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Old 01-25-2021, 04:09 AM
Spacep0d Spacep0d is offline
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Default Help with signal path?

Hello AGF!

I started playing 5.5 years ago on a cheap $99 Jameson and now I have a Martin 000-16E Granadillo. I'm interested in cleaning up or simplifying my signal path for recording, but also for playing for people here at home with my PA. I'm primarily a vocalist but I accompany myself on guitar (chords and arpeggiation) playing mostly covers.

I'm looking to add a compressor to my signal path, but am not sure whether to go with a rack mount or pedal. Pedal is preferred.

There are some things I'm not sure about. Do I need a pre-amp, and why? The Martin is an acoustic electric but does this mean it has a built-in pre-amp?

Here's my setup;

Since my first Jameson acoustic I was using a T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic which I really liked for BodyRes. I have a pretty good guitar now and am okay either skipping this unit (if recommended) or keeping it as a tuner and FX for guitar and mic. I run both guitar and mic into this unit right now.

I have a small Yamaha MG10XU 10 input stereo mixer I can use.

Mic is a Shure SM-58s dynamic mic.

I use a Mackie HM-400 headphone amp because I need to pan a little left. I'm hard-of-hearing, with much worse hearing in the left ear than the right. This needs to remain part of my signal path.

I use a JBL EON PA mounted on a JBL PA stand.

What I need to add; compression. The crazy dynamics and the volumes I use are all over the place, especially since I prefer not to use hearing aids with my setup. Hearing aids are sonic cancer so I avoid them as they're meant to amplify speech, and they have their own compressor built in which I don't need if I use a real compressor. But, the levels hurt my ears despite the 'balance' I think I'm getting from the Mackie (being able to pan left of center). Can anyone verify that what I need is compression? It's not just the volume, because I set it to where it's comfortable....it's when I'm singing and imaging the mic (moving back when getting louder) is can still cause pain with some of the highs. The guitar is fine but I wouldn't mind more volume during quieter arpeggiation.

I have a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 for recording, but I haven't worked out a good way to record from my guitar seat yet. It's not close to the PC, but I can work on that later...perhaps with an extra keyboard/monitor.

What's the best way to add compression, or should I try to use the 'one knob' compression on the mixer? Or, I could go with a pedal. A rack mount is less desirable coz I don't have lots of room for a rack nearby.

This is a more complicated setup for playing at home but it lets me hear what's going on, and allows people to hear via the PA with levels set for normal hearing.

Ideas are welcome!
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Guitars:
Martin 000-16E Granadillo
Martin 000-X1AE Custom
Strings: Martin Lifespan PB Lights .012
Pick: Dunlop Nylon Standard Flat .46

Gear:
T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic FX
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Interface
Shure SM-58s Mic


Last edited by Spacep0d; 01-25-2021 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:39 AM
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I would not add more FX "stuff" into your chain until you can master getting it all under control with a relatively simple setup.

The Martin does have a preamp, though it's not a "line level" output, but what I'd call a relatively hot instrument level, so you won't need as much gain on the input device (amp, mixer, or interface) a a passive pickup or dynamic mic, for instance.

As you note, the Yamaha mixer has a compressor on channels 1 and 2. Just plug the guitar into one channel and your vocal mic into the other. Maybe get a volume pedal for the guitar, and learn to work the vocal mic. Record the mixer output without even going into the JBL so you can listen back to what the PA will be outputting. It's very hard to get a sense of what it sounds like while playing, even if you have monitors (though if you are not amplified, can you not hear yourself without a headphone amp??).
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:00 AM
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I would tend to agree with Keith

I would at least first try,,, just using the compression feature on the Yamaha mixer, see if you can get a reasonable levels for your playing live. For recording you can get any compression you may want in mixing in the DAW.

Also I would add two thoughts .....

