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Sound quality differences going from POD to PA in various ways


telecustom88
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I bought the HD500x mostly because I play at my church and have to go through the PA and they don't want to mic amps.  When I play with my band out in bars I've always just used an amp and sometimes mic it.  So I tried it for a couple weeks at the church service directly through XLR to the PA with the POD set on "Direct to PA" in the menu.  This just did not sound good either listening with or without in-ears.  The in-ears sound terrible anyway but I have to hear myself.  So I decided to try plugging into the POD and then from that into my Fender Deluxe Reverb via 1/4" and then into a H&K Red Box (like a DI) out of the external speaker out in the back of the amp and THEN out of that via XLR to the PA.  So I can get a little stage monitor sound from the amp and the sound guy still has full control over the house sound of my guitar.  So the interesting thing is I've noticed the quality of the sound is WAY better with the POD still set on "Direct to PA" or whatever the setting is called instead of through the "Combo Amp" setting.  I've tried them all and going through the amp and then through DI and into the PA still sounds much better on "Direct" setting in the menu and that's quality of the sound coming out the amp's speaker and what is being sent to the PA.  It sounds more like the actual patch that I hear when I listen through the POD's headphone jack which is the best quality sound I've gotten.  Just curious if this is the same for other people. 

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I bought the HD500x mostly because I play at my church and have to go through the PA and they don't want to mic amps. When I play with my band out in bars I've always just used an amp and sometimes mic it. So I tried it for a couple weeks at the church service directly through XLR to the PA with the POD set on "Direct to PA" in the menu. This just did not sound good either listening with or without in-ears. The in-ears sound terrible anyway but I have to hear myself. So I decided to try plugging into the POD and then from that into my Fender Deluxe Reverb via 1/4" and then into a H&K Red Box (like a DI) out of the external speaker out in the back of the amp and THEN out of that via XLR to the PA. So I can get a little stage monitor sound from the amp and the sound guy still has full control over the house sound of my guitar. So the interesting thing is I've noticed the quality of the sound is WAY better with the POD still set on "Direct to PA" or whatever the setting is called instead of through the "Combo Amp" setting. I've tried them all and going through the amp and then through DI and into the PA still sounds much better on "Direct" setting in the menu and that's quality of the sound coming out the amp's speaker and what is being sent to the PA. It sounds more like the actual patch that I hear when I listen through the POD's headphone jack which is the best quality sound I've gotten. Just curious if this is the same for other people.

The only output mode I've ever had success with is "studio direct"...regardless of whether I'm playing through an amp and cab, or my current FRFR rig. The other output modes are beyond awful, imho. No amount of tweaking could get rid of the shrill, go-cart meets rusty chainsaw sound they produce. I tried to make them useful, to no avail.

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The only output mode I've ever had success with is "studio direct"...regardless of whether I'm playing through an amp and cab, or my current FRFR rig. The other output modes are beyond awful, imho. No amount of tweaking could get rid of the shrill, go-cart meets rusty chainsaw sound they produce. I tried to made them useful, to no avail.

 

Thanks for the reply.  That's good to know.  I'll just keep it on that setting then.  The sound guy agreed it sounds way better the way I'm running it now.  Running direct out of the XLR to the PA sounded really thin and lame compared to going through the POD then the small combo amp first and then to the PA via the H&K Red Box DI out of the back of the amp (and I still don't have to mic the amp).  And definitely better on the Studio Direct setting rather than the Combo Amp setting.  Hey by the way what is an "FRFR rig"?

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It doesn't "sound thin". You simply designed patches that sound thin.

 

 

 

FRFR - Full range, flat response.
They are designed to give "true tone". What you put in is what you get out. No personality. Just bland and dull.
Very similar to a PA, studio monitor, or keyboard amp.

 

By being "completely" flat, it allows for you to plug a Marshall model into it and sound like a Marshall. And, it allows you to plug a Fender model into it, and sound like a Fender.

 

That's the one mistake that many people make when dealing with modelers -
They use a Marshall amp/cab/speaker, and then get upset when their Fender model doesn't sound like a Fender.
Of course not, it is going to sound like a Marshall because it is coming out of a Marshall, but it is going to sound like a jumbled mess because you are plugging a Fender into it.

 

Even using an amp that gets mic'd instead of going direct --- these models have already been mic'd. You are putting a mic on a mic'd sound..
Modelers aren't going to give you a guitar amp sound. They are going to give you the PA sound, or the "Album Sound".  

 

 

 

**The Full Range part simply means that you can plug in a guitar or bass or piccolo or,,,, basically, any note on the spectrum, without worry of damaging the cone.

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One thing to note.  If you are taking one XLR out from the POD to the PA, you are only getting one side of the stereo signal - either the L or R channel depending on which one you use. If you take one 1/4 inch out from the POD then you will get both sides of the stereo signal (L+R) as it will automatically sum both L and R together and give you the whole stereo (L+R) signal out of the 1/4 inch output you have chosen.  If you use both 1/4 inch outputs then each one will get it's corresponding side of the stereo signal, L or R.

 

Furthermore, the XLR signal is at mic level and the 1/4 inch output is at line level - so there is a significant difference on volume output as well - let alone the fact that with the XLR you are only getting half of the total signal.

 

You have also introduced your Fender Deluxe Reverb into the chain, which is another stage adding gain, as well as tonality and tube warmth to the signal, then you are taking that and putting it through an H&K Red Box which is now adding an extra speaker simulation on top.  So it is no wonder there is a big difference between the two sounds when they hit your PA.

 

The XLR route is giving you only side of the stereo signal path at mic level - and it gives you the PODs onboard cab sims (assuming you have CAB selected in your patch).

The 1/4 inch route is giving you summed (both) L+R sides of stereo signal path at line level, with POD cab sim, going into a Fender Deluxe Reverb tube amp, going into an H&K Red box with cab sim.

 

To successfully use the XLR path to capture both L+R channels, you need to design your patches so that they sum the stereo L+R signal paths into the single XLR output you will be using - so if you are using the L output, sum and pan everything to the L path and ensure nothing goes to the R path to ensure you are capturing the entire signal. Also, use the MIXER Block in the patch to boost the volume of the signal if necessary, and then boost the signal further at the PA channel input if needed, and add some EQ if necessary to fatten up the sound. You should be able to get the XLR output to sound very similar if not identical to the 1/4 inch output by doing that.  Obviously it won't have the Fender Deluxe Reverb tube amp and the H&K cab sim affecting the signal path - so you won't be able to get an identical sound to what you have explained above - but you shouldn't need the extra amp and cab sim to get a good sound out of the PA direct from the POD.

 

Having said all that - there is no "wrong way" to use a POD - you set it up and use it in any way you want to get the tone you want.

 

Hope that helps explain why you experienced such a difference when using the 2 connection methods.

 

To summarise:  XLR L output will always give you just the L signal path

                          XLR R output will always give you just the R signal path

                          1/4" L output will give you summed L+R signal paths as long as nothing plugged into 1/4" R

                          1/4" R output will give you summed L+R signal paths as long as nothing plugged into 1/4" L

                           If both 14/" outputs are used then L will just give L signal path and R will just give R signal path.

 

                          For each patch, what signal actually appears at the L and R stereo channel outputs depend entirely on where you have placed fx and amps on the pre, parallel A/B, and post paths, and whether the fx are stereo or mono, and also how the mixer block pan/balance values are set. 

So you can design each patch to sum everything onto either the L or R channel output, or allow identical mono signals to be placed on both L+R channel outputs, or set it up for true stereo output with the L and R channels containing relevant parts of the L and R outputs of stereo fx blocks. You can see how quickly signal path flow can get very tricky to follow.

 

* Edited to make clearer and avoid confusion - used "side" instead of "half" referencing L/R channels/paths. Plus added summary section.

