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Post subject: Mixer question
Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:35 pm
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About 1 1/2 years ago we bought Fender Expo's for our 4 member classic rock band. 3 systems that we used with a Mackie 12 channel board. And just for info's sake we have 3 towers.

When we first got the Expo's we set up in such a way that the 3 Expo's were behind us, serving as both monitors and mains. It worked well and eliminated a lot of extra crap at setup. We also added a Behringer 500 watt subwoofer that we used to really add some "thump" to the kick drum and overall sound.

For some time this system worked very well, we would daisy chain the Expo's in mono and run them wide open with NO issues regarding feedback. It was a great setup. My position in the band is bass/vocals while running sound on the fly. My only gripe with this setup was the Mackie board had small controls and so many options that making any adjustments on the fly was difficult. At least I thought it was not easy. But eventually our Mackie board died and repairs were cost prohibitive.

I replaced the board with a Peavey PVI 8500 mixer. For me it was more of a "basic" setup with fewer controls, making my job of adjusting on the fly FAR easier. But what also happened at this time was that we could no longer run the Expo's behind us at full volume without having tons of feedback issues. We've adusted our setup by moving two of the Expo's toward front of house and leaving one in the back near the drummer that is run at a much lower volume for a monitor fill. The main issue with this setup is the one Expo for a monitor is turned so low that it is not always helpful over the volume of the acoustic drums.

So my question is, for those of you more knowledgeable than I am, does that make sense? That the Mackie board was so much better that feedback was not an issue where it is with the Peavey. Please keep in mind that I am not a trained sound man, I inherited the job by default. And any comments about "peavey is junk" are not helpful either. I really liked the setup of the Expo's in back serving as both mains/monitors but am hesitant to dump the amount of money necessary into buying another Mackie board.

If you have any useful info to add I'd appreciate it, thanks!


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:14 am
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The Peavy has a feature they call "Feedback Locating System". It looks like nine lights that represent volume levels within a specific range of frequencies, right over the graphic equalizer (nine faders that slide up and down, one for each of the frequencies the amp can boost or cut.

You should start out with all those faders in the middle (where the zero mark is on the right of the faders -- It probably has a "detent" or spot you can feel when you slide the faders up and down at this zero point). Try your setup when you don't have an audience, and notice which frequency band lights up when you hear the feedback. Slide the fader under that light downward until the feedback stops.

You can boost or cut each of these frequencies by 12db (which is a lot), but you really want to start out at zero, cut anything that feeds back, but just enough to stop the feedback, and don't boost anything until the feedback problem is solved. Even then, boosting is overrated. Boost only to fix a problem with the sound. Get too casual about boosting and you increase your feedback problems, and you sound weird, even when you aren't feeding back.

The Peavy was an odd choice, since it's a powered mixer, and you already have powered speakers. You spent money on a power amp you are not using. A line-level mixer would have worked just fine, but so long as you use the jacks for "Mix to Ext. Amp" it should work fine.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:28 am
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Looking closer at the Peavy on their Web site, also look at the EQ controls for each channel. Again, start out at "zero" for each of the frequency bands on each input channel. In this case, zero does not mean "off". It just means "Don't boost it or cut it from the normal input level". It allows you to boost or cut any input channel by up to 15db in the "high" or "low" range. The last two channels have a "mid" range and the rest have a "mid morph" range.

Just set them all for zero (point the dial straight up). Any time you work with EQ (frequency boost or cut), you want to start out at zero. This is important. Next, you get your volume levels right. If you get feedback, use EQ to cut the frequencies causing the problem. Don't cut a lot. Just cut enough to stop the feedback. This is all anybody needs to know for basic sound. You can, over time, get more involved in tweaking the EQ for a specific quality of sound, but these fancy-assed "our amp lets you do ANYTHING YOU WANT to the EQ" features cause a lot more problems than they solve in the hands of the clueless who like to mess with things, or people who like to leave them like they found them, no matter how messed up they were.

Set them all to zero first.

Use them to cancel feedback second.

