Okay I am having some very wacky experiences with my new PA system, and have played 3 or 4 gigs and so far it hasn't been right. I am getting used to setting up this monstrosity (including all the lights and IEM's) though, so that is something. Anyway, there are some very wacky things going on sonically. I want to say that it is a mixer issue, but truth be told, I am quite new at owning equipment like this and don't have the knowledge to troubleshoot this system to even know if there is something else wrong that is causing all kinds of problems at my band's shows. The mixer is the Mackie DL1608.
When I called Mackie and described my issues (which I will get into a minute), they had me do a hard reboot, then they had me force a firmware update and said that this should fix the problems. Near as I can figure, this has either made it worse, or had no effect. So here is what is happening:
Originally, the FOH was fine and this was just a monitors issue (both IEM's and wedges). Some happens is that there seems to be very, very limited control of the channels in the IEM's and the wedges. Some channels respond to the fader controls in the corresponding auxes going to the wedges and some don't, or they respond very marginally. For instance, the female vocalist was not able to get any lead guitar into her IEM and no bass. She could get all the drums she wanted and my voice was hot in her ear while her mic channel into her aux had to be maxed in order to hear herself. The rhythm guitarist could only get vocals and drums, no keys or guitars.
My wedge (EV ELX112) had all the vocals (THANKS GOD, because In turned that to all the singers and we had one stage monitor for vocals after they ripped the IEM's out yet again!) I could get instruments into the ELX, but very little. I could make the ELX feed back with the vocal mics, but could not make the ELX feed back with any of the stage instrument mics no matter how loud I made the corresponding faders in the Aux (I used Aux 1 foy my wedge).
Now last night's gig was the first time I had serious trouble with the FOH. My friend Rob was running the mixer with his iPad. He is even newer to sound than I am, but I trust his ear and what he tells me. He was complaining that he pushing and pulling faders in the LR (mains) output had very little effect, especially on the instruments. And I confirmed this was true etween sets. My guitar amp had a Shure SM57 on it and you could hear my guitar in the mains, but whatever the fader was set at above minus infinity, there was very very little change in the mains. If I had to guess I was able to effect make maybe 5-10 db changes, if that, in my guitar volume through the mains. Additionally, though my SM57 was a good 15 feet behind the left sub and left main, when I put the channel volume of my guitar all the way to full (+10 DB) I got no feedback at all, nothing. Not only was there very little change from fader position, but at +10 DB, shouldn't the mic have fed back? Granted, I had to turn the vocal mics off because they were feeding back.
Speaking of the vix mics, they seemed a lot more responsive to their channel strip faders, but still not where I felt they should be. There is a pretty wide db range between -infinity and +10, no?
The drums (particularly the snare) was more responsive in the FOH than were the guitars, but not quite as much as the vocals.
Needless to say, this is an unacceptable situation, and I have NO IDEA what the hell is even going on. I mean, for all I know my mains could be bad, but then again, that would not explain the monitor issues, particularly with the IEM's. But, maybe my IEM heaphone amps (Rolls PM351's) are bad AND, at the same time, the FOH speakers are coincidentally bad, too?
Doubt it. I still think it's the mixer, but I don't have the knowledge to troubleshoot this.
Something weird happened last gig (before the one last night): I COULD NOT shut off the digital delay no matter what I did. I brought the delay send and returns down to -infinity AND I put the delay channel down to -infinity. The only way I could stop this CRAZY ass delay sounding like it belonged in a horror movie or something, was to hit the MUTE button on the delay channel. I had saved the scene last gig in May with the mute button engaged, and since I wasn't using delay on anything yesterday, I guess I had left it on without thinking about it.
Anyway, middle of the second set, we are doing harmonies and all of a sudden the delay kicks on. Now I am guessing that both iPads somehow lost connection at the same time (without me or my frend Rob realizing it) and so after the song, I ran to my iPad on an iPad mic stand holder and checked. Sure enough the delay was not muted AND the fader for the delay channel was up around 0. I asked Rob if he accidentally hit the mute AND brought the fader up, and he swears he didn't. I know I didn't because I was playing. Again, the only way I could shut the delay was to hit MUTE on the delay channel. The nearest I can figure (and this is just a guess) is that the router or mixer reset or booted the iPads off the networks, then the sync connection re-established, only somehow recalled an older scene? Again, no clue, but nothing else would explain why the dela channel was so hot and why it was un-muted.
Not to mention I have NO IDEA why I can't seem to shut the delay off without muting the channel.
Just so you guys know:.
No channels are muted except channels with nothing plugged into them and, of course, the delay.
The speakers sound really good (and I mean really good!), from what I can tell from the recordings AND when I play iPad music through them. So I am definitely leaning away from the speakers being causative here. Seriously, these PRX speakers are like the one silver lining so far. Even with all the troubles we are having (and we are having a ton!) my band has a lot of fans and I am receiving unbelievably glowing praise about "the sound" even though most of these people have no idea I bought a new system. Even my old sound man was blown away by the FOH quality and clarity. Now if I can just get these insane issues solved I could imagine what this system would sound like!
I am going to run down to the basement at some point today and recall the "scene" I have for my band and I am going to plug my SM57 into channel 9 (where my guitar channel is in the mix) and see if I can get some volume control.
What is very strange is that these problems ONLY seem to happen when all the instruments are mic's and all or most of the 16 channels are used. I actually expect that when I plug my instrument mic into the mixer in my guitar channel it will work just fine when just that mic or that mic and my vox mic is in. Call it a hunch.
But I really have no idea what the hell is going on here. My buddy Tim, who uses this mixer and mixes festivals, lives 300 miles away from me or he would drve down and see if he can diagnose this at one of my gigs. Short of that, I don't even know enough to know if it really is the mixer that's bad and I should call Mackie to get an RMA.
Any ideas? Because my gigs are now starting to feel like a Twilight Zone episode! lol