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The Future of Pedalboards

Discussion in 'The Rack Space' started by Husky, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    An observation, please discuss.

    Back in the day (70's), we were about 3 or 4 effects running straight in to loud amps.
    When the amps distorted though you are also distorted delay and reverb etc, not really ideal for most situations.

    Then Rack effects, preamp and power amps or amps with drive in the preamp and effects loops seem to become the way to go. This way the distortion happens first then you have reverbs and delays just like what would normally happen in a studio.

    Then people stripped back down to small pedalboards because the racks were too big and clumsy.
    But then comes the 4 cable methods because people were seeing the issues with effects becoming distorted.

    Now Pedalboards are back and modeling pedalboards as well, many times the pedalboards are way bigger and clumsier than the rack would have been to get the same tones, or the modeling rigs need support to get better tone on stage and powered monitors seem to be needed for many, weight savings starts to disappear. Ive seen some like Landau Mic their combo and feed the effects with that and have effect only cabs.

    Its like I have to wonder are we cycling back towards racks? Instead of 4 cable all the way out to the floor and back does it make more sense to have a nice controller brain again and keep time based effects back by the amp in a loop and only a few pedals and the controller out front? I wonder this because pedalboards are getting massively ridiculous these days and when I look at all the cabling I've even considered using something like an AXEFX at the amp and having minimal amount of pedals in front, this can work great if you have an amp that you like the drive tones from and like the amp.
    NitroLiq, ejblives, huw and 11 others like this.
  2. Imperial_Tone

    Imperial_Tone All things with a Maple Cap

    Jun 21, 2013
    Naples, FL
    I scaled way back on my personal board. Interestingly enough I did go back to a rack system as I found it way easier to manage then a loaded PT-Pro with a switcher. Now im running a 14u rack with a nice little midi switcher and volume/expression pedals and couldn't be happier. Instead of looking at the latest multi effect pedal to reduce space on the large spaceship pedalboard im actually playing more music. Not to mention the nightmare of tearing apart a board to add the latest effect or a bad patch cable malfunction.
    ctreitzell likes this.
  3. hydroquebec

    hydroquebec Member

    Feb 7, 2012
    Montreal, Canada
    I think that I am probably in the minority, but digital pedals just weren't enough for me. I'm quite happy with analog pedals and use a number of them for gain and compression, but all of my digital pedals left me questioning how the sounds were made.

    When I got my first rack reverb, more parameters were exposed to me (it was an Alesis Midiverb4), but my desire to learn just grew stronger from there. I started to search out devices that were within my budget that had lots of stuff to tweak and were known for great basic algorithms, like the Lexicon PCM80. Eventide pedals were always on my pedal board and I knew the Eclipse was quite configurable + within my price range, so I also went for one of those. Stacking a second Eclipse connected digitally in serial opened up even more possibilities.

    But even still, I wanted to really get into the algorithms and start creating my own, so an Eventide H8000FW arrived last week. Perhaps now with my hands on vSig, I'll be learning more than ever.
  4. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2010
    Stabekk, Norway
    With todays technology it sure should be possible to make racks smaller, the problem with all the awsome stuff that still rules is the weight and size. Especially the depth.
    Also you need a mixer , and **** adds up quickly and suddenly you're stuck with a 100lbs beast. :p
    So I can understand why many has gone Fractal, just for the effects part.

    But I'd welcome a change towards racks, because that could eventually mean some heavyweights could start looking into making more manageable hardware.
    ctreitzell likes this.
  5. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    I have an early AxeFx pro.
    I’m thinking about putting that in the loop of the PT100 or Hedgehog and using the ES8 as a midi switcher, maybe an eclipse in front and compression and focus on playing. Hmmmm

    I guess what I’m saying is that despite people going for smaller and more compact these pedalboards are becoming massive and heavy.
  6. JMMP1

    JMMP1 Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    Excellent observation John. If anyone is able to comment on the eb and flows of rig construction, it’s you.

