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Mesa/Boogie Head-Track Head & FX Switcher
The Head-Track gives you the ability to instantly select between two amplifiers, yet employ the same Speaker Cabinet and Effects setup. It is intended for use near the amplifiers being switched to maintain the shortest Cable lengths, thereby protecting the integrity of your signal, and has a Remote Switch jack so that a simple On/Off MIDI switching function, or Latching Footswitch located on your pedal-board, can control the switching. There is also an on-board Footswitch to switch between the two amps from the unit itself in the rare instance where the Head-Track might be used on the Pedal-Board.
INPUTS from Instrument, Amplifier Effects Loop Sends (2), Effect(s) Output and Amplifier Speaker Outputs (2) along with OUTPUTS to Amplifier Inputs (2), Amplifier Effects Loop Returns (2), Effect(s) Input and the Speaker Cabinet Input (or Load Device) being shared are provided. The Head-Track can be powered by an external 9 Volt DC/200 mA wall-mount power supply (not included).
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The HEAD-TRACK is a guitar amp switcher that allows a pair of amp heads to share a single speaker cabinet or load device, eliminating the need for multiple space consumiing cabinets. Included is a passive effects loop that allows sharing effects between the two amplifiers. The HEAD-TRACK effects loop is automatically switched in sync with the instrument and speaker level signals. Switching between the amplifiers is precisely timed and very quiet - no loud pops, drop-outs, hum or noise. The proprietary control and switching circuit has been in use for over 15 years and ensures only one amp will be active at a time, and protects the amp that is not selected, by connecting it to an internal load.
INSTRUMENT I/O DESCRIPTIONS:
Use shielded 1/4" instrument cables for all the guitar and effects loop level audio connections, and always aim for the best quality and shortest length possible. This will minimize signal loss, particularly high frequency roll-off, due to the added capacitance in longer lengths of cable.
EFFECTS LOOP I/O DESCRIPTIONS:
Use shielded 1/4" instrument cables for all the guitar and effects loop level audio connections, and always aim for the best quality and shortest length possible. This will minimize signal loss, particularly high frequency roll-off, due to the added capacitance in longer lengths of cable
The effect(s) sharing capabilities of the HEAD-TRACK has been tailored for line level and instrument level effect pedals, which are usually ground referenced via their connection to an amplifier. When using some rack mount effect processors, a ground loop may occur, resulting in hum/noise. If this occurs, and the rack processor doesn't include a ground lift and/or an isolated input and output, then an external audio isolation transformer, such as the MESA Engineering CLEARLINK CONVERTER/ISO TRANSFORMER, would need to be connected between the rack processor's input and output, and the HEAD-TRACK.
Most amplifiers have a simple, series effects loop design, and so the effects loop switching implemented by the HEAD-TRACK should work with most amplifier combinations. In situations where the two amplifiers have very different effects loop designs, such as series vs parallel, some extra care and attention to settings on the effect(s) and/or the parallel loop amplifier may be necessary. But even under normal circumstances, i.e. when not using a head-switcher, trying to share effects between amplifiers with different effects loop designs, can be difficult.
SPEAKER LEVEL I/O DESCRIPTIONS:
Use UNshielded 1/4" speaker cables for all the high power speaker level audio connections, and always aim for the heaviest gauge (lower AWG number = heavier gauge) and shortest length possible. Never us shielded instrument cables for speaker level audio connections!
Always try to match the impedance of the two amplifiers to the speaker cabinet or load device being used. Most tube amplifiers are designed to feel, function and sound their best when the output and load impedances are matched. If this is not possible, consider the following mis-match, but before proceeding, consult the tube amplifier's specifications and/or contact the manufacturer to ensure the mis-match is within the tube amplifier's acceptable range; and expect an impedance mis-matched
Note: Device specifications are subject to change without notice.
I'm using a switched-mode power adapter/supply (SMPS) and hear a high pitch "whine" or other noise, why is that?
Some of these SMPS adapters are noisier than others, especially those that aren't from a reputable or brand-name MI manufacturer. Another reason could be that you're trying to run to many devices from a single adapter. Though many of them have a high current output and tout being able to power many devices, doing so can result in the development and/or increase of noise, for some reason. If this is happening, we recommend either trying another adapter, or better yet - using a universal pedalboard power supply with enough isolated outputs to power every device on your pedalboard individually; better power = (less) noise = (more) tone!
One (or both) of my amps has a buzz/hum, how can I get rid of it?
First, make sure that both amplifiers are properly grounded, with a 3-prong AC power-cord plug! Refer to the WARNING AND LIABILITY NOTICE section for additional information regarding amplifier grounding and safety. The most common cause of buzz, hum, and noise when connecting two amps, is a ground loop, which the HEAD-TRACK design prevents with its switching circuitry. The only other place for a ground loop to develop is via the shared effect(s) connected to the HEAD-TRACK. The effect(s) sharing capabilities of the HEAD-TRACK has been tailored for line level and instrument level effect pedals, which are usually ground referenced via their connection to an amplifier. When using some rack mount effect processors, a ground loop may occur, resulting in hum/noise. If this occurs, and the rack processor doesn't include a ground lift and/or an isolated input and output, then an external audio isolation transformer, such as the MESA Engineering CLEARLINK CONVERTER/ISO TRANSFORMER, would need to be connected between the rack proces- sor's input and output, and the HEAD-TRACK.
What happens if power is disconnected from the HEAD-TRACK while in use? The HEAD-TRACK will default to amplifier A.
