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Hey guys,

So the Mackie board I usually use for live sound doesn't have any built in effects, but I would like to use delay on vocals. How do I go about chaining a Boss DD7 delay pedal? Do I use the insert channel? Or just patch it through before it hits the board?

Pax Caritas et lol,


bouldersound Fri, 08/31/2012 - 09:29

Guitar pedals are designed for guitar level and impedance. It might not work quite right using it on a mixer. Since you can't set the effect to 100% wet you can't use it on a loop with multiple instruments.

A vocal mic needs to go through a preamp before adding processing so that leaves the insert as the only viable option. And then whatever you do to the vocal for the main mix is how it will sound in the monitors as well.

A proper effects unit could be patched as an aux loop and used on multiple instruments. Depending on how it's returned to the board you might have the option of eqing it and controlling how much effect goes to the monitors.

RemyRAD Fri, 08/31/2012 - 10:21

What boldersound has said is unfortunately true and extremely accurate. But that doesn't mean that you can't try to do it.

Trying to utilize a guitar effects pedal certainly presents its obstacles. When using this with your mixer, as one would with a professional rackmount digital effects device, this will present some challenges. That's because a guitar effects pedal is designed to be plugged into by the guitar, with not only the effect but the guitar coming out along with it. Normal effects devices for studio applications generally have a " wet-dry "/source-effect, balance control like mixer. Either allowing just the effect or just what's going into the box and anything in between. When we utilize it with a console in an effects loop/auxiliary-reverb-echo send and return, you would normally set your unit to 100% wet. This means only the effect is coming out and not the dry/original incoming signal being passed to the output. This then allows you to selectively choose and include your effect on whatever channel that you want that effect to be combined with.

Unfortunately this device passes everything going into it, unmolested and all there at the output. Now this doesn't mean that you can't try to connect from the auxiliary Post fader/echo send. But it will combine with its dry signal affecting the overall balance of your mix. So you may need to pull a channel fader down when adding or sending via one of the auxiliary sends, since that return signal will be additive. And then the DB's start to build a then hit gridlock.

As Boulder mentioned, this device is also not intended to be hit with a full studio line level feed such as your auxiliary send. That puts out a lot more overall volume level than the output of a passive guitar pickup, which in effect pedals is designed to receive. So there would be a good chance that the Mackie would overdrive the stomp box. Keeping the send master turned down on the Mackie may or may not be helpful. That's because, even when you turn the volume down, there is still output circuitry that's feeding still, a much higher noise level to a very sensitive input on the stomp box. This can cause inordinate amounts of hiss due to blatant level matching/gain staging. And then of course the output from the stomp box is monaural, one, solo, uno, single channel, non-stereo output.

If you just want to add the effect to a single vocal or instrument, yes, there is another way to go about this most obviously. And that's to utilize it as an insert on a single channel on your Mackie. You will need a single 1/4 inch TRS connector splitting out to left and right. The right channel of this insert cable would feed the input to the stock box. The left channel of the insert cable would be plugged into the output of the stomp box. And vice versa if you get nothing going through the box, as your left and right Channel patch cords, are just backwards. The insert approach may also help to lessen the noise a little bit?

These devices while useful on a guitar are not completely applicable or interchangeable with other specific studio devices. It really was only intended to be utilized from a guitar to a guitar amplifier. This is not a intended to be a hi-fi device. Because of that, these devices are generally fraught with a lot of noise, not very forgiving to overload distortion, generally not stereo. But this is all part of the fun and imaginative creative team we play with all of our audio play toys. It's using things not intended for their initial purpose in a related but unorthodox manner. You get all sorts of cool sounds that way. You could also get all sorts of simply awful, terrible, amateur hour, unlistenable distortion, awful noise, hum, bows, pops, clicks. But who does? It could be the next hit making vocal? Then everybody will want to have the same gizmo you have. And a similar scenario played out when I had 8, PYE, (PDM) dynamic range limiters. I had been trying to sell them for a while. No can-do. Next thing I know, Cyndi Lauper was just " a girl having fun " with her engineer just using a PYE, pulse duration modulation, limiter. Once that was printed in an interview in an audio trade publication I get, my limiters sold off in an eye blink. I was told by a couple of my customers, they just love that vocal sound on Cyndi Lauper that they had to have one of these PYE limiters. Everybody goes through these phases. Especially in our business. All these new toys come out each year and throughout the year. Now you know. So, hey, get a studios specific, entry level, handy extra, a great bang for the buck, digital effects processor that will have the kind of delay you want to have. You can get them for starting around $50 these days like the Alesis micro-verb or something else like that for proper connectivity to your Mackie mixer. Remember it's an investment in your life and talent. You wouldn't want to use recycled toilet paper even if you could.

[ guitar effects pedal = toilet paper (100% recycled) ]

It's 11 PM... do you know where your vocal limiters are?
Mx. Remy Ann David

ClarkJaman Fri, 08/31/2012 - 13:58

Thanks so much you two. You're very helpful, especially your post Remy. I'm 100% ignorant when it comes to impedance. I just don't get that stuff. But everything else makes perfect sense to me.

Btw, the main reason I wanted to try this is so I could put a tempo tap pedal below the sound table instead of pressing a button with my finger. There are probably tempo tap pedals for rack mounted delays to though, right?