    I’m into rack gear because it puts everything in one central location, is programmable, and is highly standardized. If I was in an originals band, my rig would be an 8-10 space shock rack on wheels and 2 1x12 cabs. In the places I’m playing right now (church on the weekends), it is only practical to use a pedalboard (PT-2 with 8 or so pedals on it). Once I get more familiar with the sound men, I’m going to ask about bringing my rack stuff sometimes, because it seems so much easier, and I might actually be able to play in stereo (hurray!)

    The other step I’m working on is a rig like Landau’s you described. To me, that is the ultimate setup, as the effects units aren’t being dampened by the speaker choice, plus it works like a studio setup. The benefit to that is being able to unhook from the guitar amp and feed any tracks from a mixer into the same rack and getting the great Eventide and Lexicon effects on those sounds.

    I’m not sure if we will get to the point where lots of new rack stuff will come out, as it seems lots are moving to software based solutions, plus a lot of newer rack gear that has come out hasn’t worked the best (I’m thinking about some recent TC stuff, namely). As far as catching on again, rack gear isn’t as easily traded (shipped) as pedals are, but I hope it does, as players can see the different unique sounds one can get from the magic world of rackmounted.

    Also something that should be mentioned is how many larger boards have as much midi implementation as your basic rack construction, Ie tap tempo, presets, and some expression.
    Beagle1 and ctreitzell like this.
  7. friesencr

    friesencr Member

    May 18, 2017
    My rack:
    Torpedo Live
    Fryette Powerstation
    Lexicon PCM81

    This is going to be kind of rambly sorry. The rambling more or less re-enforces your point. I am just getting into racks but do have an obnoxious pedalboard. I am hooking up a Suhr Corso into a Fryette Powerstation and using the fx out to feed into a 16 channel mackie mixer. From the mixer I have a sub group to go back to the pedal board for the 4cm. That subgroup I can use the torpedo, mics, or the fx loop of the power station to feed the fx section of my pedalboard. I also have a PCM 81 on the rack. The pcm 81 loves it line level it sounds much better hot. I absolutely love the sound of the lexicon with the analog dry mixed in. If the gains are not optimized there is hiss. When I record I use a mono miked cab dry with 2 mics and run my fx to my computer. I don't have enough matched amps/cabs yet to record wet stereo cabs so I don't have an opinion on the sound of them.

    The pedal board is so confused. The H9s like it hot but all the other stuff likes it not. The H9, to my ears, does not perform well at all at lower input. I also do not like losing the analog signal. I have a DD-500 but I don't really like many sounds on it. All of the pedalboard switchers only have 1-2 stereo loops and you lose your stereo if you want to purpose an H9 for anything other than a time based effect. You end up chaining stereo pedals on the stereo loop. The fact that the H9 has come up so many times in this so far is part of the problem. It is the only high end multi-fx pedal that does lots of things and it does not have an internal mixer and it also is very limited by it's 9 knob algorithms. If there was a really high end, compact, multi fx pedal that did everything well I don't know if it would be as big of a deal. The boss-ms3 is a really good idea but then you are forced to use bosses stuff except for 3 mono loops. If you had to build a cheap simple board the ms3 might be the way to go though.

    I have used modelers and have no interest in using them for my "core tone". I prefer analog pedals in front of the amp. I really like being able to move around wah/compressor/drive/volume/modulation pedals. I need a fuzz, low gain, medium gain, high gain. I need a compressor, wah. Preamps w/ presets and multi channel amps can replace most of the drive section of my board. 8 loops is not enough. My solution to too many pedals is putting pedals on rack shelves and chaining Voodoo PX-8s. A rack with an eclipse and pcm 81 with the analog dry mixed in will sound better. Heck maybe even a rack helix or axe fx. Running a send from a helix or axe-fx into a looper before the amp might make the rig more versatile without unacceptable loss for some supplemental tones.

