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Trying To Keep Keyboard Levels In Check

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  • #16
    I could have done without the snarky comments, thanks. I'm just trying to solve a problem. I'm not a professional sound man. I've never been an audio engineer. I am not the keyboardist. I don't know the ins and outs of every instrument. This is my first attempt at running sound for a band. All I have to work with is what I've tried to learn on my own, online and in books.



    @axisplayer: I've been a pro and semi-pro player, all my life. I've been in many different situations, none of which were "bad" bands, and all of which had someone far more knowledgeable than myself handling the FOH. I don't really know what inspired your rant, but I'm not the guy you described. I'm just trying to learn how to fix an issue.



    What I found out, talking to the keyboardist, is he has been fooling with his levels to get them right in his in-ears, then adjusting the level of his in-ears, then adjusting his mixer, then his ears... He got it to a point where his level at the main mixer was too hot, so I turned down the gain on his channels, then he adjusted things again and put himself too low in the mix. He needs to just set his sub-mixer and leave it. He shouldn't touch anything except for the volume control on his keyboards. He said is working on setting the levels of his patches better.

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    • #17
      My comment wasn't meant to be snarky, really. If the keyboard patches are different volumes, then you can either throw band-aids at the problem (limiting the channel, compressing the hell out of the signal, volume pedals, making sure the soundguy is on point) or you can fix the volume level of the patches. How many patches does the keyboardist really use at a gig? If he knows patches 3, 4, and 6 are always too loud, then after that gig, he needs to turn down patches 3, 4, and 6, and save them. It shouldn't take more than 2-3 gigs until all those patches are the correct volume.



      Same with guitar players and their pedalboards... if you get them "about right" and then tweak them based on the results at the gig, it shouldn't take long before the problem cures itself... for free.



      I'd suggest that instead of paying attention to what patches are wrong, your keyboardist is likely assuming the soundguy will fix it, and then instead of adjusting them during the breaks, is going to hang out with friends or have a drink or go outside.



      Address the problem, not the symptom. The symptom is that the sound is too loud or too quiet. The problem is that the patches are saved incorrectly.
      How about a mother****************ing crocodile pit instead of those titty ****************s !


      Last edited by Jazz Ad on 06-20-2004 at 098 PM

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      • #18






        Quote Originally Posted by Zeromus-X
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        My comment wasn't meant to be snarky, really.




        Thanks. Sometimes it's hard to tell.







        Quote Originally Posted by Zeromus-X
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        It shouldn't take more than 2-3 gigs until all those patches are the correct volume.




        Last Saturday was our third gig. I'm trying to not have deal with it a fourth time.







        Quote Originally Posted by Zeromus-X
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        Address the problem, not the symptom. The symptom is that the sound is too loud or too quiet. The problem is that the patches are saved incorrectly.




        I have him working on the levels. We'll get it straightened out.

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        • #19






          Quote Originally Posted by gruven65
          View Post

          I could have done without the snarky comments, thanks. I'm just trying to solve a problem. I'm not a professional sound man. I've never been an audio engineer. I am not the keyboardist. I don't know the ins and outs of every instrument. This is my first attempt at running sound for a band. All I have to work with is what I've tried to learn on my own, online and in books.




          If you were to reread the comments for what they are, and without taking offense, you would find that amid the snark most of us are saying that you can't fix the problem on your own. There are things that you can do to put a bandaid on the symptoms, but that bandaid may itself cause other problems. And then you start chasing your tail in a panic trying to fix problems that you've created, while still not addressing the original problem. The only way to truly fix the problem is at the source. And with some players, especially at the semi-pro level (where the majority of us on this board live) that's way harder to do than it should be. Simply because that player won't listen to the fact that he is indeed the source of the problem. You came here looking for a simple fix to a problem. Through our snarky discussion you were exposed to the knowledge that this is a very common problem, and the best way to fix it is not through the use of a hardware device, but rather through talking with the offending player. And by talking to that player, you discovered that you were aiming at a moving target. And you and the keyboard player have come up with a strategy to fix the problem.



          Stick around here, because this is a great source of info, especially for someone just starting out. There is a wealth of experience to draw from. We have everything from "A" level FOH engineers and product design engineers all the way down the food chain to bar level audio techs and players, where I live. And we're all willing to share whatever experience we have with just about anyone that is interested. Sometimes the discussions get a little heated and sometimes they're a bit sarcastic. But there's usually something to learn in just about every thread. In other words, lighten up a little bit, stick around, and learn from our experiences. Oh yeah, share some of yours too, so that some of us might pick up something from you. With the range of personalities and experiences that frequent this board, we have seen it all. But some of us can't remember it, so maybe you can help jog some of our memories.
          Security Officers have been trained to not touch the service monkey

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          • #20
            Not ranting. Just an observation, and not directed at you. Just a general statement that too many people think is some magic bx to replace lots of work behind the scenes...and there isn't.

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            • #21
              Looks like we just have to work at getting the patches as close as we can to even and keep an eye on the meters.

