Equipment Rack - How important in the grand scheme of things?

I have a fairly nice system ($25K or so invested) but I am currently using a cheap rack bought off ebay (1/2" glass shelves with plastic cylinders between the shelves). My amp is sitting on a granite slab (left over from kitchen remodel) on carpet. My system is all solid state with no turntable. My rack is sitting on a tile floor over concrete slab. 

I realize that "everything matters" at least a little, but the question is - how important is the quality of the equipment rack compared to other upgrades I could consider? Have those of you that have switched from a cheapo rack to a nice one noticed much improvement (particularly with SS systems and no turntable)?

On a related note, one of my local dealers sells Solid Tech racks. Anyone with experience with these racks?


How about your room acoustics?? That’s usually an important early investment.

As for your amp, have you tried the IsoAcoustic pucks? Last time I knew of anyone using a granite slab under an amp alone they hated it. I’ve not tried.
Tube or SS, turntable or CD, everything benefits from vibration control. Don’t think of it as a rack. Think of it as vibration control. Because that’s what it is. Also don’t think of a rack as a piece of furniture. Unless that’s what’s important to you. In that case then yeah sure fine, your system, buy whatever looks good.

But looking at a rack to improve sound then first is vibration control, followed by ergonomics and organization, and finally acoustics. For vibration control you want a rack that is massive, stiff, and highly damped. Materials like glass are awful because of the sonic signature glass imparts. Wood is more natural. Composites are best. But you have to weigh all that against ergonomics, acoustics, and cost.

Ergonomics is being able to get access to components and connections. Organization is being able to route all the cables so they’re not all tangled up back there. Acoustics is not having all the components in a monolithic arrangement that reflects sound and messes up the stage you spent so much money on the rack hoping to improve.

Click here to see what it can look like when you get all these things right.

Bear in mind this is what it might look like after 30 years of persistently chipping away at it. This is not what you do right now. Not unless you have a whole pile of money and a devoted room and tolerant wife and more.

This brings us to the 64 dollar question:
how important is the quality of the equipment rack compared to other upgrades I could consider?

You are right. Everything matters. Not just a little bit either. Still there is an order to these things. First most cost effective step is get Cones under everything. You can try the flavor of the week if you want but myself and others swear by BDR Cones and for good reason, they are awesome for the money. Open, dynamic, revealing incredible inner detail, improving imaging, just everything across the board excellent. Put them under everything, speakers, amps, everything. Look at my system again. Everything.

Next would be a combination of fo.Q tape and TC. These are a bit special situation so PM if you’re serious. In your situation I would also recommend full sets of Synergistic Research HFT and ECT before even thinking about a rack or other component upgrades. Every one of these will give you way more bang for the buck than any component and certainly more than any rack.

I have by the way done exactly what you ask, gone from a cheap rack to a good one. Look at my system. That’s a Target rack over in the corner. There’s a reason its used only for the record cleaner and retired vintage gear. Cheap racks suck.

But notice I also don’t use a rack except for the turntable. Racks in general suck. Racks basically are for guys who want stuff to look good to other guys. Which again if that’s you, its your system, fine. I write only for guys who don’t really care all that much what anyone else thinks as long as it sounds good.
My room is well treated with tube traps (in the front corners) and many GIK panels - bass trap/diffusors along the front wall, art panel absorbers with scatter plates at first reflection points, 242 panels on the ceiling. I'm pretty happy with the acoustics at this point. 

I haven't tried the isoacoustic pucks under the amp. I am using the Gaia IIs for my speakers. Why would placing the amp on granite cause issues? Seems like this would be a pretty solid platform, but I'm mostly doing it to provide good ventilation to the amp.

I'm working on building a set of monoblocks (based on the FirstWatt F5 turbo v3 design with a few tweaks) and these will sit directly on the tile floor behind the speakers. I will look at some kind of isolation footers on these when I'm done building them. 

I'm mostly wondering about the value proposition with a more expensive rack for all my front-end equipment versus, say a streamer upgrade (currently using Bryston BDP-2 with audio card upgrade) or power cable upgrades (currently using DIY cables made from DH-Labs Power Plus and Red Wave with Furutech and Wattgate connectors). 
@millercarbon - didn't see your response before posting. I do need a rack since I have limited space for my gear and it has to be organized vertically for the space I have available (other than the power amps). 

