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What's In Your FOH Rack

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by nervous, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Beautiful Central, NY
    OK, I have been meddling in this live sound thing for a very long time and as my need change I have to rework what is in what rack. Because of the endless possibilities I thought I'd throw it out there to see what others are doing. Preface by saying this is an old school setup. Nothing digital. I have neither the patience or need at this time for that technology. We hire out when we need to but I am working on a simple 16 channel setup, sometimes run from side stage by me, sometimes run FOH by a friend. This prevents me from going to a single, self contained mixer topped rack where I have an easier plug and play setup. I did an electric duo for 20 years and it was just great. Ran stereo always but will now be mono as best as I can tell. and with my 5 piece I need greater flexibility.

    So, currently the FOH speakers consist of a pair single 18 sub boxes and a pair is tall 2x15/horn top boxes. The FOH rack simply contains a simple FX unit, a 2x31 band EQ, a DBX crossover and compressor limiter. The amp racks hold all the FOH and monitor amps (Main, Sub, monitor for all five guys) and their respective 1x31 eq's. Works fine.

    But the struggle I am now having is the best placement of a couple bits of the rack gear.

    1) Is the crossover best (or normally) placed in the amp rack, allowing me to use only a single (or two in stereo) snake sends, eliminating the third snake send for the subs that I would have to use with the xover in the FOH rack? This is making more sense with the trade off of losing teh ability for real-time adjustments on initial set up.

    2) Do monitor EQ's normally go in the FOH rack or paired with their respective amps in that rack?

    3) Would the compressor/limiter, intended to be a full system limiter in this system, be best placed at the end of the chain, after the xover and pre amp input? or, placed in the FOH rack, pre xover, assuming the xover is now living in the side stage amp rack?

    I know these are rookie questions and all options may have validity but I am more curious how other folks are doing it and your opinions on all this.
  2. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    We did away with all the rack gear a couple of years ago and switched to a Presonus Studio Live mixer...everything is in the mixer and it supports six IEM
    Mixes. It remembers settings from room to room...gig to gig so returning to a gig site you just load the setting from the last time there and it's ready to go. One powered sub and two powered/towered mains. All high wattage. It kicks azz.
    jimfist likes this.
  3. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Beautiful Central, NY
    This is interesting. I keep seeing that name pop up and did not take the time to research them at all.

    How is the learning curve and user interface?
  4. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    1) In my realm, the xover is pretty much a set it & forget it entity....I'd place it in the amp box and send a single signal from the mixer's L main output.

    2) Keep your monitor (...think "rescue") EQ's close at hand. How many monitor channels are required and how many snake sends are available? If running monitors via Aux channels, you can place the EQ in the Aux send & return loop. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can run a monitor Aux channel into an empty mic channel and add the EQ via the insert (if available).

    3) Not really sure if a full system compressor / limiter is the best way to go. As I understand it, this would be better utilized by segregating your mixer channels (vocals / instruments / drums) into separate subgroups and then applying independent comp / limiter channels to each subgroup (my mixer has subgroup inserts for just this purpose). IOW, it would have to stay with the mixer & processors.

    BTW, I keep everything...including amps...in a single huge-mambo Odyssey rack next to me on stage.

  5. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    I have a presonus 16.4.2 and 16.0.2. The learning curve really isn't that hard. Lots of videos on you tube. I like mine because I mix onstage and it is nice to be able to make adjustments without going through a lot of menus. Way less gear to move around. I sold my anolog boards but still have my FOH rack which I don't use anymore. It contains a DBX 2231 graphic EQ, DBX 166 compressor, lexicon mx200 effects processor, and furman power strip.
  6. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Learning curve on the Presonus mixer is easy...we had it down the first gig with only a few minor tweaks for EQ and Comp settings.
  7. pflash4001


    Dec 2, 2011
    I haven't had the cash to go all digital, so here's my analog setup being inspected by my son, Christain.


    I have a Mackie1604 VLZ Pro (with the RotoPod unit,) power conditioner, 2 space drawer with console tape, sharpies, pens, my littlite, di's, etc., 4 Samson s-com 4s, a Lexicon F/X processor, and an Aphex Aural Exciter. Everything stays wired up in the SKB GigRig. I just pop the lids, run power and my snake and set the stage. My amp rack (affectionately known as the lead sled) has a dbx DriveRack, 2 Mackie M1400i's, and 2 Crown XS1200's. It's fairly easy to set up gigs with this arrangement.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2014
    crust_cheese likes this.
  8. pflash4001


    Dec 2, 2011
    Here he is at the board...


  9. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Beautiful Central, NY
    Good stuff thanks all. So far it has motivated me to keep all non-amp related gear in the same FOH rack. I may eventually move the xover but not until I can find a 12 space amp rack. I have 8 available sends on the snake so that should be plenty.

