You are here

Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

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

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:51 pm

CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:I think a big problem here is that vocalists often think that what *they* are hearing is what the audience is hearing...

Which is caused generally by the small-time sound engineer's lack of skill.

The sound man's job is to make the sound in the monitor happen exactly as the performer wants, and then translate it to the FOH in the best manner.. because it's the monitor sound that will drive the performance.

Sound engineering is (should be) a function completely in the service to the performers' needs - even before the audience. Because a great performance with mediocre FOH sound will beat a mediocre one with fantastic sound any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Which is all great until you realise that completely misses the point I was making. If a singer brings a vocal box to a gig and it sounds shite he sound engineers hands are tied. GIGO, and there's nowt you can do.......

And, no I disagree, the sound engineers job is to provide the best sound to both the audience and the performer but if there is a conflict the audience come first (they are paying to see the gig). A professional performer should have the experience to cope with a slightly sub-par foldback and still deliver the goods.

In the case of my mate, he thinks he can hear the FOH from behind the speakers without foldback and judge what the audience are hearing, this I think is The Elf's point.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11084
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:23 am

CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:I think a big problem here is that vocalists often think that what *they* are hearing is what the audience is hearing...
Which is caused generally by the small-time sound engineer's lack of skill.
That's not what I mean. A vocalist hears their own voice through their body, and that leads them to over-cook the effects when they're setting up. What they hear is *not* what the audience will hear.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13419
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:58 am

Sam Spoons wrote:
Which is all great until you realise that completely misses the point I was making. If a singer brings a vocal box to a gig and it sounds shite he sound engineers hands are tied. GIGO, and there's nowt you can do.......

If a singer feels is best with a vocal box, by definition it cannot sound shite.. unless sounding shite is his best, and then the problem it's not the vocal box. The job of the engineer is to hear himself the way he wants to hear himself. Performance is _everything_.

Again, obviously with someone who can't perform you cannot win, but not because of the pedal.

And, no I disagree, the sound engineers job is to provide the best sound to both the audience and the performer but if there is a conflict the audience come first (they are paying to see the gig). A professional performer should have the experience to cope with a slightly sub-par foldback and still deliver the goods.

That position is, imho, one of the reasons for which so many subpar small gigs take place (and yes, fair enough: another reason is so the many subpar singers around :-D) .

It's nothing to do with "professional". If it were, then the feel and mood of the singer would matter for nothing both on stage and in the studio.. and have you noticed the enormous lengths studios go to make the performers at ease and feel good - and especially (much more so than anybody else) - the singers? Sure a good singer will be able to produce an okay performance in most conditions. But why accepting "okay" when one can have "phenomenal"?

Or: take a great singer with no PA and amplification at all... it will make people get goosebumps (even if, of course, only the people quite near). While a well amplified person with poor technique and no feel will not, at all.

"Professional" doesn't equate not being directed by feelings.. it's not by case than when people get too "professional" and lose emotional connection with what they're doing, is when their performances and careers tank.

Even if there's money involved, it is still art - actually, there is money involved because it's art.

What people pay for is not to hear a good PA sound. It is to connect with the singer's persona and voice - because the voice is the part they are most familiar with and can instinctively best analyze. Whereas a mediocre performer with a great audience sound will leave people "meh".

Of course, most often there is no conflict between the two.

Exactly as in the studio, if a singer comes in with a vocal pedal, the right response is to engage with him/her and figure out what he or she are looking from the pedal, what are they trying to achieve, why they think they need it - and often, to put them in a mental state when they can let go of the crutch and still feel great when performing. Exactly like in a studio, the engineer's job is to get the best out of the performer, so that he can give the best to the audience.

It's tough work? Yes? Harder than treating it as another job? Yes. But again, that's what distinguish the best from the others.

In the case of my mate, he thinks he can hear the FOH from behind the speakers without foldback and judge what the audience are hearing, this I think is The Elf's point.

And the job there is to connect with him, put a monitor in front of him and in 10 seconds he'll be convinced, because he'll hear himself sounding way better.