Edited by edstar1960
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Thank you for the information....that explains a lot.  I actually did not know that the XLR output was only half the output while the 1/4" is both halves.  I must have missed that in the manual.  Seems like they would make that more clear.  I'll just use the 1/4" out all the time then and then if I do go back to direct to the PA without the amp I can go into a direct box with the 1/4" and then out of the direct box with an XLR to the PA.  I use a lot of the CustomTones presets and customize them but don't want to have to do too much every time to make the XLR output sound right.  I'm just getting started on designing patches from scratch so I may figure out ways to make it sound better through the PA I'm dealing with.  It's a really nice PA by the way. Problem is I can't spend time there to experiment with the sound.  It's just go in and plug in and play.  And the in-ears are terrible so I have no idea really how it's sounding through the PA.  That's why I'm trying going through the amp so at least I can hear that and the sound guy was saying it's way better through the PA that way anyway (but again I was assuming the way to go there was XLR out).  So thanks for this information!!

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  I actually did not know that the XLR output was only half the output while the 1/4" is both halves. 

 

That's not exactly what it means. 

 

Half the output means that XLR is always left and right. Left is half of the total signal, right is half of the total signal. Use both sides to get a complete signal. 

Whereas the 1/4" can be left and right or both left and right. 

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but it is still technically "half the signal" through the XLR because the XLR is always split into left and right

 

 

>>> I am starting to believe that this "half" issue is sort of being mismanaged and explained poorly to a new user. 

Think about your headphones --- you have one left and one right. 

If you run your pan at 0, there is no left/right separation in tone. But you still have a volume difference if you, as example, are only listening through only one side. 

 

That is sort of what XLR is doing. XLR is always split into two separate signals, the same as headphones are always split into to signals. 

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Okay, another scenario.....**What if** I send 1/4 out(assuming summed to mono) to my EV ZLX12P and give the sound guy the out/thru of that?? Would it be the same result if I send XLR L/R the same way? What if 1x XLR?

 

**side concern** regarding going thru the EV, would raising the master on the EV also raise the signal sent to FOH/sound guy??

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but it is still technically "half the signal" through the XLR because the XLR is always split into left and right

 

 

>>> I am starting to believe that this "half" issue is sort of being mismanaged and explained poorly to a new user.

Think about your headphones --- you have one left and one right.

If you run your pan at 0, there is no left/right separation in tone. But you still have a volume difference if you, as example, are only listening through only one side.

 

That is sort of what XLR is doing. XLR is always split into two separate signals, the same as headphones are always split into to signals.

---------------------------------

 

That actually explains it....ahhhh....gotcha.

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Thanks!  Yeah I didn't know that about needing to use both XLR outs to get the full sound.  That certainly explains why I was getting lower volume and different tone when going out of just the left XLR to the PA!  They really should make that more clear in the manual for dummies like me. I've usually been taking the L/R pan off (centering both of them) in the patches because I just think it sounds better usually.  Still learning a lot about this machine.  I'll try running two XLR's to the PA next time and see what my sound guy thinks about the difference.  He might question why I'm running two XLR's to two channels in the PA from one guitar. 

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So based on this from above post you can just center L/R pans in the mixer block to get the full sound (which I usually do anyway since it just sounds better) or put the mono FX at the end of the chain (like a noise gate on zero).  Or I'll just use the 1/4" left output and then go into a DI and out to the PA via XLR.  I know I'm kind of dummying it down but I really don't need distinct L/R signals from just my guitar....too complicated for the situation where I'm playing live.  Thanks all for all of this information on the XLR vs. 1/4" outputs and the L/R panning. 

 

"If there is a stereo fx (ie giving a signal made of 2 slightly different parts) at the end of a path (A or B ), the respective path Pan/Balance control needs to be centered, otherwise there is both a significant loss of sound and level..

In the latter case, connecting only the Left or Right outputs to a system will inevitably result in the above loss, unless you put a mono effect after that stereo fx to convert
the stereo signal to dual-mono.."

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So based on this from above post you can just center L/R pans in the mixer block to get the full sound (which I usually do anyway since it just sounds better) or.......

 

I think it is important to clarify what happens at the mixer block section, as simply centering the mixer block pans may not produce the desired result, - it all depends on how you have the rest of the patch set up. 

 

You have Path A which consists of L+R stereo path, and Path B which consists of L+R stereo path going into the mixer block, and coming out of the mixer block you have the Post-mixer path which consists of an L+R stereo path.

