Recommendation on external FX?

Discussion in 'Reverbs / Effects (outboard)' started by CherylJosie, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Active Member

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    I am mixing for various weekend warrior bar bands as a noob/amateur going on a year now. I typically mix approximately 1 show per month so my experience is limited to maybe 12 shows total.

    One band that I mix for is limited to a single effect in their Mackie ProFX16V2 but could potentially be improved with an external effects unit. This band usually only sends vocals through the PA but recently I started adding kick to the main mix (no effects) and on rare occasions there has been a second keyboard with no amp on stage so that person relies on the monitors (again, no effects since they are internal to the keyboard).

    There is only one effects send attenuator per input though so there is an inherent limitation in the level control on the send side even if both internal and external can be used together. The monitor sends are both in use so I cannot dedicate one for external effects without ganging the monitors. I could potentially do that and am considering it but not yet, not until I determine a need.

    We use reverb for all the songs, but some songs would benefit from the addition of delay/echo. Reverb and echo seem to be the most popular vocal effects and they are commonly used simultaneously to varying degrees in the original versions of the material I mix for this band, with the delay/echo typically being turned up/down or on/off for various passages in classic rock rather than consistent. The delay time also changes depending on the material, as does the regeneration.

    So what I am after is an external delay/echo that can be operated on stage by the vocalist with a foot switch and/or pedals, like a guitar multi-effects box, and patched into the external FX loop on the mixer. That puts control of the delay/echo directly into the hands (or feet) of the vocalist, where such person can express his/her own creativity independently of me, relieving me of that responsibility plus any need to memorize the cues where the delay needs to turn on or off.

    If anyone has experience or recommendation that would be helpful? Any outboard FX is going to require a purchase so I would appreciate some advice on choosing one, as well as some indication of whether to use the internal FX as a delay with a footswitch (it has an input jack for the switch) or the external FX with its built-in controls and potentially much more flexible functions (delay time, regeneration) being available to the vocalist also.

    Thanks in advance for your responses.
     
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    The TC stompbox style vocal FX pedals are worth considering for sure, but they're used inline with the mic, rather than in a FX loop if that matters.
     
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  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    You don't give a lot of detail about what dynamic adjustments to the effects you would want to make, but the Lexicon MPX550 can work in this way via MIDI control. It's discontinued now, but easily available second-hand at bargain prices as people migrate to DAW plugs rather than using external hardware during mixdown.
     
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  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    I had a Voicelive 2 when I did a solo act (long time ago). It worked very well but as any pedal board it needed attention.
    If the vocalist wants to buy it, learn it and use it, it's a nice thing to have but it can create problems if the operator puts too much compression or a weird eq curve or if it's not muted when talking to the assistance. When I do live shows I prefer controling this stuff myself.
    Considering that some singers have problems to bring a mic.. dealing with a pedal board isn't for everyone.

    So the alternative would be to change the mixer. The Mackie ProFX16V2 isn't a bad mixer but it isn't pristine either. Having only 1 parametric mid is very limiting. If only it had the vlz-pro preamps, I would want to keep it a bit more.
    For just a bit more than the price of the voicelive 3, you can get a Studiolive 16.0.2 digital mixer.
    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SL1602

    It has a high pass and 3 band parametric EQ a comp and gate for all inputs. It also have internal effects with a tap delay button so you can tap the speed for each songs.
    On top of all that, it will sound better and YES, you can save your settings ! (very handy when doing many venues)
     
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  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Dying laughing.!
     
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  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Yeah, I can't help but wince a little thinking of vocal effects through the FOH being controlled by a foot pedal - of any kind - on stage.
    They're just too snarky, and would definitely be the weak link in the FX chain. And, you're also relying on the performer(s) to be responsible for switching it on and off at the right times with the right FX patch cued up; when the performers should be concentrating on...well...performing.
    Ultimately, the best way would be for you to control it at the mix position...
    I'm not familiar with the model of your desk, and from what you are saying your auggies/sends are already spoken for...
    Does the board have insert jacks on any of the channels you are using for the lead voc? Or on sub/busses where you could group the things you want to effect? It wouldn't be the best way to patch in an external FX device, but it could work in a pinch...
    FWIW
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    To add a bit more to this discussion,

    I've controlled effects using sequencers and midi commands for decades. Live or in the studio, doesn't matter for me.
    The down side to this, you may have to follow a timeline and do some studying on how to use midi commands, including upping your game at multitasking. Not much different to finger picking lol ;)
    The upside to this, once you get onto this (use electronics smarter), its perfect every-time and can be spontaneous and very dynamic as well. Midi is no different to learning a new instrument, or improving your creative skills imho.

