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Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

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Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby fkkmusik » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:32 pm

Hi all,

First of all, thank you very much in advance for your help and your hospitality. I am a music manager and I have a very limited knowledge of sound/audio tech although I've always tried to read stuff on forums so I can understand the basics of what artists need etc.

One of my artists is having some issues with his live performance and I finally decided to join the forum and ask before I do something stupid.

Current live set-up:
Synth (Prophet '08), sampler (SP-404A), drum machine (Volcabeats) and a vocal pedal.

He is still doing very small venues, small festivals and support tours, he does not have a lot of time to soundcheck and more often than not the monitors in these venues are not great and he's been having a lot of problems with that lately. We started using big headphones live and it worked like a charm, however taking a proper mixer on tour is just not viable.

Problem:
We want to re-design his pedalboard so that he can just use headphone monitoring, but we are a bit clueless about which "pedal mixers" could work.
Somebody recommended this 4 channel modular mixer, but I freaked out when I read the "IN Patch Points: Four inputs for patching in any audio or CV signal (NOTE: avoid mixing CV and audio)" bit.
I dont understand what that means. I assume the signal coming from the sample is audio but... what are synth, drum machine and vocal pedal signals? CV or audio? Can I use it as a normal 4 way mixer?

https://www.gear4music.com/Recording-an ... owerfunnel

Any help would be much appreciated!

Thank you!!!
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Wonks » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:58 pm

CV = Control Voltage, which is a control signal used by some analogue synthesizers - especially modular synths (hence the 'Modular' in the mixer's name). This can be either a DC or AC signal (which is why the mixer is promoted as being 'DC' coupled). Most audio mixers only pass AC signals.

As CV signals can be DC you certainly don't want to mix in a DC voltage with an audio signal, as this would put a DC offset on any audio signal, which would cause all sorts of nasty things to happen to any speaker connected. hence the warning.

This mixer pedal is not designed for standard audio mixing duties as it uses mini-jacks for connection and all the connections are unbalanced.

Now to find something suitable as a replacement.

You'd normally expect any FOH PA to take individual feeds from the synths and drum machine. Do you know if they are taking mono or stereo feeds from each device?

And what is the vocal pedal being used?

We need to work out how many channels any mixer requires, and whether the inputs will be line level (as for the synths) or maybe mic level, from the vocal pedal.

And the PA will probably want to take feeds via DI boxes, so that needs to be factored in to the cabling arrangement.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:40 pm

Sounds like all you need is a 'normal' mixer. The one you've linked to is not appropriate.

Here's an example of a more suitable mixer: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Yamaha-CMG10UKYEM-MG10-Mixing-Console/dp/B00I1DMJ84/ref=sr_1_1?adgrpid=67211354599&gclid=EAIaIQobChMInZDokf3X5AIVRIfVCh2tKQ04EAAYAiAAEgKK1fD_BwE&hvadid=338582505726&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=2826&hvnetw=s&hvpos=1t2&hvqmt=b&hvrand=12736647648825365081&hvtargid=kwd-298735415479&hydadcr=25945_1778730&keywords=yamaha+mg10&qid=1568727451&sr=8-1

All of the gear you've mentioned will plug into the mixer. You can send the main L/R outputs to front of house (FOH), and he can plug into the headphone output.

This assumes that your artist will create his own mix suitable for both himself and FOH.

There are more sophisticated ways of providing separate mixes to FOH and to artist, but let's leave that for a future time... ;)
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Wonks » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:55 pm

However, you may find that the FOH won't want your mixed feed and would prefer to have full control of the mix. I know this is a common requirement for many FOH people on the forum. What sounds good on headphones (for which the mix will stay the same from venue to venue), way well sound too muddy or too bright depending on the venue and the PA system provided. If they want to push the vocal level up, or just add some compression to it and nothing else, then they can't if just provided a mixer output.

So I think you'll almost certainly have to factor in some DI feeds for FOH.

One possible alternative is to get your own wireless transmitter/receiver system, and ask the FOH desk to provide you with a mixed feed from their mixing desk. Something to arrange in advance and not at the last moment though.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby fkkmusik » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:18 pm

Thank you so much for the quick response guys, really helpful!

