When and why did rack mount gear become fall in, and then out, of fashion?

Discussion in 'The Rack Space' started by Golem, Dec 25, 2018.

  1. KennyM

    KennyM Supporting Member

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    Just to add... the two main culprits that should send anyone to “bad 80’s jail” are chorusing and unorganic amp processing. I may be biased as I was unable to ever make a slaved head hooked to a dummy load or speaker buried in a padded anvil case sound $15 bucks better than a Rockman, so I moved past that pretty quickly to Boogie Studio and Quad preamps and VHT power amps. Still, nobody else except as I mentioned Landau, made slaved heads sound good either imo. Slaved heads into a dummy load just kill the dynamics. This discussion has led me for the first time in quite a while to have a listen to Tales and the dirt sounds aren’t anywhere near as dynamic as ML actually plays. I’ve heard him play I’m Buzzed live probably 50 times over the years and he hasn’t aimed for anything close to the original sound in decades. That said, I think my favorite sounding rig of his was when he was using a Marshall, CAE or Dumble into a 2x12 or 4x12 and his little rack with a few pedals and a Lexicon MPX for stereo reverb into a couple of 10” speaker cabs.

    All in all pedals are a more organic and dynamic guitar sound. I’m not against rack gear - I still have and use an Eventide DSP7500, DSP4000, Lexicon PCM96 and PCM70 all the time while I mix. Anytime I try running them into a guitar speaker though, my hair starts to form a Flock of Seaguls doo which for me is a big don’t lol.
     
  2. Serious Poo

    Serious Poo Powered by Coffee Gold Supporting Member

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    It’s funny to me that a lot of rack references credit Landau, I never even heard of the guy before joining TGP. So not my thing. Phil Keaggy, Steve Rothery and John Petrucci were the guys I looked to for ideas when I built my first rack systems.
     
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  3. Coalface1971

    Coalface1971 Member

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    Agree.

    I'll probably get put in the naughty corner for this......

    +1 in a way, but never heard of ML before HRI when I joined in 2003! And the studio Luke/ML/Huff/Farris/Schon etc. thing never interested me at all.

    What got me into racks was the organisation,versatility, and pin point control, compared to all these pedals and cords on the floor. As long as it can be switched/MIDIed and powered, it can go into a rack.

    ML is such a great player, beyond amazing. And so are all of those other guys (Luke is the musicians' musician imo - but I can only take so much TOTO).

    But can't say I ever liked stuff like "TOTB" that people on that old forum gushed over - I listened to it once and just didn't get it lol. I still don't get the fascination with TSC's (there's some limits there), and from what I understand he ditched that stuff decades ago..I hate Richard Marks' stuff (talented no doubt).....that stuff represents a lot of what I hated about the 80's.......Luke and Huff sound better rocking out.....EVH Live without a Net tones, evolving to WDW on F.U.C.K and Balance is what a rack is about.....

    Think that's where I'm with KennyM, in a way. The tones from back then aren't timeless, just represent a time in the past, that sounds corny and kitchy, and has done for 30 years.
     
  4. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    Many didn't really paid attention to how those Bradshaw rigs of the stars were built and just hooked up a bunch of crap rack gear in series. I remember seeing plenty rigs with ART crap, digital EQ's, rack tuner, Alesis Quadraverb and another 31 band eq thrown in for good measure. No wonder some never got it working for them :bonk
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  5. magnus

    magnus Member

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    Good point. This was way before internet so for the majority of players the knowledge on how to really set up a rack system was unobtainable. I addition to that, stuff like mixers, buffers etc were for the most part custom made and not available to the regular player.

    Last, the processors in the professional rack systems were very expensive so most regular players had to settle on stuff of lesser quality or spend money on one expensive processor and have it do all the processing, as opposed to the Bradshaw systems where every processor for the most part did one special thing.

    IMHO all this led to guitar sounds that wasn't all that good sounding. To be honest I don't think even Lukather sounded all that good with his rack. The only player I've heard live that sounded really good with a rack was Landau when I saw him playing at the Baked Potato.

    I had a rack myself (Mesa Boogie Studio, 50/50, Rocktron Intellifex and 300G) and I never got it to sound really good.

    These days I still like some of the 80's sounds but it sounds much better with the pedal board I'm using today than the rack I had back then. I could get a killer rack put together today if I wanted but the thought of dealing with hundreds of parameters always puts me off.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  6. PerFusionist

    PerFusionist Supporting Member

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    We agree on many points...and will disagree on many others :)

    There were well-produced albums then and in the '90's and now. There were also terrible trends like gated reverb on every freakin' snare whether it fit the vibe or not (see Paul Simon's Graceland).

    The 90's grunge movement grew as a direct counterpoint to how self-indulgent and elitist the 80's hair metal scene had become. Some popular 90's guitarists COULD shred (Billy Corgan and Rivers Cuomo started in hair metal acts) but that sound wouldn't fit the grunge scene and it fell out of fashion. And so the pendulum swings.

    I agree that super massive pedalboards get ridiculous...but I still think that racks are not necessary given Helix / Axe / Kemper / Amplifire / etc. etc. etc. The sounds are better than a large majority of the old racks and the programmability is much more user-friendly.
     
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  7. GreatSatan

    GreatSatan Member

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    lol its funny how this rack thread turned into people complaining about music in the early 90's.
    i'm sorry nobody wants to see you in leopard-print spandex anymore but the 80's had to die.
     
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  8. Ian

    Ian Member

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    This has been a fun thread so far!

    When I read this, and think back, you guys are right!

    The pros were using $$$ gear, wired up by "gurus", and the rest of us were using cheap stuff, with little to no understanding as to what we were doing....from programming to interfacing components....and no guru in sight!!

    The pros evolved though! If I listen to Luke and Landau on Fee Waybill's 1984 solo disc, the slaved and super-compressed boogie tones are loaded with more effects than you can shake a stick at.

    If you listen to the slaved tones on Landau's TFTB from 5 years later, the Marshall is much less compressed and nasal sounding than the Boogies he used for a long time.

    As time went by, the interviews I read were about these players using less gear, and getting a more pure sound. To me, this was really just about using less stuff, not about abandoning it completely.

    Guys like EVH evolving into the WDW setup, were focusing more on the purity of their dry sound, and kept moving in that direction by eventually getting rid of the bradshaw switcher, and improving their buffering.....guys like Scott Henderson and Landau evolved in a very similar way.

    I seem to recall both Ed and Luke dropping their H3000s at a similar point in time (Yay!).......but they never abandoned their delay ambience.

    Cheers
     
  9. Ian

    Ian Member

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    Hi KennyM.......just a question:

    I know that a lot of guys like adding effects post-mic.......but for me, mixing my cabinet, and sending that to an processor is a hassle.

    Instead, I use a dedicated line-out to get the signal to my FX unit and power amp/guitar cabs.

    Is there another way to do this, without a mic, that I may not be aware of?

    Thanks!
    Ian
     
  10. GadgetUK

    GadgetUK Member

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    I use a Torpedo Studio.
     
  11. KennyM

    KennyM Supporting Member

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    Hi Ian,
    Can't comment from hands on experience, but I'd think the best solution would be something like the new Suhr Reactive Load that you can load speaker IR's into. That's a good load box and with a good IR should be close as you can get to feeding your FX the sound of a mic'd speaker. That's probably heading for a more complex setup than I'd want to live gig with any more. On my rare live gigs I generally just take an appropriate amp and cab and a pedalboard. If I really felt the need for a lot of stereo jizz I'd probably setup an AXE FX rig. I've taken an AXE FXII to a couple of fly dates and it worked fine as long as they can have a decent powered monitor for you. In many ways it was better and more consistent sound. I wish they had these when I was doing a zillion cover band gigs a year.

    In the studio I always have two mic's ready to go on a cab and I just feed the outboard gear an aux send which returns on separate Pro Tools inputs or the console. I think the only way to really duplicate that live would be having dedicated full range monitors to send the stereo fx outs to. Anytime I've tried feeding them into guitar cabs didn't work as well for me.
     
