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Live vox workaround

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Mandachuva, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    Disclaimer: the following ideas are based on the fact that I personally consider some of the Romanian live sound engineers as the evolutionary equivalent of a red-ass baboon - 90% of the time, they don't seem to hear the difference between boosting the mids and a clipping input stage. But I digress...

    The premise: My band is going for a somwhat 'verby sound on the vox, as it seems to suit the music, plus I seem to get helped a lot by some (more or less) gentle compression, because of various passages and not-so-great vocal technique.

    I was thinking of a way of bypassing the sound engineers half-deaf/tone-deaf attempts at compressing/adding reverb to my bands' vocals - in case they even have a compressor and/or reverb and are able to use for getting a better sound, not for squashing or drowning the vocals.

    So, I envisioned purchasing a Joe Meek ThreeQ (tried it, I'm quite fond of it's compression for live work), and a Alesis Picoverb (haven't tried it) placed in the send/return loop.

    I would have control over the general tone/compression/reverb of the vocals, and all the engineer may have to do is do some EQ correction to make them suit the mix. The only problem is - most likely, I won't be able to use only a mono line balanced output from the ThreeQ for this, to get the signal to the mixer. So the main mix will be receiving a mono compressed signal with mono verb. Is there something I've been missing here? Would this be much worse than using a stereo verb as an aux from the mixer?

    Another way of doing it would be placing the ThreeQ/Picoverb combo on the mixer desk... but I'm really not keen of building bulletproof box for it, so that the goddamn primates can't touch it/break it. And gun laws aren't as permissive here n Romania, so I can't try the Phil Spector routine.

    (you may think that I have a major dislike for most of the Romanian live AEs... you'd be right)

    Also, I can't say that I wouldn't be helped with some different character from the 3Q on my studio work, and some hardware reverb for tracking purposes (not for printing). What do you guys think about this investment?

    Mihai Toma
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I don't see any problem with sending them a mono vocal signal with all the effect managed on stage. Don't mess with any send/return stuff on the PA. Get the vocals and effects the way you want on stage; point to an XLRM connector; tell them that to leave it dry and mix to taste.
  3. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    I was considering using adapters (provided by me): 3Q TRS balanced output -> TRS-XLRM adapter -> XLRM-XLRF cable or multicore snake -> XLRF->TRS adapter -> balanced line input of the mixing console. Wouldn't this be better from the point-of-view of impedance matching, and removing an additional stage of amplification from the signal path?

    Mihai Toma
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    All of my line level signals go through the snake directly to the board in a live situation. If these guys aren't good enough to properly trim a line level input you should hire your own sound guy. The only thing I would buy is a TRS/XLRM adapter. (I've come to prefer a short cable to a solid adapter.) I like to be set up so that all of the connections the sound guys have to deal with are XLR. I bring my own DIs, etc. Other than that I don't mess with their connections once the signals get to the snake. That can be a problem when they have too much crap inserted. But it's their board. All I feel I can do is ask them to turn off the effects.
  5. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    Good point about not messing with their connections. Thanks.
  6. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Have you considered an automobile battery connected to an on-stage footswitch, and the legs of their table which holds the mixing console? When they jack with your sound, bzzzzt!

    kidding. Also, have you considered recording your effects at home, and playing to them live via a click track? You can then do parallel compression, having live vocals untouched by the morons, and your compressed vocals coming from an iPod. Many groups record their vocals or instruments with effects, and play back the 100% wet effects tracks only. It is the only way to consistant quality control.
  7. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I've had performers with their own effects a few times - works fine - they give me an XLR and I let them drive. No problem.
  8. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    As an experienced live AE I generally prefer to do the effects. What sounds good to the musicians onstage might not be the best out front - though I feel I'm a wee bit above the baboon level. That said, I won't argue if they want to do it, it's their show. And if those AE's are as bad as you seem to think then it's probably a step up anyways.
  9. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    Good ideas all-round! :) Especially the one with the footswitch-controlled car battery baboon-zapper. :twisted:

    The one with the 100% playback of wet parallel vocals is the most interesting... Damn if only I had thought of this with a previous band I had worked with... :oops: Unfortunately it wouldn't work in this situation, as I don't really think a click track matches the music - we have a really good drummer coming up, which does act pretty much like a metronome, but I feel a click track is too constraining.

    One more question: anyone tried the Alesis Picoverb? I was thinking as an alternative, of making my own 'verb based on a Wavefront or Spin IC, but I guess it would turn out somewhat worse, not a whole lot cheaper, and just the man-hours building the chassis would add up to a higher "profit loss". Opinions?

