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Racks behind you.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by mattssons, Oct 16, 2004.

  1. mattssons

    mattssons Guest

    I have a question that's been bothering me for some time. How come so many studios have racks behind or at 90 degrees from the mixer's perspective. How the heck do they adjust compressors and eq's when reaching down or sideways down below in the rack.Not to mention strange reflections from angled racks.

    Or do this fashion you see in bigger studios work because they use a lot of assistants. "Hey goffer turn that big black knob on the big grey box down there, but do it slowly until i say stop":)

    What's wrong with keeping some stuff below the sides of the mixer no reflections and you can adjust stuff while sitting in a good listening position.

    Any good reson why it is this way?

    Regards /Toby
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    A couple reasons... first large consoles don't have space for racks under them and racks mounted low and under things are difficult to see, get to and make adjustments.

    Quite often, there will be a "producers desk" placed directly behind the mix position and the space is wasted unless you place the outboard there. Usually the stuff placed in these racks is compressors and gates etc, prehaps not so much the reverbs (which in large studios) are usually controlled by a remote.

    I have my racks placed at a 45 degree angle to the left and right of the mix desk and this works fine for me.

    Many of the newer desks you can get for DAWs have rack spaces for outboard, some at desk level and some below ... but in many cases these do not provide enough space. I have four, 14 space racks to house my mic pres,comps, gates, reverbs, effects and power strips. There's no way that could all be crammed under my mix desk.
  3. oakman

    oakman Guest

    I have a small studio and my gear is racked up to the left and right of the desk... like Kurt's. The stuff that I don't need to tinker with much is below and behind. BUT, I am counting only 20 rack-mounted gadgets in my studio, only 12 are in the racks to the left and right. That way the monitors, which sit on top of those racks, are at ear level.

    I'm thinking that many big rooms would obstruct the sound path of the big (in-wall) monitors or raise the level of the reference monitors too much. Not to mention the fact that you'd have to have a motorized chair to travel to the left and right racks on a big SSL. :)
  4. mattssons

    mattssons Guest

    Thanks for the replies

    ..but i still believe it's somewhat strange..just as horisontally placed nearfields situated ON the meterbridge...but perhaps that's just me !/Toby
  5. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    Re: Thanks for the replies

    You're right...it is strange......having to turn around to adjust your outboard stuff.....moving out of the sweet spot........

    It's a problem that's always plagued studios..but there's really no cure for it.....there's just not enough room to place a large console and all that outboard gear in a position that would make it easy to adjust from the sweet spot. Not to mention it wouldn't look very good and would probably obstruct the path between the ears and the monitors....which has enough problems with just the board itself........
  6. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    As someone who has worked in all kinds of control rooms, big and small... and designed all kinds of control rooms, big and small... let me lay out some of the design criteria and thought process for you.

    In places where "depth" [and often width] is an issue, you need somewhere to put the Producer, and other people important to the session [band members, record company people, etc.] Unless the console has a 'producers desk', then it is pragmatic to put the producer behind the mix position... and it is always pragmatic to get band members and record weasels off the "dance floor" [where the engineer's chair rolls around... that's called the "dance floor"]

    If the control room will be used in heavy keyboard applications, then a desk behind the mix postion is important to not only accomodate the programmer/keyboard players equipment, but to facilitate communication between that programmer/player and the engineer.

    In a well designed room, the "sweet spot" will indeed translate to the point where the rear positioned outboard rack is situated, and the rack will be angled to take reflections from the monitors into account and splay those angles so they do not return to the mix position in under 20ms... however many [and I do mean M-A-N-Y!!] room designs have not taken this into account, and many more rooms do not have a "sweet spot" that will extend to that depth.

    If you have gobs of room in the control room, like "East Iris" in Nashville [a Hidley designed room], then you can have the outboard in rolling racks that come in from the side [that are also angled to minimize reflective anomolies]. However, that is the largest control room in which I have ever worked [you could probably play softball in there!!], so this was indeed a viable approach.

    Often times, placing the equipment on the sides of the mix postion is fraught with nearly as many complications as the outboard rack behind the mix position. It is rare that the outboard racks will mirror each other, in other words be roughly the same size and height as each other on both sides of the desk. If the outboard racks are not of mirror image, an asymmetrical refelction pattern is created which can also be an impediment to an even room response.

    Where the racks are in relation to the desk and the monitors, and the angle of the equipment in the rack will also have a major impact on the reflective patterns of the room. Again, a good designer will take this into account, and a hack designer will ^#$% it up [and there are way more hacks than good ones!! the worst part is, some of the hacks are the most famous designers!!!!!].

    There will always be compromises that must be addressed in any and every room design. The designer must know the working flow of the main occupants of the studio, and design for their work flow, and design around the stuff they're going to do to mess up the design [like independent engineers bringing rack after rack of their gear with no regard for angles or reflective patterns... seriously, you have to take this eventuality into account during the design process or you're screwed].

    In my current room... all the computer monitors are on one side of the mix postion, the outboard on the other side. I have a small set of nearfields on top of the outboard racks which I will sometimes switch on if I'm having a tough time focusing on what I'm working on. For the most part, you will be able to hear and focus through the main [wall] monitors [in a great room!!] or "on the desk" nearfield monitors without too much of a struggle... but there are times when the other set has come in handy in my work.

    Nearfield monitors on their side... that's another kettle of fish. If you're in a room with "big" monitors that you can actually use, you put the nearfields on their side to minimize their interference of the signal from the "bigs" [you may also have to do some alterations or additions to the profile of the side of the desk facing the front wall... but I ain't goin' there today thank you].

    The biggest problem with nearfields on their sides is the combfiltering that occurs with the reflection pattern of the signal from the tweeters bouncing off the desk. You can sometimes change the angle of the desk and clear that up... but then you will also have to build some wedges to support the monitors and change the angle of their dangle... in other words, it's a mondo pain in the ass that nobody ever does.

    Standing the audio monitors up straight is generally a good thing... as long as you're not sending the tweeters too far over your head, not obstructing the 'in wall' audio monitors, nor the video/computer monitors... then it's a fine thing.

    This is but a brief overview of why things are done as they are... at least when things are thought out... it seems more and more I see and hear control rooms that were designed more for the cosmetic that would look good on the cover of MIX magazine than for actual listening purposes... two major design firms seem to feel that this is without a doubt the best approach, cosmetics over function... and I would have to say that from their perspective they are correct... as they're booked for the next couple of years, and are charging beyond top dollar for their [IMNTLBFHO] incompetent work.

  7. mattssons

    mattssons Guest

    Racks behind..

    Thanks Fletcher for the massive amount of clever points. I sure will print it and put it in my map with points to cover next time i will build someplace bigger, better;)

    I guess there's so many variables/issues in a controlroom/Studio to cover that there always will be compromises.
    I can only agree that it's a a sort of fashion industry and not alll choices are mad with common sense and physics.

    I sure had a bit of a laugh the other day when cleaning out a cupboard full with only a couple of years old recording magz. The best thing since slized bread on the covers you couln't even find being used anywhere anymore.

    Yours /Toby

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