    Some research has led me to something I never considered. The advantage of running the main EQ as an insert and not inline. Going to try that.
  10. I use a Mackie Dl1608. Used to use a Presonus 16.0.2 (?). Now my rack has a power supply, my Mac Wap and my IEM.
    jimfist likes this.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yep, inserts are perfectly suited for adding GEQ's, PEQ's, enhancers, compressors, etc. and, for the most part, can be utilized at 3 different points depending on the application: 1) mic channel, 2) sub-groups, 3) mains. FX, OTOH, are better suited for parallel configuration where an adjustable blend is desired. That's where the Aux loops come in handy...the more, the better because we also use those to run monitors. Best part is that the final sonic product is present at the headphone jack because we all know that....

    ...if it sounds good in the cans, it has to sound good out front! Yeah, right.

  12. Gotta say you could ditch all or most of your rack and mixer and buy either a Mackie or a larger Presonus and still have money to burn. Think of it, no snakes to run and you can literally walk the room and mix. I also ditched all my amps and went powered QSC. The market has tons of powered stuff to choose from at all budgets. So no power amp racks or crossovers needed.
    Geri O and jimfist like this.
  13. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    • Furman M-8Lx Power Conditioner (expensive power strip with lights)
    • Lexicon M400XL
    • Alesis Midiverb from about 1872
    • dbx 266xl Dual Compressor
    • dbx 1531x dual band graphic eq
    • Crown XLS 202
    • Crown XLS 602
    • various dust and cords
    • tazer
    • hatchet
    • tire iron
  14. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!" Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Digital console for the win, with iPad control. Old school rack setups were my stock and trade for many, many years. I (and my other pro associates) have ditched 90% of their analog consoles and rack processing stuff in favor of the digital mixer all-in-one solution, and mostly active/powered mains & monitor cabinets. No process racks. No amp racks. No crossover networks. No 100 ft. cable snakes. No more expensive 4 x 12 gauge 50 ft. speaker cable runs. DONE! I will never EVER even think of going back to analog. I can use the same small mixer (for me Mackie 1608) for acoustic duo or 5 piece rock band with up to 6 discrete monitor mixes. The amount of high quality technology stuffed into these new digital mixers is almost criminal considering the performance, price, weight and footprint. I had no issue whatsoever dumping or retiring the vast majority of my analog mixing/processing gear after I became comfortable using a digital console. They are especially excellent for bands that self-mix IMHO. Vehicle space savings is also huge IMO.

    Apologies, as you said you weren't really going the digital route, but I personally I can't recommend going any other route these days.
  15. My apologies as well. I got to thinking about my two replies. I think your set up makes sense. i would place the crossover with the amps themselves to cut down on sends to that rack. As for the EQ's not sure which is the right way to go. I think it depends on how often you need to get to them during the show.
  16. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Presonus 16.4.2,macbook out front. Behind each stack is an 8 space rack with 1 BSS MiniDrive (think Driverack), a Middle Atlantic UCP patch panel for fan and i/o and then 2 power amps. 1 rack has a QSC 1804 and 1602. The other has old school big iron EV P2000 and P1200. Stereo, triamped but with mono, aux fed subs.

    I run an 8 way speakon from the rack to the mid-hi cab and branch a 2 wire down to the sub. Each rack can handle 2 stacks of 18,12 and horn plus provide power for one monitor mix. Another rack with 2 EV P[1100's provides power for up to 4 other monitor mixes. Simple, effective, very fast to setup and get to sound check.
  17. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Beautiful Central, NY
    Thanks to all for responding and please don't apologize for expressing what you believe in and, more importantly, what's working. I am so tuned and mired in the old school that I had no idea just what was going on in the present. And now were talking about toting overall lighter weight in less space with no snake, ease of setup and tear down and on and on and I'd be a fool to not take a closer look at what you're saying. Thank you and keep em all coming.
    jimfist likes this.
  18. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Just a board , no rack…… :(


    Attached Files:

  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    my one band is still all analog.

    mixwix on top of the rolling rack, with:
    furman thing with lights
    rane PE17 parametric for main EQ
    dual 15-band EQ for the one wedge mix we sometimes still use for guest singers
    aphex 4-channel gate for the drums
    DBX 166 for vocal comps and snare drum comp
    cheap lexicon FX for vocal delay
    cheap older lexicon reverb for drums etc
    in-ear xmitters for everybody.

    the crossover lives in a separate little rack with the power amps; gigs where we use the house system the amps and crossover stay behind.

    (my other band uses a mackie 1608, and thus none of that other stuff is needed)
  20. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Beautiful Central, NY
    Well. I have a line on a semi local nice condition Presonus 16.4.2 that you all gave me mulling. I have to do some research now.

    Do any of you worry about putting all your eggs in that one basket? At least with redundant, albeit archaic, rack gear I would have options if one piece fails. With an all in one like this if it doesn't fire up all is lost.

    One more. Do the six aux/mon sends have their own individual EQ as a component system would?
    nogoodwithnames likes this.

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