Solidsteel S2-4 Hi-Fi Rack Review
Jay Garrett auditions an impressively affordable Italian-made hi-fi rack…
S2-4 Hi-Fi Rack
Although a certain brand of affordable Swedish flatpack furniture is no stranger to many people's listening rooms, bespoke hi-fi racks are still worthy of investigation and investment. We have moved on from the fancy glass and steel items of the nineteen nineties because most – whilst looking the part – did little in terms of controlling resonances. However, that does not necessarily mean you have to spend thousands in order to give your hi-fi separates the resting place that they deserve.
Italian company Solidsteel has spent the past thirty years researching and manufacturing audio equipment supports. The rack from the company's S2 series you see here is the brand’s entry-level solution, and close attention has been paid to protecting equipment from vibrations coming at your hi-fi from both ground and air. The S2-4, the suffix digit indicating the number of shelves, costs £399.
The range was introduced in 2016 and includes three, four and five-shelved variants, offering great value whether you're on your first system or looking for a suitable stand for some carefully curated classics. So naturally, in the interest of bringing the S2 down to a price, certain elements have had to be removed. Gone, for instance, are the radiused corners of the S3 and further isolated platforms enjoyed by the S5 series from the next tiers up.
The S2-4 still maintains many design elements, as noted in Solidsteel's other products, though. For example, the pillars are anodised aluminium and packed with an anti-resonant material, while the heavy-duty spikes and pads are stainless steel. Meanwhile, the 500mm x 430mm (19.7- x 16.9-inches (WxD)) shelves, which are spaced equally at 220mm (8.6-inches) height intervals, are made from MDF and covered in a polymer laminate. Those shelves have been tested to support 50kg at each level, which ought to be plenty for people looking at racks in this range. A further nice and notable eco-friendly touch is that the shelves come wrapped in biodegradable plastic bags.
Constructing the rack was extremely straightforward, with all parts nicely laid out in the well-planned yet minimalist packaging. Instructions are of course provided just in case you need to refer to them, but I dare say that anyone who has encountered flatpack furniture before will find it a breeze. Levelling the rack is also a cinch, thanks to the adjustable heavy-duty spiked feet.
The resulting all-black rack, the only option following good ol' Henry Ford's decree, is functionally smart and stable, even when unloaded. Furthermore, when subjecting the rack to a quick knuckle-rap test, it was found to sound much less lively than my NorStone Esse AV stand, which is more your typical glass and steel construction mentioned earlier.
Moving through various hi-fi components on the four-tier stand, there were noticeable improvements compared to using the same on the NorStone rack or Ikea cabinets. While my reference S5-3 does perform better, the S2-4 still allows for a more natural presentation thanks to handing the components a less resonant platform upon which to do their job, especially at frequency extremes. Bass response, for example, was more hi-res laser print than old-school watercolour, as note edges became more defined and less prone to blurring. Meanwhile, vocals, notably those sitting in the upper midband, became less strident and came across much freer because of this.
Additionally, percussion benefitted wholesale from the components' transition from Kallax to S2-4; cymbals sounded less artificial while drums retained punch while gaining an improved and more realistic presence. Whether I was playing records on my VPI Prime turntable or enjoying digital audio through my Oppo UDP-205 silver disc spinner, improvements were experienced. They were clear to hear, whether amplified through Onkyo's £200 A-9010 (UK), Naim's Nait X3 or my Musical Fidelity M6si.
Anyone considering the move to purpose-built hi-fi supports from whatever side table or cupboard is currently employed for this duty, should check out the S2-4 from Solidsteel. Granted, there may be similarly-priced racks on the market, but scant few offer the space, build quality, and heritage of the S2 at this price.
StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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