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Analogue Outboard: Front of House Rack

You can have this outboard rack keeping your instruments under control at your event!

The purpose of the outboard rack equipment is a number of things. Firstly, there’s the classic reverb and delay tools that are used to provide an echo effect. It takes the dry signal, processes it, and begins to bring the sound to life. These types of effects work particularly well on things like vocals, guitars and the snare of the drums in particular. The delay unit also has a ‘tap’ button which means very easily all these effects can follow the tempo of the music.

We also have the graphic equaliser (EQ) which is instrumental in matching the sound system to the room. Different venues from fields, to marquees, to town halls and sports centres all behave differently. This is down to the reflection of the wall and also their absorbent properties. Carpets, curtains, wooden floors, wall paper, and painted walls all makes the sound bounce around differently. So to compensate for the differences we apply EQ by manipulating the different frequencies to balance the sound in a way that’s enjoyable for the audience.

Compressors and gates have a huge role to play when music is loud. Compressors take loud sounds and reduce their volume, but can also be set to take quiet sounds and boost them. This is very useful, particularly on vocals when a singer has a wide dynamic range – simply put they could be singing softly at the start of a song, but loudly during the chorus. So it’s the compressors role to level this all out. The gate is essentially a switch – the gate turns a microphone on and off depending on how much signal is coming through. When the gate is switched off it clears out all the unwanted background noise, and when a drum is hit it turns the microphone up and then slowly off again. The noise gate is particularly handy on toms that are used mainly for drum fills and aren’t used as much as perhaps the kick and the snare.

In our outboard rack we also have a USB, SD, and CD media player. This is great for background music and sound checking between bands. We also have two 16-channel USB recorders that link directly to our analogue mixers and records each microphone to it’s own wave file on USB hard drives.

outboard-1

Kit list:

  • Denon 300ZB – USB, SD, CD and Bluetooth media player
  • 2 x Lexicon MX300 delay, reverb and effects units
  • XTA GQ600, 31 band master stereo graphic equaliser
  • Drawmer DL241, master stereo compressor
  • 2 x dbx 1046 4-way quad instrument compressors
  • Klark Teknik Square One dynamics compressor and gate
  • dbx 1074 4-way quad instrument gates
  • 2 x Allen & Heath ICE-16 USB recorders