    I would love to replace my mixer with something rackmounted and small. I wish the stereo loops on switchers were configurable series/parallel. I would love to see a 500 series format for guitar fx with order and toggling/bypass standardized. Run a snake to a controller. You might be able to do 1 digital conversion if it was standardized and you could get rid of cables. My man cave can't take anymore on the floor, got to go up.
  8. ctreitzell

    ctreitzell Member

    Oct 26, 2017
    France/ UK
    I used to use a pretty small rack when I was gigging in the 90s; just 3 x 1U boxes. It still added up to a bunch of gear to lug around, speaker cabs, guitars, cables, stands, etc. I got to where I just wanted one unit that handled preAmp and FX, so I did that for a little while. Then I just wanted to plug in and play for the past 15 years, and just didn’t bother with FX: guitar>cable>amp.

    IMO, compared to a pedals board on the floor, rack seems cleaner. Just a footcontroller and maybe a couple of expression pedals. I wouldn't want a refridgerator, or even a washing machine sized rack to lug around for gigs; for home a huge rack works for me tho.

    I keep banging on about it: using a mixer style midi controller (ie Evolution UC33) to Real Time control preAmp and FX parameters alongside midi footcontroller for program changes and expression pedals is akin to lifting your pedals board up off the floor as well as having real time control of rack unit parameters that you would otherwise have to limit the controllable parameters to a few expression pedals or pre-program modulation into an algorithm or similar. Clearly a better midi controller than the UC33 is in order.

    There is also the way we translate amp cab sounds to a recorder or audience: it is typically one mic on the best speaker (per cab), yet that is not how we actually hear speaker cabinets in reality. I am not calling for modelling, here, just bringing the situation up. If you want to record what you are hearing from your rig, you will need a duplicate setup in a recording friendly environment or else there will be unwanted sounds :)
  9. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2005
    NYC area
    Still love pedals--but for home playing around. If I have a gig I bring my AX8, a solid state power amp and light as hell Matrix Neo. I'm happy.
    Ryan P. and Leon Todd like this.
  10. looper309

    looper309 Member

    Nov 17, 2009
    We need a full-featured rackmount LOOPER. Take everything good from the Boomerang, Infinity, Lexicon and DigiTech JamMans. (Edit: Gibson Echoplex and Looperlative too)
    It could be done at a price point of $6-799.
    I'd rather live with the limitations of my 20 year old Lexicon JamMan, than run ~50 feet of cable from rack to a pedal format stereo looper.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
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  11. BJF

    BJF Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Hi there,

    Yes one can certainly wonder if racks are are going to be back in black. Funny though back in the 70’s I recall onboard preamps and even effects to make amps distort more, but that was before master volume and batteries for those preamps constantley dying. That’s more common on basses these days but then with some basses you can have phantom power…Yes pedal set ups have come a long way since days of the red,orange and mustard yellow on a string. The first time I helped build a pedalboard and it was one of the first I had heard of was in the mid 80’s and it was a problem even then since when it was done there was another effect that needed to go on there…
    I kept all my own pedals on top of amp so I could swap them at will and also switched everthing by hand except a lead/rythm switch that I had brought down on stage to select pedalchain 1 or 2. Yes then came racks. At the time effects in racks had no counterpart in pedals and specifically reverbs were too complex to build in pedals-
    building a convincing reverb with BBD could take up something like 10 SAD1024’s just for the delay medium and each with its own clock and then something to randomize a couple of cells, but anyway rack effects were considered superior to pedals. many of todays pedals are considerably more hitech than racks in those days.I guess one could possibly argue if racks can be superior to pedals today? I can see the benefit of having the complete system in a box on wheels and just hooking up speakers..but I also recall with such systems how they were time consuming to set up and the amount of wiring brought on the popularity of a small box I haven’t seen in years that was just treble bass and volume with a circuit from Phillips Radio TV handbook of 1979as a tool to overcome losses-like with today’s pedalboards you more or less needed a tech to hook it all up, and the top that off came midi. I know guitarists that spent more time programming midi than they did practicing ;) A couple of years later many I know say gigs have became smaller and an amp with some pedals would do. I see many of those riding with big shows and acts running highly customized amps and some pedals and then medium sized pedal can do more things than the most advanced rack effects back in the day. First generation racks though should really possible have a new spring due to some of the lofi sounds really hard to get today-or I guess there are pedals even for those sounds?
    Oh yes I do have a rack too with four distortion engines,noisegates remote wha/ envelope filter,reverb, delay and four preamp modules in stereo and powered by 2x200W power amp-great sounds but major pain hauling around and in stereo that would be two 4x12’s- so I went and bought a Marshall Super Bass after seeing Pete Thorn’s video of 16 guitarists playing a Marshall on 10 and realizing I had never before owned a Marshall head- and that’s actually an amp i use from day to day,while the rack only gets dusted off a couple of times a year.
    Something I see though much more is virtual effects and programs downloadable to digital amps.

