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Author Topic: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?  (Read 1396 times)

Jeff M Hague

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x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« on: September 21, 2020, 10:42:16 am »

Havent been on in a few years and forgot my password and no longer use the email address from my old account so this is a new account.
How has everyone been? Glad to see there are still some familiar faces here!

Sorry for the long post...
Recently I have been helping a small club with their system and have a couple questions about the x32. I have mixed on several x32s and m32s but I havent delved in to much more than just mixing - stage boxes, routing, busses, groups, matrices, etc.

It is a pretty straightforward setup - x32 and 2 s16s - AES A on the x32 to AES A on 1 s16s and a jump from that s16 to the other. Inputs and outputs are assigned 1 to 1 so there is nothing complicated there. Currently the mains are Harbinger 15/1s over Harbinger 18s and there are 4 Harbinger 12/1s for monitors - all powered. The owner is ordering QSC KS12.2s over KS181s and those should be in within a week or 2. He is going to replace the Harbinger wedges with KS12.2s at some point too but cant afford it all at once.

They bought the x32 used so it already had a lot of saved scenes and there have been a number of soundguys who have worked on it and have their own preferences for setup.
They have a few regular soundguys who are fairly green and know how to mix on an x32 but dont know a lot about busses, groups, DCAs, matrices, etc. For the most part they walk in and just start with whatever config was left by the guy before. The system has been plagued with feedback issues, gain issues, things dropping out, all the liitle things that can drive a soundguy nuts! We did find the cat5 cable had a bad end which is what was causing the dropouts and replaced that so there was 1 easy win.

I did 1 show and I didnt want to make a lot of changes since Im not the primary guy there so I used the scene that was already loaded and I had many of these issues. I copied the scene I was using and loaded it in to x32 edit at home to have a look around and found a lot of things that didnt make much sense to me. They had a band practicing Saturday morning so I went and talked to the owner about the issues I had found and we agreed to start from scratch with a very simple setup. While I was there the soundguy that was mixing the practice was having a LOT of feedback issues and the band was complaining about hiss in the wedges. I went in yesterday to start making some changes and found that all of the speakers were set to mic instead of line input. When I showed the clubowner he said a guy who was mixing a few nights ago couldnt get enough gain so he set them all to mic. Yikes!

Anyway...
The original setup had DCAs set up for drums, instruments, and vocals but also had groups set up for those and those groups all fed matrices. The groups and the matrices had eq and compressors engaged. None of the current soundguys were really aware of that and didnt know why it was set up that way - they just walked in and mixed. It was confusing as hell because there was a DCA, a group, a matrix and a bus (monitors) all named drums for instance.
Personally for a club rig with different operators I prefer to keep it simple. DCAs for drums, bass, guitars, keys and vocals so they are handy on the right bank of faders and no groups or matrices. If someone has a specific reason to use a group or a matrix they can set it up when needed but no reason for the those to be part of the day to day config.

  • Aside from maybe parallel (bus) compression is there any reason to use groups the way the rig was originally set?
    Also, why feed those groups to matrices?

At 1 point they were using the M/C bus for the subs but had some issues and someone pulled it and just fed the whole rig from L/R. Yesterday we set it back to M/C for subs the way it was originally. The M/C bus is feeding a matrix and the matrix is assigned to an output on one of the s16s. I think the issue they had was someone had turned down or muted the matrix and didnt know that so they werent getting any sub.

  • Why feed M/C to a matrix? Only thing I could think was maybe they did that before the FW update that added crossover type filters to the M/C bus? But they werent using a crossover type filter on the matrix output either.

I noticed that using it this way the sub output does not follow the channel faders so if you drop the L/R bus the subs are still cranking. Not a big deal I guess but kind of a pain.

  • Aside from not being able to use the crossover filters is there any reason not to just use a post fade bus to feed the subs? Once the QSC gear is in place I dont see a need for the crossover filters in the board anyway and it would make the setup a lot simpler.

Sorry for the long post and myriad questions. I have searched here and other forums and read the manuals but have not found any solid answers. Im sure I will have more questions the more I work with the rig.

Thanks for any help and advice you can provide!



