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Small rack with the Axe-FX

Saki

Member
Hello,

If all goes well, I should have an Axe-FX next week. For a short while I'll be using it in 4CM with my old tube amp, but I plan to buy FRFR power amp and monitor as soon as budget allows. ;) My question is about the organization of a small rack with:

- the Axe (2U)
- a power amp like the Matrix GT1000FX, the 2U version because it's supposed to be less noisy (I'll be using it at home, reducing noise is important to me)
- maybe a drawer (2U)

At this point I don't intend to take a power conditioner. I had the whole electricity redone in my house (and I mean whole: every wire, every outlet was stripped out and replaced) and I have no plan to use my gear outside.

Question: does either the Axe or the power amp require that I leave some extra space between them, for hot air circulation? Would the drawer between them block the air flow and be a problem? And since they have similar weights, is there a reason to put one or the other at the bottom of the rack?

I saw a number of racks on the internet that included the Axe-FX, and many didn't seem to leave any extra space above or below it. But I'd rather be sure, especially with the power amp. Thanks for any advice. :)
 

RecifeShark

Member
I have an Axe+GT1000 (1U)+Furman PL-Pro C, in a SKB rotorolling 4U case. The Matrix GT1000 itself doesn´t heat so much, so I´d say that:

- "does either the Axe or the power amp require that I leave some extra space between them, for hot air circulation?" No, it isn´t necessary.

- "Would the drawer between them block the air flow and be a problem?" No, it won´t be a problem.

I play a lot at home with this rack and there´s almost no noise. Some extreme high gain patches require axe´s noise gate, but it can deal it easily, and the 1U GT1000 is not noisy itself. I´d say you can´t go wrong buying the 1U instead of the 2U matrix just for noise issues.
 

Crapshoes

Member
Currently running a Gator 6u with the Axe, a Gt1000fx and a 2u rack drawer. Thermals are fine, and the noise is barely apparent.

As a side note, I have also velcro'd a power strip onto the rear part of the drawer to make up for the lack of a power conditioner... I know it's not the same thing, but some level of protection is better than nothing, even if it is just surge.
 

∞Fractals

Power User
I have an Axe+GT1000 (1U)+Furman PL-Pro C, in a SKB rotorolling 4U case. The Matrix GT1000 itself doesn´t heat so much, so I´d say that:

- "does either the Axe or the power amp require that I leave some extra space between them, for hot air circulation?" No, it isn´t necessary.

- "Would the drawer between them block the air flow and be a problem?" No, it won´t be a problem.

I play a lot at home with this rack and there´s almost no noise. Some extreme high gain patches require axe´s noise gate, but it can deal it easily, and the 1U GT1000 is not noisy itself. I´d say you can´t go wrong buying the 1U instead of the 2U matrix just for noise issues.

Agreed, I own the Matrix GT100FX 2U and if I did it again, I'd go 1U on the amp. I also run out to a pair of friedman 2x12 for stereo, but also run a small mixer to headphones to jam along with other sources (but i have to turn on the cab simulations).

I also run a Furman PL-PLUS DMC - 15A w/Voltmeter/Ammeter.
 

Jaz1956

Member
Hi Saki - I've found that I need a 4U case which covers all my needs for home practice and also gigging.
2U for the Axe, 1U for a stereo power amp and 1U for a UPS to protect the Axe when plugging in on unknown stages.
(The UPS is a recent addition - used to be a slide-out drawer with my Laptop in there). The Axe only consumes 40W or so and runs cool plus if you're not playing at full volume onstage for two hours, just at home, then your S/State power amp isn't going to heat up much anyway.
I'm sure you're going to love the Axe when it arrives so welcome to the Axe Owners Club :)
 

Saki

Member
Thanks for all those answers. :)

I'd like to add a related question: I'd like to use the monitors to output the sound from the Axe-FX, but also from my computer. Since the GT1000FX cannot be used with two sources, I guess that I need a small mixer table, and then I need to reserve some room for it in my rack. Are there any specific tables for such use, some sort of "FRFR" mixer table?