    You know I think sometimes pedalboards are like Lego in the sense that it seems to be fun to build meticously neat cities of pedals and even making the colours match.

    About Mike Landau running his amp through effects it’s well in line with getting a direct feel and hey here’s the sound-let’s reverb it:) Yes I see that a lot too that even to this day amp distortion rules.Then again today there are so much better choices fuzz/overdrive/distortion than there ever were and I see my local favourite music store has 117 fuzz pedals in stock, which is a major change from the first time I went shopping for a fuzz and there was just one store that had one fuzz- and it was not the fuzz model that Jimi Page was using :(

    Since racks declined sometime 90’s a reaction was to go back to just guitar and amp and since then complexity builds with pedals and now you can get a digital modeller that can do it all and then you can download other guy’s programs and anything new virtually via your smartphone….but does that give the Woooaaahha?

    In a way guitarists are as customers among the most conservative there are. Oh yes I too.

    Personally I think racks can be cool- I just don’t enjoy dragging one around-it’s also so that it’s visually more rock’n’roll rolling a 100W tubehead on a 4x12 down a dark alley 4 in the morning than it is rolling a rack. Traditionally gear is also about appearence and I recall this guy that looked like a rockstar and carried a guitar case and he probably was one because the case was empty as he had pawned the guitar :) No I never heard him play a note….

    Just some thoughts...


    this post contains Mr Distorted’s Opinion

    "What It Is" Steven Bruton

    "The Truth Is Unbelievable"

    BJF Electronics
    Companies I do designs for in no particular order

    No longer affiliated with MP Amplification Ltd while MP Amplification Ltd will continue to produce 42 products my designs have resulted in
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
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  12. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2013
    Vancouver BC
    I go back and forth.

    Monday I have a gig with guitar->tuner->1x12 channel switcher.

    Tuesday I have a rehearsal with my small board/small head/2x12.

    Meanwhile, I’m planning to rebuild my big midi board (Strymons, Switchblade, etc) and my small rack (based around M4, Switchblade, and an Eclipse).

    They all have their pros and cons. The common factor? They all get killer tones!!
    rsm and ctreitzell like this.
  13. hurtwoodec

    hurtwoodec Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2012
    The Land Downunder
    I think, for some, pedals are like the next drug hit ie "throw a $150 pedal at my amp and feel better for the next week/ month etc". And there's always a new one to try with the next magical sound you've been looking for. As a result boards grew and grew ala "I need this drive pedal to sound like a plexi and this one to sound like a vox and these 3 delays and and...".

    I've been down that road some but, for me, i've found happiness in a Roland Gp-8 but using a 4c method and getting my drive from my Carol Anns. The Gp-8 does my channel switching as well as having the circuits of a lot of the now sort after mij Boss pedals. Its all controlled live by the old trusty FC-100 controller so I can change amp channels and effect patches at the same time pre programmed. Set up time is less and I dont tap dance at the gig anymore.

