A/V furniture glossary
Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.
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Entertainment furniture can provides a stylish home for your
A/V system, and be an important addition to a room's décor.
An audio/video (A/V) cabinet is built specifically to store A/V components, like DVD players, video game consoles and receivers. Most A/V cabinets feature some kind of ventilation to keep electronic components from overheating. A/V cabinets usually have some kind of wire management, and often access panels to facilitate the installation and setup of A/V gear.
[Shop our selection of A/V cabinets.]
Small, inverted cones that support a speaker stand. The spikes push through the carpet's pile to rest on the backing, providing a stable base for the speaker. The spike tips minimize the surface area that comes in contact with the floor so that fewer vibrations from the floor reach the speaker.
Small wheels set inside swiveling mounts. When you push the furniture, these mounts allow the wheels to align themselves in the direction of travel. This makes it easier to change the direction of the furniture as it's moved.
This hardwood has a close, fairly uniform grain that makes it strong and sturdy, yet it's still soft enough to cut and machine easily.
A way to remove excess heat from A/V components. Usually, the process requires two sets of ventilation ports. One set's located at the bottom of the cabinet, and the second at the top. As the components heat the air around them, the warmed air rises, eventually escaping through the top vents. Cooler air is pulled in through the bottom ports to replace it. As this air surrounds the components, it in turn is heated and rises. This keeps the cycle going, with fresh air continually flowing in to cool the components.
A traditional method of joining wood in cabinetry. One piece of wood has a series of trapezoidal pins that fit into corresponding openings (called "tails") in the other. Once glued, this interlocking pattern forms a very strong bond that's ideal for drawers and other areas where joints are stressed.
Aluminum is a durable, lightweight metal. It can be strengthened by the process of extrusion, in which it's pushed through a die and comes out in long, shaped strips. For A/V furniture, extruded aluminum is most often used for cylindrical supports and legs, with some slight variations in shape.
Fluting is a method of wood decoration made popular in the Victorian era. Shallow grooves are cut in the molding surrounding the door that run the length of the frame. These grooves echo the look of ancient Grecian columns, which used a similar method of decoration.
Furniture-grade construction is a way of characterizing quality assembly methods. These methods are more time consuming and labor-intensive than standard assembly-line processes, but usually result in more durable furniture. Examples of furniture-grade construction include dovetail joints, real wood veneer (as opposed to vinyl printed with a wood pattern), and additional detailing, such as fluted doors.
Furniture-grade construction can also indirectly be an indicator of the quality of the material used. Many of the methods outlined above are impractical (and too costly) to use with particle board.
Hardwood is often used in quality furniture construction. Hardwoods typically have a dense grain, which gives them strength. And since they're heavy woods, the furniture tends to be very sturdy and stable.
Locking cam system
A small metal cylinder with a tab on the end that rotates. Many pieces of A/V furniture that require assembly use cams to join pieces together, usually to secure the frame. A locking cam system lets you secure the cam in the new position once the pieces are joined, ensuring that the tab doesn't work loose.
|Lowboys keep the TV at seated eye level, which is the ideal viewing height. (BDI Avion 8929 Series II shown)|
A short cabinet with two sets of drawers or shelving. A/V lowboys are generally designed to keep a TV at seated eye level, which is the ideal height and viewing angle to prevent neck strain. The relatively compact size of a lowboy makes it a popular choice for smaller home theater systems.
[Shop our selection of lowboys.]
Mahogany is a rich, dark, reddish-brown hardwood. Because of its scarcity and value, mahogany is generally only used as a veneer or for decorative accents.
MDF (medium-density fiberboard)
MDF is much denser than many woods and is a highly efficient vibration dampener. For this reason MDF is often used in high-end speaker cabinets, as well as quality A/V furniture construction. MDF is created by combining wood fibers with wax and resin. The resulting fiberboard is significantly stronger than particle board, and has a smooth, mostly uniform finish.
Particle board, or chipboard, is a wood composite material. Wood chips, sawdust and wood shavings are mixed with resin. Particle board is inexpensive to make and is often used for low-grade audio/video furniture. Because particle board has no grain and isn't packed as densely as MDF, it's a relatively weak material that's easily damaged and difficult to repair.
A dry paint method that creates a durable skin over the surface it's applied to. Powder coating is primarily used with metal, such as extruded aluminum. Dry powder is bonded to the metal electrostatically and then heated. The powder melts, sealing the metal in a scratch-resistant coating.
Safety glass (sometimes called tempered glass) is designed to break into small, square pieces to prevent injury. Intense heat during manufacture gives the glass additional strength. This heating process also builds the internal stresses necessary to prevent the glass from shattering into long, sharp shards on impact.
Some A/V cabinets have speaker cloth in the top compartment so you can hide your center channel speaker inside. (BDI Novia pictured)
A fabric or other soft material that conceals a speaker's drivers. The cloth primarily serves a decorative function. It features an open weave to let sound through unhindered, while still keeping the speaker drivers hidden. Speaker cloth sometimes serves as door panel inserts to hide speakers inside an A/V cabinet.
Wire management, sometimes called cable management, refers to the different ways A/V furniture can hide the cables running between stored components. Stands may have hollow tubes or indented channels for cables. Holes in panels and shallow lips on shelves can also help conceal the wires in and around a system.
Electronic components such as receivers, power amps, and preamps generate a significant amount of heat. If this heat builds up, it can negatively impact the performance of your A/V components. Some devices simply shut down if they overheat. Cabinet ventilation keeps air circulating through the enclosed space, pulling heat off the components to keep them cool.