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Looking for opinions - personal monitor setup


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I'm considering buying some new gear to set up a personal monitor rig for vocals and guitar. I play with several different groups in a variety of venues, and I'm just tired of the variability in monitor availability and quality. This would also allow me to sub-mix acoustic instruments and guitar(s) so that I'm not using a ton of inputs on the FOH console. It will also allow me to point my guitar "cabinet" right at me facing the back of the stage, which should make the FOH guy happy. Primary motivation is to control my own monitor so that I can always hear my instruments and vocals properly, and guarantee a minimum quality level. Since I can then run without a guitar cabinet, it doesn't add to the amount of stuff I'll be carrying.

 

Inputs are some combination of:

 

2 vocal mics (mine plus an additional for one situation where a wedge is shared)

1 electric guitar feed from a Bogner/Torpedo Live rig

3 acoustic instruments; steel-string and whatever else the gig calls for.

 

I'm thinking of using a Behringer XR12 and JBL PRX715. This would give me the mix control, separate FOH feeds for vocal mic and instruments, and EQ for the monitor feed. I'm guessing that the PRX is solid enough to work for nearly any local gig, and won't require a bunch of crazy EQ'ing to sound decent.

 

Thoughts? Am I going to be disappointed with the "Brand B" mixer option, or will it be good enough for live work? How is the PRX in terms of sound quality?

 

How do the FOH techs feel about this approach?

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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How do the FOH techs feel about this approach?

 

If you use a splitter then your setup would be like another independent monitor world and any adjustments you make on your mixer will not affect FOH.

 

A transformer based splitter will also mitigate potential ground loop issues.

 

 

 

Edited by onelife
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If you use a splitter then your setup would be like another independent monitor world and any adjustments you make on your mixer will not affect FOH.

 

A transformer based splitter will also mitigate potential ground loop issues.

 

Yes, but that approach costs more and doesn't solve the issue of having too many channels.

 

Common situation is an 8-piece band with a 16-ch FOH board. I get one channel for three instruments, so i need a sub-mix to send the FOH.

 

Last week, i was in a theater pit. They planned pne send for a book that uses electric, classical/flamenco, banjo, and ukelele. I was able to convince the tech that I needed two, but that still left me juggling the non-electrics at a SM81 all week long. A sub-mix would have allowed me to use pickups instead, and I could have pre-balanced the levels properly - easier for both me and the FOH guy...and I don't have to worry about the tech knowing which instrument I'm playing at any given time. Few things are more frustrating than to light off a ripping flamenco solo run only to find that the sound tech has your feed off. :facepalm: (Not a dig on the tech - that sort of show keeps him very busy)

 

Good point on ground loops - need to remember to put a transformer in the output feed. Thanks!

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Multiple situations. Right now, beyond the shows I've already worked this year, I have firm bookings with two bands and two theater companies, with at least one more theater group that I normally work in the fall.

 

My vision is to go in to all situations with my own self-contained single cabinet monitor rig and a single pre-mixed feed for all of my instruments.

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So, essentially you will be doing the same thing that a keyboard player with multiple boards and his own monitor (keyboard amp) does - with the addition of your own vocal.

 

The only issue I would have with that (if I was doing FOH) is the fact that your vocal and your instruments would be on the same fader. That's where a splitter would help. You could also use both channels of your stereo mixer and pan your instruments to one side and the vocal to the other - send the main outs to two channels of FOH then use an aux send for your personal monitor.

 

Would you also have another monitor so you can hear what else is going on? If not then perhaps you could get a feed from the main monitor mixer that you could run through your personal monitor but not include it as part of your main feed. You could then control the blend and have as much or as little of everyone else in your monitor as you want.

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So' date=' essentially you will be doing the same thing that a keyboard player with multiple boards and his own monitor (keyboard amp) does - with the addition of your own vocal.[/quote']

 

Pretty much this.