Understood re: mixing DC with audio signal.

Do you think it would work if we used the "headphone out" on every device to connect to this 4-channel mixer (and then to the headphone monitors)? And of course use audio outs for FOH as usual.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-MX40 ... B000KGYAYQ

This is basically a very simple standard mixer, correct?

Thanks again!
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Wonks » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:49 pm

What is the vocal pedal? Does it have a line or mic level output?
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:05 pm

That's not a bad idea but the headphone outs are probably stereo and they are don't provide an ideal level/impedance output (though they will often work well enough). But that mixer is not designed to feed headphones directly so probably would not give enough level without an additional headphone amp. There are smaller versions of the mixer The Elf linked to which may be more suitable and they will also have a proper headphone output.

How do you get your instruments into the PA with the present rig?
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby fkkmusik » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:42 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:That's not a bad idea but the headphone outs are probably stereo and they are don't provide an ideal level/impedance output (though they will often work well enough). But that mixer is not designed to feed headphones directly so probably would not give enough level without an additional headphone amp. There are smaller versions of the mixer The Elf linked to which may be more suitable and they will also have a proper headphone output.

How do you get your instruments into the PA with the present rig?

Ah yes sorry, forgot to mention that we'd obviously add a small headphone amplifier to the mix. Been looking at this Behringer one. I'm hoping that'll do the trick.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-HA40 ... nts&sr=1-4

It's probably worth just getting the Behringer setup and trying it out... its only a few quid.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:12 pm

Yup, I've had one of those and it works ok. That would get the job done with the correct cables and the instruments patched correctly (it's not advisable to simply connect left and right together).

But it's definitely not the best solution, just the cheapest.

With answers to a few questions I'm sure we can come up with something better so :-

How do you connect to the PA now (or what do you present them with)?
Do you run the synths/processors in mono or stereo?
Does the vocal box have line or mic level outputs (and what actually is it)?
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby fkkmusik » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:18 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Yup, I've had one of those and it works ok. That would get the job done with the correct cables and the instruments patched correctly (it's not advisable to simply connect left and right together).

But it's definitely not the best solution, just the cheapest.

With answers to a few questions I'm sure we can come up with something better so :-

How do you connect to the PA now (or what do you present them with)?
Do you run the synths/processors in mono or stereo?
Does the vocal box have line or mic level outputs (and what actually is it)?

I'm gonna ask my artist all of these questions later today and I will post an updated Rider :)

Thank you so much for your help guys!
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:34 pm

You're welcome :thumbup:
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:00 pm

I wouldn't go that ultra-cheap route. It isn't really the best tool for the job. You and your artists will thank yourselves for getting something just a bit easier to live with.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby fkkmusik » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:07 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Yup, I've had one of those and it works ok. That would get the job done with the correct cables and the instruments patched correctly (it's not advisable to simply connect left and right together).

But it's definitely not the best solution, just the cheapest.

With answers to a few questions I'm sure we can come up with something better so :-

How do you connect to the PA now (or what do you present them with)?
Do you run the synths/processors in mono or stereo?
Does the vocal box have line or mic level outputs (and what actually is it)?

OK, so I've got all the info now :-)

Goal: Headphone monitoring from a pedalboard (4 channels required)
FOH: Synth (Stereo), Sampler stereo and Drum Machine (mono) with DIs and vocal pedal with XLR
Equipment: Dave Smith Prophet '08, Roland SP-404A, Korg Volcabeats, Roland VE20 vocal pedal.

Worth mentioning that we are trying to figure this out because we need to get a new pedalboard / flightcase and put the whole thing together so it's easy to tour with it.

Thank you!
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:33 pm

Goal: Headphone monitoring from a pedalboard (4 channels required)
FOH: Synth (Stereo), Sampler stereo and Drum Machine (mono) with DIs and vocal pedal with XLR
Equipment: Dave Smith Prophet '08, Roland SP-404A, Korg Volcabeats, Roland VE20 vocal pedal.

People answering so far have much more experience than I do on complex live setups, so Just an idea... what about a line splitter + a small 4 channels mixer?

