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funkydoug

Combo that uses a 19inch rack head?

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Are we aware of any bass combos that use an interchangeable 19inch rack head?

I think Orange use this format for their more powerful combos but I'm at a loss as to why this is not a more common format. Unless of course we imagine a world in which manufacturers want us to buy more of their stuff rather than make things that can play with others...

Ashdown ABM combos do seem to use heads that can be swapped with others from the same range (ABM heads are interchangeable between combos if they've come from a combo or are in a wooden amp case) but that's not quite an 'open' design. 

I'm also aware that BFM offers an airhead version of some of his cab designs, which I've been sorely tempted to try.

Would be interested to hear if anyone knows of combos that have this kind of design or if there are good reasons for it not being commonly used.

To my mind it makes a lot of sense in that if the amp dies, or your tastes change ,you can swap it for another.

Any thoughts?

Edited by funkydoug

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A couple of Mesa combos do, M6/M9 IIRC, although I suspect they're now discontinued. You're right, it's odd that more don't, and even Mesa complicated things by using a different version of the M-Pulse 600 head in the Venture combo and stand alone rack-mount versions (sloping front versus flat front).  

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It used to be a very common format, if not an obvious one. For instance, the ubiquitous Hartke 3500 is a 19" rack mount. You wouldn't know it to look at it in the factory case. There are fewer now, with the proliferation of micro heads.

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I'm still surprised that the rack format has fallen out of favour for live use. Particularly thanks to advances in power supplies, the units could be made lighter and shallower than ever. Instead the pedal trend has taken us the point of putting amps on pedalboards, but with a seemingly decreasing variety of rackable instrument gear on the market.

I don't mind being uncool, but I do like being uncool to be easy. 😉

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Thanks guys.

I guess the sheer size and weight of the combos mentioned here is part of the answer, in a market looking for small and light.

It seems a shame that we're moving away from this kind of interoperability. 

It also seems a shame that a new  standard for a smaller / micro form factor isn't emerging, as far as I know.

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A half rack norm, would be manageable and nice now. I like my rackmount stuff, a half rack size (and half rack cases) for amps, wireless, tuners, preamp etc would be great.

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Micro heads don't need no stinkin' great 19'' rack box adding kilos to the combo.

The only reason there were any 19'' rackable combo amps is it was a quick and dirty way to put out a product with little to no extra design and production effort. 

19'' too big. Mini rack too small. Every man for himself with amp boxes then!

19'' racks pretty much gone dodo so now most manufacturers don't even offer rack ear options for their heads. Game over.

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8 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

Micro heads don't need no stinkin' great 19'' rack box adding kilos to the combo.

The only reason there were any 19'' rackable combo amps is it was a quick and dirty way to put out a product with little to no extra design and production effort. 

19'' too big. Mini rack too small. Every man for himself with amp boxes then!

19'' racks pretty much gone dodo so now most manufacturers don't even offer rack ear options for their heads. Game over.

Not quite game over, not all rack cases are gargantuan things.

Gator wheelie rack case is light and sturdy and very easy to transport as you just pull it along.

Bass on back, cab one hand, wheel in amp on the other - no more or less hassle with a one load walk

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I love rackmount stuff. I find it a lot easier than smaller separates. Dont have to worry about forgetting anything. Everything is there, bolted in and pre wired. One plug and one Speakon and I'm good to go.

I found the separates, micro heads etc much more time consuming, having to take individual things out of cases, add plug leads, extensions, cables, connect to tuners etc. Then having to remember not to lose anything packing up. Plus the vertical arrangement makes it pretty limitless for adding items. 

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6 minutes ago, la bam said:

I love rackmount stuff. I find it a lot easier than smaller separates. Dont have to worry about forgetting anything. Everything is there, bolted in and pre wired. One plug and one Speakon and I'm good to go.

