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Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2012-09-15 23:17:47

Hello everybody,

I´m connecting my POD HD 500 and my Laney TT50C amp by the 4CM. I also use a Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe distortion pedal between the FX SEND of the POD and the INPUT of the amp. It all works perfectly but...

I´ve noticed that not only the POD causes a loss of signal level, there is also a tone sucking that I´ve mostly noticed when I turn on the Pinnacle pedal. This is of course comparing the Pinnacle connected straight to the amp´s clean channel and when inserted in the 4CM.

I´ve followed JIMSREYNOLDS steps for making the connections and level adjustments here: http://line6.com/support/docs/DOC-2522

Jim says that it is important to insert in the signal chain a Studio EQ set to + 12 dB, just before the FX LOOP block, to compensate the level drop between the HD Input and the HD FX Loop. That´s OK.

The thing is that a friend told me that I should use a DI box (or Direct Box), between the amp´s FX SEND and the POD´s FX RETURN. That would prevent tone sucking and signal loss at the same time...

Has anybody tried this??

Jim? Any words?

Here´s a diagram of the connections I'm explaining:

4CM.jpg

Thanks in advance and cheers!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2012-09-16 05:03:24

The DI Box can sometimes be used to convert between a consumer/amp/stompbox level and professional line level signal but I am not sure what is intended here. Does your friend say how he suggests the levels should be set to use this?

For clarity, is there a loss of 'signal level' - i.e. how much distortion you hear on a crunchy channel - or 'volume' - i.e. the amp is quieter?

The problem level is most likely to be  the one between the HD Send and the Preamp input (including the Pinnacle). 

The mission here is generally to make sure that the Pod Send level is pretty much identical to the signal sent by the guitar on it's own.  This can be hard to compare but is made easier using a bypass box of some kind.   Another way is to set the gain on the amp so that you can just hear distortion when you play really hard.  Then you can compare levels between the Pod and guitar direct by listening to the comparative distortion levels and adjusting the Studio EQ level to make them the same.


I am assuming that the Pinnacle is True bypass.  If things get quieter when you engage the Pinnacle then that would suggest that the signal between the Pod Send and Preamp input may be too high and you should back off the Studio EQ a little.  Make sure that you have the Pinnacle set so that it has identical volumes between on and off (when guitar and Pinnacle are plugged direct into the amp) before you set the levels when in 4CM.

You can easily check for a level mismatch  somewhere between the Pre-amp send and poweramp return by flipping the amp loop on and off (with a clean, uneffected patch) and comparing the volume levels.  Use the Mixer level to get the levels balanced.

I am not dissing the DI Box idea, I just don't understand what it is trying to achieve.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2012-09-17 03:25:03

Thank you Jim, I will talk with my frien again, he is using this method with a TC Electronics MFX and a Carvin Legacy. He says he has no tone suck and volume loss this way...

Cheers!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2012-11-16 15:18:51

Hi Jim and everybody,

I talked to my friend again , and he uses a cheap Behringer DI Box, this is the link: http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/DI100.aspx

Heinserts it in the 4CM as shown in the diagram, and he says the result is wonderful... no level drop, no tone suck...

He connects the FX Send of the amp to the input of the DI Box and the LINK output of the DI Box to the FX Return of the TC Electronics MFX.

According to him, the DI Box levels the impedance, and that´s the reason why there´s no level drop or tone suck...

I´m really curious about this issue.... I know I´ll end buying one of these!

Cheers!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2012-11-17 03:38:32

Well I guess depending on the amp that might be necessary or useful. On a well designed amp you expect the FX send to be low impedance and the HD FX Return should be high impedance (can't lay hands on a spec ... anyone).  If this is not the case (for whatever reason) then yeah, maybe the DI Box will help.

The Behringer box is cheap enough.  I see those units everywhere and they are useful in all kinds of roles so yeah there is certainly not much downside in trying.

If you wanted to spread the risk/functionality even further, you could consider going for the version with the built-in speaker sim http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/GI100.aspx).">http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/GI100.aspx">http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/GI100.aspx).  Forum members (notably the late, great Nick Mattocks) used this version when connecting an HD500 simultaneously to a PA  and real amp.  It works round the limitation on the HD500 where you need a Speaker Sim for the Desk but not for the amp, e.g. http://line6.com/support/message/251797#251797.">http://line6.com/support/message/251797#251797">http://line6.com/support/message/251797#251797. Just thinking aloud.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2012-12-20 08:33:16

Hi Jim,

Finally I tried it myself... I bought a Behringer DI 600 P passive DI Box for U$S 53. And I have to tell you that throwing the money to the trash would have been better...

