How to set up mixer?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Exiled_On_Main_St, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. Exiled_On_Main_St

    Exiled_On_Main_St Member

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    Hi.

    After a good while of using crappy PA systems our singer decided to buy her own one because we’ve always had issues with those systems and sound guys who didn’t seem bothered

    It’s an active system. RCF M18 digital mixer system with RCF 712a speakers and an Alto TS310 monitor.

    I’ve been into mixing and sound engineering and recording my own songs as a hobby type thing for a while so I understand about gain staging and the principles of EQing etc.

    But setting up levels for live use is very new to me.

    What’s the best way to go about setting up the speakers, the gain, the master output?

    When recording I would set the input signal low, at maybe -12 to 20db for a good amount of headroom and turn my monitors up. Then use the master output when mixing for a master.

    What are the basic principles here for getting the most volume without feedback etc. When do I turn ‘what’ up? Should I start with the speakers low, or should I max them and use the master output etc?

    Thanks for any help.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  2. tjontheroad

    tjontheroad Just Wanna Be Misunderstood Silver Supporting Member Vendor

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    Here’s a good basic video about ringing out monitor feedback setup.

     
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  3. Exiled_On_Main_St

    Exiled_On_Main_St Member

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    Thanks that’s a great video. I’m not sure it’ll be as easy with her software as it’s more like a multi band EQ. There isn’t a graphical equaliser like that. I can make the Q narrow and scroll it across the EQ range tho.

    My main question though, is what would the process for physically setting up the gain, the speakers?

    For example. Do I bring set the gain low for the microphone to make sure the singer isn’t clipping, increase the master volume, and then increase the monitors? Or do I turn the monitors all the way up, set the gain so it doesn’t clip and then increase the master to keep both speakers equal?
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  4. Lele

    Lele Member

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    Generally this is what I do with my band. Sometimes, in a very small pub, I could reduce a little the volume knob on the speakers if I don't need a lot of loudness, and if I risk that I have to adjust a very small range on the mixer master.
     
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  5. Exiled_On_Main_St

    Exiled_On_Main_St Member

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    Thanks. That makes sense to me. :)
     
  6. tjontheroad

    tjontheroad Just Wanna Be Misunderstood Silver Supporting Member Vendor

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    There no set rules IMO. Generally, most clipping will happen at the mixing board. So the gain staging at the mixer stage is most critical. Set the faders to zero and then set the trim to the point just below max signal where clipping will happen. Then lower the faders to "ride out" the gain through the mixer. Speakers and monitors can be set to either the point they're needed in the room or just below they start feeding back (which ever is the lesser amount).
     
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  7. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

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    I usually leave powered speakers/subs (PRX stuff) at around noon.... I've rarely cranked them more than that. Then I control volume with the mixer (Mixwizard) using gain and fader on channels and master L & R. I use the crossover in the subs and run the tops right of the subs so occasionally I will turn up/down either the tops or subs on the back of the speakers... but usually I get a good mix within the first song and then just control the overall volume at the board.

    Oh..... and always try to increase the singers volume in their monitors to make sure they are loud and clear for them. :)
     
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  8. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I've often read that powered speakers like to be run around 1-2 o'clock. I've often run monitors at 11 o'clock or so.
     
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  9. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    There ought to be a sticky on this subject-I've answered it a few times.

    There are two schools of thought.

    One, the traditional way for recording, is to optimize gain structure based on pro audio level, that is 0 VU = +4 dBm = 1.23 volts. Idea is to get maximum signal to noise ratio (gain high enough) and lowest distortion (gain not too high).

    Set gain by playing the loudest passages, set master and channel faders to zero, bring up channel input gain trim until it meters a good level, near 0 VU or about -6 dB full scale on a digital peak meter, -15 to -20 on an average reading meter. This works well for recording to get good levels to tape, your digital recorder, DAW, whatever. When I would record live with an Alesis HD-24XR via the direct outs, I could see every channel meter on the recorder and get peaks to hit -6dB (one bit below max of 24 bits at 0 dB full scale). Pretty straight line of meter segments lit up (using peak hold).

    If you do this method on a live console and have a lot of channels at these levels, you may have to back down channel faders and master faders so you don't clip your stereo mix bus.

    Other method is to set speaker level trims at unity/zero. Then set channel faders and master stereo bus faders to 0 and bring up input gain to the loudness level you want in your PA.

    The latter method leaves good headroom on each channel and allows you to run faders at or near 0 and not have huge gain build up at the mix bus if you have a lot channels, thus needing to pull the master faders down too much.

    Either way, it is a bit of back and forth how you set gain on the console and level driving your speakers. It's good to run your input gains high enough-if they are too low, the mic preamp sounds wimpy and noisy. If too hot it will clip (distort). It's good to have a nice level at the mix bus-running around 0 VU at the loudest points. You don't want input gain trims too high and run faders too low-faders generally want to be run near their optimum point, near 0. Mix balance can sometimes dictate some faders might be at -10 or even lower. If you're consistently running faders lower than that, turn down the input gain and push the fader up a bit.

    Once you have good level coming out of your console, turn up the speakers so they are at the loudness level you want in the venue. If you find you can barely open up the level on the speaker, your console is running too hot-bring it all down so you can open up the input level on the speaker closer to it's "0" point. If your console is running at optimum level, and you can't get loud enough with your speakers cranked wide open, you don't have enough power, speakers etc. I hate when that happens. Been in a few big venues with small PA's. Can't get it loud enough. Can't push the console any hotter or it distorts. Need bigger/more speakers/power.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
  10. Exiled_On_Main_St

    Exiled_On_Main_St Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I didn’t want you to think I haven’t read them, I’ve just been busy. I might reply to a couple of them a bit later on. The one that makes the most sense to me is to turn the speakers up, set the gain to below max with the singing belting it out, then adjust the master to what is required. But I’ll look further into it.

    Thanks @Rex Anderson for your time and detailed response. A lot of great tips in there.
     
  11. JKSound

    JKSound Member

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    The mixer is designed to work at line level. Which is the reason for the gain knob to bring that mic level up to line level. If your gain is too high or too low, that will impact gates, compressors, dynamic eq, fx, etc. Set your gain too low and now your compressor settings will be exaggerated impacting your sound quality.

    You need to know what scale the meters on your console are showing you so that you know where line level is. Some use VU, some use dbfs, so just find that out so you know how to read it. Some consoles let you change how the metering works.
     
  12. andrekp

    andrekp Member

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    Gain should always be earlier, rather than later. If you need 60db of gain, 60 up front is better than 20 + 20 + 20, distributed.

    Set your trim to just under clipping, the powered speakers to unity, the channel faders to get a relative mix, and the master out together volume. Faders and master will be max unity, more likely less, so any noise from the input gain will be minimized.
     

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