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Title: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Radoslaw Andruszkiewicz on July 25, 2021, 04:44:05 PM
I need help or further suggestions for vocal monitor setup in a rehearsal room. At the moment it goes only against a guitar amp (I sing and play guitar), and that is a 30W / 2x12, which I like cranked; I also wear -15db ear plugs. While of course it is not necessary to play this loud by myself, I will want to join a band at one point, and to my ears that guitar amp at max volume is roughly how I remember my last drummer's volume (before I played bass only, and the drummer wasn't a hard hitter).

My current vocal setup is Shure Super 55 > DBX 286a channel strip (used only as a preamp with 80hz filter, no other processing) > DBX 2031 31 EQ / limiter > EV ZLX 12p. Mic direct into EV produced feedback pretty early, at volumes I can still stand without ear plugs. So I purchased the EQ, and made my attempt at removing feedback points in order to turn up the EV louder to the point I can hear it with ear plugs too. But I ended up turning all the high frequency sliders down, and once I got this muffled sound under 'control' so I could turn up the volume to where I heard something coming up also with ear plugs in, I reached the limit of the system; either the preamp's, EQ's, or monitor's clipping indicator began flashing.

Is there anything I can do here, or am I asking for too much to have a guitar amp cranked, wear ear plugs, and still have a monitor wedge running at audible volume?
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Caleb Dueck on July 25, 2021, 04:58:32 PM
Is there anything I can do here, or am I asking for too much to have a guitar amp cranked, wear ear plugs, and still have a monitor wedge running at audible volume?

Move the cranked amp into a room or iso cab, with a pair of nice mics (say, a ribbon and a condenser).  That will give you the tone of the amp, and allow you and others to hear it as the audience will eventually hear it.

That eliminates the root problem (excessive stage wash), and allows you to have a wedge you can hear clearly.  Plus it means your vocal mic isn't picking up a small amount of vocal plus waves of stage wash. 

Ditch the graphic EQ, those don't have a place in a vocal chain. 

Go with a good wedge, like RCF NX12SMA, FBT Ventis 112MA, or better. 

Have the vocal(s), instruments, and everything go through a decent digital console- whatever you plan to use live.  MR18 or better, A&H SQ, etc. 
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Luke Geis on July 25, 2021, 09:40:00 PM
Well...... It's complicated. I have used the EV ZLX before as a monitor and I think it did great for a low-cost monitor. In my case, it also required very little work to get loud enough to have the limiter kick in well before feedback was an issue.

I think there are three things here you can do. The first is to get a vocal mic that is a little more stable. The Shure Super 55 is not my favorite mic... I usually cringe when I see one. They are more for looks than anything. An SM58, an Audio Technica ATM510 or AT2010, or some other more standard microphone will help a little bit I think. Next is to have a mixer, preamp, or DSP device that has simply gain, High-Pass, and a parametric EQ.

With monitors and vocal-only support, it is often best to High-Pass them as high as you practically can. This for me usually ends up around 140hz to 160hz. Next is to have a few parametric EQ filters that you can use to get rid of the problem frequencies only. This will usually end up being around the speaker's crossover point. So 1.6khz to 2khz, is often where you get feedback first. I find I usually don't have to cut much once the first major feedback mode is dialed back. If you find that you have feedback that you chase around with EQ filters, it is often because you just have nowhere left to go. In this case, I take a different approach.

If you just can't dial out the feedback, or enough of it, then you need to dial out what it is that makes the monitor unclear, muffled, or simply not able to cut through the noise. Going with a thin and bright monitor often helps in that case. When you wear earplugs, you get bone conduction in your ears. So you hear a lot of woof and bass more from the bone conduction and having a woofy monitor won't help. The earplugs also cut a lot of the highs out from your ears. So reducing the highs in the monitor definitely won't help. In essence, what you are trying to do is find a way to make what you can get loud be as loud as you can so that it fits in the sonic space that is not being used.

After all that, a Two Notes Captor X is the best thing since sliced bread. You can tame down the SPL, use it for recording, or going straight to FOH and monitoring! It is a great way to get what you want and reduce stage volume.

