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Achieve max output volume w/o distorting signal (amp volume, amp master volume, mixer volume/dB, board master volume)
by johnphamlin on 2013-02-08 07:37:47

     I've been having an issue with getting the right volume settings on my HD500 w/o distorting the mic/direct output signal. This is probably incorrect, but my typical settings have been (amp volume: 100%, amp master volume: 100%, POD mixer volume: 0 dB, main master volume (on the pedal board): 75%) This works great for amps models that are mainly overdriven (Marshall JCM 800, Angle F Ball, Etc) if the output signal is distorting I can't really tell it for the overdriven amps, BUT I have noticed when I've tried to create another patch using a CLEAN/cleaner amp (Fender Twin, Marshall Plexi, Vox AC30, etc) even with everything at 100% (drive as about 25%), these amp models lack the volume that the overdriven models have so I've had to add the booster comp in the patch chain, plus set the POD mixer volume to +5 dB or more to achieve an equal output as the overdriven amp models. However, on these clean amp models I can hear the signal distorting (clearly not clipping the channel at the PA board).

     I attempted to remedy it last evening by changing my setting to the following: Dirty Amps (amp volume: 50%, amp master volume: 50-65%, POD mixer volume: 0 dB, main master volume (on the pedal board: 75%) and Clean Amps (took out the boost comp, amp volume: 100%, amp master volume: 85-100%, POD Mixer: brought back down to 0 dB, main master volume (on the pedal board): 75%)  This remedied the distorted signal on the clean amps and still kept the volume setting on the different amp models equal, BUT now it seems to have weakend my signal to the board.

     I'm seeking the ideal volume settings (whether it be the amp volume, amp master volume, POD mixer volume, or the main master volume on the pedal board) to get optimum mic/direct out signal to the board w/o sacrificing volume for a weak signal, but also w/o sending to much and distorting the signal. Anyone have any time tested suggestions?

Thanks,

John



Re: Achieve max output volume w/o distorting signal (amp volume, amp master volume, mixer volume/dB, board master volume)
by superkungfukid on 2013-02-08 12:08:45

The master volume (main one, the physcal knob, not the one in the deep editing), is an analog control that only affects the signal that is sent to outboard gear (PA, DAW, etc.), and has no affect on the tone of the amp being modeled - I would suggest putting that at 100% if it isn't clipping the PA channel you're plugged into (see what it does with NO amp or effects selected, you may be shocked at how loud the bypass volume actually is). This is the only place you need to worry about sending too much signal into your board. Also, I'd use the 1/4" outs to the board and not the xlr.

Within an amp model, the volume parameter that you are referring to above as amp volume has NO affect whatsoever on the tone or response of the amp model and should NOT be thought of as the amp volume in the same way a physical amp's volume is - it is more accurately thought of as the channel or patch volume and it only affects loudness of the patch from the amplifier block onward. You are asking for internal digital clipping the further past 50% you go depending on what is in your chain after the mixer, especially if you're also boosting the patch volume at the mixer block. The master amp volume as found in the deep editing parameters of an amp model is more or less to be considered as the master volume of the power amp section being modeled, and has an affect on the amp model's power tube break up modeling, as well as overall volume of the amp model itself (between this control and the drive control, which is more or less the same kind of control only for the preamp section of the amp model, you will be able to tweak your desired clean through crunch/distortion levels); for clean amp sounds, you really shouldn't be taking this past 50-65%, imo. The mixer levels act in much the same way as the patch volume, no affect on tone, only in the overall volume.

Set the patch volume conservatively, between 40-50% I would say, tweak the drive, bass, mid, treble and amp master volume controls to your desired tone (forgetting loudness at this point). Once you have the sound you want tonewise, then start tweaking the loudness of the patch (which really shouldn't need to be that high, imo). What you've described above is NOT the output distorting, you are getting internal clipping within your patch before it ever gets to the output stage because you are setting the patch volume too high. Try putting eq and boost type effects you may be using at the very end of your chain, after the mixer block, if you think you need to boost there. Let the PA do the heavy lifting of your overall volume on stage (or practice, or both, I don't know what context you're running the HD500 through a PA in). Read meambobbo's tone guide, and then read it again - it WILL help you immensely. I could be totally wrong about all the advice I've given you above, but after reading meambobbo's guide and being conservative with the patch settings, I have not experienced digital clipping and my volumes are well balanced amongst the patches I've made thus far. YMMV.