The thing is that the signal of the 1/4" OUT of a DI Box is the SAME as the 1/4" IN. No impedance change, nothing. That conclusion not only comes from my experience, it´s what the MANUAL says!!! The 1/4" OUT acts as a LINK, just to connect your instrument to an amp for example, WHILE you are connecting to a mixer through the XLR BALANCED OUTPUT of the DI Box.

So I still have the same problem of the tone suck and level drop produced by the POD HD 500...

I find that even when you add the Studio EQ in front of the FX Loop with +12db, the tone is not the same. Lacks of volume and gain, and the tone is a little muddier than the one achieved connecting the guitar straight into the amp.

So I guess my friend out there is having a placebo effect... But he still assures that it works!

I started thinking of buying a boost / buffer pedal such as WAMPLER DECIBEL +, but I don´t know... perhaps I´ll be wasting my money too... what do you think?

Cheers!

Flavio



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2012-12-20 11:05:11

I guess I am not that confident that a clean boost pedal will work if the EQ boost does not but I guess that if you are willing to take a chance then it is worth a go.  I would buy and sell on ebay or something to minimise the cost/risk if it does not work. 

I still think that you have a problem with the levels at your amp input but we need to break it  down a bit more.   A few random thoughts ...

-  Are you on the latest firmware?  You need to be.

-  Do you have the mixer panned to centre?  Should be.

-  Is the pad switch turned off?  Should be.

-  What do you have Input 2 configured as .... 'Same' or 'Variax'

Does it make any difference to the volume level with the amp loop on or off?



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by lukegeis on 2012-12-20 16:50:04

Here is the real inherent issue with the 4CM approach......... There becomes a mess of cables that are 20' in length ( usually ) and being used in a system that is likley designed for high impedance devices.

It's the high impedance design standard that causes the " tone suck " and it's the 40-60' of cable that makes it even worse. If you were to simply take a 20' cable and place it between the send and return of the POD's FX loop, does the sound change? Maybe, maybe not? Now lets add another 20' for a total of 40' and see if it changes things; My guess is that it does. Do the same thing to the guitar amp and I bet the results are similar. The FX loops in most guitar amps are usually designed for high impedance devises like your stomp boxes and some FX rack units. When you run any more than about 20' of cable between the send and return, tone suck becomes likley. This is likely why you notice " tone suck ". There is just too much cable between the two devices.

This is where the DI box comes in. It changes a high impedance signal into a low impedance one. The lower the impedance the longer the run of cable you can have before " tone suck " occurs. The typical guitar amp input is around 1meg while the typical guitar impedance is around 50K. Your standard issue sm58 microphones impedance is around 600 ohms, with most mic inputs being around 10K ohms. There is a HUGE difference between these two system types. This is why it doesnt usually work well to just take a guitar and plug it straight into the PA mixer. There are also two different operating levels. -10db is the standard for most guitar equipment and home theater products, while line level or +4db is the standard for pro audio and commercial level quipment. The two don't usually mix very well. The -10 db is usually designed to work with quarter inch and RCA type inputs and is not designed to run long distances before signal degradation can occur. The +4db equipment is designed for very low noise and to run signal over very long distances.

I just looked up what the specs are on a Peavey 6505+ head. It's FX loop is designed for -10db outputs and has a high impedance return. This HiZ return is going to " tone suck "  if anything longer than 20' is in between it and the last device. This Is probably typical for most amps these days as most people will insert FX pedals into the loop and not rack gear. Rack gear will not always cure issues either, as most are designed to run at both -10db and +4db. If you run a Hi Z ouput into a low Z input you get noise, low makeup gain and signal quality will be low. If you place a low Z ouput into a Hi Z input you can get lots of noise and low volume range before clipping occurs. It's always best to run equipment at the same operating level from beggining to end. In the guitar amp case -10db is the most obvious choise. This still doesn't fix the cable length issue and " tone suck " though. A buffered signal that is ran at -10db, or +4db will run a longer length cable and maintain signal quality. The -10db/+4db is the reference level at which the signal is set at and does not refer to it's impedance. It's wether the signal sent is Lo Z, or Hi Z that makes the difference.

