You are here

Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Fastlane » Fri May 02, 2008 7:00 pm

I've been trying to decide how to move forward on adding mic pre (and outboard) capacity to my system. Currently I'm running the FF800 - limited to 4 pres. I haven't needed an extra 8 for anything (yet...), but I'm really just starting out. I'm torn between getting capacity vs. something with a different flavour from the FF pres.

Initially, I was thinking of getting something like an octopre or digimax, but some more recent research has me revisiting things...It's not like these are bad units by any stretch. It's just that I'm starting to salivate over the modular rack gear (audient black, SSL, API/500, etc)

The initial cost of this stuff (i.e. the rack, etc) seems steep to begin with, but, when I think about the ability to add other processing (comp, eq) in a pretty cost effective way to the same rack - it seems hard to beat.

Fortunately, the $$ really isn't that much of an issue (i have a day job...) - it's just that because I'm starting almost from scratch, I'd rather spend it on gear that has some real staying power for me. (i.e. i won't be looking to ditch it later for something better)

What are other people out there doing? I'm not asking for a comparison between the cheaper 8-channel jobs vs. a modular. Clearly that isn't a fair question.

I guess I'm asking for opinions on the real value of the modular rack systems vs. more "traditional" paths. Is the initial cost of starting out worth it in the end for the quality/flexibility?

Thanks,

Lane
Fastlane
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri May 02, 2008 7:25 pm

Well it's really flexible. You can get an awful lot into a small space and there's a huge amount of choice in the 500 format (both of racks and modules)

BUT...generally speaking while the stuff is hugely useable it isnt necessarily the very best available on the eq and compression front due to the limitations of the format. You can get some seriously good modules but if you love for example valve designs, it gets harder.

What exactly are you recording?

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3741
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Fastlane » Fri May 02, 2008 7:58 pm

Currently, I'm really just recording some acoustic stuff. Vocals, guitar, etc. Some overdubs on some keyboard midi parts, etc. For that stuff, my room is way more of a limiter than this gear. I fully recognize my results will be dependant on the room, too. I'm a hobbyist with wild ideas and a rubber arm with respect to budget. :)

What I'm talking about here would be moving forward. I'd like to have some nicer options out there for a vocal pre, as well as the ability to do some outboard eq/comp. I haven't really hit the need to record a full drum kit. I have neither the proper space, nor the drummer. This is another reason why at this stage, one of the 8-channels may not be the priority.

I'm currently volunteering/shadowing at a local studio to get some experience and it's opened my eyes to the difference between the "project gear" and the better quality.

I don't want to blow $10G on my hobby all at once. But, as with anything, I'd rather spend the money one time on something good, rather than having to upgrade later. At least, that's what I'll tell my wife, anyway...

LS
Fastlane
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri May 02, 2008 8:41 pm

OK...well I dont think the 500 thing is really for you and I'll tell you why...It's great advantage is flexibility, versatility and track count, in a small space. You dont really need those qualities...You dont need a lot of channels, and you dont need to be able to take one rack and have it provide a number of different things for different parts of a kit or whatever. What you need is two channels of pre eq and compression with a couple of really good mics. That's going to cater for your 'home' stuff. You have two great advantages:

1. You've realised that you cant do drums etc at home so you're not going to waste £ and time trying and finding out the hard way how expensive it is.

2. You have enough spare cash to occasionally go to a decent studio and do what you need to do for a day.

So seeing that you have some budget, there are some GREAT options for dual pre eq compressors out there. Dont get an all in one box job because it wont be the best. If it was me right now I'd probably get a thermionic early bird 2.2 with the pullet add on which takes care of your pre and eq, and then a compressor of some sort...1176? CL1B?/....OR you could get a Cranesong Flamingo and an IBIS (nice)...and the cranesong trakkers are good too. Anyway the list goes on but thats just some ideas to get you started.

Jack
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3741
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Fastlane » Fri May 02, 2008 10:19 pm

Thanks a bunch, Jack.

If you'd allow me to summarize( :) ):

1) The fundamental question is really about track count
2) Assuming a mid to moderate fixed budget, if we increase track count we will compromise quality
3) Your feel on the "sweet spot" in the track/quality tradeoff on a is to max out on a 2-channel setup, and use the pres in the FF800 to pick up any slack.
4) The modulars are a good way to efficiently up track count, but, there are going to be some compromises in quality.

Did I get it? Anything else you would add?

Again -- thanks for the quick response.

Lane
Fastlane
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri May 02, 2008 10:58 pm

Well...Some of the modulars are 'ideal' for certain applications...Examples:

SSL modulars would be pretty special for most drum processing applications.

API 512's are a go to pre for drums and guitar amps amoungst other things

The Avedis MA5 apparently sounds exactly like a 1073

BUT

Overall, probably due to power and space requirements you're going to get the finest possible no compromise gear in a larger unit. Not that you would sniff at any of the 500 modules but 'ideally' you might want to go with other things. This applies more to eqs and compressors than to preamps which are by their nature usually smaller.

