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Compressors on keyboards?


Ian Benhamou

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I just came back from a gig on the east coast where I had some major volume control problems. This is not the first time. I find I often either run out of head room or just have certain sounds not cut through the mix. This is expecially true of my B3 sound which is from my NE2 and my orchestral and string sounds from my PC3. The sound man suggested that I put a compressor on the inserts of my mixers main outs to even out the sound. I thought about it, and although it could be a good solution to my problem, I have some worries:

 

-Unlike guitarists and bassists, we have a huge palette of sounds most of which cover the full frequency range. Would one compressor setting make some sounds more even and others too squashed?

 

-Is using a compressor like patching up a hole in a flawed design? ie Would it be getting to the root of the problem or am I not programming my midi volumes properly and giving myself enough headroom?

 

-Should I instead use my keys/modules internal FX to eq and tailor each patch to sit better in the mix? What about panning? I usually have most sounds dead center.

 

-Should I run in mono?

 

-Should I get a really good amp system for onstage instead of stage monitors which change on every gig, and lost control of my on stage volume?

 

How many of you have had similar problems? How many of you use compressors? Is so, which ones?

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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-Should I get a really good amp system for onstage instead of stage monitors which change on every gig, and lost control of my on stage volume?

 

I think this would make a difference to your confidence.

 

How many of you use compressors?

If I am doing left hand bass, I compress it s bit to make a bit more forward. Apart from that, it's level balancing between sounds that does it for me.
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I would not recommend a compressor in a KB rig. Program the volume levels for the sake of consistency between KBs. :cool:

 

+1

 

I've spent countless hours doing this already. The problem, is every room is different, every sound system is different, and every monitor is different. Some frequencies cut though better than others. On some songs the mix is so dense that they don't cut through. I control my volumes on stage with pedals. But is what I'm hearing on stage as balanced what the FOH guy hears as completely out of whack?

 

How do you guys do this? Do you still give yourself a bit of headroom? What do you do when you're onstage and you just can't hear your lead patch during a solo?

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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How do you guys do this? Do you still give yourself a bit of headroom? What do you do when you're onstage and you just can't hear your lead patch during a solo?

 

Balance your patches song by song, using a FOH (audience perspective) recording as your reference point.

 

For monitoring, set it up so that you can control your own monitor level without affecting what you're sending to FOH, then knock yourself out. Making global volume changes while you play is only going to make the FOH engineer's life that much more difficult, which will result in him slapping a comp on your channel and setting it and forgetting it.

 

Of course, this has already been mentioned in that other thread, but what the hell... ;)

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Balance your patches song by song, using a FOH (audience perspective) recording as your reference point.

 

Never thought of doing this. Thanks. What do you use to record. One of those handheld recorders with built in condenser. I could use my laptop and record straight from the board. But I think a microphone will give a more accurate read as to what it sounds like out front.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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Never thought of doing this. Thanks. What do you use to record. One of those handheld recorders with built in condenser. I could use my laptop and record straight from the board. But I think a microphone will give a more accurate read as to what it sounds like out front.

 

If you can, grab one of the small digital recorders that are out now (i.e. Boss Micro BR, Zoom H4, etc) and put it near/in front of the FOH board. Avoid a board mix recording, because that doesn't tell you anything about what it actually sounds like in the audience. :thu:

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Yikes, compressing the keys? They're already compressed if they're ROMpler based vs. analog or physical modeling based.

 

Spend the extra time up front, preparing a Master List of your set material, and balance the patches and splits at home as well as at a practice venue or two.

 

Once you've done that, it's better to work with the guitarist (and bassist, if you aren't covering that on keys) to make sure they have a tone that isn't stepping on your critical range.

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I would not recommend a compressor in a KB rig. Program the volume levels for the sake of consistency between KBs. :cool:

 

+1

 

I've spent countless hours doing this already. The problem, is every room is different, every sound system is different, and every monitor is different. Some frequencies cut though better than others. On some songs the mix is so dense that they don't cut through. I control my volumes on stage with pedals. But is what I'm hearing on stage as balanced what the FOH guy hears as completely out of whack?

