Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Rack Building: The Mobile Yamaha FS1R Guitar Rack

Sorry for the lack of posting recently, but since getting to the critical mass point in understanding and programming the Yamaha FS1R, I have been hit with an urgency to get a rig together so I can gig with it. This has involved a lot of buying and selling on eBay, which is a slow process. For one thing, obscure discontinued gear like the Yamaha FS1R and EDIROL UM-880 don't appear every day, and for another buying and selling in auctions just takes time. The savings are worth it, however.

The third FS1R still hasn't appeared, and neither has a UM-880, but I did find a UM-550 which will work for the home recording rig, and I had enough gear to get the gig rig to a working configuration. Here it is!

Top to Bottom:

1] 17" 7200 RPM High Res MacBook Pro
2] Bryston 2B-LP Power Amp
3] Behringer BTR2000 Racktuner
4] Lexicon MPX-G2 Guitar Effects Processor
5] Axon AX-100 Mk II Guitar to MIDI Interface
6] Blank Vent Panel
7] Lexicon I-ONIX FW810s Mixer/Recording Interface
8] Yamaha FS1R FM/Formant Sequence Digital Synthesizer
9] Furman AR-1215 Line Voltage Regulator

Dragging a 17" 7200 RPM High Res MacBook Pro to a gig might seem like a lot of trouble, but the Lexicon FW810s requires one just to mix - it unfortunately defaults to mono without a computer - and I've hated every other 1U mixer I've ever tried: The preamps are just horrible in the cheaper gear. Also, of course, I can record live using the MacBook Pro, which is a big part of the mission of this rig.

I detest every solid state power amp made except for Brystons, for reasons that ought to be obvious to the cognoscenti.

The Behringer Racktuner is still the only rack mount tuner that can calibrate to the A= 432 Hz that I tune to.

Even Roland can't touch the Axon AX-100 Mk II, but I understand that TerraTech may have discontinued it. Oh well. They wouldn't be the first company, by far, that has failed to make a guitar-to-synth interface financially viable: ARP was killed by the Avatar as far back as the 80's.

Eventually I'd like to have an EDIROL UM-880 MIDI interface/merger/patch bay in place of the blank vent panel so I can program this rack's FS1R too - and have this rig as an alternate recording environment - but right now it's a pure performance setup with MIDI thru from the MPX-G2 going to the AX-100 Mk II for program changes, MIDI out from the AX-100 Mk II going to the FS1R to drive it, and MIDI thru from the FS1R going to the FW810s for recording MIDI tracks.

I love the Lexicon FW810s. It has better preamps and a crisper, cleaner sound than any of the various Digidesign recording interfaces I've tried, and it's 1U: Digi can't seem to put a recording interface into anything less than 2U, and their preamps sound like crap, IMO. Overly bright and very harsh sounding.

The mighty Yamaha FS1R. The greatest digital synthesizer ever made. It can do a lot of things even my old Synclavier couldn't do, and it has higher bit resolution and a suite of onboard effects. There is no other synth that I think is worth my time to learn.

No cheap power conditioners for me. The Furman AR-1215 is an actual line voltage regulator with an isolation transformer. The kind of clean and steady voltage it delivers is even more important if you use analog synths or tube amps (Two of my other rigs use MESA/Boogie power amps).

The Lexicon transformer plugged into the face of the Furman powers a Lexicon MPX-R1 MIDI foot controller, which is not pictured. It allows me to control the rig remotely.

So there it is.

I'm currently working on the dedicated stay-at-home programming and recording rig, which will have two FS1R's in it. No telling when another pristine FS1R will appear on eBay, much less an EDIROL UM-880: Nobody who has a UM-880 seems willing to part with it.

Couldn't decide if I wanted to post a redhead or a brunette.


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