  12. Ian

    Ian Member

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    Actually, I have the Suhr RL now, and I am upgrading it to the RL2, to get the IR's on-board. I will run my amp into my DAW when I am at home, and then use my Lexicon PCM81 for it's delay / reverb sounds, in addition to any effects in the software. So, I will have this option at home.

    For playing live, I will use my amp, and pedalboard with a few pedals, along with a 2-space rack for "wet" stereo effects ala Landau in his old WDW rig. The effects unit is an Eclipse, and a Matrix power amp, and it will get its signal from a dedicated line-out box from the amp's speaker output, and feed a couple of 1x12 cabs.......not "ideal" as in a mic'd cab situation, but close enough for rock and roll.... ;)

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
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  13. Coalface1971

    Coalface1971 Member

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    Hi Blix,

    Correct, but knowledge was power back then. It was Bradshaw's etc. business, and they weren't exactly telling....... I kept all of the GP's, GW's and GFTPM's from back in the day, and can't say I ever saw an accurate schematic. Without the right info, who had a chance?

    Those rack "give-away's". Wonder if were they actually wired up? Did it come with instructions?
     
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  14. Coalface1971

    Coalface1971 Member

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    Hi Ian,

    Better off with a sim imo than the mic.

    There's a bunch of implication with the mic'ed feed, including isolating it from other noise sources. I can imagine my daughter yelling into it "turn down dad", coming through in two stage mixing, reverb delay and pitch shift. Or a decent fart.

    I don't play live, but how would one isolate that mic from monitor or other stage sources?

    Chris.
     
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  15. ctreitzell

    ctreitzell Member

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    In a soundproof room alllllll by itself :crazy
     
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  16. Coalface1971

    Coalface1971 Member

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    Don't wanna fart in there....:D
     
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  17. Ian

    Ian Member

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    Hey Kenny! Damn, I think I just figured out what you were saying! Are suggesting that I use the Suhr RL2 with the IR's, and feed that into my Eclipse, and the to power amp/speakers, or to a couple of monitors? Are you thinking that this would be preferable to using the line-out box method?

    Thanks! I'm slow sometimes! :)
     
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  18. KennyM

    KennyM Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I think that would be preferable. Speaker IR’s are getting pretty good now and make a huge difference in my Axe FXII. I’d also go with some full range monitors for the wet portion of your rig instead of guitar cabs. In ear monitors could be cool for that too although I haven’t used those yet. That’d be closer to how I hear the rack FX in the studio. I prefer the sound coming out of the guitar amp to be as organic as possible.

    All that said, if the goal was live guitar sound with high end rack effects, I’d personally simplify and put an Axe FX rig together.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
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  19. ufguy73

    ufguy73 Gold Supporting Member

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    I know next to nothing about this stuff - but im curious..

    I thought the purpose of an IR was more about mimicing the relationship between between an amp and speaker cab - so, mostly a 'feel' thing...and products like the RLIR were about modeling that feel, which can otherwise feel dead when you are not going from an amp to guitar cab.

    In this case, though, the amp is going to a cab and so that 'feel' is already there - what is the added benefit of having a modeled IR between the line level signal and the fx unit? Is there also some sort of eq'ing that is getting compensated for or something?

    I was not thinking the difference between taking a line level signal to fx vs mic'd signal to fx had anything to do with feel but more the integrity/accuracy of the sound being fed to the fx, eq, etc?

    Similarly, i assume the difference between feeding that fx signal to amp cab vs monitors would be related to sound, eq, etc and nothing to do with feel?

    Sorry, just trying to put some of these rapidly emerging pieces together!
     
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  20. leonelh7

    leonelh7 Member

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    Adding an IR would give you the tone that a cab gives to an amp. Also, IR capture the tone, feel and fullness of a mic AND a mic pre. The IR is capturing speakers, cabs, mic and mic pre which all has a role in tone and that goes to your effects like in the studio.

    Using the IR gives you the “feel” to an extent but if you want to push some air you can run it through PA speakers and it should sound amazing. This is a great solution for playing live where it can be difficult to mic a 100watt Marshall going into a 4x12 then going into a mic pre. Also some IR sample different mics so it can be beneficial too and gives you tons of options.
     
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