If what you are after is the visceral experience of a cranked amp and " HOW YOU FEEL " on the stage/performance space, then you need to step back and think about who all this is really for. If you are playing to entertain people, then you have to change how you play to suit the best possible result for your fans and attendees. If you only care about how you feel, then that is fine too, but remember it will affect your fans and the quality of sound. What sounds great to you on stage doesn't always present well in the crowd. As a musician, you have to find that balance between playing for your happiness and the crowd's best sonic experience. Louder is not always better. Often quieter with the ability to be louder is.
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Patrick Tracy on July 26, 2021, 03:48:40 AM
You may need to think about placement and orientation. The corner of the ceiling and back wall can form a retro-reflector (if the surfaces are untreated and you're set up square the the wall), sending sound back down a parallel path and right into the mic. The corner of the ceiling and two walls is an even better retro-reflector. Try placing the wedge a little off center and angled slightly back across the center line of the room.

Also, you need to be aware of the polar pattern of your mic. The Super 55 has a supercardioid pattern, so it has a pickup lobe 180 off axis and rejects best at about 120 off axis. Place your wedge and orient your mic accordingly, being aware that reflections into the main lobe of the mic also matter.

Lowering stage volume is a time tested way to reduce feedback in the monitors and improve the audience mix.
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Radoslaw Andruszkiewicz on July 26, 2021, 02:17:40 PM
Okay, I will say first that I did not have a perfect sound from the monitor, then cranked the amp, and then got feedback issues; what I did is I tried to get as much volume as possible just with the vocals and through the wedge, ended up with weird EQ settings, and then played the guitar amp for comparison. So let's say from now on the guitar part is non issue, either it's the correct volume or direct, or something similar. If I get a great sound / mix, and ruin it with a cranked amp, I will ask on a different forum ;-)

I assumed that since Super 55 is just a Beta 58 in a vintage looking enclosure it will be okay, but changing the microphone is the first thing I'll try. I have access to a Sennheiser's MD421 U5 and E835. Yes, I'm aware of different pick up patterns, so I made sure the 55 is angled towards the speaker, also I used the HF unit as my center rather than the middle of the speaker.

I'm reading now here on the forums, that many of you find the ZLX somewhat limited in volume, so I guess investing in a different speaker is an option, hard to say now what budget. I checked your suggest models; RCF sound s(and looks!) amazing, but really pricey, FBT seems bit more within reach.

Why is 31 band EQ not suitable in a vocal chain?
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Patrick Tracy on July 26, 2021, 02:30:18 PM
Yes, I'm aware of different pick up patterns, so I made sure the 55 is angled towards the speaker

I assume you mean you angled the back of the mic toward the speaker. But the back of the mic has a response lobe, so you need to angle the back of the mic about 40 away from the mic, which is to say place the speaker 120 off axis from the mic rather than 180 off axis.

But that might be secondary if surfaces are reflecting the sound back into the mic too directly.
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Matthias McCready on July 26, 2021, 03:14:35 PM
I assumed that since Super 55 is just a Beta 58 in a vintage looking enclosure it will be okay

The beta 58 is my second least favorite vocal microphone. I do not enjoy what it does do vocals. It is great for rappers and I find acceptable for talking heads. But I avoid them like the plague for vocalists.

The Super 55 is my absolute least favorite vocal microphone. It is a dreadful sounding mic. I encounter more of them in the wild than I care to. It takes a LOT of processing work to get it sounding acceptable.

---

I don't think microphone quality is our biggest problem here though.



I'm reading now here on the forums, that many of you find the ZLX somewhat limited in volume

As a wedge it should have plenty of volume; as the entire system that is another story.

I don't think getting a different speaker is going to fix your problems. You have already hit feedback, so louder is not the answer.


Why is 31 band EQ not suitable in a vocal chain?

A 31-Band EQ is usually used to ring-out a mic. This is done when necessary for wedges (less and less common); and this usually takes place after the vocal chain proper; ie on the output to a wedge.

For a vocal chain a parametric EQ will serve better.

----

It sounds like your main problem is feedback.

The loudest noise at your mic wins. If that is your voice great, if that is your wedge you will get feedback.

If you getting feedback now, getting a larger and more powerful speaker will not help this problem.

Sure some microphones have more controlled pickup patterns, but this will not change your fundamental problem.

The problem is, as I see it, that your voice is not as loud as your cranked guitar amp. In a small space even a high quality microphone or wedge won't eliminate this as problem.

