U-22T Optional Equipment and Conclusion
StudioTech has a number of options that are available including media drawers, fans, rack mounts and a lot more. If you've already purchased all your equipment, you'll know exactly what to order. If this is the beginning of your purchases, you'll have some figuring to do. For 90% of the people out there, the standard configuration will be more than adequate.
The casters are large, black, and plastic. In my profession, being able to easily get behind the unit is very important. The unit comes standard with rubber feet on a metal threaded rod and carpet spikes. They also include little metal half spheres with a dimple in them to place the spikes on if you want to use the spikes on hardwood or other damageable floors. Personally, I can't imagine trying to set up the unit with the spikes and those penny sized floor protectors. There are six of them! You'd need at least two people to hold it up while a third positioned the spheres.
No, the casters are much more suited to me. Each of them as a little foot lever for locking them which is a nice touch. Personally, I found them kind of ugly and didn't really lend themselves to the style of the rest of the furniture. They are, however, useful.
The second piece of optional equipment was a pair of 30 inch stands. I was thoroughly impressed with these stands. Plenty heavy and sturdy, the stands are metal and have a side panel of wood veneer. The veneer was somewhat of a match to the color of the unit but not exact.
Though they are sturdy enough by themselves, you can fill them with sand (please make sure the sand is in bags if you've never done this) or shot to increase their weight and stability.
Of all the speaker stands I've ever used, these are probably the best to date.
A media drawer may be of limited value if you have a large movie collection. However, the media drawer offered by StudioTech had many possible uses. I fit 46 DVDs in it though you can buy separators for CDs or cassettes. The drawer is mounted via a couple of spacer blocks that have to be installed.
The installation is fairly easy though I was a bit confused by the instructions at first. If you skip the first general instruction page and just examine the diagram you'll be much better off. The drawer is constructed of aluminum and the front is brushed for a textured and fingerprint-resistant surface. The drawer is completely self-contained and covered so that when the doors are closed it disappears.
There is a latch mechanism that keeps the drawer closed (no lock). I would probably use the drawer to store extra cables, manuals and the like. The fact that it is covered is a big plus.
Lastly, I got a chance to check out the optional dual fan system. Similarly to the media drawer, the fan is mounted to a couple of spacer blocks. The only problem with this system is that the fans are permanently mounted to the cross members obstructing your access to the equipment. This means that you won't want to mount it behind your receiver (where it would probably be the most useful).
I placed it behind the shelf above my receiver by a CD player that I would rarely want to switch out the connections. I also used longer interconnects just in case so that I could pull it out the front.
The fans I found to be extremely quiet though some might find them audible depending on the loudness of the movie/music and their proximity to the piece. There isn't a speed control so you can't vary the loudness of the fans that way. As I said before, with the amount of ventilation available through the design of the furniture, fans would only really be necessary if you have equipment that runs quite hot. The fans are set up to provide exhaust, which is correct given the ample amount of venting available to bring fresh air into this cabinet.
Suggestions and Recommendations
As I mentioned before, there is a little concern about potential dampening and vibration issues. A few bits of rubber here or there would head off many of these problems. While the casters are useful and functional, I do wish they would either match the style of the unit better or be hidden behind some sort of skirting. While the unit sits low to the ground, there will inevitably be a wire or two running behind it. Skirting would help mask these as well. The fans would be better suited on a specially designed rear door panel rather than mounting inside the cabinet.
Author's Note: Upgrades
Bo Dragsdahl of StudioTech explained that a couple of my concerns will be addressed in future iterations of the U-22T. I look forward to seeing the implementations of these fixes. Of course, they claim that these were in the works long before my review. I'm sure that is the case - but I'm still taking credit. I'm calling the new version the 'Andry Signature Edition'. Of course you can too, but no one at StudioTech will know what you are talking about.
Conclusions and Overall Perceptions
No matter what, the most important factor in determining furniture is the aesthetics. Furniture has to look good if it is going to be part of a functional décor. And no one can tell you what you will like. What I can tell you is that based on the Ultra U-22T, StudioTech furniture will perform well. And here at Audioholics, that is what we are worried about. I can tell you that the wire management is a snap, the ventilation is more than adequate, set up is a breeze, and the options are plentiful. Above all, the price is right. You can get into one of these cabinets for a reasonable amount and have something that will last you years. And that is what it is all about, isn't it?
The Score Card
The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
Audioholics Rating Scale
- — Excellent
- — Very Good
- — Good
- — Fair
- — Poor
|Ease of Setup|
|Ease of Setup/Programming/Integration|