Pennsylvania-based Sterling Modular has designed and built high-quality studio furniture and racking systems for nearly 20 years. The company is best known for its higher-end modular desk systems, vintage console “housing upgrades,” self-contained roll-around workstation stands and a few specialized third-party collaborations.
Several of Sterling Modular’s recent designs – including the Gear Pod adjustable rack system ($399) here – package the company’s high build quality into affordable “assembly required” kits aimed at smaller studios and those expanding existing setups.
The Sterling Modular Gear Pod is an attractive studio rack that bears a more-than-passing resemblance to R2D2. Like that iconic robo-imp, the Gear Pod’s “body” can tilt backwards as its sturdy base remains firmly planted on the ground. This swivel-ability allows the main rack housing to be configured at angles ranging from 0 to 20 degrees (in five five-degree steps) respective to its base.
The front of the Gear Pod provides 12 rack spaces of prime real estate for your gear, and the rear of the housing is “pre-drilled” for the easy installation of eight-space rack rails to accommodate larger equipment and cable support systems. The rack enclosure is supported by two powder-coated black steel feet that rest on four level-adjustable floor-pad discs; an optional heavy-duty, rubberized caster kit is available for $38.
In a physical testament to its quality, the relatively diminutive Gear Pod weighs in at a hefty 45 pounds thanks to its durable Thermafoil-finished MDF (not flake board, with scratch-resistant black laminate), its aforementioned steel feet and its set of heavy-duty assembly and rack hardware. In the upright position, the Gear Pod measures 27 inches high, 20 5/8 inches wide and 19 1/2 inches deep.
Studio, broadcast, post facilities
12-space rack kit; thermal venting slots; swivel function allows the rack to be angled up to 20 degrees, in 5 degree increments; rubberized casters option ($38); pre-drilled for adding 8-space rear rack rails
Sterling Modular | 610-369-5802 | www.sterlingmodular.com
- Heavy-duty design and components
- Swivel feature allows optimal angle-setting in-situ
- Excellent value
- Angle cannot be adjusted when loaded
- Unlike typical racks with angled rails, top surface is not usable when Gear Pod is in an angled configuration
Affordability, adjustability and durability help this kit rack up the points as a rewarding studio investment.
Through commercial production facility ownership, installation consultation and review procedures I’ve become a pretty good judge of studio furniture and rack systems. I have had the dubious experience of assembling and/or using several of the more affordable kit products, including racks that relied on the equipment mounted in them for stability, desks that developed a parallelogram stance in mere months, and — of particular relevance — alluring adjustable models rendered worthless by stripped knobs and twist-to-lock mechanisms.
It was immediately apparent from the weight-to-size ratio of the small shipping container that this was not just another flimsy box for my stuff. And though its formidable parts inventory and five instruction pages were initially daunting (at least for this ADHD-addled King of Procrastination), once I set to assembling the task proved no more difficult than your typical JÄGRA or NJORL kit from IKEA.
Thanks to easy-to-follow instructions and diagrams, the Gear Pod was ready to receive in about an hour. The only snag was with a couple holes for joiner dowels that were drilled too deep and swallowed up the dowels; inserting the dowels into the other panel to be joined (opposite the instructions) easily solved this. [The manufacturer responds: An instructions correction will be made per your feedback.]
Once assembled, I mounted a single piece of rack gear into the Pod and tested out the angle possibilities its unique design affords. Once I settled on an optimal position, I locked it down and loaded the rack. Note that the Gear Pod cannot be adjusted when filled with gear.
A slotted bottom panel in combination with the Gear Pod’s open back provided plenty of ventilation for the typical assortment of gear I chose to install for this review. A large oblong hole cut in the rear skirt panel was handy for cable management, and had no trouble accommodating several D-Sub snakes running to a patchbay.
Trust me: The $399 Sterling Modular Gear Pod bears no resemblance to the usual suspects found in the affordable kit set, and is leagues above the myriad penny wise, pound foolish models found at the bargain-end of the range.
Its unique adjustable swivel provides the user with the ability to find an optimal angle in-situ, and – since it is built to last — this flexibility provides a form of future-proofing against setup changes. The ultra-sturdy, attractive and versatile Gear Pod is built to reward the user with many, many years of faithful service, and is easily one of the best studio rack values I’ve come across.