It should be noted that "ringing" out something with a graphic EQ usually only give you another 3-10dB before feedback. You are just wanting to grab those first 3-5 frequencies that feedback. After you grab those first few frequencies you have done what you can, as MANY frequencies will start to feedback (ie pulling down the entire top end on your current graphic EQ). This is happening because it is not frequency problem, it is a volume one.

It is also worth noting that even with a great mic, every single cut with a graphic makes things sound worse not better. Even a great mic can sound terrible with the wrong EQ. EQing for feedback is not EQing to make a mic sound more better or pleasant, it is trying to eek out the last ounce of volume when conditions are not ideal at the expense of quality.

The real influencers for feedback are:
1) System deployment (you are in small room with a wedge... this is not ideal).
2) Overall volume (competing with a cranked 2x12 is not setting you up for success).

---

How you rehearse sets the stage for how you will perform. And for most groups (yes not all) having a super cranked 2x12 is not ideal; even in a 3,000 seat arena the wash from a cranked 2x12 can cause issues, and I am thinking you are wanting to play smaller venues than that.

I would highly suggest looking into ways to minimize amp volume or to get rid of it all together (as suggested by others Two Notes Torpedo, IsoCab, Kemper Etc). When you are working on your own is the best time to experiment and to cultivate your ability; before having to have a difficult discussion with band mates, or having a show be a flop.

Note that there are ton of crappy amp replacement options that are dreadful (avoid those), but these days there are quite few great ones to choose from.

Most professional guitarists that I currently work with have made the switch, as tone is the same, and it is less equipment to lug around; not to mention less wear on that custom boutique amp.

If you have not, I would highly recommend checking out an IEM solution for yourself. For the amount you are spending on your wedge(s) you could probably get a pair of custom molded IEM's and a basic digital mixer, and have things sound drastically better.

Some benefits for you of IEM's:
You could choose a mic that works well for voice, rather than one for its pickup patter.
You could be EQing it to sound its best rather than EQing to feedback points out (making it sound awful).
You can hear your actual mic technique (a good set of ears will tell you exactly where you are on a vocal mic).
You can have your guitar tone, with killing anyone or your hearing.
You can have your own personal volume at whatever you want without pissing off band mates, or destroying the mix for the audience.
You can have your own custom mix.


Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Art Welter on July 26, 2021, 03:59:15 PM
Okay, I will say first that I did not have a perfect sound from the monitor, then cranked the amp, and then got feedback issues; what I did is I tried to get as much volume as possible just with the vocals and through the wedge, ended up with weird EQ settings, and then played the guitar amp for comparison.
Why is 31 band EQ not suitable in a vocal chain?
Radoslaw,

The 31 band EQ can work just fine for notching out a few feedback points, and as a tone control.

You want to hear your vocal above a cranked 2x12", which may be putting out as much as 120 dB with little level change at your vocal mic.
If you don't sing at more than 120 dB, the guitar is amplified as much as your voice by the vocal mic.

Using a single 8" speaker (or an Lpad/ power soak) on the 2x12") could let you crank the amp and loose around 15 dB. The single 8" will give the speaker distortion that's half the sound of a cranked amp.
That gives your vocal a fighting chance to get over the level, as it's hard to hear yourself without around 10dB of difference (sounds about twice as loud) between vocal and instrument level (noise..) at the mic.

You have -15db ear plugs in, which generally mostly cut the highs, which you have turned all the way down on the EQ, so now your ears hear -30dB in the range you need. That's basically like turning the high frequency horn in your monitor off. The single 12" ain't going to compete well against the 2x12".

Your lips are probably right on the mic, so you have a proximity effect boost of around 6-10 dB in the "mud" range of 100-200 Hz. 8 foot ceilings common in small rooms also tend to emphasize this range even more.
So you hear the equivalent of a vocal channel with the bass wide open, and the highs cut completely.

Try the opposite EQ/tone approach, cut everything below 100 Hz, then "ramp up " to around 1000 Hz, bring up level  with your mouth in position till your first feedback squeak (probably around 6 or 8kHz) bring only that frequency down 3-6 dB.
Increase level again, whack the next frequency out, repeat. Three frequencies pulled above 1kHz is near the limit with 1/3 octave EQ if you still want decent sound.
If more than two adjacent bands are hacked, you have probably gone to far, and have reached the limits of gain before feedback.