Anyone with experience with the Solid Tech racks? These seems like they offer good vibration control as well as being somewhat attractive.
Why would placing the amp on granite cause issues?

In a word, because granite rings. But like everything else it depends on how you use it. Vibration control is as much about shape as material. Tuning forks ring forever not just because of the metal but mostly because of the shape. Your granite being leftover kitchen counter is probably only about an inch or so thick and fairly wide. So you won’t notice it as much. But if you sit it on edge and hit it with something you will hear the sound it makes. Whatever that sound is you will notice is being imparted into the music of whatever component is sitting on it. Sounds crazy but totally true.

Looking at my system what is hard to see is the amp on the granite has a bit of sorbothane between the granite and the BDR. The granite under the turntable is on a sand bed. Both of these are in order to control the granite.

This is a great example of why its so important to understand what you’re doing is not isolating (of which there is no such thing) but vibration control. Even if you somehow had the perfectly isolated shelf or rack or whatever you will still have the problem of the vibration generated in the component itself, which actually turns out to be the majority of the vibration. So ultimately it comes back to vibration control.

Granite is great for mass and stiffness, but it rings and if untreated will impart a hardness to the sound at certain treble frequencies. But the mass is great for putting the music on a solid foundation. Listen to my system you will be astounded at the degree to which this is true. Would never be that way without that 750 lb under the turntable and 150lb slab under the amp.

Tile is even worse than granite. Isolation footers are a misnomer. They’re vibration control pretending to be something other than what they are. Imposters never are quite as good as the real McCoy. The best rack is no rack so the floor is great, just put some BDR Cones and Round Things between the floor and the amps.
I waited over 50 years to even consider a proper equipment stand.  I never gave it much thought assuming it more for aesthetics than anything else.  The I saw an ad for an audio stand that greatly appealed to me.

You are correct that everything matters.  All things have a resonance, the frequency at which they vibrate in free air.  You want a solid base for your equipment which contributes no unwanted frequencies of its own, much like a properly acoustically treated room.

Most commercially available audio stands are compromises because they are meant to ship.  The are broken down into flat sections to facilitate this.  So you must put them together.  How tight are the screws...too tight or not enough?  The stand may twist or get loose over time, requiring re-tightening of the few screws provided or worse. Some use threaded rods which are awkwardly striking against nicely finished wood.  Some stands use metal which rings without reinforcement or messy filling of some kind

I saw an ad for Saluda River Audio Stands which appealed to me enough that I gave Mike a call.  Mike prides himself on not making furniture but audio stands exclusively.  Mike will e-mail you a graph diagram with your prescribed dimensions before he starts. 

Mike uses 2 inch solid maple shelving.  The 4 inch by 1 /3/4 inch vertical supports are cut in to match the perfect indentation of the shelves they mate with.  These joints are then glued.  They are further strengthened by inserting 2, not one, German made screws at each mating point. 

The finish is a custom dye.  The color of my choice required Mike to mix 5 separate dyes for the desired shade.  This is finished with six separate coats of a custom sealer.

Quality craftsmanship this takes time.  In my case it was 10 weeks from start to delivery.  Along the way, Mike kept me informed with e-mails and photos of the very stages of progress and completion date estimates. 

Shipping damage is eliminated because Mike is willing to deliver the stand to most locations for a very small fee.  If the destination distance is just too great Mike fabricates custom crates for freight delivery.

All this care and craftsmanship is at a very modest price.   My five shelf stand was $2K with $400.00 of that being for the custom dye I wanted.

How does it sound?  Properly designed, as this stand is, there is no sound of its own.

I have no monetary or business interest in Mike's company.  I am a very happy customer and wish him much success.  My system can be views under "Member Lookup" username "Kodak805."

Saluda River Audio Stands website is here:

I hope this helps!
@millercarbon - didn't see your response before posting. I do need a rack since I have limited space for my gear and it has to be organized vertically for the space I have available (other than the power amps).

Well there you go then. You know what to do. If looks are more important then you'll get a better looking rack. If sound is more important then you know to keep the rack you have, or at least not spend much on a new one, and improve Cones, fo.Q, TC, HFT and ECT first. Unless you are really in love with the look. Ultimately its all about you. It is after all your system.

