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Old 08-24-2016, 11:45 AM
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Default Do you need an expensive acoustic amp or PA?

This is intended to promote discussion of the pros/cons of the following suggestion.

I posted in a few other threads about my recent experience with the TC Helicon play acoustic product. This product (or similar Boss VE-8) is a single pedal that provides a few important features that acoustic amplifiers and compact PA systems don't. I'm leaving the harmony and "auto tune" features out of this discussion, because they are not universally appreciated.

These features are incredibly useful for most any singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist. I will call them singer/songwriter boxes, for now. (SS boxes)

For instance, only one manufacturer includes a built in acoustic resonance in their amplifier products (Line 6). The rest do not have this option. But, it is available in the SS boxes. As of today, I am totally sold on this "one button" technology. This is especially useful for folks with UST or SBT systems. Multisource mic systems benefit to a lesser extent. For example, I dialed my body res setting back to 50% because I am mixing 50/50 mic and pickup.

Secondly, these singer/songwriter boxes provide microphone vocal processing and effects that enhance a singer's voice. While you can find reverb and sometimes chorus, it doesn't compare to the magic in the SS boxes. I have a strong tenor voice, but I sound MUCH better with the "mic mechanic" features enabled. I've never had so many compliments on my voice. Note above that I am not referring to the "auto tune" pitch correction features.

So, to that end, should folks who play out for audiences consider getting one of these SS boxes, dial it in to their tastes and simply pair with a high quality powered speaker appropriate for the venue? There are so many compact PA and powered speaker products on the market. Single speaker, line array, plenty of power, full range, and some DSP included, you can cover any venue.

Reasons for using a SS box and a no frills full range speaker:
1. Less invested in sound reinforcement gear
2. More invested in tone shaping "musical" gear
3. Fully scalable, portable, and independently upgradable
4. You can use anyone's (venue's) speakers and still sound good
5. Less reliance on third party sound person
6. Practice anywhere with your fully mixed sound
7. Inexpensive factory pickup systems sound good enough with SS box.
8. Avoid the cost of carrying your own DI box.

Reasons this might not work:

1. Other musicians sharing the system would be disadvantaged
2. A user's disinterest in pedals or technology in general
3. Another thing to carry plus an extra 3 cables
4. A user is otherwise satisfied with their system
5. You can't just walk up, plug in and play in an open mic scenario.
6. There are endless other ways to accomplish the same thing
7. I just bought an expensive (insert Bose, Fishman, AER, Schertler, Carvin, Line 6, etc.) system last week!

In my case, I have a great 2 channel Line 6 product that sounds beautiful for the acoustic guitar and very good for the vocals. But, my vocals sound better through the SS box and the guitar is just as good or better. As of now, I am dumping the SS box into the line input on the speaker and using a flat EQ and reference PA mode. It sounds great. Now, I don't need the mixer and features built into the speaker. I just need the speaker. I could even downsize or upsize the speakers and sound just as good. It's temping to leave the SS box at home and say I'll only use the speaker, guitar and mic. But, my vocals wouldn't sound as good. And, after the guitar, mic, two leads, mic stand, speaker, power cable, speaker pole, the SS box, power brick and one extra XLR cable seems insignificant.

Thoughts?
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Taylor 858e (ES2)
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Last edited by martingitdave; 08-24-2016 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 08-24-2016, 12:40 PM
southpaw pete southpaw pete is offline
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Yeah, I really prefer running my voice and guitar through the Play Acoustic when possible. There are some shows where stage space is limited and I am playing acoustic, bass, bodhran, mandolin, djembe, and singing... in those shows I just run my guitar direct to the mixer or through my PADI to the mixer. I prefer the sound through my Play Acoustic, but don't really have the room for it on stage with everything else I'm shuffling around. But if I am primarily playing my acoustic and singing, like when I'm leading at my church or performing somewhere with my band, I almost always run through the Play Acoustic. I love what the adaptive tone and touch of reverb adds to my voice, as well as the BodyRez and reverb with my acoustic (not to mention the tuner, DI out, etc...).