 

The only issue I would have with that (if I was doing FOH) is the fact that your vocal and your instruments would be on the same fader. That's where a splitter would help. You could also use both channels of your stereo mixer and pan your instruments to one side and the vocal to the other - send the main outs to two channels of FOH then use an aux send for your personal monitor.

 

My intent would be to use one aux send for vox mic and one for instruments.

 

Would you also have another monitor so you can hear what else is going on? If not then perhaps you could get a feed from the main monitor mixer that you could run through your personal monitor but not include it as part of your main feed. You could then control the blend and have as much or as little of everyone else in your monitor as you want.

 

Right. That would depend on the capability of the FOH console.

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My intent would be to use one aux send for vox mic and one for instruments.

 

That sounds even better. If you use pre-fade aux sends you could adjust your faders without affecting the main mix and keep FOH happy.

 

Methinks I've been over thinking this.

 

Are you sure you want to go with a digital mixer? If I was doing it I'd keep it as simple as possible in an effort to avoid any glitches.

Edited by onelife
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Are you sure you want to go with a digital mixer? If I was doing it I'd keep it as simple as possible in an effort to avoid any glitches.

 

I have always used analog interfaces in the past and generally don't gravitate towards virtual controls, but in this case I'm trying to find something to fit into the two spaces left in my rack. I have to have an EQ for the monitor, so the XR12 is the only solution I have found that handles all of the signal routing I want and gives me an EQ in two rack spaces.

 

That said, my prior experience with Behringer products has left a lot to be desired. Thus, the question as to whether it will sound acceptable.

 

I've also never owned powered cabinets, nor have I used the PRX series cabinets. I know that their high-end stuff sounds great, and the JRX is, well, designed to meet a price point. So the question I'm really asking is whether the PRX with a proper EQ can sound good, or whether it's just too far down the scale to be a serious product. Are they a really good design, or just a JRX with an amp bolted into the box?

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You could always use the insert points to tap an unbalanced, post-mic-pre signal. I don't know how to use an XR12, but if I was using my own gear to solve this problem, I would use my RX1202FX as the monitor mixer, send the insert points via TRS/TS plugs (T/R shorted) to my MMX882 and use the outputs from the MMX882 to provide servo-balanced signals to the FOH board. A better setup would be use DIs instead of the MMX882.

 

What's the dispersion angle on the 712 cabs? I have 55x80 horns in my speakers which work well. 40x80 would be even better.

 

Wes

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The equipment should be okay. I have an xr18 and a couple of jbl prx612 that I've been using for a while and it feels fine.

 

Though like I said in the other thread, having an ipad and a backup laptop is something I only haul around if I'm hauling the rest of the PA.

 

In general, it seems like a lot of added complexity with no big wins.

 

And if I were running sound and you showed up with that, I'd be a little worried about sending so much through such a complex and unknown (to me the sound guy) system. The alternative for the sound guy is you just have the mic plugged into the snake into the mixer... but what you're gonna say is "hey, so here's an output from my local mixer that could literally have any number of my things plugged into it, with any amount of processing and any mix of whatever I feel like... plug that into my 'vocal' channel". Times x number of sources, and then you'll talk about the monitoring situation.

 

I know that might sound like a dumb way of putting it, and since you know your system it might seem like a silly thing to worry about. But I'm pretty sure that this is how most sound dudes would be hearing what you're saying.

 

And that's not a problem to work with if you're dealing with a good sound guy... but if you're doing all this to avoid dealing with the sound guy cause they aint good, then it seems odd to me.

 

IMO, just live with multiple channels to the board, DI your acoustic, get sound guys you trust, etc.

 

My solution is, as I said elsewhere, to just go with a pedal board -> DI paralleled to a powered speaker. It just seems a lot simpler and less likely to cause errors than the mixer, even if I already own the mixer.

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The equipment should be okay. I have an xr18 and a couple of jbl prx612 that I've been using for a while and it feels fine.