I found the separates, micro heads etc much more time consuming, having to take individual things out of cases, add plug leads, extensions, cables, connect to tuners etc. Then having to remember not to lose anything packing up. Plus the vertical arrangement makes it pretty limitless for adding items. 

Agree - the back of the rack stores plugs, cables etc. For my Gator the top pocket carries the foot switch, spare speakon, spare instrument/connecting/XLR cable - racked tuner - its all you need in an easy transportable thing

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For sure - used smaller heads for sure as well, but depending on the size and size of gig bag pockets, there are diminishing returns if it needs a separate bag/case to carry - if it’s something like a Tecamp Puma that really slips into a gig bag pocket its a difference to going on pubic transport with less stuff

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While there's a lot to be said for the setting up convenience of a rack-mounted rig - in the days when I had mine it took less than 5 minutes to have everything plugged in and ready to play, the proliferation of light-weight gear tends to negate the advantages. What's the point of having a 500W amp that you can lift with your little finger if the case it's going to be put in weighs almost twice as much?

I have been a rack user for my various bass and guitar rigs since the mid 80s and until recently I used to have 2 racks systems - A big one with 6U of space that was ideally a two-person carry and lift onto the stack, and a little one with 3U of space which was more manageable but I still wouldn't want to carry it any great distance. The actual gear itself that went into the little rack didn't weigh much, but the metalwork to hold it in place, the PSUs, and all the cabling to wire it up very quickly made the complete rack pretty heavy for its size.

When I decided to ditch my conventional rigs and go for an FRFR system I thought long and hard about what I was going to do about the non-amp contents of my racks, and eventually settled on a Helix Floor, rather than rack unit. Even if I was in a band with a road crew I couldn't see myself going back to a rack-based system.

Edited by BigRedX

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11 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

Micro heads don't need no stinkin' great 19'' rack box adding kilos to the combo.

 

28 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

What's the point of having a 500W amp that you can lift with your little finger if the case it's going to be put in weighs almost twice as much?

This often comes up as an argument, but is a kind of reductio ad absurdum.

To look at it from the opposite angle, if one could substitute components from a 20kg rack to make it a 10kg rack which performs the same function, wouldn't that be beneficial?

Otherwise, my first rack setup of a wireless, tuner, and LMII in a shallow Gator, ought to have used an SVT-4PRO in a full-sized flight case because rack systems are heavy, so there's no point using lighter parts.

As it happened, that rack was almost exactly the same size and weight as the amp head I had been using previously, but incorporated everything I needed onstage for those tours. Made perfect sense.

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The main advantage of rack format for me is the interoperability. It was/is a 'standard' that designers built for so that things could be swapped, interchanged, combined. In the case of my original post, I like the idea of having a combo in which the head can die and the combo can survive (just choose a new head) without the whole thing needing to be scrapped. Triggers broom comes to mind...

 

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2 hours ago, la bam said:

I love rackmount stuff. I find it a lot easier than smaller separates. Dont have to worry about forgetting anything. Everything is there, bolted in and pre wired. One plug and one Speakon and I'm good to go. 

 

2 hours ago, Cuzzie said:

Agree - the back of the rack stores plugs, cables etc. For my Gator the top pocket carries the foot switch, spare speakon, spare instrument/connecting/XLR cable - racked tuner - its all you need in an easy transportable thing

Agreed x 2. I love the modular concept of rackmount gear, and the fact that everything travels in the one case. Yes, my Shuttle now lives in a rack case that weighs 4 times as much as the amp itself, but that's rather missing the point. Or at least it is for me. 

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13 minutes ago, funkydoug said:

The main advantage of rack format for me is the interoperability. It was/is a 'standard' that designers built for so that things could be swapped, interchanged, combined. In the case of my original post, I like the idea of having a combo in which the head can die and the combo can survive (just choose a new head) without the whole thing needing to be scrapped. Triggers broom comes to mind...

