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XTRAGear 4 "Live" E Performance

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  • XTRAGear 4 "Live" E Performance

    To One & All,

    A most wise & learned colleague informed me of the following outboard bare minimum gear for live gigs :

    1. A mixer
    2. Effects
    3. A sonic maximizer/signal processor
    4. Compresser/Gate/Limiter (bass expander included)
    5. PA
    6. Parametric EQ

    For many of us neophytes that have now been thoroughly indoctrinated into the necessity/requirement of outboard gear for live gig nirvana, I call upon all of our community's live performin' warriors to humbly and peacefully submit your yeas - nays - or plain $0.02. I submit the following :

    Is the list incomplete?

    Is the list excessive?

    Does each item number on the list equate to a quantity of "1"?

    Being a "minimal" list, what would a "maximal" list add to it?

    10-4,
    -Marc.

  • #2
    I'd have to say that these aren't the minimum requirements for gigging; the minimum is a single cable to run from your module to the house PA. If you are pre-mixing your drums inside the module down to 1 channel, that's it.

    I'd say, at a minimum, for DECENT performance, I'd use a D/I box or two, perhaps 4 or more. Hotter balanced signal going to the house PA, and you can split your signals up into as many channels as you wish. I use acoustic cymbals, so I prefer to send 4 channels:

    - snare
    - kick
    - hi toms
    - low toms

    This way, not only can the sound guy EQ each differently, but has control over the relative levels during the performance. This can be a plus or minus, depending on your sound guy. Some manufacturers make a 4-channel D/I which would work great.

    The parametric EQ seems like overkill, seeing how there are individual instrument AND overall parametric EQ in your module. Be VERY careful of over-EQing your signal, though. What sounds good thru your monitors or headphones might sound like doggie doo thru a club PA system.

    I highly recommend the BBE; I only have a 2-channel unit, which I'm using on the snare and kick right now, but it puts a helluva lot of pop into your signal.

    The mixer is also debatable. Some people like to use it to mix their signals down to 1 or 2 channels, which they send to the house PA. Once again, you can accomplish the same thing onboard the module, with much less expense. My signals are running into a Mackie 1604VLZ mixer, for the balanced outs & to be mixed with drum loops, keyboard sequences, & to give me a good headphone mix with click from the sequencer.

    Some people swear by a compressor for the V-Drums. The onboard one is pretty weak, but I really don't see the need too much. I WANT the dynamic variation and peaks that come out naturally; after all, that's what drums sound like. Over-compressing the signal will result in a more mechanical-sounding output. Whatever floats your boat, though. BTW, if you have a BBE or Aphex, which both have bottom-end enhancement, why a bass expander? I have a DBX Subharmonic Synthesizer, but I have no need to hook it up to the drums - I can dial up any level of thump I need without overloading the PA.

    Some folks are gear-heads, and will process a signal to death if they can. Anyone who gigs alot will tell you that simple = good, since you have (often) limited set-up and tear-down time. Also, more variables will give you more things to troubleshoot when something goes wrong. I like being able to make sure I can go on and play, no matter what breaks. That's just me, though.

    If you will be gigging where there is a house PA, you won't need PA. Your bandmates will get your signal via stage monitors. Low-profile headphones can be your friend, though. Something like the Sony earbuds you have 3 sets of....

    Relax, and don't overspend. Chances are, if you don't plan to carry effects units & stuff for acoustic drums, why should you for the E-drums???? This isn't an absolute statement; there are different situations that call for different approaches, but I believe that just piling on gear for the sake of having it makes your job harder, not easier, and the majority of the audience will never notice the difference.

    My $.02,

    -Danny
    -Danny

    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

    Comment


    • #3
      This is what I got for live and practice is the following: Alesis D-5 and a Dm Pro. The 4 outs of the D-5 go into a Yamaha rack mixer, the 6 outs of the Dm Pro go into a Roland rack mixer. The drums are devided into 4 sub groups, Snare, kick, toms and cymbals. The Yamaha mixer handles the kick and cymbals, the 2 out puts of the mixer go into stereo Alesis compressor, Behringer enhancer with big bottom, stereo EQ, and a DBX noise gate for each out. The Roland mixer handles snare and tom sub groups. The outputs of mixer goes into the same as above. I have to run everything mono and panning left or right to attain the 4 sub groups. All the processing gear, drum modules are loaded in two 8 space SKB racks. I also have a Alesis quad verb in rack 1. The sound man gets the 4 sub groups. I have a lot of control on my end having the snare, tom cymbals and kick assigned to their own channels in the mixers. It's more gear to carry but it looks cool and gives me greater control over my e drums. My monitor is a Yamaha KS-100 and has 4 imputs and can handle the 4 sub groups. I use real cymbals live so my 2 sets of high hats are miked (one on left, one on rack positioned for my right). The kit itself is a converted acoustic kit with silent mesh Roland and Pintec heads, the kick has a Pearl head. Using a Gibraltar rack for the drums.