    And they are so cheap now that i have bought another 4 as back ups!
    ctreitzell likes this.
  14. tjontheroad

    tjontheroad Supporting Member

    Oct 10, 2014
    Racks are still too heavy, bulky, and difficult to troubleshoot on stage when something isn’t working. Long term, the trend IMO is towards laptops and interfaces running 4CM through amps (or sims) with a MIDI control on the floor. You can do it now, but it takes too much expertise for most folks to deal with. Once the UI gets simple enough for the average Joe, this will be the norm.
    ctreitzell likes this.
  15. Leon Todd

    Leon Todd Member

    Jul 23, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    The issue (aside from physical size) for me is the bigger the board/rack the more effort required to ensure correct gain staging and minimization of external noise. Since moving to a Fractal rig I've had so much more control over noise and keeping levels consistent. The two notes hybrid approach is very appealing too.

    I get they're not for everyone but the time invested in dialing in the Axe fx has paid off 100 fold for me. It's also shifted my focus from worrying about the sound out of my speaker cab to thinking about the whole picture of how my mic'd tone fits in the entire band mix, and more importantly to focus on performing and playing well.
  16. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    Part ONE....

    Hi John

    we corresponded about effects and your system a while back, on HRI, before that embarassing situation.... (you know what I'm talking about)....
    Nice you are HERE!

    I'll give you my opinion on this and on the many misconceptions around... 'cuz I see a lot of them.

    I'm not sure it was the '70s that WE had 3 or 4 effects into loud amps, like delays and reverb.
    We didn't have delays and reverbs in those years. Not counting tape delays as they were kind of cumbersome to move...
    But sure enough it was the '80s when we got all of that.

    For the mono player... a 3 or 4 pedals "rig" and an amp is probably the easiest way to go. If he's happy with mono... and not too much variety of sounds AND realtime control of them... he will be happy.
    Now... when I talk about effects I mean time based stuff... pitch shifters, delays, reverbs, modulation... as the typical distortion stuff is mostly analog and lives in front of the amp.
    Compression might be in both places... EQ too.

    Time based effects into a valve (or solid state or anything else) suck! BIG TIME!!! With the exception of some chorusing applications before/after preamp, you don't want to distort a pitch shifter or delays or worst... a reverb.
    I see TONs of young folks with a mighty tube amp they can't really use with their pedals in its full glory because of these matters.
    What's the point for a tube amp if you can't use its native distortion?
    Yes... many amps have FX loops... and most current models go for instrument level FX loops. Very few have a switchable (-10/+4dB) loop... something that was very common back in the late '80s and '90s.
    I'm not sure I'd like to have a -10dB loop equipped high end tube amp as the idea of having a post preamp line level shrunk down to instrument to correctly interface with the current industry products IS a correct way to handle signals.
    It needs to be re_boosted at line level after the loop return to correctly work with the native signal of the preamp....

    There is no doubt about the fact a line level delay and reverb DO put out a much nicer dimensional and tonal sound than any instrument level device.
    Try that with anything, like a PRO rack unit which offers both choices and anybody can hear the true difference in how the sound is simply better.

    Now... about facts and misconceptions...
    -as you have noticed... a LOT of people go around with really large pedalboards... oh yeah... not everybody but it's a pretty good number of folks lugging around some heavy stuff for the floor.
    Often they have different choices for the same type of effect; I have seen pedalboards with 3 or 4 delays, used in different routing slots of the signal flow. And the choice is also determined by the fact one model does a delay other models don't do.
    You know... selling pedals is often based on some kind of "smart ass" marketing which builds a non modulated delay pedal and another one with modulated delay...as a simple example, and you are forced to buy both.
    Algorithms, something we had in large profusion, are now something they sell as hardware based products. Dumb but good for THEIR wallets.
    Large pedalboards can be very heavy, much harder to carry than a rack (I'll explain what I mean by modern "rack" in a while) and do present a lot of counter_productive aspects:
    power feed can be terrible
    tons of audio and power cables (NOISE, folks!)
    SOOOOO many A/D and D/A conversions that make no sense... considering the average quality of those converters... and the big talk of many of them "purists" killing their tone thru 8 to 12 conversions stages. Nobody does that, even in the highest quality world class studios.