Then, if you have any time left and you really want to customize your sound, handle them gently for minor adjustments, checking for feedback with every adjustment. Yanking a 15db cut or boost is like adjusting your wrist watch with a sledge hammer. The results probably won't be good.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:12 am
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I posted this on the your other post in the Lounge section. All though it can be done it is not suggested I have been in the audio mixing business for about 38 years and I would avoid doing this.
“Speaker Out” jacks on your mixer suggest you are trying to connect outputs from a powered mixer or power amp to your unpowered (or passive) speakers. Speaker Out signals carry more than just the audio; they also carry significant electrical energy (power, which drives the speakers) that the line level audio inputs on powered speakers can’t handle. DO NOT connect these to powered speakers! Serious and costly damage will be done to your amplifiers, crossovers and/or speakers.
Here read this article
http://www.sweetwater.com/insync/powere ... red-mixer/
mud


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:16 pm
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Thanks for the info Contra, the advice you offer is pretty close to what I've actually been doing. Start with the eq settings on the channels and the main eq on "0" and go from there. We used to have an eq with our old PA system that had the "feedback locating system" LED lights that would come on with feedback so I thought this was an added feature for me.

Mud, again I also responded to you in the other thread. I am fully aware of the dual purpose of powered and non-powered outputs. In the gigging bands we use the Expo's with non-powered out's for the mains and monitors but in other situations where I jam with some friends informally we use passive speakers so I use the powered outputs on the back of the board. Dual purpose mixer meets the needs of both situations.

Just for info's sake. One huge benefit to me is the design of the mixer overall. Since I am playing bass, singing, and running sound from the stage this "stand up" design and easy controls are excellent for quick adjustments on the fly. I hope that makes sense. No leaning over the board looking down trying to follow the channels through a ton of faders. It's simple, straightforward and easy to find the controls when needed. I have a stand to get it up high enough to just reach out and do what needs to be done.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:52 am
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One thing to know about the simplified controls on the Peavy:

On most mixers, in a sound check, you set the "gain" level (the volume level of the mic pre-amp) for each input channel watching meters so that at the loudest peak for each input, you don't clip. Clipping is the nasty noise you get when the sine-wave of sound hits the roof and floor marking the max capacity of the equipment. The goal is to get a high "signal to noise ratio".

Pre-amps have noise (hiss and hum). The louder the signal, the smaller the noise is compared to the signal, until the signal starts clipping. So you set the "gain" level to minimize noise from the mic preamps without clipping.

Then you have your volume faders (the sliders) for each channel in order to make the relative volume of the different instruments sound good together. Lastly, you have master volume.

The Peavy doesn't have volume faders. So, you do your mixing with the gain levels. That changes the approach a bit, and while the controls are simpler, the task is a little more complicated. Why?

Well now, you set each gain level to be as loud as you can without clipping, just like normal, except that when you start adjusting the mix to make "together" sound better, you have to do so by turning DOWN the gain on anything that is too loud, because you can't turn anybody's gain up without clipping. Note that anything that is verging on clipping is probably also close to feeding back. This could be your feedback problem. Probably not, but possible.

Add that whatever you turn down the most will have the worst signal to noise ratio. You can't fix that. It's a side effect of the design. The noise (hiss or hum) will probably be negligible for live rock and roll, so this is not a big problem; just something you ought to know about.

The cleaner sound (better signal to noise ratio) is what costs more for those more expensive mixers. You've chosen to pay less and get less, and that's a valid choice, especially since you mix sound as a bonus feature of playing bass and singing. If the band wanted better sound, they could hire a sound guy who didn't have to play bass or sing. Again, more money, better sound, and again, less money and good enough sound is a valid choice.

When some agent hands you a contract with a couple of commas in the paycheck, you can get a better sound system and have somebody else do the mixing. Until then, rock on with what you've got.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 7:21 am
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Thanks Contra, the gain and volume angle may be a big part of what's going on.

Being here in Central WI we don't have lots of options for sound guys or paying for one even if there was. We make $100 per guy for a gig, and for the effort I put into a gig I'm not really willing to take less. It appears that a different board may be the right angle to go at this. Now to find something where the controls aren't as small as the Mackie, something easy to work on at a quick reference is important to me.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 4:45 pm
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In the interest of keeping my life simple as bassist/vocalist/soundman while trying to get the Expo's behind us again....I traded in the Peavey pvi8500 for a Mackie ProFx12 channel sound board.

Very simple controls, straightforward EQ, built in effects, no subchannels to get in the way. Not much more complex to operate than the Peavey so hoping this will put us back in business again.

One thing I think is hilarious is that they call it a 12 channel board but the last four channels are like 5/6, 7/8 etc. You can use either 5 or 6, 7 or 8. But 9/10 and 11/12 can all be used simultaneously as long as you run in stereo, which we don't. Either way, we're a small band so this should be sufficient and I'm liking the operation of it so far.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:54 pm
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I have a Mackie FX12 that I don't use anymore . It's decent quality and simple, but I really don't like the design focus on versatility instead of consistency. Fender does have a more honest channel count than Mackie when it comes to stereo channels counting the pair as one input channel by Fender (as it should be) and counted as two by Mackie (and Yamaha, and Peavy, and Behringer, and pretty much everybody else). Most bands run mono, or they use stereo chorus coming out of a single instrument, which should be counted as one input, not two.