The DI box may work rather well if placed in the right spot in your signal chain. There are no specs that I have found on the POD HD and what it's FX loop is designed to work at? My guess is that it is a Hi Z return seeing as how tone suck was noticed. The send is likely -10db nominal, but not Lo Z enough to drive long cable lengths? The only way to get the benefits of a DI box though is to use the 1/4" input and then use an adaptor from its XLR output back to a 1/4" plug. However I don't think you will notice any difference even if you use the DI box. It may help enough at that point to be better, but you may need two or even three DI boxes to get the signal back to the way it was when it left each unit and be actually 100% again.

The 4CM is a clever way to get a very versital system, but I see no value in it. The set up time is increased and there is just that much more to go wrong. Not to mention the possibility of " TONE SUCK ".......... I am in the school of thought that you should get what you want without the help. May as well just run into the POD into the FX return of the guitar amp and just build a patch that has a similar sound to the amp on it's own. Forget having to buy twice as many cables and double the set up time. I just want to play and sound good; right now.......



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2012-12-21 05:12:06

Long cables in an unbalanced setup are always going to be a problem but that aint just a 4CM issue - a pedal board front of stage would suffer the same thing.   Wherever an individual cable run gets long it is advisable to put a buffer in.  Does the HD500 buffer well?   No idea, like you I have never found the stats to confirm one way or the other.  It ain't clear that cable lengths are the issue here but they are certainly addressable using relatviely cheap buffer pedals if that is indeed the issue.  

For a pro stage I would suggest that the the brain (HD500 or Pro) stay at the back with the amp and that front of stage should just be a Midi controller.   That way all sound-carrying cables are kept short (with the exception of the guitar --> Pod cable which might be wireless) and just Midi and power runs need to be considered for long runs to front of stage.

Again, the straight Pod -->  PA or Pod --> Amp is simpler and easier to manage but if you like the sound of your amp then 4CM is a win.   It takes me no longer to plugin than a pedalboard and I can use Midi on the Pod and Amp to sync up the channels and patches.  



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2012-12-22 08:03:49

Hi Lukegeis and Jim,

Thank you for your answers.

Lukegeis: You´re right about the cables length, all my cables are 20' long, they are good quality Fender cables and I didn´t want to cut them... But I´ve seen many reviews about the cables length issue and the tone suckiing they produce...

Here you have a good analysis of this issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOWeoizp4y0

Youridea of using an XLR to 1/4" cable for the DI Box sounds interesting, I will try it...

Jim: I agree with you about the 4CM. I think it is a fantastic and very versatile method, allowing you to use your amp´s preamp. You know I´m an "amp guy"!!! There´s something about guitar amps that fascinates me, I feel they are "the real thing", despite there are many people out there using FRFR monitors and PA systems.

Thanks for all your help and interest on this issue!

Cheers!

Flavio



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by vidaljuanes on 2012-12-22 10:04:02

Holas,

Gracias por tan interesantes comentarios.

Hello

  Thank you for such interesting comments



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2012-12-22 12:09:19

I agree.  I don't always reach the same conclusions as  Luke but he always lays out great facts and arguments in his posts and that sets me thinking  ....



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2013-01-04 12:33:08

Hi guys,

Finally i bought a n XLR to 1/4" cable and tried the DI BOX, connecting it as shown in the diagram below:

image_jpeg.jpg

The results were two:

1 - There´s much less "tone sucking". I recovered the brightness of the original tone, that is to say, connecting the guitar (and the Pinnacle pedal) straight to my amp.

2 - There´s a big volume decrease when I connect the DI BOX. But somehow this seems to be desirable. Before using the DI BOX, I had to set down the mixer´s level on the POD, to compensate my amp´s preamp volume and the POD volume (my amp´s preamp volume is much higher). I don´t know the explanation for this, or whether is it normal or not... But when I set the mixer levels to zero in a patch that uses my amp´s preamp, while the DI BOX is connected, the output volume gets leveled with the volume of those patches that use the POD modelling...

I would appreciate any comments on this, specially by Jim and Lukegeis.

Thanks and cheers!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2013-01-05 05:33:17

Hi guys,

Finally i bought a n XLR to 1/4" cable and tried the DI BOX, connecting it as shown in the diagram below:

image_jpeg.jpg

The results were two:

1 -There´s much less "tone sucking"!!!!! I recovered the brightness of the original tone, that is to say, connecting the guitar (and the Pinnacle pedal) straight to my amp.

2 - There´s a big volume decrease when I connect the DI BOX. But somehow this seems to be desirable. Before using the DI BOX, I had to set down the mixer´s level on the POD, to compensate my amp´s preamp volume and the POD volume (my amp´s preamp volume is much higher). I don´t know the explanation for this, or whether is it normal or not... But when I set the mixer levels to zero in a patch that uses my amp´s preamp, while the DI BOX is connected, the output volume gets leveled with the volume of those patches that use the POD modelling...