Try your the other mics with the same routine, each will have their own distinctive gain before feedback pattern. Write down the EQ for each so you can do some comparisons.

Have fun, protect your hearing!

Art
 




Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Dave Garoutte on July 26, 2021, 04:04:53 PM
Have you considered in-ear monitors?
NO feedback.
You can run them hard-wired (not wireless) along the guitar cable.
Doubles as earplugs for the guitar.
Or headphones for that matter, can work in a studio.
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Radoslaw Andruszkiewicz on July 26, 2021, 05:43:01 PM
@Art, I haven't of that strategy, cutting all the lows, thanks! I do turn on any low filter there is, but I haven't thought going that drastic about it.

My ear plugs are custom moulded from KIND, company known in Europe for hearing aids; so these are not off-the-shelf plugs that muffle the sound. They do cut off the very highs and very lows, but otherwise I can hear everything clearly as it is, just quieter.

I have thought hard about IEMs, very specifically Westone AM Pro series, as they only partially insulate the sound and attenuate ca. -12db (around the level of my ear plugs, if equally flat not sure though), so (hopefully) I could use them for vocals only, and get the rest of the mix from other sources. What scares me though is that if feedback occurs it goes right in your ears, plugs protect perfectly from that as well, no matter how much the speaker wails it doesn't hurt a bit. I was almost ready to make the jump, but then I stumbled on an article where various sound technicians were saying their opinions on in ear system, and what made me hesitate again was them mentioning that although it solves a lot of technical problems, some of them thought performers being isolated from the crowd and other band members tended to give less engaging shows. That's when I thought that I'd hate to go in that direction, and figured I'd try to make wedges work after all.
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Caleb Dueck on July 26, 2021, 08:39:07 PM

I have thought hard about IEMs, very specifically Westone AM Pro series, as they only partially insulate the sound and attenuate ca. -12db (around the level of my ear plugs, if equally flat not sure though), so (hopefully) I could use them for vocals only, and get the rest of the mix from other sources.

Why?  If you have good ear buds, such as UM Pro 30 or 50 - put everything through them.  Including mics for the audience, and switched mics (can be super cheap ones) for inter-band talkback. 

You seem to still be hung up on thinking IEM = vocal.  No, IEM = full band.  That way you can ditch the graphic EQ, and use the parametric on the console for tone shaping of all inputs. 
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Luke Geis on July 26, 2021, 09:37:26 PM
Radoslaw,

    Feedback is a curable disease, and like any disease, there is a cause for it. What most of us are telling you is that your guitar is too loud, your singing voice is too quiet, and your monitoring rig is not optimal. How do you cure that? You turn the guitar down by using a load box like a Two Notes Torpedo Captor X or similar, sing louder so your voice wins at the mic, and or improve your monitoring situation. I think your EV monitor speaker is fine. I think you need a real mixer and DSP similar to a Behringer DEQ2496 ( something with multiple parametric EQ filters ). My prescription is to use a low-cut filter that rolls up as high as practical to eliminate low-end woof and fullness. Then use parametric EQs to eliminate the first two or three problem frequencies with as small a width of filter as you can. Do this with ANY mic other than the Super 55. We are not kidding, that mic is for nothing more than looks. Once you get to a point where you can walk up to the mic and sing and the monitor is very much clear as day and stable ( free from feedback ) then introduce your guitar into the situation. Add in guitar level until the desired mix is achieved. If you don't have enough crunch ( distortion, or breakup ) then either use a pedal to add the needed crunch, or get a load box to allow you to push the amp into breakup. I got myself a Torpedo Captor X and it is an AMAZING tool. The major takeaway is that you have to play within the confines of what your environment will allow. If your guitar is too loud, it doesn't matter how much monitoring you have, the guitar will still win.

The litmus that I go by is that if things are loud enough that you are wincing ( cringing, gritting teeth, tensing up, or some other sign of discomfort ), and you feel the need for earplugs at all, it is probably too loud.
   
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Tim McCulloch on July 27, 2021, 07:36:00 AM
Turn the guitar down.  Remove your earplugs.
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Ned Ward on July 27, 2021, 10:45:56 AM
30 watts cranked is WAY too loud for a rehearsal space. Get an overdrive pedal to get the tone you want at normal levels. Otherwise, all these other fixes are just bandaids that aren't addressing the elephant in the room.