              Thanks for all the great info! I truly appreciate the help.

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              • #22
                What I found out, talking to the keyboardist, is he has been fooling with his levels to get them right in his in-ears, then adjusting the level of his in-ears, then adjusting his mixer, then his ears...

                The solution to that is that (most?) mixers have a monitor send as well as a main send. If I'm running a supplementary monitor (as I do sometimes if there aren't enough distinct house monitor mixes), I can adjust the level of my monitor without changing the feed to the house sound.

                (I bring cables and cords (and spares), and my own DI box too. I figure if I'm running 5 synths in my rig, it's my job to make it easy for the sound engineer. All I need is two XLR channels to plug into my DI box, anything upstream of that is my responsibility to make work.)

                Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

                now: Fredfin Wallaby
                was: The Gonzo Symphonic

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                • #23
                  The solution to that is that (most?) mixers have a monitor send as well as a main send. If I'm running a supplementary monitor (as I do sometimes if there aren't enough distinct house monitor mixes), I can adjust the level of my monitor without changing the feed to the house sound.
                  That's great information!

                  So, I can run his vocal mix, in an aux from the main console, to a channel on his sub-mixer. He can run a separate aux send from his sub-mixer to his in ears--allowing the stereo outs of his mixer to go to the keyboard channels on the FOH mixer. Then he adjusts his own monitor mix using the aux on his sub-mixer, with the exception of me handling any changes to the vocal feed to the sub-mixer. We just keep the vocals sent to the sub-mixer from being sent back to the main console. Sound right?

                  Edit: Being a novice, it never entered my mind to do it this way. This is why I asked the question.

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                  • #24
                    I'll second the suggestion that a separate mix could be the solution. Because of the in-ears and because the keyboadist sounds like a tinkerer, you might not ever get what you want from him. Frankly I would be tempted to bypass his mixer altogether and DI his keyboards, but I don't know how many keyboards he has and if that way might be too difficult.

                    I f you do use his mixer outs, you're going to have to trust that he won't fiddle with the master, just because he can!

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                    • #25
                      I was surprised to see the sarcasm on this subject, I've heard some of you talk about the difficulties of dealing with the extreme tones that can come out of a keyboard (AH IIRC).

                      One of the things that is so challenging about volume on a keyboard is that it literally covers a larger number of notes and frequency range than any other commonly used instrument, and the way I've found that that translates is there are at least 3 different zones: the bass, midrange, and the treble notes can and often do have different volumes and different velocity responses.

                      It can take ALOT of time (esp. if you have a fancier workstation that allows all kinds of velocity scaling and eq and other parameters to fuss with) to get an individual patch to sound and play evenly with how you play, as well as finding the optimal velocity curve for your style of playing. And then that sound needs to be volume adjusted to the others.

                      Another difficulty is how extreme some sounds can be depending on how you play them- the range and capability of many keyboards is astounding. And the difference between one sound system and another I have consistently found challenging- it'll sound very different depending on the sound system/room, requiring yet another calibration.

                      I usually play with a volume pedal, which I find indispensable in some settings- but if you're standing it's much harder to use one, and reaching up and adjusting a volume knob when you're playing can be difficult as well.


                      I used fancy workstations for years and was constantly working on getting the sound quality and consistency I wanted. I finally got a Nord Stage, and while it doesn't offer some flexibility I'd still like to have, the sound quality and consistency is an order of magnitude easier to achieve and makes me feel like I have a real instrument and not just unlimited technological capability.

                      Guitar / bass / drums are relatively mature technologies (though of course you get a lot of tech boost and difficulties once you add a pedal or play an electronic kit), whereas keyboards, with their vast range of reproducing literally any sound AS WELL AS having the widest range of notes, is still evolving. This is why many keyboard players opt for stage pianos, with their simplified and pre-massaged capabilities.

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                      • #26
                        OK now you've raised a point that I am totally clueless on and there are enough keyboard players here that might be able to answer it. I've noticed on a lot of keyboards that there is a volume range on the voices that usually runs from 0-127. What does this scale reference? I've noticed that the presets for the voices will differ from voice to voice, with the multitimbral voices being lower than the straight sounds like a sax.

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                        • #27
                          OK now you've raised a point that I am totally clueless on and there are enough keyboard players here that might be able to answer it. I've noticed on a lot of keyboards that there is a volume range on the voices that usually runs from 0-127. What does this scale reference? I've noticed that the presets for the voices will differ from voice to voice, with the multitimbral voices being lower than the straight sounds like a sax.


                          0-127 relates to MIDI values. Volume is one of many parameters that can be controlled by MIDI. Multi-timbral voices would naturally be louder than single voices, as they often are composed by layering the same single voices. You can control the volume of individual voices within the patch as well as the overall level of the patch. Which brings us back to the basis of this thread, the wild volume swings from patch to patch, and what can be done about it.
                          Security Officers have been trained to not touch the service monkey

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