I know the tape and TC sounds funny but I'm totally serious. Whatever improvement you hear from a new rack, and you very well might, but it will at best be enough to have you not feeling like it was a total waste sound-wise. With fo.Q and TC however you will be shaking your head and gaping in disbelief that anything could ever make that much difference. Two sheets of fo.Q and TC will run you about $350. The rack.....?
kodak805 is right. The truth is most racks are designed as much for shipping as sound. Sad but true. No one ever does a real stand demo to know for sure how these things sound but one of those Saluda River beauties, they look so sweet, make even me not care about that.
@jaytor ,
My source and preamp reside in an Ikea Besta cabinet, not the greatest way to isolate equipment, so I understand your situation.
In my case, I use Townshend platforms, as well as maple platforms from Butcher Block Acoustics. The Townshend platforms really provide great isolation, and I heard a significant difference when I installed them.
PM me if you would like more information.
Granite is preferred by Richard Vandersteen to be used under his speakers, so using it under an amp should provide a good base-especially if you add some isolation/damping.
first get an appropriate rack, look upmarket considering your invstment, racks are equipment and are expensive. Then you can further investigate for room treatment. Let your equipment breathe and throw away all supports. A well designed rack will let them sound as were supposed to do.
I have entered a direct link to my system to make it easier to view my particular audio stand example.  Mike will make a stand according to your dimensions.  The unit is very heavy and inert.  I measured every surface and angle myself on the finished unit.  Every dimension is exact.  Note the side openings make for adequate ventilation.

A brief note Mike sent me early in the process to indicate that no detail is overlooked in the building of his stands:

"One of the things I do that is different than any other wood stand builder is I not only notch the supports ( which is all the other guys do) I also notch the shelves. So they lock together."

...and also,

"I use only dyes, no stains, I use only alcohol or waterborne finishes. Please be very leary of any audio stand that uses oil-based finishes ie, lacquer, they can color the sonics of your system, and never for the good."

You can easily spend $5K or $10K for a stand of this quality if you can find one on the same level.  You can even spend many multiples of this on a Stillpoints or HRS unit.  However, why pay for marketing with little or no demonstrable sonic benefit over the Saluda River Audio Stand?

The beauty of the stand is quite something.  My wife has absolutely no interest in anything audio.  However, when she saw the finished stand she was as happy as I was and could not stop looking at it.  She is actually encouraging me to order the matching amp stands so as not to waste the remainder of the custom dye color Mike has remaining.

Here is my Audiogon system link:

I hope all this helps!

@kodak805 - Beautiful looking stand (and nice system). Can I ask how much your stand cost you? 


The stand was $1995.00 for a five shelf unit measuring 24" wide x 18" deep x 44" in height.  The vertical spacing is 8 " above each shelf.  I chose the dimensions and Mike confirmed with a line drawing on graph paper e-mailed to me.  He never made a 5 shelf vertical stand prior to mine.  He had to construct special gigs for the spacing of the many notches involved for mine.

Regarding the cost:  $400.00 of this was for the custom color dye he had to mix for the exact shade I wanted.  A standard dye would be much less.  He only charged me $50.00 for personal delivery to my home.

I mentioned photo progress:  Mike even e-mailed me pictures of the raw wood maple boards he picked out at his lumber supplier before he began building the stand.

Mike's customer service is exemplary as is the quality and care of his finished product.

i hope i helped you to make a fair decision.

The wood rack you shared is truly gorgeous.  I recently bought a rack from Timbernation.  It looks much like the one shown in link provided with Tiger wood maple shelves - 2 inches thick and for me, I had the legs died dark cherry to match the wood color in my speakers.  Mine is 3 tiers and must weigh about 200 llbs.  I paid for Nickel Cones for the four feet of the rack.  All told, including shipping it was $2450.  Better sound than what I had before.  I don't think so.  Does it look better.  Absolutely.  In a most aesthetic way it displays what I've ended up with in the way of my ideal audio system.  
I use a standard 19” studio rack for all the electronics, sitting on a thick piece of foam for vibration isolation. More elaborate stone stand for my TT. 
Millercarbon, would you know if the BDR Cones and Round Things are substantially better than the Vibrapod equivalents? They are substatially more expensive and I’m wondering if there’s enough difference to warrant that extra expense.

Anyone else with an opinion on this?

I usually try to find Vintage or Danish stereo consoles but since my new tube amp weighs 68 lbs., I've had to get creative.  My main concern is not to have a rack with reflective surfaces.  But something heavy, wooden and well ventilated with the right proportions is tough to find these days.