If the FX 12 had 12 XLR inputs (a few of which might be combo ports), I'd probably still be using it. Instead, I moved on to the DL1608, and then got some gigs that then moved me on to the D32R. It's nice to have a row of channels that are exactly alike, instead of one high-Z, then a couple XLR mono, then a couple "hybrid" channels, and then a couple stereo 1/4"-only inputs.

I want to lay out the channels left to right like the musicians on the stage. I don't want to have to skip around for different kinds of inputs on different channels. Aside from this gripe, though, the FX12 is a good mixer, simple to use, putting out good quality sound, especially through Fender Expos.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:44 am
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ContraCaller wrote:
I have a Mackie FX12 that I don't use anymore . It's decent quality and simple, but I really don't like the design focus on versatility instead of consistency. Fender does have a more honest channel count than Mackie when it comes to stereo channels counting the pair as one input channel by Fender (as it should be) and counted as two by Mackie (and Yamaha, and Peavy, and Behringer, and pretty much everybody else). Most bands run mono, or they use stereo chorus coming out of a single instrument, which should be counted as one input, not two.

If the FX 12 had 12 XLR inputs (a few of which might be combo ports), I'd probably still be using it. Instead, I moved on to the DL1608, and then got some gigs that then moved me on to the D32R. It's nice to have a row of channels that are exactly alike, instead of one high-Z, then a couple XLR mono, then a couple "hybrid" channels, and then a couple stereo 1/4"-only inputs.

I want to lay out the channels left to right like the musicians on the stage. I don't want to have to skip around for different kinds of inputs on different channels. Aside from this gripe, though, the FX12 is a good mixer, simple to use, putting out good quality sound, especially through Fender Expos.


You're right on the inputs, kind of screwy. But again I liked the simplicity of it all. The old Mackie we had, when we first got the Expo's had the "mid morph" on the eq's, 4 aux sends, 4 sub channels.....just a ton of extra adjustments and controls that we weren't using so for me doing it on the fly was made difficult.

Now it's very simple, straightforward 3 ch eq, no sub channels, etc. We are a small group, 3 vox, kick, bass, guitar is all the inputs I have. I can run vocals in 1-3 xlr's, put the kick mic in the 6th xlr which is really 8, than use the 1/4" in's on 10/12 for the line out of the bass and guitar amp. Sounds screwy but I'll end up with two groups of channels that make sense.

Now just to get a time to set it all up with the full band and try it out.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:38 am
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So I've had about a week and 1/2 to play with the board and get it down for my application.

Last Wed I had a get together with two retired coworkers, we get together about once a month and just do some strumming and playing. I asked them to come to my place so I could test the new board. In my mind while we were playing I was thinking "wow, the vocals sure sound cleaner and the fx are really nice." But I thought I'd keep it to myself and see if they had any opinions. About 1/2 way through the night they both commented on how much improved the sound was through my Expo with this board.

So that's one successful test. Now tonight I'm getting together with the rock band to set up all 3 Expo's plus the sub and run it through it's paces. I'm at least convinced that the sound will be better now, even if we can't put the Expo's behind us like we did when we first got them we'll still have an improvement in our sound.


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Post subject: Re: Mixer question
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:39 pm
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So last night was the big test run.

We set up in the biggest space available, a 3 1/2 car garage, cement floors, all walls and ceiling drywalled and doors closed.

I duplicated our live setup, 3 Expo's across the back of the "stage" area with the sub chained to the end. 3 vocal mics about 8 ft in front of the Expo's. All the Expo's and sub wide open, set the gains and started playing. Turned it up as loud as I could get it to go, too loud for comfort in that space actually.

No feedback, clear vocals with some nice fx options courtesy of the new Mackie board. The ONLY time I got feedback was when I played around with the eq on my mic and I turned the highs WAY up just as a test.

Other than that we're good to go. For us in Central WI and the venues we play this plan works well for us. I couldn't be happier that it works, even if I don't get exactly how it works.

Yes, it seems obvious that when the only change was the mixer that it was the culprit, I just didn't know why that would be the case. I wish I knew more about this stuff. 8)

Contra gets the nod for pointing out the gain/volume issue with the Peavey that was more than likely our culprit. You rock! 8)


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