Best Buy and Lifestyle design company Maria Yee Inc., have teamed up to offer their Magnolia Home Theater customers in New York and Los Angeles, an exclusive three-piece collection of home theater furniture.
Targeting the discerning home theater user, this fine line of media cabinets is one of the very few – if not the only line of AV rack systems – that adopt a complete eco-friendly cabinet solution while offering unique style and functionality. Read here to discover more.
AV Cabinets for today’s Home Theaters
As more consumers invest in the latest flat-panel LED and plasma HDTVs, multichannel surround sound and related home theater gear, more and more realize the need for a dedicate AV cabinet to house their system components.
The reality is that keeping the electronics in an appropriately designed equipment cabinet will help ensure the safety of your gear. Merge this with good style and there you have a nice piece of home theater furniture to display your expensive electronics. However, it requires more than just good styling to have a functional home media cabinet.
Built-quality, equipment access, ventilation, and vibration control, are all primary issues one should consider when searching for a home media cabinet. Why?
Built-quality: Home theater electronics can be extremely heavy. A 58-inch plasma may weigh over 140lbs, while the total weight of a complete home theater setup – excluding the speakers – may easily exceed 200lbs. This means that these units have to be robust; in particular, the supporting shelves and top should be able to take the weight of the heavy electronics without deforming over time.
Ease of Equipment Access: The ideal media cabinet should give you full access to both the front and rear panels, so all wiring and controls are easily accessible.
Ventilation: Amplification gear in home theater systems can generate a lot of heat, which if left to accumulate around system components, will damage your equipment. Satisfactory ventilation – whether passive or active – is of prime importance, especially when dealing with enclosed AV equipment racks.
Vibration Control: Any home theater furniture should give adequate attention to vibration control. There is nothing more annoying than the rattling sound of glass, shelves, etc., from the surrounding furniture every time you turn up the volume control.
[More on what to look for when selecting your media cabinet can be found in our article: Rack Selection and Equipment Mounting Tips.]
Editor’s Note October 2012: Merging these technical requirements for a functional media cabinet, with good design that complements today’s stylish flat-panel displays and home theater system components is surely not easy.
Yet when contemporary home media furniture designer Maria Yee came out with her original line of AV cabinets in 2007, she succeeded in full. Maia Yee managed to come with an exclusive line of products that was not only functional, but also offered a combination of elegant design and technology to bring out the best in any home entertainment system.
This line of media cabinets was sold through Best Buy Magnolia Home Theater stores. Since then, the models featured in this review were replaced by new designs; the original review is being published to serve as reference especially for DIY enthusiast who would like to design their media cabinet themselves. For more information on available new designs from Maria Yee, please visit the Marie Yee website at www.mariayee.com
The Maria Yee EcoLuxury™ line of Media Cabinets: A new proposition in home theater furniture
Unique Concept in AV Equipment Cabinet Design
The Maria Yee line of eco-friendly media cabinets – available for store pickup from Best Buy Magnolia Home Theater stores in New York and Los Angeles, consists of a unique three-piece collection, with each piece set to address different customer needs. These are:
Pasadena: 66-inch 3-door console
Malibu: 60-inch 2-door console
Belvedere: 75-inch 2-door, 2-drawer console
These media cabinets can take flat-panel displays from up to 50-inch for the smaller Malibu unit, reaching a maximum of around 70-inch for the larger Belvedere console. Maximum TV weight that these units can handle is 200lbs.
This rated load bearing capacity for the TV renders these media consoles more than adequate for any display size. A typical 65-inch plasma weighs no more than 165 lbs, while one of the latest inch-thick LED TVs weighs even less. Furthermore, the internal shelves can hold up to 50 lbs each – more than is necessary for a typical high-end AV receiver.
The EcoLuxury line of AV furniture does not come cheap – but it is still affordable. Price wise, these units compare favorably with similar size ready-to-assembly media cabinets from other brands.
However, these media consoles have an edge over competition. They add that extra touch of class to your home entertainment area, through a sophisticated trend-setting design that contrasts heavily with the many ready-to-assemble home theater furniture options presently available on the market.
An Innovative line of Eco-Friendly AV Cabinets.
The Maria Yee home theater furniture is innovative not only in its design concept, but equally important, in the way it makes use of environmentally friendly materials – like BambooTimbre™ and Ghinmu hardwood wood – in the construction of these media consoles.
BambooTimbre™ is a patent pending bamboo board created by Maria Yee. This material is harder and more stable than red oak, exceeds the tensile strength of steel and is heat, water and alcohol resistant. These characteristics make it ideal for crafting furniture and large objects – including media cabinets designed to carry the heavy electronics associated with home entertainment systems.
Bamboo is fast catching up with its new role as an easily renewable resource. Compared with hardwood trees, bamboo has a short maturity cycle of 5 to 10 years, and regenerates from the original plant clump, replenishing itself with virtually no impact to the environment. Maria Yee’s innovative ‘EcoLuxury’ line of bamboo media cabinets is a beautiful example of the use of environmentally friendly materials in the furniture industry.
