Professional audio equipment is expensive, and replacing or repairing damaged gear cost significant time and money. To keep high-end rackmount gear safe, especially during touring gigs and other travel-intensive work, professionals and amateurs rely upon quality-built rackmount cases.
There are plenty of options for road cases on the market, yet for rack-mounted audio equipment, there are a select few brands that stand out among the competition. Though the brand is far from the most important factor of a given road case, it’s certainly worth considering when making a choice/purchase. With so many brands out there, we’ll focus our attention, in this article, on the top 11 best rackmount road case brands on the market.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Durability of the cases
- Variety of the cases
- Accessibility of the cases (how easy they are to find and purchase)
- Currently in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The top 11 best rackmount case brands on the market are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best rackmount case brands. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable set of strings, and a link to their official website.
The new millennium proved to be a pivotal moment for Crystal Morris and her father because that was the founding year of Gator Cases. They were introduced to the world during the 2000 NAMM fest and the rest, as they say, is music history.
Nowadays, Gator manufactures a catalogue of over 1,000 products inside the 180,000 square feet facility in Columbia City, Indiana, and ships them around the world to huge acclaim growing its reputation by the day.
Furthermore, they have been making racks and professional audio equipment for celebrities, studios, and multimillion-dollar projects virtually since day one, and that leverage of working under pressure could enhance your studio as well. Check them out before making any decisions.
Notable rackmount case: G-Tour 16U Cast ATA (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
Suppose you close your eyes and imagine how a rack case looks like when on a stage; you imagine a sticker-filled, scratched version of this Gator. Indeed, this 16-unit rack case is made of 9mm plywood and bears heavy-duty hardware as well as reinforced corners. Also, the recessed twist latches and 4 fixed, heavy-duty 4” casters (two of them are locking) make it a fortress on wheels.
You can never go wrong with a rack case like this; it will deliver time and again even in the most demanding scenarios possible.
Gator Co. was founded in 2000 by Crystal Morris and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, USA.
Official website: gatorcases.com
Parent company: Gator Co.
Gator is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
• Top 8 Best Microphone Stand Brands
• Top 11 Best Audio Studio Equipment Rack Brands On The Market
• Top 11 Best Pedalboard Brands On The Market
SKB started as a two-man dream in a small garage in Anaheim, California. The year was 1977, and neither Dave Sanderson nor Steve Kottman could ever imagine what would happen after that first guitar case.
Today, SKB is a worldwide corporation that sells all kinds of cases to athletes, musicians, and even the military; they manufacture a long list of OEM cases, too.
Arguably, SKB is the biggest, best-known cases brand in the world. In the rare case you haven’t owned one yet, you have to give them a chance before making your next purchase; their reputation is 100% true.
Notable rackmount case: 3SKB-R12U20W (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
Upon a first look, this unit by SKB looks like a rolling fortress to store your treasures at. Indeed, the entire structure is surrounded by a 20-inch deep tough shell that provides ultimate stiffness even on the sides. This means you can not only take it carelessly on tour but also pile them up together if you need to. Furthermore, the Elastometric shocks protect the load even from the heaviest bumps on the road.
The standard for SKB is including a retractable handle, a pressure-relief valve, oversized handles, roller blade wheels, and front and rear doors protected by a gasket. It doesn’t get much tougher than this out there.
SKB Cases was founded in 1977 by Dave Sanderson and Steve Kottman in Anaheim, California. Today the headquarters is located in Orange, California, USA.
Official website: skbcases.com
The year was 1993, and pro musician Paul Savasta was beginning to understand the music business differently. He founded Odyssey Pro Sound in Salem, Massachusetts, to bring to his pairs the quality he thought, after endless touring and recording, rack units and studio furniture should have.
Although Odyssey also sells hand-picked vintage equipment, the brand made a name for providing cost-effective, bulletproof racks for musicians in the studio and on the road.
After 28 years of successfully navigating the market, Paul and his team not only excel at customer service, they also offer some of the best rack cases in the market today.
Notable rackmount case: FZ1416W (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video)
With space for a total of 30 units (14 for the slanted top and 16 for the vertical bottom), this is every musician’s dream for on-the-road knob twisting. Because of the dual design, you can have your go-to gear on top for easy access and leave the rest underneath for occasional touches.
All of this happens inside a 3/8” ply construction put together with heavy-duty hardware (including ball corners) and over a set of 3” wheels to move it freely. If you need a rack this size to hit the road, this might be your best bet.
Odyssey was founded in 1993 by Paul Savasta in Salem, Massachusetts. The company headquarters is now located in San Gabriel, California, USA.