This probably accounts for why there are many more preamps available in 500 format than eqs and compressors.

There are so many good options...lets say you decide to spend 5k...A designs Pacifica pre, Cranesong Ibis eq, pair of purple 1176's...Earlybird+Pullet eq+ CL1B (that's a mono compressor but you dont necessarily need stereo compression for tracking)...Cranesong Flamingo, A designs Hammer eq, Cranesong trakkers, etc.

There are loads of nice things...and we're talking NICE here. These are just about the best money can buy without paying over the odds (Neve Re-Issues, old pultecs etc)

Dont forget to budget for some mics.

I'm enjoying vicariously spending your money!

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3741
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Fastlane » Sat May 03, 2008 12:54 am

I'm alarmed at how efficient you are at spending it!! 8-)

One last question on modulars - i promise...

How about the Audient Black? the review was great - and was probably what started me on this path.

Review on the pre and eq looked very strong. I don't know if it's been around for long enough in this form to have any street cred, though.

Thoughts? Anyone else?

Lane
Fastlane
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Fastlane » Sat May 03, 2008 12:55 am

btw - i'm hoping this thread and Jack's responses is useful to others. i was struggling to find a single source for the info...

Lane
Fastlane
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat May 03, 2008 10:13 am

Not tried the Audient Black range, but I owned one of the desks for some years and it was extremely good.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3741
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Sat May 03, 2008 11:10 am

Fastlane wrote:I'm alarmed at how efficient you are at spending it!! 8-)

One last question on modulars - i promise...

How about the Audient Black? the review was great - and was probably what started me on this path.

Review on the pre and eq looked very strong. I don't know if it's been around for long enough in this form to have any street cred, though.

Thoughts? Anyone else?

Lane


1) Street cred is irrelevant.... UTTERLY UTTERLY IRRELEVANT !

2) it sounds very good, as does ALL the audient stuff.....

my only issue is that it might have made more sense to the end user, for it to be compatible with the API system.... but I can appreciate the reasons for not doing so....

that said, they're were also originally thinking about making some of the established circuit designs from the console available as modules for the same Rack system..... (Mic pre, EQ and Buss comp) , I've not spoken to anyone there recently , so whether they're still planning on doing so is a question I'd like to get answered..... I hope so..... :lol:
User avatar
Studio Support Gnome
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2808
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 12:00 am
Location: UK
Now available for consultations and audio engineering jobs .  Also guitar tech work , and “rent-a-shredder” sessions .  Oxfordshire based but can and will travel .  Email maxtech.audio@me.com

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby Fastlane » Sat May 03, 2008 4:51 pm

No no, Max. say what you really mean. :lol:

by "street cred" I really meant "had been established as a go-to for particular applications, etc" Sorry. The other hang up is that I don't have a dealer/distributor around for me to audition this stuff. Or many of the aforementioned beautiful gear, for that matter.

Good to hear about the general quality of the audient stuff. I mean, for the same price as some of the dream 2 channel pre's mentioned above, you could potentially get 2 full channel strips in the audient black series.

As for 500 compatability - there seems to be a rumour floating around out there on some other boards that a 500 series "adapter" for this rack might be in the works. I'd assume they'd probably only deal with the single space units, and I'm sure there'd be power limitations, etc. But, it could be interesting.

The talk of Audient adding their full-blown desk circuits to this rack is utterly delicious.

Thanks,
Lane
Fastlane
Poster
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby archdake mkII » Sat May 03, 2008 5:25 pm

The Producer Formerly Known As Jack wrote:

The Avedis MA5 apparently sounds exactly like a 1073


Interesting, original 1073 or reissue 1073 he he! Have you auditioned it?

Apparently, Rupert Neve Designs is awaiting to be certified from API for the 500 series format...
User avatar
archdake mkII
Regular
Posts: 139
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby RegressiveRock » Sat May 03, 2008 10:08 pm

archdake mkII wrote:
Apparently, Rupert Neve Designs is awaiting to be certified from API for the 500 series format...

I'm a little surprised by that as it might have some negative consequences for Rupert Neve's 5088. If that happens then the API 1608 would be an incredibly hot ticket for the project studio being able to hold both sets of designs. (Says a man who daydreams away about the 5088, 1608 and Matrix; mentally spending money he can't afford).

Although I perhaps should not have introduced these three units into the conversation as they would make the original questioner sick with envy of those that can afford them. ;) It does me... :lol:
RegressiveRock
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1540
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am
Location: Buntingford, Herts
Smoking Goats
https://www.facebook.com/SmokingGoats

Re: Modular Rack system(s) vs. Other outboard options...

Postby archdake mkII » Sun May 04, 2008 7:29 am

On the VPR alliance tab of the API website it says:

Pending:

Rupert Neve Designs
Shadow Hills Industries
User avatar
archdake mkII
Regular
Posts: 139
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users