Rockmount, Rockmax, Rockbox reviews

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Rockmount, Rockmax, Rockbox

The Rockman was officially presented as a headphones amp, a sort of practice device designed for home use. Yet, it was also the first commercial amp simulator designed for DI, and that's what made its success. The problem was to conciliate its fantastic musical possibilities and its poor mechanical layout: a lot of people have hacked the circuits to allow more switching and easier connexions, while three commercial add-ons were issued in order to convert the headphone amps into something that would fit the musicians requirements on stage or in the studio.

These were:

  • The Rockmount, that converts the Rockman into a 19' rack unit
  • SR&D's Rockmax, a modification that added footswitching features to the Rockman
  • The Rockbox, that converted the Rockman into a regular pedalboard with full footswitching capacities

The Rockmount

The Rockmount was manufactured by Four Designs Company. Its purpose is to host a Rockman headphone amp (Rockman, X100, Soloist or Bass Rockman) in a 19' rack format.

The Rockman must be inserted into a specific case, batteries cover out, and a Rockadaptor bolt in the rack provides the required supply voltage to the unit. Two jacks are connected to the guitar input and one of the headphones outputs.

The features of the Rockmount are fairly limited:

  • Guitar input on the front panel
  • Global bypass footswitch jack on the rear panel
  • Dry/Processed balance pot
  • Guitar level output jacks on the front panel
  • Line level output RCA outputs on the rear panel

The Rockmount provides no control over the Rockman, and its only real interesting feature is the dry/wet balance pot. Mainly designed for a studio usage, the Rockmount did not transform the Rockman into a stage unit.

The Rockmount had one quality: the Rockman itself was not modified at all, for the best and the worst.

The Rockmax

While the Rockmount was a third-party product, the Rockmax was a genuine modification proposed by SR&D.

The Rockman received an additional PCB with some J-FET switches, and two jacks bolted in the bottom of the enclosure.

Connected to these two jacks came a (big) pedalboard that allowed remote control over:

  • The channel: DIST to CLN, CLN2 or EDGE, depending on the position of the slider switch of the Rockman
  • The chorus (On-Off)
  • The volume (High or Low)

The global shape of the Rockman didn't change, and it was therefore far from becoming a real stage unit, but at least, the Rockman could be used on stage without having to go through the tiny slider switches!

The Rockmax was an excellent compromise, that left the Rockman almost unchanged, while the additional footswitches provided enough possibilities to use the Rockman live on stage.

The Rockbox

The Rockbox was another third-party add-on for the Rockman, made by Electronics Specialty Services. From far the most complex, it converts basically the Rockman into a real multieffects pedalboard.

The Rockman was modified with 1) an additional PCB with a series of J-FET switches, 2) a 25 pins connnector that links the Rockman to the control electronics of the footswitches. Once closed, the Rockbox was a big and handy stompbox, with 4 footswitches for the 4 channels and two switches for the Chorus and the Reverb.

The Rockbox is clearly the most interesting modification for a Rockman, and transforms it into a genuine stage unit (that can of course also be used in a studio). The chorus and the reverb were at last independant and could be turned off and on with their own footswitch.

The addition of the 25 pins connector was unfortunately necessary, but it was of course a deep modification of the unit (though the Rockman can still be used as a standalone device).

An interesting page about the genesis of the Rockbox is on line here.

One thousand thanks to King Paul who lent me his Rockmax and Rockbox for these pages!

Copyright 2008