Hi-fi equipment racks have to do two things: be a sturdy, reliable support for your hi-fi kit to sit on, and look good enough as a piece of furniture to blend into your living space.
In both cases, Atacama’s new Elite Eco 24 Reference range succeeds with flying colours.
Atacama has form here. Its bamboo-made Evoque range of equipment racks has been our go-to recommendation in recent years, with the current Evoque Eco 60-40 SE2 model a multiple What Hi-Fi? Award-winner.
Atacama hasn’t found fit to sit on its laurels, however; it’s decided to redesign the way its hi-fi rack is constructed to deliver better support as well as offer a new-look design.
The new Elite Eco 24 Reference range continues Atacama’s use of bamboo, which now extends to the legs as well as the shelves – there are no metal legs here like in the Evoque range. Both the construction and look of the new shelves have been revised, with interlocking panels of wood slotting together neatly to create a more rigid and seamless structure.
It looks rather lovely once assembled, too; we really like the naturally textured tones of the bamboo wood. The Elite Eco 24 looks even more like a premium piece of furniture than the Evoque rack does.
As part of the top-of-the-range Reference Series, the Elite Eco 24 series consists of four shelf modules costing £300 each. That’s £100 more per shelf than the Evoque range, and the pricing is consistent for all shelves regardless of height. The natural bamboo finish comes as standard, while the dark bamboo option is an extra cost of £20 per module.
Each shelf is of a uniform 600mm width and 400mm depth, but the height of each shelf differs, so you can choose and stack them according to your hi-fi system’s needs. The available modules are the 70mm base, 170mm, 220mm and 270mm-height shelves.
Each shelf can accommodate up to 80kg of weight, and Atacama advises that, if you’re stacking multiple modules on top of each other, the maximum total rack weight doesn’t exceed 250kg, to ensure the lowest shelf doesn’t get overloaded.
Material/construction Wood (bamboo)
Max load per shelf 80kg
Floor spikes? Yes
Shelf dimensions (wd) 600mm x 400mm
Finishes x2 (natural bamboo, dark bamboo)
There are more distinctive grooves cut into the underside of each Elite shelf now (including the base shelf), and these are designed to channel the flow of mechanical energy and unwanted standing waves away from the hi-fi product it’s supporting. Atacama says these grooves direct the unwanted resonances away in a more efficient manner down through the legs to the floor, while the inverted frustum cones on the feet further help isolate the base shelf from the floor itself.
The solid panels on the sides leave a more closed structure than an open one. But the back panel leaves plenty of room for cables and Atacama says there should be enough ventilation thanks to the gap in between each shelf, raised by the brass/nickel-plated isolation spikes at each corner under the shelf.
If you have a turntable system, you can swap out the base shelf for a vinyl storage module (starting from a rather expensive £600) to store your records. To address a previous complaint, Atacama has now made cable management panels (in portrait and landscape orientations) that can be fitted to the back of any assembled shelf across its range (£99 for panel, £39 for extension).
We placed a variety of products on the Elite Eco 24 rack during testing, from the modest Cambridge Audio MXN10 streamer to the more premium Cyrus CDi player, and the limited edition Naim Nait 50 amplifier. We also have the Evoque Eco 60-40 SE2 shelves at hand for comparison.
It’s a stable, sturdy arrangement. With the Cyrus CDi placed on the Elite rack, the resulting sound from our system is solid, dynamic and well-organised. We immediately hear just how big and open our system sounds when playing Jamiroquai’s Travelling Without Moving album; the Elite rack seems to allow the system to breathe more freely. We hear a tauter, more rhythmic bass performance too.
When listening to the same kit placed on the Evoque rack, that sense of openness is less apparent. More obvious is that bass is a touch lightweight in comparison, too. This top-heavy focus means there’s a touch of sibilance to the higher frequencies, which disappears as we move back to the Elite. Virtual Insanity flows with fluid musicality and dynamic ease, and we hear ample texture to instruments and voices when going back to using the Elite rack.
That’s not to say you should swap out your Evoque-range rack instantly; our system still sounds stable, zippy and engaging on this rack. But the new Elite Eco 24 allows for a step-up in performance that adds up incrementally, offering a more grounded, nuanced and larger-scale presentation.
Paying £300 per module is a pricey sum. If you have a budget hi-fi system, you’ll likely be more than happy with your products placed on general furniture like a table or sideboard.
But if each unit in your system costs upwards of £1000, then it can be worth investing in a specialist equipment rack that is designed to eke the ultimate best out of your products’ performance (and can even be an alternative way of updating your system’s sound without replacing individual kit).
The cumulative upgrades in absolute audio quality that a rack like Atacama’s Elite Eco 24 Reference offers is worth it to our minds and ears. And it all looks rather nice, too.
- Sound 5
- Build 5
- Compatibility 5
Read our review of the Atacama Evoque Eco 60-40 SE2
Also consider the Hi-Fi Racks Omnium8