The SVT emulation adds a useful new element for bass players . . . but there’s lots more.
New amps, cabs, and effects for studio and stage
I think Eleven Rack’s success surprised even Avid, but it makes sense: Eleven Rack is one of those pieces of gear where all the pieces fit together like the stones in a Mayan temple. From the readable display and large front-panel typeface (yes, this matters), to the obvious workflow, to the sounds themselves—and of course, the dual identity as audio interface/ stage multi-effects—Eleven Rack hits the high points.
But the Expansion Pack takes it to, well, twelve. There are 13 new amp emulations, eight new cabs, and six new effects: two distortion, MultiChorus, sophisticated stereo delay (ducking, EQ, panning, cross delay, etc.), studio compressor, and four-band parametric EQ.
Of the new amps, I immediately took to the Marshall JTM45 emulation—its big, beefy sounds, with a smooth distortion character, make it a natural for hard-rock power chords. The Super Reverb model is another winner, with the right degree of sparkle. I’ve always liked the Eleven Rack Custom amps, but the Modern Super Overdrive delivers truly satisfying high-gain sounds. These are just some highlights . . . check out the emulation of all three Bogner Ecstasy 101b channels, and also, the Eleven plug-in’s speaker breakup feature is now included.
But aside from the new cabs, the “channel strip” parametric EQ can really make the amps sing—you can tweak amp/cab combinations to slide into a track as if they had been sprayed with WD-40. Sure, you could always insert an EQ plug-in within Pro Tools, but now you can take that tweaked sound on stage. An unexpected bonus is lowpass and highpass filtering with 6, 12, and 24dB slope options—but as you can add resonance, it’s possible to (for example) pull down the very highest frequencies to rein in the brightness, while adding a peak around 4–5kHz to add defi nition. Thumbs up.
Also thumbs up: a channel strip-style compressor. Add that to the EQ, and you have a useful vocal-processing setup.
I also had good luck feeding the distortion stompboxes into cabs (no amps) and using the EQ to tweak that as well. Arguably, though, the new effects’ star is the Dynamic Stereo Delay—thicken and layer your sound with delays; think Edge-type vibes. You can sync to tempo, and thankfully, this includes my favorite dance track staple—dotted half-notes.
If you have an Eleven Rack, the price is right. Even if you use only half of the new features, it’s still a great deal—the new amps alone are welcome. I hesitate to use the term “no-brainer” because in these tough times, $99 isn’t a trivial expense. But there’s no doubt you get value received.
If you don’t have an Eleven Rack, this just might put it on your Gear Acquisition Syndrome radar, especially if the “stage and studio” split personality interests you. Eleven was something special before the expansion pack appeared, but now it’s gone up another notch.
AVID ELEVEN RACK EXPANSION PACK FIRMWARE UPDATE
Lots of new amps and cabinets. Several new effects. 4-band parametric is tremendously helpful when going direct. Simple firmware update.
Software editing still available only in a Pro Tools environment— otherwise, you need to edit via the front panel.
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