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JazzInc

Who can help me set up a Helix Vocal chain?

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I am still so much in love with my helix! For my solo gigs, I have now gotten a great telefunken M80 dynamic mic, and very good acoustic pick up for my acoustic guitar.

 

Now I have access to an acoustic, my variax electric and microphone, all plugged in at the same time in the three inputs, so I can switch set ups with a the single foot switch between songs. I was never able to do this with my Axe FX II

 

I am playing with different vocal chain effects, and I am looking for any and all suggestions. On the Helix, I am using the studio tube preamp, two LA2A (la studio comp) compressors in series (one set to limit, the next to compression), EQ, plate reverb and a optional chorus in the vocal path.

 

Does anyone have other suggestions and setting advice? Especially on the serial compression that is often used.

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What works in the studio for vocals is not always best for live performance. For live vocals, my rule of thumb is "less is better." Compression often results in more problems with feedback (room dependent). The studio pre-amp is good, and I would para-EQ your mic before it hits the pre-amp. Roll of lows at 100 Hz, roll of highs as needed (to prevent ice-pick feedback). Cut muddy/boomy frequencies as needed. As far as effects go, that will be room dependent. A little hall or plate reverb if fine, but I prefer a little delay.

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Thank you for the feedback. Can you tell me why you preferred delay over a plate reverb which is more of a classic choice for vocals?

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Delay can provide ambient depth without filling in the sound as much as reverb which can sometimes cause muddy, less articulate tone.

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Rule of thumb for reverb and delay...  If you are listening to your own voice... if you can hear the reverb, there's too much.  Cut it back until you can't really hear it.  This trick only works if you're running your own sound like for a singer/guitar player thing... and you are checking you're own mic.   Just so you can get confident, just record yourself with your smart phone actually singing when you have the reverb up to what might "sound" ok...   then back it down to where you can barely hear it if at all and you'll hear in a recording how much better and more dynamic it is.   

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Rule of thumb for reverb and delay...  If you are listening to your own voice... if you can hear the reverb, there's too much.  Cut it back until you can't really hear it.  This trick only works if you're running your own sound like for a singer/guitar player thing... and you are checking you're own mic.   Just so you can get confident, just record yourself with your smart phone actually singing when you have the reverb up to what might "sound" ok...   then back it down to where you can barely hear it if at all and you'll hear in a recording how much better and more dynamic it is.   

 

Depends on the singer, some singers need reverb and delay thick as curdled molasses, pitch correction, and doubling, or, if it is a bad enough Milli Vanilli type situation, they actually need a Cyrano de Bergerac type figure offstage singing while they mouth the lyrics.  :D

 

In all seriousness though, the amount of reverb and delay does differ to some extent with the quality of the voice of the singer, less is usually more with a better singer. There also tend to be industry trends that change with the era. I think most recordings produced now use much less reverb on vocals than they have in the past (its all about auto-tuning now, feh). Overall though I think your advice on setting the level of reverb/delay on vocals is fairly sound. Many a band has been unpleasantly surprised after the fact at how washed out in reverb their vocals sound in the recording they made of the show, particularly when they are mixing their own sound from the stage. Keeping the reverb level down can also help reduce the mic's tendency to feedback, especially when you have multiple singers.

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Depends on the singer, some singers need reverb and delay thick as curdled molasses, pitch correction, and doubling, or, if it is a bad enough Milli Vanilli type situation, they actually need a Cyrano de Bergerac type figure offstage singing while they mouth the lyrics.  :D

 

In all seriousness though, the amount of reverb and delay does differ to some extent with the quality of the voice of the singer, less is usually more with a better singer. There also tend to be industry trends that change with the era. I think most recordings produced now use much less reverb on vocals than they have in the past (its all about auto-tuning now, feh). Overall though I think your advice on setting the level of reverb/delay on vocals is fairly sound. Many a band has been unpleasantly surprised after the fact at how washed out in reverb their vocals sound in the recording they made of the show, particularly when they are mixing their own sound from the stage. Keeping the reverb level down can also help reduce the mic's tendency to feedback, especially when you have multiple singers.

 

Sometimes reverb or delay is part of the texture of the tune as well...  

 

"Many a band has been unpleasantly surprised after the fact at how washed out in reverb their vocals sound in the recording they made of the show, particularly when they are mixing their own sound from the stage.."    serious truth this !!!

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...my experience from playing many venues—it all depends on the room. Most rooms have quite a bit of natural reverb and delay already "baked in." When you add reverb or delay, you risk combining all of that into a mishmash (technical term). When you play outdoors, you can get away with adding much, much more.

 

What I have found works best is to be able to separately mix in 100% wet reverb, and 100% wet delay. Then you can slowly bring them in to levels that sound good to your ears, within the current venue. I start by dialing in the delay. Then add reverb if needed. But, as mentioned, its usually not needed unless for song-specific effects.

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I hate delay on vocals unless it's used on specific parts of a song for effect. Delay vocals all the time even at low levels of delay can scramble the intelligibility of vocals. It also makes the band sound really dated. As a singer, I'd rather have the right kind of reverb sound at an appropriate level than delay any day of the week. Also, if you're using in ear monitors, you can have as much or as little reverb or delay in your monitors without affecting what's happening in the FOH. You also do this with wedges but with more limitations. You also have to be using a mixer that allows this. Can't do it on the Helix alone as far as I know.

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