Now guitarists can enter the Pro Tools
8 LE world with an interface that’s
designed exclusively for them. But
Eleven Rack (“ER” for short) can also
serve as a rackmount effects processor
for the stage, based around Digi’s
Eleven plug-in but which also includes
new, guitar-specific effects. There’s a
ton of specs, included amp models,
effects, etc. on the Digi site as well as
vendors like Musician’s Friend and
Sweetwater; we’ll do more of an
overview, and tackle some of the
questions people have.
For installing on-stage, simply plug
your guitar into the input, and take
any of the several outputs and send as
appropriate (direct to PA, to guitar
amp, to both, whatever).
In computer-land, ER is a Pro Tools
LE interface. It works only with PTLE
8.0.1 and higher, but that’s not an
issue because the software is
included. For M-Powered or HD systems,
you’d need to feed ER’s digital
out (or audio out) into your existing
interface. The same concept applies if
you want to record a band and ER
doesn’t have enough I/O. However,
even when not used as an audio
interface, you can still have a GUI
(Eleven Rack Control Window) for
programming and automation by
connecting ER to your computer via
USB; although it’s not running as a
plug-in, the software sees it that way.
While ER works as an interface for
other programs, the GUI is Pro Toolsonly.
But you don’t lose automation
abilities, because just about everything
can be MIDI-controlled (nice).
ELEVEN RACK ELEMENTS
In all the buzz about “Hey! Digi’s doing
a nify-looking box for guitarists!,”
some significant features might get
overlooked—so we’ll fix that.
True-Z input. You can adjust the
input impedance from 22k to 1M (i.e.,
from vintage stomp box to high-Z in).
This not only affects the tone, but also,
how your guitar’s volume and tone controls
interact with the input. If you’re
used to turning your volume control
down and getting a certain sound, and
been frustrated that other amp sims
don’t emulate this—problem solved.
Some Digi designer truly understands
what guitar electronics are about.
Pro Tools effects. When the
Eleven plug-in came out, some people
complained because it was just
amps—no effects. But Pro Tools
already includes a ton of effects.
What ER adds is guitar-specific
effects that emulate vintage boxes
like the E-H Memory Man, Echoplex,
etc. Add these to the existing roster
of effects—and an effects loop for
external stompbox- or line-level
effects—and you have lots of choices.
For live, you’re limited to the effects
included with ER; but for extra flexibility,
these go in seven effects
“blocks” you can place in any order.
However, unlike most other amp
sims you can’t do parallel effects
chains. You can pick off the signal at
different points in the signal chain and
send it elsewhere (e.g., use the amp
sims in ER as one chain, and mic a guitar
amp receiving a dry signal for the
second chain), but that’s not as convenient
as parallel processing within ER.
Re-amping. ER does re-amping very
well, whether splitting off a dry track
while recording for later re-amping, or
re-amping existing guitar tracks.
There’s even a mic input on the front
that, while you can use it to capture a
vocal or room ambience, is equally useful
for miking an amp when re-amping.
I/O. It doesn’t skimp, with eight
recording inputs (XLR mic, guitar,
stereo line ins, stereo S/PDIF or
AES/EBU, FX processor out into Pro
Tools) and six outs (main outs and
phones, outs to amps, S/PDIF or
AES/EBU digital out).
Eleven Rack sounds really, really good.
Part of that is the convolution-based
cab and miking emulations, but I’d also
give props to the True-Z circuit and
the additional effects. The sum is
greater than the parts, which is perhaps
why some guitarists who were
lukewarm to the Eleven plug-in find the
Eleven Rack so satisfying. And it works
up to 96kHz, which can help out with
amp sim tone by handling harmonics
While having a processor you can
use on-stage or in the studio isn’t a
new concept, being able to pull out the
sounds you use in your Pro Tools projects
and take them to the stage is a
new twist. Overall, the cynical might
say that Digidesign just wants to bring
more guitarists into the fold; but look
deeper, and you’ll see some serious
thought from real guitar players went
into this box. If you’re a guitar-slinging
Pro Tools fan, or need a solid modeling
processor that works with other programs
as well as onstage, this could be
exactly what you need.