Basically the splitter would allow you to split every signal in two, sending a copy to the FOH desk and the other to the small mixer, which could be used by the artist to create his personal mix (and send it to headphones with the onboard headphone amp).

Or even simper, something like https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Li ... I-Box/1GXA ?
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:38 pm

fkkmusik wrote:Goal: Headphone monitoring from a pedalboard (4 channels required)
FOH: Synth (Stereo), Sampler stereo and Drum Machine (mono) with DIs and vocal pedal with XLR
Equipment: Dave Smith Prophet '08, Roland SP-404A, Korg Volcabeats, Roland VE20 vocal pedal.

Worth mentioning that we are trying to figure this out because we need to get a new pedalboard / flightcase and put the whole thing together so it's easy to tour with it.

Thank you!

So you need a small mixer with two stereo and two mono channels, one accepting a mic input from the vocal box?

(4 channels required)
I'm assuming this refers to inputs not separate headphone feeds as, I think, he's a solo performer?

You already have DI's for the synths (2 x stereo and 1 x mono)?

This would do the job in a pretty small box, https://www.allen-heath.com/ahproducts/zed-6/ Image if the DI's have link outputs use those rather than the instrument headphone outputs to send to the monitor mixer, (i.e. your little desk in the rack) and you'll need a y lead from the Vocal fx to send one to the desk and another to your monitor mixer*

* The only downside of this is that the PA guy might not want a split feed going to his desk in which case he could take his vocal feed from the XLR and you'd probably be wise to have a TRS to 2 x TS lead so you can use the headphone output from the Vocal box instead.

edit :- basically what CS70 says :D and while that little DBX mixer doesn't solve the vox channel issue (output at mic level) it is a very neat little device.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:47 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:edit :- basically what CS70 says :D and while that little DBX mixer doesn't solve the vox channel issue (output at mic level) it is a very neat little device.

Actually thought about that, I have the VE20 myself and it has indeed a line output, not just mic :)
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby The Elf » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:54 pm

If you're happy with mono only then the suggestions above may do the job. My only concern is if there is some sneaky, non-summed hard-panned stereo detail in the sources (and the sampler might be the most notable culprit), then you will end up missing it from the mix (rather like when my Mum had one speaker in the kitchen and couldn't hear the hard-panned drums on old Beatles mixes!). At best, if anything is slightly panned away from the non-summed output you're using then it will be quieter in the mix.

So I'd budget for two of those splitter boxes and a larger mixer. Keep it stereo and let the FOH engineer decide how to present it to the PA.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:10 pm

Good point, for any instrument that has stereo output, count 2 channels.

So with 4 sources you may need an 8 channel splitter rather than 4 (and a 8 channel mixer, if the artist also wants to hear the stereo in his monitor mix). Also the VE20 will likely have a stereo landscape for some the harmonies it produces. Depends if the artist changes sound on the fly (in which case he needs to monitor in stereo) or uses pre-defined sounds (in which case a mono signal may be enough, as the sounds and balance have already been decided beforehand).

Anyways, also an 8 channel solution fits in a gig rack.

If the FOH guys are used to stereo TRS jacks for stereo sources (as opposite to two mono TS cables), 4 Y cables (TS to TRS) will solve that.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:59 pm

CS70 wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:edit :- basically what CS70 says :D and while that little DBX mixer doesn't solve the vox channel issue (output at mic level) it is a very neat little device.

Actually thought about that, I have the VE20 myself and it has indeed a line output, not just mic :)

Good point, I'd guess the phones/line output is TRS stereo though not balanced so may still need a special lead to get into a mono mixer channel*.

The A&H Zed6 has two stereo and two mono inputs so it depends what the artist needs WRT monitoring, I suspect he'll be happy with mono so if he could program his VE20 patches to all be dual mono he could send L to his monitor mixer and R/mono to FOH which wouldn't require any special cables (assuming all the DIs have link outs, if not several TS splitters will be required).

* The OP says the artist runs the drums and VE20 in mono.
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Re: Headphone monitoring from pedalboard

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:58 pm

As an aside, I have a ZED6 and reviewed it (kinda) here: https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=65187

Just read the review and avoid the geeky comments about mains connectors! :D

Other (more channels) ZEDs are equally good and good value for money.
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