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Jeff

Brian Adams

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2020, 12:26:28 pm »

Wow, that sounds like a mess. It sounds like that board has gone through a few iterations by several different people who may or may not have known what they were doing. This should be a pretty straightforward setup, and it's amazing that somebody let it get so out of control. Hopefully this isn't too long of a response, but here you go:

The first thing I would do is figure out what you want to do, and it sounds like you've done that. I assume mains on LR, subs on M/C, and monitors on Aux 1-4.
Export the current show file to USB. You're eventually going to delete most or all of the existing scenes, but it won't hurt to back it up before you make any changes.
Figure out which outputs you want those things on, and assign them there.
Save any presets that you want to have in the library, these are useful for saving inputs and FX configurations, and can save you a ton of time when setting up.
Build a scene that reflects a typical larger act that plays there, using a standard input list for the venue. You might start with a scene that's already in place and build from there, or start from scratch if you're more comfortable, but the goal is to have a decent template that pretty much any show can build off of. You could initialize the board if you really wanted to start from scratch, but you likely don't need to go that far.
Delete all unnecessary scenes, which is hopefully the majority of them, and check over any that you keep to make sure they match the layout you want.
Once you have the board set up the way you want it, export the show file (without overwriting the original, just in case).
Use the template you built when setting up a new band. If you want to save scenes for specific bands at the end of the night, that's great, but don't overwrite the template. At least everyone will have a good clean slate to start from.
If you notice that you're consistently changing the same things every time you start from the template, update the template to have those changes built in.
Backup the show file periodically. If someone overwrites your template or otherwise jack up the board, you can just reload it.
You can always throw an extra copy or two of the template further down in the scene list, just in case someone overwrites the original.

In general, when I'm setting something like this up, I'd start with all inputs muted, labelled, and with standard (not extreme) settings on each channel. Like a typical gate/comp/EQ for each channel. If the channel doesn't need EQ, have the EQ switched on but flat. If you don't want a comp or gate active on a channel, have it set to a normal starting point but switched off.
Set each channel for a normal (not too high) amount of reverb or other FX, and leave it up. Have delays or other "special" FX routed and ready, but not up.
Se up the auxes how you want them for each channel. Most inputs would be pre fade to the monitors, but playback might be post. Make sure channels aren't muted in the auxes, since that can be a little hard to chase down on the fly.
Have a few things in the monitors from the start, like vocals, acoustic guitars and keys, all at a reasonable level, or other things that are consistently asked for.
If you don't think the guys are comfortable with DCA's, consider leaving them blank and unassigned. If you think they might be used by some people, go ahead and set them up, I don't think you'll hurt anything. In either case, leave them at 0dB, so they won't affect anything if someone doesn't touch them, but they're ready if someone wants them.
If it were me, I'd have at least a couple subgroups set up and ready to be used, but not active. I like to compress or EQ things on a bus occasionally, and it's a little easier if the groups are already in place. I don't see a need for matrices in your situation.
On an X32, I actually prefer the M/C output for my subs rather than an aux bus. It's basically a post fade aux, just with the controls in a different (more convenient) place. Unless you have another use for the M/C outputs, I think subs are a good use for it.

It sounds like you've got your hands full, and it seems like setting this up isn't really your job. I think once you got going it actually wouldn't take you all that long, but it would certainly make your life easier in the future. Hopefully the club owner is on your side and you get something for your work. Good luck!

One other thing, is their Cat5 cable shielded? That can certainly make a difference with dropouts.
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Brian Adams
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Jeff M Hague

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2020, 02:36:54 pm »

Wow, that sounds like a mess. It sounds like that board has gone through a few iterations by several different people who may or may not have known what they were doing. This should be a pretty straightforward setup, and it's amazing that somebody let it get so out of control. Hopefully this isn't too long of a response, but here you go:

