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Digidesign Eleven Rack Featured

Eleven™ Rack is a revolutionary new guitar recording and effects processing system designed to eliminate the challenges guitarists have faced in the studio and on stage. Say goodbye to the lackluster guitar amp 'models' of yesteryear: Eleven Rack utilizes a unique tone cloning design and one-of-a-kind, custom-designed True-Z input to re-create the experience of...

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Replaced My Mesa and Marshall! featured

Sound First, my guitars are mostly Les Pauls and I play classic rock and heavy metal. I have bought and sold many amps and digital processors over the years. The last setup I had was a Mesa Rectifier and a Marshall JCM2000 using a Digitech GSP1101 in the four cable method (although I actually had both amps in the loop so I could use either amps pre/post or the GSP models. This setup was very nice and gave me a ton of options.

After using the GSP for several years, I knew that some of the models (amps and FX) where good and others were not. The models tended to be a little less than perfect, especially the Marshalls, they just didn't having any "life" to them. It also was just a bit digital sounding but not too bad. So the quest began.

I bought a Line 6 500HD (great FX), an AxeFX (great amps and FX), and a Digidesign Eleven Rack (Great amps, FX, and simple). They are all good in their own way like the GSP, but the 11R was by far the best choice for me.

The Eleven Rack is by the far the easiest device to use of the three. The interface is very simple. Like the GSP you can control your amp setting from the front panel with ease just like a real amp. FX adjustment is just a couple of buttons presses away and then you can control all the controls easily with the front knobs as their function changes depending on what you have selected. It is like having a virtual pedal once you select an FX, all the knobs that are on the normal pedal are there, right up front, and easily adjustable. Every other modeler seems to take a bit of time to make individual FX adjustments, unless you have your computer running and use their computer based application, making live adjustments too timely. The Eleven Rack is simple on its own in, no editor need to make quick adjustments. That being said, one slight weakness is that the Eleven Rack's computer application is embedded within the included Pro Tools 8 LE so you must start Pro Tools to use it. A standalone computer editor is a common feature requested by 11r users. The Pro Tools editor does allow you to change all of the settings, more than most others.

So what does it sound like? Just like the real amps, seriously. the 11r has 16 amp models including model of Fender's, Vox, Marshall, Mesa, Soldano, and a couple of custom models. "Oh no, custom models", no these are good. They are more like modded versions of popular amps like, and they are definitely worth a look. One of these is based on a Marshall that gives you the 80's modded Marshall sound and is very popular among the 11R users. Also, 16 models is a little on the light side, but the variety really covers all the ground most users will need, not to mention the first expansion pack will be released at the end of March and offer more models and enhancement that 11R users have requested. My time is mostly spent with the Marshall and Mesa's and they are very, very good. In fact so good that I sold all of my amps. Now everything I need is just a turn of a knob away. I also like the others and can get super nice cleans or lite crunch from the Fender and Vox models. The models are a live and organic with little no traces of digital-ness to them. It is a huge step up from the GSP and all the Line 6 stuff. You also get amps unique features modeled like a bright switch or tremolo controls. In fact some of these features have been added to amps that normally do not have the control just to give you something extra.

The other thing is that the amps do feel real. Apparently a lot of this has to do with the True-Z input that matches impedance and capacitor values to the guitar and input you are using. It can be set to auto to have the device determine the appropriate value, but manually selecting the values give you so nice tonal options and can really change the feel of how an amp normally feels. For instance if you like the way your guitar feel plugged directly into the amp but want a wah in front you can adjust the value to act like you are plugged into the amp, not the wah. It is a very innovative feature.

The number of FX models is again limited, but they are extremely good, much better than the GSP. The tube screamer is like an old tube screamer. These are classic FX and there are plenty for most needs. They respond properly and they feel and sound like the real thing. It is extremely hard to tell they are models. To me it seems like they interact with the amps much better. The routing options are not limited, you can place most FX anywhere you want in the chain. The stereo reverb is amazing, period. The delay is not stereo, but the expansion packs adds stereo to the delay and more FX options.