 

How do you guys do this? Do you still give yourself a bit of headroom? What do you do when you're onstage and you just can't hear your lead patch during a solo?

 

I don't mean to derail this thread, but I wonder about the following also being part of a solution or compounding the problem:

 

Does anyone out there send more than a stereo output from the keyboard mixer to FOH? How about a stereo output for each keyboard/instrument sent to FOH to allow the sound engineer more control, especially when your playing multiple keyboards concurrently? I'm thinking of using a Radial Pro D8 Direct Box to accomplish this. (www.radialeng.com/re-prod8.htm) Also, could someone instruct me how to direct the reader to a .com address such as the previous .com address, using the "click-here" notation, as I've seen so often in this forum?

 

Thanks!

 

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I don't mean to derail this thread, but I wonder about the following also being part of a solution or compounding the problem:

 

Does anyone out there send more than a stereo output from the keyboard mixer to FOH? How about a stereo output for each keyboard/instrument sent to FOH to allow the sound engineer more control, especially when your playing multiple keyboards concurrently? I'm thinking of using a Radial Pro D8 Direct Box to accomplish this. (www.radialeng.com/re-prod8.htm) Also, could someone instruct me how to direct the reader to a .com address such as the previous .com address, using the "click-here" notation, as I've seen so often in this forum?

 

Thanks!

 

I have only encountered engineers will enough inputs, time and understanding to run more than one keyboard in stereo on huge stages at festival gigs or huge churches or casinos. It sure is nice when they do, but for most of us playing in clubs, it's not going to be something they want to deal with. Usually if you aren't going through your own mixer and sending them signal, they'll want mono from each keyboard.

 

What I'd recommend to the OP is using some kind of keyboard amp as a stage monitor, even if it's not a very awesome one. As long as you can hear yourself through your own rig, you won't be at the mercy of stage wedges which is almost always a PITA- You sound check and get good levels only to find that you are super quiet come gig time. Your sound is piped through a crappy wedge in mono and you can't get the engineers attention to give you more of yourself - or the whole band is on 2 damn monitor mixes and if you boost it in yours then the guitar player and back up vocalist gets an earful. Lame lame. Be your own master and go through your amp.

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Does anyone out there send more than a stereo output from the keyboard mixer to FOH? How about a stereo output for each keyboard/instrument sent to FOH to allow the sound engineer more control...

 

:cry::laugh: Yeah, like THAT would happen!!!!!!! Never enough channels, and unless you travel with a sound guy, you're trusting some "sound guy" who doesn't know your band/music to balance your keys? No way.

 

Ian's biggest problem is it sounds like he doesn't carry ANYTHING in terms of his personal monitoring gear. Yes, rooms change, but they don't change THAT much: you're hearing disparities in rooms because you're relying on those rooms to supply your monitoriong equipment. And that, my friend, is a mistake...or sheer lazyness.

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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What I'd recommend to the OP is using some kind of keyboard amp as a stage monitor, even if it's not a very awesome one. As long as you can hear yourself through your own rig, you won't be at the mercy of stage wedges which is almost always a PITA- You sound check and get good levels only to find that you are super quiet come gig time. Your sound is piped through a crappy wedge in mono and you can't get the engineers attention to give you more of yourself - or the whole band is on 2 damn monitor mixes and if you boost it in yours then the guitar player and back up vocalist gets an earful. Lame lame. Be your own master and go through your amp.

 

+1.

I use an amp, and we use in-ear monitoring. I plug in the left in-ear, and leave the right dangling, so I can still get a feel for the sound in the room.

I send a stereo out thru the amp, and control the volume myself without altering the send to the FOH mixer. My amp is 300w, so I never have a problem hearing myself.

