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Live tone philosophy

How do you dial in live tones?

  • Do all the processing you can before it hits the board.

  • Leave it as raw as possible and let the shaping happen at FOH.

  • Neither, or a combination of the two (explain with post).


Results are only viewable after voting.

Rotti

Fractal Fanatic
I've always heard two dominant theories regarding dialing in tones for live use...

1) Make the FOH engineer's life easy. Do all your hi/lo pass, EQ, compression, gating, etc. to your signal before it hits the board. Include a ~3dB level bump for leads. Make it so that he plugs you into a channel and forgets you're there, free to go grab a beer (pitcher) and kick back.

2) Give him the freedom to do what he's paid for. Give him the most huge, unprocessed tone you possibly can. Let him find your place in the mix, bump up your fader when the solos kick in, dial in your delay to tempo where he's feeling it, etc. Labor intensive, but I'm told some sound guys appreciate this.

Where do you guys stand on this? Obviously, if you have a regular engineer that's "your guy," option #2 makes a lot more sense, because he's intimately familiar with your set.

I'm talking about walking into some venue with whoever house guy you've never met and doesn't know your set or your sound at all. Which way do you guys go? Has that way been working out well for you or failing? Do you maybe mix the two methods into some amalgamation (i.e., you gate & compress, but leave the tone wide to be EQ'd at the board, or maybe you still take control over your "color" effects, delays and such)?

Thanks & Gig'em!
 

PRSfreak4

Power User
2) Give him the freedom to do what he's paid for. Give him the most huge, unprocessed tone you possibly can. Let him find your place in the mix, bump up your fader when the solos kick in, dial in your delay to tempo where he's feeling it, etc. Labor intensive, but I'm told some sound guys appreciate this.

Rotti - I am assuming you are asking how the grid is setup in each preset? If that's the case my approach is leave everything stock from FAS on the hardware, setup a "simple" design for my grid layout (VOL > DRV > AMP > CAB > MLTDLY > CHORUS > REV > DELAY) and send that "raw" signal to FOH. I just keep it simple thus far and haven't experienced any issues with the multiple venues I gig at.

Are you asking just because you're curious or just want to learn more about other's approaches? I am curious as to why when I download other's presets and import them, there is a higher usage of PEQ, GEQ, COMP and FX SEND blocks being utilized. For me I like things simple & easy trusting that the FOH mix can represent the ideal tone effectively. From what I gather from Cliff & FAS, they are designing the AFX to be more realistic and representative of what an actual amp's dynamics would be on stage (captain obvious over here). What I mean is if you had to bring a Matchless Chieftain to a gig, you wouldn't bring a PEQ or GEQ with you to send the FOH tech a "perfect" signal. But then again, I don't have nearly the experience as others with the AFX so I am still learning myself ;)
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
It depends on the run of shows for me.

For my weekend warrior gigs where we mix ourselves, I run full processing in the Fractal and do almost nothing at the desk.

In a proper show with a real FOH tech, the only change I make is if it is an indoor venue, I turn off reverb.

With in ears, no matter what the venue, I turn down the overall efx level in the Fractal.
 

Rotti

Fractal Fanatic
Rotti - I am assuming you are asking how the grid is setup in each preset? If that's the case my approach is leave everything stock from FAS on the hardware, setup a "simple" design for my grid layout (VOL > DRV > AMP > CAB > MLTDLY > CHORUS > REV > DELAY) and send that "raw" signal to FOH. I just keep it simple thus far and haven't experienced any issues with the multiple venues I gig at.

Are you asking just because you're curious or just want to learn more about other's approaches? I am curious as to why when I download other's presets and import them, there is a higher usage of PEQ, GEQ, COMP and FX SEND blocks being utilized. For me I like things simple & easy trusting that the FOH mix can represent the ideal tone effectively. From what I gather from Cliff & FAS, they are designing the AFX to be more realistic and representative of what an actual amp's dynamics would be on stage (captain obvious over here). What I mean is if you had to bring a Matchless Chieftain to a gig, you wouldn't bring a PEQ or GEQ with you to send the FOH tech a "perfect" signal. But then again, I don't have nearly the experience as others with the AFX so I am still learning myself ;)

Well, not directly asking about grid setup, but I suppose for us that's part of it.

