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ideas on vocal processing for live use...

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by slap-a-da-bass, May 10, 2011.

  1. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009

    Pretty new band, I run sound & play, and most of the places we will play are 50-100 people. We are a basic bar band doing covers, nothing more.

    I run a Peavey16FX board, that has all the digital effects, de-esser, compression, etc. I was talking with a rep from the online store that adds candy in the box when you buy something. Discussing improving our lead vocals, by processing. He pointed me to this...Voiceworks, saying it would thicken the vocals, has excellent reverb & delay (1000 times better than my board), compression, eq, etc. In addition to the mentioned, it does 4 part harmony.

    We'll I bought the unit, I have been working with it for 3 weeks. I really can't seem to get it to sound great. When in bypass mode, my vocals sound punchy, and have touch of brightness. When in use, it dulls the tone, & it doesn't have any punch. I've tried many patches, removing any harmony, and nothing is really jumping out at me saying "that sounds great".

    So I'm wondering if this unit is better suited to studio work? should I be looking at something else? if so, what? We have a female lead vocal that sings 95% of our songs, but it sounds thin to me, any ideas? Should I stick with my board efx? Do I need to focus on EQ to correct this? I want to keep it simple.

  2. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    How are you running it? As an insert on the channel or from an aux send to the Voiceworks and then to a channel or return?
  3. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009
    I'm running it as an insert on the channel for the lead vocal. After doing some reading, tonight, seems I might want to try using the pre on the voiceworks, it might be better than the Peavey board.
  4. ihateusernames


    Jun 26, 2006
    mixing self from stage? keep. it. simple. playing clubs? keep. it. simple.

    vocal processing is not simple - if required to assist someone with poor mic technique, in a pop/rock cover band, i would only sparingly apply compression. reverb on vocals in a small club? nope, noisy enough as is. delay, chorus, same applies.
  5. This.

    Now that said, I am in a band much like yours, and run the sound too. Even in small clubs I put a touch of a slapback on the vocals. Just adds a bit sheen to it all, but can't really get me into touble.

    Unfortunately I think the salesman saw you coming a mile away wrt the unit he sold you. You have a mixer w/ on board FX, why not use them? I wouldn't cut an album w/ them, but for a bar gig, what more could you need?
  6. I have their floor unit version of that. I run my mike into it and then to FOH. I don't use any effects except the doubler but I do add a harmony which I use sparingly to fatten up the vocals with my female vocalist. I have a decent falsetto range and this adds a voice above it! In the headphones the effects sound cool but I wouldn't try them out live.

    Send the unit back.
  7. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    many times vocal processors are tone suckers.
  8. Dont do that. If you are going to use this box at all, feed it with an aux send, push the return channel up in the mix to taste.

    NO. Sure, it might be "better", but the issue you are having is not caused by the mixers mic pre. I have used so many different boards, many of them not much better than crap, but you kow what - they have all managed to get the job done in a club setting. The problem is not the board. My sense is its mostly operator error and the box itself.

    Stop reading and set the thing up when you have some time alone, play a cd through the thing (something vocal heavy, with sparse instrumentation), and start twiddling knobs and listen to what happens when you do. I think there is some learning that needs to happen.

    How is it that you ended up running sound?
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I've always had better luck running vocal FX units thru an AUX loop and then assigning individual wet / dry signals per mic channel. OTOH, it may not make a huge difference in your case. I had some type of Digitech Studio Twin which was no better than my board's built-in Lexicon effects. TBer walterw has suggested utilizing a well-voiced delay, as opposed to reverb, to add a more natural presence & depth to the vocal mix...I've found this holds true.

    As mentioned earlier, some vocal processors can be tone suckers which is why I avoid channel inserts as my first choice. 100% of the signal is routed thru the FX and the wet / dry mix is adjusted on the component itself. Problem is that even the dry side can be adversely affected (tinny, loss of highs, etc.). I prefer to use a spare AUX channel, set an Aux / Main mix of 50% or less and then dial in a slightly "wetter" signal on the vocal processor. Experimentation is the key!

  10. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Inserts are intended for compressors and eq's. Any other effects should be in an aux loop.
  11. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009
    To answer the question 'why I run sound'...believe it or not, I'm the most experienced. The others in the band have played for many years, but know zero about PA stuff, which only gives me a slight advantage. The gear is also at my house, so I have the time to work with it.

    It's interesting, about using an aux send. Sweetwater suggested the insert & sold me the cable to do it.

    I'm sending the unit back, overall not a very good experience.
  12. uhdinator


    Apr 20, 2010
    I use a lexicon MX300. Send post fader aux to one side using 120-130ms delay with feedback low so I only get one delay and feed back to a channel input and use ch fader to blend. Unit is set at 100% wet.
    This way I can send a little of the delay ch aux outs to in ears or monitors too as well as being able to EQ the effect if it's to boomy or bright.

