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M20d Reliability? Any Issues?


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#1 linesixy

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 04:26 AM

I'm currently using an analogue desk (Allen and Heath GL2400). I've been very happy with its quality and usability... and very happy with the sound of my entire PA. However, I'd like to get a mixer that is smaller and lighter to carry and load. I've been researching the market for some time. Initially, I was interested in the Mackie DL1608 - but there are some things that put me off (I think there's compression in the monitor mixes... also think the user is unable to store and recall gain settings... and there appear to have been some negative comments about the quality of the effects. On top of that, I was less than impressed when Mackie's user forum disappeared earlier this year - and I'm not sure if it's still down. This Line 6 user forum is a precious resource. It can be tough for manufacturers to support a forum that gives users the chance to 'vent' and air some negative opinions... however, not providing a medium for users to learn - the good and the bad - from each other, is something that concerns me. So kudos to Line 6 and other manufacturers that enable this type of exchange among their customers). Back to the Mackie desk... I'm not an Apple user - so, by the time I buy an iPad, I'll have spent the same kind of money as an M20d.

So... the M20d... I'm attracted by the multi-track recording, the amount of processing / effects possibilities, the size, the weight and the feedback control. On paper it looks like a good package of features. I know some traditional soundmen types don't like the user interface - but I can honestly say that, even though I sort of know my way around an analogue desk, the concept behind the m20d is impressive. Some people are concerned about the number of mic inputs... or the number of aux outs. While I could do with some more of each, I can live with the current limits. However, a very big concern for me is reliability - for any piece of PA kit. I would argue that reliability for a digital mixer is even more important than for an analogue mixer. Yes there are failure modes that are common to digital and analogue (eg PSU failure, blown fuses etc). However, I believe the potential for major failures and lock ups is greater in the digital environment. I guess that's just the nature of the beast in the digital domain - but that's why it's essential that manufacturers do all they can to ensure reliability and stability in their digital products... especially any product that is used in a 'live' environment, where there isn't time to reboot a few times or - worse still - set up a backup mixer when the main mixer goes down.

There appear to have been a lot of users on this forum that claim to have had serious issues. Some swear by the FBS... some seem more inclined to swear at it. Many appear to have had issues with recordings (there's even the guy who has had to wedge a piece of beer mat into the mixer to help ensure the SD card records). Some have even suffered total failure of main outputs. I aim to record all gigs - so recording failures would be annoying, but they wouldn't stop a gig. FBS... would be nice if it worked (and I know FBS is no replacement for good mic technique etc) - but inadequate FBS wouldn't stop a gig. However, failure of main outs... or any other major failure that kills the outputs or requires a reboot etc... will stop a gig.

There was a post from a user in Canada... and I think they were saying that all 5 m20d mixers that they knew of in their town had issues. Not sure if they all needed to be returned for repair. If they did all have issues... that's a major concern.

I'm aware that operator error may cause a number of issues... so I've been reading this forum in order to try to separate the user errors from the genuine hardware / software faults. However, it appears that there have been some significant issues for some customers.

It's difficult to try to work out if the number of failures represents a high or low percentage of the total number of mixers that have been sold. However, I'm not sure if the mixer has sold in particularly high numbers - so maybe the issues I've read about here and elsewhere could represent a significant percentage. Dealers I've spoken to (and I'm talking about dealers that actually stock and promote the mixer) don't report high sales figures. This leads to another possible concern. Is Line 6 selling enough m20d mixers to make it worthwhile for the company to keep supporting the current product over the long term and also commit funds to developing new products that build on the m20d's innovations. I certainly hope they do well with the m20d... because there's nothing else like it on the market.

One other point... while it's good that some retailers include extended warranties (3 year or 4 year warranty - free of charge), that doesn't help you get your PA up and running again at a gig if there's a failure. Furthermore, one user on this forum reported that a warranty repair had taken over 6 weeks - from dispatch to receipt. In my mind that it totally unacceptable... especially in a market where some manufacturers have sent replacement desks overnight - to help minimise inconvenience for the user... and boost the manufacturers reputation. For me, six-week turnarounds don't seem to do much for a company's reputation.

I'm neither a Line 6 'basher' or 'fan boy' I use some Line 6 products (pod, backtrack etc) and I love the G30 and G50 wireless devices that I use on every gig. I applaud Line 6's innovative, pioneering approach with this mixer... and hope that they continue to serve the PA market. However, before I choose to buy an m20D or an Allen and Heath QU-16 or some other digital desk... I need to be sure that I'm buying something I can depend on. I'd welcome any comments from users... regarding reliability and/or issues. Thank you - and apologies for the long post!
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#2 RonMarton

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:15 AM

...apologies for the long post!