Relying solely on stage wedges is never going to satisfy.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

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https://www.abandoned-film.com

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I use an amp, and we use in-ear monitoring. I plug in the left in-ear, and leave the right dangling, so I can still get a feel for the sound in the room.

 

This is probably the worst thing that you can do. The damage that you are doing to your hearing is significant and irreversible.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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As a former/and still occasional FOH guy, I want FOH control of all sound sources that are intended for the audience to hear.

 

But the poster is right in that you need to travel with a FOH sound guy who knows your music. If you drop 12 feeds from six keyboards into the lap of a guy who doesn't know your music and your patch levels are all over the place, he is going to spend too much time just trying to keep up. Likely the rest of the mix will suffer.

 

There is no way that you'll know what it sounds like FOH from the stage. No matter what your ego says. That is why bands travel with FOH guys.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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How many of you have had similar problems? How many of you use compressors? Is so, which ones?

 

I use them a lot on my motif XS which has excellent VCM compressor. Here is very good intro on using compressors:

http://www.motifator.com/storage/support/Compressor1.pdf

by Bad Mister. I don't see any reason why you should not use compressor in keyboard if you have it.

 

http://www.yamaha.co.jp/product/syndtm/support/faq/tonesamp/motif-rxs/images/mrxs_1_16.jpg

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"-Is using a compressor like patching up a hole in a flawed design? ie Would it be getting to the root of the problem or am I not programming my midi volumes properly and giving myself enough headroom?"

 

A compressor is not the answer to your problem, and your problem is very common. When working/rehearsing a band, I spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking the keyboard player rigs, and it is really pretty annoying to have to get involved in something that to me seems so obvious and simple.

 

There are more precise ways to do it, but here's a simple explanation: In electronics/audio, you get your best sound reproduction by staying within certain parameters. Going above those parameters causes distortion as you push the FOH electronics too hard, going below them adds noise as the FOH guy pushes the limits of his gear trying to make up for the loss in level coming from you.

 

From a practical standpoint, doesn't it make sense that all of your patches (with perhaps a few exceptions) should be at the same level?

 

I'm not suggesting that you can not adjust your playing volumes to work within what is happening on stage at any given moment, just that you have a common starting point. Otherwise, you have to change volume levels at the beginning of every song and you have to guess; and so does the FOH guy. Consistent patch levels give both of you a break.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I use an amp, and we use in-ear monitoring. I plug in the left in-ear, and leave the right dangling, so I can still get a feel for the sound in the room.

 

This is probably the worst thing that you can do. The damage that you are doing to your hearing is significant and irreversible.

 

WHAT!!!????

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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Ian's biggest problem is it sounds like he doesn't carry ANYTHING in terms of his personal monitoring gear. Yes, rooms change, but they don't change THAT much: you're hearing disparities in rooms because you're relying on those rooms to supply your monitoriong equipment. And that, my friend, is a mistake...or sheer lazyness.

 

Actually, I do carry my own monitoring. It's not the greatest (JBL EON 10) but it gets the job done. I want to get a EV SXa 360, but I need to upgrade my guitar rig first. And I do have independent control using my mixer's aux sends for on-stage volume.

 

Regardless, my problem is certain sounds (especially orchestral and sometimes organ) not cutting through. And I know for fact this happens out front as well.

 

BTW, I think the last thing you could say about me is being lazy. I already carry 2 boards (88 and 76), a 10x4 slant rack, case for my pedals and cabling, 2 tier stand, z stand for rack, JBL G10, keyboard bench. Not to mention my guitar rig which is a strat, an acoustic guitar, a 2x12 combo amp, a 4 space rack, a pedalboard, and my guitar stands. Oh yeah, I also bring my laptop plus interface and external hard drive plus all cabling, power extensions, etc. This all fits in my Mazda 3 and I carry it by myself with no roadies to help me set it up. Lazy is just not part of my vocabulary.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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I use an amp, and we use in-ear monitoring. I plug in the left in-ear, and leave the right dangling, so I can still get a feel for the sound in the room.

