Think of it as an interface on guitar-specific steroids. During a recent visit to Avid's studios in Irwindale, CA, we were treated to a demo/walkthrough that highlighted the Eleven Rack's ability to solve many problems that guitarists have been dealing with for years: latency, the ability to recreate DAW-tweaked tones live, reamping limitations due to an interfaces , guitar signal impedance limitations, and that overall nonrealistic feel that keeps many players from exploring the possibilities of plug-in technology.
The Eleven Rack is a rackmountable recording and signal processing system that does the DSP work for you so that your computer doesn't have to. That means that you can use the unit live onstage and recreate the exact tones you recorded with, without a computer attached to it. However, there are advantages to using Eleven Rack with a computer -- more on that in a bit. Eleven Rack has an LED screen on its front panel that allows you to do everything you're used to doing with the Eleven package of plug-in effects. Eleven involves a connoisseur's collection of vintage and modern amps, cabs and effects, while giving you far-reaching signal path and internal component tweaking ability.
One of the coolest things about Eleven Rack's eight simultaneous recording capable inputs is the True-Z auto-impedance matching input that recreates the electronic connection between your guitar and an amp or effect. This isn't done with digital processing, either—analog components are used to detect and adjust the input impedance from your guitar's pickups and adjust the signal for a proper match for the particular amp/effects you're using within Eleven. The result: you get the nuances you're used to—both in feel and sound. With the ability to record both dry and processed signals, your reamping options are endless—you can even reamp later without doing the cable patching tango.
The unit has stereo balanced XLR outs and dedicated 1/4" outs designed to connect with amps. There's a headphone out, AES/EBU, S/PDIF and MIDI connectivity, and a high speed USB 2.0 connection.
We were impressed with our demo and spent hours checking out various tones and experimenting with signal path variations, effects settings, and reamping possibilities. When hooked to a computer you can continue to use the unit's control panel or the computer itself to adjust your effects selection, signal chain order or other various settings. We had our video camera with us so we shot a quick walkthrough and demo'd a few tones, but were barely able to scratch the surface of what the Eleven Rack is capable of, so we recommend that you check out Digidesign's website for the full skinny and studio-quality audio of the Eleven Rack's tonal possibilities. Keep an eye out for our review, by the way--we'll be putting the Eleven Rack through its paces here at our own studios and reporting our findings soon.
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