 

No apology required, IMHO !

 

I honestly think that your well-considered and well-crafted post is a magnificent, very instructive and highly helpful "textbook" summary of the conundrums facing a vast number of users.

 

When to "make the jump" ?

 

Speaking (like you) as one with no particular affiliation with, nor loyalty to Line 6, nor to any other manufacturer, I would suggest that provided

  1. You can afford to keep your current (if heavy) desk as a "backup" for a roughly year (at most) and
  2. It can physically reach your gigs in time to actually be viable in that role... 

...investing now would be a very safe bet.

 

If either of those conditions cannot be fulfilled, I would suggest that you might consider holding off for roughly the same period.

 

For what it's worth, my experience has been that ALL such groundbreaking game-changers are bound to have their own unique teething troubles, but that Line 6 seem to be getting very close to having resolved most of those that may have existed with the earliest iterations of their StageScape M20d ...and that the next few months will almost certainly see (mainly firmware) solutions for those few that remain.

 

Also, to my mind, (and as you've noted) there's yet to be anything else out there to match the Line 6 Link's "global end-to-end" control of an entire set-up, nor the M20d's intuitive and amazingly compact "players' perspective" graphical touch-screen system.   


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#3 linesixy

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:15 AM

Ron, many thanks for your comments. As always, you provide excellent insights... and valuable feedback (and that's definitely not the kind of feedback that any FBS system should be supressing!). Your presence on this forum is a major, major asset... and you're very generous with your time and advice. It's appreciated.

Yes... I think a backup mixer is a good idea. I'd probably keep the A&H GL2400 for times when other kit was being serviced... but, owing to its size, I probably wouldn't take it on every gig as a 'spare'. Instead, something small and simple, with a handful of mic inputs would probably be enough to use as a 'get out of jail' mixer... so, in the event of a main mixer issue during a gig, I could make a rapid change and then just put vocal mics through the small spare mixer (just to get through the gig without micing up any backline or drums etc).

Again, thanks for the advice.
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#4 scotterp

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:21 AM

Our band does not gig too often (twice a month maybe), and we've been using the M20D since May with no issues whatsoever. Just played a gig last night and the compliments on how we sound continue to pour in from gig to gig. We do mic everything (drums and back line) so we use 13 of the inputs - 12 XLR and I go direct from my Digitech GSP 1101 into one of the 1/4 inch inputs. I have a Variax too. Given that we run everything through the PA, it takes us an hour to setup - about 45 seconds to sound check. And that's just to make sure our overall levels are good for the venue. 

 

I record each gig using 2x16GB USB sticks. I get 2 sets per stick - with some space to spare. After I mix the recordings down, they make for a great learning tool after the fact to point out where we need to work on something, or to hear your embarrassing mistakes!

 

I've gone with mostly default preset settings for the various instruments and vocals - just a little tweaking for the effects on the vocals. Otherwise, it's pretty much out of the box stuff. When setting up, you tell it that you a plugging in a snare, and you have 3-4 different presets for a snare. I would review one of our recorded gigs and try out the various settings to see what they sounded like, and then decide which one to use for the next gig. 

 

I don't have the Stage Source speakers yet but they are definitely on my radar. We're using some old non-powered EV's (that do sound great) but based on some reviews in this forum, I'm sure whatever Line 6 speakers I do get will sound even better, and be a heck of a lot easier to lug around. 

 

A couple of musicians from the crowd last night came up and talked to me. One I've known for years and used to play in the band, and he said he'd never heard us sound so "clear". He said you could pick out every little nuance of each instrument so clearly. The other one was a working musician from out of town who made the effort to introduce himself between sets to compliment us on such great sound in such an unexpected place (small country bar where we are a rock band). He also liked our song selection and our execution but this is all about the M20D right? :). He was blown away with the clarity of the band as a whole. The words "clear" and "clarity" are often used by people that hear us play (as opposed to muddy or muffled). This is definitely a good thing. 

 

These forums are often a place for people to write about their troubles or to seek guidance, and you don't often hear about the success stories or from users that just aren't having any problems. Rest assured that I'm one of the ones that is having tremendous success with the M20D and I am certainly part of the demographic that it is intended for... weekend warrior that has a little bit of knowledge on how to run a PA and is tasked with both playing in the band and making sure we sound good at the same time. I am by no means a "sound guy". I learn a lot from the postings of other people here in the forum. 