SNIP


Hey Brian - thanks for the reply!
It is and has been a mess for a while although the club sat empty until recently due to Covid and the guys who were working it before are no longer around.
I am honestly happy to have a mess to clean up LOL - I dont know why but I get a kick out of it. I have a good day gig but before Covid I was doing 6 to 8 shows a month at another small venue over the winter and doing more festival stuff in season but until this opportunity came up I had'nt mixed a show since early March :-(
Im lucky too that the club owner is very cool, very receptive to my ideas and the other guys who work the rig are young and really want to learn. And the pay isnt bad either!
I agree with pretty much everything you said and have already started down that path. I made a scene similar to what I would use for a festival setup as far as inputs, effects, DCAs and monitor mixes. All EQs are factory reset but active, comps active on the usual suspects but thresholds all the way up, HPFs set to good guesses and vocals already up a bit in the monitor busses, etc.
2 of the 3 other guys have already seen it and are happy and am supposed to meet with the other guy this week.
Currently there are 4 monitor mixes on busses 9 - 12 but I plan to move those to 1 - 4.
I see your point about setting up a couple groups in case someone wants to use them but I want to be sure the other guys know how they can be used and how to tell when they are in use. I think 1 of the big reasons they had issues in the past was because there were groups and matrices that they didnt understand and didnt know how to use them. I think the reason all the speakers were set on mic input is because someone turned those down and the next guy didnt even know they existed. All he knew was that the system wasnt loud enough.
Ill probably set up subs on a bus to compare with M/C. I dont have any other use for M/C and the only thing I dont like about it is that you have to manage an extra fader but that may not be bad.
Thanks!

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Jeff

Chrysander 'C.R.' Young

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2020, 03:55:35 pm »

If you hired me to come clean up that set up, my order of operations would be:

1. Factory reset board.
2. Upgrade board firmware.
3. Make a simple, repeatable, easy to use basic scene that will handle 95% of the shows.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  The setup your describe is the sort of thing people pay me good $ to undo and make work again.  In my basic setup for N00b X32 operators, I run DCAs for drums, vox, keys, guitars, and efx.  Monitor mixes are all post-eq, pre-compression and high-passed to clean up the stage mix. Two sets of verbs/delays - one for vox, the other for instruments. The other four slots can be used for specialty compressors, guitar modelers, etc., as needed.  I NEVER use the graphic EQs.
5. Put the Harbinger gear in a pile, light it, and install the QSC stuff ASAP.

Just my $0.02.
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Jeff M Hague

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2020, 04:28:37 pm »

If you hired me to come clean up that set up, my order of operations would be:

1. Factory reset board.
2. Upgrade board firmware.
3. Make a simple, repeatable, easy to use basic scene that will handle 95% of the shows.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  The setup your describe is the sort of thing people pay me good $ to undo and make work again.  In my basic setup for N00b X32 operators, I run DCAs for drums, vox, keys, guitars, and efx.  Monitor mixes are all post-eq, pre-compression and high-passed to clean up the stage mix. Two sets of verbs/delays - one for vox, the other for instruments. The other four slots can be used for specialty compressors, guitar modelers, etc., as needed.  I NEVER use the graphic EQs.
5. Put the Harbinger gear in a pile, light it, and install the QSC stuff ASAP.

Just my $0.02.

I agree 100% - thanks!
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Jeff

Russell Ault

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2020, 06:13:16 pm »

[...] The original setup had DCAs set up for drums, instruments, and vocals but also had groups set up for those and those groups all fed matrices. The groups and the matrices had eq and compressors engaged. [...]

I can think of a few reasons someone might have done this:
  • They're after a very particular sound and know exactly how to get it (and are probably a visiting BE who loaded their show file for the night)
  • They "do this all the time in Pro Tools (Reaper/GarageBand/etc.)"
  • They've watched too many YouTube videos

Really what you've discovered is the importance of not just starting with whatever the last guy did. Having a simple, clean "basic setup" stored in memory that everyone recalls at the beginning of every setup is vital for a multi-operator house console...

[...]
1. Factory reset board.
2. Upgrade board firmware.
3. Make a simple, repeatable, easy to use basic scene that will handle 95% of the shows.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  The setup your describe is the sort of thing people pay me good $ to undo and make work again.  In my basic setup for N00b X32 operators, I run DCAs for drums, vox, keys, guitars, and efx.  Monitor mixes are all post-eq, pre-compression and high-passed to clean up the stage mix. Two sets of verbs/delays - one for vox, the other for instruments. The other four slots can be used for specialty compressors, guitar modelers, etc., as needed.  I NEVER use the graphic EQs.
[...]

