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My Direct to PA challenge/issue - HELP Please!

racman

Member
Messages
113
I have a particular problem with live sound that is just getting way too much for me and was wondering if anyone can help.

I run a “direct to PA” setup and have constant issues with setting up the gain structure for the OD’s as the stage and monitor mix varies all the time for a variety of reasons e.g. different musicians playing at different volumes etc. but mostly as a result of hugely different stage volume for each session. Not an unusual problem for any musician I guess. However, for some reason I having constant issues with setting up a relatively good, consistent sound. (Running a mic’ed Amp is not an option.)

I set up my OD’s with Guitar volume at 8 for decent crunch, smooth OD etc. and in theory I thought would be perfect and relatively stable. Is it odd that this gain structure seems to change when the “sound guy” increases/decreases my monitor volume to the point that the signal either cleans up or has too much overdrive? I would have thought that this would not happen.

I was wondering if I needed a buffer of some kind before the signal goes to DI and PA?

At the same time I am convinced that the problem or solution is very simple and I will feel like an idiot for not figuring it out.

So my signal chain if it helps is: Strat=>Tuner=>OD1=>OD2=>Delay1=>Delay2=> Ethos PreAmp/OD=>Reverb=> DI=> PA

Our stage sound can get LOUD at times as drummer, Bass and Keyboard sometimes seem to battle for dominance. A few weekends ago my stage monitor volume was increase to such an extent that it was breaking up… and I could still barely hear myself. To try and remedy this I now have a dedicate monitor channel with only my guitar sound or whatever I want.

Looking forward to a solution….

I have no idea if this is in the correct section so if not could one of the mods moved it to the appropriate one please
 
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62Tele

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,709
I wonder if it has something to do with the way you sound guys are patching you into the board? I run a Tech 21 setup which is very similar to the Ethos, and find that running onto a second preamp on the board's front end can sometimes get me into problems with clipping. You might want to try not using a DI and having you sound guy running you into a high impedance input designed for an active signal.

As for clipping more as they turn up your guitar, makes me wonder what kind of PA power you're working with? Honestly, with the right PA and properly balanced signals, you shouldn't be clipping unless your signal is way too hot.
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
Thank you for the reply jgm. The strange thing with the clipping or break up of the monitor is that it is not that I am clipping the input of the PA channel, but they are pushing the monitor to the pint of break up. I have no doubt that the PA is not the best so that is one issue.

My big issue is the constant change in the gain structure/settings on my pedalboard as the PA volume changes. I would have thought this should have been rather simple if I keep my settings on teh board static?
 

fretbuzzed

Member
Messages
364
They shouldnt be touching your moniter mix. it sounds like theyre tweeking the inputgains instead of faders. not good. try running a volume pedal last or after the drive section of your board. this will allow you to make adjustments to the input gain at the board ( which is not usually a great idea ) . I would ask how the sound person is adjusting levels and how theyre adjusting your moniter. if they aretweeking the input gain, tell em to cut it out! :)
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
Thanks for the input - much appreciated.

Unfortunately they are adjusting the monitor volume (not the channel input gain) due to the differing stage volumes. I think I am actually suffering as a result of various ego requirements. So at practice we take a while to get the stage volume correct and I adjust all the OD levels for my required sound and then... when we get to play live (I play in a P&W environment) on the Sunday, suddenly I can't hear a thing as the bass and keyboard player have increased their volume (either by design or demand - the sound guy should say no but that is another issue altogether). So up goes my monitor volume and then my settings are out so it's all maximum OD to the point of some bordering on distortion! Next set has differnt members (except me) and the stage volume is more acceptable and so my monitor level has to go down as now I can't hear anyone else, and suddenly i just have various OD's acting as Clean Boost pedals... so the tweaking starts again. Very frustrating and leads me to never really play with a sound I like as I don't have the time to tweak to my satisfaction. Hope this makes sense and gives a little more insight into my issue...
 
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ChampReverb

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
11,888
Maybe you should consider splitting your guitar signal pre-PA so you can send a feed through a volume pedal to a very low volume monitor (very small unobtrusive clean amp, ~5W?) pointed back at your head (not towards the audience).

That way no matter how the sound guys screw with the actual PA monitor mix at least you can hear yourself and adjust your personal guitar-only monitor on the fly via the volume pedal.

-bEn r.
 

Tweeker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,338
racman,
You've described your setup as going from your pedalboard through a DI to the mixer. Are you using the speaker sim out from the Ethos as your DI, or some other DI?
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
I am using the speaker sim out from the Ethos through to the Reverb and then to another DI unit (sound guy added I am sure).It's quite a long cable run to the board - about 20-30m.

Do you think that could be the problem?
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,358
wait, you're suffering with having to use a direct guitar signal, yet still blasting loud stage volume from monitor wedges?

that's the worst of both worlds!

use IEMs so there's no stage volume at all, or just use an amp to hear yourself and let the rest of them fight over this obviously poorly-done monitor wedge situation.
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
That's my problem in a nutshell Walter;)

I am thinking of the IEM route but I also hate them as one seems to lose something with using them that takes getting used to I'm told. We are looking at getting all musicians to use them, thereby also reducing stage volume.
 

skylabfilmpop

Member
Messages
554
I say the problem starts and ends with the band. Work out what everyones max dynamic range is in rehearsal, at a reasonable volume. set stage volume there and work subtractivey n the way you play to quieter passages. Also for your overdrives, players should be very very close to the same volume as your cleans, you dont need to boost. Some overdrives make 60db boost, great for tube amps but not solid state boards. The soundman may want to bump you up slightly but if theres sonic chaos, it comes from the players first, they should be listening to esch other and backing off if they cant hear each other or be heard. Replace any members who don't get it, playing and listening at the same time, thats just music 101 in my book.....
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,358
the thing about IEMs is that everyone has to have their own mix or it's miserable!

then, that mix has to be right, or it's also miserable. this means either always having a soundguy with a clue, or having a way to adjust your own mix, say with avioms, or with being able to self-adjust your mix on a digital board with an iphone/ipad like a lot of them can do now. it also means having the time to adjust them for everybody.
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
Absolutely correct!