I have Mapleshade LP racks which are well constructed solid oak. I put my LPs in these racks but I bought 2 extra racks and drilled some holes for push-in shelf standards for my lighter equipment.  For the top, I made a simple oak ply where the amp and TT sit.  It is very solid and acoustically sweet. Plus the way the LPs and equipment blend together look pretty nice.

I placed this on the side walls so my speakers had nothing between them on the end wall.  Now in my new place, the rack is on the end wall...sounds pretty good.  It's also relatively cheap...and looks 'right' and also low key.

The HRS stuff is not just marketing. You can hear for yourself by adding it to any massive wood rack. See Nimbus couplers. You will also want to consider the damping plates. Vandersteen does recommend Granite BUT with a constrained layer IF at all possible.
Skyscraper what a wonderful question....I am going down that very exploratory path on an amp stand right now. I have sourced a variety of cones, etc a near 3” slab of very old aged Walnut in an irregular shape ( sometimes that rectangle is not your friend ) and will spend several grand figuring out which isolation feet sound best... I will source HRS for that project as
Racks really matter, and in my experience help the speakers disappear sonically. I like Adona (a constrained layer design) for the looks, performance and adjustability, but Timbernation and Core as well as many other make great racks, and the sky is the limit price wise. Different types WILL sound different.
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Max Townshend first launched the Seismic Sink back in the 80’s or 90’s i believe, the design has evolved and is effective down to 3HZ from all directions.

>>>>Just for grins let’s do the math. 😀 If an isolation device is rated for 3 Hz performance what does that really mean? 3 Hz represents the resonant or natural frequency of the device, Fr, derived from the total spring rate and the total mass of the device, including component or speaker. But since the iso device acts as a mechanical low pass filter ⤴️ the isolation itself doesn’t kick in until around 6 Hz at a rate of about 6 dB/octave. So for an interfering frequency of 10 Hz the device is just starting to be effective, maybe only 30% effective. For an interfering frequency of 20 Hz the device will be around 75% effective. But it will be 99% effective at 30 Hz. This illustrates the advantage of getting the Fr as low as possible, 2 Hz or lower would be excellent performance. For speakers the Fr is not as critical since the speaker cabinets don’t generate extremely low frequency vibrations. Just moving the Fr down 1 Hz improves performance at 10 Hz and 20 Hz considerably for front end components. Of all the directions of motion I judge vertical 🔝 the most important followed by horizontal plane (many directions) 🔛.

No matter how much you have in the end you would have had even more if you had started out with more.
+1 millercarbon and Geofffait

I have Geoffs springs under every component. Highly effective and very low cost
One of my audio gurus swears by 1"+ glass shelving
Jaytor, It is important to keep your equipment organized and wiring neatly arranged signal wires away from power lines. A rack helps. Otherwise in your situation (no turntable) it is purely a matter of aesthetics. Everything else is audiophile dander.

I'm using springs under my stand mount loudspeakers.
Also using a thick granite block sitting on carpet over a concrete floor, with a large but compliant spring under each corner of my 98lb amplifier. (The amplifier will slowly bobble for quite some time if I push and release it quickly.)
Perhaps you aught to talk with Geoff about his springs as well, and maximise what you have?

I am about to get a rack built, (which I am designing) the goal is a solid steel tube filled with ilmenite. The two low shelves will be long and also sitting on springs under each corner. Each shelf will be a composite of wood and probably steel plate laminated for mass and rigidity, with a wooden fascia to cover any indication of steel.
I'm going for a goal of under 48". It's hopefully going to look reasonably pretty, however it's primary function is vibration isolation and secondarily to allow connections between components to be shorter runs, and to try to keep them as low as practically possible away from a plane the loudspeakers are operating in.

Currently I am building 4 QRD17 panels from cherry wood, so it's going to be a while before I start and finish my equipment rack.

I have had experience with the Townshend Audio seismic system and it absolutely works, however the similar effects can be had for less cost, combined with significantly more research than a purchase of already well engineered products. I've personally observed great success with high mass on compliant springs (under load), the greatest improvement I have heard is on the loudspeakers themselves, then on electrical components.
Of course, it is plausible that by isolating the greatest source of vibration in a listening room (hopefully your loudspeakers) it aught to remove most of the vibrations through the substrate that could impact the electronics operating in the room as well.

1- Buy a rack or two from Sound Anchors (they’ll make it/them with as many shelves as you want).