Obviously if someone is completely incapable of the minimal openness to try out a monitor, once again the problem's not the pedal, but the person, but in my experience very few people are like that.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4744
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:04 am

The Elf wrote:
CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:I think a big problem here is that vocalists often think that what *they* are hearing is what the audience is hearing...
Which is caused generally by the small-time sound engineer's lack of skill.
That's not what I mean. A vocalist hears their own voice through their body, and that leads them to over-cook the effects when they're setting up. What they hear is *not* what the audience will hear.

Yes, I am aware :) but if in their monitor they like to hear themselves overcooked - where's the problem? The engineer needs to conjure a technical solution to split the singer monitoring from the FOH sound. Unless the singer is going around checking where all the cables go and carries a spiked baseball bat, he won't hear much of the FOH sound at all.

In the studio I've recorded people who wanted more reverb than in the middle of Milan's Dome, but so long it make 'em sing better, so be it. I don't have to print it...
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4744
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby N i g e l » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:22 am

It might be worth checking out Imogen Heap for insperation. Live performer controlling effects [magic midi gloves etc].

nuts & bolts chat with performance @ 13:00
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6btFObRRD9k

Accoustic cover of her big hit...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3JE4TGTO7I
N i g e l
Regular
Posts: 439
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:40 pm
Location: UK

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby wdsteele » Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:19 am

I have TC Voicelive Touch 2 , may be overkill for your needs but has a more than decent interface and will allow for spot effects with no shortage of effect options.

That said , I only use it in the studio despite its designers intention .

The Eventide Mixinglink is a versatile little preamp with effects loop for patching in pedals , I use that a lot too and it’s going to be useful for lots of other situations.You can mix and match compressors , eq , time based effects until you get what you’re looking for and it allows for parallel processing , so should retain a level of the natural voice better than the TC perhaps.

Pigtronix do something similar and Old Blood Noise pedals have a new vocal pedal just out , they tend to lean on the outlandish side of things , but you can dial it back for more subtle treatments and they always have a uniqueness about them which is appealing.

Death By Audio have a dedicated vocal delay , looks and sounds very nice indeed with xlr mic input , although the TC catalogue dominates regards everything under one roof.
wdsteele
Regular
Posts: 131
Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:00 am

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 31, 2020 9:16 am

CS70 wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:
Which is all great until you realise that completely misses the point I was making. If a singer brings a vocal box to a gig and it sounds shite he sound engineers hands are tied. GIGO, and there's nowt you can do.......

If a singer feels is best with a vocal box, by definition it cannot sound shite.. unless sounding shite is his best, and then the problem it's not the vocal box. The job of the engineer is to hear himself the way he wants to hear himself. Performance is _everything_.

Again, obviously with someone who can't perform you cannot win, but not because of the pedal.

And, no I disagree, the sound engineers job is to provide the best sound to both the audience and the performer but if there is a conflict the audience come first (they are paying to see the gig). A professional performer should have the experience to cope with a slightly sub-par foldback and still deliver the goods.

That position is, imho, one of the reasons for which so many subpar small gigs take place (and yes, fair enough: another reason is so the many subpar singers around :-D) .

It's nothing to do with "professional". If it were, then the feel and mood of the singer would matter for nothing both on stage and in the studio.. and have you noticed the enormous lengths studios go to make the performers at ease and feel good - and especially (much more so than anybody else) - the singers? Sure a good singer will be able to produce an okay performance in most conditions. But why accepting "okay" when one can have "phenomenal"?

Or: take a great singer with no PA and amplification at all... it will make people get goosebumps (even if, of course, only the people quite near). While a well amplified person with poor technique and no feel will not, at all.

"Professional" doesn't equate not being directed by feelings.. it's not by case than when people get too "professional" and lose emotional connection with what they're doing, is when their performances and careers tank.

Even if there's money involved, it is still art - actually, there is money involved because it's art.

What people pay for is not to hear a good PA sound. It is to connect with the singer's persona and voice - because the voice is the part they are most familiar with and can instinctively best analyze. Whereas a mediocre performer with a great audience sound will leave people "meh".

Of course, most often there is no conflict between the two.

Exactly as in the studio, if a singer comes in with a vocal pedal, the right response is to engage with him/her and figure out what he or she are looking from the pedal, what are they trying to achieve, why they think they need it - and often, to put them in a mental state when they can let go of the crutch and still feel great when performing. Exactly like in a studio, the engineer's job is to get the best out of the performer, so that he can give the best to the audience.

