Record collectors the world over raged and wept when IKEA announced the death of Expedit, which for 19 years had been a favourite record storage solution for organizing and displaying our beloved LPs.
In my own music room I had filled a 5 x 5 to overflowing and used a 2 x 4 to house my most prized recordings and the equipment on which I played them.
I’d lugged these heavy cases from IKEA in West Chester, Ohio to home in Indiana and spent the next few hours unpacking them, assembling them and filling them. I ran the gamut of flat-pack-builder emotions, from impatience, through frustration to smug satisfaction. I know it helps if you read the instructions, but where’s the adventure in that? Of course, failure to do so can have catastrophic results…
Within a couple of weeks of moving from the USA to the UK in 2013 I set off for IKEA in Bristol. I returned laden with packs of beautiful red (2 x 4) and grey (2 x 2) glossy Expedit, I had left my main record collection and vintage audio equipment behind in the States, waiting for the chance to bring them over to my new home. These red and grey Expedit units would be put to good use in the meantime with my UK vintage setup and my small but growing “emergency” record collection. Expedit works so well because it is strong enough to take the weight of thousands of albums, is uncluttered in appearance, is smooth-surfaced, so minimizes shelf-wear to covers, and provides a great, stable surface for turntables, tape decks and amplifiers.
For my part, I am okay with Kallax, IKEA’s replacement shelving system, provided it will keep its shape and strength like Expedit. Some Kallax units are available for a modest extra cost in glossy, vivid colours, with all sizes being offered in birch-effect, black-brown and white. Watch IKEA.com for more colour options in the future.
In the USA, Kallax prices start from $59.99 for a 4 x 1 to $139 for a 4 x 4 unit (January 2015). That’s very hard to beat, price-wise, which also explains why IKEA units are so popular with record collectors.
Demise of the 5 x 5?
Expedit was offered in a 5 x 5 cube configuration, whereas Kallax is only available (at present) in a maximum of 4 x 4. For those of us with large LP collections this 36% reduction in maximum shelf capacity is a big deal, because it will mean buying additional units. That will make Kallax less cost-effective than its predecessor, at least for serious LP collectors and/or hoarders. I envisage a buoyant second-hand market for 5 x 5 Expedit units! Not sure whether IKEA will fill this gap in due course – watch this space for updates!
Home Made Storage
If you want something different, IKEA is not the only option when it comes to storing records. There are “specialist” record storage systems to suit most tastes, aesthetically-speaking. Some carry a high price tag that puts them beyond the budget of many record collectors, but there are notable exceptions. In the UK, for example, the I-Cube modular record storage system is reasonably priced, comes in a wide range of natural and painted wood finishes and can be wall-mounted,
“Handy” people can make great and unique storage units by upcycling old shelves or pieces of furniture. The key thing is to make sure the shelves won’t sag – records are not individually heavy, but a hundred records will surely distort a weak or unbraced shelf, or even collapse, with potential damage to your precious vinyl and/or covers. That’s something no collector needs.
Expedit braced each shelf at 35 cm (13.7 in.) intervals, which is a good rule of thumb. Each Expedit cube accepts around 75 LPs in covers, which will weigh in the region of 16.5 kilos (36.4 lbs), so a filled 4 x 2 Expedit will carry 132 kg (291 lbs) — bear that in mind when opting for a do-it-yourself or upcycling storage option.
It’s possible to construct LP and equipment storage using threaded steel rods, nuts, resilient washers and wooden or MDF shelves. The advantage of this design is adjustability and being able to precisely level each shelf. It also has a great “tech” look.
It’s an excellent adjustable solution for supporting vintage audio gear, as shown here, but would be an expensive (and less than ideal) way to go if you primarily wanted to store LPs.
Square crates, whether wood or plastic, can work well. Rough finishes on a wood crate can cause shelf wear on the base of your album covers, though, unless you have protective clear polythene/Mylar covers (which adds to weight but is highly recommended to keep your covers clean and un-scuffed).Crates can be stacked (within reason) and are easy to add as your collection grows. Finding crates of the right size is not always easy, though.
VHFSE member Jonathan Elder uses Peaches brand record crates to make good use of space beneath this antique table which doubles as an equipment stand.
Crates specially made for record storage are not cheap, and collectively will cost much more than Kallax as your record collection grows. They are not suitable for supporting equipment, either, so if space is at a premium for your gear and collection, I’d suggest one of the aforementioned solutions, which will safely handle both.
Design Sponge shows a step by step method to build your own record storage crates, which is going to save you money and is a great way to personalise your listening room.
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