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Old 05-07-2013, 06:23 PM   #1
Xiaoxi
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Rack gear general q's

Seeing how my next desk will most likely have rack shelving, I should start considering rack gear. But this is an area that I'm very very unfamiliar with, so I have some general questions...


1. What are the advantages of rack signal processors over software ones?

2. Is there an all-conforming standard regarding the dimensions of rack gear? As long as I build to specs, it should be able to fit all racks width wise?

3. What's the mechanisms/components in fitting a rack gear + rack shelf?

4. What are some rack audio interfaces I should check out?

5. Any other specific gears to check?
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:01 PM   #2
DisarmGoliath
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1) Depends - people like analogue over digital... same kinda thing. Other advantages are physically being able to tweak the sound by hand, and can be quicker to dial in as you can easily go from knob to knob rather than precisely moving a mouse cursor.

2) Yes, they are always sized 19" wide, and in heights based on a system called 'U' (presumably 'Unit'), so the smallest rack units are 1U and then they go up in height (2U, 3U etc.)

3) What exactly do you mean? They screw in to rack shelving with (usually) two screws at each end, and the rear of the unit is not attached to the case. If you mean to connect to a system, you'll probably want to make a patch bay so you can easily route in and out of your DAW to various channels.

4) The Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 is what I use (well, two of them) giving 16 channels that include pre's, but using ADAT you can get higher channel counts. It tends to be the higher end units, other than a few high-channel count entry level devices (Tascam 1800 is it?). The Pro Tools HD interfaces are all rack-sized too.

5) Depends what you want - most people go for rack compressors (EL-8 Distressor, 1176 [often clones of it though]) or graphic EQs and fancier preamps rather than having an interface with pre's and converters together.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisarmGoliath
3) What exactly do you mean? They screw in to rack shelving with (usually) two screws at each end, and the rear of the unit is not attached to the case.
So are there 2 rails along the sides of the shelf which the screws hold into? Is that the only thing holding each unit?

Quote:
4) The Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 is what I use (well, two of them) giving 16 channels that include pre's, but using ADAT you can get higher channel counts.
Are there any with 5.1 output? Or is that a separate kind of equipment...


Thanks a lot for answering these
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:14 PM   #4
DisarmGoliath
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaoxi
So are there 2 rails along the sides of the shelf which the screws hold into? Is that the only thing holding each unit?

Running vertically, yes. This image might help, but there are typically metal strips with screw holes pre-drilled at the right spacing for rack units, down each side, and these are all it should take to hold the gear in place.

Example Pic


Quote:
Are there any with 5.1 output? Or is that a separate kind of equipment...

As far as gear in the entry to mid-level price point, there's none that I know of. There may well be some high-end, rackmount interfaces that have 5.1 outputs, but the best way of doing it would probably be having an interface with sends/returns (you'd need it to use rack gear anyway) and routing from your DAW's outputs to 6 particular sends you will dedicate to your monitors/sub.

Maybe somebody more versed in 5.1 mixing will be able to give you a better solution there though - I'm sure the Pro Tools HD systems can be bought with 5.1 options, as can some other high end stuff, I just can't remember exact models etc.

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Thanks a lot for answering these

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Old 05-07-2013, 09:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaoxi
1. What are the advantages of rack signal processors over software ones?


Fewer and fewer all the time. For me, personally, I have four things in my rack:
- my interface - more convenient to put into a rack case or whatever than taking up space on a desktop
- one of my headphone amps - because software doesn't do that
- a strip of 8 more preamps "just in case" - because software doesn't do that
- a TC Electronic M300 processor - looks pretty, sounds nice, but with the quality of plugins I have, gets very little use. One thing I haven't got an emulation for is the TC Electronic "dynamic delay" which adjusts the amount of delay to the dynamics of the source material - often very cool.

Basically, you only need outboard stuff for the stuff your software can't do or emulate successfully.

The downside of outboard processing is that, unlike software, program material needs to run through it in real time, so exporting a mix is dependent upon it being run through in real time and not having any glitches, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaoxi
4. What are some rack audio interfaces I should check out?


I set out to find the "best interface under $1000 and I think I found it. It's the Steinberg MR816. There is a newer version called the UR824. They sound fantastic.

CT
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:41 AM   #6
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Interesting, CT...

I may have some questions about your routing setup when the time comes. Thanks
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Old 05-10-2013, 07:23 AM   #7
axemanchris
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No prob!

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Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by firehawk
Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaoxi
Are there any with 5.1 output? Or is that a separate kind of equipment...


Saffire Pro 40/Scarlett 18i20 both do 5.1 & 7.1 surround if you're looking to spend under $500 (The Pro 40s are going for $350-$400 used all over eBay). They even tell you how to do it in the manual. Obviously you need enough monitors to do it but I can't think of much else under $500 thats worth investing in.
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:46 PM   #9
axemanchris
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The Yamaha one I recommended will do 5.1 and I believe 7.1.

CT
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Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by firehawk
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