At first really focus on learning to play and sing more balanced (between guitar and vocal) and more consistent level wise over all. Focus on intentionally (not) being "all over the place dynamics and volume" wise. I understand doing that for dramatic effect performance wise...... But that can come later. IMO much more beneficial overall to get consistent first, then chose when to intentionally add or reduce volume ( which actually can be pretty subtle in actual amount of db's) and still add the desired enhancement.

Second I would consider spending any money, on a new mic before an outboard compressor.
Either a good vocal stage condenser or an LDC (I think you will find ) switching from a dynamic mic to a condenser, will make any intentional vocal volume level changes much more noticeable with much less actual db level change, and thus easier to mix for live, or recording
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Old 01-25-2021, 01:46 PM
Spacep0d Spacep0d is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
I would not add more FX "stuff" into your chain until you can master getting it all under control with a relatively simple setup.

The Martin does have a preamp, though it's not a "line level" output, but what I'd call a relatively hot instrument level, so you won't need as much gain on the input device (amp, mixer, or interface) a a passive pickup or dynamic mic, for instance.

As you note, the Yamaha mixer has a compressor on channels 1 and 2. Just plug the guitar into one channel and your vocal mic into the other. Maybe get a volume pedal for the guitar, and learn to work the vocal mic. Record the mixer output without even going into the JBL so you can listen back to what the PA will be outputting. It's very hard to get a sense of what it sounds like while playing, even if you have monitors (though if you are not amplified, can you not hear yourself without a headphone amp??).
My hearing is very bad and no I cannot really hear my guitar (comfortably) without the headphone amp. This is a requirement and I couldn't believe how difficult it was to find a headphone amp with L/R balance! This makes it hard to test guitars in-person, you can imagine.

I'm not going for FX so much as trying to simplify and consolidate my signal path. Thanks for the response!
__________________
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Guitars:
Martin 000-16E Granadillo
Martin 000-X1AE Custom
Strings: Martin Lifespan PB Lights .012
Pick: Dunlop Nylon Standard Flat .46

Gear:
T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic FX
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Interface
Shure SM-58s Mic

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  #5  
Old 01-25-2021, 01:52 PM
Spacep0d Spacep0d is offline
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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
I would tend to agree with Keith

I would at least first try,,, just using the compression feature on the Yamaha mixer, see if you can get a reasonable levels for your playing live. For recording you can get any compression you may want in mixing in the DAW.

Also I would add two thoughts .....

At first really focus on learning to play and sing more balanced (between guitar and vocal) and more consistent level wise over all. Focus on intentionally (not) being "all over the place dynamics and volume" wise. I understand doing that for dramatic effect performance wise...... But that can come later. IMO much more beneficial overall to get consistent first, then chose when to intentionally add or reduce volume ( which actually can be pretty subtle in actual amount of db's) and still add the desired enhancement.

Second I would consider spending any money, on a new mic before an outboard compressor.
Either a good vocal stage condenser or an LDC (I think you will find ) switching from a dynamic mic to a condenser, will make any intentional vocal volume level changes much more noticeable with much less actual db level change, and thus easier to mix for live, or recording
Agreed on the DAW, but I'd like it to be compressed (reasonably) before it gets to DAW. I do a whole lot of playing without a DAW, and yes I know this is a recording thread, but I would handle DAW effects separately. I'm finding it difficult find a good balance between hearing my output (with unaided hearing loss) and not blowing out my ears when my vocals get louder, even with mic imaging. I've searched this forum and apparently a whole lot of people use light compression, so I need to do this too I think. There are a zillion pedals out there being recommended.

First I will try the compression on my mixer to see if that helps. Thanks!
__________________
--
Guitars:
Martin 000-16E Granadillo
Martin 000-X1AE Custom
Strings: Martin Lifespan PB Lights .012
Pick: Dunlop Nylon Standard Flat .46

Gear:
T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic FX
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Interface
Shure SM-58s Mic

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  #6  
Old 01-25-2021, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Spacep0d View Post
I've searched this forum and apparently a whole lot of people use light compression, so I need to do this too I think. There are a zillion pedals out there being recommended.
I use a smidge of compression on my pedalboard playing live, and I'm plugging my pick-up into a preamp and then on to the PA.

