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Author Topic: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events  (Read 916 times)

Don Martz

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Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« on: August 20, 2019, 10:33:29 am »

Hi,

I’ve been confounded by this for about a year now and would like your help if possible.   Thank you in advance.
 
In my studio at home, I connect a Roland Juno Di keyboard (1/4” outs) to the 1/4” inputs of a Yamaha EMX 5000-20 and have plenty of signal strength (probably 3db below clipping?) with the Juno set to about 50% volume and the Yamaha input (trim knob) set to unity gain. 

However, when playing live at larger events, the SR crew connects me via passive DI to their console and they struggle to get adequate signal strength even when I turn the Juno up to 100%.  Accordingly, when I take the 1/4” parallel feed from the DI Box to my onstage keyboard amp, it too has very low signal strength and I have to turn the keyboard amp nearly all the way up in order to hear myself.  (I choose not to have keyboard in my wedge monitor mix.)  This consistently happens regardless of what sound company is running sound.

Why is this and what can I do to get my “live” signal strength up to what I experience at home?  Is the passive DI attenuating my signal?  (Yes, I have confirmed in all cases that no attenuation switch is engaged on any of the DI boxes that I have used).

Any ideas?  Thanks.

-Don
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Bob Stone

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2019, 11:06:26 am »

Same DI every time (and if so, what model)? You sure there's no padding on the input to the DI that isn't switchable? Have you tried an active DI instead?

Since both your amp and the FOH console are experiencing low levels, it's probably the DI...
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2019, 11:13:38 am »

Internal volume setting in keyboard?  If it is established that using different DI boxes has been causing the same issue, then what about bringing up the internal keyboard volume if possible. If you can get it high enough to correct the issue when using a DI box, then you can simply pad for home use. I know my keyboards in the past have had some decent headroom available from factory settings.
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A young child says to his mother, "Mom, when I grow up I'm going to be a musician." She replies, "Well honey, you know you can't do both."

Don Martz

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2019, 12:24:46 pm »

Internal volume setting in keyboard?  If it is established that using different DI boxes has been causing the same issue, then what about bringing up the internal keyboard volume if possible. If you can get it high enough to correct the issue when using a DI box, then you can simply pad for home use. I know my keyboards in the past have had some decent headroom available from factory settings.
Thanks Bob and Debbie.

Different passive DI's each time so it's not a particular DI at fault.  No padding on any of them.  Haven't tried an active DI.

Yes I have been bringing the keyboard volume up to full and in each case, the soundman has barely enough signal at his board.
I may be mistaken but I doubt it's a problem the keyboard.  Roland had been making pro gear long enough for this not to be an issue with their design and, as I said previously, when I connect the keyboard directly to the "input B" 1/4" inputs of the Yamaha mixer in my studio, there is way more than enough signal available from the Roland.  The only difference here is: keyboard > 1/4" inputs of mixer = huge signal vs. keyboard > DI box > XLR of mixer = weak signal. 
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2019, 12:36:33 pm »

Thanks Bob and Debbie.

Different passive DI's each time so it's not a particular DI at fault.  No padding on any of them.  Haven't tried an active DI.

Yes I have been bringing the keyboard volume up to full and in each case, the soundman has barely enough signal at his board.
I may be mistaken but I doubt it's a problem the keyboard.  Roland had been making pro gear long enough for this not to be an issue with their design and, as I said previously, when I connect the keyboard directly to the "input B" 1/4" inputs of the Yamaha mixer in my studio, there is way more than enough signal available from the Roland.  The only difference here is: keyboard > 1/4" inputs of mixer = huge signal vs. keyboard > DI box > XLR of mixer = weak signal.

Did you check the internal volumes in the keyboard? Of course Roland is a good make - no argument there - but they could still be set lower than they need to be from factory. Even with the master fader up to 100%, there might still be some headroom on the internals.
What I was saying is that even though your levels are good in your studio, it might be an easy fix to simply increase the output of the keyboard by adjusting the internal levels ( only IF you have the headroom of course)  and then turn DOWN the fader for your studio. It was just a suggestion that might be  a quick fix.
The other suggestion to use an active box would probably do the trick if you don't have any headroom left inside the keyboard.
This is unusual because keyboard outs are usually SO hot and need NO encouragement at all to get good gains.
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Don Martz

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2019, 01:23:07 pm »

Did you check the internal volumes in the keyboard? Of course Roland is a good make - no argument there - but they could still be set lower than they need to be from factory. Even with the master fader up to 100%, there might still be some headroom on the internals.
What I was saying is that even though your levels are good in your studio, it might be an easy fix to simply increase the output of the keyboard by adjusting the internal levels ( only IF you have the headroom of course)  and then turn DOWN the fader for your studio. It was just a suggestion that might be  a quick fix.
The other suggestion to use an active box would probably do the trick if you don't have any headroom left inside the keyboard.
This is unusual because keyboard outs are usually SO hot and need NO encouragement at all to get good gains.
Ahh, now I understand what you meant Debbie.  Sorry.  Yes, I had previously normalized all of my patches to between 110 and 127 (Roland uses MIDI volume settings) on the patch volume settings internal to the keyboard so they are all quite robust.  And I agree with you; keyboard outs have always been hot in my experience and that is certainly the case in my studio where I connect the keyboard to the 1/4" inputs on the mixer.

