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The modern stereo record console — not to be confused with Symbol Audio’s $20,000 model — was introduced by Magnavox in 1958. The “Concert Grand” phonograph and record console combined a powerful 100-watt amplifier, record player and pair of loudspeakers housed in a beautiful mid-century walnut cabinet. Magnavox created a revolution with the product before being acquired by Philips in 1974.
Andover Audio SpinStand Turntable Stand
Line Phono Turntable Station Turntable Stand
When Japanese mid-fi audio components flooded the market in the 1970s, the stereo console was relegated to basements and garages of millions of homes, where they would sit until an episode of “Mad Men” made them cool again; and suddenly, they become very expensive on eBay. Today, retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Design Within Reach and Target have jumped on the console trend, and the majority of companies who manufacture equipment racks for high-end audio components have actually missed the boat, choosing to stick with expensive equipment racks designed for “dedicated” listening rooms and the solitary audiophile experience, instead.
So does it matter what you put your stereo on? Does the music sound any different? The truth is that every object resonates at a different frequency. Vibration is the enemy of better sound quality. Turntables, in particular, need to be isolated for optimum performance. Glass shelves became a thing in the 1980s and, from a sound quality perspective, add a layer of brightness to the sound that can be disconcerting.
The ideal piece of furniture for any audio system needs to be inert, ventilated and easy to access for cable management. Most companies still don’t understand the importance of proper ventilation and the reality that not every component is wireless. A media console should also make your system look good; it might even inspire a few family listening sessions in the era of technological isolation and streaming servitude.
Below, we’ve broken our favorite media future into three different categories. There are media consoles, which are large and multi-purposed. There are vinyl stands that are specifically designed to hold your turntable and vinyl collection. And then there are audio racks, which are more designed to house other high-end audio components.
Andover Audio SpinStand Turntable Stand
This is one of the most affordable vinyl stands you can buy. It’s made of combination of wood and metal, and it’s relatively easy to assemble once it gets to you. It has two storage shelves for your vinyl collection, and there’s an option third shelf that can house an external amplifier or your other vinyl accessories. Available in either white or black.
Line Phono Turntable Station Turntable Stand
This affordable turntable stand by Line Phono is made up of a combination of furniture-grade MDF and birch plywood. It has a total three shelves, with the bottom two shelves cable of holding 100 vinyl records each and the top shelve designed to house an external amp. This is the “extra height” model that is designed to handle larger amps (the standard model is $20 less). The feet are also height adjustable. Available three finishes: light grey, dark grey and natural birch.
Symbol Audio Luxe Turntable Stand
The Lux is Symbol Audio’s more bespoke, lightweight (and more affordable) turntable stand. It’s still gorgeously handcrafted out of hardwood and you order it in a wide variety of finishes that range from natural ash or walnut, to a solid white or black paint. The lower storage bay can hold roughly 200 vinyl records.
Symbol Audio Unison Record Stand
Having reinvented the stereo console with their $20,000 Modern Record Console, which they introduced in 2012, Symbol Audio has spent the past seven years developing a comprehensive line-up of media and record storage consoles that leave very little to chance. The Unison Record Stand is a combination of record storage and media console including an isolated platform for your turntable. The 52-inch wide model includes adjustable shelving for 4 components (including a turntable) and storage room for 130 records. The ventilated shelves include wide cable cut-outs. Each unit is hand built with a six-week delivery time and is available in a number of finishes and sizes.
Ikea enraged record collectors when it replaced the much-loved Expedit in 2014 for the Kallax, but consumers eventually got over it — and there is much to like about the Kallax as both a media storage center and equipment console. The eight-cube Kallax makes the most sense as a piece of media furniture if you flip it horizontally. It works well if you are space-constrained and need to place your loudspeakers on the same piece of furniture as your equipment.
CB2 Mill Console Table
The Mill Console Table is a lot sturdier that it looks. It’s made completely of industrial welded iron — not wood — and has a protective lacquered finish to make it look nicely aged. It’s the ideal minimalist platform to show off a simple turntable setup or even use as a TV stand.
