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Rack mounted systems

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by cman227, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. cman227


    Dec 21, 2014
    Can anyone tell me why one would use a rack mounted system versus a standard amp head? Is this somehow a requirement in a larger setting or does it give greater versatility or control over your sound. I'm also curious what is meant by rack mounted effects. Why would you use this instead of standard stomp pedals?
  2. OF course it's all personal preferences. Back in the day, it was rare for a dedicated bass amp to be any more powerful than an SVT or the Acoustics, so using power amps was a way past that. Also back then, stomp boxes could be quite noisy and nowhere near the sonic quality of rack mount effects, which were also line level and used very short cable runs in a rack vs. at least two guitar cables between you and the amp. Bi-Amping was a 'thing' back then, and you could use any number of PA or PA-like bins instead of the bass cabs of the day. But you have to see that scene for the time period: You just didn't have the range of choices or the quality of bass cabs and amps then as you do now. The idea of Demeter's preamps with a built-in 800w amp in one rack space would have seemed like an impossible concept in the 70's or 80's.

    Ultimately it's modular. You could have one big power amp and rotate which preamp you'd use. And in some ways even today, rack mount effect units can offer more choices in one box (say something like the TC units) in one box with recording/broadcast quality/quiet which is still not the case with all stompboxes.

    There's no 'right' answer, it's just which do you prefer. People began to stray away from rack rigs due to the weight of power amps (like a Crest CA9), but the new class D power amps have mitigated that for some guys. These days, too, you can have a preamp/effects-only rack and use the new powered bins. It's just down to what you want to use.
  3. tedious1


    Feb 14, 2014
    Yup, it's just preference.

    I went the rack route because I wanted a lightweight class D power amp, and mate it with the pre of my choice, and I wanted the protection a rack affords, we go out on the road generally every year, and having the rack made for peace of mind on the highways and byways.
    JRA and BasturdBlaster like this.
  4. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    People tend to use racks based on the equipment that they are using. If it is rackable, people have the choice of doing that.

    A rack ties everything up in a package, with all the inter-conecting cables in place. You take the front and back cover off, plug in one power cord, plug in your bass and use the system. It's easier to transport as a unit than all the individual pieces. The rack case protects everything while it is being transported. Rack preamps and effects tend to be higher end, even studio grade equipment. These are not available as pedals.
    Kro, esa372 and JRA like this.
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i have nothing to add and i agree with the above posts which are accurate and informative, IMO.

    i have both: i'm able to use whatever i feel would be most convenient/appropriate for a particular gig.
    jazzbass_5 likes this.
  6. esa372


    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I wanted to use Alembic preamps (F-1X and SF-2) - they are only made in rack form. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  7. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Just preference. While I'm being a bit hypocritical here as I've used a rack based system for just about forever, and am relatively set in my ways, I'd say the way to go is to just pick out the gear that you want to use, and then figure out the best way to transport/protect it. That's really all that a rack is.

    Depending on selected gear, some prefer to use a rack, some prefer a pedal board, and one particular guitarist I know likes just tossing all his pedals and cables loose into a Rubbermaid container. ;)

    Whatever works for you!
    Passinwind likes this.

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