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Please consider rack mounts again...


Sundown
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Hey All,

 

I know we've debated this at times, and I know musical instrument manufacturers don't have a lot of capital, but I deeply mourn the death of rack mount modules. I (and many others) don't need another set of keys. No 88-key instrument is going to compete with my Kawai MP-11. And I've got a couple of 61-key synths that feel great.

 

I love that Dave Smith and a few others do table tops, but I'm disappointed that Kurzweil, Yamaha, Korg, etc. have dropped rack mounts.

 

I would absolutely love a Kurzweil PC4m. I'd love to get a Montage/r. But I can't afford the space for another board, and no matter how good your board is, I'm not giving up on my tried and true controllers.

 

This is just another (senseless) request for manufacturers to reconsider.

 

Todd

Sundown

 

Working on: The Jupiter Bluff; They Live, We Groove

Main axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurz PC361

DAW Platform: Cubase

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I'd just advise no-one hold their breath :(

 

were they profitable for the manufacturer they would still be being made.

 

This.

 

It is pretty difficult to compete with plug-ins.

I had a Kurzweil K2000R for a while. It had a deep and proprietary menu that required an intense and extended learning curve.

I downloaded and printed the manual, it was fifty bajillion pages of tedious proceedures. VAST is lovely and all but was not in any way user friendly.

 

It had a bunch of goofy sounding presets that I had no use for. It was 2 rack spaces, required cabling. I sold it, don't miss it.

 

Much easier to dial in my plug-ins. No deep menus and learning curve usually consists of "slide this fader around and see what it sounds like" more or less.

I don't have to go deep into a new way of thinking to get something I can use. That's all I want to do, is get a sound I like.

 

No cables, does not make my computer larger. Still some goofy presets though. Still, advantage plugins.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I'd just advise no-one hold their breath :(

 

were they profitable for the manufacturer they would still be being made.

 

This.

 

It is pretty difficult to compete with plug-ins.

.

 

This. A laptop is lighter than a rack unit, 10-100x more powerful, sounds better, and lets you have exactly what you want. I do have a DSI OB-6 desktop, but it has knobs. A rack mount box can't have knobs useful for performance. And then the laptop crushes it for utility if it isn't going to be "touched". Way easier to map controls, etc. All the splits and layers are easy to do... If it doesn't have useful performance knobs, then it is better of as software in my opinion. But then, I never rocked a giant rack in the 80s.... I was in jr high and high school and couldn't afford any synths. So there is no nostalgia factor for me...

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My hardware is not replaceable nor is it eternal I can find 88s easy enough to satisfy but 76 synth semis

of any descent quality are no where to be found with the exception of Yamahas keybeds which Korg used

to use but now they only use their crap my HX3 is better than soft but it's running off FPGAs, My RPX is

old but holds its own and hey, these are only 1/2 X 1 rack U they are also good to help ease the load on my

PC for more demanding instruments but still when not loaded down there's Ptec and other key plugs when

the need permits my Extreme can be over complicated but it sounds good and has the action I like.

There's no reason not to have both.

Triton Extreme 76, Kawai ES3, GEM-RPX, HX3/Drawbar control, MSI Z97

MPower/4790K, Lynx Aurora 8/MADI/AES16e, OP-X PRO, Ptec, Komplete.

Ashley MX-206. future MOTU M64 RME Digiface Dante for Mon./net

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I had a Kurzweil K2000R for a while. It had a deep and proprietary menu that required an intense and extended learning curve.

I downloaded and printed the manual, it was fifty bajillion pages of tedious proceedures. VAST is lovely and all but was not in any way user friendly.

 

It had a bunch of goofy sounding presets that I had no use for. It was 2 rack spaces, required cabling. I sold it...

 

Not to challenge nor undermine the validity of your experience, but to be fair to OP you are conflating two completely disparate issues here.

 

The difficulty or otherwise of programming in VAST bears no relationship to the convenience or otherwise of using a rack-mount module.

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For home use, once plugins were on the scene that was it for me wanting to program any hardware. I had my share of it with various E-mu rack units, TX8iZ and others, and of course many effects units. Having to scroll through acres of little menus, then make sure you save everything up...now with plugins there's very little of that, heck the song saves my tweaks to the thing without patch saving, patch changes or sysex. I'd consider one for live use but even then I'd probably go Ipad or laptop first, so far I just gig with one or two hardware keyboard for simplicity.

 

The thing I liked least about sequencing on any hardware was multitimbral modes and how much of a chore that could be to mess with...E-mu did it the best imo.

