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help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

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help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby palebeard » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:56 pm

Hello. I've recently started incorporating vocals into my live performances, and I'm having a bit of a technical issue. The vocals are heavily effected by running them through several guitar effect pedals. Often it works fine at various venues, seems to cause no problems at all or the sound engineer must know how to make it work and isn't explaining any issues to me. A few times it has caused all kinds of chaos. Some audio engineers thought it was a ground loop hum issue, some thought it was an impedance issue, some had no patience to try to figure it out or explain it and didn't care what I'm trying to create ("just run the vocals dry and I'll put reverb on them from the board"... ignoring all the other pedals that I use on the vocals and that some are turned on or off during the performance).

So I dived into figuring this out on my own, google and forums like this have been very helpful to a point, but I seem stuck at the end, going from the pedals to the venue's vocal PA system. Here's what I **think** I've learned to make this bomb-proof and to work for any venue's PA system. Please let me know if I'm wrong, and what to do where I get stuck at the end.

*** Vocal Signal Chain ***
Dynamic vocal mic (low Z)
goes to...
Low Z to Hi Z transformer adapter (like the Shure A85F)
goes to...
Guitar pedals for vocals (using a different power supply than the actual guitar's fx pedals)
goes to...
Here's where I am lost... at this point the vocal mic's signal has been boosted/transformed to work nicely with the fx pedals, but as the signal leaves my chain of fx pedals, it's not going to an amp, it's going to be plugged into the venue's XLR cable and fed to their usual vocal PA channel. So do I need to transform the impedance AGAIN as it leaves the pedals, to bring it back down from Hi Z to Low Z so it will play nice with the venue's system? If yes, I guess I need a 1/4" TS to MALE XLR transformer? (I've had a very hard time locating one of those. I would just use another Shure A85F but the XLR gender is wrong.) My other option might be a passive DI box? Price always being an issue, I did find a $20 Behringer Ultra-DI DI400P that might do the trick on a budget.

So did I get the signal chain correct, going from the mic to a transformer adapter and into the pedals? Any advantage to getting a cheap DI box instead of the Shure A85F?

And then to go from the last pedal to the venue's vocal PA channel, do I need to transform the signal yet again, and what is a good economical way to do that?

Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate your knowledge and experience.
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby palebeard » Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:15 pm

I forgot to mention, I did find the Radial Voco Loco and yes it would be perfect, it looks awesome, but $300 is pretty steep for me right now when I don't need much of the functionality of that box, I just want to get the signal strength, impedance, ground loops and all that business squared away. If I can do that for $40, perfect! (Shure A85F = $20, Behringer Ultra-DI DI400P = $20)
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:50 pm

You need something like this https://artproaudio.com/product/cleanbox-pro-dual-channel-level-converter/ to convert the unbalanced Hi-Z signal from your fx to a Lo-Z mic level signal. They are designed to allow instruments to be plugged into a mic input on the stage box or mixer. A cheaper way is this http://orchid-electronics.co.uk/micro.htm but it doesn't use a transformer so doesn't provide the same degree of isolation from ground loops.
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:14 pm

Mr Spoons is in the money...

... and although Behringer do provide some good kit these days, in general terms DI boxes continue to be one of their weaknesses. Avoid! :)
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby palebeard » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:23 pm

Hmm, I have a Big Muff Pi Deluxe that I'm not using, it has a DI out, if I put that at the end of my pedal chain, that would convert the signal to balanced XLR, right? I could just choose to not dial in any of the fuzz from the Big Muff and use it only to prep the signal to go to the PA, maybe?

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... AoQAvD_BwE
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:24 pm

Yup avoid Berry DIs* :smirk: I would probably steer clear o other cheap chinese DI's too while the Orchid is available. The Orchid Micro DI is hard to beat if an active will do the job, I have three (and a classic).

*BTW, I'm not at all anti Berry, I have three of their Digital mixers and a Model D synth (and a few other assorted boxes in the store cupboard).
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:44 pm

Sensible replies here...... however as a Radial VocoLoco user myself I highly recommend it.

Yes, good kit does cost. Perhaps something to put on a wish list?

Bob
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby blinddrew » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:48 pm

palebeard wrote:Hmm, I have a Big Muff Pi Deluxe that I'm not using, it has a DI out, if I put that at the end of my pedal chain, that would convert the signal to balanced XLR, right? I could just choose to not dial in any of the fuzz from the Big Muff and use it only to prep the signal to go to the PA, maybe?

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... AoQAvD_BwE
I think that should work.
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:30 pm

Yeah, I'd say so too :thumbup:
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby palebeard » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:57 pm

ok, thanks, I might be getting a handle on this. I did look at all your suggestions, the orchid seems to mostly be available overseas but I need this solution worked out by Friday. So using what I think I'm learning from you all, and after looking at the cleanbox, I went through my old gear and I have a Radial passive DI, so if I understand everything correctly, I could run my vocal signal like this...

Dynamic mic (low Z, balanced)

XLR cable from the mic through the Shure A85F transformer OR through the Radial DI in reverse (will convert the signal to high Z, unbalanced) and it exits via a 1/4" TS cable

1/4" TS cable through all the guitar effects pedals (high Z, unbalanced)

1/4" TS cable from the last pedal through another DI or my Big Muff with the DI output (to convert it back to low Z, balanced), which exits as an XLR again

XLR to the house vocal channel.

Did I get all that right? Thanks a lot for your help. Sorry, I feel very dense about this subject but I'm trying, LOL.
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:01 am

Yes you've pretty much got it :thumbup: if the Shure transformer works I'd use the Radial Dias it's a proper pro bit of kit. The DI out from the Big Muff may not be full range as it's designed for electric guitar./ But try it and if it sounds good then that's fine too.
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby palebeard » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:07 am

cool. I did not realize I could use the Radial "in reverse" but reading about the cleanbox opened my eyes to that. Appreciate all your help. I'll be back to complain on Saturday when it all goes to sh** again on stage, LOL!
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:19 pm

I was meaning use the Shure to convert the mic signal as you have been doing and the Radial DI the 'right way round' to send a mic level signal from theist fx box to the desk.
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby palebeard » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:34 pm

ok got it. thanks.
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Re: help going from vocal mic to guitar pedals to FOH

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:57 pm

:thumbup:
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