That being said, sometimes I want the interaction of my guitar with an amp on stage. For those sets I bring my SWR California Blonde, run straight in to it, and go to the board from the XLR out of the back. I don't know what it is, but there is some kind of synergy that happens in that set up that is different than running the Play Acoustic and monitor. It all depends on the set, the other musicians, stage setup and overall vibe I'm going for that day I suppose.
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Old 08-24-2016, 04:27 PM
buzzardwhiskey buzzardwhiskey is offline
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Three points:

1) I don’t see traveling solo or duo acts using them when they come through. So my experience is virtually nil.
2) When I have a few minutes to better my show, I always spend it learning new tunes and practicing vocals, or writing. These boxes require that I practice a whole “other” thing, and I just haven’t even considered integrating that.
3) Everything that I do solo, I want to be able to do as a band with up to six members. And these boxes don’t seem to translate well.
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Old 08-24-2016, 10:51 PM
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Default Do you need an expensive acoustic amp or PA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzardwhiskey View Post
Three points:



1) I donít see traveling solo or duo acts using them when they come through. So my experience is virtually nil.

2) When I have a few minutes to better my show, I always spend it learning new tunes and practicing vocals, or writing. These boxes require that I practice a whole ďotherĒ thing, and I just havenít even considered integrating that.

3) Everything that I do solo, I want to be able to do as a band with up to six members. And these boxes donít seem to translate well.


All good points. It may be that these boxes are "prosumer" products that don't translate well to professionals. Or, maybe they haven't caught on.

I agree that all the technology and features can be a distraction. For my use, I have 1 out of 500 presets working for me. It seems to be enough. I don't use the harmony or loop - yet. :-)

Completely agree with the band member limitation.


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Taylor 858e (ES2)
TC Helicon Play Acoustic / Zoom A3
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Old 08-25-2016, 05:04 AM
Marty C Marty C is offline
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Play Acoustic became my go to as well. I also have a play GTX and when I play a duo, I have the same vocal settings programmed into it. I allow my partner to run his set up through it. He typically only uses the vocal and runs the guitar "through" the GTX so he only is using the GTX for guitar with regards to the tuner only.

I too have dropped the processing of a mixer and amp. I go Play Acoustic to a powered speaker or straight to the FOH mixer. I had added a small Mackie mixer in my set up so I could adjust the eq at my feet, but I dropped that recently to make room for a page turner pedal for my iPad on my pedalboard. I am much happier with the overall sound.

I love the vocals from this box and more this anything, to me - it makes my vocals and results of the end sound more predictable. I don't have to rely on anyone else to give me what I like. Things like compression (which is most often not available) reverb and/or delay.

I too only use a few presets. Maybe just 2-3. More for changes in the guitar settings than the vocals. Mainly when changing from songs where I strum hard to a soft fingerpicking tune. Once in a tight space, I mounted my play acoustic on the powered speaker with Velcro. I stuck with one preset only and tuned my guitar with a tuner mounted on the headstock.

Last thing I like is cable control. Two short cables (mic and guitar) running to the play acoustic and only one out to the board makes a cleaner and easier set up. Once I had so many cables in my set up, it cluttered the stage badly. I walked off during a break and my guitar cable was around my leg. I pulled my new Martin right off the stage. Never got over that damage. Only cosmetic, but still sad about it. To save on space, I now have everything mounted on my pedalboard - including my mic stand and guitar stand. Mic cord stays always on the pedalboard - very concealed and the guitar cord is very short (maybe 6 feet). Plug in my guitar, connect my play acoustic to the powered speaker (again just one cable) add power to my pedalboard and powered speaker and I am done.

All works for me and just my experiences.
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Old 08-25-2016, 06:20 AM
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Marty,

Your post confirms everything I suspected. Your setup is what I assumed someone with the TC Play Acoustic could downsize to. Can you tell me about the venues you play in? When you are a duo, what PA gear do you use with the two SS boxes? You'd need two channels for the GTX, plus one channel for the Play Acoustic?

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Martin D-28A '37 (K&K)
Martin DR Centennial (Trance Amulet MVT)
Taylor 858e (ES2)
TC Helicon Play Acoustic / Zoom A3
Line 6 StageSource L2t (for sale)
Carvin StageMate S600B (for sale)

"Lift your head and smile at trouble." "You'll find happiness someday."
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Old 08-25-2016, 07:28 AM
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On the play acoustic, are there any eq. adjustments for vocal or guitar ?
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Old 08-25-2016, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 121 View Post
On the play acoustic, are there any eq. adjustments for vocal or guitar ?
Yes, the body res is a "one knob" solution with the ability to drill down to each parameter. The voice adaptive EQ is automatic with the ability to drill down to the parameters. Neither are a traditional looking analog EQ. They are adaptive digital programs.

