-affordable furniture from retailers like IKEA, Target, and Amazon, and those solutions can be suitable for some applications. But for those people looking to get a little more sophisticated with their equipment rack without spending big money, Monoprice recently released two new equipment racks: the Monolith by MonopriceDouble-Wide 3-Tier AV Stand (buy at Amazon) that we are discussing here and the narrower Four-Tier Audio Stand XL. These components are IKEA-priced but come with much more solid build quality, and they’re offered in multiple finish options. When Monoprice called this stand “double-wide,” they weren’t kidding. This hulking stand is 47.2 inches wide by 18.7 inches deep by 30 inches tall. Let’s dig into our review and see if this rack has a place in your system.
What Makes the Monolith by Monoprice Double-Wide 3-Tier Stand Special?
- The first thing you will notice about this AV stand is that it’s incredibly sturdy. When assembled, it doesn’t shake at all—and believe me, I tried. I have an Anthem MCA 225 Gen.2 amp that weighs 40 pounds, and the Monoprice rack holds it without an issue.Monoprice lists that each shelf can hold up to 300 pounds. Now that is the definition of sturdy, especially compared to a Kallax from IKEA that can only hold 29 pounds per shelf. My Anthem amp could crush the IKEA option.
- The maple wood grain finish option looks stylish, especially for the price. The silver posts provide a nice contrast against the wood grain. (My unit is dressed in black, which is actually $100 more expensive.)
- The assembly of the unit was very straightforward. The instructions are simplistic, but while I was putting the stand together, there was never a time when I felt lost or couldn’t find the right part. The good folks at Monoprice seemed to have put a nice amount of effort into not just the instructions, but how the parts in the box are labelled to ensure that the assembly is as hassle-free as possible.
Why Should You Care About This Monoprice AV Rack?
- The value that Monoprice is providing at this price is something to marvel at. While you could get a stand from IKEA for $129, it will only hold a maximum of 29 pounds per shelf, compared with this stand’s 300 pounds per shelf—so there is an obvious quality difference. With a piece that is built this well, you never have to be concerned about vibration from any player you might put on it.
- This stand is also big enough that you could easily place a 65-inch television or larger on top, and there’s plenty of room on the lower shelves for a preamp, an amplifier, a turntable, an audio streamer, a disc player, and more.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Monolith by Monoprice Double-Wide 3-Tier AV Stand?
- I deliberately selected the big, double-wide stand because I have lots of review gear coming in and out. You should put some careful thought into your system’s current needs and its potential upgrade path before placing an order, since Monoprice has smaller (and less deep) options that might fit your needs better than this big boy.
- This rack is notably solid, but also large and heavy. It weighs a total of 96 pounds. While the stand was easy to assemble, it wasn’t easy to carry to the location where I keep my stereo equipment. I would recommend assembling it where you plan to use it, or at least having a friend help you move it.
- While quite durable, this stand isn’t made of the high-end materials used by some premium AV-furniture makers. The majority of this stand is made from MDF (which is like plywood), so if you’re looking for something with a more refined look and feel, this might not be the right stand for you. There are plenty more options from companies higher up the food chain.
- I got my rack finished in black, but I think I might have preferred the maple just because of the dust issue. I do have a dust brush to keep my gear nice and clean, but the maple finish would likely show less of it between dustings.
Who Is the Competition for this Monoprice AV Rack?
- The more expensive Norstone Bergen 2 Three Glass Shelf AV Rack ($450) is the closet competitor I was able to find that was a true piece of AV equipment. It uses a similar design, although it isn’t as wide (41.2 inches to the Monoprice’s 47.2). The Norstone stand also only holds a maximum load of 88.2 pounds per shelf. While that is certainly more than enough to handle most people’s gear, it is significantly less than the Monoprice’s 300 pounds per shelf.
- The lower-priced IKEA Kallax Shelving Unit With Underframe ($129) (buy at Amazon) doesn’t exactly fit the traditional needs of stereo equipment, given its 29-pounds-per-shelf weight limit. But if you own a receiver or integrated amp that’s relatively light, you could likely get away with using a unit like this. However, it could still prove to be limiting in the long term, should you chose to move to a system built with heavier separates.
- The Solidsteel S2-3 ($379) uses a similar three-shelf design but is less than half the width. It does hold a very respectable 110 pounds per shelf, which will accommodate most audio components today. It only comes in black, however, so if you’re not a fan of dusting your AV rack regularly, this might not be the stand for you. Oh, and it’s still significantly more expensive than the Monolith by Monoprice Double-Wide 3-Tier AV Stand.
Performance and Resale Value for a Monoprice AV Rack?
This is a solid, balanced rack, but it offers nothing special in terms of technology. The open design allows for good airflow to keep equipment from overheating, and the sturdy build quality means I never heard any distracting rattles or vibration when my audio gear was operating. But there’s no cable management system or hidden compartments to hide less slightly equipment. Basically this Monoprice stand does what it’s supposed to do—hold a lot of gear, and hold it securely.
For cable management, I recommend you look on Amazon or at your local hardware or tech store (like Best Buy) for Velcro wire ties. Use these colored (or non-colored) Velcro ties to harness your cables to the side rails of your rack so that they are hidden but still easily accessed when you are upgrading a product or changing your configuration. This is a $10 to $20 investment to keep your system from looking like “your father’s audiophile system” (i.e., inflexible with messy cables strewn all over the place).
By the way, if you’re concerned about your audio rack affecting the way your system sounds, my main piece of advice is to not put the rack in a place where it could impact the first-order reflections in your room—like, say, between the speakers.
Resale value, a topic that we try to touch on here at FutureAudiophile.com in every review, is kind of irrelevant here. The rack is likely going to be with you for a long time, and by the end of that time it will either be: a) too beat up to be worth much to someone else; or b) too big to easily donate. But at this price, there isn’t much room to complain about resale value.
Final Thoughts on the Monoprice AV Rack…
If you are looking to upgrade your AV stand on a budget, the Monolith by Monoprice Double-Wide 3-Tier AV Stand (buy at Amazon) is well worth your consideration. It’s a strong, stable DIY AV rack that will meet many an audiophile’s needs.
Admittedly, a four-foot-wide AV stand can be a lot for many rooms, but it comes with plenty of advantages if you own a lot of gear. It is wide enough that you can easily sit a 65-inch television or larger on the top, and build out a large AV setup below it. But if your room cannot accommodate the double-wide design, I feel comfortable saying that the quality of the slimmer 4-tier stand will fit your needs just as well.