One thing that you guys both overlooked though- Boss delay pedals have a reverse delay that can be set to 100% wet. So if the impedance and line level don't get in the way, this could still potentially work as a reverse delay effect insert loop.

RemyRAD Sat, 09/01/2012 - 01:56

Impedance really isn't the issue. All outputs are generally quite low in impedance. Inputs are generally low-medium to high impedance. And this is the way proper circuitry concepts go. Signals can be either balanced or unbalanced, regardless of the impedance. What you have to be most concerned about are proper levels a.k.a. gain staging. Guitar pickups are very high impedance outputs as compared to most amplifier circuitry which offers a low impedance output and expects to see a line level signal not a low level signal such as a guitar pickup. So a line level output will generally overload guitar input circuitry. The output from the box is essentially low impedance, unbalanced and at a low level. A level lower than most effects loops on a console want to see. And the output of the console would be too high a level for the stomp box. The mismatch of levels on both sides will generally create a sound no one wants to hear.

Inserting the stomp box as an insert on a single channel is more likely to work better than trying to utilize the unit in the effects loop. Inserts can be a little more forgiving in that way. However the same problem with level mismatch would still be present. Though it might be slightly easier to handle as a single insert? You can fudge a little easier.

To effectively utilize this device in your effects loop, certain things may have to be done. While you indicated that it is capable of a 100% wet output, I had no doubt about that. What it won't do is give you a zero output of the input. The input passes through to the output and the delay is then combined with that, which you can control from 0 to 100% wet. There is no way to turn off the input from passing through to the output at 100%. Only the effect is variable not the input source. The input source comes out the same at the output. I know this is difficult to understand. That's why special effects devices not only let you vary the input and output level, they also let you adjust how much input you want to have passed through and how much effect you want to have come out. Input and effect are two separate things. On even the least expensive digital effects devices, there is a balance control between how much input source and how much effect, go to the outputs. You can't do that with your stomp box. The stomp box will always feed its input source unmolested to the output. And it may or may not be in phase? They really don't have to care about that on a guitar effect pedals but you do have to care if it's in the effects loop and even as an insert. Not everything is made phase consistent from input to output.

As I said it still may be possible to utilize it to some degree in your effects loop? It may require some additional resistor pads (fixed or a variable volume control) to be placed at the input of the stomp box. If you are going to feed line level to the stomp box from the effects send, you will probably need to reduce the output of the effects send, not by turning down the output volume control. But by adding the resisters at the output of the send to the input of the stomp box. You will need to knock the level down 10-20 DB at a minimum. This will prevent from overloading the stomp box input.

The output of the stomp box is likely am emitter follower transistor output which is low impedance. While it might be low impedance, it's also rather low in level. But that's OK. The effects return to your console can compensate for its low-level output to some extent. The biggest problem facing you is that the input to the stomp box cannot be disabled at its output. So the original source you are sending will also be coming back in. If it's in phase, it will make your mix level of what you are trying to put the effect on too loud. So you have to turn down say, the vocal, on the fader of the console since the stomp box will be added with that original source channel fader on the console. This is doable albeit slightly awkward. And that's why a simple Alesis Micro Verb or anything like that for $60, would work so much better and be able to provide you with the kind of echo delay that this box offers. And without the input source passing through to the output unless you adjust it to do so. Which though it's not a device that was designed to plug a low-level high impedance guitar output in to. Because it wants to see a higher law in level at its input which a guitar could not directly deliver. Making a little more sense to you now? There is always some kind of compromise and work around I've had to make as a broadcaster. Most recording engineers at studios don't want to make these kinds of compromises. And I can't blame them. In the studio, I don't wanna make these kinds of compromises either. Because they really don't sound good. We make our living making people sound good. So when it's " doctor it hurts when I do that ", you don't do that. LOL.

Get it? Got it? Good.
Mx. Remy Ann David

Kapt.Krunch Sun, 09/02/2012 - 03:41

bouldersound, post: 393013 wrote: Since you can't set the effect to 100% wet you can't use it on a loop with multiple instruments.

Actually, I believe if you set the "E.LEVEL" to max, it will only put out 100% wet, with no direct signal. But, all the other observations are correct.

Anyway, I doubt anything will "blow up" if you try it. It just might not sound the best. I'd definitely start out with ALL levels down, run something through (CD, iPod..etc.) starting with that device down, and SLOWLY bring up any associated levels, a bit at a time for each. You'll know if it's overdriving the input.

Many, many years ago (young, cash-strapped and relatively clueless), we ran a Digitech PDS 1002 through the loop of a BiAmp 12-channel board for vocals, and it worked OK. (I still have the thing). The best? Probably not. BUT, it has both "Input" and "Output" levels, so that "Input" level may have been the saving feature that you may not have.


ClarkJaman Sun, 09/02/2012 - 14:59

RemyRAD, post: 393040 wrote: While you indicated that it is capable of a 100% wet output, I had no doubt about that. What it won't do is give you a zero output of the input. The input passes through to the output and the delay is then combined with that, which you can control from 0 to 100% wet. There is no way to turn off the input from passing through to the output at 100%. Only the effect is variable not the input source.

It sounds like you haven't used boss delay pedals. I have both the DD 7 and the DD 20, and neither of them work like that on reverse delay.

Thanks for all the help though. You cleared up a lot of questions for me. :)

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