My Rack System - It's complete and totally awesome!!

The rack system is now complete and it works just great! The Lexicon reverb is full and lush, the Stewart amp is smooth, quiet and powerful and the Revelation Tube pre-amp is warm and can produce a wide variety of great tube tones. Adding the stereo-mono switch to the rack's front panel turned out well. I can switch from a fat and wide stereo sound or a more basic and well defined mono effects sound without switching Lexicon pre-sets using both speaker cabinets. Or I can run just one cabinet with the effects summed to mono, still getting a full tone. Compared to the Fender Steel King, the first thing I noticed is the increase in power and the added advantage of stereo sound on demand. I have only programmed the Lexicon for reverb and delay so far and that's all I use on a regular basis. Below I added pics of the complete rack and the rack sitting next to my Steel.

Complete Rack Cab Loaded Front

Update March 9, 2007: Added pics of the Eminence speakers by themselves and mounted in the cabs. You can lift two of these with one hand!

Here's some shots of my steel guitar rack system. Most of this information is available elsewhere but I hope my detailed pictures, I/O connector placements, wiring diagram and programming information will help others that come along after me. My Fender Steel King amp has been absolutely the best amp I have ever owned for warm tone. reserve power, thundering bass, very easy to use tone controls and recording. Most of the recordings on my site were with a Boss RV-5 reverb and the Steel King. This foray into the world of racks will be fun but is not in any way a reflection of my search for an improved sound.

Just put your mouse over the pics to get a description of them or left click them for a larger view.

I settled on the Gator powered rack because it has a circuit breaker protected power strip with 4 rear and one front outlet. It also has wheels and a retractable handle, neither of which take up any of the 6 rack slot spaces.

The Lexicon MPX1 was purchased used on ebay for about $440.00 and has a reputation for having exquisite dedicated reverb with its own processor and a separate processor for lush chorus, phaser and numerous other effects. I went for the best multi-effects I could find under $500 and chose not to get a unit that had amp models or analog distortion. I like the tube sound a lot so my "amp" model is built into the Revelation pre-amp. The MPX1 will be wired into the Revelation's effects loop with the effect level controlled by the Revelation's effect level control.

The Stewart World 1.2 has gotten rave reviews almost everywhere I looked and it has sounded just great everywhere I've heard it live. It puts out a good 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms which is the impedance of the neodymium speaker I am considering. The World 1.2 has a digital power supply but is not a Class D amp. At some point I will either build a Class D amp into the rack to replace the Stewart or put a class D module into each amp cab to reduce the rack's size and weight.

I had Rick Johnson build me 2 15" tweed speaker cabinets, open back with leather handles. Rick does great work, is easy to work with and these cabs are very sharp and retro looking!

I opted to use Brad Sarno's Revelation Tube Pre-amp (RTP) to shape my sound. It has very flexible tone controls, is optimized for steel guitar, has an effects loop, uses tubes throughout, hi-fi premium components and if so desired provides a buffer loop for your volume control. Brad also sells an optional harness for your volume pedal if you don't want to build your own. I powered on with the steel plugged into the Goodrich 120 and then the 120 plugged into the revelation Input without using the RTP volume pedal loop. Quickly I discovered that the sound was much fuller and warmer with the 3 cable harness using the RTP volume pedal loop and that's where I intend to leave it.

The Eminence KappaLite 3015 15" neodymium speaker is my first choice. It's light and has excellent sound for steel guitar and high power handling ability.

I placed the power connector on the lower side of the rack along with the speaker outputs. For recording use, I connected the RTP preamp's outputs to 1/4" jacks on the side of the case. This way I can record without mics if desired while having the option of listening to the rack speakers at the same time. I also added a switch to the top of the rack that will reconfigure the MPX1 output to mono (sum the stereo effects) enabling me to record just one channel or run just one speaker with the rack system. The pics below show the shielded boxes and I/O connector placements. The shields of all the signal wires are tied together inside the box and then connected to the metal box itself. I kept the speaker output grounds separate from all of the signal grounds and they also don't have to be shielded. They are just mounted through the wall of the case. Where possible I used tie wraps to provide strain relief and organize the cables. I labeled each cable because I started to discover that there was going to be a LOT of cables all over the place and I wanted to be able to trouble shoot and pull and replace equipment quickly. Note that my choice of taking the pre-amp outputs out the side of the case and adding a stereo/mono switch caused a lot of the cables to be longer than if they were simply direct connected. Since these lines are all line level low impedance outputs driving fairly high impedance inputs, I was not concerned about the high frequency roll-off due to the increased capacitance of hte longer cables. The I/O box cover plates were painted Rustoleum black to blend in with the rack case. They actually look great but the pictures make them look rough even though they have a nice finished appearance.

The total weight of the rack works out to 51 pounds. Adding up the MPX1: 6.125 lbs + Stewart World 1.2: 11 lbs + Gator Powered Rack: 24 lbs + Revelation RTP: 8.1 lbs + 1.8 pounds of hardware (vent panel, internal power cord and cables, outlet jacks and misc.)

The total weight of each speaker cabinet is only about 23 pounds!. Adding up the Eminence Kappalie 3015: 7.9 lbs + Rick Johnson cab: 15 lbs

Gator Rack Front Gator Tipped Gator Back Gator Side
Gator Inside Top MPX1 Front MPX1 Rear MPX1 Top
Stewart In Box Stewart Top Stewart Back Stewart Heatsink
Stewart Front Rack Minus RTP Inside Rack Front Minus RTP Inside Rack Minus RTP 2
Speaker Connections Inside IO Wiiring Preamp Box Stereo Mono Panel
Rick Johnson Cab Twins Rick Johnson Cab Front Rick Johnson Cab Back Rick Johnson Cab Top
Rick Johnson Cab Bottom Rick Johnson Cab Side Speaker Back Speaker Front
Speaker Inside Speaker Terminals Inside Cab Empty Speaker Inside Cab Back Open
Cab Loaded Back Cab Loaded Front Cab Loaded Front Wiring Diagram

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