BambooTimbre is made with timber bamboo by splitting, layering and bonding the bamboo culms in defined patterns for improved structural integrity. Home theater furniture handcrafted in BambooTimber uses Maria’s patent pending BambooJoinery™ system. Like classic wood joinery, BambooJoinery do not use any nails, screws or fasteners; instead, it relies on precisely fitted joinery.
EcoLuxury™ Media Cabinets: Main Technical Features
There is more than just a trendy look and an innovative eco-friendly furniture making process to this line of solid-built media cabinets. Main features include:
1. Easy installation: The solid bamboo/hardwood back panels as well as the front sliding glass doors can be easily removed by the user during equipment installation.
2. Ventilation system: These media cabinets come with thoughtfully designed openings in the removable back panels and shelves that effectively channel cool air in while allowing the hot air around system components to escape out of the unit. The use of a passive ventilation system is ideal with these types of media cabinets as it eliminates fan noise in the listening area.
3. Cable Management Support: Back panels and shelves feature appropriate cable management openings to allow for the installation of AV interconnects between system components (vide picture). As already indicated, back panels can also be completely removed if the need arise to facilitate organizing the AV cables during installation.
4. Vibration control: All sliding glass doors and the center speaker drawer front panels are equipped with anti-vibration mechanism to ensure that even the heaviest bass won’t result in some unpleasant rattling noise coming out of these units.
5. Minimal Assembly: Unlike the majority of ‘ready-to-assemble’ AV cabinets and TV stands which have to be assembled by the user on site, the Maria Yee line comes fully assembled and all it takes is to load in your system. The only minimal assembly by the user is to put in place the front sliding doors and back panels once the system components have been installed.
Pasadena Media Cabinet
The Pasadena Media cabinet is the only media console within the EcoLuxury line that is handcrafted in solid Ghinmu, a responsibly forested Chinese hardwood; the wood is finished using hand-rubbed nitrocellulose lacquer.
The dark ebony finish on the Pasadena console provides the perfect match with any room decor and system components. In addition, at 66-inches, the Pasadena media console is suitable for flat-panel TVs up to 60-inch diagonal.
The unit features a total of six wooden shelves housed in three internal compartments. The outer left and right compartments are 21-inch wide, while the center compartment is 20-inch in width; internal height is 187/8 inch.
Each of the front glass sliding doors is equipped with vibration-dampening mechanism. The top panel on the center sliding door has an acoustically transparent fabric-cover as standard instead of glass to enable for the correct placement of the center speaker just beneath the TV. A user-interchangeable metal grid panel is also provided – as part of the package – as a replacement to the fabric panel to accommodate different customer needs.
The original line released in 2007 included the Malibu unit – the smallest in the range.
It was made from BambooTimbre and used frosted instead of the clear glass doors as used on the Pasadena and the Belvedere, providing a beautiful contrast with the dark cellulose lacquer finish.
Unfortunately, this model has now been discontinued.
The Belvedere media console is the largest unit in this line of eco-friendly home theater furniture. Handcrafted in BambooTimbre, this robustly built unit can easily take a 65-inch plasma TV in addition to a full range of AV system components.
The Belvedere is a two-door, two-drawer home theater media console.
From a design perspective, it is somewhat similar to the Pasadena console in that it is also divided into three main sections. However, it has a few distinctive differences to accommodate different customer needs.
While still using the same hand-rubbed nitrocellulose lacquer process used on the other units, yet the Belvedere comes in slightly lighter amber finish instead of the darker ebony finish found on the Pasadena.
The side compartments measure 20-inch (W) x 19.25-inch (D) with a divider shelf fixed at half-height for a total of four storage spaces for system components. The center compartments are 27-5/8-inches in width; the top compartment is designed to accommodate a center speaker just underneath the TV unit, while the lower part consists of a concealed under-mount gliding drawer designed specifically for CD/DVD organization.
Like the Pasadena, the center speaker compartment includes an acoustically transparent fabric cover; a user interchangeable metal grid is also provided for a more stylish look.
As with the rest of the EcoLuxury line of home media cabinets, back panels and sliding doors can be easily removable during equipment installation.
Included with all glass sliding doors, there is the same vibration-dampening mechanism found on the other models, while an added feature on the Belvedere is the use of self-closing drawer mechanism for a smooth movement action.
24-inches (H) x 75-inches (W) x 23-inch (D)
The Maria Yee line of EcoLuxury media cabinets – available from Best Buy Magnolia Home Theater stores – represents an ideal match between good home theater furniture design that blends perfectly well with any room decor, and product functionality.
Thanks to their exclusive design – simple yet unique – these media cabinets can literally transform any home entertainment setup into a showcase of the latest technology… into the center of attraction!