      [This message has been edited by Drumsonly2002 (edited October 31, 2001).]

      Comment


      • #4
        Item no. 1: Yea - don't normally need more than one mixer
        Item no. 2: Yea - I would at least have stereo effects if not quad
        Item no. 3: Yea - if you can afford more for multiple channels then go for it
        Item no. 4: YEA - I can't survive without my compression - get as many as you can!!!!
        Item no. 5: Nea, a PA is overkill, after all it's electronic drums we are talking about here - the whole point is NOT to be heard
        Itme no. 6: YEA - can't get enough EQ's either!

        All that being said, you won't find any decent FOH system lacking these pieces of gear.
        In a pro set up you will see more compressors and EQ's than anything else for FOH sound. But we are not talking exclusively about FOH sound are we?

        Basically get all this stuff if you are a gear freak with a large amount of control freak whisked in.
        It is great to have a killer sound but the thing that I have noticed in my years of playing..... the average crowd doesn't notice or give a sh1t. You are only keeping yourself happy!
        Steve

        'I only ever quote myself - except when I quote someone else' - me

        , plenty of , and , , triggered acoustics, , and a plethora of PA blah blah freakin blah...I mean does anyone care about the specifics of pedals, speakers, processors, hardware or anything that I'm using?? :confused: Hmmm, maybe this is an appropriate place to mention that I tried out a new cymbal stand the other day...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by fartnokker:
          BTW, if you have a BBE or Aphex, which both have bottom-end enhancement, why a bass expander?

          Because with a bass expander inside the compressor a signal like the kick can be strengthened and boosted in conjunction with compression. Then the BBE is used to bring out more of the dynamics on top, especially the higher frequencies. This scenario is used to create more headroom in case you need to have it, and that can & will fluctuate from venue to venue, house PA to house PA and their reference monitors. Some sounds can be brought out a lot more then possible at times.... and that makes a module and it’s sounds appeal to a user a lot more. All of a sudden more sounds begin to sound better and better. You can always tame a sound but you can’t take it further without more headroom/range.

          Over compressing occurs when people do not know when to stop and listen to what is going on. This will very from various music styles and needs. But overall compression can used judiciously and not hinder the dynamics of sounds at all – it’s the compressors that color the sound that you need to stay away from in order to use compression correctly.

          PA might not be necessary for all; venues do provide some sort of monitoring for you and the band, it’s when you do not know or know for sure that the venue will not have anything for the stage. PA is gravy that is true, but having one and a strong one helps.



          ------------------
          szvook
          Studio

          Comment


          • #6
            Gentlemen,

            Man, I gotta hear one of you guys playing a kit using all that outboard gear. If you all are ever near Vermont let me know!

            (Or, perhaps, our vaunted V-drum festival will materialize)

            You know, I go just mono out from my mains to a Mackie subwoofer, from there the highs go to an EON G2, and I am pretty darned happy with the sound.

            Now, I have spent the time to (internally) EQ the instruments of the kits I use most, and this was done only through the above system. When I listen to the kit, I am amazed at how good it sounds, especially now that I have the expanded TD-10.

            The only voices I'm not happy with are the regular crashes. I love the rides and the cymbal edges, but the crashes seem very harsh when struck hard, and I can't seem to be able to EQ them better.

            If there was one piece of equipment I could get to rectify that situation, what is your advice?

            Thanks
            Immensely powerful yet with a liquid cat-quick elegance

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by gingerbaker:
              Gentlemen,
              (snip)
              If there was one piece of equipment I could get to rectify that situation, what is your advice?

              Thanks
              A real cymbal! Just kidding; sounds like maybe you could use an outboard EQ to reduce the offending frequencies, and maybe a BBE to add shimmer to your cymbal sound.

              Szvook, I believe I understand where you're coming from on the compressor(s), but I have to respectfully disagree with a couple of points... First, a compressor (by definition) WILL reduce the dynamics of anything you compress. That is the whole function of a compressor - to compress the dynamic range and make it smaller. This makes the variation between louder stuff and the quieter stuff less, which equals reduced dynamics. Not that it is a bad thing; it can really punch up some more subtle things and make 'em heard more clearly in the mix.

              I guess my original point about a bass expander on a compressor has to do with the fact that you have level control, EQ, and bass enhancement onboard the BBE, so what else do you really need to punch up your kick signal any more? Those alone should give you the ability to boost your kick signal well beyond any reasonable level.

