What do I need to know about rack setups?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by MTGeezy, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. MTGeezy

    MTGeezy SS.org Regular

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    I’m planning on buying an Axe Fx within the next couple months, and the bassist in our band has an Orange OB1-300 rack head. We are both looking into building some racks for live use, but neither of us know anything about racks. Some questions I have (please answer for both regular electric and bass if possible where needed):

    Are most rack units one size fits all? Could him and I buy the same rack and my axe would fit mine and his bass head would fit in his?

    What are some other essential rack items to go with your rack head? Obviously a power amp for the Axe (also looking for good suggestions on one of those) but I mean other rack accessories.

    What are some good brands/rack models for decent prices? We aren’t looking for anything huge and expensive.

    I’m sure there is more but I can’t really think of anything, anything else I need to know please feel free to tell me.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. cardinal

    cardinal SS.org Regular

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    Racks are a standard size, so everything can swap around.

    Not sure you'll "need" much else. Power Conditioners are just expensive power strips (I just Velcro'd a power strip inside the rack). Voltage Regulators can help if you're playing venues that might brown out, but the Axe probably can tolerate it on its own.

    Id pick up a rack case off a local Craigslist. They are somewhat pricy new but impossible to give away used, so that's where you can find great deals.

    And racks are heavy. Unless you've got a crew to help lift, I wouldn't go over 6 spaces (if you need more, break it down into two rack cases so you can carry one at a time).
     
  3. thraxil

    thraxil cylon

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    With an Axe-Fx, you do need to be careful to get a deep enough rack. Everything is a standard 19" wide, but the Axe is pretty deep and won't fit in some shallower cases. Mine sticks out the back of my studio rack by a couple inches. Not a problem at home, but could be an issue on a portable rig.
     
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  4. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Used racks are a good bet.

    Some rack bags or other compact rack cases can be shallower than others, make sure to check the depth of the rack against what you're mounting in it.

    Edit- damn, beat
     
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  5. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

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    Power conditioners are most definitely not expensive power strips. Power strips do only 1 or 2 things. That being either expanding an outlet have more plugs and/or provide surge protection up to a certain voltage spike.

    A power conditioner sends the current through a bunch of components and transformers to correct voltages, power factor, clean up noise from mains and so on. They are well worth the $100 - $200 they cost in order to protect gear you've spent thousands on.

    As for the OP, a rack can be a one size fits all but there are deep racks and shallow racks. A rack can only fit as much as you can put in it and is spaced in units. A 4u rack will fit your Axe FX (takes up 2 units) and your bassist's amp head (also 2 units). Depending on how much space you guys need, you'll need to get a rack accordingly. However, I strongly recommend getting your own 6u or 8u racks. Why that much? You'll end up wanting to flesh out your rack into a near full rig which could break down into this:

    Power conditioner (1u)
    wireless unit (1u)
    IEM unit (2u)
    Effects processor or amp head (2u)
    Tuner (1u)
    Pedal/storage drawer (2u)
     
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  6. cardinal

    cardinal SS.org Regular

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    I don't think the $200 conditioners regulate voltage. The voltage regulators tend to be more expensive. The less expensive ones can help with some noise.
     
  7. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Blames it on "the rain"

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    If you buy a used rack, just make sure it’s full size. The axe is a deep unit. Most manufacturers sell deep and shallow models. Axe takes up 2 spots, power conditioner is 1, and most power amps are 2 space; but vary from 1-3 space. Tube power amps are heavy but interact with speaker cabs better IMO, but class A/B or class H digital power amps are pretty close and save a ton of weight. You’d be looking at anywhere from $700-1000 for a (digital) Matrix GT 800 or 1000; or (tube) Mesa 2:90, 50/50 etc. VHT 2:90:2, 2:50:2 etc.
    Or you can look at more budget friendly options like ART sla-2 or behringer iNuke series; but don’t sound nearly as good when doing side by side comparisons with the big boys. If you'll be playing a lot of shows with PA and go FOH for them, the power amp becomes less important in those scenarios.
    It is true that the cheaper power conditioners are essentially glorified plug strips, but they help keep all the wiring tidy and do use varistors that help protect from surges at least. Still a good idea to have one.
    6 space rack should be all you need, and you can always stack a 4 space on top if you get more rack gear.
    EDIT: man looks like everyone decided to say basically the same thing at the same time haha
     