 

I do have an extra mixer just in case... hoping to never need it. But I have backups for just about everything else anyway, I'm just cautious that way. 

 

I'm VERY happy with my investment so far, and I'm sure I'll be even happier when I grow out my system to include the Stage Source speakers.

 

Cheers!

 

Scott


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#5 antonioctd

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 10:14 AM

Leaving my contribution to this topic has a successful M20d user. 

 

Only had problems with the recording part if the desk... All the rest works great and sounds great


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#6 jaminjimlp

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 10:17 AM

No apology required, IMHO !

 

I honestly think that your well-considered and well-crafted post is a magnificent, very instructive and highly helpful "textbook" summary of the conundrums facing a vast number of users.

 

When to "make the jump" ?

 

Speaking (like you) as one with no particular affiliation with, nor loyalty to Line 6, nor to any other manufacturer, I would suggest that provided

  1. You can afford to keep your current (if heavy) desk as a "backup" for a roughly year (at most) and
  2. It can physically reach your gigs in time to actually be viable in that role... 

...investing now would be a very safe bet.

 

If either of those conditions cannot be fulfilled, I would suggest that you might consider holding off for roughly the same period.

 

For what it's worth, my experience has been that ALL such groundbreaking game-changers are bound to have their own unique teething troubles, but that Line 6 seem to be getting very close to having resolved most of those that may have existed with the earliest iterations of their StageScape M20d ...and that the next few months will almost certainly see (mainly firmware) solutions for those few that remain.

 

Also, to my mind, (and as you've noted) there's yet to be anything else out there to match the Line 6 Link's "global end-to-end" control of an entire set-up, nor the M20d's intuitive and amazingly compact "players' perspective" graphical touch-screen system.   

A BIG +1

 

And:

I am not an apple guy either but I bit the bullet and got an iPad and it works the sound system great, sure I would have liked to use my android pad but I won't look back, as far as a back up the line 6 speakers are ready for that if the time ever comes and reliability we played an outside gig last week it was 93+ deg and over 90% humidity and the stage source speakers were in the sun all day and it never even blinked!!!


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May you be blessed and our Lord Jesus keep you!!!


#7 scotterp

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 10:39 AM

Good point Jim on being able to use the speakers (with built-in mixer) as a backup... once I get those. The size of the gigs we do where we run our own sound could certainly get by with only running vocals through the PA. It's how we used to do it before anyway. Got to make sure I get at least one of those. Then the backup mixer goes away. 


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#8 federalhog

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 03:08 PM

A lot of venues need to get one of these things and get rid of their crap sound system. Cheap SOB's. 


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#9 Digital-sound

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 07:05 PM

I am very happy with my M20D. I have been using it for maybe 6 months with none of the problems I have seen in the forum here. I recently purchased the speakers, and I also went with two of the L3t for the back up mixer idea as well. I considered L3m but the L3t were on for the same price so it wasnt a tough decision. I also have the subs. I have not even had a glitch with the board, and I have not found a bad review. Just the few problems on here

I don't think there is a better board in its class, with the power this board has. Combined with the speakers, it is amazing (I have used that word a lot since purchasing the speakers. Set up couldn't be any quicker, and good sound is almost automatic.

You want this board.....then, you want the speakers! You will only fully understand this once you have "pulled the trigger"!
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#10 RonMarton

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 12:15 AM

...Yes... I think a backup mixer is a good idea. I'd probably keep the A&H GL2400 for times when other kit was being serviced... but, owing to its size, I probably wouldn't take it on every gig as a 'spare'...

 

I never ever intended to suggest that you travel with TWO rigs, linesixy...

 

...Just to imply that the very few "unrecoverable" situations that I have occasionally seen arise from firmware based systems (none of them Line 6) have occurred almost exclusively at their initial "boot up" on "bump-in".

 

So, in keeping with the very wise "belt and braces" approach that you (along with nearly every "old hand") advocate, ...having your original "heavy" rig "a van ride away" should be all the back-up "insurance" you'd need to cover whatever (highly unlikely) "teething troubles" that your immediate purchase of just an M20d might bring.

 

Moreover as many of us have already suggested, (both here and in other discussions) any spending of a few extra bucks for the "t" versions of subsequently added StageSource speakers not only buys unparalleled "L6 Link" versatility in "breaking them out" into smaller "stand alone" systems, but also prodigious back-up and/or additional input capabilities.     