I also run out to a pair of friedman 2x12 for stereo, but also run a small mixer to headphones to jam along with other sources (but i have to turn on the cab simulations).
That may be an answer to my question above. Can you give a little more detail, please?
 
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Eliju

Experienced
I have the 1u GT1000. I haven't noticed any noise at all with it. I can't imagine the 2u could be all that much quieter.
 

vangrieg

Power User
I guess that I need a small mixer table, and then I need to reserve some room for it in my rack

Or use a sound card, and mix there. You can use S/PDIF for Axe, and computer output will go direct usually. If it doesn't have S/PDIF, you can use any other inputs, including analog. Mix in your sound card's software.
 

Saki

Member
Or use a sound card, and mix there. You can use S/PDIF for Axe, and computer output will go direct usually. If it doesn't have S/PDIF, you can use any other inputs, including analog. Mix in your sound card's software.
The problem is, the computer is a laptop that is moved around a lot, so I'm looking for a solution that is not dependent on the computer's presence. I browsed Thomann's website and saw relatively inexpensive things like the Art MX225, would it affect my tone, or is such a mixer supposed to be transparent?
 

vangrieg

Power User
The problem is, the computer is a laptop that is moved around a lot
You mentioned that you want to mix computer sound with the output from your AFX. What do you want to mix if your computer is away?

Anyway, there are sound cards that can work as mixers without a computer connected. I use such a card (see my signature). It is a mixer for our whole band without the drumkit, which goes separately. This particular card has presets for different scenarios. There may be other, simpler and cheaper options available, but I don't know about them.

relatively inexpensive things like the Art MX225, would it affect my tone, or is such a mixer supposed to be transparent?
Virtually anything you put in your signal chain will affect your tone to some degree, unless the connections are made strictly in the digital domain. Whether that degree is tolerable for you is hard to say, that depends on your requirements.

By the way, AFX itself can act as a sound card, so you don't necessarily need a mixer for simple use cases.
 

Saki

Member
Sorry, I tried to avoid unnecessary details, and ended up being unclear.

For space constraint reasons, my guitar gear is in the same room as other audio-related electronic devices. Among those, there is a TV which outputs sound to an old hifi system's Luxman preamp. I often plug a laptop to the TV through HDMI, this way I have a very comfortable setting to work on my guitar: I can have my music-related software run on the laptop but outputted on a big screen and big speakers in front of me.

The hifi system is getting really old, especially the speakers and the power amp. So I was thinking that I could use the shining new GT1000FX and monitors to output sound from the TV (and, hence, from the computer), and retire my old system in the process.

So what I'm really looking for is a way to mix the output from the Axe and the output from the Luxman preamp (typical use case: playing over a backing track). The laptop is also used for other things and isn't always available in the room, so I need to be able to use the Axe-FX without it. I understand that I need a line mixer with certain features (stereo inputs), like the Art MX225 that I noticed on Thomann's website (it's just an example).

Can the Axe itself work as a mixer for this? Unless I missed something in the manual, I don't think I can plug my Luxman preamp into the Axe and have it mixed with my guitar signal.

I mostly worry about the sound quality of the result. If inserting a mixer between the Axe and my new poweramp / monitor destroys its FRFR quality, then I'll simply buy a separate set of active speakers for the TV and leave the Axe alone with the FRFR system.

I hope this is clearer. ;) In time I may go for a cleaner, more permanent solution, but if I can use a single amp + speakers installation for everything, that would be great!
 

vangrieg

Power User
Ah, so you need something with analog inputs to play your backing tracks?

Actually, you CAN use Axe for this, by utilizing Input 2, but you have to include the Effects Loop block in your presets, which is an inconvenience.

I still cannot give you any advice with regard to cheap analog mixers, "sound quality" is too subjective. Some people swear that power cables affect sound, so it's difficult to say what you personally consider good quality.

With this disclaimer, I could cautiously advise you not to worry too much about it, any mixer, unless it's total crap, shouldn't spoil your sound too much if you use it for playback of relatively high level signals. Mic preamps and instrument inputs are another story, but as long as that mixer has line ins you should be okay. Don't sue me if you get disappointed though. :)
 

Saki

Member
I'm not a tone zealot, if that's what you mean. ;) Nevertheless, I prefer to worry too much beforehand rather than afterwards.

