You are here

NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

For performing musicians and engineers: stagecraft, engineering and gear.

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:04 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:Check the pin-outs of the XLRs on the new mixer compared to what was used before.

Hello Wombat, thanks a lot for replying!

But could you be more specific please - ie/ what sort of thing am I looking for? From what I already observed, the main XLR outputs on the zed 10 look like the standard three pronged male xlr connections that were on all the other mixers that I tried with the system. The zed 10 is the only one that doesnt work though :S
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:54 pm

grab wrote:Crackles and glitches should *NOT* be a feature of a compressor or limiter. It'll sound odd (and probably unpleasant) when you hit the limit, but it really shouldn't crackle.

I thought that this was more the sort of thing that would happen when the mixer and the amp is pushed all the way up (or at least almost all the way up) as was the case prior to the landlord changing the limits for the compressor/limiter. Another issue with the sound is the individual channels fading in and out or complete sound loss. Because of this factor i was thinking the house TMIX mixer was probably guilty of contributing a far bit to the problems as well (as individual channels were affected seemingly independant of each other).

grab wrote:I wonder whether something else is screwed up? It's not uncommon for PAs to be set up as mono, so you may have a single dodgy cable somewhere (possibly in the locked box) which is causing a problem. Or more than one. The XLRs running into the locked box are not going to be having an easy life, for sure.

Well the system seems to be working much better for the other musicians that play there (they have their own mixers). If the compressor is not set too high then the TMIX housemixer seems to manage to get through the night without any serious problems too. The cable connections between the TMIX mixer on stage and the hardwired cables to the bar were recently tested and changed. Could you please explain why the cables would be having a hard time - specifically those plugged into the compressor?


grab wrote:

Compressors often have jack inputs too. I could well imagine your landlord putting an XLR-to-mono-jack adaptor on the end of the cable, and whether this works or not will entirely depend on what the mixer does with its outputs.


OK, i can see the landlord messing up the cabling, but I'm pretty sure all the mixers i tried output a balanced line level signal through the main XLR outputs. What sort of difference would there be between what the mixers do with their outputs such that the ZED 10 is the odd one out ?

Also, there are two xlr and two jack inputs on stage that go to the bar. Im pretty sure that the jacks are not plugged into anything at the bar (and are left dangling) so I'm also pretty sure that the other end of the XLR is still XLR... but I will check...


grab wrote:
I'd go in there sometime other than a gig night, get the landlord to open up the box with the compressor/EQ/amps, and go through your standard fault-finding. If you can get there during the day, that's usually a good time for landlords. Put an MP3 through your mixer, plug it in at each point in the audio chain (working backwards from the amps), and see whether it works.

I will definitely have a closer look, though i am reticent to delve in to deep as the setup behind the bar is complicated, difficult to get to and Im a little scared that I'll change something which will mess up the sound and I won't be able to fix it. There are two amps, a compressor/limiter, an eq and a big digital box to dial in different the inputs via a code -stage, tv, mp3 player, dvd player, computer... - and Im not sure what order they're patched together.

My standard fault finding is pretty much reliant on my common sense crossed with info i got from here or mixer manuals/books... Does anyone have any good probllem solving resoures/checklists to make sure I don't miss something silly? I'll also wait and see where this thread goes a bit before marching down there.

Finally, there is also the factor that i have no speakers or system to test the mixer independantly of this venue and my concern is also for my new mixer which didn't just work when needed - A lot of venues i play in seem to have terrible sound setups (as they all rely on dodgy two-bit cowboy sound people to set them up) and I can't go around fixing everyones sound when i don't know what I'm doing either. Also, the landlord i deal with here no very little, they are scared to change anything and they

At least this whole experience is teaching me a whole lot about sound systems and setting them up!! Thanks for all your input Grab!
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby James Perrett » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:18 pm

blokey wrote:What sort of difference would there be between what the mixers do with their outputs such that the ZED 10 is the odd one out ?

There are at least 3 popular ways of producing a balanced output that I can think of and some are fussy about what you do with pin 3 of the XLR. The Rane application notes are essential reading for anyone working with sound equipment - see http://www.rane.com/note110.html to start with.

Hugh has also written some equally useful articles in the magazine.

James.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 9652
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:25 pm

James Perrett wrote:Unless the compressor is specifically designed for noise control purposes, I suspect that the landlord is trying to do things on the cheap and probably isn't really handling the situation effectively. The normal solution is a Formula Sound box that cuts off power to the stage when the volume in the room reaches as set level for a certain length of time.