When using the built-in stomp switch, how far from the amps and speaker cabinet can the HEAD-TRACK be positioned?
The limiting factor here is the length of the UNshielded speaker cables. Here are some recommendations based on the gauge of the speaker cables being used; 16AWG@10ft, 14AWG@20ft, 12AWG@30ft and 10AWG@40ft.
What is the "speaker" impedance of the HEAD-TRACK?
The HEAD-TRACK is NOT a load box. It MUST always have speaker cabinet or load device connected to the TO SPKR CAB/LOAD jack, otherwise damage to the selected amplifier and/or the HEAD-TRACK can occur.
How would I connect a pair of cabinets since the HEAD-TRACK has a single output jack for the speaker cabinet?
A fair amount of speaker cabinets have parallel jacks, which would allow connecting the HEAD-TRACK to the first cabinet, then connecting the two cabinets together using a parallel jack. Alternatively, a parallel speaker junction box could be purchased, or made, which would do the same thing.
Will the HEAD-TRACK allow me to play through two amps at the same time, like a regular ABY box?
No, the HEAD-TRACK allows only one of two amplifiers to be active at any given time, driving a single speaker cabinet or load device. To play through two amps at the same time, each driving its own speaker cabinet or load device, have a look at Mesa's SWITCH-TRACK ABY. That said, if you want to switch between two amplifiers, each driving its own speaker cabinet, and only ever play through one at any given time, then you could use the HEAD-TRACK. Simply don't use the three speaker level jacks, and certainly feel free to benefit from being able to share effects between the two amplifier's effects loops.
I've read that using a delay with a head-switcher is not possible, or can lead to problems, is this true?
With most other head-switchers, placing a delay or an echo or a reverb effect, between the head-switcher outputs and the amplifier inputs, or in the effects loop of the amplifiers, is certainly a problem! This is because the head-switcher would be unable to disconnect the effect from the amplifiers, and any signal continuing such as a slap-back or trail-off, after an amplifier has been deselected, can damage the amplifier, and/or possibly the head-switcher. This meant the only place that a delay could be used was before the input of the head-switcher, and anyone who has tried using a delay in front of a high gain amp knows it just doesn't sound right when used this way! The HEAD-TRACK has solved this problem by incorporating an effects loop. It is switched in sync with the instrument and speaker level signals, allowing a shared delay, echo, reverb and/or other effects, to be used in the effects loop of the amps, where they sound best!
Is it possible to share effects between an amp that has an effects loop and one that doesn't?
While it is possible, depending on the effect(s) and the amplifiers being used, there may be an increase in transients when switching. But you won't know until you try, so here's an example of how you would go about it - lets assume amplifier B doesn't have an effects loop... Use a short 1/4" jumper cable and connect the TO AMP B INPUT jack to the FROM SEND B jack. Then connect the TO B RTRN jack to the guitar/instrument input of amplifier B. All of the other HEAD-TRACK connections remain as per the CONTROLS & CONNECTIONS section. This will route the shared effect(s) to the input of amplifier B when it is selected, or through the effects loop of amplifier A, when it's selected.
Can the HEAD-TRACK be remote controlled using a MIDI switching system or a generic foot-switch?
Yes, all that's needed is a simple "latching" switch-to-ground contact closure, connected to the REMOTE SWITCH jack with a shielded 1/4" TS (tip/sleeve) instrument cable. Amplifier A is selected when the contact closure is open and clos- ing the contact closure (shorting tip-to-sleeve) selects amplifier B. Please note that using the REMOTE SWITCH jack overrides the built-in stomp switch. MESA Engineering offers an optional foot-switch, the HEAD-TRACK REMOTE SWITCH, which provides instant dual-color LED indication of the selected amplifier.
Can I use the HEAD-TRACK for my bass tube amps?
Yes you can, but make sure NOT to exceed the "Amplifier & Load Ratings" as outlined in the SPECIFICATIONS section.
Can I use the HEAD-TRACK to switch between a tube amp and a solid-state or transistor amp, or even two solid-state or transistor amps?
Yes, the HEAD-TRACK can be used with a tube amplifier and a solid-state or transistor amplifier, or two solid-state or transistor amplifiers. The HEAD-TRACK has an 8 ohm internal load which is designed to protect the unselected amplifier, and against connection errors. Never, under any circumstance, go below a solid-state or transistor amplifier's minimum specified impedance.
Solid-state or transistor amplifiers should also be capable of an increased load impedance mis-match, as are tube ampli- fiers (see below), but they will sound quieter. Always consult the amplifier's specifications or contact the manufacturer to ensure a mis-match is within the amplifier's acceptable operating range.
IMPEDANCE MATCHING (Tube Amplifiers): Always try to match the impedance of the two amplifiers to the speaker cabinet or load device being used. Most tube amplifiers are designed to feel, function and sound their best when the output and load impedances are matched. If this is not possible, consider the following mis-match, but before proceeding, consult the tube am- plifier's specifications and/or contact the manufacturer to ensure the mis-match is within the tube amplifier's acceptable range; and expect an impedance mis-matched tube amplifier to have a slightly different feel and response. Connecting a tube amplifier to a speaker cabinet or load device that is twice the amplifier's output impedance (4 ohm amp ?> 8 ohm cabinet/load or 8 ohm amp ?> 16 ohm cabinet/load) will drive the tubes less harder, extending their lifespan. Do NOT skip an impedance value when running a mis-matched amplifier and load; for example, 4 ohm amp ?> 16 ohm cabinet/load, should NEVER be used!