 

This is probably the worst thing that you can do. The damage that you are doing to your hearing is significant and irreversible.

 

WHAT!!!????

 

Plus you are significantly contributing to Global Warming. ;)

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I don't see any reason why you should not use compressor in keyboard if you have it.

 

There's a difference between using a compressor as an effect and using it as a crutch.

 

Frankly, after all the discussion in this thread and the other thread I linked to above, if you still don't know why you shouldn't use one, then frankly there's no help for you. :wave:

 

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From a practical standpoint, doesn't it make sense that all of your patches (with perhaps a few exceptions) should be at the same level?

 

I'm not suggesting that you can not adjust your playing volumes to work within what is happening on stage at any given moment, just that you have a common starting point. Otherwise, you have to change volume levels at the beginning of every song and you have to guess; and so does the FOH guy. Consistent patch levels give both of you a break.

 

Well, obviously. But what sounds like balanced volumes at home, doesn't sound balanced in rehearsal. So I tweak and save my settings. Then onstage those settings aren't balanced. I try and adjust at soundcheck, but there's never anytime to check every patch for every song.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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But what sounds like balanced volumes at home, doesn't sound balanced in rehearsal. So I tweak and save my settings. Then onstage those settings aren't balanced. I try and adjust at soundcheck, but there's never anytime to check every patch for every song.

Make sute the mixer is set flat prior to making volume adjustments on the KBs.

 

Cop a decent pair of headphones to use as a central reference

 

Once set up, the relative volume between KBs should stay consistent from one room to another. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I use an amp, and we use in-ear monitoring. I plug in the left in-ear, and leave the right dangling, so I can still get a feel for the sound in the room.

 

This is probably the worst thing that you can do. The damage that you are doing to your hearing is significant and irreversible.

 

Bill, I can't agree with that one, at least not as a blanket statement. I've used one-ear IEM for over a decade - it requires self-discipline but then most of being a musician does.

..
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If you have ones of those "volume-creep" bands ... there is no set it and forget it solution. It's a matter of arriving at decent behaviors and communication from everyone at that point.

 

All volumes should be adjusted during group rehearsal because the less percussive a sound, the more it's perceived volume is affected by the percussive sounds surrounding it. It's all relative.

 

I second the full feedback loop. I take my Zoom H4 to rehearsal and I post mp3's on the internet for the band within a day. That way if someone is becoming a sonic bully ... they can hear it. Prevents the occasional liberty from becoming a bad habit.

 

Jerry

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"But what sounds like balanced volumes at home, doesn't sound balanced in rehearsal. "

 

Use a console meter, not your ears.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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"Bill, I can't agree with that one, at least not as a blanket statement. I've used one-ear IEM for over a decade - it requires self-discipline but then most of being a musician does."

 

Tim, as a blanket statement, it stands as fact. Are you an exception? Could be, but if you are, you will be the first one that I have ever met. I get my ears checked every two years, so I know what time and tide have done to me. (Get fitted for new ear buds at the same time.) Do you?

 

Second, just to check where those levels tend to go.... about the middle of your next second set, put the other ear piece in and see if you aren't blowing your brains out.

 

Third, consult your audiologist. Yeah, it costs a few bucks, but it is worth it. Even just to prove me wrong. (g)

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I use an amp, and we use in-ear monitoring. I plug in the left in-ear, and leave the right dangling, so I can still get a feel for the sound in the room.

 

This is probably the worst thing that you can do. The damage that you are doing to your hearing is significant and irreversible.

 

Bill, I can't agree with that one, at least not as a blanket statement. I've used one-ear IEM for over a decade - it requires self-discipline but then most of being a musician does.

 

I've seen a few pros doing this as well, but what the feck do I know.

According to Bill I should be deaf.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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