Official website: odysseygear.com
Odyssey is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
• Top 11 Best Audio Studio Equipment Rack Brands On The Market
Pelican is not like any other brand in this list; lives literally depend on their cases. This company, founded by diving enthusiast Dave Parker in 1976 in sunny California, provides cases for the military, divers, firefighters, and other extremely demanding professions excelling at each of them. Pelican cases are made to withstand even the harshest conditions remaining sealed and perfect.
Pelican grew a worldwide reputation for being the best cases money can buy; if they are good for divers to trust their lives on, they are great for your gear too.
Notable rackmount case: Blackbox-7U-SAE (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video)
Made out of Black-463 blended resin, this 7-unit rack case can carry up to 45 kilograms in its interior. It features 8 cylindrical Elastometric shock mounts, 8 grip comfort handles, rolling wheels, and the safety protection we would expect from Pelican.
If it needs to be on the road and stay safe, no other brand offers the protection Pelican can.
Pelican was founded in 1976 by Dave Parker in Torrance, California, USA, where the company headquarters is still located today.
Official website: pelican.com
A group of sound and video professionals got together to found a company that could satisfy their needs for heavy-duty, feature-filled, dependable cases for their gear. That was back in 1984, and today, several decades later, the company grew to be one of the most sought-after options in the market.
Based in Bayonne, NJ, Pro-X Live Performance Gear offers solutions for all kinds of professionals, from cases for musical instruments, DJs, and studio gear to state-of-the-art lighting and even full stages.
This understanding of the music business is the leverage that could turn into your competitive advantage; trust your gear to Pro-X, it’ll be in safe hands.
Notable rackmount case: T-18RSS Amp Rack ATA (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video)
If it is 19” gear and you need to fly with it, this vertical flight rack case by Pro-X is a great option to travel safely and gain peace of mind. Indeed, this 18-unit rack case is an ATA-300 style flight road case that features industrial strength latches, rubber feet, and heavy-duty, powerful ball corners.
Entirely made of laminated 3/8” 9mm plywood, it rolls gently on 4 heavy-duty 4” casters and will last you for a lifetime.
Pro-X was founded in 1984 in Brooklyn, New York. The company is headquartered in Bayonne, New Jersey, USA.
Official website: proxdirect.com
The Grundorf Corporation was founded in 1984 by Frank Grund in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The initial idea was to provide quality repairs for musicians on tour when passing through town. Such was Frank’s skill that companies the size of Celestion started using his knowledge as a consultant to develop better, tougher equipment that wouldn’t break when on the road.
Fast forward to the present, the company grew so much that it is now divided into the Audio Design Division and the Case and Accessory Division. Both provide top-notch, road-tested products that can withstand the hardships of any tour or venue. If you want your gear to be safe and sound and gain peace of mind, Grundorf is a must-check before buying.
Notable rackmount case: Protective AMP Rack Case 12RU (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video)
Covered with an ultra-high molecular weight 3mm-thick ABS shell and made with a heavy-duty aluminum extrusion, this rack case ensures the lucky owner many years of use. Furthermore, the gasket-fitted front and rear lids protect the gear also from moisture and dirt. Finally, the rack case could roll on 2” casters on a dolly plate as an optional addition.
The Grundorf Corporation was founded in 1984 by Frank Grund in Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA, where the company headquarters is located today.
Official website: grundorf.com
In 2020, Explorer Cases celebrated its 50th anniversary of excellence in producing top-notch, military-grade cases. It could be thought of like the European version of Pelican, whose cases could endure weather as harsh as that of the Arctic Pole. Indeed, cases by Explorer Cases, made in Bologna, Italy, have travelled the world and back, protecting the most expensive and fragile photography and measurement equipment flawlessly.
With that level of protection, you can surely trust your gear in the hands of these experts that have been making superior cases for half a century and are as current as day one.
Notable rackmount case: 7641 15U (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video)
Although it is not technically a rack case, this case by Explorer Cases features the perfect size to become one with minor adjustments.
Some of the qualities that set this case apart from the rest are, for example, the self-oiling free running wheels, corrosion-proof metal hinges (with lid stay features), a metal purge valve, and a sealing O-ring.
If you want the best protection for your gear, Explorer Cases can provide the perfect canvas.
Explorer Cases was founded in 1970 as part of GT LINE Srl in Italy. Today the company is headquartered in Bologna, Italy.
Official website: explorercases.com
Parent company: GT Line Srl
Afshin Zakhor founded Pro Cases Inc in 1993 in Los Angeles, California. He was, at the time, a frequent flying passenger and thus, needed some high-quality flying cases for his gear. As they say, need is the mother of all invention, and Afshin decided to create a company that would manufacture the kind of cases he would like to buy.