Cool, thanks.

I know that might sound like a dumb way of putting it, and since you know your system it might seem like a silly thing to worry about. But I'm pretty sure that this is how most sound dudes would be hearing what you're saying. [/Quote]

 

How is it any different from a keyboard player or drummer using a submixer to create a smaller number of feeds?

 

IMO, just live with multiple channels to the board, DI your acoustic, get sound guys you trust, etc.[/Quote]

 

Read my gig examples above. This approach isn't working and probably never will.

 

1) My past three gigs have not allowed enough inputs for the number of instruments I needed to play, so I was already either "mixing" with a footswitch selector or using an open mic, which has it's own set of problems.

2) Two out of the last three gigs I've played have had monitor issues of one sort or another.

3) I don't get to select the tech on the gigs I'm hired to play. Sometimes I get lucky, sometimes it's challenging.

 

My solution is, as I said elsewhere, to just go with a pedal board -> DI paralleled to a powered speaker. It just seems a lot simpler and less likely to cause errors than the mixer, even if I already own the mixer.[/Quote]

 

That doesn't solve any of the problems I am trying to address. I don't see where I get any extra value over just running my existing cabinet as I do today.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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How is it any different from a keyboard player or drummer using a submixer to create a smaller number of feeds?

 

When did anybody say that that was a good idea? Especially the drummer. Good luck EQing out the "ring" from a bass drum if it happens to be near the fundamental of your snare, and so on! Similarly, one thing top-tier keyboards have is multiple outs so that we can route, say, our left hand bass to a different channel strip than our piano-playing right hand.

 

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You could always use the insert points to tap an unbalanced' date=' post-mic-pre signal. I don't know how to use an XR12, but if I was using my own gear to solve this problem, I would use my RX1202FX as the monitor mixer, send the insert points via TRS/TS plugs (T/R shorted) to my MMX882 and use the outputs from the MMX882 to provide servo-balanced signals to the FOH board. A better setup would be use DIs instead of the MMX882.[/quote']

 

How does this materially differ from using the aux outputs on the XR12 as pre-fader sends?

 

What's the dispersion angle on the 712 cabs? I have 55x80 horns in my speakers which work well. 40x80 would be even better.

[/Quote]

I think it's 50x90, but I could be wrong.

 

Curiosity - why are you suggesting a narrower pattern? I'm replacing an amp that was providing 90% of stage volume and 50% of FOH in most of the rooms I play, and I still want to be able to hear it in multiple locations, not just right at the mic. I was actually looking for the widest pattern I could find...am I missing something?

 

 

When did anybody say that that was a good idea? Especially the drummer. Good luck EQing out the "ring" from a bass drum if it happens to be near the fundamental of your snare, and so on! Similarly, one thing top-tier keyboards have is multiple outs so that we can route, say, our left hand bass to a different channel strip than our piano-playing right hand.

 

You must be playing shows at a very different level than I am. If I show up at a gig expecting 4-5 sends for my guitars, I will get laughed at. I'm lucky if they planned for even one channel for guitar, much less 3 or 4. I expect that the same would be true for a keyboard player wanting 6 sends for three keyboards. (Agree that you would never put snare and kick on the same send, but I have seen plenty of situations where the drummer has multiple electronic feeds routed through a small board at his kit.)

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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I agree with others. Its hard when a person on stage mixes everything and sends it too you. No way to eq one source or do multi monitor mixes. What if one person in a group just needs a little of X and doesn't want Y? The kind of compression I use on a guitar is not what I'd use on a keyboard. I'm sure you know yours needs but I'd future proof it and just take a small step up to a mixer with more Aux sends that can be set to Pre dynamic's and Pre Fade or Post as needed. Use the Main out to run your monitor and give the Aux send should a gig require or has the resources to do it.

