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rackmount effects vs. pedals

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by smklassen0977, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. I'm thinking about diving into effects to fill out some space in a new band I'm playing in.. Seems like I can probably spend less on buying something like the BEHRINGER BASS V-AMP rackmount effects unit ($180.00) plus a midi controller multi-pedal ($150) vs a ton of effects pedals ($75-$100 ea.) and a pedal board ($80?), 9V cables etc.. Seems like, by the time you buy two individual pedals and a pedal board you've spent more than what it would cost using the rackmount route.. Must be some reason most people stick to pedals.. Pedals have better sound quality due to the analog factor? What am I missing?
  2. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead!

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I can't speak for every single model out there, but I've used a few multi-effects boards and rack units in my time...none of which really did it for me. When I had a Boss GT-6B, even the regular stombox versions sounded better than the ones on the GT-6B did. Unity gain was a big issue, as was navigating through all the menus, submenus and parameters though I've heard the GT-10B was better laid out. I've heard some impressive stuff from the Line 6 HD Pros and the Fractal Audio Axe-FX units on guitar, but haven't used anything for bass thus far that came close. I just purchased, waiting for it to ship, Zoom MS-60B which gets rave reviews on here, so I'm going to see if it holds up to the hype. The flexibility with single pedals is nice, as is the ease of adjusting them. I'd say the freedom of choice and tone is probably going to be the most common answer for why people gravitate to singles over multi-effects units. I'd love to see something with a solid set of effects (no sub-par amp or cab sims) that has an LCD display on the pedalboard and an intuitive switching layout....and for less money than what Boss is asking for their GT-10B :rollno:
  3. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    I personally like pedals. I know some people that like floor based multis - and I know some people that like rackmount multis.

    I like pedals because:

    - I think that certain manufacturers do one thing well and it is worth getting their voice on that one thing. EG - Darkglass and overdrive; Musitronics and envelope filters, Dan armstrong and compressors.
    - I don't think that there are many manufacturers that do many things well so I don't have much faith in many multi-effects units sounding good all around
    - I do like old analog effects and in general my whole board is made up of old analog effects like the MXR phase 90 script circuit, the Moog ring modulator, the Mu-Tron octave circuit etc and I have not heard anyone create these well in the digital domain.

    So - does your argument regarding cost make sense - of course. Do you get what you pay for? I think so. Will the unit you selected be able to create enough good new effects for you to have fun with? I am sure of it.
  4. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    All relative of course, but this is basically it. Other reasons:

    -You need to carry a rack. They can be very cumbersome and heavy. Most seem to want the smallest/lightest thing as possible these days
    -There can be less editing possibilities depending on the unit
    -You may need to deep dive into menus to make a simple change, whereas on a pedal you just bend over and twist a knob
    -MulitFX in general do a lot of things but they don't necessarily do all of them that well. The gap is closing these days with the abundance of "better' MFX units on the market though
    -Rack effects tend to need to be used in an FX loop because they are usually line level devices, so your effects routing can be shot right out the window. I do not want my dirt to be after my preamp stage. Some units will do both line level and instrument level so it's a non-issue.

    V-Amp is more of a modeling device than an effects unit, right? Behringers answer to the Pod?
  5. Thanks for the food-for-thought.. I'm not one for complexity, so the MFX might not be for me.. but I do like saving money like everybody else. Thanks again!
  6. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Here's why I converted, many years ago, from racks to pedals:
    1) Racks effects are always multi-effects that have a) never seem to sound as good as pedals and B) have a steeper learning curve than pedals c) are less versatile than pedals
    2) Racks are heavy. Pedals are not.
    3) Pedals are relatively cheap, fun to buy things for mixing/matching.
    AaronVonRock likes this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I am not a big effects user, but most multis seemed to be trying to offer some of everything, rather than doing one thing well. Also, unless you are going big with a rack system, that is just more to carry around. Why get a small class D head, and not stay compact?

    What effects do you actually need? Better to use too little than too much IMO.
  8. AciDBatH666


    Feb 13, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    Sorry for the long post.
    I'll give my rundown and why I'm making the choice to go with pedals.
    A while back I went from a simple amp and cab, and then realized I wanted more tone. Got a Sansamp pedal and loved it.
    Decided to build a rack to put my tuner, amp, sansamp RBI rack unit, and amp all in one.
    Did that for a while and then decided I wanted a little different gritty boost for tone and then got an MXR Bass D.I.
    And then my band mates wanted me to add a little wah to the mix.

    So I pulled out my Boss ME-50B. Effects, wah, etc. Sounded great at home. You can use it as stompboxes for effects, or premade banks as effects.
    When I cranked on one of the effects, the level was out of control. It's like it got a db boost or something that I couldn't tweak. Then the wah 1) sounded like crap, and 2) the level of the wah was so low that I got sick of it.

    Ditched the FX Processor and got an MXR Bass DI, 105Q wah.... And now I find myself replacing rack stuff with pedals to have the versatility on the fly. I still have my Sansamp RBI in the rack, along with my tuner and other crap, but I'm considering putting a tuner in my pedal chain (so I can tune while muted on stage instead of having to go up to my amp and hit MUTE).

    So overall, I found Multifx units great for at home. But in practice with the band I found that I HATED the distortions and effects when I heard them in the mix. And the lack of control of levels with some of the effects really irritated me. I thought I was done with pedals when I switched from guitar to bass, but now I find that I love the ability of more on the fly control for my effects and tone
  9. waveman


    Sep 25, 2008
    I prefer pedals over a rack

    1. As others have said, a rack is more crap to carry around, and generally more complex
    2. I use a mix of "dedicated" pedals and multiFX

    I will admit that most multiFX units sound good direct / at home /low volume, and don't sound good going through a bass amp, IME.

    Having said that, the Zoom MS60-B has changed that for me. If I wanted to, I could just use that for gigs, but my dedicated pedals do sound better for their specific functions, but if they crap out, I still have my handy MS60-B setup to take over. I primarily use the MS60-B as Limiter, Compressor, Noise Gate, or Tuner. That's why I like this pedal, is that I can use it as either a multi or dedicated pedal, and it is has a quality sound, and is very flexible in how you use it.

    If you are new to effects, the best place to start would be one of these newer Zoom Multi's, and then if you think you need or want to try a dedicated pedal for a specific sound, you can add it to the mix
  10. Sounds like pedals won by a landslide! As I'm not excited about the cost, I do like the idea of having the quality - and to top it off I want to give try to build some of my own pedals. Thanks for all the opinions.. really helps out!

    Also, seems like MXR is a go-to place for good pedals.. I've been looking for a decent chorus pedal some 50-100 but the MXR is much more expensive 170 new - is it that much better?
  11. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I've heard nothing but good things about the MXR Bass Chorus. If you're looking for something a little cheaper, the TC Electronic Corona Chorus is a very nice unit as well. Search around and you'll find nothing but good things on it as well.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Jimmy M's Law Of The Multi:

    3-4 effects you will find quite useful.

    Another 2-5 effects will do in a pinch.

    The rest will suck.

    None will be as good as dedicated pedals.

    Having said that, I know a lot of people who use multis and sound excellent, including my band's guitarist. But he uses separate pedals for dirt and wah wah because his multi isn't as good. I have a couple multis my own self for when I need an effect and I don't have a pedal version. But I'll take a good separate pedal over a multi any day of the week.
  13. McMillions


    Apr 8, 2014
    Endorsing artist: F Bass
    Another thing is that if your multi unit goes down on the gig you have no effects. I go for the individual units so that if one dies I can just bypass and I'll still have my other sounds.

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