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Author Topic: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?  (Read 2528 times)

Diminished Triad

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Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« on: March 17, 2015, 06:31:10 am »

In the end, is there a rule of thumb for determine how we want to allocate the energy?

I have worked with guitars for a while so I know there is a difference between increasing volume from an amp versus having the volume increased on the guitar and therefore having the pickups push more into the amp.  On the other hand, I have little knowledge of the difference in the very end (end sound) from having more or less of the original source (ie; turning up a guitar or bass in the first instance as opposed to increasing the gain on the mixing board or pushing up a fader or the master board volume).

If Guitar "A" coming out of the mains received most of his volume from gain as opposed to a fader or master volume....would anyone be able to tell the difference from the sound pumped out by Guitar "B" if he/she received most of his/her volume from the fader or master volume?  If Guitar "B" had a louder volume coming from the stage and needed less gain to be heard at the same level as Guitar "A".....would we be able to tell the difference?

Thanks for any info/tips you can share!
Mike
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Fletcher

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2015, 10:32:39 am »

Two things happening here... the first, the people on the stage need to balance themselves [or be balanced via a monitor system] so they're ALL comfortable in what they hear of themselves and each other in order to get a good performance.  In with that is everyone on the stage needs to be comfortable with the tone they are able to achieve in any given venue.

The second thing that is happening is that the sound in the audience needs to be balanced and "faithful" to what the musicians are putting out on the deck.  So -- in a "soundcheck" environment the players get the sound and balance they require on the deck [including monitor mix], and the FOH takes what needs to be further amplified and puts it in the house in a manner that gives proper tone and balance to what's coming off the deck.

I've worked with "arena" sized acts where one of the guitar players is barely in the system [huge guitar rig] and the other guitar player is pretty much entirely reliant on the SR system to get the sound off the stage and into the house [the wall of back line cabinets are "props", the sound is actually coming from a 12 watt combo amp that is sitting under the stage!]. 

My point being that there are absolutely no rules... with the exception of it being imperative that the stage sound be "right" for the performers, and that the "audience" sound has to work with the coming off the deck to build the proper balance.

Make sense?
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

boz6906

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2015, 01:53:01 pm »

I think he's looking for the idea of gain staging.

Aiming for minimum noise/distortion I would have the gtr pickup volume knob always at 75% or better, channel gain on the amp at 50% and master at 50%.
The idea being to not overdrive the next stage or clip the preceding stage.

If your goal is a bit of crunch then I'd run the amp channel gain higher and the master volume lower in order to get the overdrive sound.

Even better, get a variable voltage regulator for your amp's B+ from HallAmplification.com

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Diminished Triad

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2015, 04:00:00 pm »

Thanks Fletcher and Boz, both recommendations help.  For most inputs I would estimate gain at 25% with the fader at 50% and master volume at 50% is pushing it.  Am I correct in concluding that your recommendation is with gain at a set 50% and the same for the master volume, I can then adjust each fader and focus my "mix" and adjustments there?  I've been doing the opposite and striving for near unity across the mixing board but not at the gain levels....and because of the different inputs/instruments the gain levels are all over the place....ranging from maybe 15% to 65%?  Should I adjust gain levels to be much more equal across the board...resulting in better sound quality?  Thanks! Mike
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Fletcher

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2015, 04:47:19 pm »

A good starting place is with the "master fader" at "unity"
  • , the channel fader at "unity", and set the "channel input" level accordingly.  That way you get maximum flexibility throughout the system while taxing the channel strip headroom the least.


Make sense?
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

boz6906

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2015, 05:12:51 pm »

I believe the console's input 'trim' or 'gain' at the top of the channel strip should be used to match the inputs to the console; a SM57 in front of a gtr amp would need only 25% of gain, a softer female vocal may need 75% or more to reach the proper level in the channel strip.  Once the gain is set during soundcheck I don't mess with it during the show.

I mix with the channel faders, I start with the faders at about 75% and cut or add as I need during mixing.

I leave the master at about 75% so I can bring the overall mix up or down if needed.

I've never understood folks who leave the channel faders up at 0dB and mix with the gain knobs... it screws your foldback monitor mix and reverb sends when you mix with the gain knob instead of the channel fader.
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Fletcher

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2015, 09:18:32 am »

Jeff -- most faders have nomenclature next to them that show how you can go from "infinity" [at the bottom] to "0" [about žs of the way up] to +20 which would be at the top.  "0" equals "unity" gain [the level that comes into the fader is the level that goes out of the fader] which is the "0" to which I refer.

I think our pull apart is purely semantics, which is fine... but we should all be speaking the same language.  I think we're actually saying the same thing as I generally like to start with the "master" at that "0" point and the channel faders also at that "0" point... "input gain" to relative taste as that level relates to my channel faders pretty much being in a straight line across the desk [at that "0" point... sometimes around "-5"ish if there is a ton of additional gain down the line [sufficient "stacks" and "racks" meaning that it will be pragmatic to pull back on the output of the desk in order to achieve the desired result].

Make sense?
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

boz6906

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2015, 11:16:52 am »

Yes and no...

You say "input gain to relative taste", but I think the input gain's position is dictated by the signal coming in.  That 'input gain' is really a 'pad' in front of the first amp.
Once set, it should stay put.

All the aux sends are 'downstream' so any change during showtime will change the FX & foldback levels.

If I start with 'all faders up' you can get slammed by a blasting gtr amp.

At soundcheck I start with faders at infinity, set my input gains based on what it is, then ease up each fader "to relative taste".

My nominal level for the channel faders is -6, this keeps the L/R mix buss out of distortion, especially with many inputs crowding the mix buss.

This also gives me some gain to feature solos for a more dynamic mix.

If you don't save channel fader headroom it's easy to have 'fader creep', I've seen many a bus guy end up with all his faders at 0, +3, +6 and mix buss all crunchy.

We all mix in our own manner, its all about what works for you.
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Fletcher

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Re: Source vs. Gain vs. Faders vs. Volume?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2015, 12:56:42 pm »

For all intents and purposes we are saying the same thing.

By "input gain to relative taste", what I mean is that with the secondary [channel faders], and tertiary [master fader] set at "unity gain", you then bring the level into each channel so you attain a "relative balance" to the audio that will be reinforced [coming out of the speakers].

That is a "starting point".

From there, those "input pads" are left alone, and the rest of the process occurs with the channel faders / controls [EQ, aux sends, etc.].

I prefer to set up my soundcheck that way vs. [and you have no idea how many guys I've seen do this over the years!] setting the input pad to 75% [roughly 3 o'clock] and then set the channel faders to where they felt was an appropriate level... which I've found [more often than not] leads almost directly to all kinds of "lack of channel headroom" which most of the time results in some pretty "not musical" distortions.

At any rate... we're pretty much saying the exact same thing... hopefully this clarification illustrates that point.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm
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