Solidsteel VL-3 Vinyl Library Review
Jay Garrett pieces together this elegant hi-fi rack that's specially designed for analogue addicts…
VL-3 Vinyl Library Hi-Fi Rack
Solidsteel's audio furniture offerings have plenty of options to please audiophiles at every price bracket. We have recently enjoyed time with the Italian company's S5-3, HY-4, and S2-4 racks, and this review sees us constructing a member of the brand's VL series. This 'Vinyl Library' series has been designed to accommodate your hi-fi components whilst also satisfying the need to store up to 120 LPs, according to Soildsteel, although I suspect it will take more as my image below of a half-full shelf shows eighty records, including a few gatefolds. Each shelf has been tested to take 120kg of weight.
This VL-3 has three 22m thick polymer-laminated MDF shelves, as denoted by its numerical suffix, one for vinyl and then two more to support your electronics. There are also two and four-shelved versions, although the record storage remains the same unless you utilise the extra shelving on the 3 and 4 versions for singles. The great news is that, as with other Solidsteel designs, you can add further levels as your system grows, so you can upgrade your VL-2 to a VL-3, and so on. You can also add an extra 325mm height LP shelf, should you wish.
The VL-3 comes delivered as a 37kg flatpack, so I recommend you coerce a willing friend or partner to assist in moving the lengthy box to its desired site. In my case, it soon became apparent that my body strength has taken a considerable beating since the lockdown – that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!
As I have experience with Solidsteel's closely-related S-series racks, there were no surprises as far as constructing the VL-3 was concerned. That said, this unit's longer planks (1,280mm compared with 584mm of the S2-4) are something to keep in mind if you have any treasured ornaments or vases within the construction zone. For those enjoying Solidsteel unit construction for the first time, if you've faced down an Ikea or MFI purchase and it remained standing, then you have all the experience you need – although you will appreciate this rack's superior quality materials.
The Solidsteel rack comes with a single-sheet instruction manual, showing how intuitive the process is. Although, don't go into this too blasé as small things can catch you out. For instance, some bolts that fit into the material-dampened anodised aluminium legs have different thread depths on the ends. So, it does pay to be methodical when laying out the parts before making that giant cup of tea or coffee and, to use the DIYer's parlance, getting stuck in. Top tip - build it upside-down, starting with the top shelf.
The finished product is a substantial 1,280x711x410mm [WxHxD], with the inner shelves measuring 480mm (between the posts) by 325 or 225mm by 410mm. In the sleek black finish, it has a classy and understated air which shows off the spines of LPs and your hi-fi components nicely. I'm old enough to have accrued several LPs during my tenure on this spinning rock, with many of my collection dating back to my teens and early twenties last century. These are nicely ensconced in Quadraspire Qubes. However, this even makes a case for itself for those with extensive vinyl collections, as I would be tempted to free up Qube space by displaying my box sets on the ground floor of the Italian rack for all to see. My only niggles are that, as the stand is backless, you can push your records all the way through; additionally, it would be nice to have wire dividers at regular intervals to keep your LPs upright.
I expected no audible difference between the VL-3 and S2-4, with them being of similar materials. However, with a fully-loaded bottom shelf of LPs, this additional mass positively affected the stand's coupling to the floor via those aggressive-looking foot spikes, compared with the S2-4 supporting the same hi-fi system. This resulted in a less congested midband, particularly with higher-ranging vocals. Comparing components sat on an Ikea Kallax to those on the VL-3, the latter allows for a more natural presentation thanks to being a less resonant, better-coupled platform, especially at frequency extremes. There was also overall improved separation, particularly during vinyl playback.
Overall then, the Solidsteel VL-3 gives you plenty of real estate for your hi-fi components and enough room to display your cherished vinyl. This piece of audio furniture looks good and is a sure improvement over standard flatpack furniture, as it's been designed with audio in mind. A definite contender for those looking to house their hi-fi and records together, as few purpose-designed hi-fi racks offer this.
Visit Solidsteel for more information
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.
Posted in:Hi-Fi Accessories Racks & Stands Applause Awards 2023
Tags: solidsteel mian audio mian
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