If the mixer only routed sound from the TV, I wouldn't worry too much, since the TV itself probably has a bigger impact anyway. But the mixer would also receive the ouput of the Axe itself.

As for using the effect loop block, indeed I'm not thrilled at the idea of having to include in all my presets something that is not related to my guitar sound. ;)

PS: just got the email, the Axe will be here on Friday. Can't wait!
 

RoshRoslin

Experienced
I've never had any heat issues with the AxeFX. I've gigged outdoors in Southern California during heatwaves (100+ degrees in direct sunlight for a couple hours) and I never had the AxeFX shut down. Unless your home conditions are worse than that, you should be fine with all that stuff in your rack.
 

RickTN

Inspired
I'm no expert here AT ALL. Fairly new with the Axe myself. But this is my home setup...which sounds l close to what you want. I too have a TV output, my desktop computer sound output, and my Axe running into 2 powered monitors. The center of all this is a simple Focusrite 6i6 (sells for $250 new and about $200 used). I run my Axe into it with a SPDIF cable. I run the computer into it with it's USB, and I run the Axe into it in stereo with balanced TRS cables. Then out of the little Focusrite to my monitors. The Focusrite comes with computer mixing software for free. It also has 2 headphone outputs that I use with earbuds for quiet TV or computer listening and good headphones on the other output for Axe and/or computer backing tracks/You Tube/etc. Works VERY easily and simply and you have all the control on the little Focusrite and the digital mixer in the computer. you can have any combination of the 3 inputs on in stereo either outputting to the monitors or the headphones. But now I DID buy custom made really good cables for all this (mogami cable and neutrik connectors for the most part). If ....I....can hook this up and works anybody can do it. I'm sure some the exacting pure tone guys here might hear a very slight difference in tone with the setup but I certainly can't. It's made my little music am nd TV room perfect for me.
 

vangrieg

Power User
If the mixer only routed sound from the TV, I wouldn't worry too much, since the TV itself probably has a bigger impact anyway. But the mixer would also receive the ouput of the Axe itself.
You should be okay. For line level input those mixers aren't bad.

But still, I would suggest that you consider a sound card. Some of them work as mixers without a computer connected. With enough inputs and outputs, you can have a very flexible setup that'll cover multiple future scenarios.

Like you, I started with a simple mixer, but ended up with a MOTU 828x with a patch bay and monitor controller that switches between my studio monitors and a Hi-Fi stereo.

That said, choosing something more complex requires that you understand well what you need, so it can wait. Just keep in mind that those cheap mixers are impossible to sell afterwards, so consider that money spent on learning. :)
 

Saki

Member
Thanks. :) Indeed I need to learn more before I can make enlightened choices. The Motu 828x looks quite nice, but it's another budget entirely!

No matter what choice I end up making, I think I'll first buy a power amp and one monitor, only for the Axe-FX, later I can add to this setup in different ways. I'll just take a rack 1U larger, in case I buy a line mixer with the second monitor.

Now I just need to make up my mind about the size of the power amp... I can be quite sensitive to noise and am leaning toward 2U, but everybody says that the 1U is almost silent. I suppose that, for home use, I won't push it very much so it won't heat as much?

PS: the Axe arrived today! :)
 

vangrieg

Power User
can be quite sensitive to noise and am leaning toward 2U, but everybody says that the 1U is almost silent.
If you're talking about Matrix - well, I wouldn't call it noisy, but that depends on how you use it. When playing, it's not noticeable, but you'll hear it in a quiet room at night. But then in that scenario I also hear my XL+ fan.
 

Saki

Member
If you're talking about Matrix - well, I wouldn't call it noisy, but that depends on how you use it. When playing, it's not noticeable, but you'll hear it in a quiet room at night. But then in that scenario I also hear my XL+ fan.
I have the Axe about three meters from me now, it's switched on but I'm not doing anything with it. I can barely hear the fan, it's certainly not a bother. If the 1U version of the Matrix power amp is like that, it should be fine.
 
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