Rack effects question

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by ASV, Aug 25, 2010.

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  1. ASV

    ASV Guest

    Hi guys,

    Noobs question (again) :p
    And sorry if ask at the wrong section, please feel free to move.

    Thinking of getting rack effects in the future for my (little) recording studio.

    I'm thinking like reverb, compressor and amp modeller (i.e POD rack)
    At the moment i use lexicon alpha and vox tonelab.so guitar goes to tonelab and from tonelab goes to lexicon alpha and to the computer.

    Question is: How do i connect the rack system and get them connected to my computer? Can someone tell me the diagram for this?
    guitar - amp modeller, etc.

    Looking forward to the answers
  2. nicko

    nicko Active Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    There are a number of ways you can set up some outboard processing with your set up, but you are fairly limited with the Alpha, as it doesn't have many inputs or outputs.

    Try to be a little more specific, how would you like to use your outboard equipment? The simplest way is to plug your guitar strait into the POD, take its output into the compressor and the compressors output into the effects (reverb) unit and then plug the output of the reverb into one of the inputs on your audio interface. This means of course you are stuck with the sound you record for good though.

    If you are able to use the RCA outputs independently of the TRS outputs on the alpha thing, there may be a way you can integrate some of your outboard as hardware inserts for mixing, but I don't know the unit well enough to tell you.

    You may need to upgrade to an audio interface with more inputs and outputs if you intend on integrating hardware effects/processing.
  3. ASV

    ASV Guest

    Thanks for that dude!

    Probably i should upgrade it to lexicon omega later.
    And i'd cross out the POD as i'd prefer mic'd cabinet

    I'm not sure what u mean by 'use my outboard equipment'. I'm fairly new at recording stuff.
    What is the 'common' set up for this? and connect them to computer
  4. nicko

    nicko Active Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    OK, so we call hardware equipment (like rack-mount compressors, equalizers, effects etc) 'outboard equipment'. Also, don't limit yourself to the lexicon interfaces... there are literally hundreds of audio interface options out there!

    There are few common ways of integrating hardware with a regular DAW set up (or connecting it to your computer, as you've put it), but invariably you'll need an audio interface with greater number of inputs and outputs than you've got now.

    The 'Hardware Insert' Route

    One way to integrate outboard equipment with a daw system is to use your spare inputs and outputs on your audio interface as 'sends' and 'returns' to and from your gear and then route it into the chain inside your DAW software. For example, someone may have the inputs of a stereo compressor unit attached to outputs 3 and 4 on their audio interface. The outputs of the compressor are then connected to inputs 3 and 4 on the audio interface. In most multitrack recording software there is a way of selecting 'hardware inserts', just like you select plugins usually. Choosing hardware insert 3 and 4 as a plugin would then put the hardware compressor in the chain. You can do this with as many external processors as you like, limited by the number of in/out on your interface.

    The 'Mixing OTB' Route

    Another way you could do this is by moving to mixing out of the box. This would involve getting either a mixing desk or a summing mixer. The outputs of a multichannel audio interface are connected to the inputs of the mixer/summing box. You can then insert any of your hardware compressors/EQ's etc between the audio interface and the mixer.
  5. ASV

    ASV Guest

    i like the 'mixing OTB route'

    I have a small phonic mixer with RCA ins and outs (cannot remember how many) - i have to upgrade later

    So, if i hook up all these outboard effects (reverb, compressor, EQ), do i still need the VST effects on the DAW to process the recording?
  6. nicko

    nicko Active Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    You may still wish to use some VST plugins as you will quickly run out of hardware processors. Let's say youve got two compressors, two EQ's and a reverb unit. Say if you put one of your compressors on your vocals and one on bass, your two eq's on guitars or keyboards and you're using your reverb as a drum room sound or something, you've already run out! You'll probably still want to EQ/compress your toms, and other tracks, so that's when still having VST plugins will help.
  7. ASV

    ASV Guest

    Can't i just use 1 compressor or 1 EQ for all purpose? considering that the recording will be done separately.
    I.e track the drum part first and the bass, gt, and so on

    Yeah, you're right about VST :)
  8. nicko

    nicko Active Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Sure if you're willing to apply processing on the way in there's no reason you can't work like that. Signal chain would be MIC -> Outboard Mic Pre -> Compressor (or EQ) -> EQ (or compressor) -> audio interface.
  9. ASV

    ASV Guest

    Cool! awesome, i may go with this one

    However, i just re-read your post below.
    Is this for a 'live setting' where 'all' instruments (gtr, bass, drums) connect in?
    And require a bigger mixer / audio interface that has more than 5 inputs and outputs right?