"Back in the old days," gigging with tube amps, like barh said, you wouldn't drag around an armada of compressors, gates, and eqs with your 5150. All the important stuff happened at FOH... for better or worse.

I guess what I'm getting at is simply, the game has changed. Have the "rules" changed as well?

...and yes, mostly just curious. I thought maybe I'd learn something new by posting this.
 
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Moke

Axe-Master
Vendor
I trust no-one...;).....Everything is done in the Axe FX. I send 1 or 2 XLR's to FOH and tell them to start with all EQ flat and do what you have to. Then I would ask them after the show what tweaks were needed and make adjustments at home. At this point the only minor adjustments made at FOH are for a particular room.
 

RoshRoslin

Experienced
First and foremost. Get a read on the FOH Engineer. Thats the number one thing. I engineer on FOH gigs and when a band/artist/whoever comes in and starts barking orders without introducing himself that already gets off to a bad start.

My process
1) If the FOH guy seems like a respectable, knowledgable individual then I let him know I'll send a direct, Line level signal. Any blank stares, and I know it may be an uphill battle. If he knows what I mean, we continue.
2) I ALWAYS keep my stage volume off unless he asks for it. I soundcheck with no stage volume. Regardless if I'm running ears, With a wedge or running Poweramp + Cab. Again, to make his/her job easy. FOH gets the signal, I say "Mix my tone in whatever way you see fit. I'm already High passed at 100Hz and Lowpassed around 7-8K, I'm here to make your job easy"
3) Then I turn up stage volume, or ask for it in the wedge unless I'm on in ears. I adjust reverb/Global FX mix and Global EQ for the room if necessary (Haven't done it in probably 2 years)

As for the tones before the gig. I just get "my sound" before the gig. Most FOH engineers I deal with rarely have an opinion on tones/reverb etc. All this stuff should be dialed in at rehearsal at gig volume. This takes any and all variables out of the equation, including the soundman. I'd rather have our stuff dialed in at home. Give the soundguy the input list and our snake and let him do his thing in the house.

Since I've been on both sides of the board, I do my best to treat the guy with respect from the beginning. Most guys out here in LA are very, very good. But if it's clear that I have to step in and make some decisions and take charge, I'm not afraid to do so. I just try to do it in a respectable way and make sure that everyone (FOH, Band, Artist, Management etc) know that this is a team effort and we are ALWAYS trying to achieve the same goal: have a great sounding show with no headaches.

I have and will battle incompetent soundmen if it's necessary but learning to read the situation will get you alot further than being a jerk right off the bat. Most battles I have with soundmen is never about volume, but about forcing me and the band to plug into un-grounded power, not letting us run our own in ear mix (I use a rack of Shure PSMs with either an X32 board or a Yamaha O1v Board and a splitsnake) or just other general incompetence.
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
My process
1) If the FOH guy seems like a respectable, knowledgable individual then I let him know I'll send a direct, Line level signal. Any blank stares, and I know it may be an uphill battle. If he knows what I mean, we continue.
2) I ALWAYS keep my stage volume off unless he asks for it. I soundcheck with no stage volume. Regardless if I'm running ears, With a wedge or running Poweramp + Cab. Again, to make his/her job easy. FOH gets the signal, I say "Mix my tone in whatever way you see fit. I'm already High passed at 100Hz and Lowpassed around 7-8K, I'm here to make your job easy"
3) Then I turn up stage volume, or ask for it in the wedge unless I'm on in ears. I adjust reverb/Global FX mix and Global EQ for the room if necessary (Haven't done it in probably 2 years).
This. Fully agree to everything here.
The only thing debatable is the high and low-cut. Some sound guys prefer uncut signals so they can dial that in to taste. So I basicly set up my usual high and low cuts in the global EQ and when a sound guy asks me for an uncut signal in just reset the global EQ.

If he gives you a "deer in the headlights" look on 1) I usually just tell them to treat me like a keyboard, exchange my guitar cable to a 20m one that I bought for exactly this situation and jump down the stage to hear the FOH sound and adjust the global EQ according to what I'm hearing...
 
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Kyle.E.Woyote

Inspired
95% of the time we have our own FOH engineer, but I am constantly on him about what he does at his end, and how I can apply it to the Axe for future gigs to make things more seemless and easy.