 

I do have to say "Hat off to you" . Getting your "sound" from a monitor is really a great thing for a FOH guy. I work with a band right now that doesn't use any amps on stage at all. Peddles go to me and I return it to 4 monitor mixes. Really easy to get the sound they want and for me as well.

 

Again look ahead at what may be needed down the road. Sounds like you currently have some nice gear so don't be a few hundred dollars away from the answer. When your playing in front of 10,000 people you may be glad you have those Aux sends. Also with a few more inputs you can add other things as needed. I haven't looked at it close but something like this? Again look for a unit that has Pre/Post settings in dynamic's and fader aux sends. Not sure if this does but it does have 4 aux sends. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/XR16?adpos=1o1&creative=55678035481&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&product_id=XR16&gclid=CI7BuKP-vNICFZCCswodWHYLJw

 

At least you can have both setups as needed.

Doug

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My suggestion for a narrower pattern was based on the idea that monitor speakers should focus as much on your ear as possible, and bleed to the microphones as little as possible. I rely on others' monitors to bring as much of my sound as they need to them, and I rely on the FOH system to bring my sound to the audience. If I could figure out how to make it work for me, I would be using in-ears to further minimize bleed.

 

The reality that sometimes you HAVE to submix does not make it an ideal situation. Saying "X is a good idea because person Y has to do it" is almost always not true.

 

That said, even at my crummy level, most bars have a 24 channel board these days. I actually can't think of a single installed system in town with less, although it's normal to find a couple of channels dedicated to the house DJ, TV, or whatever. Even so, in a 20 channel system, you take six, there are still 14 left for your bandmates... my 5pc typically uses 4 vocal channels, 7 drum, 3 guitar, 1 bass, 2 conga, 3/5 keys (mono/stereo) and two (one stereo) channels for FX return. I mix two keyboards together into one send to a) keep the channel count down and b) because I use the two boards as one integral unit. Sound guy would never know which noise was coming from which board, and he can't re-EQ everytime I touch a knob anyhow.

 

Wes

 

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I agree with others. Its hard when a person on stage mixes everything and sends it too you.

 

Agreed, but the FOH has to be willing able to deal with as many feeds as I have instruments, and that's just not happening in the venues I'm playing.

 

As for EQ/FX, that will not be a problem as I NEVER use EQ or FX on anything going to my monitor. If the signal doesn't sound right coming from my stuff, then I need to fix it. Having it as pure as possible in the monitor gives me the info to get it right; having the FOH tech "tweak" it in the monitor mix screws up my ability to fine-tune. IMO, the only thing that should be in the chain between my instruments and the monitor is the full-mix monitor EQ, and that solely for the purpose of flattening the response of the cabinets and room.

 

I'm sure you know yours needs but I'd future proof it and just take a small step up to a mixer with more Aux sends that can be set to Pre dynamic's and Pre Fade or Post as needed. Use the Main out to run your monitor and give the Aux send should a gig require or has the resources to do it.[/Quote]

 

Good thought. My initial thought was to treat the Main L/R and Aux 1/2 as 4 separate mono feeds, with 1 for my monitor and the other three going to FOH. You are right, though, that that's pushing it a bit and not leaving flexibility for the future.

 

I do have to say "Hat off to you" . Getting your "sound" from a monitor is really a great thing for a FOH guy. [/Quote]

 

Thanks, but you may disagree with my reasons for doing it. My goal is to get the FOH tech out of the loop for as much of my mix as possible.

 

Three times already this year in three different venues with three separate sound techs and different groups ranging from 8-piece to 21-piece, I have grabbed one of my instruments for a solo cue, started to play and.....nothing. Tech had turned off my feed for that instrument (assumably just to kill sources of bleed or feedback).

 

Honestly, my experience is that I cannot expect the FOH tech to follow my instrument swaps and timing, and it's easier for me to do my own monitor mix. Add to that the fact that most of them get all uptight when I tell them that I have 4 separate feeds, and I think I just need to deal with it myself, even if it means spending a few $$$.