...and this is how to do just that. :)

-Russ
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dave briar

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2020, 07:20:28 pm »

If you hired me to come clean up that set up, my order of operations would be:

1. Factory reset board.
2. Upgrade board firmware.
3. Make a simple, repeatable, easy to use basic scene that will handle 95% of the shows.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  The setup your describe is the sort of thing people pay me good $ to undo and make work again.  In my basic setup for N00b X32 operators, I run DCAs for drums, vox, keys, guitars, and efx.  Monitor mixes are all post-eq, pre-compression and high-passed to clean up the stage mix. Two sets of verbs/delays - one for vox, the other for instruments. The other four slots can be used for specialty compressors, guitar modelers, etc., as needed.  I NEVER use the graphic EQs.
5. Put the Harbinger gear in a pile, light it, and install the QSC stuff ASAP.

Just my $0.02.
Precisely, only I’d add a step 0.5 of backing up the existing scenes to USB if for no other reason than to CYA when some BE from nine months ago comes in and says “Hey, where’s the scene for ‘Bubba and the Tadpole Squishers’?”.
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Don T. Williams

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2020, 07:31:33 pm »

After you have done the reset, firmware update, and other items suggested by Chrysander, preprogram a "typical" show.  Drums, bass, two electric guitars, acoustic, two keyboards, 4-6 vocals, and a few channels labeled "spare" for anything else like percussion, harp, sax, extra guitars, anything.  I like to turn on the hi pass/low cut on every channel at 80 to 100 Hz, but I set it down to 30-40 Hz for the kick and bass.  Set the channel gains for typical mics and inputs, but for things like acoustic guitar with gain that can be all over the place, set it much lower than typical mic levels.   If the monitors usually feedback at specific frequencies, nock down 2-3 three of those frequencies as a "preset" eq on the 6 band parametrics.  Don't try to do extensive equalizing, but with an open vocal mic watch the RTA while raising levels and find those "fundamental" feedback frequencies that always show up in the system.  Don't over do it, just the first two or three.  Now save that as a starting scene labeled Basic Band or something.  Save it several times in the console then save it on several thumb drives.  This way you will always have a starting point you can go to that you know what is where.  Label everything.  Color code if it helps.  Make certain every mic cable is good and that you have spares that are good also.  Keep a spare mic ready to plug into any cable to "prove" the channel is good when a musician says it doesn't work (and it's their problem).  Have a good set of headphones and don't let them walk off.  Good luck, and stay safe!
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Jeff M Hague

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2020, 07:32:56 pm »

I can think of a few reasons someone might have done this:
  • They're after a very particular sound and know exactly how to get it (and are probably a visiting BE who loaded their show file for the night)
  • They "do this all the time in Pro Tools (Reaper/GarageBand/etc.)"
  • They've watched too many YouTube videos

Really what you've discovered is the importance of not just starting with whatever the last guy did. Having a simple, clean "basic setup" stored in memory that everyone recalls at the beginning of every setup is vital for a multi-operator house console...

...and this is how to do just that. :)

-Russ

No doubt.
There are reasons that someone would use DCAs, groups and matrices.
And I can't say that they set it up this way because they thought it was a good idea for the day to day config for a club setup. I doubt that was the case - it was just a carryover.
And it is an absolute best practice to start with a "known good" generic scene for all techs to use to start. Getting all of them to actually do that is never a given though.
I am interested to hear if anyone can say why someone would do ALL of these particular things even if it was for a self contained, same band, same console (or show file) all the time kind of gig. I can see why you might want DCAs, groups and matrices for certain things but not all of them for all things.
Thanks!
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Jeff

Jeff M Hague

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Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2020, 07:38:02 pm »

Precisely, only I’d add a step 0.5 of backing up the existing scenes to USB if for no other reason than to CYA when some BE from nine months ago comes in and says “Hey, where’s the scene for ‘Bubba and the Tadpole Squishers’?”.

Luckily in this situation with a clear conscious I could tell "Bubba's" manager that we have replaced everything since the last time they graced our stage and if their Tech had bothered to reply to any of our booking team's messages they would have known that :-)
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Jeff

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: x32 bus, group, DCA, matrix setups?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2020, 07:38:02 pm »


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