It is truly remarkable how segmented the practice of hi‑fi has become. From the obsession with individual product reviews to the narrow assumption of silver bullet solutions, from the digital arms race to the one size fits all search for the ‘ultimate’ product, the focus frequently narrows beyond individual boxes to specific aspects of their design – first order crossover, diamond tweeter, Class A operation or some supposedly magic output tube or other device. Is it any wonder that designers become obsessed with singular aspects of their products to the neglect or exclusion of others?
But there are also those companies that spend their time looking out and looking around, gathering ideas and approaches, materials and technologies, often combining them to considerable effect. Not so much “Not Invented Here” as “Why reinvent the wheel when simply putting one of those rubber balloons around the outside would improve what we already have?” Blue Horizon is one such company, an umbrella brand that’s sister to the well-established Isotek Systems, with its extensive range of power products. Blue Horizon exists to fill gaps in the infrastructure and accessories market, but by far their most ambitious (and significant) product is the Professional Rack System. Equipment support has been a blossoming market of late, with the likes of Grand Prix Audio, SRA and HRS demonstrating the significant musical benefits to be had from properly engineered support systems. So much so that for many owners of serious high-end systems, racks have become one of the few easy-win upgrades, replacing basic solutions with superior supports often transforming system performance. But although the cost of a complete system support solution often pales into insignificance against the price of the kit it’s holding up, the kind of materials and technology employed by those heavily engineered equipment supports doesn’t come cheap. For those of us with less elastic budgets, even entry level models from the big-three support suppliers are out of reach, leaving us looking for more affordable alternatives that still tick most of the boxes – which is exactly where the Blue Horizon PRS comes in. On the face of it there’s nothing particularly novel or unusual in the design or execution. You can find most of these ideas incorporated into other racks. But the PRS is the only rack I’m aware of where you find all of these ideas incorporated into a single product.
In order to work properly, any equipment support needs to deal with energy reaching the equipment through the floor, through the air and finally, the energy generated by the equipment itself. All of these are important, but the very adoption of the misnomer, ‘equipment isolation racks’ indicates just how seriously that final category has been neglected. In practice, it’s not the equipment that we are trying to isolate, but the signal passing through it and that’s quite a different proposition. What the likes of Grand Prix Audio and HRS have so clearly identified is the significance of dissipating energy from within the chassis of the supported equipment. But that energy has to go somewhere – which is where the rack and supporting surfaces come in.
Any really sensible rack is going to offer modular, flat-pack construction, variable shelf spacing and expandable construction, so that it can grow with or adapt to changes in your system. Sensible choice of structure and materials will aid dissipation (and hence audio performance) while a weather eye trained on the market will keep things simple but upgradeable. The Blue Horizon PRS ticks all of those boxes and a few more besides.