When recording, I use a good condenser mic and no compression at all when recording. If it needs any, I add it in post.

Two completely different usage cases. While you can record your compressed pickup signal, the recording quality won't be nearly as good as a dry signal from a good mic, and you're stuck with the compression whether it works with the rest of the recording or not.
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Old 01-25-2021, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Spacep0d View Post
Agreed on the DAW, but I'd like it to be compressed (reasonably) before it gets to DAW. I do a whole lot of playing without a DAW, and yes I know this is a recording thread, but I would handle DAW effects separately. I'm finding it difficult find a good balance between hearing my output (with unaided hearing loss) and not blowing out my ears when my vocals get louder, even with mic imaging. I've searched this forum and apparently a whole lot of people use light compression, so I need to do this too I think. There are a zillion pedals out there being recommended.

First I will try the compression on my mixer to see if that helps. Thanks!
Yes I understand but if it were me I would not use the laptop or DAW when you are playing live, I would simply use your mixer and HP amp and try the compressors on the mixer And conversely for recording I would either compress lightly on the mixer or not at all and do most or all of compression in the DAW

When you say difficult to hear you output are you talking about while playing live or when monitoring your recording input ?
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Enjoy the Journey.... Kev...


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  #8  
Old 01-25-2021, 05:47 PM
Spacep0d Spacep0d is offline
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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Yes I understand but if it were me I would not use the laptop or DAW when you are playing live, I would simply use your mixer and HP amp and try the compressors on the mixer And conversely for recording I would either compress lightly on the mixer or not at all and do most or all of compression in the DAW

When you say difficult to hear you output are you talking about while playing live or when monitoring your recording input ?
With respect to hearing, I'm basically partially deaf. My hearing in my left ear is way worse than my right. So, I monitor with a headphone amplifier (the Mackie HM-400) which has a L/R balance control. So, I struggle to hear everything but I do okay with headphones. I was looking for compression WAAAAY before recording because the dynamics kill my ears, yet I can't just turn down the volume because I need the volume on the low end to hear well. It's an unusual situation.

I can't just rely on the DAW for compression because I need to be able to play (before DAW) without pain. It sounds to me like I need light compression and to work on dynamics just to get satisfying live sound, and I can do more with the DAW.

But yeah I'll see if I can get decent results from the mixer first.
__________________
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Guitars:
Martin 000-16E Granadillo
Martin 000-X1AE Custom
Strings: Martin Lifespan PB Lights .012
Pick: Dunlop Nylon Standard Flat .46

Gear:
T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic FX
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Interface
Shure SM-58s Mic

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Old 01-25-2021, 07:00 PM
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keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
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Originally Posted by Spacep0d View Post
.... I was looking for compression WAAAAY before recording because the dynamics kill my ears, yet I can't just turn down the volume because I need the volume on the low end to hear well. It's an unusual situation.

I can't just rely on the DAW for compression because I need to be able to play (before DAW) without pain. It sounds to me like I need light compression and to work on dynamics just to get satisfying live sound, and I can do more with the DAW.

But yeah I'll see if I can get decent results from the mixer first.
So the compression is primarily to tame what you hear in the headphones?

Which JBL EON do you have? Most of those have inputs, i.e., they are PA systems, not just speakers. Does it have a headphone out? Is the reason you are using the Yamaha only because of the compressor on the channels?

Lots of questions, but I was thinking of the "Really Nice Compressor" product that could give you a ton of compression post mixer, but then you'd have to pick up a headphone mix from somewhere. If you are sending the mixer main/line to an EON PA with a headphone out, maybe you could use that output??? I.e., with this compressor between the Yamaha and JBL:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ompressor.html

P.S. This is probably in the wrong sub-forum!
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:54 PM
Spacep0d Spacep0d is offline
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Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
So the compression is primarily to tame what you hear in the headphones?