Yes the setup behind the bar is not ideal and neither is the landlord. But as is the case with most of my gigs, the setup is out of my control so I'm trying to learn to understand why things won't work so I can deal with them myself as much as possible. Having no sound come out of the new mixer was mortifying as i had done plenty of research that suggested that it should just work.

James Perrett wrote:

As has been previously said, this is probably a problem with feeding a balanced output into an unbalanced input. You may have to make up some cables to match the Zed mixer although I suspect that you could get equally good results with the Thomann TMix mixer if you knew how to operate it properly.

James.

Yes, i see that there could definitely be an issue between balanced and unbalanced signals and the cabling used. I understand that there is no rule of thumb with this issue and that in many cases the wiring schematics aren't standardised. I am not great on cabling yet but i have started looking at different cabling methods in light of all these problems so i am aware of a possible issue. I still find it a little confusing but i will check the cable diagrams for the different mixers and whatever theyre pugged into at the bar if i can find it on the net to see if somethings amiss.

Im curious to know what more i could do to operate the mixer 'properly' though... the mixer is really the only piece of equipment here that I'm confortable in using as i've have spent considerable time learning the functions through practice and by reading up on how they work. I've been learning on the job only for just over a year now, and in that time I've become more knowledgable than many of my more experienced peers - managing to get things working in crappy conditions with limited kit. I've rarely had gigs in a place with a nice and easy sound system because well this is still new to me and the gigs aren't that great as I'm starting from the bottom with hardly any budget.

Apart from my new ZED 10 (no sound) and the TMIX (lot of sound problems), other mixers i've used on this particular system worked great. When having problems, there are not that many variables between the master level, the individual channel's level and gain to try (all effects/aux's/features are switched off), so please explain what else i could do to improve my use of the mixer aside from understanding the cabling better - bearing in mind the aim at this venue is to get the loudest volume possible with no distortion.

Thanks for your suggestions James and thank you all for the replies, your help is greatly appreciated!
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:37 pm

James Perrett wrote:

There are at least 3 popular ways of producing a balanced output that I can think of and some are fussy about what you do with pin 3 of the XLR. The Rane application notes are essential reading for anyone working with sound equipment - see http://www.rane.com/note110.html to start with.

Hugh has also written some equally useful articles in the magazine.

James.


THANKS! that looks really helpful, i will check that out and will look for hugh's articles. I guess that in theory, having a couple of XLR's wired differently and keeping them handy would make any system interopperable. I would also assume that this would mean that in some situations the wiring will manage to work (maybe not that well) even if its not done correctly where in other situations, it will not work at all (depending on where the hot/cold/ground are going).

can i ask if this happens frequently then? - having to check cable wiring and rewiring things for different set-ups. As I just said, i only have a years experience as a musician using sound equipment and i have not encountered similar issues and no one i've spoke to has had similar experiences to share.

Thank again James,
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby James Perrett » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:05 pm

Probably 50% of the PA systems that I come across have some basic problem. Often the owner has thrown money at the problem by buying an extra box of tricks which only makes matters worse. Usually a simple tweak of a couple of controls, or plugging something in to a different socket fixes things. The trick is knowing which control or which socket to change. Sometimes I've struggled for a whole night before working out what was really going on so the answer isn't always obvious.

I've just done a couple of rehearsals at another studio where they've spent money on a pair of graphic equalisers when spending more money on speakers would have been much more appropriate. Since I don't think they'd appreciate me changing the graphics, when I'm there I bypass them and just tweak the channel eq a bit - it sounds much better like that.

James.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 9652
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby ef37a » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:28 am

Hi,
I have ZED10 (FX usb but basically the same beast)and I can assure you that the XLR outs are wired as per standard.

My mixer feeds a 5mtr pair of XLR cables to an unbalancing transformer box into a 2496 and was simply dropped in to replace a Behringer Xenyx 802.

The zeds' outs are impedance balanced and therefore if the "other" end is wired wrongly you WILL get diddly!There are no other jack outputs on the Zed (something of a dissapointment I felt)except the inserts which you could use but be aware you need a TRS plug but just wire tip as send/hot/sleeve cold.

Lastly, the mixer kicks out a good level! I have had to fit attenuators post my transformers so that I can have a useful LED display on the mixer for -18dBFS in my DAWs.

Good luck, anything you want me to check/try with my setup, just ask.

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11993
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk
#They did not listen, they are not listening still...Perhaps they never will?#

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:32 pm

Thanks so much for your replies, they've been really helpful! I'm afraid i have some new qustions though as I have a bit of an update to the problem since I spent this afternoon trying to get things to work...