2- Make of have made shelves using two stiff and dissimilar materials (slate and Baltic/Russian Birch plywood is a good combo), with constrained layer damping ’tween the two. Take a look at Wall Damp by Acoustic Sciences Corp. (the Tube Trap company).

An alternative to those shelves are those offered by Symposium Acoustics. Their design is a foam center with a sheet of stainless steel on either side. Not cheap, but some love them.

3- Use isolation devices of your choosing between each component and the shelf it sits on. Roller bearings, springs, Townshend Audio Seismic Pods, IsoAcoustics GAIA, etc.

You’ll never need to replace the above.

mijostyn said:
"Otherwise in your situation (no turntable) it is purely a matter of aesthetics. Everything else is audiophile dander."

Absolutely incorrect. Digital devices are very sensitive to vibration, internal and external and respond well to isolation/draining devices.
Tomic601, I’ll be looking forward to the results of your tests. I’m planning to put the cones and discs under my amp like you, as well as the CD/SACD player. VPI recommends not to place isolation feet under their Classic 2 turntable. I suppose their turntables’ stock feet are designed to provide vibration isolation. Will you be placing three or four isolation feet under your amp for thiose type isolation devices? I read somewhere three cones are more stable an arrangement if you are using cones for isolation.

And do you, or anyone, think isolation feet like Vibrapods should be placed under the components existing feet or apart from them? I suppose you could unscrew and remove the existing feet if that’s the way to go. Thanks for any advice. Hope I’m not burglarizing your thread Jay. If you’d like I will start my own on this related topic.

I've mentioned this before.  About 15 yrs ago I bought a used Billy Bags Rack solely because I liked the way it looked.  I was totally surprised by the instantaneously audible improvement, it was NOT subtle!   
Hi Jay, I got bored reading everyone else going off topic, so I thought I would answer your direct question with a direct answer. I have had my Solid Tech Rack of Silence for a number of years and I absolutely love it. Their approach is strictly about eliminating vibration both from equipment and the environment. I consider this rack as another component within the system. I refuse to participate in the isolation/vibration debate as I have some very definite opinions of both.  My belief is however, that you should gauge the rack according to the rest of the system. The rack should be economically commensurate with the rest of your system. I also believe in the point of diminishing returns. Solid Tech has several offerings, colors, finishes, and configurations to meet the most discriminating of tastes. They make a great product and you really can't go wrong. Prior to purchasing the ROS I to had an inexpensive rack with what I believed to be good equipment. Once I made the switch I realized how much I had been missing and how important the role of a good rack played in the character of my system. Now don't get me wrong, a rack, no matter how good will NOT make a bad system sound good. A good rack will create synergy between the components and allow them to do the job they were designed to do. Good luck in your search...Stay safe, Stay well, Stay at home and listen to tunes.
skyscraper has some good questions
Millercarbon, would you know if the BDR Cones and Round Things are substantially better than the Vibrapod equivalents? They are substatially more expensive and I’m wondering if there’s enough difference to warrant that extra expense. 

Haven't compared directly. Couldn't say anyway. For me I could say but nobody but you can decide what's worth it. 
Just to look at them its obvious what they have done. Its just like what I said earlier about granite and sand having faults but being good together. Vibra pods combine ordinary o-rings (rubber) with plastic, with steel. Then notice the shape isn't a straight cone its got an angle change in there and the base has a flange. So its obvious what they have done is combine these materials and shapes and tune them to get the sound balance they consider best. 

DJ did the same with BDR Cones. The main difference being the material is inherently superior. Its like the difference between a semi tractor trailer and a F1 car. Both have suspensions with springs and shocks. One is a whole lot more advanced in terms of geometry and materials. Vibration control in BDR is down to the molecular level. The material itself is inherently stiff and highly damped. It doesn't need a rubber o-ring to damp the ringing of the steel ball bearing in other words, which is what the Vibrapod does.

Most of these things the best use is directly on the component. Not under the component feet. There's nothing worse in all of audio than the feet manufacturers put under their gear. Even ones with impressive looking footers, they are so bad probably even a Vibrapod would be an improvement. 

The best practice is to use three. Three points define a plane and so never any rocking with three. Components are different enough there's no one simple rule to follow on where they go. On a CDP it might be one under the disk, one under the transformer, and the third wherever it stabilizes best. The only way to know for sure where is best is to try different combinations. Usually a difference can be heard. Which in itself is amazing. But so is this whole subject. 

