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Author Topic: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie  (Read 9915 times)

Ron Roberts

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Many many moons ago (like almost 30 years ago) I played in a band, then later bought the band out of the PA system and ran a small sound business.  I'm thinking about getting back into it and I'm piece-by-piece acquiring pro-grade equipment to build a decent rig while I keep my day job.   I think the Neptune board I used back in the 80s had built-in reverb on all 16 channels.    What else do you need?   ha ha.
Well I thought we sounded great at least!

So I have zero experience and zero knowledge of how to implement outboard effects.   If anyone knows of a good book or online class - or a youtube video, let me know.

I have the opportunity to pickup a used analog Midas Verona rather inexpensive which has zero effects onboard.   And I'm trying to figure out how I can offer reverb/chorus/delay/etc. to vocals, snare drum, maybe keyboards, etc.

If my questions are just too sophomoric feel free to put me in my place or kick me out, but my philosophy has always been the stupidest question is the one not asked.

So here goes:  The first basic thing I do not understand is, all these effects units I see have only one or two channels input/output.   But I am going to want to put reverb/chorus/delay/etc.  on multiple channels.   For example if I have a 32 channel board, some of the instruments will run clean (I think).  A electric guitarist is going to handle his own effects probably; his amp or amp modeling simulator is his deal to make the sound he wants - its part of his instrument.   Vocals and drums on the other hand need effects from the PA system.    Am I on or off track here?

So on a 32 channel board - maybe I need to have effects on say 20 of the channels, and 12 run clean with no effects.   I certainly don't want to just run the whole L-R masters through the effects unit - then I will only be putting effects on the whole band instead of individual channels...  obviously don't want that.

Are there effects units that have 16, 20, 24, 32 channels like mixing boards?  Or do I need to have enough subgroup busses on the board and every channel in the subgroup either gets the effects or not.???   
 
Any direction you can provide will be appreciated.

Ron Roberts
Fairfield, CT
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 12:13:33 pm »

If anyone knows of a good book or online class - or a youtube video, let me know.
Start by getting and thoroughly reading this book:


http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reinforcement-Handbook-Gary-Davis/dp/0881889008/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1460562949&sr=8-9&keywords=Yamaha+Sound


Then go to the Study Hall and read everything: http://www.prosoundweb.com/studyhall


Quote
I have the opportunity to pickup a used analog Midas Verona rather inexpensive which has zero effects onboard.   And I'm trying to figure out how I can offer reverb/chorus/delay/etc. to vocals, snare drum, maybe keyboards, etc.

What kind of shows do you want to be able to do? I'm guess bar band, small local festivals, etc...? You might check into getting a digital console instead. They will already have fully parametric EQ and dynamics built into each channel, as well as reverb/chorus/delay/etc.. effects engines already built into the console. No, mind you, these ARE NOT the same as the onboard reverb that you used with the cheapo Mackie mixers of years past where all you can do is select a preset and control the master level. These are fully editable effects engines.


Quote
So here goes:  The first basic thing I do not understand is, all these effects units I see have only one or two channels input/output.   But I am going to want to put reverb/chorus/delay/etc.  on multiple channels.   For example if I have a 32 channel board, some of the instruments will run clean (I think).  A electric guitarist is going to handle his own effects probably; his amp or amp modeling simulator is his deal to make the sound he wants - its part of his instrument.   Vocals and drums on the other hand need effects from the PA system.    Am I on or off track here?


Typically, you will have one or two effects engine which runs, say, a reverb which has either a mono or stereo input. You dial in the amount of each channel that you want to send to that reverb unit and then the reverb returns to the console through it's own separate channel. Then you can mix in the amount of reverb that you want to hear. You don't normally have a reverb unit on every channel. You might have a couple of different reverb units, one for drums, one for vocals, maybe a delay and a chorus unit, so that's four effects units total. Each of which have four channels (usually some of the Auxiliary sends on the console) and then have four mono or stereo return channels on the console. So you don't need an effect unit for each channel on your console.


