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dbudday

Preset Balancing

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Someone was asking a question about levels of presets on the Facebook group and the more I thought about it - I think it could be a great option to include in the future.

I was thinking that there could be an option for balancing the volume or output level of your presets...so that they are the same average volume... or so that the 50% volume of each preset is the same and scaled from there.  Maybe have a checkbox to make one preset the "master" and balance all other presets to it...or be able to select only certain presets to "balance".

You could also add the option to protect or omit certain presets from the balancing process...or only balance presets within a certain folder.

There is a lot to think about - but it would be great to be able to do this and have a tweakable filter for deciding how to apply it...almost like the checkboxes on a shopping site to narrow down choices.

How about having it as an option you can toggle off or on like the Global EQ?

I'll even offer to help flowchart it and do some of the programming...LOL

 

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Go over to Ideascale, DO A SEARCH for preset leveling or preset balancing, and VOTE for all the identical posts made by folks who didn't bother to search before posting.

It's probably been posted AT LEAST 10 times.

Not only that, it's a problem with EVERY HW and SW modeler, so apparently, it's not an easy nut to crack.

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For gigging, buying a decent dB meter is a great investment. There are also decent dB meter apps for phones that work OK. Just be sure to measure consistently (speaker volume and meter location) between presets.

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I've searched through Ideascale, but nothing specifically like what I am proposing is there... it all applies to blocks and cabs and turning them off or implementing an amp change throughout presets.  

I'm proposing a GLOBAL volume adjustment that would balance the output of all presets regardless of amp, cab, IR, etc...

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33 minutes ago, dbudday said:

I've searched through Ideascale, but nothing specifically like what I am proposing is there... it all applies to blocks and cabs and turning them off or implementing an amp change throughout presets.  

I'm proposing a GLOBAL volume adjustment that would balance the output of all presets regardless of amp, cab, IR, etc...

 

Balancing the output signal is FAR more complex than just balancing the output of the amp, cab, IR or changing an amp to something that doesn't match the behaviors of the amp model used for that preset.  The output level of the channel volume is unique to each model as it is in the real world with real amps and interacts with a number of other elements that may be in the signal chain such as compressors, for example, which would likely involve some correction to the settings for the lower or higher signal level being fed into it in order to maintain the appropriate feel and sustain.  Not to mention the impact different guitars might have on that signal chain.  This is why as rd2rk mentions, it's something that occurs in every modeler.  That's because modelers are NOT samplers.  They are simulations of actual physical circuits in mathematical equations and simulate how those physical circuits respond to inputs and outputs....and all amps are different, as are all effects, and all have some level of interaction with other elements in a signal chain that you can't possibly predict what the user is trying to achieve.

Instead of imagining it's just a simple algorithm and easy to do, what's REALLY easier to do is to learn how to gain stage the output of your presets regardless of amps, cabs, IRs and their interactions with other components in the signal chain so they achieve a consistent signal level output while maintaining the character you want.  It's really not that hard to do and has been done consistently in studios and live performances for decades, so I'm betting you could master it.  Line 6 has even provided you with a nice simple signal meter and gain reduction meter you can use within your presets to help you.

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I suppose you could do this in a relatively simple fashion by having some kind of auto-adjust function that modified the level at the Output block such that all the presets/snapshots would have the same output level. That at least would sidestep the issue of changing the gain to various blocks upstream which would definitely change their tone/operation. You would still be left with at least three problems/variables though. Firstly there is potentially the issue DunedinDragon alludes two which is that unless you gain stage all your blocks to unity the second you activate/bypass a block your levels would change anyway. Secondly, Fletcher-Munson - just because two presets have the same output level does not mean that their perceived loudness would be the same. The third issue would be how the modification in the level might impact your monitors downstream.

 

Still, I could see auto-leveling on the Output block being useful in sort of a broad brush way, especially if it could dynamically account for volume changes caused by activating/bypassing blocks and getting a smooth transition doing this would probably be difficult and possibly require some not wholly insignificant processing power. Ultimately it would still require further user adjustment to truly get your presets and snapshots sounding level in relation to each other.

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49 minutes ago, HonestOpinion said:

Secondly, Fletcher-Munson - just because two presets have the same output level does not mean that their perceived loudness would be the same.

 

 

This is all that ever needs to be said on this topic... no matter how many times it repeats itself. The "quick fix" for leveling patches that we'd all love to have ain't coming. Period. And above is the reason why. Particularly when it comes to clean vs. dirty patches, matching the final outputs to some arbitrary dB level is an exercise in utter futility. The crunchy tone will always seem louder than the clean at any given measured volume. The perception is all that matters in the end... and perception is anything but universal. No algorithm is ever going to be able to account for that fact. Individual adjustments will always be necessary.

 

This "problem" will never be solved with anything but one's ears and the save button. 

