Gain staging my presets correctly

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by JiveTurkey, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    If I am using the wrong terminology; please forgive and correct me accordingly. Gently please :)

    I sat down today with the intention of tweaking my presets so as to be able to utilize 100% of my volume knob on the Amplifire itself. I used the procedure outlined by Jay as well as some helpful interpretation/thought process redirection from 3dognate. To say it felt like a very tedious exercise is a complete understatement. Ugh.

    So many variables with questions attached. Again, UGH.

    There is a signal level light on my Alesis powered monitor. I am assuming it is relative to the output level knobs on the speaker itself, as it only begins to light solidly when the levels are turned up. Which is really irritating as I thought I could get a sense of input levels with the Alesis volume knobs turned down. UGH.

    Should I ignore this signal level light? Or is it yet another &*%$ing piece to be adjusted of this irritating puzzle? :mad: :D
     
  2. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    Also, to give a sense of context; the level knob on the Alesis sweeps from 0 to full line level on left half of the sweep and 0 to full mic level on right side of the sweep. I normally have it set to about 100% on the line side; then my Atomic output level knob to 30%.

    Using my go to presets; the sense level light is completely solid with these settings. If I back off the Aelsis level knob to about half that; the light will blink but not run solid. The problem is these settings are not loud enough in a band context at all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  3. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    If you followed the procedure I described, there's nothing even slightly tedious about it. It takes a few seconds to maximize the level from your cleanest preset, and then a few seconds per preset to match the others to the cleanest one.

    Those things are useless. In some cases, the "signal" light only comes on when the amp is close to clipping.

    You missed something in my procedure. The first part - setting the maximum level for the clean preset - does not involve a monitor. Per my instructions, you don't need to make sound to complete that. The second part, which requires you to make sound, uses your ears to match levels. No metering necessary.

    Yes. you are making the process much more difficult than it actually is.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
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  4. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    I did follow your instructions Jay. I used the "Clip" indication on the Atomic to make adjustments on the unit itself. On your clean preset, for example; I could get to about 70% on the volume knob before it would clip on the unit. Probably because, iirc, you had single coils in your guitar versus the hot Gibson 500t in my V.

    The signal light on my powered speaker was brought into play after that and it being lit up solidly (without a clip warning on the Atomic) made me think I still had a clipping issue. Make sense?

    The tediousness comes in when I have to do this procedure on every preset I use. Which at this point is only 3 or so. Not too bad.
     
  5. Spuddy

    Spuddy Member

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    What's the wattage of your monitor?
     
  6. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    That is very helpful. I will stop twitching now :)
     
  7. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    1000W peak, 500W continuous. Not sure how much marketing is involved in those specs vs. how loud it actually is. It is plenty loud if I run it how I normally do and ignore the signal light on the back of the monitor. No clipping happens on the Atomic using my normal presets until I hit about 60%
     
  8. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    I'm going to repeat my instructions here, to save folks a little searching. This takes a lot longer to type than it does to execute.

    1. Turn on Amplifire, plug in your guitar (you'll need a cable for this). Do not turn on your monitor.

    2. Select your cleanest, least compressed preset.

    3. Turn the Amplifire output level knob All the way up (that's 100%.)

    4. Play your guitar with the hottest pickup (usually the neck) selected, the guitar controls all the way up, as loud as you can. Strum all six open strings. Play bar chords. Hard.

    5. Pick a block in the Amplifire to set your preset levels. I suggest the level parameter in the amp block.

    6. Turn up the level, then repeat from 4. above, until the display indicates digital clip. You've still got the level knob all the way up, right?

    7. Turn down the level parameter in the selected block until you cannot create the clip condition, no matter how hard you play.

    8. Save the preset.

    You now have a reference for setting the levels of your other presets. For the next part, you'll need your monitor turned on, connected to the Amplifire, with its volume control set so you can hear sound. You do not need to set the Amplifire's level control to 100%. Listen to the preset you want to adjust. Select your reference preset. Listen to it. Adjust the level of the other preset to get a match. Save it. Switch back and forth a few times, play, and compare levels. Remember to save the level of the preset you're adjusting before switching back to the reference. When they match to your satisfaction, save the preset you were adjusting one more time. Repeat as necessary at your convenience.