Another way to go, is to get into an outboard plugins model. You will need a computer or plugin server, a USB or Thunderbolt audio interface and the plugins licenses for whatever you want. Waves Soundgrid is an example of this kind of set up. Then it's just like setting up a bunch of analog effects racks. But the cost is probably prohibitive at this stage in the game for you.


Like I said, getting an entry level digital console makes way more sense than buying a used mid level analog and a couple racks of outboard gear. Look at Yamaha, Soundcraft, Allen and Heath and Behringer. They all have consoles in the $2,000-$3,000 dollar range that will fit your needs. If your budget is less you may have to look at buying used. First you have to define how many channels you need, and what your budget is.
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Justice C. Bigler
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 02:02:35 pm »

Since you already have the desk, decent MI outboard effects like TC Electronics are fairly cheap.  You won't have the versatility of a modern digital desk but the basics can be managed.

Typically time based effects like delay and reverb can be shared across many channels.  It's dynamics like gates and compressors that need to be individual on channels.  And that's where the racks and racks of outboard get complicated and modern digital desks have really saved the day eliminating buying piles of boxes and patching all these devices to channel insert points.

So back to time based effects.  You will have some number of post fader sends per channel.  Say you assign the first one to a reverb.  That send goes into the effect and the FX output goes into either a return on the board or some open channel.  Send 2 might go into another FX box set to a delay.  You won't have the delay on the snare drum channel but it will likely be turned up on vocals or solo instruments.  Some FX boxes might have a stereo set up where you can set a different effect.  Some returns on a board are stereo and you can use a stereo box to create a sort of stereo spread.  The send from the channel is of course mono, but things like reverbs can spread the sound and when you return them in stereo it will help to create a sense of space.  This is more useful outdoors.  I personally am kind of sparing with reverb indoors as most rooms have a fair amount already.  If something needs thickening up a small amount of delay usually does it.
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Ron Roberts

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 02:47:25 pm »

Start by getting and thoroughly reading this book:


http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reinforcement-Handbook-Gary-Davis/dp/0881889008/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1460562949&sr=8-9&keywords=Yamaha+Sound


Then go to the Study Hall and read everything: http://www.prosoundweb.com/studyhall


What kind of shows do you want to be able to do? I'm guess bar band, small local festivals, etc...? You might check into getting a digital console instead. They will already have fully parametric EQ and dynamics built into each channel, as well as reverb/chorus/delay/etc.. effects engines already built into the console. No, mind you, these ARE NOT the same as the onboard reverb that you used with the cheapo Mackie mixers of years past where all you can do is select a preset and control the master level. These are fully editable effects engines.



Typically, you will have one or two effects engine which runs, say, a reverb which has either a mono or stereo input. You dial in the amount of each channel that you want to send to that reverb unit and then the reverb returns to the console through it's own separate channel. Then you can mix in the amount of reverb that you want to hear. You don't normally have a reverb unit on every channel. You might have a couple of different reverb units, one for drums, one for vocals, maybe a delay and a chorus unit, so that's four effects units total. Each of which have four channels (usually some of the Auxiliary sends on the console) and then have four mono or stereo return channels on the console. So you don't need an effect unit for each channel on your console.


Another way to go, is to get into an outboard plugins model. You will need a computer or plugin server, a USB or Thunderbolt audio interface and the plugins licenses for whatever you want. Waves Soundgrid is an example of this kind of set up. Then it's just like setting up a bunch of analog effects racks. But the cost is probably prohibitive at this stage in the game for you.


Like I said, getting an entry level digital console makes way more sense than buying a used mid level analog and a couple racks of outboard gear. Look at Yamaha, Soundcraft, Allen and Heath and Behringer. They all have consoles in the $2,000-$3,000 dollar range that will fit your needs. If your budget is less you may have to look at buying used. First you have to define how many channels you need, and what your budget is.

Justice - thank you for all that info and for your time; I will get the book and think about getting a used digital board...
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 04:30:16 pm »

Justice - thank you for all that info and for your time; I will get the book and think about getting a used digital board...

I'm a former analog guy that learned the fundamentals of "what do they call it and where is the screen that controls it" by buying an original Yamaha 01v on eBay.  It was $ well spent, but it took some time to warm up to the idea of digital.