    -loss of creative possibilities! Yep... we got there.
    we have a whole generation these days who has no clues about MIDI realtime parameters control! The way one can easily change a sound into another without changing an algorithm or simply creating dynamic effects, based on realtime modification of the way they work... a much nicer and more musical approach to effects in general. A very animated chorus, nice for the clean chordal work... turns into a tighter and slower one for the leads... no need to change a preset... or a chorus whose speed works in inverse dynamic control by the input signal strength... so that when you play stronger the speed slows down and when you let the chord ring... the speed rises a bit and animates the sound... with delay after it... you should hear what THAT sounds like.
    Wait... I can hear the protest... "we have MIDI realtime control in out pedals"... yeah, RIGHT! Most of the time your pedals have hardwired assignments of parameters to CCs... which is a big mistake by design.
    If you have the same CC assigned to a parameter in everyone of your digital pedals.... you are in troubles as you will need to remember that (phewww!) and program CCs sending on different MIDI channels. But you only have 16 MIDI channels and if you have one of those large pedalboards with many digipedals... you'll end up short of MIDI channels... unless you add a programmable MIDI splitter or router (more gear!) and some careful programming of MIDI CC #X on MIDI channel "Y" controls parameter "Z" on pedal "K". I have seen that and people in tears... it's a total mess. Let people freely choose a MIDI CC to any parameter in any and every MIDI unit... it's been like that for decades. Why has this to go against the user because lazy engineering doesn't want to cope with the facts? You can't possibly "save" on the size of internal memory with this MIDI thing. You're not going to get rich anyway with this.

    -Another loss we are facing is the creative sound design of effects determined by... ROUTING of them! Yes.. I know... there are routers for pedals... yep. How many do really use them? Few. Most people run pedals in series... like we did in the 1970s... BUT we had a fuzz, a wah, maybe a compressor, a phaser... so, it was ok to do so.
    The myth od DRY thru? So you have 8 to 15 pedals... all with "DRY thru" and you think that after all those "dry thru" stages your guitar sounds like it should? Really? Good luck!
    So many classic and future sounds (unimaginable and in endless amounts) depend on routings. Series/parallel/split/combinations of them... and you get there. No router? No go. You get stuck in HOW your series is running your signal.
    With a router... you can even use less delays/chorus pedals as you can re_arrange the order where your favorite one can be used.

    -MORE creative loss? Sure! Internal modulation sources. This is such an obcure topic to so many new users you wouldn't believe.
    Modulating a parameter is not simply/only using a pedal or footswitch to change its status, progressively or instantly. That's just one aspect of it and, allow me, the dumbest one.
    How about LET other types of sources impact on effects in a musical way, determined by YOUR performance? A lost ark!
    Any decent rack effect has a set of internal modulation sources you can use for that. LFOs, time switches, input signal, AR (attack/release) envelope, tempo, pitch detection... just to name a few cool ones!
    The way you play can determine how your effects are going to sound like... darker delays on hard touch... progressively brightening up while decaying... some cool modulation effects with depth or rate or both being affectd by your touch intensity for dynamically changing choruses... you have to hear them to believe the cool. Or those reverbs... when you can squeeze out hard pick attacks with a dynamic fast input shut... to only allow the post_transient content of the sound? I could go on for days, describing many of these techniques in making MUSICAL effects... even depending on the pitch or frequency content of your signal... like a chorus changing delay time (glide) to avoid time period overlapping with the notes you play... only focusing on chorusing the harmonics series of them. Yep... it removes all tha nasty boxy colors many chorus suffer from.
    All of this? It's not rocket science! We have done that for years and still do. And a lot more...