Rehearsing with a band isn't about cranking your amp and dealing with feedback - it's about playing with others and learning songs and learning to play together and listen. I'll go to any rehearsal studio and I'm fine with a Line 6 Spider amp - generally hated by everyone - and with my pedalboard and the amp set on clean, I can get a tone that works for rehearsal.

So get an overdrive pedal or an attenuator, but the answer you probably don't want to hear is turn your darn amp down...
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: James Rowe on July 28, 2021, 05:25:18 AM
Turn the guitar down.  Remove your earplugs.

At last a sensible reply, thanks Tim. I did FOH at some metal gigs a few years back where I seemed to be the only person in the room and on stage not wearing earplugs... I don't take those gigs anymore!
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Steve Mason on August 01, 2021, 06:22:07 AM
30 watts cranked is WAY too loud for a rehearsal space. Get an overdrive pedal to get the tone you want at normal levels. Otherwise, all these other fixes are just bandaids that aren't addressing the elephant in the room.

So get an overdrive pedal or an attenuator, but the answer you probably don't want to hear is turn your darn amp down...

Agree whole heartedly.  My lead guitar player will be noodling around with Van Halen etc etc  during rehearsals and it sounds like Van Halen even at low volumes.  His tone comes from years of experience and a pedal board used with skill and knowledge.

"Singing louder" puts stress on the vocal cords and can lead to a plethora of problems for a singer down the road. Turning down the amp is probably a better solution.
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: Luke Geis on August 01, 2021, 06:22:05 PM
I would argue that straining your voice to sing louder is a potential long-term problem, but it does have a solution. MANY so-called singers are perhaps really good but lack any formal training and regular practice to actually be great singers. This lack of training and practice makes them work around their problems. One such horrid " vocal saving " technique is the MJ whisper singing crap that became popular. I know many great singers that would use this trick to save their voice during the crap shows so they could kill it at the big shows. The problem is that you perform as you practice, so when the big shows came they would go flat, get pitchy and still tear their throats up. In the meantime, they are fighting a losing battle in the crap shows with monitoring.

Get some vocal training and you can learn how to sing with power and not tear your throat apart.

The first time I heard a real opera singer I was blown away!!!!! She started warming up and the whole room was moving, I could hear her as if she was in my ear and I was on a balcony 75' away. She filled the room with her voice to the point where the orchestra needed to be amplified to keep up with her... And she didn't complain about a torn-up throat. To say WOW was not even close to enough, it was truly otherworldly. Go see an opera if you want to gain a new respect for the power of the human voice. They don't use microphones, and they don't need them.

So get vocal training, and work within the confines of the environment. If you have crap to work with, it means you have to do more work on your end to make what you have be able to do anything. The big thing I always tell bands that keep snowballing the monitors is that this isn't your show, the monitors are a crutch to suckle your insecurities. Use as little as needed to do what you need to do and give the guy at FOH every chance to sell you to the crowd. When feedback is an issue and you still need more, it is generally because of unreasonable expectations, not operator incompetence. Once the operator is painted into a corner, he is stepping on wet paint and tracking it everywhere to get himself out.


Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: John Bosco on August 02, 2021, 03:03:49 PM
Turn the guitar down.  Remove your earplugs.
^^^
This
Title: Re: Need help with setting up vocal monitor in rehearsal space
Post by: John Bosco on August 03, 2021, 11:53:57 AM
^^^
This

Let me elaborate, it appears as though you are searching for a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. You are playing by yourself in your rehearsal space, so why is your guitar amp so loud that you need to wear ear plugs and completely mess up you monitor mix, because that's a volume you imagine your future drummer will play at? Remember, this is your starting point now and you have no where to go.

For a brief history, I'm a sound man/drummer/guitar player, mostly sound, but I've been in bands as both a drummer and guitar player, never a singer, but I have 3 out of the 4 covered. Try getting your guitar sound in your rehearsal space, just you and your gear no ear plugs, now lets work on getting the vocals working, with no earplugs and your guitar at a normal level instead of trying to be louder then an imaginary drummer it'll be alot easier now. Now when an actual drummer shows up they'll play at the level they are comfortable with, around a volume you have already set, it will most likely be a lot lower then you imagined, if not, you start to bring the levels up, I bet it'll still be a lot quieter and more manageable then before.