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Hello everybody. Long time lurker, this is my first post. Wonderful forum.

So I'm looking into racking a few modules to ultimately achieve a sort of a channel strip combination. 2xEQ / 2xComp / Peak meter for example. The point is to mostly run line lever material thought them, i.e from my DAW during mixing or from synths and samplers during tracking.

Though not german myself, I am located in Berlin at the moment and I've noticed that I can find great deals on fantastic modules. My problem is of course racking. All professional racking services charge insane amounts for this. (at least 400€ for the most basic 1U racking job). As I don't need phantom power or phase switches it seems fairly easy to rack a few modules myself but I can't seem to get some basic information about this process. All the forum threads are very specific and assume a substantial prior knowledge, and I've never racked modules myself. So, assuming I have the modules, I have the pinouts, I've connected XLR's etc., what would be the next move?

Regarding the rack, it can be either a 19" rack (5U?) or a wooden box to sit on a desktop. Is a 5U rack a good place to start? Or can I just measure a few wooden panels and make a nice little box?

Connectors. Do I need anything more than a Tuchel connector for each module and two XLR (m/f) for each?

Getting everything including PSU in the box. How is this done? Can I use an external 24v PSU to make this more simple?

I can use a pro racking service to help with some of the work to cut costs. (PSU for example, or whatever the most complicated part is). It doesn't have to be a pretty thing btw.. as long as it works.

Thanks in advance!

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Boswell Fri, 02/17/2012 - 11:41

I've racked modules by getting faulty rack-mount units for a very low price on Ebay, stripping out the insides and mounting the modules instead. It usually means buying, drilling and labelling a new front panel, but if you are careful in your choice of original unit, back panels and sometimes even power supplies can be pressed into service.

I'm racking a pair of Neumann V476B pre-amps at the moment and will post photos when done.

Boswell Sat, 02/18/2012 - 09:08

You may have to down-rate your aspirations of appearance for the sake of practicality and go for a steel or alloy chassis that already has the mounting rails. You can always glue wood-appearance wallpaper to the outside of the rack if you want it to look like wood from a distance. Alternatively, bolt the modules into a rack-mount metal chassis and mount the chassis in a wooden cabinet.

There are several things to consider when it comes to choosing a (linear) power supply:
is there room in the chassis for a PSU with enough wattage?
what airflow do you need through the chassis (+ cabinet) to guarantee sufficient cooling?
how can you avoid stray 50Hz magnetic field from the transformer intersecting the signal input cables?
check that you route the wiring so that the reservoir capacitor charging currents do not flow in the d.c. output cabling.

RemyRAD Sat, 02/18/2012 - 18:34

If you're racking modules, I would suggest you NOT mount the power supply in the same box. Most power supplies are quite good at inducing hum, Buzz and other noise into nearby audio electronics. Most good external rack mount equipment has the power supplies not in the same box. Of course that is not always the case when companies design and build equipment. They take special precautions to make sure the power supplies do not interfere with anything in their box. At least not by much in an audible way.

When you build something with a wooden box, you simply have to purchase some steel rack rails already with tapped holes for standard rackmount screws. These are generally available at your local music store and from numerous manufacturers. Some thicker than others. Some black, some natural metal in appearance. My entire control room is assembled that way since all of my rack boxes are an integral part of the control room. And since you cannot see the rails when the equipment is installed, there is no aesthetic problem. You're only criteria for box size and the amount of equipment you can install is, how much weight can you pick up. You can put a lot of equipment in to a rather large box if it's all lightweight stuff. What you can't do is stick in 24 Neve modules into a rack box and expect to be able to pick it up yourself or even along with a friend to help. It's like picking up a box full of barbells which are not exactly a musical instrument unless you drop them on your feet. Doing so will allow you to generate incredible high notes along with other expletives.

Now you have me railing.
Mx. Remy Ann David

flextone Sun, 02/19/2012 - 07:18

RemyRAD, post: 384663 wrote:
When you build something with a wooden box, you simply have to purchase some steel rack rails already with tapped holes for standard rackmount screws. These are generally available at your local music store and from numerous manufacturers. Some thicker than others.

You mean normal rack rails? And install them on the top and bottom of the enclosure front (as opposed to sides)? Don't I need frames to slide the modules into the enclosure and to keep them tightly in there?

RemyRAD Mon, 02/20/2012 - 18:21

Yes, you could mount your rack rails vertically or horizontally in your box. No, they won't be on nice little sliding aluminum rails as they are in consoles i.e. Neve, API, etc.. That requires a different kind of custom metal frame box such as the API Lunch Box. Or even butchered console frames that have been removed and chopped down to fit inside a custom wooden box. That certainly isn't a necessity nor may it be practical. You just need to be able to screw them in neatly. It ain't a console... it's a box with console parts in it. I have a pair of Altec 1567's, tube mixers mounted in a box with rack rails. And I'm considering doing likewise for some of my Neve 3115's console modules for portable fly pack use. The power supply shall also be separate and outside of the box 6 feet away. Even my API 3124 mixers, which have the power supply within the 1 U metal rack box suffers from some power supply electromagnetic hum in channel 4. This required a slight rotational repositioning of the power transformer to minimize the hum. And that could never fully eliminate the slight residual hum. So I make it a point of never plugging my ribbon microphones into input channel 4 on those units. And those suckers cost $2500 each (hum free of charge included).

I know the words so I'd rather sing instead of hum
Mx. Remy Ann David

flextone Tue, 02/21/2012 - 00:38

It really doesn't seem too complicated. I found a guy who "butchers" old Neumann consoles and has tons of frames and racks for sale, for both Danner sizes. Not super cheap for a piece of metal but still tenth of the price the established dealers are asking for.

How about some module recommendations? I can skip the mic-pre at this stage. I need 2 eq's, 2 comps, peak meter would be cool. I saw racks with faders built into them (active?), what are those for?