Regarding the cabling, I checked the mixer's cabling diagrams and the rane diagrams and from what i can tell everything is standard. I didn't however take apart the cables and connections at the venue and i couldnt get to the back of he equipment to see what was what and where it was all plugged in to.


[Q] Would it be worth trying to find the manuals online for all the equipment behind the bar to cross reference the specs and to visualise how it might be all connected? (i am not lazy but this seems like a lot of work for me -given my newbieness- that will probably raise more questions than answers but if anyone advises it I might just give it a shot)


Regarding my ZED 10. I tried the house XLR cables again as well as some of my own. I switched off the compressor (unscrewed the cabinet holding it to get past the lock :) ) and with the system cranked up i did get sound through. However, the signal is faint and much lower in volume than with the TMIX. I followed the advice of plugging in my mp3 player to test and i could hear the sound coming through ok but it was very low and when i pushed the levels on the desk it began to distort. Plugging my guitar in was a different story though - the sound was barely audible at all and only when the guitar's channel was pushed all the way up. The Guitar sound that cae through was almost pure distortion and it was much lower than the MP3 player even though they were both coming through the ZED 10. I think the mics would have been even less successful than the guitar but i didnt have any spare to check.


[Q] What would cause the ZED 10 to give such a faint signal compared to the TMIX and is there anything i can do to fix it?


The second issue is the mess behind the bar, some of which may also be of some relevance to the weak signal coming from the ZED 10.

Firstly though, regarding the crackling and loss of channels, I managed to observe similar crackling issues when playing sound from several sources (tv, cd player etc) and with the compressor turned off so i beleive this is down to some poor cable connections somewhere near the EQ or the AMP.

I also noticed that when playing music from the computer at the bar, both the AMP and the EQ have a light labeled 'signal' that switches on. When playing stuff from the TMIX or the ZED 10 on stage, the signal light on the AMP would only flash on occasionally and on the EQ I had to push the gain up to a sweet spot for the light to appear.


[Q] I am unfamiliar with amps or eq boxes like these but my assumption is that this means the signal from the stage is poor such that green light = good and no light = bad... am i correct in assuming this?

[Q] Also, could this be part of the problem of the ZED 10's low volume output compared to the Tmix or would it be more of a symptom? (the tmix also failed to light the signal leds, but seemed to struggle a bit less and the volume was very loud in comparison despite the lack of the green signal light).


I am going to speak to the landlord tomorrow to get him to do something about these connections (possibly just get rid of the EQ box to make things simpler too). In the meantime i would really appreciate any insight on the new information that i've just shared.

If it helps, the equipment behind the bar is:

yamaha p1600 power amplifier
yamaha GC2020C compressor/limiter
yamaha GQ2015A eq
kramer 6x6 audio matrix

Thanks again and appologies for the constant newbie questions.
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:44 pm

ef37a wrote:Hi,
I have ZED10 (FX usb but basically the same beast)and I can assure you that the XLR outs are wired as per standard.

Thanks for confirming this - i checked the diagram myself and everything seemed standard to me but its good to know i'm not getting it wrong.

ef37a wrote:

There are no other jack outputs on the Zed (something of a dissapointment I felt)except the inserts which you could use but be aware you need a TRS plug but just wire tip as send/hot/sleeve cold.

Hmm, on the top right there are two main XLR outs and two jacks underneath... i thought that they were just main outputs but in the light of day today i realised that they're labeled as inserts. I had read up on inserts before but tbh i guess i don't really understand their function (normally i've seen inserts near regular mono inputs on mixer channels). I will read up some more and will avoid using them until i understand better what they're for then. thanks for the heads up!
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:56 pm

James Perrett wrote:
Hugh has also written some equally useful articles in the magazine

I did a google search for hugh's articles and found several partially relevant ones. They're reallly very interesting and i spent quite some time reading them but i did not find any that were really pertinent to my issues. If you could point me towards any specific ones you might have in mind, i would be very grateful.

James Perrett wrote:

Probably 50% of the PA systems that I come across have some basic problem. Often the owner has thrown money at the problem by buying an extra box of tricks which only makes matters worse. Usually a simple tweak of a couple of controls, or plugging something in to a different socket fixes things. The trick is knowing which control or which socket to change. Sometimes I've struggled for a whole night before working out what was really going on so the answer isn't always obvious.

I've just done a couple of rehearsals at another studio where they've spent money on a pair of graphic equalisers when spending more money on speakers would have been much more appropriate. Since I don't think they'd appreciate me changing the graphics, when I'm there I bypass them and just tweak the channel eq a bit - it sounds much better like that.

James.