              If you have any stereo compressor, it is an easy proposition to send your drums thru one channel for overall compression (although that is not my choice for live music), and your kick thru the other side. You could compress you kick if you wanted to remove all dynamic variation (or just do it with your trigger dynamic settings & save the price of the compressor), and boost your output of your kick to a level that will wreck any house PA!

              I guess I look at this sort of thing from a recording/mixing engineer standpoint: You can process a signal only so much before you approach the threshold of diminishing returns. Each piece of gear you run your signal through will add coloration and noise, no matter how discrete and high-quality it is.

              If you internally EQ your kick sound in your module, that is one or two bands you've boosted, centering on certain frequencies.
              You add an outboard EQ (graphic or parametric) and you'll accentuate or remove certain other frequencies, but there will usually be some overlap. If you use a "big bottom" feature on a BBE, Aphex, Behringer, or other processor, that is simply another non-frequency-adustable bass boost (read: EQ) that is boosting an already-boosted set of frequencies. Add a bass-expander on a compressor, and you are once again boosting the bass frequencies again, unless this feature actually uses a true dynamic expander, which is the exact opposite of a compressor. This multiplies the dynamic variations in a given signal, which means that the quiet stuff is quieter and the loud stuff is louder. This adds artificial dynamics, which will not only accentuate the normal dynamic variation between hits on a drum, but bury your more delicate stuff in a mix. More often, though, the "bass expander" feature is just another form of bass boost, which is just another EQ.

              Don't get me wrong; I'm not criticizing your setup or doubting that your rig sounds great. I also strongly agree that over-compression is a result of a heavy hand and a bad ear. The point of my ramble is that more gear ain't always better, and there is no "magic processor" that'll cure all ills. The BBE brings out brightness, which helps compensate for crappy PA gear, but it isn't the magic bullet. If you add 20 different outboard processors, you can do things that will make you notice the difference when adding each one, but that doesn't mean it improves anything; often, one piece of gear is just fighting against what you've set another piece of gear to do. Not that I'm saying that this true of you, Szvook, but I've seen it time and time again when playing in bands, running sound, and doing recording work.

              If someone has the means to spend a ton of money on outboard gear of every type, and enjoys tinkering, more power to 'em. Remember what you're trying to achieve, though. If it is a natural live sound, then the least amount of compression you use, the more "natural" it'll be. ditto for multiple bands of EQ. If you adjust the EQ to compensate for the sonic characteristics of the PA and the room, then the result should sound like the unequalized signal does through some good headphones. If you are running to a house PA, headroom should never be an issue that you have to deal with; the effective headroom will be dictated by the house PA. As long as you aren't overdriving the poor little pre-amp in your module, headroom (as far as being able to faithfully reproduce peak transients) shouldn't be a problem. Your signal, unless you introduce false dynamics thru a dynamic range expander, should be unable to exceed the ol' MIDI 127, or 100% of the signal. The use of digital samples has the net effect of a hard limiter, as long as you don't vary your volume controls during the course of your performance. I know this isn't a good description, but you get the point. Your signal can only get as loud as it gets, coming straight from the module or sound source. You won't get any weird rimshot peak transients that exceed the dB limit of a microphone or clip the mic preamp like you do with acoustic drums, so your headroom shouldn't be an issue.

              If you tweak your trigger settings enough, you've (in effect) created a compression effect of sorts, where you shouldn't even need to compress your signal at all on your end. At that point, it becomes a matter of personal taste - how "squashed" do you want it to sound? Like a live performance, or what you hear (WAYYYYYYY compressed!) on the radio? If you compress your signal alot, and you are playing before or after a band using acoustic drums, your kit will sound "canned" by comparison.

              Not saying that less is more (I hate that saying, by the way), but more isn't always better. Hope I haven't mortally offended anyone with this long-winded post, but if so, get bent! Seriously, tho, can you see where I'm coming from, Szvook?

              -Danny
              -Danny

              Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

              Comment


              • #8
                Valid points and I understand where you are coming from. It does depend on what your tying to achieve that is for sure. But the other equipment can used I believe as long as the user does not go over board IMHO.

                The reason for my need to have all of this outboard gear is because I do not use any of the internal components like the EQ and effects/ambiance (I don't have the TD-10 so the other components do not apply to me). The internal EQ seems to bleed through when plying out live – this issue has been discussed to death here before (and probably will surface always). The internal components with in the Roland drum modules do not cut it – they do not provide professional affects to the sounds and the outboard gear does.

                I use the dry sounds only and add everything else from my outboard gear. Yes for my music style I do need more then others and I guess I forget at times that I am giving my perspective from my needs and I know it's my fault... sorry.

