Welcome to another pro review!
I saw the Eleven Rack in California last fall, and was very impressed. The company wanted to do a pro review, and sent me a unit - but then they decided they wanted to wait a bit. Well, one major aspect of a pro reviews is the whole real-time/blog nature, so although I did check it out for a review in EQ magazine, I dutifully put it aside until...now.
I've really been looking forward to this for several reasons, not the least of which is that I get to play guitar a lot while checking it out But the other thing is that even the first time I saw Eleven Rack, it was obvious that it had been designed by People Who Actually Play Guitar. One of the main "twists" with Eleven Rack is that yes, it's a guitar-centric interface for Pro Tools LE or HD (not M-Powered, unfortunately - what's up with that?) but you can also use it on stage as your main processor - you don't need a computer to use it. In fact, DvK has made a cab/130W power amp for it where you can slide Eleven Rack right in, and start blasting your audience into submission. Given that it's currently going for about $900 street price, the double-duty aspect means that you're basically getting a really capable audio interface for $450, and a heavy-duty stage FX processor for $450.
In either context, it includes modeled amps and effects, with the amp based on the Eleven plug-in for Pro Tools. When I first heard the rack, though, I was certain it sounded a bit better than the plug-in. Avid confirmed that by being part of an integrated system, that was indeed true.
Given the on-stage angle, I was pleased to see that there's plenty of I/O, BIG lettering, white-on-black legible labels, etc. In fact, before getting too much further into the details, let's do our traditional Pro Review Photo Tour.
The first attached image shows an overall view of the rack from the top, so you can see the depth. This is a substantial piece of gear; it doesn't feel light or like corners were cut on the packaging.
The second attached image shows the left side of the rack. As I said - big buttons, nice labels. The knobs are a little close together for my tastes (I'm not exactly a little guy), but it's great to have them available for tweaking.
The third attached image shows the display, which is big and readable. The knobs below correlate with the knobs on the display, but there's a very interesting twist: Referring to the fourth attached image, although it's not real obvious in the picture due to the lighting, the cursor on the left knob is red, and on the right knob, orange. This works like nulling-style automation - the knob glows red if the knob's physical position doesn't match the programmed position, while orange indicates the knob is at the programmed position. Nice.
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