Nowadays, driven by passion and pushed forward by the public’s critical acclaim, Pro Cases manufactures cases for anything that might need to be carried safely on a flight and then some. Perhaps, the best way to talk about their quality is by saying that they offer a limited lifetime warranty on every case they sell.
If your rack needs to be on the move, it will be safe inside a Pro Cases rack case.
Notable rackmount case: AC-RK-20 (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video)
This rugged, ATA-compliant rackmount case houses up to 20 units inside a structure made of 3/8” plywood rolling over four 3.5” casters. These casters are built on a 1/2” plywood caster board. This allows you to fly your rack without any wheels hassles and then get it on the board to roll it into position in every venue. Finally, the recessed hardware is great for flying in tight spots.
Pro Cases was founded in 1993 by Afshin Zakhor in Los Angeles, California, USA, where the company headquarters is still located today.
Official website: procases.com
Bill LaGuardia and a group of friends decided to start a business in their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, in 1985 but could have never foreseen that, 36 years later, LM cases would be one of the most prominent names in the cases industry.
Throughout these past three-and-a-half decades, they have built countless cases for military, sports, and, above all, the music industry. Each of them was handmade with obsessive attention to detail in their Youngstown 43,000 square feet facility and shipped to every corner of the world you might think of. Moreover, they have established a “Zero-Risk Guarantee,” which means that they’ll build your case to your exact specs, and if they fail to deliver exactly the way you want it, they’ll do it again until it is right.
Trust your gear in the hands of experienced, skillful people and enjoy the wonders of handmade cases with outstanding craftsmanship.
Notable rackmount case: 12U ATA Rack Case (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
A 3/8” plywood structure covered entirely in ABS plastic laminate with recessed, top-notch hardware and wheels that meet ATA 300 specifications could be the best vessel for your precious gear to fly from one gig to the next.
Well, this rack case by LM is exactly that with the added bonus of expert craftsmanship and a guarantee that it will meet your specific specs, or they’ll do it again.
LM Cases was founded in 1985 by Bill LaGuardia in Youngstown, Ohio, USA, where the company headquarters is still located today.
Official website: lmcases.com
Roland is one of the best-known names in the music business for being the brand behind the sound of an entire generation of breakthrough musicians. It was Ikutaro Kakehashi who founded it in Osaka, Japan, in 1972 and also the one who kept the same spirit of achieving excellence through innovation that sustained the brand at the top of the industry for almost five decades.
This same spirit and passion can be seen in every product coming out of their multiple factories, including rack cases. Furthermore, a company responsible for such equipment as the Space Echo knows very well how to build state-of-the-art cases to carry it flawlessly around the world.
Trust your gear in the hands of experts buying your case from Roland.
Notable rackmount case: Black Series Road Case 8 RU (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video)
Roland’s Black Series might be one of the sturdiest in the market, conceived especially for the producer or musician on the move. To begin with, it is entirely made of premium 3/8” plywood underneath a rugged black vinyl laminate. Also, the tongue and groove aluminum valances make it even sturdier. Finally, the heavy-duty hardware, including the recessed handles and locks, make it perfect for tight flying spaces.
Roland was founded in 1972 by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka, Japan. The company is headquartered in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan (moved in 2005).
Official Website: roland.com
Roland is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
• Top 11 Best MIDI Controller Brands In The World
• Top 11 Best Synthesizer Brands In The World
• Top 9 Best Digital Piano Brands In The World
• Top 7 Best MIDI Cable Brands In The World
• Top 11 Audio Portable/Field Audio Mixer/Recorder Brands
Sound Town Inc. is a relatively new player to the game, created by a group of professionals in 2005. Thus, the know-how applied to the manufacturing of each piece is comparable to that of companies that have been in the business for much longer.
Since Sound Town manufactures a wide array of products, including superb speaker cabinets. The company’s cases department takes a lot from that knowledge and applies it to constructing some of the most rugged and dependable rack cases available today.
Notable rackmount case: Shock Mount 12U ATA STRC-SP12UW (link to check the price on Amazon)
This unit houses polyethylene shock-absorbing foam which is perfect for protecting ultra-sensitive gear on the road. Plus, the polyethylene is housed inside a heavy-duty plywood case with industrial-grade latches that roll gently over top-notch casters. Finally, the black finish rubber-gripped handles and top-quality locks make it as safe as it is visually appealing.
Sound Town was founded in 2005, and the company headquarters is located in Walnut, California, USA.
Official website: soundtown.com