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#11 oddbod

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 12:39 AM

Just to add I've been using the M20D for 9 months now with 2 L2m's and from my old system 2 Peavey subs. From the outset the sound quality across the range from low to high volume was immediately apparent as being Hi Fi quality.
I'm one half of a duo using two guitars through Pods to the M20D, two microphone's and lap top for playing our backing tracks.

On initial set up we did find a problem with using our vocal effects unit (Bose) as we were getting a lot of feed back, but since we put everything to neutral on the M20D vocal outputs and just use mono effects on the Bose we have had no issues. More finger trouble than mixer.

The build quality was something that we were worried about before we got the mixer, we needn't have worried don't get me wrong it won't survive being thrown down a stairs, but then again I wouldn't, the input connections are screwed well into a metal case no wobble or insecurity the silver looking part of the mixer is a fairly thick alloy which I presume acts as a heat sink as it dose warm up when in use. The screen is as safe as an i Pad.
In the 9 months of constant use we have had no issues or breakdowns at all.

The main reason for buying this unit was the hype on quick set and sound quality that you only get from other systems if you have a sound engineer and 2 hrs set up time.
It takes us 35 mins to set up all our equipment lights and all the sound is 4mins total just playing one of our songs and getting the sound level right.

If your thinking of changing your PA/Mixer then I would definitely recommend taking a look at the M20D.


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#12 litesnsirens

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 09:52 AM

I've had issues, they all turned out to be me needing to figure out how to use some of the features properly.  None of my issues were show stoppers, more like "how come this doesn't work right".  When I've had the opportunity to ring out the room the FBS doesn't just work it's amazing.  But if you don't want that feature to ruin your sound, it's going to have limitations.  It's designed to try to only find and filter out UNWANTED feedback.  So it needs to be able to "hear" the feedback happen long enough to decide it's bad and then apply the filter.  So, if you don't get a chance to ring out the room and you have that tiny bit of feedback that just seems to creep in while you are singing and then goes away, it won't be able to filter that out in real time. 

 

I don't have a back up board and I just go to every gig trusting that it will work.


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#13 linesixy

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:10 AM

Thanks to everyone for your comments so far.

 

Litesnsirens, what process do you follow to ring out a room with your m20d?  Would be good to learn how to get the best out of the FBS.  Do you know how long is 'long enough' for the mixer to recognise unwanted feedback?  Also, when you say 'if you don't want that feature to ruin your sound, it's going to have limitations' is it your experience that the m20d's FBS can ruin one's sound (if not used correctly) - or has it been developed to avoid this (for example, by not cutting feedback that isn't present for a defined length of time)?  Many thanks for your help.

 

If we get feedback at a venue, it's generally from one of the monitor wedges.  Could I sort of ring out each monitor, by setting up each monitor in turn... and raising the relevant monitor's output up to the point of feedback - and letting the FBS recognise the problem frequencies?  Does that make any sense?


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#14 linesixy

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:13 AM

antonioctd,

You mention that you've had some problems with recording.  Have you resolved all those issues now?  Are you able to record multi-track with no problems?

Thank you.


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#15 Digital-sound

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 11:01 AM

 If we get feedback at a venue, it's generally from one of the monitor wedges.  Could I sort of ring out each monitor, by setting up each monitor in turn... and raising the relevant monitor's output up to the point of feedback - and letting the FBS recognise the problem frequencies?  Does that make any sense?


It seems to me that should work. As long as you have the mics and instruments at their performance level (the FBS is on each channel), you can then turn up the monitor levels one by one. You can clearly hear the FBS working at it notches out the problem frequency. But, you may reach a level where the feedback cannot be stopped. I have had this happen in the wedges. Where the volume I need products feedback. I can then go to my "monitor out" EQ and usually even with the "quick tweak" for that monitor, will slide it to "high cut" and problem is usually solved. At the sacrifice of the monitor sound a bit. But, such can be the case when ringing out stage monitors on a small stage.
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#16 litesnsirens

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 11:08 AM

Thanks to everyone for your comments so far.

 

Litesnsirens, what process do you follow to ring out a room with your m20d?  Would be good to learn how to get the best out of the FBS.  Do you know how long is 'long enough' for the mixer to recognise unwanted feedback?  Also, when you say 'if you don't want that feature to ruin your sound, it's going to have limitations' is it your experience that the m20d's FBS can ruin one's sound (if not used correctly) - or has it been developed to avoid this (for example, by not cutting feedback that isn't present for a defined length of time)?  Many thanks for your help.

