SMR logoMondo Designs Inc. A/V Equipment Racks

Equipment racks can look like the Lloyds Of London Insurance building at One Lime Street - an ugly lump of steel and glass that serves little purpose, so it was refreshing to learn of the approach of Mondo Designs Inc.  They produce elegant and functional equipment racks - John R. Potis Jr. finds out more...

Thanks to Mr. Nick Steit for his help and for providing the review sample.

Mondo Designs Inc. Equipment Racks


Mondo Designs Inc. Equipment StandOne thing I really dislike about the high-end is the price of accessories.  It seems that as soon as things become destined for the high-end audio market a gazillion percent mark-up is automatically the order of the day.  Of course Im speaking of audio support furniture too.  Equipment racks/stands in particular have become incredibly expensive.  It used to be that it was the prices of equipment that made people do a double take.  Today it can be the price of the furniture upon which it sits.

Dont get me wrong, I know good furniture has always come at a price.  Quality usually does, but there is no way I can justify the prices I see for a few pieces of metal tubing welded together with a few slabs of glass or vinyl wrapped MDF thrown in as shelves.  So when I became aware of Mondo Designs, Inc. I was curious.  Curious because they use a solid hardwood construction with a support structure of 5/16" phenolic for rigidity and shelf support.  According to Mondos Nick Steit, the "&internal support structure is machined from sheets of phenolic laminate.  This is a composite shelf made using phenolic resin and fiberglass sheets bonded together under pressure to form a very rigid and dense composite material.  These composite sheets are rigid, strong, dense, and they are very durable."  They also use Sorbothane "bumpers" to isolate the shelves from vibration, and that cant be a bad thing!

Mondo says that the racks are built of the finest hand selected hardwoods based on best color, grain, and structural quality.   Traditional furniture making techniques are used to assemble the hardwood structure of the racks, then they are finished using hand applied oil/varnish in multiple coats with sanding and buffing between coats to provide a durable, smooth, and beautiful finish.   According to Mondo, its easy to touch up later if needed and they feel that this finish is superior in appearance to lacquer or polyurethane which is sprayed or brushed on and much more difficult to touch up.

Mondo Designs Inc. Equipment StandMondo explains; "The phenolic endoskeleton and support system is integrated into the outer wooden structure using an assembly method that consists of a precision route for the phenolic that is tied into the structure using adhesives and heavy duty black anodized screws.  This is to ensure that the structure stays square, rigid, and minimizes flex within the wood itself.   The legs of the rack are 1" 1", and the rail system is 1" 1". This makes the support system incredibly strong and stiff.  Finally the sorbothane hemispheres are placed and the " MDF shelf ( 2 " MDF and phenolic composite used in the amp stand) complete the rack, making it strong, dense, and very durable."  I say it makes for an incredibly sturdy structure!

When I talked to the kind folks at Mondo Designs, Inc and together we decided on a review of one of their amp stands.  What they sent me is a beautifully finished maple single shelf stand suitable for a heavy amp (you have the option of different suspensions to suit different weight amps.)   Between you, the wall- and me, Im glad we didnt opt for something larger.  This stuff is the "real deal" and it weighs like it. Im guessing that the single amp stand is 30lbs, I can only guess what the 5 shelf system weighs.  Its very solid, quite well finished and I have to say, it looks damned good sitting on my floor-no matter with which amp I adorn it.

Mondos very serious about vibration isolation too.  They have done extensive measurements and I quote their web site-

"In our testing facility we used a tactile transducer to directly generate room vibrations that subwoofers and speakers create. Our tests were done using a specially built floor to assure that rack placement would not create inconsistent or false results. With accelerometers from Analog Devices we measured the reduction in "g-forces" with our SorbathaneTM isolated shelves compared to the floor. The three shelf maple rack with simulated 20lb components was tested. The response from the accelerometers were recorded as a frequency response on a PC-based spectrum analyzer.

"As can be seen from our test results (see graph), the fundamental vibration (dbG) was greatly damped with our rack unit. Individual frequency tests also showed significant reduction in harmonic vibration as well. These test results are available upon request."

Of course, Mondo sent along print-outs of the tests to me with my review sample.  On paper, the job of isolation the Mondo rack did was impressive.  But how would this translate to what I could hear?  That was the question!

Mondo Designs Inc. Equipment StandI have to say that the Mondo rack didnt change my life, it didnt cause the planets to align, it didnt cause my two year old daughter "sleep-in" on my one day off, and it didnt even help me win the lottery.  Neither did it bring about any miracles in my system, but it was not without effect either!

What the rack did was increase focus.   It lifted an admittedly thin layer of haze from the music and it increased dynamic contrast somewhat.  Delineation of image outlines was enhanced and while soundstage dimensions werent increased, the rack did seem to tie things at the lateral extremes of the image to the center stage somewhat by increasing the resolution of that sound stage, resulting in a more panoramic presentation.

All in all, not really much to consider sonically, huh?  Well, when you stop to consider what upgrading amplification to achieve this effect will cost you, its quite a bonus when you get it along with a great piece of furniture at no extra cost!  I would also look at it as just a first strike in the war against vibration.  Isolating your gear from a vibrating shelf will be that much easier if you have deadened the shelf first!

So, are you as tired of industrial looking audio racks as I am?  Would you like to check out something that actually looks good, is available in your choice of finishes, is built like the proverbial brick house, doesnt cost much more than the industrial looking stuff so commonly encountered and also does its share in your battle to control vibration?  Well, do yourself the service of checking out Mondos web site.  Drop them a line and see what they can do for you.  I wish I had.


Good luck and listening,



More information about Mondo Designs Inc. products can be found at the Official Mondo Web Site.

Text John R. Potis Jr.; HTML SMR Home Theatre and Images John R. Potis & SMR Home Theatre cannot be reproduced without permission.  The images on this page are digitally watermarked: Digimarc

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Last updated 04 October, 1998

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