Best Live Rack Effects Unit?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by UrbanIvy, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. UrbanIvy


    Aug 1, 2004
    San Francisco
    Which rack unit is the best for live spontaneous shows with the most versatile user friendly settings? The unit needs to be capable of:

    Full bypass, distortion, wah, reverb, envelope filter, some bass amp/cab modulation, various electronic/spacey effects, synth, delay, ability to mix effects together. Must have a floor board (of course)

    Some units I have in mind are:
    Bass Pod Pro XT, Rocktron Blue Thunder, TC G-Major, TC G-Force, Evandide, Roland SE 70, Boss VF 1. Out of these I have only tried out the Pod.

    I will be putting the unit through an Ampeg SVT 4 Pro. Also, this will be my first rack unit! Any feedback/suggestions are greatly appreciated.
  2. For starters, you probably won't get all the things you want out of one unit...wah is especially difficult to get out of a straight-up multi-effect. The POD has it built in to the floorboard, but it's the exception.

    None of the others come with a floorboard. You'll need to get a separate MIDI controller (Behringer FCB1010/Rocktron MIDI Mate/RFX Midi Buddy) to change patches. The Behringer has 'continuous controller' pedals which look like a wah pedal, but can be assigned to control a particular parameter for a particular effect in a particular algorithm.

    On the low-end, you've got the Boss SE-70, which are rare to find used. Good quality of effects with analog distortion. Then the Boss VF-1, which is chock-full of really weird effects. The Rocktron Blue Thunder is a bass preamp, so what effects it has are limited. The Bass Pod Pro is nice, but doesn't allow you to chain that many effects together. The fact that the floorboard is so integral to the system is a major advantage. The G-Major is pretty good, but I've actually heard people say the VF-1 sounds better.

    The Eventide and G-Force are throwing me. Both are awesome, but the G-Force is $1500 or more, and I haven't found an Eventide for any less than $2000. The Eventide is more suited to studio use, though.

    I'd say just stick with the POD Pro if you want 'easy'. You might also look at the Behringer Bass Vamp. They sound pretty good, are cheap, and sync up well with the Behringer controller.
  3. Also, you're playing a really nice amp now (SVT 4Pro), so why is amp/cab simulation a priority?

    Look into the Rocktron Xpression as well. No EQ, no preamp controls, just effects.

    Also, don't discount floor-mounted effects like the Boss GT-6B and Digitech BNX-3. Completely integrated units are pretty nice and rock solid. Both have wah and/or expression pedals built in, and amp/cab simulation. The BNX-3 even has a digital 8 track recorder and drum machine.
  4. UrbanIvy


    Aug 1, 2004
    San Francisco
    Thanks for the great feedback! I've been reading about the GT 6-B and the Digitech BNX-3 for the past two weeks. I was especially impressed with the GT 6-B. Also, the other Boss unit (the ME-b?) looked very good as well. I'm just set on getting a rackable effects unit though. If there was a rack version of the GT 6-B I'd be all over it.

    I'm going to try to find an Xpression to play, and try the Pod XT. I actually only played a Pod in the past, and it was the kidneybean.

    ...and I just want the amp/cab simulation to mess around with to find some different tones through my gear. Right now I'm leaning toward a slightly used Pod Pro XT. I've read a lot of good reviews and a lot of bad ones too.
  5. If you're into Boss's effects, then you should look for the VF-1 or SE-70. Both have more effects than the GT-6B. The amp emulation in the VF-1 is better...but the SE-70 is more than 10 years old, so the technology wasn't here yet for good amp/cab modeling. You can generally find either used for less than $300 (I got mine for $225) and you can find a decent MIDI controller for less than $150. The Behringer looks cool, but I didn't like how big it was (didn't fit in my pedal case)

    also, regarding the Xpression, I'm pretty sure the Midi jack is 7-pin (normal ones are 5) and the extra pins send phantom power to midi controllers that also have 7-pin jacks...this eliminates the need for an extension cord to your pedal.

    Have a good search.
  6. UrbanIvy


    Aug 1, 2004
    San Francisco
    I just tried the Boss VF-1, the GT 6B and the ME 50B. I was very impressed with the VF-1. I soon realized that I won't need any amp-cab simulation. So far I really liked the ME 50b better than any rack effect unit that I have tried. The GT 6B was good too, but not nearly as easy to use and full of several effects that I will never, never, never use. If I didn't need a Pre Amp to put the VF-1 through and if I didn't have to haggle with finding a footswitch then I'd be all for it.

    Pod Pro XT: I think the guys at Line 6 did a great job of putting a product on the market for bass players by constructing a preamp to create an all in one unit. They also market the product very well. However, I would consider the unit an amp/cab simulator with effects more than a multi effects unit.

    If I can't mix and match different effects easily, the unit limiting. I'd really like a VF-1 with a built in preamp that came with a pedal. I'm gonna think it over before I buy anything
  7. icks


    Jul 12, 2001
    Charleroi, Belgium
    most rack effect units have no distortion/overdrive.
    Most complete rack effect have amp/cab simul properties that you don't need/want.

