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Author Topic: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions  (Read 2407 times)

David Kulick

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Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« on: July 21, 2018, 09:29:44 pm »

I'm a retired computer programmer living in a 55+ community that has a 350 seat theater with a Soundcraft GB4 (32 channel) board. We mostly get tribute bands - this coming year we have the Rolling Stones, Doors, Creedence, Neil Diamond, etc., and some small local bands and old crooner folks. I started helping out last year, setting up monitors and cabling instruments and learned how to use direct boxes and basic board functions. I also handled one of the two spotlights. The sound guy isn't available for most of the shows this year and I'm going to be handling the board. Big promotion.

I think I understand the GB4. I've watched every youtube video on it (paying special attention to the EQ functions), and I've read the manual several times and sometimes I just sit there and play with it and figure out how it works. Most videos ignore the group and matrix sections, and we never used those before, but our sound guy always brought two SM57s to mike the drums (one kick, one overhead) and since we won't have those mikes, I bought the Shure PGADrumKit7 and a second 8 channel snake to handle those seven mikes. If nothing else, we should end up with a cleaner drum sound.

My plan is to dedicate channels 25-31 for the drums, and I've watched every video on how to mike drums. My plan is to use a group for them, and that's what I don't fully understand. This line is from the manual explaining the mono input channels: "The signal is sent to the stereo mix bus, centre bus and 4 group busses using the C, L+R, 1-2 and 3-4 switches. Note the use of group 1 & 2, and group 3 & 4 as 2 sets of stereo pairs." My idea was to send all the drum mikes to group 1 (not L+R as we've always done with each input channel) and have group 1 as the master volume for all the drums, feeding that into L/R. We really only need Left since our system is essentially set up as mono, something I'd like to change in time, but currently the left channel goes to the entire front speaker setup (left, right, center, sub). The right channel goes into some ring speakers on the ceiling 2/3s of the way back, and I have no idea why we need those. I don't plan on keeping them on unless you folks have an idea why they're needed. It isn't like this is Giant's Stadium.

I think I understand the idea of 2 sets of stereo pairs. If I don't use the L+R button, but instead use the group 1/2 button for the drum channels, the signal should go into groups 1 and 2 equally, unless I pan it, but I don't plan on doing that. The group section in the manual is a bit skimpy, but it seems that I can send each group into L/R and/or Center, and there's a pan knob for each group  although again I don't need that. Do I have this right?

So the idea is to mix the drums on those seven channels, and use group 1 as the master drum volume control. What I can't figure out is how to send that drum mix into the monitors (aux 1-4) since I don't see any way to send a group into aux. I can just send each drum channel into the appropriate monitor, but they won't be getting the mix that's going to FOH; it will just be whatever is sent from each channel. In some ways that's better than the full drum mix.

One of our residents is a drummer and I'm going to have him bring his kit to the theater in the next week or so and hook him up and give it a whirl. Should be educational.

Also, I'm a bit lost on the use of the Matrix section. Each group (1-4), and the left, right, and center outputs can be sent to Matrix 1-4. Each of those goes to a 1/4" output. What are those useful for? Actually I have a partial answer to that. Our center channel is mostly unused (no connector on the XLR center out on the back of the board), except that the center channel is sent to matrix 1, and the 1/4" output of matrix 1 goes to a hearing impaired transmitter.

Thanks for any help, and I'm sure I'm going to have more questions. Reading and watching videos (and watching our sound guy) isn't the same as handling the board with a band on the stage.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2018, 11:19:43 pm »

Where are you?
It might be worthwhile to hire one of our members for your first show to specifically teach you how to use everything.
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Patrick Tracy

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2018, 11:33:27 pm »

So the idea is to mix the drums on those seven channels, and use group 1 as the master drum volume control. What I can't figure out is how to send that drum mix into the monitors (aux 1-4) since I don't see any way to send a group into aux. I can just send each drum channel into the appropriate monitor, but they won't be getting the mix that's going to FOH; it will just be whatever is sent from each channel. In some ways that's better than the full drum mix.

Your instincts are good on this. You don't necessarily want the whole drum submix to be the source for the monitor mix. Just put what each musician needs in each monitor. On bigger stages monitor mixes tend to be more complete than on smaller stages where musicians can hear each other directly. For each monitor mix start with the primary thing to be monitored, usually that singer's own voice and/or that musician's own instrument. Then build a mix of the other stuff around that.

Mike Caldwell

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2018, 02:19:49 pm »

Long post warning!!!

Going back to Dave’s suggestion of hiring an experienced sound person, someone who has mic’d up a band, mixed live shows and knows how to troubleshoot  and adapt on the fly would be money well spent for a few shows.

Don’t take this the wrong way but a professional traveling act will not be impressed to arrive at a venue to find soundmen who have never set up and mixed a live band. 

And now the post……

The GB4-32 is a nice analog board with a decent amount of routing options.
As for sending a group mix to monitors as mentioned not something
you generally would want to do or can directly do without some creative
external patching, monitors are normally fed form pre fade auxes.

Each channel on your board had routing selection buttons, 1-2 , 3-4, LR and C
1-2 3-4 are for groups, when you select the group you want to assign to a channel
or channels press the button of the group you want to assign, deselect all of the other assignment buttons ( up position) and then use the pan control to make the final group
routing selection, panned left for odd number groups, panned right for even number
groups.

The group out then needs to be assigned to the master outputs either LR or C or both if needed.

To assign a channel directly to the main output only use the LR or the C output routing
select buttons.

Now having just said all of  that, how is your system configured and how is the board set up to drive the system, what is the rest of them system.
Do you have any effects units or compressors, effects units are driven from a post fade aux out and returned in to one of the stereo return channels or directly into an input channel on the board, if  you use an input channel make sure you do not turn the effects
aux send on that channel.