  10. ASV

    ASV Guest


    Is this possible
    1. Get up to/more inputs-outputs mixer
    2. Instruments go to mixer
    3. Hook up all 'racks' (reverb, EQ, compressor) to mixer
    4. Mixer 'out to' audio interface

    If this is possible, looks like whatever instrument plug into the mixer will be processed by the racks before going to the audio interface right?
  11. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    I see two questions here:
    1. Can I use outboard effects units w/ my current setup?
    2. Why and when would I want to do so?

    Nicko's instructions sufficiently cover #1, and also #2 at certain points.
    His comments about running out of processors apply for simultaneous operation, whether done as you record or in mixing. Or, if you have 4 channels of outboard, you can never use more than 4 at ONCE.

    Answers to #2: If you want to compress a vocal, drum, bass, etc while recording, source>pre>comp>interface. Once used, it's used - for RECORDING.
    If you want to add reverb to ..... while recording, source>pre>reverb>interface. Once used, it's used ...
    If you're willing to go through the process, AUDITION in mixing.
    That is, send one playback track to outboard, back into interface, and judge the results.
    Do the same one by one, for every application of comp/verb/delay, etc - then you'll know when and why to use outboard while mixing. And when/why NOT to.

    The way I operate, FWIW:
    I have 4 channels of outboard compression. I use these when desired/needed for recording.
    All effects while mixing are done ITB. My software and plugins are better than any outboard I have.
    I'd love to have outboard gear that exceeds my software to send tracks to for mixing - I can't afford it, and neither can you, most likely.

    Not to say I haven't considered the same thing myself many times...
    just make sure any outboard addition provides something your software cannot, and something your budget allows.
  12. ASV

    ASV Guest

    Cheers for that
    Wow, lots of things to digest here.

    The hardware insert and use them as a plugins-method sounds good and would love to try this out when i have some extra $$

    I just had a look at 'dbx compressor' i can't remember the model, it has 2 channels (not sure why would u need 2 channels in compressor). Looks like its only got 1 input and 1 output.

    I understand having to use VST plugins are much easier but sometime having to use external effects are much easier to dial I.M.O and .... it looks so much cooler :D
    Although yes, some plugins are better than external processor. But, i think its just a matter of testing/trying which ones are good/bad.

    Okey If i were to 'compress' 2 guitars, do i need 2 rack compressors?
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Remember that comment about " why would you need 2?" Well, stereo was only recently introduced in the 1930s thanks to Walt Disney. Not sure if you've heard of him? I mean how many mouse choirs have you heard in stereo? Right, not many. But having a compressor with two channels allows you to compress two separate instruments or compress a stereo pair on the stereo bus. Now that's not a pair of buses but a single stereo pair, which requires 2 compressor and/or limiters. Now a compressor is not a limiter and a limiter is not a compressor but are a compressor/limiter. So generally, when you purchase one, you get the other one for free! So a stereo compressor really is 4. Now doesn't that math make sense? With six you get egg roll! And that's a deal my friend.

    So you keep indicating that you need to be purchasing other stuff to make an effective recording. You already have the equipment you need. Phonic mixer? Perfect. Computer? You obviously have one. Hardware compressors, preamps, equalizers, FX devices can be just as effective in software as it is in hardware. Although there are some things that really just cannot be authentically emulated. Authentic emulations simply mean Original Artificial Imitation Fakes. Sort of like a McDonald's NEW SUSHI HAMBURGER made from 100% undead meat. Wow, that sounds delicious. Almost like the real thing. I'll be sure to avoid it. Your Phonic Mixer, a couple of SM58's and some reasonable software should empower you to make professional sounding recordings without need to purchase anything else. If you can't make a good recording with that, you can't make a good recording with anything. And for those of us going back 40 years as I do, we didn't have anything like you have today. We had the equivalent of Philip Glass which was too minimalist. But that didn't stop us. And you even had to tweak up your own equipment such as tape recorders. If your tape recorder wasn't properly tweaked, it didn't make any difference how good your recording technique was. So making good recordings really has very little to do with the equipment you're using. Making good recordings has everything to do with how you use your equipment no matter how limited you may think it is. And while I'm writing this, a commercial comes on with a respected " Audio Engineer" who is hawking Bose speakers. WTF? Total crap! Stay away from those imitation pieces of under gifted electronics and cheap speakers. Just remember the KISS principle. You know, guys (I think they're guys?) Sticking out very talented looking tongues while thrashing at their instruments while explosions are going off so you don't have to hear them.

    I have no family jewels
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. ASV

    ASV Guest

    Cool! thanks for the input

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