    .... on to part TWO...
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
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  17. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    ....part TWO

    - one more misconception...
    racks are old, the past... pedals are the "now" and the future....
    I'm sorry.... you get this backwards. Oh yeah...
    I understand you are using something NOW... but that has little to do with how it works, the possibilities it has, the inner creative potentials as a tool.
    Digipedals technology if FULLY based on rack gear, only much simplified as in "dumbed down", shrunk to a processor chip which NOW does all... runs system, clocks, audio and MIDI... without co:processors...dedicated those other tasks. Not elegant, nah.
    There is so much more future in gear with openness and capabilities than in something
    closed and mutilated.
    Old? Well... try an H8000FW, *current* product... or maybe the forthcoming H9000 (hopefully) to get an idea of *future*... running a galaxy of sounds and unique creative tools. Try a 30 years old device and you'll know so much more about future than any illusion about owning the true future in a current pedal.
    Yes it could, technically, but it doesn't... on purpose.
    Try pivot points in controlling a parameter, designing control curves... try an actual graphic tool on a display to build YOUR control curves or modulation waveforms.
    Try that... try some real future.

    -Racks are heavy to carry around...
    IF all you have in mind is the typical 1989 rack, with an H3000, a PCM70, a TC2290, a TC1210 or DynoMyPiano TSC, a couple of PCM42s, a couple of RANE splitters, a mixer, a switcher... plus multiple preamps or power amps... guess what? You are right!
    If you think harder and smarter... a modern rack can be much easier to carry than many of those oversized pedalboards many are carrying around. Oh yes! And the physical format of a rack can also be more human body friendly than a flat and very large case.
    A modern rack doesn't need multiple machines... nope. DSP power has increased a lot in the years. Many are not aware of the fact their delay pedal runs on a 300 MHz processor... just to provide a mono or a stereo delay! While a 100 MHz rack unit, 15 yrs old, will provide a lot more than that, with much higher conversion quality, tons of realtime control and a plethora of internal modulators... and a variety of cool algorithms NO pedal has and will never have for obvious reduced UI capabilities.
    Oh yeah, folks! Welcome to Back to the Future V2.0!
    So... many very powerful options around, which will provide all your effects, in many different variations, often with open internal routings for them...
    Eventide DSP7000/7500/Orville/H7600/H8000... or older models DSP/GTR4000/DSP4500
    Kurzweil KSP8
    most of these jewels can run way more effects than most large pedalboards, at LINE levels, with way more variety of effects algorithms pedals can't and will never have... and guess what? Most of them are waaaaay cheaper than your mid to large size pedalboard!
    And you need no router! And you only have 2 higher quality conversions. And only ONE MIDI connection to manage, with a single logic to learn. And a single power line...
    Those who are ok with modelling technology... are served as well. Plenty of single units in rack format with tons of powers.
    Some don't really need a LOT of effects but a variety of few and VERY good ones. Then you may be fine with one space rack good effects processor. How about a PCM81 for stellar chorus/pitch/delays/reverb? This used to be a 3000$/€ high end device... today selling for peanuts! Your "boutique" delay pedal runs for more money and doesn't hold a candle to it.
    Or an Eclipse! Find a box with over 100 *good sounding* algorithms on board you can combine in pairs and route them in series, inverse series or parallel? Used... goes for a couple of pedals cost...
    You want more possibilities and variety? Get them both and you have THE 2 units killer system of doom!

    So a small but VERY powerful rack system can be very... SMALL and portable these day... and powerful, very much.
    You don't need to carry a 12/16 spaces refrigerator around. Those days are long gone...
    3 or 4 rack spaces are all you need for super powerful/plenty of variety/extreme control capabilities/really creative musical interaction with your effects.

    There are several other units to choose... i don't want to get into a long list, just give you an idea.
    There is so much in these boxes not available in any and every pedal... which IS the basis for so many effects. You are loosing a whole culture, more advanced and developed.... more elegant and refined, in favor of a shrunk bit of it... for no reason.
    Seriously. Try approaching the thing with some desire for true and honest information on how this stuff works... and you'll know better.
    It will interface much better with a tube amp, will let you play with really natural dynamics (your pedals have NO HEADROOM for that!)... just add your compression, wah, distortion pedals in front of the amps.... and you'll be in heaven.