Compressors are normally set up to “insert” directly on a channel or on a group with a special ¼ inch TRS plug cable that connects to the input and outputs on the compressor.

For the matrixes on your board chances are that’s not something you need to worry about at this time… unless (going back to system configuration question) one of them may feed set of speakers somewhere else in the building, a recording system, ect.

For starters I would not worry about setting up groups, just assign all the channels directly to the main mix.
Double check your stage monitors jacks on the stage to confirm what aux they are controlled by.

As to how to mix and EQ instruments and vocals, I’m not sure that something that can fully explained on a You Tube video or on a message board forum other than saying make sure you can always hear the vocals your just going to have jump in and go for it.
I will say don’t all hung up on getting the greatest sounding instrument tone when listening to it all by itself but rather how a given instrument sounds when mixed in
with every thing else coming off of the stage.

When it comes time to put a live band on your stage something you may not have much if any control over is how loud the band runs their guitar amps or pounds on the drums and that will be a big factor in how you actually “mix” the show or if your just doing damage control all night!
 
Have they had live rock act bands in there before?


You should make contact with all the bands ahead of time to get their tech rider info, stage plot and input list  then go over with them to see what they really are going to need or can get by with.
If your lucky some of the bands maybe carrying their own in ear monitor systems, you will need to patch them into the aux outs on the board or at some point in the system that connects back to the boards aux outs, if your stage monitors are passive (requiring and amp to run) do not connect an IEM system to the speaker jacks on the stage.

If your really lucky a band will have a self contained monitor system and give you a mic spilt into your system.


David Kulick

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2018, 02:12:52 am »

Thanks for the replies. We have a compressor/limiter that covers the entire output of the board, or at least there's no sound if that's turned off. Aux 1-4 are pre fade and are the four monitor mixers. I've set those up often enough to know which one is which. Aux 5-8 are (by default) post fade and 7 is used for reverb. I'll make very sure not to send that channel to aux 7.

The top item in the rack is the power center, next is the reverb, then the compressor/limiter, six equalizers for the four monitor channels and the left and right channels - supposedly tuned to the room and we don't touch those. The Berringer with the handles is the amp for the four monitors, and below that are two equalizers that appear to be left over from a previous system and I think are doing nothing but there's no power switch so I can't turn them off easily and prove it. Then is a  switcher used for switching video input devices to the main projector and two side projectors and booth monitor. We just replaced that switcher with a hi-def HDMI switcher. Below that is a Blu-ray player and the beginning of the power amps, of which two, including a Crown, are also left over from a previous system and are doing nothing. I have plans for those if I can ever set up surround sound for movie nights. I may need those board matrix outputs to handle those extra channels.

I'm pretty confident that I can handle the board, although having the band boosting their amps would piss me off. I plan on setting gain to what is happening during the sound check and I don't want them bumping up the level coming into those channels once that gain is set. I know that they will.

I have the drummer coming in on Saturday morning and I'll try out the new drum mike kit and some of the things I've learned about the board. No one knew how to use the Talkback mike - we just used a mike through the main PA. Well, apparently you hold down the button for the appropriate monitor and talk through the monitor. That makes sense. Also, no one knew about using the PFL buttons. I used to walk to the stage to listen to the monitors if there was a question about something being loud enough. Well, press PFL for that monitor and listen through headphones - we don't have a monitor speaker, something I plan to rectify.

I also just received two new SM57s. I don't know what we were using to mike the guitar amps last year but it was a wired mike, and the only wired mikes we have are 58s so I guessed we used those. I know a  local guy who fronts a tribute band and I talked him into doing a rehearsal at the theater, and that's going to be my rehearsal for the upcoming music season. I think it should all go well.


I'm in southeast Florida, Palm Beach County. If the rehearsal doesn't go well, maybe I do hire someone to look over my shoulder. I'll know more after the drum rehearsal and even more after the tribute band rehearsal. Should be fun.
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Ray Aberle

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2018, 01:39:23 pm »

S'lotta EQ on those wedge mixes...
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David Kulick

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2018, 05:17:06 pm »

S'lotta EQ on those wedge mixes...

True. The mains as well. I don't know why that is. My understanding is that the guy who assembled the system did the EQ to the room and we're supposed to leave it alone. There's actually a plastic partition that keeps our dirty hands off those equalizers. I certainly don't know enough to go against his wisdom, which has been handed down from theater volunteer to theater volunteer through the ages. But I can get in contact with him and plan to do so well before the concert season begins in late October. I'm doing everything I can to understand the system and get good at it, but I think I'd like to hire him just to confirm what I think I know.


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Chrysander 'C.R.' Young

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2018, 05:48:15 pm »

S'lotta EQ on those wedge mixes...

And they all feature the old-fashioned redneck hi-pass setting.   ;)

Not being snarky, OP - any chance you can sell everything but the amps and get an X32/M32?  That gear is all older, but competent, stuff, but any tribute band I have mixed in the last few years would take one look at this system and go out and get their sound system from the trailer.  I wish you were a bit closer; I would pop down and give you a hand, but it is a bit of a drive from N FL to you.
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2018, 06:23:19 pm »

Of those Eq's what is mains and monitors, they all sorta have the same thing going on.

What does your main speaker system consist of?

Patrick Tracy

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2018, 01:24:45 am »

S'lotta EQ on those wedge mixes...

Yeah, you gotta be able to adjust them yourself. Especially monitor eq, it's not a set and forget kind of thing. Plus there's a good chance that's overkill.

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Re: Newbie Soundcraft GB4-32 questions
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2018, 01:24:45 am »


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