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Un-Sound Man


BbAltered

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Yesterday's gig was outdoors. We were set up under a tent. It was a hot and sunny day, but it was breezy so we probably had the coolest spot at the venue.

 

The venue had hired a sound guy to set up and run the PA. When I got there, I explained to the sound guy that I monitor my two keyboards thru a JBL Eon, and he can use the direct XLR out to send the keyboard signal to the PA. Quick and simply baby.

 

After everything is set up and turned on, I first notice there is a loud ground loop hum coming thru the FOH speakers, and worse, thru my JBL. The sound guy confirms what I'm hearing, and tells me my keyboard rig is the source. By itself, my system is dead quiet, and I suspect the connection between the my JBL and the mixing board is making the hum in my speaker. After 20 minutes or so, the sound guy figures this out and removes the direct connection and sets up a mic pointed at the JBL. So now my monitor is as quiet as it should be, but there is still a loud hum coming thru the FOH speakers.

 

Perhaps worse, with nothing on any of the on-stage mics, loud intermittent wind noise is also coming thru the PA system.

 

I later notice the sound guy has run two different electrical lines from different power sources to power the show. That explains his hum problem.

 

This is a high visibility open to the public gig. How do you get a well paid sound reinforcement gig at an outdoor event and not know how to control ground loops and wind noise?

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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I often send the XLR outs of my EON's to the house. You have to be prepared for ground loops as the EON's connect the XLR ground to the ac safety ground.

 

I carry an XLR ground lifter like this one. Plus, a good DI box.

 

Mic the EON's? No thank you. :sick:

 

Edit: Never let the sound guy put a ground lift adapter on the EON's ac power cord. That puts your safety at risk. Especially outdoors.

Casio PX-5S, Korg Kronos 61, Omnisphere 2, Ableton Live, LaunchKey 25, 2M cables
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I had a bad hum in my PPA when I set up Sat night at a smaller club. I pressed the ground lift button on my Pro D2 and voila, noise gone
The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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I later notice the sound guy has run two different electrical lines from different power sources to power the show. That explains his hum problem.

 

Not necessarily; and what Murman said.

 

I pack a DI just in case this happens. A better solution would be an isolating transformer.

 

Wes

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Substitute rookie sound guy while the experts are working more important shows. Happens often.

 

Yes. These guys have to learn by making all the same mistakes the experts did when they were rookies.

 

That being said, it is completely up to YOU to at least carry a direct box with a ground lift switch.

Moe

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Yeah, one mic on a two-way speaker cab is sub-optimal at best. Obviously, it was the best the un-sound guy could manage at that moment.

 

I myself don't carry a direct box, because my job is to set up the keyboards and keyboard monitor, perform on the keyboards, and then pack it all up again at the end of the day. Anything else (sound reinforcement and connections to sound reinforcement) is someone else's job.

 

An XLR ground lift is a reasonable addition to the stuff I carry. The band has be talking about adding the keyboard into the band PA, but so far it is only talk. It also seems to me that any competent sound guy would be ready to deal with ground loop hums arising from an XLR connection. In the end, he still had a ground loop problem that had nothing to do with my rig.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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It also seems to me that any competent sound guy would be ready to deal with ground loop hums arising from an XLR connection.

Although, you're right in theory, in the real world you can't always count on competent sound guys. Most of us here carry DI's and other tools just in case.

 

In the end, he still had a ground loop problem that had nothing to do with my rig.

In the end, it's all about your sound. That's all that matters. :)

 

Casio PX-5S, Korg Kronos 61, Omnisphere 2, Ableton Live, LaunchKey 25, 2M cables
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That being said, it is completely up to YOU to at least carry a direct box with a ground lift switch.

 

Neu, Neu, Neu.... OK, so the un-sound guy can't be relied upon to have a proper direct box, so I should carry one (or two actually for my two keyboards, one of them a stereo direct box). And you never know, maybe the un-sound guy's XLR cables are crap, so I should carry some of those as well. And I should carry a mixer, because maybe the un-sound guy's mixer is on the fritz. And I should carry around horns, woofers, and subs because maybe the un-sound guy is deficient in the speaker department as well.

 

I don't carry any of that crap because it is not my job to do sound reinforcemnt. I do carry a powered speaker so I can hear the keyboards, and one that nicely sums the output of the keyboards and had a direct output available if the un-sound guy can make use of it. If he can't, that is not my job to take care of it.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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I wouldn't get too caught up in whether you *should* have to carry a DI, but rather focus on how that gig might have gone for you if you HAD carried one. Since the FOH sound is always a crap shoot, there is certainly nothing to lose by controlling as much of your own signal chain as you can.

 

FWIW, you providing everything up through a DI (with ground lift) is pretty standard these days. (If house's XLR turns out to be bad, at least it will reveal itself as the culprit pretty quickly.)

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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In the end, it's all about your sound. That's all that matters. :)

 

From where I sit, it sounds great!! The keyboard system is dead quiet when I'm not playing anything, present and full when I play (and both channels of the stereo pianos are heard).

 

I don't know what it sounds like at the front of the house. That is beyond my control, and indeed is not actually my job.

 

Now given a good sound source (which I provide), it is the sound guy's job to present that properly at the FOH.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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I wouldn't get too caught up in whether you *should* have to carry a DI, but rather focus on how that gig might have gone for you if you HAD carried one.

 

Yes it's easy to have one stashed in your bag of cables, pedals, and peanut butter sandwiches.

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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I don't know what it sounds like at the front of the house. That is beyond my control, and indeed is not actually my job.

 

Now given a good sound source (which I provide), it is the sound guy's job to present that properly at the FOH.

 

It's up to you of course where to draw the line. I certainly would not contemplate carrying a spare PA mixer! If that is the problem, the entire band cannot do their job. But having a direct box and a spare XLR cable or two is not going to burden you much.

 

I find that even when the sound guy is great, and the PA works fine, I get noticeably better sound OUT FRONT with my JDI Duplex stereo direct box than anything he is going to be carrying.

 

Moe

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Anything else (sound reinforcement and connections to sound reinforcement) is someone else's job.

I don't carry any of that crap because it is not my job to do sound reinforcemnt.

...not my job to take care of it.

OP, please listen to yourself for a minute.

 

As a former A1 and A2 on live TV productions, including plenty of concerts and music shows, I can tell you sincerely that the amount of aggravation and technical hassle you encounter on a show is directly proportional to the number of times you hear people at the venue saying the magic words, "not my job."

 

You're getting good advice from the other posters here. It's smart to build a little flexibility into your PA interfacing. Of course it's your business if you want to completely wash your hands of FOH tech considerations, but that hard-line stance has a real cost--it all but guarantees that you're going to experience more than your fair share of technical problems when gigging.

 

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I don't PACK a DI.

 

I have my stereo DI inside my simple rack bag hardwired into the chain. I plug the incoming KB snake into the rack and the Sound contractor plugs into The DI outputs. The gray phono audio sends that used to go to powered monitors now go to my IEM mixer. My Ventilator is also inside the rack wired up and ready. The MIDI jacks are leftover place holders from when this patch panel was installed in a large rack containing rack synths and effects.

 

The purpose of a thought out gig is multi-fold. It does provide a ground lift. It also makes setup and tear down quicker and consistent with fewer steps.

 

If you want to remove potential problems then remove the variables. But it is live music, there are no guarantees.

 

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y70/CEB2/Racklabeled_zps458a7cba.jpg

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I get noticeably better sound OUT FRONT with my JDI Duplex stereo direct box than anything he is going to be carrying.

 

A great big reason why I carry my own Radial DI Box. I have plenty of experience with PA. I know the brands of DI that suck, and I have seen "professional hire" companies carrying these same POS DI boxes.

 

If you don't carry or care about the DI box then don't complain about your sound out front, because ultimately the quality of the signal you provide to the sound guy is YOUR JOB.

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Yes, carrying a DI or two, possibly a mixer and an xlr cable or two (plus of course extra 1/4" cables just in case), is a good idea and not too much of a hassle or burden (and pretty much standard procedure as evidenced by the comments here). Part of your job is to make your own job and the sound man's easier and to get your rig to sound good and not cause problems. Complaining about the sound man's inadequacies and how you are put out by them, can be fun, but it is definitely not part of your job.