    Then I use the other side of mx300 for reverb for drums or other effect if desired on another aux.

    I like delays better than verbs as it is tighter sounding and less ring to it.
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    +1. Nothing says "bush league" to me faster than over-effected vocals.

    Vocal effects are much like compression on bass... with very rare, intentional exceptions, if you can hear them working, it's too much.
  14. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    Since it's only me and our lead vocalist who sing in my band, I recently bought a TC Helicon Harmony GXT to try and add a bit of variety to my backing vox. I take a feed from one of the guitarists tuner out to tell it what chords to harmonise with but it isn't working out fantastically well.

    From reading the manual its output is +2db which means that it's a hot signal for a -10db input and weak for a +4db input so setting the gain is fiddly. It has adaptive EQ and compression but that seems to give the vocals an artificial toppy sheen and it seems quite prone to feedback. It has all sorts of FX options but I don't use them because I use the same FX settings that the lead vox use on the desk.

    The harmonies work well in a quiet setting when I use my son in laws Tele, but dont seem to work well in a band setting. It has a noise gate on the input to isolate the vocals from spill from drums or guitars but the effect of that is to remove 'control' since you have to sing loud enough to open the gate.

    It also seems to have developed a fault (after 3 months) because it suddenly seems to get scrambled. Even when I've got the effects and harmony voices bypassed there are random effects even though they're switched off and speaking or singing into the mike just results in a series of weird ring modulated type pops and bleeps...you have to power it down and reboot it to set things straight.

    Only used it in rehearsals so far but I don't have the confidence to use it on a gig, and though I've persevered with it, I'm not going to give it much longer
  15. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    What was wrong with your peavey effects?

    Could your paying audience hear an issue?
  16. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009
    The band thought the vocals were lacking in the mix, not a volume issue, but they just sound flat. I am going to work with the board & the parmeters for the effects. Seems most sound over the top. I'm going to research some of the settings & start turning knobs.

    Buying the unit, just kind of happened. I was talking with the salesman, asking what could be done with the vocals, & he said that box would take care of the problem. I like reverb & delay on vocals, like insturments, sparingly. The presets on the board are too much.
  17. Hmmm.....makes me wonder.....

    Maybe it's, THE VOCALS???

    BTW - I am not trying to give you a hard time.
  18. Hey slap-a-da-bass I've been working on a very similar concept only I have the Digitech Vocalist Live 3. I have discovered the guitar signal needs to be very clean so I am now building a distribution amplifier to provide 2 (or more) buffered outputs(one for the vocal processor and one for his signal chain). This must be used FIRST in the signal chain so the harmonizer can make sense of the signal and produce intelligent harmonies. My guitarist is understandably skeptical about more electronics inserted early in his signal chain but I have found a circuit that has specs to satisfy him and am building it now. I have experienced the problems with the harmonies mostly when there was effects (particularly distortion) being used so the distribution amp may fix this... I will know more in a few days (the guitarist has had time to evaluate it and determine if it is acceptable to use without sucking his tone, ect...) and gladly post the design as I got it from the web on a diy web site.
    I originally bought my Live 3 so I could control my vocal effects from the stage (sound is run from stage), but after working with the harmonizer and pitch correction I had to get a clean guitar signal to see if I could use those functions on stage. I am also having fun building a true bypass pedal for the guitarist to use in evaluating the distribution amp.
    I think good vocals make a good group sound great and am putting effort into adding to the (vocal) capabilities of my classic rock trio.
  19. This is the unit I have, in my duo I take an out from the Gtr players tuner into the gtr in but don't pass that to the board. I run it fine w/o a gtr sig at all in my 5 peice band. I don't use any of the effects. I have to admit that once in a great while it sounds like their is a slight flangr or chorus on my voice even with the unit in bypass. Over all I'm very happy with it and use it every dinght. it is attached to my pedal board as well for easy setup. Sounds really nice in my IEM and my singer likes what it has added.
  20. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i have to say ther only time i've ever enjoyed hearing or mixing a band where the singer used those boxes was when they used as deliberate "effects", making the voice sound weird or "outer-space-y" as part of an original tune.

    for "regular" music where you just want the voice to sound "good", stay away, they make it harder, not easier to get the voice right in the mix.

    in line or inserted on a channel, the compression and EQ is in the wrong spot in the chain, putting it on monitors as well as out front (a recipe for feedback and blown-out voices). the effects are also in the wrong spot, as that should be happening via an aux out on the board, so it can be mixed in parallel with the original signal.

    if you do use it from an aux on the board, the effects are fine, but the compression and EQ become useless.

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