For kicks, I just now finished a little experiment where I connected the Left 1/4" out of the keyboard directly to the 1/4" input on the mixer like I normally do.  Then I connected the Right 1/4" out of the keyboard to a passive DI and then into the XLR mixer input, which simulate the "live" setup where I've had problems.  Then I applied a mono patch (so as to ensure L and R are identical signals out of the keyboard) and checked the difference in signal strength between the two paths at the mixer.  21db difference!   The DI box setup results in a 21db lower signal strength than I get going directly into the 1/4" inputs on the mixer.  What on earth is going on?       
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Bob Charest

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2019, 01:45:08 pm »

Ahh, now I understand what you meant Debbie.  Sorry.  Yes, I had previously normalized all of my patches to between 110 and 127 (Roland uses MIDI volume settings) on the patch volume settings internal to the keyboard so they are all quite robust.  And I agree with you; keyboard outs have always been hot in my experience and that is certainly the case in my studio where I connect the keyboard to the 1/4" inputs on the mixer.

For kicks, I just now finished a little experiment where I connected the Left 1/4" out of the keyboard directly to the 1/4" input on the mixer like I normally do.  Then I connected the Right 1/4" out of the keyboard to a passive DI and then into the XLR mixer input, which simulate the "live" setup where I've had problems.  Then I applied a mono patch (so as to ensure L and R are identical signals out of the keyboard) and checked the difference in signal strength between the two paths at the mixer.  21db difference!   The DI box setup results in a 21db lower signal strength than I get going directly into the 1/4" inputs on the mixer.  What on earth is going on?       

Hi Don,

Hmmm, that is a bit weird...

Can you reverse the inputs that you're using to test with and get the same results? (Right 1/4" directly to 1/4" in the mixer and Left 1/4" into the DI?)

Best regards,
Bob
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Rob Spence

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2019, 01:51:50 pm »

Ahh, now I understand what you meant Debbie.  Sorry.  Yes, I had previously normalized all of my patches to between 110 and 127 (Roland uses MIDI volume settings) on the patch volume settings internal to the keyboard so they are all quite robust.  And I agree with you; keyboard outs have always been hot in my experience and that is certainly the case in my studio where I connect the keyboard to the 1/4" inputs on the mixer.

For kicks, I just now finished a little experiment where I connected the Left 1/4" out of the keyboard directly to the 1/4" input on the mixer like I normally do.  Then I connected the Right 1/4" out of the keyboard to a passive DI and then into the XLR mixer input, which simulate the "live" setup where I've had problems.  Then I applied a mono patch (so as to ensure L and R are identical signals out of the keyboard) and checked the difference in signal strength between the two paths at the mixer.  21db difference!   The DI box setup results in a 21db lower signal strength than I get going directly into the 1/4" inputs on the mixer.  What on earth is going on?       

Is the 1/4” on your mixer a line in or a mic in? Taking a keyboard out directly to a mic in will be a hot signal.
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2019, 01:54:44 pm »

Is the 1/4” on your mixer a line in or a mic in? Taking a keyboard out directly to a mic in will be a hot signal.


Good point....
Our drummer used to use a Yamaha MG mixer for his click, iem feed etc but I could NEVER give him an XLR from the mixer because it was so hot he couldn't get it low enough to use. I had to adapt to 1/4" his end.
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A young child says to his mother, "Mom, when I grow up I'm going to be a musician." She replies, "Well honey, you know you can't do both."

Don Martz

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Re: Low Keyboard Signal Strenth at Live Events
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2019, 02:00:06 pm »

Hi Don,

Hmmm, that is a bit weird...

Can you reverse the inputs that you're using to test with and get the same results? (Right 1/4" directly to 1/4" in the mixer and Left 1/4" into the DI?)

Best regards,
Bob
Yes Bob.  I just did so and the 21db difference is still there.  No wonder the FOH mixers have complained of low signal strength.  Not certain but I believe 21 db equates to a factor of 126 in signal strength!   

Could this be related to impedance mis-matching?  Not that I know anything about that.   
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