    Mihai Toma
  10. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    How loud is your voice? Unless its really powerful you should be careful with the compression, as compression can exacerbate feedback problems. Probably best to set it so the gain reduction only kicks in for the loudest sections.

    Also it would force you to listen to the same compressed and effected mix on stage. I usually prefer to give musicians uncompressed monitors, as it gives them more chance to control their own dynamics with mic or playing technique... if the monitors are mixed from a separate board you could y-split your mic and give the monitor engineer a dry feed... otherwise you could use two channels of the FoH desk, and ask the FoH engineer to use the dry y-split just for monitors.
  11. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    @IIRs: Touche. :) I have a somewhat soft voice, and I know the trouble that this and too much compression can cause - I won't be using much of it. I have some mic tehnique, which can cope with the stupidly loud/very quiet/stupidly loud/very quiet passages - OK, there's not so many stupid passages - , but it seems that some slight compression helps me seem more confident and subsequently feel more confident (especially with a touch of verb and by knowing the fact that the punters are hearing what I'm hearing, not something completely different). :)

    (BTW, did I mention that I'm a reformed drummer [still bangin'], turned keyboard player/bad recording engineer, and this is for a project of mine with me on vox/keyboards/maybe bass guitar from time to time? :p)

    Mihai Toma

    [Edit: I just realised I can't do "stupidly loud" on voice... Impossible for me. ]
  12. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Any processing by Alesis = crap. Cheap sounding crap. I would have nothing over cheap effects. There just isn't the math, processing power or good A/D and D/A to make it happen for me.

    Buy a used Yamaha REV7 if you want tin-eared reverb done right. It will be less noisy and have balanced I/O. Better yet, buy a used Lexicon or TC M1.
  13. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    1. What does tin-eared reverb mean?
    2. Almost no used gear for sale here in Romania - and most German ebayers won't work with Romania (although I managed to snag my Nord Lead 3 from one of them).
    3. I would really like to keep this portable - not too keen on dragging a rack case for just a reverb. Also, I wouldn't like to invest a whole lot of money on this... But I would like a good sound. (yeah, and all wrapped with gold foil, and two blondes on the side :D). Are there any reasonable alternatives?

    Mihai Toma

    Edit: noticed that I could lay my grubby hands on a cheap Lexicon Alex... What do you think about this?
  14. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I have a few older Lexicons, one being an Alex. I must say that it sounds better than an Alesis and is still working. With the exception of a very noisey output level control (there is a simple work-around for that), it does OK. Mostly for delays, and that's better for live sound, anyway. Reverb can get too "mushy" in many venues, simple delays tend to be cleaner on the vocals. And the 'verbs are acceptable.
    And I think that Sheet meant that the Rev-7's reverbs are OK-sounding for someone who isn't real picky about fidelity. Their "tails" tend to be "grainy" sounding. To the casual listener they're fine, but to a music mixer or producer, they're a bit rough. Built like a tank, though. Miss mine.
  15. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    You seem to be a Romanian's question-answering angel. :)

    What would you say comparing the Alex to a Lexicon MX200 or even a TC M350?... I'm asking as I'm a bit wary of buying a IC based reverb, without any warranty and no possibility of reparing it (the IC, not the analog side of it - that I can manage) in case it goes bad.

    Also, what do you mean by noisey output level control? Either way (in case it's not implemented by default - I always wondered if this is the case on such units), I intend to use it on full wet, and use it as a parallel reverb/delay/whatever for all applications, via some more or less clever analog mods - done by my very friendly bass player/audiophile/NASA IC designer/tube amp builder/all-round great and passionate electronic gear tehnician.

    Kind regards,
    Mihai Toma
  16. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    4 control knobs: Input Level, Mix, Output Level, and Parameter. Adjusting the Output control makes a very loud "scratching" noise, so I leave it alone. Instead, I set the Parameter control handle the output mix level. No more scratching noise. And, yes, I use it all the way "wet".
    All of these units use LSIC chips. Worried about obsolesence? Don't buy old, period. Either the TC or the Lexi will do OK.
  17. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    Obsolescence doesn't bother me at all. The fact that the it could be broken or that it could break in a nick of time is bothering - I guess I'll have to live with it.

    Mihai Toma
  18. Mandachuva

    Mandachuva Guest

    Just as an update - I snatched a Lexi Reflex off of eBay for 102euros. Not the best price in the world, but considering normal European eBay prices, it would seem Ive gotten a pretty good deal.

    Mihai Toma

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