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I like things with knobs I can touch and cables I can trace when something goes wrong.

 

There are limits as to how many things you can cram on a portable-sized screen, but if you've got hardware, it's all there at your fingertips, all the time.

 

Grey

I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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I had a Kurzweil K2000R for a while. It had a deep and proprietary menu that required an intense and extended learning curve.

I downloaded and printed the manual, it was fifty bajillion pages of tedious proceedures. VAST is lovely and all but was not in any way user friendly.

 

It had a bunch of goofy sounding presets that I had no use for. It was 2 rack spaces, required cabling. I sold it...

 

Not to challenge nor undermine the validity of your experience, but to be fair to OP you are conflating two completely disparate issues here.

 

The difficulty or otherwise of programming in VAST bears no relationship to the convenience or otherwise of using a rack-mount module.

 

 

t does if the rack unit is a Kurzweil K2000R. Others may well be simpler. All of them take up space, add weight, require cables and use a small LED panel for guidance with menus. Every unit I've seen had a few buttons or knobs that served multiple functions depending on which layer of the menu you were in.

 

Do they make a practical 1 or 2 space rack version of a Mini-Moog with all the contols? No. Why? There isn't space on the front of a rack unit, period.

 

You are welcome to all of the rackmount synth modules. I gave MY opinion based on my experiences and preferences. We are all different. Have FUN!!!! Cheers, Kuru

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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Racked PC for samples and Soft synths.

Softies only good for mid range polyphonic work.

 

Hardware HX 3.5, Hardware WaveState (hacked keybed), & SE-02 module.

 

Keyboard Partners module was nice and half rack able, but I got everything right where I need it.

 

Aka Live MPC and WaveState each get a Manhassett Stand, only big racked unit now is the TC Helicon VoiceRack.

 

Pretty much roll this in after snapping and capping a little.

Even have my speaker tree slide under the rack too.

 

 

55299-CD8-7988-422-D-B5-DC-6-DA4138-BA9-CA.jpg

 

64-E8521-E-B4-EF-4-DF3-865-E-7-D31-CEC37-BFC.jpg

 

9-C2-E3-A76-4-FB4-48-DA-9-A93-365-F59033847.jpg

Magnus C350 + FMR RNP + Realistic Unisphere Mic
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I like rack units, they are handy and you can mix and match them with various controller sources/gigs... and they sound like the board!

I'm leery of gigging w/laptops though I know I'm in some sort of minority somewhere about that but I'm old ....it takes all the romance out of it for me too!

I have nothing against laptops I am interested in that tech too for at home use... but to be honest, I have to admit my preference is hardware for gigging... I hale from the days where 'everyband' worth their salt with a keyboard player carried a Hammond and a Leslie with them or a Rhodes, Hapinstill and actual piano sometimes with a shure thrown in etc so! .... the pioneer days of gigging, baked beans for grub, horse...dance hall girls..no sheriffs.....wasn't bad..! I know laptops/software/libraries sound great ...so I'm like like that about racks vs. software to a degree, I rather walk in with a synth in rack than a laptop! Just my 2 cents, just me... I can adapt to anything though... but at my speed and choice....there are still some good rack units out now though...that European rack, can't remember the name!

SP6, CP-50, FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, XK-3, CX-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122
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Tabletops is where it is at now. The new market is the beatbox user that wants and external synth with lots of knobs and sliders to tweak. That extra special sound source to go with his Elektron box or MC-707. Something to both hear and show.

 

25 years ago stage keyboardists needed rack units to power up their keyboards and help over come limited sound engines and polyphony. Now keyboards like a Kronos just do not need a rack. Those days are over.

This post edited for speling.
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25 years ago stage keyboardists needed rack units to power up their keyboards and help over come limited sound engines and polyphony. Now keyboards like a Kronos just do not need a rack. Those days are over.

I was one of those who had a 'telephone booth' rack (actually, we called it 'the refrigerator') back in the 1980s, but I"ve been rack-free since 2013 and have found it to be a liberating experience. My gigging keyboards (Kronos 88, Jupiter-80) contain enough sounds to get me through any gig...and are heavy enough to lug around. Probably about the only item that would make me reconsider would be a Nord Stage or Nord Piano rack. I would also consider something small to set in the open real estate on one of my boards but the sound would have to be above and beyond my current palette.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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Tabletops is where it is at now.

