Boltz CD600, CDEXP-T, CD600x2 CD Racks
Buying a fancy CD rack may seem counterintuitive in the iPod era. After, even a drop-dead-gorgeous piece of industrial design like the Boltz CD600X2 still takes up space. Isn't it more elegant to rip everything and dump your discs?
Well, for you, maybe. As an audio critic, I gravitate toward uncompressed material, and the thought of my collection dying in a hard-disc crash is too painful even to contemplate. The problem with my 1600-disc CD collection was not so much that it took up space—rather, it was the sheer ugliness of my longtime storage solution that irked me. Most of my discs were strewn hither and yon throughout the apartment. And the biggest aggregation of them lived on a black vinyl covered bookshelf with three milk crates piled atop it. Just looking at this floor-to-ceiling monstrosity was enough to put me off my musical nourishment.
Sometime around the CD's 20th birthday, I finally broke down and bought some proper CD shelving from Boltz. It's all steel in construction and is so swooningly beautiful that it qualifies as a kind of sculpture. I acquired two CD600 racks, which hold 600 discs each, and two extender kits. The CD600 sells for $219. A CDEXP-T 600-disc extender kit goes for another $169. If you buy them together, as the CD600x2—you can't fault Boltz for the logic of its model numbers—they total $388. You don't get any discount for buying them together; then again, you don't get penalized for adding capacity over time as needed. Incidentally, these prices are lower than what I paid more a couple of years back.
The CD600 is shipped fully assembled. All you have to do is free it from the carton and go. Since its space-saving depth is rather modest, you may have to level it to keep it standing safely upright. My 95-year-old building's unevenly sanded-down oak parquet floors required me to prop up the racks, but if your floors are level, you won't need to do that. A wall bracket is supplied for households where toddlers are always tugging on something.
The extender kit does not come assembled, and I must admit that when I spread all the pieces out on the floor, my heart sank. But a glance at the instructions told me what to do. I flipped the assembled rack on its side, unscrewed the cap nuts at the sides, and added the expansion rods, along with the various coupling nuts that held it all together. Now I had an industrial rod forest sticking up off the floor. I fitted the third side panel over it and replaced the cap nuts.
And I was done. The only thing I did wrong—as I discovered later during a call to customer service—was to tighten everything too much. I used a wrench, and this turned out to be a bad idea, because it skewed the rack diagonally. The strength of your hands is sufficient and the rack is structurally sound enough not to come apart with normal use.
The finished 1200-disc rack looks fantastic. Each shelf has a sliding piece that keeps discs from tipping and falling through the rods. You don't have to use it when you remove just one or two discs, but if you remove a whole handful, you have to slide the piece over to keep the remainder in place. There are no single-disc dividers, so you can alphabetize and rearrange to your heart's content.
So far I've used two racks with one expansion kit, producing a capacity of 1800 discs, to house my 1600-strong collection. That allows room for a layer of DVDs on the top shelf (which is not height-constrained) while leaving a few inches of daylight on each lower row for future acquisitions. The second, unused extender kit is ready and waiting when I've exhausted the current configuration's capacity.
I really love this product. It's a little more challenging than a simple particle-board CD shelf, but it's also a whole lot more attractive. I get a pleasant sensation just from looking at it. And now I love poring over my CD shelves to pick out my evening music. Playing CDs is actually more fun this way.
Prices: CD600, $219; CDEXP-T, $169; CD600x2, $388 from boltz.com
Mark Fleischmann is the author of the annually updated book Practical Home Theater and tastemaster of Happy Pig's Hot 100 New York Restaurants.