Well that certainly is reassuring (kind of) - at least I'm not the only one struggling with these things!.. Looks like i've got a steep learning curve ahead of me though :s
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby James Perrett » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:13 am

blokey wrote:I didn't however take apart the cables and connections at the venue and i couldnt get to the back of he equipment to see what was what and where it was all plugged in to.

I'm afraid that this is exactly what you need to do. You need to see what the mixer is feeding and make sure that all the cores are connected as expected. The GC2020 is probably my least favourite compressor - I have one but I can't even remember whether it is balanced or unbalanced but I've only ever used it unbalanced.

James.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 9652
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:41 am

"blokey": where are you based?

Also; any chance you can connect your ZED10 to a PA system (or any known OK recorder/amp) that doesn't have all these idiosyncracies so you can prove whether or not it's OK and thus eliminate that as the cause of the problems?

Cheers! Mike
Mike Stranks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7425
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 1:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:16 pm

James Perrett wrote:

I'm afraid that this is exactly what you need to do. You need to see what the mixer is feeding and make sure that all the cores are connected as expected. The GC2020 is probably my least favourite compressor - I have one but I can't even remember whether it is balanced or unbalanced but I've only ever used it unbalanced.

James.

yes i totally agree with you and i'm gonna call landlord today and try and get him on board - it looks like a full days work. Also, thanks for the info!


Mike Stranks wrote:"blokey": where are you based?

Also; any chance you can connect your ZED10 to a PA system (or any known OK recorder/amp) that doesn't have all these idiosyncracies so you can prove whether or not it's OK and thus eliminate that as the cause of the problems?

Cheers! Mike

I am based in the south of france

I'm gonna try and see if some other venue will let us test the mixer with their PA today. I thought the fact that the ZED10 was working through the TMIX suggested that it was working properly but i do think it might be an idea to test it plugged directly into another PA to be sure.

I have one more quick question after sleeping on it if anyone is willing:

Does the fact that at this venue i am able to get a very faint sound from the ALLEN&HEATH zed 10 rather than nothing at all (as was originally the case) change anything to the analysis? (ie. is a very faint sound also a common symptom of badly mixed balanced and unbalanced connections as well as faulty connections between the different elements of the PA?).

--- Is there no difference in the possible causes of the problem when getting a very faint sound compared to no sound at all ? ---

Thanks everyone!
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby Exalted Wombat » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:04 pm

blokey wrote:Is there no difference in the possible causes of the problem when getting a very faint sound compared to no sound at all ? ---

Not really. It just proves that a pin carrying a signal is getting to ONE of the pins in the socket. Even if it's being immediately shunted to ground, you may hear a LITTLE sound.

Put a meter on the XLR cable you're using. Check that all 3 pins are getting through. Check that neither pin 2 or (more likely) pin 3 are connected to pin 1 or to the casing.
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5733
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:00 am
Location: London UK
You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont bore us with beefing about it. Go fishing instead.

Re: NIGHTMARE sound problems with a regular LIVE venue - bought a new ALLEN&HEATH Z10 mixer to help but it won't even work with the venue's PA

Postby blokey » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:50 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:

Not really. It just proves that a pin carrying a signal is getting to ONE of the pins in the socket. Even if it's being immediately shunted to ground, you may hear a LITTLE sound.

Thanks - that was just the answer i needed.

Unfortunately i haven't managed to try the Zed-10 on another PA yet though I did manage to find the source of the crackling and the channel losses at the venue - One of the 1/4" inputs on the yamaha EQ was not making a proper contact. Getting rid of the EQ altogether seems to have done the trick (it was only being used to boost the gain after the compressor/limiter anyway).

I didn't have the opportunity to test if there was a difference to the zed 10's faint signal after losing the EQ but I doubt it - i think that that's a sperate problem. From the mess of wires and the xlr's/rca's/jacks and dubious connectors I saw whilst getting rid of the EQ I expect that it is an improper use of balanced and unbalanced cables and connectors (just as several people have already suggested in this thread). As such, I'm not that hopeful for a solution for my mixer at all as I probably won't be able to do any more for this venue because as far as the landlord is concerned, nothing's broken as long as sound can get through ok (as it does now) so equally nothing needs fixing. Basically, Its unlikely that the he would want to spend any more time let alone money buying the correctly wired replacement cables if as far as he can tell everything's working ok.

I haven't decided what to do for the mixer yet as there are still a few things to try - at least the biggest problem with this venue's sound should be sorted though - i have a gig tonight so will just have ot wait and see.

Thanks to everyone for all the help!
blokey
New here
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:00 am