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Martin DR Centennial (Trance Amulet MVT)
Taylor 858e (ES2)
TC Helicon Play Acoustic / Zoom A3
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Carvin StageMate S600B (for sale)

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Old 08-25-2016, 08:14 AM
The dman The dman is offline
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I wanted to say a few things because I've seen people dogging units like these but they could be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I have a feeling I use my box different than a lot of people especially compared to the demos TC has online most of which have way too much efx and harmonies for my taste.

I have a voice Live 3 and I love it. I don't use auto tune (hate it) I don't use backing tracks and I use the harmonies sparingly. I have it mounted on a pedalboard so I show up at a gig plug in my guitar plug into a powered speaker and I'm ready to go. I make presets for certain songs ....

Ex. If I have a softer finger picked song I make the preset so when I call the song up the guitar is already at the level I need it to be....If I plug in my electric guitar I have that setup for the tone and volume I want it to be for the song, If I sing a song that benefits from echo on the voice it's already done. Etc. Etc.

When I play with other people I line out of the my mixer and plug into their mixer, I can take my sound with me and I don't have to be dependent on the skills or lack of skills the person running the board has because my sound is already there

Is it for everybody? Absolutely not. I have friends that play and they would have no idea how to program or use a unit like the VL3 it would be too over whelming but personally coming from the perspective of a lifetime recording engineer it's actually pretty simple and extremely powerful especially if you use a laptop and the Voice live editor to edit your presets.

We've all heard units like these being misused with stacks of awful harmonies and cheezy backing tracks, that's the cliche that some people carry around about these units and I did too but like I said before you don't have to use it that way, sure you can make it sound cheezy as hell but you can make it sound really really good and I could never see going back to a mic and guitar setup with one sound all night long. The vocal sound alone kills vs going straight into my mixer

This is my current setup I just added the mixer so I can have my acoustic, electric and vocal going through the VL3, and when I need it I plug my mandolin and bass into the mixer and all are sent through one or 2 cables into whatever system I'm using. Easy and quick setup

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Last edited by The dman; 08-25-2016 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 08-25-2016, 08:18 AM
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DMan, that is an efficient setup and seems to be in keeping with what we're saying. Thanks for sharing!

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Taylor 858e (ES2)
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:07 AM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Well of course is there is no real yes or no and no right or wrong to it.
IMO while it is always advisable to use the highest quality PA system you can reasonably afford ( the weakest link factor). As far as what the particular pieces that may entail, is strictly a matter of what kind of ( Sound) the individual wants to achieve vs what level of complexity they are comfortable dealing with.

I personally prefer the sparingly judicious use of reverb, EQ, and compression. Beyond that it think it completely a matter of what the performer likes and is comfortable with.


This is the front end that I use for live gigs.
it is Monster 2500 power conditioner, a 2 channel Langevin (Manley Labs) DVC = Dual Vocal Combo that has Mic Pre,EQ and Limiter and a TC 3000 Stereo FX processor for the Verb. In an SBK 6 space rolling rack


Relatively simple system I plug my guitar and vocal mic into the DVC and plug my system outs into either my Fishman Solo, or the house board or speakers.
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Last edited by KevWind; 08-25-2016 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:48 AM
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Kev,

That looks like some serious gear. Your point is well taken. The SS boxes are more like a "prosumer" product then the gear you shared. It will be interesting to see how many performers adopt this rig.
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Martin DR Centennial (Trance Amulet MVT)
Taylor 858e (ES2)
TC Helicon Play Acoustic / Zoom A3
Line 6 StageSource L2t (for sale)
Carvin StageMate S600B (for sale)

"Lift your head and smile at trouble." "You'll find happiness someday."
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Old 08-25-2016, 12:59 PM
The dman The dman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Sweet Rig there
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:50 PM
jricc jricc is offline
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Hi Martingitdave, so I better understand what you are asking, are you using your SS box in lieu of a mixer?
If so, you make a very valid case of having a plug and play system, and you don't really need an over the top pa system. You have all your presets and when you plug into a flat response powered cabinet, you are ready to go.
thumbs up!
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Old 08-25-2016, 04:30 PM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The dman View Post
Sweet Rig there
Thanks I do like it, the only thing I would change is add a stereo FX send and return with level on the Langevin, so I could run the Verb parallel at 100% and just blend in the return to taste
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