I would appreciate any comments on this, specially by Jim and Lukegeis.

Thanks and cheers!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by CairnsFella on 2013-01-05 17:43:54

Is this what people usually do with the 4CM

I mean, am I missing something, or is this set up more suited to a multi fx pedal (or even just a few required stomps). I mean the external pre-amp, power amp, and external distortion are being used (as well as the DI box now). Thats as much stuff going on outside the HD as I use inside it for many patches.

I have glanced through a lot of 4CM posts, but as it isnt something I have used (No guitar amp anyway (other than a little cube)) I havent really taken too much on board. But Im thinking about trying it out with my bass rig just for a try out, so I thought I had best read some of the posts in more detail. I guess I should go back and re-read the posts I have skimmed, as I cant really grasp the point from this thread (especially of there is tone suck issues on top).



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2013-01-06 04:08:02

Luke may have  a better grip on what is happening here than I am.  It sounds like the DI may be doing a better job of impedance matching betwen the Pod and the pinnacle than the cable alone was - which is interesting.  

If I understand what is happening:  the DI box has an internal transformer that is doing the impedance match or impedance bridge  for you.   I remember using a hum-killer transformer with my rig once (Behringer HD400) and I had a level drop then so i guess there may be a degree of power loss with the transformer in-line which are then compensating for on the pod.  No basic problem with that if you are not losing any frequencies.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2013-01-06 04:09:18

CairnsFella .. the doc here explains why people would want to do 4CM and what it does for you.  May be helpful.  ==> http://line6.com/support/docs/DOC-2523

">http://line6.com/support/docs/DOC-2523">http://line6.com/support/docs/DOC-2523



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by lukegeis on 2013-01-06 14:51:51

Yeah it's the impedence match that is improving the " tone suck ". The DI drops the level because one side is mic level and the other is HI Z. If you go into the HI Z ( regular input side of DI ) the output side will be at mic level. If you go the other way ( into the xlr and out the 1/4" input ) it won't change the volume, but it will not make your tone suck issue go away either. The level may even go up and the tone suck may get worse?

In this case the Pinaccle probably already has a buffered out, so it doesn't have much tone suck? But coming back into the POD there is enough resitance to create the tone suck effect. The DI box improves this and eliminates the issue.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by CairnsFella on 2013-01-06 16:17:41

Jim,

Yeah, I had already had a look back at some pertinant links as a result of my confusion (including the one you have kindly refferred).

Still leaves me a little puzzled though (not in terms of HOW to do it, but more as to why with a unit such as the HD), so as I am happy with the way I was set up I think I will go back to my position of ignorance re: the 4CM set up.

Sorry for my interjection.. please just ignore me.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2013-01-06 16:26:20

All good.  Some of us came to the HD series as an FX box rather than a modeller and that is where 4CM is interesting.  If you are happy to use the amp models then 4CM has no role.  You would not be alone!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by mrddp on 2013-02-25 12:40:10

Jim, What are your thoughts on connecting an LR Baggs Venue DI into the mix using the 4cm? I'm running a live acoustic setup - Acoustic, HD500, DI and Mixer. Any help would be appreciated



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2013-02-27 09:25:55

What are you looking for the LR Baggs DI to do?

     ....  Acoustic, HD500, DI and Mixer ...

If this is the extent of your signal chain, and there is no amp involved then I don't see a role for 4CM.  4CM is a method for using the pre-amp of your amplifier (i.e. the bit that gives you most of the tone shaping) when you want to use that instead of the POD's amp modelling.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by mrddp on 2013-02-28 05:48:09

Thanks for the reply Jim, I'm using the Venue as the preamp (in place of an amps preamp) so I can insert fx before it. I'm basically trying to incorporate compression, overdrive (Monte Montgomery style) into my sound before the loop and mod fx after. I rehearsed with this setup last night and I'm trying to wrap my head around a good compromise of HD500, venue and mixer levels.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2013-03-01 09:44:29

Ah!  So the Venue has a built in FX loop too.  Cool, that means we can pretend it is an amp!

I think the cabling would go ...

Guitar -->  Pod Input

Pod FX Send --> Venue Input

Venue FX Send -->  Pod FX Return Left

Pod 1/4 Out Left --> Venue FX Return

Venue XLR Out -->  Mixer.

Levels ....  ooh !