With how good the Axe sounds at default amp settings now, (like what was already mentioned) it becomes a simple case of Hi/Lo cut "generally" to get it sitting nicely.
 

Sleestak

Power User
When I'm working with an unfamiliar FOH engineer, I explain that I'll be providing them with a direct XLR feed from my rig (either mono or stereo, depending on the room), and that my signal will be fully processed including the cabinet mic model. I recommend to them they start with my channel being EQ flat and tell them once we're underway, they are welcome to make necessary EQ changes to my signal to make it fit the mix, but that I want them to make a mental note of what EQ they applied so we discuss it after the show. I also tell them if they really feel like my guitar needs additional ANYTHING (effects, compression), that I want them to feel it's OK to do that, but to remember I will be doing my own processing in the AxeFX on a per-patch / per-scene basis, and we might find ourselves at cross purposes if we're both adding effects.

I'm good at setting up my tones, and spend a lot of time tweaking them in full-band tech rehearsals to make the entire mix sit together nicely. The FOH engineer is sitting at a better position than me to make the FOH mix work together. I trust them to do a good job on it. After the show I always approach them and ask "how did the guitar sound? what adjustments were necessary to make the mix work in this room?". Most of the time engineers tell me they didn't do anything to my guitar signal in the mains. Sometimes I hear very useful advice such as "I had to roll off some low end because it seemed muddy" or "that one lead patch was really bright". That's useful feedback, and I incorporate it into my patch adjustments.

No matter how "perfect" our patches sound when we're alone, we should be ready to make adjustments when we're incorporating our sounds into the full band context. And after that, we have to be ready to make adjustments based on the room / PA. I want my guitar tone to be as polished and direct-ready as possible, but I also want the FOH engineer to be able to do their job.

Remember: the FOH engineer has hands on the board and we don't. They have a good vantage point for hearing the entire band and we don't. Ask the FOH engineer for feedback / suggestions after the show.
 

warlockII

Power User
I try to have everything dialed in other than low and high cut. I keep meaning to do a conservative low and high cut and A/B them against my typical presets, but haven't gotten around doing it.
 

Sleestak

Power User
A much better way of explaining what I attempted to Sleestak!
Thank you :) I think we have the same approach. Much of the time we have a dedicated FOH engineer, and we've worked closely together on the overall sound of the band.

I occasionally interact with unfamiliar FOH engineers who are skeptical of the AxeFX direct feed. They may have encountered a direct-connect modeler in the past, and carry a strong opinion on the viability of that approach. I just ask them to give it a try, and tell them if they're really dissatisfied with my direct tone, we can explore other options. It's never come to that point. Every time, in every new venue, the FOH engineer has been happy with the AxeFX. I have been told by more than one FOH engineer that the AxeFX delivers the best studio-quality tones they've ever had at the board.
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
I can tell from experience reverb is usually the one effect to be wary of for big shows. The FOH and monitor mixers will want to control the ambience on everything.

But chorus, phase shifter, delay, etc. it's all in our control.

I wouldn't get too crazy with EQ either. Just a good overall balanced tone. Let them high pass it or what not.
 

muudrock

Experienced
I like to do most of the overall shaping before I send the signal to FOH. We do carry our own system as well so that is dialed in...I have sound system presets on the board for a lot of the different rooms. When using a different system I always talk to the FOH engineer about what I'm sending him and most will "zero" the guitar channel and adjust as necessary for the overall mix. Most are appreciative as they have less work to do and can focus on dialing in the mix. I hi cut and low cut in the cab block and also have small adjustments on the global output eq. I don't boost anything, typically cut the lows and highs. I approach it like I would in recording....get a good core base sound, send that to FOH and let him fine tune for the venue/system.
 

jesussaddle

Power User
Yeah, this would depend on if the venue is likely to have an expert-in-his-own-mind FOH engineer. If so, it could render things harder for him if he has your pre-polished stuff since her/his "advanced" knowledge of the acoustics and equipment in the place might be better suited to dialing from the unpolished sound.

A true pro engineer should be capable of taking your reasonably made, or excellent, FOH signal and working with it, or your stage signal alone, or...

Okay, this question is way beyond my scope. I took a crack at it out of boredom. Sorry.
 
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