 

Yep! I am finding my soft synths are pretty much nailing the sounds I am looking for, and with rare exceptions (i.e. Minimoog Reissue) I find I don't need the hardware. As already mentioned, a rack unit is very difficult to interact with. I have one desktop synth (Novation Peak) and aside from being a wonderful synth on its own, it gets a lot of use mapped to soft synths as a controller. As it is, I am sorta looking at the ASM Hydrasynth Desktop because it sounded great when I had a chance to try it out, but I am willing to wait and see if they come out with a 16 voice version with a 5 octave keyboard, a la the Novation Summit. Also really liked the Roland Jupiter X(m), but I may be able to get what I need there with U-He's DIVA.

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Lets see, look at rack and my back starts to hurts, would need a truck instead of a car to move, whole lot of points of failure in all that gear and wiring. Look at a laptop and back is happy. all fits into my car, and only a couple potential points of failure. Laptop wins! I could even afford an old laptop as a backup instead of buy a truck to haul the rack. Maybe a rack if I'm the second keyboardist for a major act with full crew, a keyboard tech, and backup of everything to handle how ever many levels of "Murphy" that happen during a show.
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I understand the simplicity of VSTs, and certainly have my share. I really have no need for more keys, my FA does everything I need. I am, however, a big fan of the desktop modules and rackable synths. I stare at a computer all day, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is stare at a computer screen trying to program Diva (though it does sound lovely). Rack units to me are more useful than the desktops, but I'm thankful for both.

 

 

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Hey all,

 

I hear and understand the argument for soft synths in lieu of racks. I own many and indeed, many of them sound great and are very useful.

 

But since most of the big hardware manufacturers refuse to play in that space in a meaningful, cutting-edge way, I'm left with the choice of buying keyboards I don't need (and can't store), or buying nothing from them.

 

Tabletop synths are great for analog and VAs. I'm not sure they would ideal for a ROMpler (e.g. Forte, PC4, Montage, Kronos, etc).

 

I would absolutely love it if Kurzweil, Yamaha, Roland, et al went deep into soft synths. But as a wise person on this forum once said, they are furniture manufacturers.

Sundown

 

Working on: The Jupiter Bluff; They Live, We Groove

Main axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurz PC361

DAW Platform: Cubase

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Do they make a practical 1 or 2 space rack version of a Mini-Moog with all the contols? No. Why? There isn't space on the front of a rack unit, period.

 

 

Actually, they do...it's called the Behringer Model D. Granted it's 3U, not 1 or 2, but it works and works well.

 

Grey

I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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Not to challenge nor undermine the validity of your experience, but to be fair to OP you are conflating two completely disparate issues here.

 

The difficulty or otherwise of programming in VAST bears no relationship to the convenience or otherwise of using a rack-mount module.

I think his comments were relevant in the context of the sentence immediately before the part you quoted (and the whole remainder of the post, really)... how it's hard for rack modules to compete with plug-ins, not just in sounds, but in programming with the commensurate menu-diving. What that led me to was, rack modules often have computer-based editors to address that problem... but if you're going to use the computer as an interface for your rack module, you need that much more rationale for why you're not just using a computer based sound source in the first place. I suppose to bring the sounds to a gig, though.

 

Tabletop synths are great for analog and VAs. I'm not sure they would ideal for a ROMpler (e.g. Forte, PC4, Montage, Kronos, etc).
I think for all the boards, a good amount of what makes the keyboards desirable is the dedicated operation of their work surfaces. If you remove that and turn it into a box of sounds with minimal front panel control, you've lost a lot of the appeal of the units, at least for home/studio use. I mean, does the PC4 or Montage have any "rompler" sound you couldn't get out of a VST?

 

I thought it was brilliant that Korg let you buy an M3 with or without a keyboard. But the idea apparently didn't really take off. Too bad. A Kronos or a Nord Stage 3 or an SV2 with no keys would be cool (to pair with your choice of existing actions/boards while minimizing your total stage footprint and/or weight schlepage)... but I'd still want the screen or controls in front of me as I play, and not off to the side in a rack, and/or minimized into what could fit in 19" and what most would consider a "reasonable" number of spaces high. Though for something like Kronos, I could also envision a rack approach if the interface were "offloaded" into an iPad app you could place more conveniently... which does exist in the Kronos Remote app. (The Kronos does have a lot of other controls, though personally, I pretty much touched them when I gigged with one, because the ergonomics of the board don't really work for me.)

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Do they make a practical 1 or 2 space rack version of a Mini-Moog with all the contols? No. Why? There isn't space on the front of a rack unit, period.

 

 

Actually, they do...it's called the Behringer Model D. Granted it's 3U, not 1 or 2, but it works and works well.