    I'll say check ut the Behringer virtualizer por DSP 2024.
    It's midi, so you can footcontrol it. It has a lot of efect included modulations, distortions have a lot of weird effects.
    You can put 2 effects at the same time.

    it's cheap.

    The only reason I don't have it yet ?
    The midi controller is the same price of this unit. +-150$
  8. suicas


    Mar 12, 2004
  9. "Hutch" Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt and more) uses POD pro preamps thorugh the power section of SVT 2 amps. Nice sound indeed.

    I think you would be best of using the same kind of connection, the POD is versatile, easy to use and has a good dedicated floor unit.
  10. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    If you can find one and afford it, the Lexicon MPX G2 is an excellent unit. I don't know if you have heard Steve Lawson's work, but that is the rack effects unit that he uses to do it all. If you want to hear some of his recordings, he has MP3s on his web site:

    Personally, I have a G-major and a Boss VF-1. The G-major does not offer overdrive or distortion, but is the most hiss-free effects unit that I have ever heard. The chorus and octave effects really are amazing on this unit.

    The Boss VF-1 seems to create a substantial amount of hiss. Some of the effects are noisier than others, but I find that I cannot use this unit without the noise suppressor turned on (unlike the G-major which is crystal clear). This means that you lose some sustain since the noise suppressor kicks in squelches when the note starts to get quiet. On the up side, the VF-1 seems to have just about anything you can imagine built-in to a very small unit. I have heard Michael Manring use one live and he sounded great.
  11. UrbanIvy


    Aug 1, 2004
    San Francisco
    The Lexicon MPX G2 looks awesome and it is its own preamp. It is a bit out of my pricerange though. I'm looking to drop between $300-$700 as soon as I sell my old beater of a car. I'll keep a lookout for one though. Do any of the other Lexicon units stand up? I went to the website and the others don't look nearly as enticing.

    I thought there would be something off with the VF-1 for it's price. I will probably stay away because I can't stand the hissing that I have from my current stomp boxes. I also need a true bypass.

    G-Major is designed for a guitar. Have you had any limiting experiences with the way it is setup? Also, you have to run it through a preamp don't you?
  12. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    If you watch the used market, you might find an MPX G2 in your budget. I once did and now kick myself for not buying it. The other Lexicon units are very good, but not as good as the G2. The G2 is the top of the line unit. Unfortunately, they don't make them any more. :(

    The G-Major has one flaw when it comes to bass. The built-in tuner does not work on the open E and open B string. You have to use the 12th fret harmonic on each of those strings when tuning. If you are using a passive bass, you will need either a preamp or a DI box to connect in to the G-Major. Active basses can be connected directly.

    I currently use the VF-1 in my stage rig because of its compact size, and I use the G-Major in my home studio because of the sound quality.
  13. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    I think the octaver in the G-major is to slow - that's why I'm looking for something else.
  14. UrbanIvy


    Aug 1, 2004
    San Francisco
    Thanks for your feedback everyone. I just bought a near mint condition Lexicon MPX G2 in my area tonight so I'll be digging into it very soon!
  15. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    Review !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    When you can find time :)
  16. bortx


    Sep 9, 2004
    Hi All,

    Just received the line6 POD Pro xt. I am renting it right now (thankfully) and I find the octave/synth effects to be really bad. My zoom 506 tracks far better than this unit. I have tried all the different input settings/gain/padding with no luck. An open string note just warbles away with no clear tone. I have an email into support and they can resolve the problem I will let you know. Right now, however, I would recommend staying away from it if you want this functionality.

  17. UrbanIvy


    Aug 1, 2004
    San Francisco
    I have had my effects unit for quite some time now and it is pretty much as expected, and I had quite high expectations. The unit is highly versatile and I have only tapped into a small portion of its potential.

    Setting the effects up initially is a highly difficult process. It is like anything else, similar to learning how to play bass. Once you stop having to think about things everything starts to come together.

    Currently I have about 20 bass effects that I went in and set up for the purpose of actually using during open jams. Of these, three or four work with my band consistently. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to go back in and create new effects to bring to the table. Setting the volume is the biggest time consuming issue with effects, because when guitars are added the set volume needs to go up on some and down on others.

    Anyway, Lexicon has opened up a new world to me. Also, the rack makes absolutely no noise, and I actually prefer the tone that it brings to my rig when I have the unit on unbypassed in an idle state.
  18. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    How is the octaver in the MPX-G2 ?

    How much is the delay time and how low does it track ?

    I recently got a TC G-Force to try out.
    The Octaver is very nice indeed, although you to set in a 8 ms delay otherwise there's a strange digital noise, when you hit a note. The Octaver tracks down to the low F, which is very nice. The first impressions of the other effects is that they're very good - especially the reverb.

    I have one regret though - and that is the tuner. Unless it's me that can't make the right setting for bass tuning, it can't track the low E and B - I mean come on !!!!

    Does anybody know if there's a setting to make the tuner track better ?