Which JBL EON do you have? Most of those have inputs, i.e., they are PA systems, not just speakers. Does it have a headphone out? Is the reason you are using the Yamaha only because of the compressor on the channels?

Lots of questions, but I was thinking of the "Really Nice Compressor" product that could give you a ton of compression post mixer, but then you'd have to pick up a headphone mix from somewhere. If you are sending the mixer main/line to an EON PA with a headphone out, maybe you could use that output??? I.e., with this compressor between the Yamaha and JBL:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ompressor.html

P.S. This is probably in the wrong sub-forum!
Thanks, maybe this post should have been in amplification or something. Sorry about that.

Thanks for the compressor link. I need the headphones to monitor any audio from the guitar or vox, and I'm using the mixer's output to monitor (via headphone amp with L/R balance). The JBL EON just amplifies everything but I cannot begin to hear that...too quiet and faces the wrong direction. If I had normal hearing and were doing a live gig I'd use a monitor, or in-ear monitors.

I'm looking to calm down the dynamics (with a compressor such as the one you linked) if for some reason the onboard compression on the Yamaha mixer proves insufficient.
__________________
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Guitars:
Martin 000-16E Granadillo
Martin 000-X1AE Custom
Strings: Martin Lifespan PB Lights .012
Pick: Dunlop Nylon Standard Flat .46

Gear:
T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic FX
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Interface
Shure SM-58s Mic

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Old 01-26-2021, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Spacep0d View Post
With respect to hearing, I'm basically partially deaf. My hearing in my left ear is way worse than my right. So, I monitor with a headphone amplifier (the Mackie HM-400) which has a L/R balance control. So, I struggle to hear everything but I do okay with headphones. I was looking for compression WAAAAY before recording because the dynamics kill my ears, yet I can't just turn down the volume because I need the volume on the low end to hear well. It's an unusual situation.

I can't just rely on the DAW for compression because I need to be able to play (before DAW) without pain. It sounds to me like I need light compression and to work on dynamics just to get satisfying live sound, and I can do more with the DAW.

But yeah I'll see if I can get decent results from the mixer first.
Yes I understand the hearing issue ( to a degree) I also have noise induced hearing loss mine is from 3kHz to 4kHz and is -40 db in the right ear and - 60 db in the left......then also typical age related gradual roll off loss, above about 13.5 kHz. And I agree typical audiologist testing hearing aid correction seems to be all focused on human speech as opposed to music.
Although so far my hearing has not presented a problem playing live. I do get the out of balance left to right issue in recording but have learned to use and trust the meters.
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Enjoy the Journey.... Kev...


KevWind at Soundcloud

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Avid Carbon interface , PT Ultimate 2021.3 .....Mid 2020 iMac 27" 3.8GHz 8-core i7 10th Gen processor,,128GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory,,2TB SSD storage,,Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16GB of GDDR6 memory,, on Catalina 10.15.7
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Old 01-26-2021, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Spacep0d View Post
Thanks, maybe this post should have been in amplification or something. Sorry about that.

Thanks for the compressor link. I need the headphones to monitor any audio from the guitar or vox, and I'm using the mixer's output to monitor (via headphone amp with L/R balance). The JBL EON just amplifies everything but I cannot begin to hear that...too quiet and faces the wrong direction. If I had normal hearing and were doing a live gig I'd use a monitor, or in-ear monitors.

