Outboard rack gear


Im expanding my studio a bit, and have been thinking of adding some outboard gear to play nicely with my 8 track reel to reel tape.

My current setup is

Macbook pro
Fostex E8

I tried out a number of the ‘classic’ outboard pieces whilst at uni such as an LA2A and 1176 but i wasnt really sure what i was doing at the time. several years later and im working full time as a recording artist and film composer and have a much better idea of what im doing, but unfortunately i dont have access to the gear anymore to try out…

I was wondering if anyone on here uses much outboard gear, if so what do you use? What made you buy it? how does it fit in to your workflow etc…

I have a number of the plugins of various well known compressors and EQ’s, but i was amazed at how much difference there is between plugin tape saturation and actual tape saturation when i got my fostex so am inclined to take my impression of the plugins with a pinch of salt… Suggestion / thoughts welcome!


i use some rack stuff. less today than years ago.

the cool thing about rack stuff today, is that nobody really wants it so theres a lot of cool cheap gear to be had.

some of my favorites are akai mfc42 filter, OG sansamp rack, ibanez delay unit (not sure which one but it sounds awesome). electrix warp factory (all electrix stuff is dope)

i also use an art mpa gold w/ some telefunken tubes for all my recording. its a beast. i was super surprised how much the different tubes made an improvement on the sound.

thanks for the art suggestion @docshermsticks ! Are they just regular tubes? I know about tubes from guitar amps, is it the same sort of thing?

Yeah, im after two types of rack, some serious analog hardware and some fun (and crucially cheaper…) creative stuff, that electrix warp factory looks cool!

yea same sorta thing. i did some research before i decided what brand of tube to buy. they weren't crazy expensive, but they were more than your average tube. made a world of sonic difference to the stock ones that they put in there. (like i said, to my surprise).

the MPA is pretty cheap on its own in comparison to other recording gear out there, so I didn't really care about the added cost for extra tubes. it was totally worth it.

another preamp that i used to have, that i really dug, was the GAP Pre-73. which is the preamp section of the Neve 73 console. dirty preamp she was. i actually sold that to fund the MPA so i could get 2 channels instead of 1.

i've had a bunch of compressors before, but i find that i like to do my compression, if at all, in the computer or at the very very end.

just because sometimes when you record, you set your compression and it sounds great at the time. but then when you are further along in your project, you realize that you wish you could go back and tweak the settings.

this way in the computer or whatever, u can always go back and mess with it. or if u do it last, u won't run into that as much.

over compression can be a mood killer.

i like using outboard preamps more, because they give your sound some character, but rarely do something that really influences the sound too far.

I’ve got some rack stuff but find that lately I’ve been far enjoying some of the nicer, studio-oriented pedal effects around. Particularly the Eventide Timefactor and the Strymon Big Sky. They both sound wonderful and I find that I get more use out of something with knobs abound to something with a small LCD and far more menus than tactile controls.

yea i can't mess w/ those units (any units really, not just racks) w/ lots of menus and like a cursor button.

gotta have tactile controls.. not a menu diver

Yeah, hands on is a must! I like the strymon stuff a lot, although they all in general tend to have one sound and not make it very easy to stray very far away from that sound. Still, i tend to like that sound :smiley:

sometimes i wish i had arms like Goro. i need more than 2!!

+1 on preamp for coloring.

Also, I like my RNLA (Really Nice Leveling Amplifier) for coloring, too. Wonderful character, that thing, great to put on the Octatrack’s cue outs and resample =) You can cram three FMR boxes into a rack with an adapter plate.

Never really had any other outboard fx units other than pedals or the OT, so I can’t comment much about anything else.

Often tempted by some sort of Joe Meek channel strip for another flavor, and the one I’m thinking of has built-in compression and a mic pre along with the EQ.

Hey guys,

I decided to get one of these. I’m pretty happy with my pre’s and for the moment the tape does an interesting form of compression, so an EQ seemed to be the way forwards. http://www.thehouseofkush.com/#!the-ubk-clariphonic/c23ed

It should arrive next week, i’ll let you know how it is!


dope! i used to really want a kush fatso. hope u get on w/ it g

Ah yeah, all the kush stuff looks amazing, i really like their aesthetic of making things simpler / getting away from the mega in depth editing. Kind of like how the OP1 approaches synthesis / effects.

Hey guys, just an update. Been using the clariphonic about a week now. So far im really enjoying it! In retrospect perhaps a more classic pultec style eq would have been a better first choice, but actually the clariphonic plays really really nicely with the tape which was what i wanted :slight_smile: The two engines deal very effectively with eh mids and highs, its going to take a bit of practice to get used to not overdoing it, it is super addictive. Kind of like the first time you discovered reverb and went way ott adding it to everything…thats me now with the clariphonic making everything super hi fi and crispy…

Next up im going to add a pair of pre amps and a compressor, im thinking of the chandler TG2 for the pre’s and the thermonic culture pheonix for the compressor. Between astereo analogue compressor, stereo eq and two pre amps i think i should be fairly well setup in my home studio :slight_smile: