Grrr! New Year's Eve gig. live+live vocals+loops=:-(

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kimyo
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Grrr! New Year's Eve gig. live+live vocals+loops=:-(

Post by kimyo » Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:17 am

this is the last piece of the puzzle, if i can get this working right, my band, hot bitch arsenal, will be invicible.

i can't run my vocalist through live without serious feedback issues.

we have in ear monitors, no stage monitors

live 6, edirol firewire fa-101 10in/10out audio interface, various combinations of preamps, gates, compression (currently using a focusrite channel strip). nice $200 ev stage mic designed to boost gain before feedback.

but i can't get anywhere near enough volume out of the vocal.

my workaround is to run the mic directly into the house sound, splitting off a copy for use looping in live. this is not perfect cause i lose the ability to run the vocalist through live efx, which really kick ass for this purpose.

i'd be most grateful for any suggestions of combinations of compression, eq, reverb. or a piece of gear i can put in front of the audio interface.

sorry if this is a bit incoherent, thanks for any suggestions, and happy new year.

kim

The Phat Conductor
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Post by The Phat Conductor » Tue Jan 02, 2007 6:58 pm

it's a bit after new year's, but i'll try to answer your question.

what most people do is avoid monitoring the live signal through ableton because it introduces unwanted latency which can cause problems and just generally feels wierd for the vocalist. most soundcards have a mixer that you can call up which will allow you to route the live feed right through the card without any latency.

if you use some guitar pedals or whatever to effect the vocal on it's way into live it's a lot better.

as far as boosting the mic signal is concerned, make sure that your audio interface has a 'mic in' because this means that there is a mic preamp which will get the signal to the appropriate level. if you don't have a mic preamp in your soundcard you will have to amplify the signal first, which can also be done with fx pedals before the input stage.

for my live sampling setup what i do is have three channels coming into live which are set to take 'audio from' the live input. have the first one set to monitoring 'in' and audio to: 'sends only'. then make a pad or key turn a delay send off and on. the delay on this send is set to 'sync 16' which is like taking a one bar loop without the need to record anything anywhere.

the other two channels are set to monitor 'off' which means that you will only hear the loops that you take and not the live vocal feed.

i route the delay output, and the two looping channels to a third channel which is set to monitoring 'in' and audio from 'no input' this channel has a bunch of automation clips which do things like fadeouts, fx washes, and transforms.
ill gates aka the phat conductor
producer, performer + ableton/music teacher

http://www.illgates.com

fatrabbit
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Post by fatrabbit » Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:59 pm

I don't really have any ideas to add, but will probably need to do something like this in the future.

Just wanted to say as well that I downloaded your song 'All Along The Chilltower' a few months back and thought it was brilliant!

kimyo
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Post by kimyo » Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:22 am

thanks for the nice words on chilltower - there's a live version here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DRdV8u904g

i have more info, and more questions.

i ran christina's vocal mic into a mackie 8 channel mixer, sent the left main out to the house (they complained that the signal was too hot, but i had to keep it up to have sufficient volume to work with on my end). the right main out went to christina's in ear monitors (along with the master mix). the aux send went into a presonus eureka comp/eq/pre (plain vanilla settings from the skimpy manual, for vocals)

the out of the presonus went into a balanced input of an edirol fa-101 (10 channel in/out firewire interface). on christina's channel i had a gate and the vocal warmer audio rack. the gate was the trickiest part, this venue has a pretty sweet pa, very loud, and in order to get good vocal loops i had to tweak this.

the problem is that the threshold is very narrow, if you set it too high you get choppy vocal loops, too low and the house sound comes through, and is compressed, and muddy, and horrid.

but, it worked, and pretty well.

my open questions:

1) should the preamp preceed the gate or vice versa? should i use a hardware gate before my audio interface?

2) how can i patch the vocal through ableton without having to choose between insufficient volume and feedback?

3) does it make a difference if the vocal track is sent to the house sound in stereo or mono? a reliable source told me that mono can increase the possibility of feedback.

4) is there a way to do this by sidechaining? in the opposite fashion of the typical sidechain, in this case, where a signal of a certain level or high will boost itself.

5) what is the best device to use to split the vocal signal 3x? i don't want to lug a mixer to every gig. i bought a $50 samson optically isolated xlr splitter, but it reduces the signal noticeably.


all in all, we had some nice clean loops, but also some tinged with feedback, and others which were over-gated and choppy.

we're using in ear monitors, the stage monitors are off.

happy new year,

kim

kimyo
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Post by kimyo » Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:34 am

it's a bit after new year's, but i'll try to answer your question.
thanks, i appreciate your input.

what most people do is avoid monitoring the live signal through ableton because it introduces unwanted latency which can cause problems and just generally feels wierd for the vocalist.
we're giving christina (the vocalist) a pre-interface signal, with no latency. she has a little more me mixer thingie which allows her to blend her vocal with the main mix. the main mix doesn't include her vocal. this part of the setup is working fine.
if you use some guitar pedals or whatever to effect the vocal on it's way into live it's a lot better.
i've considered this, but live's efx are just so much better than any of the vocal efx i've found (things like the digitech vocalist 300 pedal). i'll go this way if i have to, but i won't be happy about it.
as far as boosting the mic signal is concerned, make sure that your audio interface has a 'mic in'
the preamps in the edirol don't work that well, even with a decent condensor mic i always have to run some kind of outboard preamp. so far, i'm really happy with the presonus eureka.
for my live sampling setup what i do is have three channels coming into live
that sounds pretty similar to my setup. i'll have to try the sync 16 thing, that will be handy.

if you wouldn't mind sharing i'd love to look at a copy of your basic als.

thanks again for your input,

kim

[/quote]

The Phat Conductor
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Post by The Phat Conductor » Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:51 pm

wow, that video was awesome, nice one.

depending on your mic you may be able to reduce the noise coming from the house sound by changing mics. i know the shure sm58 dramatically reduces background sound because of it's design. it's not the best sounding mic in the world but you won't get much of the house sound in it unless it's ungodly loud.

as far as your other questions though, i don't know if i can help, there are all very hardware related and that's not really my strong point.

send me your email and i'll send you the band setup. it's nothing too fancy but it gets the job done.
ill gates aka the phat conductor
producer, performer + ableton/music teacher

http://www.illgates.com

electropoet
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Post by electropoet » Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:09 am

My response would be to get a better mixer.
I'm using a Mackie 1642 which has 4 aux sends and 4 mono sub outs. This would (in my estimation) fix the problem.
1) You send the house PA your main out from the mixer.
2) You gain stage the mic at the mixer input and then use the aux sends to add effects to the vocal.
3) You use the sub outs to feed the computer ins...that way you direct monitor the vox but still send it to ableton to loop.
4)I send a tape out to my IEM's...but you could use a aux send as well to come up with a unique monitor mix for the singer.

Basically, I'd recommend a mixer that gives you the flexible abilities to be creative with your mix...plus, by direct monitoring, latency is not an issue.

BTW-vocals are almost always mono...sometimes an effects return will be stereo..but I keep my returns mono as well because a)the fidelity in a live environment is suspect and the potential gains are not worth it in my opinion...and b)it keeps the fx signal mono so when you send it to live you save CPU headroom by not being in stereo...in this respect I use the an aux send to split the vocal signal and send it to an fx unit, and then return it to its own channel on the mixer...not the aux returns...this makes it easier to route the effected vocal (along with the original vocal signal)...to live via the sub outs...obviously this is important because you want the looped vocal to sound like the live vocal.

I know this all gets confusing...but if you start looking into the ways you can route on a mixer...it begins to clear up...go to the mackie site and read the mixer manual features (the mackie manuals are the best ever)...maybe this will spur your brain to figure out an inventive ways to get what you want set up. Thats what I did and it has paid off bigtime.

kimyo
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Post by kimyo » Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:58 am

electropoet wrote:My response would be to get a better mixer.
i was hoping to do this with as little outboard gear as possible, ideally i would like a laptop and one two-space rack unit. i need an audio interface, some kind of preamp/compressor for the vocals (maybe with built-in efx?) and a headphone amp. if i have to, i'll add a mixer, but i'm pretty reluctant.

are you live-looping vocals or acoustic instruments? have you got any stuff online?

i am really skeptical about the stereo vocal thing - but i haven't had a chance to compare mono vocals to stereo to see if feedback is indeed reduced. that's on my list for the next soundcheck.

i like the method of routing the effected vocal back in on a separate track instead of the returns.


thanks for the info, if i can't get it working without, i'll definitely go mixer.

electropoet
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Post by electropoet » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:41 pm

My set-up is designed to minimize latency to the max extent possible. For me that means direct monitoring everything through an outboard mixer...if run audio through a computer, then the latency will have to be set very low in Live's pref's and you a) can't run as many tracks, fx, soft synths, etc, and b)run into a less stable platform for live use because the computer is working extra hard.

My set-up is not too unlike yours. I loop several things live during my performances...guitars, vocals, drums...it the preverbial 1 man band. I do have a hardware synth that also has a sequencer that acts as the master clock and runs in tandem to live providing midi backing tracks and sound fx. Again, I've come to the conclusion that for performance work 'Live' is not really useable in the midi realm...therefore all the midi work is handled in the synth. This frees up 'Live' to do what it does best...handle audio. To me it looks like you play a bunch of audio loops and tweak parameters...thats good to go and would probably work even if you rewired in something like Reason so you could say filter tweak a soft synth instead of being stuck with an audio loop...although the audio plug-in filter does a pretty good job. I think the 'Live' audio plug-ins are exceptional.

The problem you run into is that when you try to start looping in real time (during a performance) if you have a bunch of stuff going on in 'Live' then a certain amount of latency is going to be inevitable to whatever you route directly through the interface...no matter how fast the computer is. The work around is to add a mixer. The allows you to monitor everything and send the main audio out to the house sound at the same time...all with virtually no latency...in the case of looping a vocal...the house mix gets the vocal at the same time the singer gets the vocal, and at the same time the computer gets the vocal...the computer can loop it and send it back out with no perceptable hick-ups.

To be honest, there are always several way to solve a problem...especially in a program like 'Live'...but again I'd restate my suggestion because it has worked well for me. I understand wanting to get the system light and flexible...I tried to skim my down as much as possible and it is still a beast...but the outboard mixer for me is essential.

Mackie make the CFX series which is rack mountable, has effects, very, very decent Mic pres, aux and fx buses, and would take away the need for a headphone amp. Then all you would need would be an interface...additionally, mackie (and there smaller subsidiary Tapco) also make mixers now with USB and firewire outs which may eliminate the need for an interface all together (although these may limit some of the routing flexiblity).

BTW-I'd go so far as to say stereo vocals is a waste of time and space in the performance environment...probably half the P.A. in clubs are mono anyways.

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