I'm looking to calm down the dynamics (with a compressor such as the one you linked) if for some reason the onboard compression on the Yamaha mixer proves insufficient.
I believe you can use the AUX send on the Yamaha to send that to an external compressor and then feed that back in the L/MONO input on one of non-mic channels. (Note: most sends use a TRS to send/receive but the block diagram for this mixer shows it is only a send - it *is* confusing what they've done.) You would then use the AUX/FX send on the input channels, and zero out the fader on the vox and guitar, so only the FX return is going to the main mix, with the built-in FX turned *off*. Now, if do not want the compressor on the JBL/house PA output, you may not have the right mixer.
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Old 01-26-2021, 02:05 PM
Spacep0d Spacep0d is offline
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Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
I believe you can use the AUX send on the Yamaha to send that to an external compressor and then feed that back in the L/MONO input on one of non-mic channels. (Note: most sends use a TRS to send/receive but the block diagram for this mixer shows it is only a send - it *is* confusing what they've done.) You would then use the AUX/FX send on the input channels, and zero out the fader on the vox and guitar, so only the FX return is going to the main mix, with the built-in FX turned *off*. Now, if do not want the compressor on the JBL/house PA output, you may not have the right mixer.
Sounds right but this confuses me, lol. I'll re-read it a few times and see what I can come up with. Looks like Sweetwater has some nice pedal compressors such as the 'Keeley Compressor Plus 4-Knob Compressor Pedal'. Would this work okay to calm down my monitor mix in headphones?

Thanks so much for the advice!
__________________
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Guitars:
Martin 000-16E Granadillo
Martin 000-X1AE Custom
Strings: Martin Lifespan PB Lights .012
Pick: Dunlop Nylon Standard Flat .46

Gear:
T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic FX
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Interface
Shure SM-58s Mic

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Old 01-26-2021, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Spacep0d View Post
Sounds right but this confuses me, lol. I'll re-read it a few times and see what I can come up with. Looks like Sweetwater has some nice pedal compressors such as the 'Keeley Compressor Plus 4-Knob Compressor Pedal'. Would this work okay to calm down my monitor mix in headphones?

Thanks so much for the advice!
I actually have that exact Keeley pedal on my Electric guitar pedal board and it is great for pushing an electric guitar out in front of the band a bit, for leads. It might work ?? But I honestly I have not tried that and probably would not recommend it for acoustic/vocal.
I am thinking what you want is a compressor that has actual, attack and release time, gain, and threshold, adjustments. So you can tame the transients and high dynamics that are actually bothering and I am guessing maybe you will want to combine it in conjunction with an EQ that has multiple bands and Q adjustments to knock down any frequencies that are also contributing to that discomfort.
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Enjoy the Journey.... Kev...


KevWind at Soundcloud

Recording System :
Avid Carbon interface , PT Ultimate 2021.3 .....Mid 2020 iMac 27" 3.8GHz 8-core i7 10th Gen processor,,128GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory,,2TB SSD storage,,Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16GB of GDDR6 memory,, on Catalina 10.15.7
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Old 01-27-2021, 01:37 PM
Spacep0d Spacep0d is offline
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I actually have that exact Keeley pedal on my Electric guitar pedal board and it is great for pushing an electric guitar out in front of the band a bit, for leads. It might work ?? But I honestly I have not tried that and probably would not recommend it for acoustic/vocal.
I am thinking what you want is a compressor that has actual, attack and release time, gain, and threshold, adjustments. So you can tame the transients and high dynamics that are actually bothering and I am guessing maybe you will want to combine it in conjunction with an EQ that has multiple bands and Q adjustments to knock down any frequencies that are also contributing to that discomfort.
Howdy!

Yeah I went with the Mooer Yellow instead. Read the reviews and this seems to be a great bang for the buck for acoustic compression. Also bought a tuner so I can totally circumvent the Play Acoustic temporarily. This should help with the volume issues. I'll definitely try some EQ either from the mixer or from the headphone amp, in addition to the controls on my Fishman adjustments on the Martin 000-16E Granadillo.

Thanks for all of the help so far!
__________________
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Guitars:
Martin 000-16E Granadillo
Martin 000-X1AE Custom
Strings: Martin Lifespan PB Lights .012
Pick: Dunlop Nylon Standard Flat .46

Gear:
T.C. Helicon Play Acoustic FX
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Interface
Shure SM-58s Mic

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