If you look at my Melody, its hard to tell from the pics but the factory feet and bottom cover was removed and three BDR Those Things are screwed in right through the bottom with Round Things screwed onto the bottom. So one inside, one outside. Yes the bottom cover is basically clamped between carbon fiber on both sides. Cones screw into the Round Things. Vibration control is a huge component of system performance. I take it very seriously.
The right rack can bring a high resolution system to a new level of performance.My first rack was a Target then i upgraded to a RixRac which was much better.Now i have a Symposium Osiris 5 level rack with all copper legs with other performance options the improvement in sound is breathtaking.Enjoy whatever rack you like.
Thanks for the explanations millercarbon. Sounds like the BDR cones do have a substantive difference from the vibrapods in their design and materials to justify the extra expense. I’ll go with three per component as you recommend. Next I’ll read up[ on them some more tonight and may have a follow-up question or two after that research if you don’t mind.

By the way, Do you use the MK3 or MK4 BDR cones? I noticed those two types were sold on the Music Direct site. Thanks again,

Nice rack @ebm .
I prefer my concrete blocks. Only cost me $6 and the 3" maple top was $20 from a yard sale. Amazingly, after years of all sorts of racks, this sounds by far the best.
Good luck with that if you think it is better enjoy.Oh well i over spent by 15k but it is only money.Nice vintage system enjoy it in good health.
If you aren't or won't ever use a TT, don't go for a rack. Racks do have an inherent resonance, no matter which one you choose.
Go for floor mounted. Either individually or better all together spread out between your speakers.
A sub-platform supported by cones,  connected by springs to Maple platform.
I have Star Sound Sistrum racks that were cut by SS a few years ago so I had 2 shorter and more stable racks. The soundstage became much more pronounced and real after cutting and the bass was even better than before.   My racks were now about 26" H with the components on them, and they were 54" high before.  The lower the rack the better the sound.  It does take up twice the real estate however.

I originally bought a used 4 shelf Sistrum and added a larger turntable shelf to it. Upon placing the equipment on the Sistrums, the sound became much more involving, with greater detail, and more like live music. The science behind Sistrum racks is to drain the vibrations rather than damp them. All things vibrate and that is what music is. The racks take the vibration to the ground as quickly as possible. The racks look beautiful and I guarantee you they sound spectacular. The Sistrum used to be their top of the line, but are now in the middle. All the Star Sound racks will make a very noticeable improvement in the sound of real music. Yes, racks CAN make a real difference, and the Star Sound racks are among the best at doing this.   Star Sound has many racks with different price ranges.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to get mine used at a considerable savings.  They occasionally show up on the audio sites.



I have Star Sound Sistrum racks that were cut by SS a few years ago so I had 2 shorter and more stable racks. The soundstage became much more pronounced and real after cutting and the bass was even better than before. My racks were now about 26" H with the components on them, and they were 54" high before. The lower the rack the better the sound. It does take up twice the real estate however.

>>>>>That pretty much illustrates the problem with racks and stands in general. I.e.,,the shorter the better. That’s because taller structures amplify seismic vibrations. Since the Sistrum stands don’t isolate against seismic vibration they allow seismic type very low frequency vibration to be transmitted from the floor to the component. Draining alone doesn’t cut it. Same goes for almost any rack. It’s the same as for very tall buildings and skyscrapers - isolation techniques must be incorporated during construction of tall buildings to reduce the effects of seismic type vibration including wind and subways and normal earth crust motion and to prevent collapse due to earthquakes. It’s code in many if not most areas.

By contrast springs are two, two things in one! - they isolate the component from seismic type vibration AND they allow vibration of the component to be drained away. That is why spring based systems are so effective for speakers, for example, they prevent cabinets vibrations from reaching front end electronics AND reduce cabinet resonances.
Millercarbon could not have put it better: rack - shmack!
Your end goal should be vibration control. Sure, you want a rack that holds all your gear and makes connections and on/off switches accessible, but there is a goof reason why the more sought after racks/stands focus on rigidity and minimizing points of contact between the rack platforms and your equipment

Even if aesthetics are more important to your significant other than they are to you, a jungle of cables is never a pretty site 
I would say not at all important, with two big caveats:  You need to use sorbathane isolation feet under your electronics, especially tube gear and more than especially for your turntable.  And if you have floor vibration, you must use a wall mount for the turntable.

All this of course assuming you don't play at an average 98db volume level.