I set my OD's to essentially have no boost at all. Unfortunately this has been a long term problem with the band and the band leader is the biggest culprit in wanting a dominant sound that varies each time he plays (Ignores the practice settings and boosts himself during the set - normally from the first song).

What I still can't understand is why the stage volume effects the gain structure? Some have stated that it is just my ears as the dominant culprits are the Bass guitar and drums and therefore the dominant bass frequencies give the percieved "muddying" of the sound etc. While this is true it does not account for the fact that I have to re-adjust my Level and Drive settings for the same amount of Drive every time the stage volume alters.
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
the thing about IEMs is that everyone has to have their own mix or it's miserable!

then, that mix has to be right, or it's also miserable. this means either always having a soundguy with a clue, or having a way to adjust your own mix, say with avioms, or with being able to self-adjust your mix on a digital board with an iphone/ipad like a lot of them can do now. it also means having the time to adjust them for everybody.
I think that will be yet another issue Walter as I suspect that the system and IEM that we are going to be using is not very good, but let's see.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,358
it is indeed very weird that the level of overdrive changes from outside factors; it almost makes me think that you're hearing clipping from the system itself as part of your "tone"!

so is everybody hearing the same thing in all the wedges? if so, i couldn't stand that!

do you sing too? if not, and it was all one mix, i would insist on my own little guitar amp (angle it up, point it at me from in front, put it on a chair, whatever it takes to hear it without it being too loud for everybody else) and kick my monitor away with extreme prejudice!
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
I used to sing but no more as I decided to rather focus on the guitar due to sound issues. it helps a little to only have one issue at a time.

I am also the only one experiencing this issue (yes my hearing is fine :^))

My monitor is the only one clipping/breaking up and it is dedicated to my so I can choose to have what I want in it. It did help somewhat yesterday when I asked to have all instruments removed from my monitor mix except the guitar and we managed to get it to a more manageable level so I know that the Monitor breakup is definitely related to the other dominant bass instruments that muddy the sound leading me into requiring greater volume to be heard through this mix.

Yet another issue is that we do not have the same make or model of monitor on stage so I presume there may be a possibility that some monitors have a greater power output than others (all powered monitors). Not a great situation at all.
 

62Tele

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,709
it is indeed very weird that the level of overdrive changes from outside factors; it almost makes me think that you're hearing clipping from the system itself as part of your "tone"!
Hence my original post. If the Ethos is acting like a stable platform, there sold be no change ondownstream levels unless there's another factor (like clipping the board) or there's some kind OD funky impedance issue.

I'm assuming you're running the Ethos "always on" as a virtual amp. If so, a cable run of 20-30 feet should be no problem whatsoever. I'd seriously try bypassing the DIs and going into a Hi Z input.

Sounds like your band also needs to have a sit down talk. Everybody sounds better if everybody sounds better and this high school volume war stuff is pretty counterproductive. Not sure what kind of music you're playing, but have you ever tried rehearsing acoustically?
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
Thank you for the advice jgm, I will try eliminating the external DI this week at practice and report back on any differences.

I had a chat to the band leader (as mentioned, probably the biggest culprit) on numerous occassions and it seems to improve for a week and then reverts back to old habits again. I am considering having another chat and if nothing improves, may even decide to leave the band (it is in a P&W environment). There are times that I don't/cannot play as I simply can't hear myself.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,358
My monitor is the only one clipping/breaking up and it is dedicated to my so I can choose to have what I want in it. It did help somewhat yesterday when I asked to have all instruments removed from my monitor mix except the guitar and we managed to get it to a more manageable level so I know that the Monitor breakup is definitely related to the other dominant bass instruments that muddy the sound leading me into requiring greater volume to be heard through this mix.

Yet another issue is that we do not have the same make or model of monitor on stage so I presume there may be a possibility that some monitors have a greater power output than others (all powered monitors). Not a great situation at all.
OK, so you at least have your own mix. this raises the question of why it becomes a problem if someone else wants to be too loud; that shouldn't be affecting your monitor.

+1 on removing everything else, especially bassy stuff. the less you have in there the better, so only add back what you really need, and only just as much as you need of it.

have you tried just unplugging that wedge and swapping it for another one? maybe the wedge itself has a problem.

here's a sneaky thought, since it's a powered monitor; if you find that you can get by without anyone else in your monitor, what about just unplugging it from the main system entirely, and running a line from your guitar rig into it?
 

racman

Member
Messages
113
LOL - what a great yet sneaky thought Walter. I will try it at practise and see if anyone notices :^)

I only decided to have only my guitar in the monitor this Sunday and I must say it was great but the issue still puzzles me. But this or the sneaky way is the route to go from now on for me. Thanks.
 






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