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Ears or a dB meter.

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1 hour ago, soundog said:

Ears or a dB meter.

 

Again, measured amplitude and perceived loudness are not the same thing, and the latter changes drastically with different frequency ranges at any given volume... it's just how our brains interpret sound. A crystal clean tone @ 85 dB will always be dwarfed by the saturated lead tone @ 85 dB... so having some meter tell me that they're both the same volume does me no good if the perception is that one is 10x louder than the other. And since I'm ultimately gonna have to judge by what I actually hear in the room anyway, why bother with the middle man? Just my 2 cents...

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My advice is to simply use your ears, as others have mentioned as well.  If one preset is more bass-heavy than another, then on a particular PA, that one preset may appear to be significantly louder than the other, despite what the db meter says.  For that reason, I recommend settling on only one amp, and using that one amp throughout your set.  or maybe 2 amps: e.g.: Fender amp for cleans and Marshall for gain sounds.

 

I don't recommend on using a different amp for each song.  All amps behave very differently live, and you may encounter volume jumps that you hadn't encountered at home when using your monitors because they are equalized differently.  Better play it safe.  Plus it becomes such a pain to constantly have to adjust things.  It's not worth it.  

 

 

It takes time to dial in your sounds.  ... during rehearsal, at home and in a large rehearsal space, you should settle on your meat and potatoes sounds.  Eventually you will come up with, for example your clean, distorted, lead clean, lead distorted, feedback sounds. Then you can dress up these sounds with extra effects as needed.  But you will still have your basic sounds that are already dialed in for loudness, tone, distortion amount, etc. 

 

Once I figured out my main sounds, it was a matter of copy/pasting all of the blocks into my presets.  

 

If you use these tested sounds in your presets, then your presets will behave predictably.  After that it's just minor adjustments that I personally am constantly making.  For example, one of the solo sounds was too dry, so I increased the delay from 30% to 35%.  

 

So in summary, my personal recommendation is to simplify your setup, and not use every single bell and whistle in all your songs and have consistency.  I just played a show for the first time with the Helix.  It was 23 songs and the sound guy told me that my volume was very consistent.  He said he only needed to adjust my volume a few times throughout the show, because of other instruments playing solos, etc.  

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1 hour ago, theElevators said:

My advice is to simply use your ears, as others have mentioned as well.  If one preset is more bass-heavy than another, then on a particular PA, that one preset may appear to be significantly louder than the other, despite what the db meter says.  For that reason, I recommend settling on only one amp, and using that one amp throughout your set.  or maybe 2 amps: e.g.: Fender amp for cleans and Marshall for gain sounds.

 

I don't recommend on using a different amp for each song.  All amps behave very differently live, and you may encounter volume jumps that you hadn't encountered at home when using your monitors because they are equalized differently.  Better play it safe.  Plus it becomes such a pain to constantly have to adjust things.  It's not worth it.  

 

 

It takes time to dial in your sounds.  ... during rehearsal, at home and in a large rehearsal space, you should settle on your meat and potatoes sounds.  Eventually you will come up with, for example your clean, distorted, lead clean, lead distorted, feedback sounds. Then you can dress up these sounds with extra effects as needed.  But you will still have your basic sounds that are already dialed in for loudness, tone, distortion amount, etc. 

 

Once I figured out my main sounds, it was a matter of copy/pasting all of the blocks into my presets.  

 

If you use these tested sounds in your presets, then your presets will behave predictably.  After that it's just minor adjustments that I personally am constantly making.  For example, one of the solo sounds was too dry, so I increased the delay from 30% to 35%.  

 

So in summary, my personal recommendation is to simplify your setup, and not use every single bell and whistle in all your songs and have consistency.  I just played a show for the first time with the Helix.  It was 23 songs and the sound guy told me that my volume was very consistent.  He said he only needed to adjust my volume a few times throughout the show, because of other instruments playing solos, etc.  

 

Quite frankly, after having played hundreds of shows with my Helix using a pretty wide range of different amps on my different presets I can't really say limiting yourself to a couple of amps is necessarily a perfect answer either.  The same amp can produce a variety of different output results depending on other blocks it may interact with in the signal chain such as compressors, modulations, multi-band EQs, and of course distortions.  Having a consistent approach to gain staging presets is about the only way you can somewhat guarantee consistency.

Ears are good, but that's only going to really give you a measure of sound pressure levels the same as a db meter whereas it's signal levels that will ultimately cause clipping if left unheeded.  Both are related but for myself I'm a big believer in paying attention to both which aids considerably in keeping consistency and staying out of trouble regardless of your amp model or what it may be interacting with in your signal chain.  Over the years it's amazing how often the behavior of my signal level has pointed me to other areas in my signal chain that really need to be adjusted to give me a more polished and realistic sound.

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