The biggest benefit to this product is the Pro Tools integration. Although it functions perfectly in a live situation, this is a recording processor. It ingrates with Pro Tools perfectly with no discernable latency and allows for Dry and wet track recording simultaneously. You can record a great track and then go back without playing and reamp, adjust an FX, add this, subtract that, whatever, because you always get the unprocessed track to play with. Processed tracks have the rig embedded so you can always recall your original settings. I had never used Pro Tools and only recorded using a field recorder or free software and within 1 day I recorded and nicely mixed GNR track. Basically I recorded the track using several takes, mixed and matched pieces of each track, reamp the dry for a bit of doubling, imported my backing track, and bounced.

Reliability The unit has not failed me over the last 6 months. All of the issues that I have heard about online are resolved quickly by Avid. There were a few that had a problem with the input and the clock speed, but Avid solved the issue quickly and those problems are gone at this point. I never had any of these problems. Mine has been perfect.

Customer Support Avid obviously is listening to its customers. They have a website that you can request features. They consider this greatly when they determine what enhancements to make which is evident by the upcoming expansion pack. I had some problems with a ground hum and installing Pro Tools and their response was quick and solved my issues completely.

Liked about it Quality of the included features, Pro Tools integration, and ease of use. I am not a big tweeker and always found basic tones using other people patches and then changing those a bit to my liking. With the 11r I create my own patches from scratch and they sound really good. As an example I created a Def Leppard patch based on one of the custom models that sounds nails "Pour Some Sugar On Me" in about 5 minutes. I did not use the computer interface, just the front panel. It is just really ease to use.

Didn't like At first Pro Tools is a little intimidating, but there are plenty of tutorials available. That is it.

Overall satisfaction:

By fly_with_v
Mar 18, 2011
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Eleven is one more than 10? featured

Sound First of all the Eleven has lots and lots of connectors, so you will have no trouble at all pluging it in the way you want to. The front of the unit has easy to use knobs and program the unit from the front.

As for models and effects Digidesign approached it differently than most in having only a limited selection of models and effects (compared to others) but make those as easy to use as possible. Of course you can hook up your own effects into an F/X Loop.

The provided ProTools LE is nice to edit and program the unit from your PC or Mac, but being a long time Logic user I was not comfy using it for recording. Having only limited time with the unit I did not play with the software long and rather got into taking a drive with the sounds it has.

Testing the sounds of the unit did take some time and was a very mixed adventure. The basic clean sounds are very OK and surprisingly dynamic, for those sounds the modulation and delay effects are also very nice and you have no problem to get twangy Fender sounds to a thick blues tone. However switching stuff during play is almost impossible as the unit often takes some time to think over you choice. The Blackface Models are very nice in that regard, with the twin being my fav.

Now when you get into the Crunchy world, with slight crunch you are still OKish but a little on the hard side. Compared to the real world amps that the unit simulates, the eleven is much more "brutal" in most approaches. I tried to fiddle this out with mic and cab options, but did not get the result I was really looking for. Do not get me wrong, it is not like it was totally bad, but someway in the terms of "not quite the thing I was looking for".

So hit up the gain and whoooooosh NOISE (tested models are plexi, AC30 boosted, JCM and Boogie). Now that is high gain noise like on an airforce field. Kick in the noise gate and you can get rid of the problem, but only by sacrificing dynamics dramatically.

In the time I spend with the unit I was unable to get a high gain sound that would have either no noise or good dynamics. Without the noise gate you have lots of whoosh and with the noise gate you sacrifice tone.

So in the end of the test for me the unit was not satisfactory, it has great potential as the dynamics in the clean section are above most modellers I tested so far (I did not test the new Line6 yet) and nearly in the reach of the AxeFX, but the gain modells are a real letdown. Possibly Digidesign can get this in check with new firmwares?

Testing the effects was also very mixed. The modulation effects being really top of the crop and the delays/reverbs are OK. Again the distortion section is not my cup and do in my opinion not sound like the units they try to emulate. Now it has not all the same models as my Line6 M13, but the M13 overall has much better distortions and sounds much more natural without overcompressing the tone.

So all in all this unit leaves me with mixed feelings and I sure hope Digidesign can fix the issues with new firmwares.

Reliability Looks quite sturdy and nice. No longtime usage for me.

Customer Support No dealings.

Liked about it + Clean sounds
+ Dynamics
+ Ease of use

Didn't like - Gain sounds and high noise levels
- Noise Gate
- some effects modells

Overall satisfaction:

By Tank
Feb 25, 2010
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