    Edit: When matching the level of a dirtier-sounding preset to your clean reference, it may help to do so with your guitar volume backed off a bit, so you're matching a clean(er) level. That gives you a little extra for solos and helps compensate for gainier sounds cutting less well.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
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  9. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    Then you needed to turn it down. Hopefully you did so before moving on.
     
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  10. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    That is irrelevant to the question or the process under discussion.
     
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  11. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    I followed all these steps. On my presets I use in a live setting; I tweaked them by keeping the knob at 100% and backing off the level parameter in the amp block to avoid clipping. When I got to a non-clipping level on the unit itself; I saved the preset. Correct methodology in the bolded part or no?
     
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  12. Spuddy

    Spuddy Member

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    Surely it depends on how many effects within the Amplifire is being used per patch as it will clip earlier with more being used on some than others or not? I was replying to the fact that the monitor wasn't loud enough in a band mix that's all.
     
  13. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    You did not follow instructions, then. I will attempt to clarify one more time: You only go through that process (steps 1-8 above) with one preset: your cleanest one. If you follow the instructions and match your dirtier presets to the clean one, they will never clip the Amplifire. There is never a need to do steps 1-8 with any preset other than your cleanest one.

    You are still making this a whole lot harder than it is.
     
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  14. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    I followed your instructions on my cleanest preset then matched the other two accordingly. Every preset you use will need to have step 7 and 8 done to it. No clipping.
     
  15. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    No. This is the part you aren't getting. If you set the level of the preset with the greatest dynamic range (your cleanest one) so that it does not clip and then match the levels of your dirtier/more compressed presets to the level of the clean one, the dirtier presets will never clip. You insist on making things more difficult, whereas my precedure - if you actually follow it - will make them easier.
     
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  16. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Supporting Member

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    How are you "matching" the dirtier presets to your clean one that is the baseline, then? By adjusting the level parameter in the amp block. Step 7. Then saving the preset. Step 8.
     
  17. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    No. Step seven is executed one time only read it again. Step 7 is not about matching presets; it is about setting your cleanest one to stay out of clipping.

    The steps you follow after setting the reference clean preset are listed after step 8 and are not numbered. And yes, you do need to save presets after you've adjusted their levels.

    We've both spent a lot more time typing here than it takes to level-match 40 or 50 presets.
     
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  18. Phil GMC

    Phil GMC Member

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    I used my recording monitor in my DAW to do this, is that OK? Once I'd done steps 1-8, I opened my DAW, selected a track for recording and strummed the reference patch hard and noted the db level then I went to my next patch and strummed and set the amp level until it matched the db. I found this helped as I didn't have to save, switch back to the reference, go back, listen again, save again etc etc.

    Is this ok? So long as I keep the AA main level at the same and remember the db of the reference patch OR, go to the reference patch each time I create a new patch and check the db regardless of where the main level is and match it. Am I doing anything wrong here?

    I did follow steps 1-8 to the letter, honest :)
     
  19. Guitar1969

    Guitar1969 Member

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    The only thing I have noticed is you really need to set the volume level between patches at while at close to performance levels to get them right.
     
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  20. Watt McCo

    Watt McCo Member

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    I'm no expert on this, but the biggest problem with this approach is that if you chose your reference patch to be your most dynamic patch then your patches that have less dynamic range are going to seem to be much louder than your reference patch when you actually play them rather than just "strum them hard" (unless, of course, all you ever do is strum hard on all patches). For your less-dynamic patches when you play moderately they will be a lot less quiet than your high-dynamic patches, giving for lack of a better term a lower "average volume" for your high dynamic range patch. There are other issues (at least frequency content) that impact how loud our brains will perceive each patch to be relative to one another. My understanding is the best approach is to set relative levels by ear playing each patch the way you intend that patch to be played and at the volume you intend to play it.
     

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