Magnatone Giveawya

August Issue
more... InterfaceAmpsGearEffectsRackmountReviewsSound SamplesRecordingMulti-EffectModelingApril 2010

Digidesign Eleven Rack Review



 
Download Example 1
Presets - VG Strat direct into Pro Tools
Download Example 2
With Amp - Charvel So-Cal w/DiMarzio Humbuckers, into Eleven Rack, PRS 30 & 1x12, mic'd with SM57, into Pro Tools
There’s been a lot of buzz about the Eleven Rack, the revolutionary new guitar recording and effects processing system from Digidesign. Along with that buzz come a lot of questions from producers, engineers and guitar players: Exactly how does it work, and how will it help me as a player or producer? How can this be used both in the studio and live? And of course, how does it sound? I quickly learned that it’s not just a multi-effects unit, it’s not just an amp modeler and it’s not just a Pro Tools interface. It’s actually all of the above and more. The Eleven Rack is an all-in-one solution for the modern guitar player, and it makes it easier than ever to record in the studio and perform live—while fully integrating the exact same sounds in both situations.

The Eleven Rack can be used as a stand-alone guitar processor—without the need for a computer—for live applications. It includes incredible emulations of classic guitar amps, cabinets and stompboxes, as well as a powerful collection of studio-quality rackmount effects processors and microphone emulations. You can also incorporate your favorite stompboxes and effects into the Eleven Rack with an integrated effects loop that can be assigned and moved almost anywhere within the signal chain.

In addition, the Eleven Rack performs double duty as a high-quality interface for Digidesign Pro Tools, and it comes with Pro Tools LE 8 recording, editing and mixing software. The interface itself is dual-DSP powered, which means you won’t have to worry about latency issues when recording—and it also frees up processing power in the computer. There are eight simultaneous recording channels at 24-bit/96 kHz, with a wide array of ins and outs, including S/PDIF, AES/EBU, XLR, and 1/4" outputs, a mic input, and two 1/4" line level inputs. The Pro Tools software includes over 70 plugins, including reverb, delay, chorus, distortion, flanger, phaser, reverse, EQ and compression. It also contains powerful virtual instruments to create backing tracks, including drum machines, piano, organ, synthesizer and a synth/sample workstation with tons of instruments. Basically, it’s got everything you need to create a high-quality recording all on your own.

A Long Time in the Making
I’ve been using Pro Tools since the mid ’90s. Back then, I used it mostly for editing and mixing digital audio. MIDI sequencing wasn’t fully integrated into the software yet, so I had to use separate sequencing software and import audio from my programmed tracks into Pro Tools for mixing. There also weren’t any decent amp-simulator plug-ins at the time, so anytime I wanted to record guitar I did it the old-fashioned way, by placing a mic in front of my amp and recording into Pro Tools. I had to be fully committed in terms of guitar sound, because there was no chance of changing my guitar tone later by re-amping since I never split my guitar signal to record a separate, uneffected guitar track. Pro Tools software has grown a lot over the years, and I’ve watched each improvement with satisfaction. Creativity flowed a lot more frequently and easily as more and more plug-ins and features were created. First, MIDI sequencing became more integrated, and eventually more amp simulators and effects for guitarists became available. I’ve tried them all and found something I liked in each one of them. When Digidesign released the Eleven amp-simulator plug-in, I thought it really captured the essence and sound of some classic amps. Still, I didn’t use it exclusively because it just didn’t have the wide array of effects and amps that I found in other guitar plug-ins.

I will admit that when I first heard about the Eleven Rack, I quickly (and incorrectly) assumed it was just a hardware version of the Eleven plug-in with the same amp sounds and parameters that could be easily adjusted using the real knobs on the interface instead. When I saw that it was also an interface for Pro Tools LE, I thought, “Why do I need that? I already have Pro Tools software with an interface and the Eleven plug-in?” Well, you know what happens when you assume! After reading and learning more about the Eleven Rack and all of its features, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I really wanted to hear how the amps and effects sounded, especially since so many of them weren’t previously available in the Eleven plug-in. Also, I was curious to see if the Eleven Rack interface would work in conjunction with my existing Digidesign 002 Rack interface, or if it would actually replace it.