The Venue Manual here suggests that the FX Loop is running at around Amp/stomp level (-10dBV) which is good because you should be able to run with the 4CM setup here .  Just replace the word 'amplifier' with 'Venue' throughout and include the final Venue --> Mixer cable.



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by mrddp on 2013-03-01 10:56:12

Hi Jim, That's exactly how I'm running it. My issue is more along the line of levels (Venue input gain, Mixer input gain and HD500 Master) I saw in your setup guide that you recommend the HD500's master @ 100%. However, the venue only utilizes an input gain when running an XLR out to the mixer (no master volume). So I'm thinking maybe a balance between the HD Master and the Venue's trim might be the way to go. I've noticed when I kick in overdrive or compression, the venues gain structure is effected as well.... I hope that makes some sense... just trying to get a good base to go by



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2013-03-01 17:31:19

Gotcha.   The setup I have document is  intended for output to an amplifiers' power amp stage.  The objective is to get the levels as close as possible to unity to try and ensure that the power amp does not clip.  The signal level is preserved througout the patch so the FX send to the Venue Input should be OK.    I guess it is possible that the signal coming out of the POD is a bit 'hot' for the Venu'es FX return but, on paper, I don't think there should be a problem.  In reality though, you might try dropping the output from the POD by a few db (-3 to -6) using the POD Mixer and see if that cleans things up.

I would personally avoid trimming the levels with the master control and prefer to use the Pod's Mixer level cause that is a bit more 'reproducable' and means you don't have to worry about the master being in just the 'right' position. Nothing wrong with pulling back the master a bit though if it cleans things up on the night.

Personally, I would try and get some time with the mixer, or a similar one.  I would start up with the Venue alone, without the POD hooked up.  I would wind up the trim on the desk until I could discern a tonal change/clipping when I strummed hard then wind the trim back until things just cleaned up when I played my hardest.  Some desks have a 'clip' led on the channel and that would be very useful for this testing.

I would then keep the desk levels as they are and hook in the POD.  I would again play hard and see if I could hear clipping.  If not  I would test that clipping kicks in when I wind the trim up the level where it clipped before.  If the setup clipped at that level then personally I would be satisfied that the POD setup was correct and levels were correct.  I would thereafter look to set the desk trim correctly when I gigged.

However, if when i hooked the pod in, things immediately started distorting then i would reduce the Pod mixer level until the distortion disappeared.  That would then be my reference level for patches.

Conversely, if there was no clipping with the Pod when I initially hooked it up but, then when I boosted the desk trip to the level where it clipped without the POD in the chain and it did not clip then, then I would increase the POD mixer level until it did clip.

Does that all make sense?



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by mrddp on 2013-03-02 08:24:55

Yep, that makes sense...I think your approach is really the best way to go about it. Keeping the console and venue's trim at a constant (500's Master volume as well) and working off of the Line6 mixer only, once everything else is dialed in. I own the mixer, so keeping things consistent shouldn't be an issue. Even though I wanted to keep this acoustic project simple, I find myself really pushing to get a standout tone. The Venue and HD500 should open up as bunch of new tonal possibilities. Thanks a ton Jim for sharing your knowledge and insight. It is very much appreciated



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2013-04-12 09:30:14

Hi Jim and Luke,

The Pinnacle is mechanic true bypass, just for the record. Now I don´t have issues with tone suck, I wanted to comment on something that you Jim suggest in your guide, that is to put a Studio EQ before the FX LOOP.

Despite the DI Box works well, I sometimes use this trick to add gain or make tighter the low end of some amp models, for example the Plexis.

But what I wanted to comment, is that I "discovered" that you can use too a Parametric EQ for the same thing, with all standard settings, raising the Gain to the max. This is very different to the Studio EQ + 12 db increase, which adds more bass and is darker. When you add the Parametric, the tone is more trebly and the low ends get tighter. Check it out!

Cheers!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by fechart on 2013-04-17 08:27:50

Jim? Any comments on the EQs?

Cheers!



Re: Inserting a Direct Box in a 4CM Setup
by jimsreynolds on 2013-04-17 09:10:24

I haven't tried it I'm afraid.   My HD is currenly taking a break from serious use while I try and find the time and cohones to fix up some unreliable footswitches.  My current music life is focussed on an impending acoustic solo gig and some band committments where I use pedals.  That and work.  And kids.  And life.  And (occassionally) sleep.

I have no idea what the difference is between the parametric and studio EQs when the gain is boosted .... something apparently.   Looks like at least one of them is not truly neutral.  Only way to tell is to break out a spectrum analyser I guess.




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