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theElevators

guitar + vocal mic at a gig

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Hi there. 

I have a Helix Floor, an sm-58 and an FRFR Headrush 108.  have a gig coming up playing some 80's power ballads, with a questionable sound person : we have 3 vocalists in the bare minimum power trio + singer band.

 

I know that you can have parallel paths for guitar/microphone.    My question is, from experience, what can I do to simplify the sound person's job, and make my on-stage experience better.  For example:

1. Should I mix in my vocals into the signal that goes to the FOH

2. Not mix in my vocals, but run my mic through the chain and out the FRFR

3. In general, what should I provide as outputs: e.g.: left XLR is vocals and right XLR is guitar?

 

Just wondering what works.  In theory, I know my options, but in practice, that's another story. Thanks in advance. 

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If I was doing sound, I would want the vocals and guitar separated and at mic level. For me it wouldn't matter what channel they were on, left or right but if the sound person is questionable at least it's easy enough to just switch cables to give them what they want. With three singers, (four? Power trio + singer?) and guitar that's 4-5 inputs. Does the mixer have enough inputs would be the only other worry. Good Luck!

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7 hours ago, theElevators said:

...

1. Should I mix in my vocals into the signal that goes to the FOH

 

No. Keep your guitar and vocals feeds from the Helix separate.

 

7 hours ago, theElevators said:

...

2. Not mix in my vocals, but run my mic through the chain and out the FRFR

...

I would run my guitar out via 1/4" to my FRFR and then send use the XLR output on the Headrush to send a feed for the guitar to the sound man.  Use the XLR output on the Helix to send a second and separate XLR feed for the vocals

 

7 hours ago, theElevators said:

...

3. In general, what should I provide as outputs: e.g.: left XLR is vocals and right XLR is guitar?

 

I would not split the left and right XLRs on the Helix like this. That will force you to cater all your presets to a dual mono approach. Instead use one path on the Helix for guitar and a second path for vocals. Send your guitar from the 1/4" output(s) on the Helix as indicated in my response to point #2 and send your vocals out via XLR and provide separate discrete XLR feeds for respectively vocals and guitar to your soundman. This approach will result in your soundman having an XLR feed direct from the Helix for vocals and a second XLR feed from the output on the back of your Headrush for your guitar. You can monitor your vocals through your sound system's vocal monitors(assuming you have them) with a feed direct from the board and your guitar from your Headrush.  Note: If the run is short enough you could send your soundman a 1/4" feed for your guitar directly from your Helix instead of the XLR feed from the output jack on the back of your Headrush. Your choice.

 

This approach will free you from having to worry about left/right routing/panning in your presets, allow you full control over your guitar monitor, and put the vocals in your face the way you want them with a feed from the board to your vocal monitors.

 

The one drawback to this approach may be that changing the volume you send to your Headrush onstage may also change the volume your soundman is receiving for your guitar. This is a compromise you make when you use the Helix for both vocals and guitar in this particular live setup. That requires having your presets leveled properly for the gig and finding a volume for the Headrush that works for you onstage and then leaving it alone so you don't keep changing the level sent to the mixing board. Essentially you want to use your master volume as a "set it and forget it" control. Btw, I would assign the volume only to the 1/4" output which will send the vocals out at unity but allow you to control the guitar's output level to the Headrush.

 

If the restrictions for this proposed setup prove to be too problematic then you could proceed with your approach of sending the guitar out one XLR output and vocals out of the other but you will have to play close attention to your routing/panning in every preset to prevent mixing vocals and guitar into the same XLR out(L or R). What a pain.

 

Just the way I might approach things. Maybe someone else has a different/better recommendation.

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I honestly can't think of a single good reason for combining vocals and guitar through a Helix except in the case of maybe a solo artist where that's all that there's going to be.  In any normal band situation it's going to further complicate things for a soundman that, by your definition, has questionable skills.  There will not be a single source of control over the entire mix which pretty much ensures a bad mix for the audience in some way or another.

Hopefully you'll have this sound person's dedicated attention for at least a certain amount of time during sound check.  If you can manage to stand out in the audience area you should be able to guide the person in how things sound best in a mix.  If he can move faders, he should be able to get it closer and with less problems than you trying to adjust the mix in your Helix.  Tell him to leave all channel EQ's flat and simply worry about getting the right mix and set effects ONLY on the vocals and you stand a reasonable chance of having a good sound.

A couple of other tricks:  Have him turn down the master fader output for the audience and concentrate solely on adjusting the levels of the stage monitors by themselves with input from the band BEFORE you start adjusting the main audience mix.  Get your stage volume set so that it's not bleeding too much into the audience area, then go out far enough into the audience area to be able to clearly hear each element of the mix (vocals versus instruments).  By doing those two things you should be able to at least get his concentration on stage mix versus FOH mix and hopefully have a better chance of things being right.

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Sorry. I was limiting myself with the parameters you provided. I definitely concur with not using the Helix for a mic in the first place. It's a cool thing if you need to use it. because of limited resources or whatever else (I use it for a talk box and it works great). Maybe you wanted to use the Helix's effects. But, it's always better to keep it as simple as possible. Which, of course, would be the mic hooked directly up to the FOH mixer. It's easy to go a bit overboard, especially with all of  Helix's options. I know I have and still do. I often have to catch myself. I just have to keep reminding myself, simple is always best.

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My best advice is to avoid 80's power ballads if at all possible.

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Oh boy, that sound person was quite something!  Clueless... I wound up just plugging up my left ear and ditching the monitor all together, since he couldn't get the monitor mix to work at all.  As in either the monitor doesn't work, or I have like snare drum + an obscene level of lead vocals in it or something like that.  LOL.  It went pretty good otherwise who knew what he was doing helped out with the sound mix.  Somehow, we managed to harmonize in tune, all 3 of us.  Phew.  It was hot as bal.s though, summer in upstate New York 85 degrees, 30*c.  

 

I ran my Helix into a Headrush 108 to hear myself on stage, and plugged in the Helix and the microphone direct to the FOH.

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