 

Peddles go to me and I return it to 4 monitor mixes.
This is precisely what I don't want. [FWIW, I don't use pedals. I have some very nice tube amps, a couple of rack units for time-based FX, and no stompboxes - not a single one.]

 

Sounds like you currently have some nice gear so don't be a few hundred dollars away from the answer. When your playing in front of 10,000 people you may be glad you have those Aux sends. Also with a few more inputs you can add other things as needed.

 

Good points to think about - thanks. That XR18 might exceed my size limit in my current rack, but....yeah, you may be right that the 12 just doesn't quite get me there.

 

Hmmm.........maybe the XR16?

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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My suggestion for a narrower pattern was based on the idea that monitor speakers should focus as much on your ear as possible' date=' and bleed to the microphones as little as possible. [/quote']

 

I agree with minimizing mic bleed. I disagree with 100% of the rest. The best way for an ensemble to make music is to have their stage volumes set so that the mix on stage is as close to the target as possible - and then they need to listen to each other.

 

Monitors are there to boost the instruments that can't get there on their own. Stage volume should be set to the naturally loudest instrument - generally either drums or horns (trombone). This way, the musicians play to the ensemble dynamic instead of just blowing full-bore and being flat and boring.

 

That said, even at my crummy level, most bars have a 24 channel board these days.[/Quote]

 

Yeah, and that's the problem. The smallest group I regularly play with is a 9-piece with 5 people singing. You're not going to fit all of our instruments individually into the 20 or so usable sends, and you're not going to have enough monitor mix sends to cover everyone's needs.

 

I mix two keyboards together into one send to a) keep the channel count down and b) because I use the two boards as one integral unit. Sound guy would never know which noise was coming from which board, and he can't re-EQ everytime I touch a knob anyhow.[/Quote]

 

Precisely why all of my guitars need to be mixed at the stage. It's unreasonable to expect the FOH tech to keep up with all the changes and cues.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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Honestly, my experience is that I cannpt trust the FOH tech to follow my instrument swaps and timing, and I absolutely cannot trust him/her with my monitor mix. Add to that the fact that most of them get all uptight when I tell them that I have 4 separate feeds, and I've just reached my trust limit. You want just one "guitar" feed? Fine - you'll get what I send you, and I will 100% know that the banjo or mandolin will be turned on and in the mix when I hit it with a pick...

 

Maybe the ultimate solution is a flexible system with the potential for all ideas expressed in this thread. Before/during setup you could meet with FOH and asses the situation from your perspective and be prepared to provide something mutually acceptable. You could express your valid concern about FOH potentially interfering with your ability to make cues so they can assure you the appropriate channel will be open. If FOH can't comply then you set it up your way.

 

From the experiences you describe I can understand your position but there are a lot of extremely savvy sound engineers out there so it's not always going to be as bad as the situations you have endured.

 

 

Edited by onelife
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Maybe the ultimate solution is a flexible system with the potential for all ideas expressed in this thread.

 

Yes, as long as it doesn't add too much to what I'm carrying. It's bad enough to be carrying a bunch of instruments, without either adding a rack or expanding beyond what's comfortable to carry.

 

Before/during setup you could meet with FOH and asses the situation from your perspective and be prepared to provide something mutually acceptable. You could express your valid concern about FOH potentially interfering with your ability to make cues so they can assure you the appropriate channel will be open.[/Quote]

 

No longer an option. I've just been burned too many times, and I've had WAY too many gigs in a row where the sound was problematic. I could detail the problems per show, but it would get far too long. In fact, I can only think of one gig I've played in the past 6 months where there wasn't a tech issue, and it was one where we played un-mic'd and I ran my steel-string through my amp (didn't sound great, but it worked 100% of the time).

 

From the experiences you describe I can understand your position but there are a lot of extremely savvy sound engineers out there so it's not always going to be as bad as the situations you have endured.[/Quote]

 

Intellectually I know you are right, but emotionally I have lost all ability to trust the techs to handle everything. I am tired of dreading the next gig, wondering how bad it's going to be this time.