    Laptops? Not going to happen. It's an already old thing. And sounds very... brutal.
    The rock guy with a laptop? Come on!
    The jazz folks? Ain't real... they've got EARS!!!
    Blues hearts? They need BRUTIFULNESS!!!!

    So, John...
    I don't know if we are facing some kind of rack renaissance. I can say I am seeing more people getting curious about them and starting to experiment/fiddle with them, at contained costs... yes... plenty of them.
    Some folks get a cheap system... like an Intellifex (you get one for 50 bucks), a Lexicon LXP1 (cheap GREAT sounding reverb)... add a Roland RSP for delays/chorus... and for 250$ they get a killer rig!
    Production has some new things coming out... which will be extremel powerful... and some also very innovative.
    I think we don't have the same "quantity" of rack units in production as back in those years... but hey... "rack" doesn't mean always *good* by definition. Oh yeah... we had so many bad sounding rack units in the years!!! Too many!
    Won't name them... but they were... a lot!
    You know what we DO have today? Less racks units... but those still made... boy, they sound amazing! So quality IS the point. And we also have a large selection of THE best sounding beasts from the past... at very low prices! Can't get better that this.
    Why would one have a +3000 class guitar and a +4000 set of tube amps and put cheap garbage in between? And still... it happens... every day. Yep!
    Your system is going to sound as †††good††† as the weakest/worst/crappiest/baddest sounding unit in your chain... that's *the* base law in any technology.

    We'll see what kind of culture the future will bring....
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
    Django's Stache, rsm, Ryan P. and 4 others like this.
  18. Cap'n Lee

    Cap'n Lee Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Dansaff, Innit.
    I didn't understand the move away from racks to everything on the floor
    What sounds better? That's what matters to me.
    Building my own 6-space rack more than a decade back, the time based fx are generally from studio-grade racks units
    and a pedal drawer allows all manner of mucking about - some front end, some post pre-amp
    That rack has not changed in all that time, except for playing with pedals in the drawer, which have little in the
    way of losses due cable lengths
    So, I got it right it seems, and have looked in wonderment as pedal boards get ever larger

    I'm a bleedin' genius, what can I say?
    And humble...
  19. ctreitzell

    ctreitzell Member

    Oct 26, 2017
    France/ UK
    Something I have seen mentioned elsewhere and meant to bring up here: midi resolution. Seems higher resolution than 127 would be a logical next step.

    Yep, as far as midi setups and programming algorithms; things can become complicated. We need to be willing to embrace wading in deep enough to make sense of what is beyond our understanding. Willing to take the time to decipher the answers that have eluded us before. We have the internet now to assist us. I know we've had internet a long time, yet nowadays internet communications are really maturing. That didn’t really exist in 1995. Info sharing is at an amazing level now and learning to navigate the waters of confusion is easier than ever before.

    Between That Pedal Show, DAWs and the awesome info on this forum and others I feel lucky to be re-starting my guitar rigs’ purchase list. That said, I decided to squeeze every last possibility out of my current gear this past summer and have been blown away at the possibilities I had sitting in right front of my face for many, many years. I essentially had every piece of gear routed together with functionality I had never before realized. I just needed to get stuck in and take my time and attain solutions.

    Italo brings up another really good point with “remote control” over midi where you essentially approach the need for program changes in a new way. Instead of changing from preset to preset, you control the parameter changes live, more like pedals. Of course you don’t really have the exact preset at the end of the “song” that you started with at the top...unless you use a sequencer, which I do think is viable, too. We do require a bulletproof sequencer device in the near future as another option to automate parameter control.

    It is all very exciting, really :)
  20. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

    Mar 21, 2011

    That would simplify things for most people...
    be aware though that MUCH larger than 128 steps ranges are already covered by MIDI... like thousands of steps below and above 0.
    LSB and MSB commands allow for that. But... a "normal" larger range would help tons of people who don't know about this or are not THAT INTO MIDI...
    ctreitzell likes this.

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