Rich Forman

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg Kronos 2-61, Roland Fantom X7, Ferrofish B4000+ organ module, Roland VR-09, EV ZLX12P, K&M Spider Pro stand,

Yamaha S80, Korg Trinity Plus

 

 

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If you don't carry or care about the DI box then don't complain about your sound out front, because ultimately the quality of the signal you provide to the sound guy is YOUR JOB.

 

Truth if it was ever spoken. Even if I take the line of "That's not my job, This is my job" (I don't), unless you're paying Big Touring Act kind of money to your own crew, in practice your job typically extends all the way out to the female XLR input. So yes, I pack a Radial DJI Duplex to every gig too.

 

The vagaries and shortcomings of contractors hired to do sound (as you've just experienced) runs such a wide gamut that prudence suggests being prepared for the worst.

 

But more than that, things go best when everyone on stage and everyone behind the board are working TOGETHER to give your audience the best possible experience within their abilities.

 

 

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Not my job, etc etc etc

 

IMO, if you were doing your job properly, you would not use a keyboard monitor which incorrectly connects the earth and audio reference grounds together....because this can cause a ground loop hum.

 

But more to the point, your job is to provide the sound man with a usable signal at the lowest common denominator, which is a mic interface. The DI box converts your equipment into a mic interface.

 

Let me tell you a little story. Three weeks ago a guy showed up at the gig, sound checked his piano and monitor, and just like he'd done a million times before, hooked up to the sound man. Nothing different, except this time the system hummed like a bitch. It turns out the XLR connector sending audio to the board had a bad ground pin due to a transport accident a few weeks before. XLR being it what it is, it was not big deal. Until now.

 

So this is where the whole gig goes sideways and everybody blames the piano player for not noticing a failure on the inside of a powered speaker.

 

Except that didn't happen. The piano player said, "Hey, Luke - you got a DI in that bag, or are you gonna make me walk back to my van to grab one?". Luke says, "Yeah, Wes, I got one here..." .... and the show went off without a hitch.

 

Dude, it's all about teamwork. And being able to get a transformer and ground-isolated signal to the XLR cable which is connected to the mixer is, IMO, in your sphere of responsibility.

 

Wes

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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The JBL Eon I use has a balanced output on a XLR connector built in. I don't know whether the output is line level or mic level (the manual doesn't say), so maybe that is the problem. But I have used this output numerous times with all sorts of PA equipment without problems in the past

 

Did I mention the PA system had a prominent hum with or without the connection to my JBL? And that my keyboard sound system only had a prominent hum when connected to the PA? Yes, I mentioned that.

 

OK pros: how do you do this: I got two keyboards, one which I run in mono, and one in stereo. In the normal course of things, the JBL Eon functions as the mixer for my three inputs, but because the balanced out of the JBL is a problem for this sound guy, the DI boxes will have to come off the keyboards. So I will need one stereo DI box and one mono DI box and the sound guy will need to deal with three signals, two of which are stereo images of one source, and the third is a separate source.

 

Me, I'm guessing the sound guy will have a greater likelihood of screwing up three signals from two DI boxes than when using the direct out of the JBL.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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Unshielded XLR cables, I'm guessing.

 

In theory, your Eon's balanced outs should be fine going directly to the board. You could also just go from your keyboards into a small mixer, send the Mains to FOH via stereo DI, and the Monitor to your Eons.

 

If something was widgy in the power supply at the venue, it was theoretically also widgy in your own chain, so it's still worth attending to the noise-suggestions here-- HumX, ground lift, or line isolator of some kind (which still mostly means just picking up a DI with ground lift and killing two birds with one stone).

 

FYI, if you are sending a single summed output to FOH anyway, you might as well just use the L/Mono out of whichever keyboard you're running stereo from, since you're not running stereo anyway. (I think some people here argue for instead using the non-summed output channel in some cases, but I joined after that discussion ran its course and haven't seen it elsewhere, so can't vouch either way.)