 

Yep, my sentiment also

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The advantage for me of much lighter amps, isnt that I can carry a 3kg head, but I can rack 2 of them and a tuner and a wireless system, all pre wired and secure in a lightweight and rack and all of that comes in around 15kg. No setting up, no faff. No forgetting or losing anything.

Edited by la bam
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1 hour ago, Jus Lukin said:

This often comes up as an argument, but is a kind of reductio ad absurdum.

To look at it from the opposite angle, if one could substitute components from a 20kg rack to make it a 10kg rack which performs the same function, wouldn't that be beneficial?

Otherwise, my first rack setup of a wireless, tuner, and LMII in a shallow Gator, ought to have used an SVT-4PRO in a full-sized flight case because rack systems are heavy, so there's no point using lighter parts.

As it happened, that rack was almost exactly the same size and weight as the amp head I had been using previously, but incorporated everything I needed onstage for those tours. Made perfect sense.

My point was that as soon as you start racking up your gear, IME the weight of everything combined with the rack case adds up very quickly.

Also while amps have got progressively smaller and lighter, very little else has (rack mounted multi-effects, external PSUs mains distributors, cables etc.), so all the other contents of the rack are still pretty heavy, and the overall weigh savings get more negligible the more you have in your rack.

It ends being a compromise between speed of setting up and weight.

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Indeed, but to me that makes all the more sense of choosing lighter parts where possible. The choice of head or power amp alone can make a significant difference to the overall weight, which certainly reduces the ratio of weight to convenience.

I'm not saying that a rack is ever going to be as light as a micro head and digital multi (which a I also use), but that the logical benefit of choosing a lightweight amp for a rack is fairly apparent. A weight saving is a weight saving, is a weight saving.

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29 minutes ago, Jus Lukin said:

Indeed, but to me that makes all the more sense of choosing lighter parts where possible. The choice of head or power amp alone can make a significant difference to the overall weight, which certainly reduces the ratio of weight to convenience.

I'm not saying that a rack is ever going to be as light as a micro head and digital multi (which a I also use), but that the logical benefit of choosing a lightweight amp for a rack is fairly apparent. A weight saving is a weight saving, is a weight saving.

IME the amp is the virtually the only area where weight saving can be achieved. Even the difference between a traditional plywood/aluminium and a modern moulded plastic flight case isn't that big and all the serious professional multi-effects are still built like tanks and weigh almost as much.

Obviously if you are going from an Amp SVT to something like a TecAmp Puma you'll notice the difference, but I went from a solid-state 2x300W power amp to a 1kW valve/class D hybrid and the overall rack weight difference was a slight reduction in the difficulty of the rack case for a one person lift, a slight overall better balance of the case (the solid state power amp made the rack case very noticeably front-end heavy).

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I sold most of my rack-mount gear a short time ago. It was OK when I could heave it about, but not now.

My only racked gear is in my music room and that doesn't move.

A TC BH250 weighs 4 lbs and includes a tuner & compression. BF One10 weighs 16 lbs. Total 20 lbs.

Setup means plugging the amp in the mains, the amp to the cab and the guitar into the amp and then sitting down to play.

So enjoy whatever you fancy whilst you can.

 

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15 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

Micro heads don't need no stinkin' great 19'' rack box adding kilos to the combo.

The only reason there were any 19'' rackable combo amps is it was a quick and dirty way to put out a product with little to no extra design and production effort. 

19'' too big. Mini rack too small. Every man for himself with amp boxes then!

19'' racks pretty much gone dodo so now most manufacturers don't even offer rack ear options for their heads. Game over.

Now think about going on tour. Roadies want everything in a road case, ready to go - for quick setup and pack down.

Pretty much every touring band (OK maybe not during the pandemic) are still very much using the 19" rack format - even more so when small heads are involved. You'll see big heads either removed from a flight case or put on stage still in a flight case... but even the small amps are still rack mounted - for logistics ease.

Edited by EBS_freak

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