 

Grey

 

Good to know, that would actually be fun!

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I'm in the sad group that likes my instruments to have 61-88 keys or goatskin or something tangible on them, although rack instruments are at least specialized hardware. (Indeed, I would have kept my K2500 RS had it had a good Leslie capability.) Nowadays, I have a gig rack that comprises my mixers, radios, and power distribution.

 

I tend to distrust laptops as realtime instruments because I work with their problems in my day job, and I have been caught at least once by MS Windows applying an update while I was trying to mix front of house on my own laptop. :(

 

It's possible I am finally cracking. I just got done mixing down and "rendering" (new word to me, so I put it in scare quotes) a cover of "From the Beginning," all done in Reaper on my laptop, and I'm sorta proud of it, wobbly vocals and all. Who knows where that may lead -- maybe you'll find me using virtual MIDI bass and percussion in my next recording.

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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I think they could bring back racks but they have to create a form factor friendly to small/home studios. I'm thinking rack devices the size of an audio interface like the Focurite 2i2 or devices the size of an old-school lunchbox. The old style racks take up too much space - they're like "pizza box" big and if you only own 2-4 racks, the size is awkward. But if you could get 2i2/lunchbox size devices that could neatly stack in a small studio space - I think there's a market there that could drive the sales and innovation for that.

 

It's the age of the home/mobile recording studios with iDevices that put a TV broadcasting station - in your pocket. The idea of small, easily rackable audio equipment is just waiting for somebody to do it.

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I'm in the sad group that likes my instruments to have 61-88 keys or goatskin or something tangible on them, although rack instruments are at least specialized hardware. (Indeed, I would have kept my K2500 RS had it had a good Leslie capability.) Nowadays, I have a gig rack that comprises my mixers, radios, and power distribution.

 

I tend to distrust laptops as realtime instruments because I work with their problems in my day job, and I have been caught at least once by MS Windows applying an update while I was trying to mix front of house on my own laptop. :(

 

It's possible I am finally cracking. I just got done mixing down and "rendering" (new word to me, so I put it in scare quotes) a cover of "From the Beginning," all done in Reaper on my laptop, and I'm sorta proud of it, wobbly vocals and all. Who knows where that may lead -- maybe you'll find me using virtual MIDI bass and percussion in my next recording.

 

Is it not possible to turn off the Auto-Update function in Windows? Curiosity question.

I used Windows often in workflow doing printing and graphics and I've been through the infinite update process.

I've got Auto-Update turned off on my Mac laptop. I check every now and then to see what's new. If I want to update, I choose the time. My number 1 rule is "wait for the .1 version at least."

I waited until the .4 version for Catalina.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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Is it not possible to turn off the Auto-Update function in Windows? Curiosity question.

This bit me once, I couldn't stop it from updating at a particularly inopportune time. Had I known in advance it was going to happen (with no cancel/abort/defer option!), it seems I could have prevented it...

 

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-stop-updates-installing-automatically-windows-10

 

I ended up losing use of a time-limited demo that prematurely expired as a result. But it could have been worse, it could have happened at a gig...

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Well, as those who follow my ongoing builds, I own what I call a VST rack in that I have a new Mac Mini in the rack, with an 18i20 Interface/Mixer.

Simple, lightweight, 3 space shallow roto-molded rack case.

 

I do like rack units. I used to own a couple of the EMU units back in the day. I always thought of going with a Motif Rack, or the Integra-7 before Mainstage showed up.

I finally solved my not liking the laptop on stage by going with the Mac Mini in the rack.

 

Depending on the stage, I can place the rack on a stand next to me, or simply on the ground under the overhang of my 88 note board.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it not possible to turn off the Auto-Update function in Windows? Curiosity question.

This bit me once, I couldn't stop it from updating at a particularly inopportune time. Had I known in advance it was going to happen (with no cancel/abort/defer option!), it seems I could have prevented it...

 

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-stop-updates-installing-automatically-windows-10

 

I ended up losing use of a time-limited demo that prematurely expired as a result. But it could have been worse, it could have happened at a gig...

 

 

Thanks Scott, I can't imagine not having that feature in a modern system and I am glad it's an option. I got caught when the "new" refurbished 2014 Macbook pro I bought last year updated to Mojave all on it's own.

It got a bit squirrely and I took it back to High Sierra. Catalina is running fine now and I am in control of the updates from here on out.

 

First in is just beta-testing, not my job!!!

 

It does eliminate that particular problem from the equation. Cheers, Kuru

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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