  8. op1e

    op1e Blood_Lust:Unlimited

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    I lug an 8 space SKB X rack and its not that cumbersome. It's molded and not a flight case so the weight isn't so bad. Plus with the X shape you can hide cabling inside of it up in the pockets, duct tape them in place with some black Gorilla tape. YOU WILL want to expand in the future, I did. Add a pedal drawer for overdrives and stuff, i have a rack drawer for cables for quick tear down and set up, instead of having to haul them in something else or stuff them all messy in the back of the rack. It adds up quick. Power conditioner, preamp, and I added a loop switcher so I could take my overdrive and gate in and out of my clean patch.
     
  9. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    Why not get one bigger rack with casters to share with your bassist? That would probably be easier to move/roll around than two separate 4u/6u racks full of heavy gear :2c: something around 10 or 12 units would provide more than enough space for your current gear plus a power conditioner, power amp for you, and maybe a drawer for cables/accessories.

    Also, used racks and road cases are the way to go!
     
  10. vick1000

    vick1000 SS.org Regular

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    Prepare to deal with ground loops. The more units, the worse it gets.
     
  11. vansinn

    vansinn ShredNeck into Beck

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    A comment on rack box depth.
    Some manufacturers offer extra deep lids, so should you end up with a great used offer that's too shallow, you just might be able to replace the back lid for a deep one.

    If you house a tube amp in the rack as well, I'd suggest shopping a box large enough to leave one rack space between amp and the rest, to avoid too much heat on the AxeFX and what else.
    Actually, I'd mount the amp topmost to avoid heat swooshing upwards. Yeah, I know, sortof doesn't look right ;)
     
  12. MTGeezy

    MTGeezy SS.org Regular

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    What’s a ground loop??
     
  13. op1e

    op1e Blood_Lust:Unlimited

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    Buzz/hum. I never get it. My rig is solid state quiet with a tube head and no gate in the loop. When I add a 2nd tube head I get the buzz though if I rig up the fx loops in stereo. Not if i just use the 2nd as a power amp though.
     
  14. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    Get the power conditioner.
     
  15. vick1000

    vick1000 SS.org Regular

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    When a unit that would normally find a path to ground through it's power cable, uses a path through a patch cable or other source, such as the rack rails, and then through another rack unit. It's what ground lift switches are for.
     
  16. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    Humfree tabs
     
  17. vick1000

    vick1000 SS.org Regular

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    They don't always work. Also, for that type of loop, isolaters between unit chassis is a must. Most of the time though, it's a unit finding a better path through a patch cable.
     
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  18. vansinn

    vansinn ShredNeck into Beck

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    WRT eliminating, ground loops..

    It's bloody annoying that there are no standards to how connectors/jacks, nor chassis, should be arranged WRT grounding.
    Some gear has connectors grounded to chassis, while others have fully isolated connectors.

    Some devices feature correctly routed ground wires (or traces on the board), all fed into a single star-point, located close to power supply and mains cable, with this star-point connected to the mains ground pin.
    Devices made like this, and with fully isolated connectors, can be patched-up without ending up with ground loops.

    The best is to simply open the lid on all devices to check how the grounding is done, and act accordingly.

    So:
    Isolate each unit from the rack rails. Isolating washers exists for this. Some coat the rails with gaffer tape.
    Also make sure no device is touching the others.

    Make sure all devices have a power cable with a ground pin, and use a power strip/conditioner with grounds properly arranged.

    Connect it all up. If there's hum, try the ground lift switches one by one.
    If the gear doesn't feature ground lift, try using a patch cable that has ground soldered at only one end - but do pay notice that this requires the device to be properly grounded elsewhere (like though the mains cable's ground pin).

    (I may have made an error or missed something, so lemme know)
     
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  19. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    Isolating each unit really helps, at least for my small Preamp+FX+PowerAmp (Triaxis + G-Force + 2:Fifty) setup.
     

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