When it arrived I plugged it in and made sound at the outputs.  Then I put it on a shelf for a year.  I finally forced myself to set it up and refresh my memory and then loaded it for a small youth group gig.

I took an analog FOH rig with me just in case I got stuck but I was determined to make it work.  It was more of a challenge than I thought it would be but the results were good enough that I knew my time of analog mixing were coming to an end.

The money I spent on that mixer was tuition at Ye Olde Skool of Harde Knocking and it was a bargain in the long run.  I still have that mixer and it gets used to this day.
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Bob Leonard

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 04:34:18 pm »

In response to Tim's post, I don't think anyone suffered more "digital fright" than I. It took years for me to convert, and I'm glad that I did. So, if you want outboard effects send me a list. Mine are on a shelf doing nothing and I'm sure I can give you a great deal on anything you need.

And if you really want to get crazy I have a Soundcraft Expression 1 in the box for 1/2 price, $1250 plus shipping.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 05:54:08 pm »

Justice - thank you for all that info and for your time; I will get the book and think about getting a used digital board...

I see in your first post in this thread that you are in Fairfield CT, So am I. I would be willing to get together with you some time and talk with you about sound.
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Luke Geis

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2016, 06:46:01 pm »

I guess I am on the other side of the pool in terms of embracing digital? I remember when I first started doing sound only 15 years ago and digital desks were only just sort of becoming part of the game. I couldn't wait till there was one that would fit in my market. I even was talking with a computer buddy of mine about doing a S.A.C type system years before S.A.C even came about. I learned on analog and still love seeing all those knobs and buttons, but when it comes down to it, digital mixers just bring the win. Your profitability goes up, your set up time goes down, you have no excuse anymore for why you can't get a particular sound and it is so much cleaner and cost effective.

It has been mentioned before that newer users are skipping over the analog learning process making them a little bit less flexible or valuable when presented with an analog system which is partially true. From an employment standpoint I feel that is true if your looking to work for a bigger company. If this is a weekend warrior type thing where you will mostly be working for friends and acquaintances, it won't matter so much.

The things about analog is that with outboard gear, you will need to make more connections. This means that patching in that gear and how to send signal to it will require a little more work and knowledge. There is at least two connections going to and from each unit and there is power and cable management to consider too. I don't care much for outboard gear in analog because I think it look unsightly if it is not executed well in placement and cable management. I just assume have only a single FX unit for reverb and delay and perhaps a single space compressor to use on the kick drum and lead vocal perhaps. If you have conventional amps you will also need EQ for each monitor mix and for your left right mix. I was so against having a wall of EQ knobs staring me in the face I went with a few digital processors that handle all my EQ and signal management! I have power, EQ for 4 monitors and my L/R mix ( dbx Driverack ), 1 dual channel FX unit and one dual channel compressor in a nice neat 6 space rack. This rack sits on a DJ stand / pedestal and the height is perfect for setting the mixer on top of all that! I have a Allan & Heath GL2400 24 channel mixer that I have custom made patch cables and interconnects to go between the mixer and the rack. My amp rack all sits in an 8 space rack that sits beside the stand and has patch cables for that as well. It takes me almost three times as long to set up and patch all that as it does to simply set my digital desk on the stand ( or table ) and recall a pre made setting I have and patch the amps.

Digital will get you more attention, but analog will allow you to be more employable. 
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2016, 07:29:44 pm »

Racks of graphic eq's were impressive to folks.  Even more impressive were racks of 160s with the blinking lights going in two different directions.

Some years ago I set up an outboard rack with a (then common) parallel printer cable.  The contacts are more robust than the still used DB25 and there were enough connections to manage the I/O I needed.  One cable and everything hooked up the same, every time.  Quick release latches.  And you could get a replacement at the nearby drug store if you needed to.  The breakout boxes at either end took some time, but it was worth it.
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Dave Scarlett

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2016, 07:23:08 am »

Here's a deal on a good board but only for the next 24 hours at http://www.pssl.com/!ioiVO0ghxcplnP1HODoRdQ!/Killer-Daily-Deals

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Re: clueless about outboard effects - getting started for a newbie
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2016, 07:23:08 am »


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