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Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

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Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby UKDEVELOPER » Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:28 pm

Hello,

This is my first post, so please excuse me if i dont do everything correctly.

I have been asked to do sound for a theatre show (very small one) next january. There will be a live band on stage that will need to be mic'ed as well as the actors etc.

The theatre has limited sound equipment:

Sound craft lx mk2 desk 24/4/1
Cd player
Minidisk player x 2
Cassette player
Lexicon reverb
Compressors x 2
Feed back destroyer x 2
Radio lapel mics X 9 (senheiser)
Hand held radio mics x 5 (senheiser)
Shure 58 beta x 20
Shure 57 x 10
Mic stands

What i would like to do is to run all FX for the band and vocals for actors (some need pitch change and some need autotune etc) from my MAC. But im only 50% sure as to how I can achieve this.

So the question I ask is what would be the best software for me to use simply as an FX rack on the MAC? I have logic and Ableton, but i didnt know if there was a standalone software which allows creation of RACKS of FX.

I also have an Edirol FA-101 interface. Would this be ok as the Send/Return module for the FX to the desk?

Any advice would be great.

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Re: Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby Dave Rowles » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:14 pm

You're best using it exactly as you think you would. Aux sends to inputs on the interface, through your DAW of choice, output back to the desk. You'd only do it different if you wanted to use it as an insert on a channel.
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Re: Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby grab » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:49 pm

Look up which Lexicon it is before you rely on this, but most of them seem to come with some kind of pitch-shifter.

And maybe I'm out of touch with modern theatre techniques, but if they can't hit the note then they shouldn't be f***ing well singing to a paying audience in the first place...
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Re: Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:36 pm

Yes, you could use the Edirol plus a computer as 8 channels of effects. Just set up 8 tracks in any sequencer fed by the 8 physical inputs, insert the chosen FX and send each channel's monitored signal to a separate physical output. Watch the latency figure - a little delay won't matter for reverb and delay, but might sabotage other effects.

But I think you're approaching this from the angle of how you would RECORD this performance in a studio. Theatre sound isn't like that!

I'd think very hard before attempting pitch shift and AutoTune on a live theatre show. The lead singers should consider themselves lucky if you remember to dial in a bit of reverb for the singing (and - even more important - dial it out for the dialogue)!

Anyway, the audience will be hearing direct sound as well as the PA. Pitch correction will sound most odd!

Can you body-mic everyone? There are no microphones in your list suitable for area cover (and that is the only place the feedback eliminators might be useful). Likewise, I can't see anything useful for compressers to do.

But maybe I'm being unfair. Tell us more about the show, type of music, number of performers, any special circumstances...

(I wonder what circumstances would use 20 X SM58s? Maybe a gospel choir?)
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Re: Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby Jeraldo » Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:05 am

You describe this as a very small show. From the list of gear, I don't see a need for a computer. I'd just use hardware- easier, straightforward, and arguably more reliable, and certainly easier to fix a problem if one arose. Like some others, I wouldn't be entertaining the use of auto-tune, either. Not to mention pitch shifting.

As has already been said, though, one can't draw many conclusions without really knowing the show.

Good luck, and let us know how it went and what you did.
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Re: Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby UKDEVELOPER » Mon Jun 20, 2011 6:42 am

Jeraldo wrote:You describe this as a very small show. From the list of gear, I don't see a need for a computer. I'd just use hardware- easier, straightforward, and arguably more reliable, and certainly easier to fix a problem if one arose. Like some others, I wouldn't be entertaining the use of auto-tune, either. Not to mention pitch shifting.

As has already been said, though, one can't draw many conclusions without really knowing the show.

Good luck, and let us know how it went and what you did.

Hi Jeraldo,

Regarding the use of computer, the only reason I wanted to go down this route is because I probably already have all the gear i need computer-wise. And it saves buying external hardware that I will probably not use again.

The use of pitch shift is paramount for this performance as its a rendition of "The Wizard of Oz" so there needs to be vocal pitch shifting for the parts of the munchkins (pitch up) and the wizard (pitch down) LOL.

I probably wont use autotune in the end

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Re: Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby benniferj » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:24 am

As mentioned, even the cheaper end of the Lexicon effects range tend to have pitch shifting processing built in. I remember creating some terrifying pitched vocal sounds on a cheap ( <£100 ) MPX100 that would sound great on Wiz munchkins.
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Re: Using MAC as FX Processor in a theatre environment

Postby grab » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:08 am

Re pitchshifting, no worries for the wiz, bcos he's *supposed* to be off-stage!

For the munchkins, if it's a small theatre then there could be some problems with the audience hearing the singers' voices as well as the pitchshifted version in the PA. It's not as simple as the usual sound-reinforcement mission, so it might take some experimentation to find something that blends well. This would be the case whether you use your Mac or the Lexicon.

Flooding the stage with helium mix would do the trick, but might be expensive.
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