I've actually had these shelves up for a couple years, but it was just recently that I finally took the time to attach the speakers. Pipe shelves seem to be all the rage and I have to say they look pretty classy, hipster, and rustic without breaking the bank. If you happen to use mason jars for drinking glasses and own a few chickens, or live in an industrial, exposed brink loft, these will fit right in!

I made these with the idea that they would be an addition to our "entertainment system", if you can call it that. We mostly watch Netflix and other streaming stuff on our Apple TV. I'm a bit of an audiophile though and I always have to have good sound, especially for music. To that end I bought a pair of Alesis Monitor One Mk II speakers when we moved into the new house. To maximize useable space, rather than have them sit on the table I designed the shelves to hold the speakers. The screen sits on top of the stereo receiver on the table below. Being a lazy git, it took me way too long to get around to actually mounting the speakers.

The shelves are made from 3/4" iron pipe and they are extremely easy to make. The shelves themselves are drilled so that the main pipe supports go through them in the front and the wood rests on a T fitting. The t-fitting extends to the back of the shelf with a short length of pipe and a 90-degree fitting supports the rear of the shelf. Each support section is screwed to the wall with base plates at top and bottom.

The speakers are held by separate base plate fittings added to the bottom. Screwing into the side of the speakers kindof made me cringe, I hate to put holes in such nice speakers, but the result was absolutely worth it. They look classy and actually sound better this way as well.

Sitting on the table they sounded pretty stunning, but suspended on the shelves they now sound noticeably better. Because the table is just about the same height as your head when sitting on the couch I think it was reflecting a lot of sound upward, either creating cancelation or just reflecting it upwards and cutting out some of the sound spectrum. Now that they are suspended they sound more full, even and crisp. I was actually amazed at the difference in sound quality.

The shelves are easy to build. I spend some time drawing out what I wanted based on the wall space I had available. The biggest hangup is to make sure you measure twice and drill once on the shelves. I screwed up the hole location on one board and had to throw it out. Make your holes a 1/4"-1/2" bigger than the pipe so that there's some slack, especially if your house is as crooked as ours, otherwise things will get hard to fit together. Attach the bottom base plates and build the shelves upward and finally screw in the top baseplates. Having a spirit level handy (I used the one on my iPhone) is essential. If they pipes are at all crooked it's very obvious!

I used raw iron pipe because I liked the look and it was way cheaper than galvanized. If you do the same, make sure to wash each pipe really well. It comes covered in oil that will get all over everything it touches. You have to scrub the pipes with a plastic brush and plenty of detergent to get it off. Let it air dry or dry it with a cloth. Don't let it sit around wet or you'll end up with rust…which might make a nice patina depending on what you're going for.

It wasn't particularly cheap, even though it seems like it should be. I spent about $100 on the pipe, the boards, stain and varnish would have been more but I already had them from some other shelves I got rid of. So, unless you can find a source of used or reclaimed pipe it can get kinda pricey. It won't beat Ikea but it's probably less than shelves at a furniture store, and better looking.

If you mount speakers pay attention to how close they are to the wall. If they are rear ported you can create really strange harmonics and/or muffle your speakers if those ports can't move enough air. If they are front ported or closed you can mount them right against the wall. My speakers have rear ports. I was a bit worried about mounting them so close to the wall but with about one and one-half inches of space they don't show any strange harmonics or other port noise even at pretty loud volumes. We never use them too loud anyway, so they probably aren't moving enough air for it to be an issue.

I've been incredibly impressed by these speakers so far, especially for acoustic music. They reproduce sounds that I've only been able to hear in high-end headphones. For instance, the Wailin' Jennies "Firecracker" is one of the best produced albums I've ever heard and on these speakers the instruments and voice mixing is so much fun to listen to, especially the mandolin, that I could listen for hours. You can clearly hear the placement of each instrument and voice in stereo-space and incredible nuances of the sound of each instrument jump out at you.

The MkII speakers are marketed to audio engineers as studio monitors, not to the home audio market. They have been extremely well reviewed by audio engineers and many people think that they perform well above their $200 price tag, hanging with the big dogs in terms of flat frequency response and crisp reproduction of sound. Depending on what you want in speakers this is either great or terrible for home audio. Some people prefer softer edges on their sound and super flat frequency response sounds too crisp and snappy to be enjoyable. But, companies like Klipsch have been making lots of money on extremely crisp sounding speakers for a long time, so depending on your tastes this isn't all bad.

I love them, but for people who tend to get fatigued by that level of crisp detail they might not be the best choice. Still, to my ear, they don't sound as unapproachable and harsh as some of the really crisp sounding Kliptch speakers and they are much more musical than a lot of hardcore studio monitors. For $200, or a lot less used, I doubt you could find better speakers even at double the price. Suspending them with a shelving system like this also really lets them shine.