 

Mostly, I'd be very wary of the "blame the sound guy" knee-jerk. It's a bit like not wearing your seatbelt and complaining that someone made you break your windshield with your head by cutting you off. Well, it's true they cut you off. But how it went from there, had been up to you all along...

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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Assume the worst, and you'll never be disappointed.

 

Which is why I keep a canvas bag with a 30' heavy duty extension cord, a quad box, a ground fault ac box, a Radial D2 DI and an assortment of spare XLR and 1/4" cables. And each and every item saved my butt at one point or another this summer.

 

Better to be prepared to resolve a problem - than to have to work around it.

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Always bring spare cables and an extension cord. That's a must. I used to keep a spare stand and (another) extension cord in my trunk.

 

Of course then we have musicians who forget their stuff and borrow your stuff. :facepalm:

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Yeah, sorry, whatever sympathy I may have had in this situation is completely gone with the "not my job" stance. Music is a team sport, there's no "I" in team, and I look upon the many friendships I've developed over the years (and, subsequently, the jobs I've gotten) by being the guy that's flexible and over-prepared, including XLR cables, DI boxes, extra mics, etc.

 

Very often the person trying to work his way through the gig was thrown into an unknown situation and showed up to a shit-show of gear that is woefully inadequate by a promoter. Add to that the diva muso attitude, and there's no way keys are going to make it into the mix. ;)

 

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Very often the person trying to work his way through the gig was thrown into an unknown situation and showed up to a shit-show of gear that is woefully inadequate by a promoter. Add to that the diva muso attitude, and there's no way keys are going to make it into the mix. ;)

 

Very good point. It's a safe bet that the guy MOST bothered by the hum in the system, was the guy responsible for keeping hums out of the system...

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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You guys are making the classic mistake of hearing hoofbeats and instead of anticipating horses, you're out there looking for zebras.

 

A) The un-sound guy set up a noising humming PA system. The noisy hum was there with and without the keyboards included.

B) Connecting the keyboard sound to the PA did not change the noisy humming PA in any way. What the connection did do was make a noisy hum in the otherwise quiet keyboard rig.

C) Having a Radial Pro D2 on hand (I actually have one in my studio) would not have helped the situation: it would not have gotten rid of the hum in the PA (which was present without the keys included), and it would not have gotten all the keyboard signal to the PA (which would have required two DI boxes if one of them is stereo). Maybe this is why the un-sound guy did not whip out his smartly pre-planned collection of DI boxes, but instead opted to sticking a mic in front of the keyboard monitor.

D) As many in this thread say, having a single stereo DI box works, but only if you have a mixer as well. So now, the CW is I should have keyboards, mixer, DI, and amp/speaker. More is not necessarily better, it is only more: that includes more expense, more stuff to carry, more time to set up and break down, more possible ways to screw things up, and more things to fail unexpectedly. And as the un-sound guy shows us, even with all his more, he still is operating a noisy system. Meanwhile, I get paid the same amount whether I use more or less.

 

Absent the un-sound guy's system, my rig reproduces all the piano and organ sounds I play today without extraneous noise. It is solid and robust, and does everything I need it to do. But no, it will not solve all the world's problems, nor compensate for a poor PA.

 

 

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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FWIW, this thread is filled with people I'd go to in a second for technical and equipment-related advice.

 

But you're not here for input, correct? You're here for co-signers.

 

Can't help with that one.

 

Best of luck to you.

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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You guys are making the classic mistake of hearing hoofbeats and instead of anticipating horses, you're out there looking for zebras.

You are making the classic mistake of not reading carefully. I've played in many venues with my two EON10 G2 monitors and the XLR ground lifter solves the ground loop problem every time. It also lets you continue to use the built-in mixer.

 

Obtw, you've asked for help regarding the output level of your EONs. But you never gave us the model number. There are lots of EONS ...

 

The hoofbeats you're hearing is the rest of the forum reacting to a perceived bad attitude.

Casio PX-5S, Korg Kronos 61, Omnisphere 2, Ableton Live, LaunchKey 25, 2M cables
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