West Elm Maggie Media Console
The Maggie is a beautiful mid-century media console that’s idea for somebody with an entry-level turntable system and a small record collection, or even just a small TV (48 inches or less). It’s made of sustainable sourced solid wood and it has two small cubbies to store your records or small audio components.
West Elm Mid-Century Media Console
West Elm’s Mid-Century media console has enough room on the top shelf for a turntable and amplifier; for ventilation and cable management purposes we recommend that scenario as the internal cable cut-outs are a bit tight. The internal shelving is fine for a CD player, DAC, digital streamer, or phono pre-amplifier. The dimensions will place your turntable high enough to keep your children and pets away. The console is manufactured from kiln-dried solid eucalyptus wood and engineered wood with an Acacia wood veneer and it comes with middle drawers for remotes, record brushes and other audio accessories.
CB2 Suspend II Media Console
The new Suspend media console has a marble top shelf that’s rated for televisions up to 70 pounds.The console is very inert and the construction quality is excellent. The interior shelving is more than large enough for our streamer, phono pre-amplifier, CD player and DAC, although it’d be nice if CB2 made the cable cut-outs larger. The ventilation could be better, however, and even though none of the components will likely get very warm, it’s probably best to not place a large amplifier inside the cabinet. Top shelf only.
BDI Corridor 8177
With the exception of the tempered glass shelf, there is much to recommend about the Corridor series of media consoles. BDI’s attention to proper ventilation, cable management and the ability to roll this large and heavy media console away from the wall makes it one of the best options. The only other real reservation, other than its steep price, is with the top shelf; most consumers who purchase BDI’s consoles integrate them as part of an audio/video setup and use the space for a center channel loudspeaker. If your system includes a turntable, you should put isolation cones or even a chopping block between the turntable and glass shelf.
West Elm Industrial Storage Shallow Media Console (44″)
West Ham’s Industrial line has been around for years and years and it’s become one of the company’s most iconic furniture collections. This media console is beautiful and rustic, made almost entirely of sustainably-sourced mango hardwood — no faux wood or veneer — and it able storage draws. It’s perfect for showcasing your vinyl setup.
Herman Miller Nelson Platform Bench
The Nelson bench is an iconic piece of American furniture design that George Nelson introduced in 1946. It’s also great a housing for audio equipment. From a ventilation perspective, the bench is ideal because of the open slats. The open design allows for proper cable management and the bench can support up to 300 pounds. The 60-inch version is wide enough for three components and the 18-inch depth makes it compatible with large amplifiers and turntables.
Audio Cabinets and Racks
Pangea Audio Vulcan Audio Rack
The Vulcan is a fairly basic audio rack. It’s sturdy — made of metal, alloy steel and wood — and has natural ventilation due to its open-air design. And it has innovative feet, made of cone feet and spikes that are smoothly transfer energy to the floor while also minimizing any kind of vibrations. Available in multiple colored finishes.
Sonax Cranley Wide Enclosed Component Stand
This is an affordable audio cabinet with glass doors and a wooden structure. It has four shelves to hold your various amps, streamers and other audio components. It requires some DYI construction when it ships to you. Available in black.
Casterly Luka Cabinet
The Luka is a striking piece of mid-century furniture that’s made primarily of American walnut wood. Its signature feature is large, overlapping sliding doors that hide and protect four storage compartments, each of which has rear cutouts for various wires. It’s also is perfectly suited to house your audio components.
BDI Mirage Audio Tower
This audio cabinet is part of BDI’s Mirage collection (and can be matched with various other media consoles and TV stands). It has gorgeous grey-tinted glass doors that hide the audio components. Inside, there are five adjustable shelves that come complete with wire management and back ventilation. The cabinet can hold a turntable and, weighing 120 pounds, it can do so while also dampening vibrations and therefore unwanted distortions.