    I do this using controllers on stage or in the studio using keyboard patches via > notes, velocity, pedals, lighting, faders etc. Anything that can execute a midi command, can be used to trigger effects.
    Midi (simple or advanced) is a beautiful companion (tool) for all musicians and engineers.
     
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  9. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Active Member

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    Lots of good info to ponder here.

    The board has 4 submixes and I am using one stereo pair for the FOH vocal mix in stereo (mainly to route feedback-prone mics slightly toward the opposite side of the stage, sort of reverse-stereo) and I am using the other pair as a stereo out to the recorder. The vocals into the recorder are dry so I added some reverb in post-processing with Audacity. I will post later once I figure out how to make audio into AV so YouTube lets me upload it.

    The performers may or may not be technically savvy enough to run a footswitch/pedal, but I know for sure that I do not have the stamina or concentration for it. I tried it already with the DL1608 that East Crescent uses, and just dealing with the touch screen of the iPad is difficult enough for me, let alone keeping up with the songs and adding effects changes (regenerative echo) at the correct place. I figured that would be easier for the performer since they practice anyway, but yes it is one more thing for struggling vocalists to master so maybe not the best idea.

    East Crescent says they will try it tonight using two vocal mics on stage for the lead vocalist. I have stereo bar now that I can use to mount two mics to one stand so maybe it will work. All he has to do is turn sideways a little and sing into a wet mic and he will get the regenerative echo. I have no idea if this is even going to work, or if we are going to be hearing echo-y cymbal hits through the mic all night. If it does not work I will shut it off.

    The Hummers only have one effects engine though so that means we need a second one for the delay in any case. It would be best if it can be used on stage if needed so I am targeting one of those even if I end up running it myself. I am probably going to be the one investing in it anyway and I want it to be something I can use myself, such as looping etc. for live performance overdub.
     
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    If that second LV mic that is pre routed to a delay effect is going to remain hot throughout the performance, then yeah, you're gonna be dealing with delay of whatever that mic picks up.
    The responsibility would fall to you as FOH to cue that mic's "on" switch (or ride the fader) and FX at the appropriate time, and then mute it again to prevent the entire stage sound field from being effected by the delay.
    FWIW
     
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  11. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Active Member

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    Here is last night's gig with East Crescent and Grooview.

    We ran a second microphone with wet delay for the lead vocalist and it worked out great. Check it out!

     
  12. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Active Member

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    The delay mic was audibly picking up GrooView's snare pop and East Crescent's lead guitar also.

    The vocalists had a blast experimenting with the second mic.

    I am thinking maybe a shotgun polar pattern might reduce how much stage it picks up.
     
  13. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    When a vocalist wants to use a pedal voice processor for blatant effects I like to have an XLR split of some sort set up so I can switch to the dry version when needed. Some pedals even have a split built in. But it's really up to the singer to get it right.
     
  14. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    In a loud environement, I doubt the shotgun will be better... I think about a hypercardiod for that job and a bit of gate...
     
  15. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Active Member

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    OK, this is great advice. Thanks so much for sparing me the failed experiments!

    I think the vocal mic East Crescent uses is a Beta 58 but not entirely sure what we ended up with. We were scrambling to find a pair of the same model for the dual mic stand so the sound quality matched.
     
  16. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Since this has gotten to be such a circuitous solution, rather than buy another mic, you might prefer to add one of these Optogates to automatically mute the effected mic until the singer gets within a certain physical distance. I do see these in use on the vocal mics of high-level touring acts from time to time and have every reason to believe they perform exactly as advertised. They would be more reliable than an audio-based gate and go a long way to keeping the racket from another hot mic out of the mains and monitors.
     
  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Wow, I didn't know this existed, what a good idea !
     
  18. CherylJosie

    CherylJosie Active Member

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    Sold. Done deal. Thanks so much for this excellent suggestion.

    Between this Optogate and the inline effects I have a solution for any band with a spare input.

    With a mixer that has two effects engines, all I need is the Optogate and a warm body.;)
     
  19. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    If you're happy, I'm happy. In the early 80s when I was playing guitar and keys I had a mic at each station, so I didn't have to sing behind a big keyboard stand all night long, even though I played guitar most of the night. I built a simple XLR A/B footswitch. It's crazy what a store-bought unit would have cost.
     
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