Ben Burton gThere are those who put their hi fi equipment on display and those who hide it away. I was once a displayer, now I’m a hider because I have some pretty quirky stuff and people always want it explained. Mostly they want to know about my laser disc player and this usually ends in a demonstration. The bulk of folk have never seen heavy, LP-sized laser discs, loaded with movies, despite their having been around even longer than CDs, and the player makes such interesting noises as it spins up. Whenever I talk about its pioneering tech people just giggle. Best to hide it.

If there are no laser discs in your life and you’re happy to have your equipment on show you’ll be familiar with the difficulties of finding acceptable cabinetry, because hi fi tech is fussy. It has to be well vented. Cable wrangling calls for decent access to the rear. There must be clear sightlines for the remotes. It should be sturdy, stable and solid. Spikes are good, as are height-adjustable legs for uneven flooring. And here’s the big one; it has to look good.

Ben Burton h assembly instructionsThe beautifully veneered modular timber and steel racks from Sydney company Ben Burton tick all these boxes. Mind you, there is only one finish available and the assembly instructions are so poorly presented that at first it looks completely nonsensical, like so many random grey-black splodges on a sheet of A4 paper. I actually put it in the recycling, only retrieving it when I discovered no other literature in the pack. It’s the worst, most unintuitive assembly instructions I have ever encountered. There was not a word on the sheet, just nine pictures that looked like poor black and white photocopies of coloured photographs, reduced in size and grouped on a single sheet of paper. One of them shows three holes. That’s it. In several others you must ignore the vents in the background.

Fortunately it doesn’t take a genius to work out what should happen with the various bits supplied in the flat pack but my assembly time (35 minutes) did involve a fair amount of looking at the inscrutable assembly instruction sheet and drawing my own conclusions. Experience with Ikea helps, as does a five-mm allen key if the screw-thread gets sticky. The company claims no tools are required and therefore does not supply any.

I discussed this with those folk and they are now rejigging the assembly sheet and including an allen key, so I’ll chalk one up for we consumers.

Ben Burton Turntable TierDual shelving for the turntable sure looks interesting and is featured on every turntable assembly shown on the Ben Burton website. I asked what the science was behind this and it’s all about minimising vibration caused by the turntable motor, rather than reducing external vibration. And, as the folk at the company added, it also provides a perfect place to leave the record sleeve while listening.

Each shelf takes a component to a maximum width of 49 cm (most are 44) and 49 cm depth (without overhang). Height depends on the legs, ranging from 9 mm to 270 mm, and custom sizes can be made. Each shelf takes a load of up to 50 kg. This all means these racks will take practically anything you have apart from out-there stuff like monobloc amps.

Construction is first rate but be aware that if you want to look at a Ben Burton rack prior to buying and don’t live in Sydney, well, you’ll have to go to Sydney. There are three dealers there, none anywhere else. If you’re content with the pictures you can buy on-line.

Prices depend entirely on what you order, but as a guide the pictured four-shelf assembly, with legs, spikes, screws, washers and top caps, is $1396 plus $75 shipping.

First published November 2019


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