 

The default mixer setting for Path A is100% pan L, and for Path B 100% pan R.  This results in just the L path from path A going to the L path post-mixer, and just the R path from path B going to R path post-mixer, resulting in one complete stereo signal.   If both Path A and Path B have their pan set to 0%, or centre, then the L side of Path A plus the L side of Path B are combined and go to the post-mixer L side, and the same happens for the R side resulting in a doubling of the signal strength in the post-mixer path. In other words, centering the pans merges two stereo signals into one, but keeping the pans 100% L and R, means you keep the same signal strength, but you only get the L side from Path A and the R side from Path B (unless you reverse the Pan settings for each path so you get R side from Path A and L side from Path B).

 

Remember also that you can adjust the volume level for both Path A and Path B at the mixer block - either adding up to +12b or reducing to infinity or muting.  This allows you to be quite inventive in your routing options. 

 

If you want to keep things simple, then you can choose to use just Path A or just Path B, and then mute the one you are not using, then Pan to 0% or center the path you are using at the mixer block, and then effectively you have one (single) stereo path from pre-split path, along the chosen path, and then post-mixer path.  So no doubling of signals or paths occur.

 

I tend to stick to one path for most of my patches, but obviously if I want to use two amps I need to use both paths and think carefully about the routing. Sometimes I will use both paths post-amp, and have an fx only on one path, and then use the mixer block to blend in the amount of that fx I require - I do this when the "mix" parameter of the fx block doesn't give me the blend that I need. But once again I have to carefully consider the routing and the mixer block settings

 

Sorry to ramble on - but I thought it was worth clarifying.

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Ok, curveball- **WHAT IF** I take the XLR output of zlx12 / elx12 and give that to the sound guy/ FOH instead of using one (or both) of the XLR outs on the hd500??

 

To note- my main concern is on the output/thru will the Master vol of the EV change the output signal sent to FOH? I'm *hoping* not , so this can be used as just a straight send not altering (or having to alter) my on stage monitor

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I think, if you are using powered active speakers then usually they have an XLR OUT or THRU which can be fed direct to FOH as a LINE LEVEL DI signal (not mic or instrument level - so it will be a strong signal and needs to go into suitable channel on mixer that can attenuate volume if needed) and that level should not be affected by the master volume of the powered speaker. However, if you are using passive speakers then the XLR OUT or THRU level will be affected by the master volume of the main driving amp/speaker, so these would not be suitable for sending to FOH mixer.  Always check the exact specification of whichever speaker you are using to be sure.

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Using an ev ZLX12P or an ELX12P.

 

Panned everything mono, but still I've been recognizing quite a difference in quality using XLRs > 1/4 to the powered speaker, I prefer the 1/4 tone (very full) but the quietness and balanced qualities of the XLR but I don't want to use 2x XLRs going to the EV.........will using an XLR 2-to-1 adapter give me the desired results??

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Using an ev ZLX12P or an ELX12P.

 

Panned everything mono, but still I've been recognizing quite a difference in quality using XLRs > 1/4 to the powered speaker, I prefer the 1/4 tone (very full) but the quietness and balanced qualities of the XLR but I don't want to use 2x XLRs going to the EV.........will using an XLR 2-to-1 adapter give me the desired results??

 

 

You can use an XLR 2-1 adapter or XLR Y cable to take both XLR L+R outputs and merge them into one signal - however - it is not a good idea to do this - there are very good technical reasons why but I can't find the links or references at the moment. If you want to merge two XLR signals into one it is best and safest to use a mini mixer liker a behringer xenyx 802 to mix the signals into one output, and it also has pre-amps on the mic channels which can be used to boost the mic input signals.  

 

The HD500 XLR outs are mic level - so they are very weak  (quiet) and designed to go into a mixing desk channel that has a pre-amp (eg: mic input channel) which is used to boost the signal up to the required levels.

The HD500 1/4 inch outs are LINE level - so they are very strong (loud) and designed to go into a desk channel without a pre-amp or a directly into a power amp or a powered speaker.