 

If we get feedback at a venue, it's generally from one of the monitor wedges.  Could I sort of ring out each monitor, by setting up each monitor in turn... and raising the relevant monitor's output up to the point of feedback - and letting the FBS recognise the problem frequencies?  Does that make any sense?

 

It's actually an easy process to ring out the room,  You just make everything live.. let people know it's going to get uncomfortable for a minute and then crank the volume beyond what you would play at ... making the system feedback on purpose.  Once you hear 4 or 5 frequencies feedback and then get notched out.. You're probably good to go back to playing level.  But don't turn off the m20d or you have to start over.  I've asked for the FBS settings to be able to be saved as a feature request but I don't think anyone thinks it's important.  

 

As far as ruining the sound with FBS, no the stagescape won't do that... that's because the frequency notches are slivers.. and because it does take a bit of time to analyze the frequency... What I meant was if it didn't work that way you would risk ruining the sound.  Ie; if it notched wider or more complex ringing.  Imagine a guitar sustain getting notched out... So if people are wanting the FBS to hear a hint of feedback and take care of it... I say "as much as this board may seem like magic it's not" It can't say that's a guitar sustain or a long synth note. It works on science which means it's subject to physical law. So they designed it to give you the opportunity to easily take care of feedback WITHOUT compromising your sound by making it look for simple frequencies that are building in amplitude and sustaining.  The little hints that creep in can't meet that criteria so they don't get magically filtered.  So ring out the room first and don't expect magic.

 

To answer the other question of how long is long enough, I haven't timed it ... it's not that long if you are ringing it out on purpose.. Give it a try when you get the board, you will see... you hear a feedback frequency build then suddenly just disappear, then the next frequency does the same and then the next... Like I say ... you need less than a minute for people to hold their ears and your good for the night.


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#17 litesnsirens

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 11:11 AM

To add to digital sounds answer... yes that's correct and will work ... but it's better to just do the whole system at once and let the m20d work it out.  It's faster and just as effective... maybe even better.  Just have the monitors at the level you want them at... they don't have to be rung out individually... M20d will find the frequencies wherever they are generated from and notch them.


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#18 linesixy

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 11:52 AM

Litesnsirens and Digital-sound

Many thanks for the info.  Very helpful.

 

Being able to save FBS settings would be useful, I guess.  I suppose the feedback characteristics of a venue will vary depending on how many bodies are present in the audience, the temperature and the humidity - and the exact positioning of mics and speakers etc.  This would mean it might not be useful to use the same FBS settings for different gigs at the same venue.  However, if we consider just one gig... saving the FBS settings would be useful if there's a need to reboot the mixer... or there's a power cut etc.


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#19 litesnsirens

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 07:58 PM

Ya, I guess that would be the theory, that all that stuff plays into feedback in different environments.  And it most certainly does, but I find also that certain mics tend to feedback at certain frequencies and I have had success figuring that out on previous systems and then using a parametric eq to drop that frequency with a tight Q to control feedback.  It didn't matter what room it was or how humid it was or how many people where in the bar.  I would try without the ParaEQ and if I started getting feedback I would kick it in and get rid of it.  I also think that if I didn't have a chance to ring out a room but I had played there before, I would feel better using the FBS from the previous time I played that room than nothing at all.   Maybe it doesn't work.. but maybe it does.  I'm no farther behind.  Just put something on the touch screen to zero out the FBS, either per channel or the entire mix.


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#20 Digital-sound

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 08:07 PM

To add to digital sounds answer... yes that's correct and will work ... but it's better to just do the whole system at once and let the m20d work it out. It's faster and just as effective... maybe even better. Just have the monitors at the level you want them at... they don't have to be rung out individually... M20d will find the frequencies wherever they are generated from and notch them.

Yes, I totally agree. That is actually how I do it. I just turn up until I hear feedback. And when I do, I am generally at a much higher volume then I will be performing at.

As for different feedback at the same venue, generally, when we set up it is empty. So likely, there will only be less chance of feedback as the venue fills (less bouncing). So I wouldn't mind saving the FBS settings. Also, sometimes we set up for weddings the night before, or by noon the day of. Would be nice to shut the power down and have it come back on with the set up work saved.

Also, make sure all mics are unmuted during the "ring out". Never know what is bleeding in to them.
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