It's tough work? Yes? Harder than treating it as another job? Yes. But again, that's what distinguish the best from the others.

In the case of my mate, he thinks he can hear the FOH from behind the speakers without foldback and judge what the audience are hearing, this I think is The Elf's point.

And the job there is to connect with him, put a monitor in front of him and in 10 seconds he'll be convinced, because he'll hear himself sounding way better.

Obviously if someone is completely incapable of the minimal openness to try out a monitor, once again the problem's not the pedal, but the person, but in my experience very few people are like that.

It was late, sorry CS70....
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11084
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:07 am

CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:
CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:I think a big problem here is that vocalists often think that what *they* are hearing is what the audience is hearing...
Which is caused generally by the small-time sound engineer's lack of skill.
That's not what I mean. A vocalist hears their own voice through their body, and that leads them to over-cook the effects when they're setting up. What they hear is *not* what the audience will hear.
Yes, I am aware :) but if in their monitor they like to hear themselves overcooked - where's the problem? The engineer needs to conjure a technical solution to split the singer monitoring from the FOH sound. Unless the singer is going around checking where all the cables go and carries a spiked baseball bat, he won't hear much of the FOH sound at all.

In the studio I've recorded people who wanted more reverb than in the middle of Milan's Dome, but so long it make 'em sing better, so be it. I don't have to print it...
And what do you do for the vocalist who hands you a jack and says "that's me"? I agree that taking a split before the pedal would be one option, but if the pedal signal is carrying a mix of dry and effect that brings its own problems too.

In your studio example YOU are in control and your audence (the DAW) will get the dry recording. Live, that's not happening.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13419
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:45 am

CS70 wrote:And the job there is to connect with him, put a monitor in front of him and in 10 seconds he'll be convinced, because he'll hear himself sounding way better.

You had to be there :headbang:
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11084
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby dazzathedrummer » Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:43 pm

Whoa!!!

Can open....worms everywhere :lol: :lol:

Ok, so, this is mainly for rehearsals and for gigs where we do our own sound.
We are a Marillion tribute band and there are some very specific delays and reverbs that we would like to incorporate.

For gigs where there is FoH, we'll obviously leave it to the sound engineer.
User avatar
dazzathedrummer
Poster
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:00 am
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK
DazzatheDrummer

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:32 pm

The Elf wrote:And what do you do for the vocalist who hands you a jack and says "that's me"? I agree that taking a split before the pedal would be one option, but if the pedal signal is carrying a mix of dry and effect that brings its own problems too.

I offer him a beer and while's at the bar I introduce a Y split just after the mic :D
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4744
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:33 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:
CS70 wrote:And the job there is to connect with him, put a monitor in front of him and in 10 seconds he'll be convinced, because he'll hear himself sounding way better.

You had to be there :headbang:

Haha yeah, but as said - then the problem ain't the pedal...
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4744
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:53 pm

CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:And what do you do for the vocalist who hands you a jack and says "that's me"? I agree that taking a split before the pedal would be one option, but if the pedal signal is carrying a mix of dry and effect that brings its own problems too.

I offer him a beer and while's at the bar I introduce a Y split just after the mic :D

I've dealt with vocalists who are adamant that the fx in the box are an essential part of the sound they want, a Y split would not allow that and with no sound check, no tech rider and a band you met 15 mins earlier there is no chance of achieving those sounds at FOH anyway. The only option is to leave him to it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Sound engineering is 10% technical skills and 90% people skills (as I'm sure you'll agree) and keeping the performers happy is a big priority but I've also worked with performers (including one or two very well known ones) who seem to want an excuse to be unhappy or pissed off. There's not much you can do about them. Thankfully they are very much in the minority.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11084
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Advice on choosing a vocal effects pedals

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 31, 2020 4:51 pm

CS70 wrote:
The Elf wrote:And what do you do for the vocalist who hands you a jack and says "that's me"? I agree that taking a split before the pedal would be one option, but if the pedal signal is carrying a mix of dry and effect that brings its own problems too.
I offer him a beer and while's at the bar I introduce a Y split just after the mic :D
My kind of engineer! :thumbup: :lol:
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13419
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Previous

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users