Media Shelf Guide

Do you need media storage but are unsure what to look for?  This guide will help you pinpoint the type of media shelves you need and to make an informed decision.

There are basically just 2 types of media shelving:

  1. Shelving that is exclusively designed to house your CDs and/or DVDs — like the Prepac Slim Barrister Tower and the Venture Horizon Media Tower.  Usually these types of media shelves are simply meant to showcase your collections.
  2. Shelving that is meant to store your audio/video components.  The RTA Home and audio rack is an example of a shelving system meant to do this.  Usually this type of shelving is reserved for higher end components although most of us look for a media shelf that is a hybrid of both.

How to choose the best media shelf for your money

There are a number of things to look for when you are looking to buy shelving.  Some of these are absolute necessities if you are storing components.  Others are more for aesthetic reasons and depend on what you can and can’t live with.

The Necessities:

  • Ample ventilation–  This is especially important if you have something that exudes a good amount of heat, like a plasma TV.  Some components will radiate heat even when they aren’t on so things like doors, although aesthetically pleasing because you can “tuck” things away, could damage to your electronics.  The best A/V media shelving units will have ventilation built into their design.
  • Adjustable shelving–  If you can’t find a media shelving unit with adjustable shelves, the unit you choose will need to take into account the dimensions of each of your components.  Fortunately, most media shelving, regardless of whether it is for CD/DVD storage or A/V components, provides adjustable shelves.
  • A way to easily run wires between components–  If you aren’t using a free standing system, then you will need to ensure there is an easy way to be able to run wires to and from the various A/V components.  Many units with a closed back offer access the components via holes punched out in the back.  On other models, the back can be removed for access.
  • Stability– In all likelihood, you are going to want to place a TV on top of your shelf.  You want to make sure that there is no chance that it can be tipped over and that the unit is stable.  Further, some audio components need good stability to function properly.


  • In addition to this, you may want to find a shelf that has tracks or a way to hide unsightly wires.  This should be especially important if you have one that is free standing and open.  The best media shelves provide a way to tame the “rat’s nest” of cables and wires associated with your components.

Out of all these things, it is very important that your shelving accommodates proper ventilation.  The cooler your components are, the better and longer they will work.  If you have to consider “stacking” your components, opt for a shelf that can house each side by side.  An open unit is much better than a closed system and like I said before, if you own a high heat source component like a plasma TV, it isn’t an option; it’s a necessity.