 

To be totally fair, one of the guys I worked with recently is very accomodating, easy to work with, knows his gear well, and gets a great FOH sound. However, he isn't in the pit or on stage with us, so the monitors will always be an afterthought. He also has missed some important instrumental cues, and I believe that it's because he was mixing a 16-piece pit band with 8 on-stage singers some of whom are.....ahem.....creative. If I can off-load my mix and cue issues from his desk, I am 100% confident that he will make it sound good FOH.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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"Back in the day", the general approach was that the performers and directors did their thing, and the sound tech's iob was to amplify what the performers created, and NEVER to try to change what the performers were doing or how they were doing it...

 

Someone came up to me after a show one night and said "Thank you for making us sound good."

 

I replied "I didn't make you sound good, you did. What I didn't do was **** it up."

 

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In the end your basing everything on your point of view. Eq'ing and mixing your sources based on the sound of a monitor. If the Main House system doesn't have the same response then what? Are you sure you know what you sound like out in the room? Something just doesn't sound right. Playing in what seems like large venues yet they don't have enough inputs and your getting the short end of the stick time after time? Someone told me once " I work with people who work with me". Are you getting the rep as someone who won't work with everyone else and people are getting tired of you? ( maybe these mistakes are not always mistakes...?) These are just reflection type questions as of course I don't know you at all. I'm not the greatest gift to this planet in everything I do. I try to live that way. Even in my tiny area there are people who others won't work with anymore. Madonna's get tiring after awhile. No matter how good they are. With close to 30 years now behind a desk I've seen it all.

 

In the end you may get things right with your mix and all the problems may be solved. But if no one wants to work with you anymore how do you solve that problem?

 

Again not an assault on you at all just trying to figure out how so much could be going wrong and the reason's for it.

 

Doug

 

"Its not that I'm right its just everyone else is wrong"

 

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In the end your basing everything on your point of view. Eq'ing and mixing your sources based on the sound of a monitor.

 

Good point, but at least I know it's close. In any case, we all have to set our feeds up to sound as close to what we want it to sound like as we can. I guess I'm not sure how running the output of my steel-string through a mixer with flat EQ settings then to FOH is any different from plugging that same steel-string into the snake. Am I missing something?

 

Something just doesn't sound right. Playing in what seems like large venues yet they don't have enough inputs and your getting the short end of the stick time after time? [/Quote]

 

I generally do a mix of small and mid-size clubs and musical theater work.

 

Have you ever done any musical theater work? At the community theater level, the pit band is often somewhat of an afterthought, and the sound tech may be a volunteer or trainee (though sometimes we get lucky). It also tends to be a fairly tough gig for a sound tech - they're dealing with all sort of cues, FX, tons of instruments and performers who may or may not be primarily musicians (dancers/actors). Thus, trying to manage cues for each instrument book is probably too much to ask. While I'm changing from nylon-string to electric to banjo, the wind players are swapping from soprano sax to flute to bari. Sometimes it's great, sometimes, well.....

 

I've just recently had a really bad run of luck with it, and a couple of really bad club gigs. I haven't had this sort of trouble very often before.....maybe just the luck of the draw?

 

As for the rest of your questions, well, I've actually been getting more calls than I had been for the past few years, playing a lot more and in some new venues. Maybe it's just getting to know the new guys I'm dealing with, but....:idk:

 

Looking back at my last couple of posts, I think it comes across as more critical of the sound techs than I really intended. That's the voice of frustration, much of which is more about the difficulties of the situation than about the people. I'm just looking for a way to take control of my personal idiosyncracies that the average sound guy has no interest in dealing with. In the process I would be removing my traditional "big rig" guitar cabinet from the backline, which I would expect to make tech happy.....? I'm honestly trying to make it easier.......

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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