Rack Mounted Amps

Can someone tell me the advantage of using rack mounted amplifiers over solid state, valve, or combos? (I understand that rack mounted amps can be valve and solid state also). I just dont see what the attraction is. I'm attracted to it, but only because I dont understand it. If that makes sense.

Can anyone give me some insight?

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Rack mount kit sits in a 19" rack, along with other 19" rack mount effects, you would usually have a DI out from your amp to a PA System, so you mix your sound through the PA along with all the other instruments.
All your kit is contained in a single rack, so it makes it easy to transport and setup from gig to gig.
On the recording side they are used in the recording room to pass an instrument signal through the amp to the recording media, again using a DI or preamp out.
You can set them up to power a couple of guitar speaker cabs, but they are mainly used as a preamp for the guitar signal to the bands PA.

Probably got that wrong, but thats as i understand it.

It's just an amp, but designed to go in the 19" wide space Lee mentions. Especially with digital amps, these can be powerful yet only 1U in height and sit in the same rack as any FX you have. Otherwise, rack amps vary in their features in exactly the same way as amp heads in general.

Mack, your interest in trying different makes of cab can follow this logical extension. You could settle on a 1U power amp made by one outfit, but use a preamp (or rackmount modeller, preamp/FX unit) made by someone else. High-output rackmount power amps made in China are dirtcheap now. There is no law against finding a tone-shaping front end for your bass (or even the line out from your combo) and feeding this into the power amp and onto whatever cabs you choose.

does the situation ever arrise that one might want to have several different preamps into one set cabinet of choice? I'm assuming the answer is yes. But moreover, does the rack mounted preamps provide the opportunity to switch preamps via foot switch, or something? Obviously if one were to use any solid state (or even valve) rack amp, it wouldn't matter particularily which one someone used, but if someone had multiple preamps, the sound could be altered based on settings/design/etc...

The reason this subject comes into play in my mind, is that I listen to many bands who do not use just a standard amp and cabinet for their set. For example, the guitar or bass sound for Nine Inch Nails is very different from song to song. On stage, they do not even have amplifiers, except for the guitarist, who uses a cabinet (no amp head tho) onstage for feedback effects. The rest is all processed through racks, and their stage monitors provide their foldback, rather than a giant marshall or ampeg stack situated behind them.

I guess the question I'm asking, after all that... is... does they use multiple preamps (some are midi, probably, and some solid state, some valve, etc...) to achieve different songs per song, and is there a way of changing the source live, via a stomp box, or somehting.
Say song 5 in the set requires a midi controlled preamp, which plays sounds created by some computer offstage (or something). Would the guitarist have control over this, or am I starting to get into big bucks and big time professionalism, with stage techs, etc...

Does a rack mount allow me the option of addition to new sounds/presets... or is the convenience merely in size and weight?

IMHO, I think if you are into your sound then you play through real amps and not rack amps. I think the rack amps are for ease of use, easy setup, no Mic to set up, just DI straight out the back into the Desk then on to the PA, To me those guitarists that use Rack mounts are just as happy to play a pink strat to match the lead singers skirt, Ive seen guitarists in bands use fake heads and cabs on stage and play through a rack on the side of the stage, but they
play in a pro outfit and gig 3 times a week and want to spend as little time as possible setting up, plus they have an effects unit in the rack thats easily accessed on stage. I gig 2 or 3 times a month and use a pedal board for effects and a 100 watt head with a 2x12 cab, takes me 15 mins to setup and i love the sound i get, i like to hear and feel my sound cranking out of a cab behind me, but then some people probably like the controlled, limited, mixed and processed sound from their guitar coming out of a foldback in front of them.
Horses for courses.
Needed more breaks in the sentences, i keep thinking of what bass said about the English writing like 'Block paving' .

There was a fashion in the '90s for rack-mounted stereo power amps and a number of preamps, FX etc all lumped in. I remember some bass player with an unbelievable number of stuff in a 9U rack. After initial "wow" I did wonder what use could be made of it all. Although the fashion died down, swinging back to valve amps for the trads and modelling amps/FX for the experimenters, nu-metal types tend to stay away from the head-and-cabs standard. Looking up some of your favourite players on guitargeek.com will give you an idea of their setup.

If you want to quickly change a setup between or during songs, you might be best off with a floor-stomp multi-FX. Spend a little time getting the patches how you like them, then make it easy to move up and down patches with the footswitch(es). A lot of them are all fiddly buttons and knobs - OK for the studio or bedroom, but not really practical for gig use.

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