Re: Achieve max output volume w/o distorting signal (amp volume, amp master volume, mixer volume/dB, board master volume)
by MartinDorr on 2013-02-08 13:11:56

I think 'SuperKungFuKid' is right on the ball when you have to rely on your ears. If you want to get a little more 'scientific' about it and have a DAW with a reasonable good level meter post back and I can post more details to pay attention to when trying to maximize levels and level your tones w/o clipping.

I want to stress what was said above: The channel volume knob is tone neutral and just useful to adjust your amplifier model output signal level, but it does so only up to an internal signal level of about -12dB. Therefore you want to initially set it just to some comfortable middle in the road level and play with Drive and other tone stack parameters till you get the tone you want. If Drive needs to be really low (like for some ultra clean fenders) you can raise channel volume usually up to 100% w/o problems. If Drive is high or you use a High-gain amp model you may want to back off channel volume to stay in your comfortable volume level.

In general I think it is importanat to think of amp modelling blocks not as amplifiers but as complex compressor/eq/distortion blocks. Putting them into your signal chain should not really change your signal level. It should only change your tone. If you come in with a clean tone w/o the amp at some level and you enable an amp and the output is about the same signal level you won't have experienced signal path related distortion. If your clean guitar signal w/o an amp is distorting, use a different input, change guitar volume, or lower your pickups (all assuming your mixer is at 0dB and you are not overdriving your PA). If your clean guitar input signal is low and your output level is not enough, try boosting the clean guitar signal to a level with the Studio EQ (just gain) below distortion at max guitar volume and playing style. Then add the amp (w/o volume change) and other effects (all w/o changing volume). If you can keep the mixer at the end you can give the signal another clean 12dB boost (if you can stand it or the PA can deal with that level).

Good luck and let me know if you want to measure levels with a DAW via USB,

Martin



Re: Achieve max output volume w/o distorting signal (amp volume, amp master volume, mixer volume/dB, board master volume)
by meambobbo on 2013-02-08 17:41:59

this is spot on - glad everyone is getting on the same page in this regard.  here's some links to the pertinent sections in my guide:

http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/tipsAndPitfalls#volumeControls

http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/tipsAndPitfalls#volumeControls">http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/tipsAndPitfalls#volumeControls

class="loading active_link" href="http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/tipsAndPitfalls#clipping" title="http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/tipsAndPitfalls#clipping

http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/tipsAndPitfalls#clipping">http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/tipsAndPitfalls#clipping

class="loading" href="http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/troubleshooting#clipping" title="http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/troubleshooting#clipping

">http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/troubleshooting#clipping">http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/troubleshooting#clipping



Re: Achieve max output volume w/o distorting signal (amp volume, amp master volume, mixer volume/dB, board master volume)
by johnphamlin on 2013-02-18 08:37:00

Thanks all! Every suggestion has helped. Meambobbo, your link/page is outstanding! It has more info than I could have ever imagined! On a side note, I also played with the mixer and found (using a single amp) if you set both channels (A&B) to 0% in the center (instead of one @ 100% left and the other @ 100% right), it will boost the signal as well. I thought this was a new discovery of mine, but it may have very well been on the Meambobbo page. If it was, I apologize for trying to take credit for it. Ha ha! Thanks again!



Re: Achieve max output volume w/o distorting signal (amp volume, amp master volume, mixer volume/dB, board master volume)
by MartinDorr on 2013-02-18 13:53:27

Yes, you get a 6dB boost if you do that. Has been mentioned before, but may be hard to find.




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