 

You can set the HD500 to pan everything (both Path A and Path B ...)  on to the L channel, you can also use the mixer block to add +12 db to the output, and that should give the L side XLR mic signal a lot more strength BUT it will still not be as loud as the signal you will get from the HD500 L side 1/4 inch output.   I think default mic level signal strength can be -40db and the default 1/4 out on the POD is +4db, although you can change that down to -10db by moving the 1/4 out switch (next to the expression pedal on top of the unit) from LINE to AMP.

 

Bottom line is that you really need the XLR signal to go to a mixer channel that has a pre-amp that can boost the signal to required strength to get anywhere near the level you will get from the 1/4 out by default.

 

So short answer to your question is no.

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Well.....damn...haha....kinda bummed! Your points make sense, no links needed, but sure do wish Line6 made that possible in the first place -(sum to mono L XLR- I assume?) gonna try 1/4 to the EV and output of the EV to FOH for the next show and try that(but gonna be a few months) - if that doesn't work for me I will try 2x XLR to the FOH and have them feed my EV the signal back to me. Time will tell!

 

Just to clarify, the IDEAL way this was intended to work was R-XLR > FOH & L-XLR > EV

....but this volume "oomph" loss is stupid to deal with and uneven in different patches. The 1/4 is cons and full of tone....but *IDEALLY* this would be through a balanced cable.

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Well.....damn...haha....kinda bummed! Your points make sense, no links needed, but sure do wish Line6 made that possible in the first place -(sum to mono L XLR- I assume?) gonna try 1/4 to the EV and output of the EV to FOH for the next show and try that(but gonna be a few months) - if that doesn't work for me I will try 2x XLR to the FOH and have them feed my EV the signal back to me. Time will tell!

 

Just to clarify, the IDEAL way this was intended to work was R-XLR > FOH & L-XLR > EV

....but this volume "oomph" loss is stupid to deal with and uneven in different patches. The 1/4 is cons and full of tone....but *IDEALLY* this would be through a balanced cable.

 

As I mentioned above, you can boost the signal yourself by feeding it into a small mixer such as the Behringer Xenyx 802, you may be able to find a smaller cheaper unit, - but that will give you the ability to boost the mic level output signal up to suitable volume to drive your EV speaker.  It won't cost much to get such a small portable mixer and it fixes the problem for you.

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Another option is to take the XLR output and run it through a Behringer Tube Ultragain Mic 100 pre-amp which will give you all the signal boost you need.

It doubles as a DI box, not very big, not heavy, has it's own power supply.

 

Again - there may be another equivalent that will work - essentially you just need a very small pre-amp to boost that mic level XLR output to LINE level signal strength and then feed that to your EV powered speaker.

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The EV ZLX12P and ELX12P are both powered speakers.

 

As well as consider the Behringer Tube Ultragain Mic 100 to use as a pre-amp for the XLR signal, you can also consider using a Palmer PAN 01 DI box (or similar) - any DI box with a PAD or ATTENTIATION feature. This would allow you to take the 1/4 inch output signal, attenuate it by -30db to send to the FOH PA via the balanced XLR out from the DI box, and then take the LINK THRU 1/4 inch output from the DI box on to your EV speaker.   So the 1/4 inch POD output can feed the FOH and the EV speaker at the same time.

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I'm not looking to carry around another piece of gear to make this work though, sounds like that's the only way to go if I want to use an XLR to PA and XLR to EV monitor. I'll have to try it and see first, if not Getting enough volume I will try the left 1/4 to EV and the EVs out/thru to PA/FOH. If that still isn't satisfying I'll try using the 2 XLRs to FOH and have a feed fed back into the EV. I'm going for minimal gear and consistent/satisfying results.

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I'm not looking to carry around another piece of gear to make this work though, sounds like that's the only way to go if I want to use an XLR to PA and XLR to EV monitor. I'll have to try it and see first, if not Getting enough volume I will try the left 1/4 to EV and the EVs out/thru to PA/FOH. If that still isn't satisfying I'll try using the 2 XLRs to FOH and have a feed fed back into the EV. I'm going for minimal gear and consistent/satisfying results.

 

I think your best bet is the 1/4 to EV and EV out/thru to PA/FOH.

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