                I learned how to use a lot of outboard gear together and not loose the main focus on the sound development. My sound’s do not sound over processed at all, rather defined much better/further then their original form with emphasis on dynamics, clarity and strength. With the way my outboard gear is set up I have control over sounds from numerous perspectives, in some cases boosting the kick (for example) from two different sources in conjunction with each other affects the sound in different ways and I like that.

                I completely agree with you, the sounds need to be alive and pure as much as possible – I just know how to have many toys together and get the same/better results.

                I guess to each is his own.


                PS: BTW very GOOD post fartnokker, many can/will benefit form it.


                ------------------
                szvook

                [This message has been edited by szvook (edited November 01, 2001).]

                [This message has been edited by szvook (edited November 01, 2001).]
                Studio

                Comment


                • #9
                  To Gingerbaker:

                  I also am not toally happy with my crash sounds (especially at gigs). I have changed crash instrument designations numerous times using different sounds for the edge and bow on my v's. I have also modified the pitch and decay, but still feel they tend to be excessively "harsh". If you find a solution that works for you I'd appreciate hearing about it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the kind words, Szvook, and I'm glad you took my post in the spirit in which it was meant. I, too, use some outboard gear, so don't think I'm some sort of purist fanatic. My TD-10Exp runs into a BBE, then into a Mackie 1604 for fine-tuning and some compensatory EQing depending on the room & PA. I'm not going completely dry, but using a touch of the ambience in the TD-10 on my snare only.

                    I can totally dig using outboard FX processors for 'verb, delay, overdrive effects, etc., and respect someone who is well-versed enough to jockey lots of outboard gear to get the sound they want. I guess I was just hoping that some newer guys didn't get the idea that you NEED all the outboard stuff just to get a suitable sound for gigging live. Hell, you can plug right into many PA's, and just use a DI box to do well with many others.

                    I'd be curious, Szvook, if you ever had time to really detail each and every piece you are using, what settings, and to what effect they were modifying your sound. Always learning new ideas and approaches...

                    -Danny
                    -Danny

                    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fartnokker:
                      ... I guess I was just hoping that some newer guys didn't get the idea that you NEED all the outboard stuff just to get a suitable sound for gigging live. Hell, you can plug right into many PA's, and just use a DI box to do well with many others.
                      -Danny
                      YES! - There is a God.

                      Man, this stuff is great. And in terms that the common man/woman can soak in. Fan-freakin'-tastic. Come one come all, I knowz youz out there. Arriguy? BtnkBndt? F. Coleman? Feef? Putt? (oops!), etc. ?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fartnokker:
                        if you ever had time to really detail each and every piece you are using, what settings, and to what effect they were modifying your sound.

                        Here goes....

                        The direct outs from the TD-8 (D_L kick, D_R snare) are going into the BBE (to boost the dynamics) from there into the Focusrite Compounder (for compression/gate/limiter/ and further bass expansion, if needed) then into my Mackie – channel 1 & 2 in mono. The kicks are very powerful, substantial and clean with deep/wide dynamics. The snare(s) cut through anything are also very powerful, extensive and clean with deep/wide dynamics.

                        The master outs (MAS are for the rest of the TD-8: toms, cymbals, percussion, etc.) are going into the Aphex Aural Exciter (to boost the dynamics) from there into the Drawmer DL251 (for compression/gate/limiter/ and further bass expansion, if needed) and into my Mackie – channel 3 & 4 in stereo. The toms get great tone and depth and the cymbals are clean, crisp and sizzle.

                        The mixer sends are going into the Behringer Parametric Tube EQ and then fed in to my amp and out to my speakers. I use the Tube EQ for additional warmth to the signal, wide overlaps between frequency bands allowing for acute corrections, four fully parametric bands with adjustable bandwidth enable reduction of tricky frequencies and bandwidth settings do not affect each other; allowing you ultimate freedom in sound shaping. The low and high-frequency bands can be used as shelving filters, allowing me to effectively eliminate low-frequency disturbances and high-frequency noise.

                        The aux sends for channel 1-4 on the Mackie, are being fed the effects from the Lexicon MPX-1 so I can monitor the amount/type of effects for the kick, snare and the rest of the TD-8.

                        This way, I have a lot of headroom to push my drums further in any direction if I need to.


                        I know the “standard” is to run the signal(s) into the compressor first then to a signal processor (like a BEE or Aphex) but I have it the other way around (for now). How to run signals through selected outboard and in which order is a subject of long and ongoing debates by many sound engineers (there is a rule of thumb, but many try different ways and achieve good and interesting results – this is one item I love about outboard gear and how you can daisy chain the gear and the results one can get.

                        I will be changing the order my self to see/listen to the difference(s) as well.


                        ------------------
                        szvook

                        [This message has been edited by szvook (edited November 01, 2001).]

                        [This message has been edited by szvook (edited November 01, 2001).]
                        Studio

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