Why you should buy real Media Furniture

Dedicated audio video home theater furniture is definitely the way to go. Whether you are about to buy a TV stand, a media center shelving system or a media cabinet. I know this. But when a small, locally owned furniture store was having a blow-out sale, I saw a lovely mission style cabinet. Made of Oak and 1/3 the price. I had some friends help bring it in. Getting a heavy oak piece upstairs is a struggle, but that was the easy part!

I offer my day from hell below, but here’s the brief: Buy furniture built for AV home theater
1) The backs usually can be removed and replaced by sliding into place or with removable screws. 2) There are often built in cable management to hold the cables neatly and shelves with holes to run cables. 3) A good one will have a small light on the back that can be turned on to illuminate the connections on the backs of your components. 4) It will have an internal fan to keep components (particularly an AV receiver) running cooler by circulating air, thereby giving it a longer life. 5) The cabinets will give room to move the components around, and maybe even a larger area dedicated to a large center speaker.

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT The picture below is from Salamander Designs. Note that they can come with special accessories, like fans, removable backs, TV mounts, etc.

Home Theater Cabinet by Salamander Designs
Salamander design Media Cabinet back
The one I bought was deceiving. It came with a piece of speaker cover material that could replace one of the glass doors (so you could put the center channel speaker inside and hear it)…that seemed like they knew a little about what they were doing. And it seemed like the cabinets were 17 inches wide.

If you’re not convinced of the value of media furniture (it can run well over $1,000 or $2,000), read on…

First, there was only one set of holes in each of the cabinet sections. The holes were toward the top. And the shelves had no hole through them. So how was I to plug in the component below the shelf? My neighbors (and saviors) rescued me with a hole saw. We could drill another hole in the back. But then, one component is an AV receiver. All of the cables were not going to fit through one hole. He drilled 3 in that plywood back. And another component was a a/v power conditioner power center (it cleans up any noise on my audio and gives me more detail in my video), that has something like 12 outlets on the back. I needed some extra holes for that one too. It was plywood, and easy enough to drill a hole through.

Then came the real nightmare…I had measured a couple of times to be sure that the cabinets were more than 17 inches wide (the typical width of an AV component –from satellite boxes to DVD players to AV receivers). It was 18 inches.

So, I try to put in the AV receiver in the center. I have to tilt it because the lip for the door makes it narrower than 17 inches. And it won’t go down. It’s VERY heavy. It’s wedged. Let the obscenities fly! Turns out the center cabinet is just a tad narrower. I put it in one of the side cabinets and after maneuvering that back-breaking receiver, it CLUNKED down into place (can’t be good for it). When I tried with the power stabilizer (a 75 pound device) I was afraid that it would break my hand or foot when it dropped. The only hope…remove the plywood back.

Here’s where the problem comes in and my advice:Buy media furniture with easily removable backs! It will not only help you to hook things up, it’s also possible if you need to slide in a component from the back because the door in front is too narrow. Removing the plywood back was the biggest nightmare…It was stapled on! My neighbors, who again came to save me, counted 178 staples on just one cabinet section. It took chisels, a crow bar, wire cutters and a hammer to get that thing off!

Luckily the component slid right in from the back.

After much contortion, crawling, labeling, etc. My home theater looks nice. It could look just as nice with a cabinet by Salmander, Bell-O or BDI. But it would be a piece of furniture that was much better suited to the purpose.

Note–It took me a week to post this. Since then, I’ve had to make some additions and changes to my hookup. Oh how I long for removable backs. (It would save MY back from breaking!)

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