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THE REDS
Old 27th July 2005
  #1
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Question THE REDS

Hi everyone,

I seem to have a little question about the reds (you know the over's)
I had a very nice gig last night as opening act with the band I’m doing foh for, the location was a big market square with churches and cathedrals (note im not used to doing big open air gig's) there was a old soundcraft delta series available and a nice rack of drawers, dbx comp/limit and' gates etc. I build up a nice sounding mix, knowing from the gig I had last week on a soundcraft MH4 that I had to watch the buss levels and master level and don’t push them in to the reds. The Mh4 doesn’t like that. So at about the end of the gig the engineer of the main act arrives and stands next to the console for a while with a weird grin on his face while having a look at the mix and buss levels etc. A little later while he was doing his mix with the main act I thought I have a peek (you know the thing "watch and learn") to my surprise all his faders where up to 0db And he was just riding the vocals, his mix busses where up the reds constantly even his master levels, pumping up and down to the max. The desk had +6db leds (orange) and another 6 (up the reds), anyway it sounded awesome!!! So what’s the deal with mixing a live gig (level wise)? Am I watching too much at the leds (should I cover them)? How does the pro foh guys approach there buss levels? I know in the analogue and digital domain you can have al the levels a 0db and not here any unwanted stuff, but pushing the buss levels that hard!! I thought that was something I shouldn’t do. Am I doing something wrong? whats the deal?
Any insights will be appreciated, thanks
Old 27th July 2005
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProFool
I know in the analogue and digital domain you can have al the levels a 0db and not here any unwanted stuff, but pushing the buss levels that hard!! I thought that was something I shouldn’t do...
Hi ProFool. The analog and digital domain are quite diferent, and also is the way they are measured. For Digital 0db means full scale (all bits been used) and there's nothing else in the red above that but distorsion, and the ugly one. For analog, a lot of people seem to find the best sound above 0db because of "harmonic distorsion", now, not all analog gear respond in the same way. Tape, and Tubes are a known preference, though solid state can be quite the ****e too.
I think that our best aid in mixing cames from our ears and not to be afraid to push the envelope... heh
Old 27th July 2005
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joaquin
and not to be afraid to push the envelope... heh
That was exactly what i was thinking while i was watching, that im still a bit to shy to push the envelope although i used the 6db up just avoiding the reds and i was very happy with my mix, so where the audience and stage crew etc. But still every time i watch someone else mixing my head fills up with questions and some doubt's, not that i find this a bad thing, I even enjoy thinking about it, preparing myself for the next gig and willing to do better every time. Also i have to leave the ITB mixing thought's at home when i do foh, although for example when mixing on that MH4 it's usefulll couse this desk is very sensitive. Anyway the main gig is always louder than everyone else heh Grtz
Old 31st July 2005
  #4
Nut
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With FOH mixing, the common practice is to have all the faders at 0dB, and begin from there, setting the gain acordingly. In fact, i dont know of another way to do it.

Is this what your confused about ? I'm not exactly sure wat your are trying to say.
Old 31st July 2005
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

it's very easy to get caugh in the trap of mixing with your eyes!... I've had the same problem plenty of times before.. I find the other place people do this in is with comrpession.. I've found I've gotten better results since I covered up the gain reduction meter and had to listen to what was happeing
Old 31st July 2005
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nut
With FOH mixing, the common practice is to have all the faders at 0dB, and begin from there, setting the gain acordingly. In fact, i dont know of another way to do it.

Is this what your confused about ? I'm not exactly sure wat your are trying to say.
No I was taking about the bussses or group and the master, that where the levels he was pushing very hard and I dind't. I wasn't confused about getting input levels on the mix faders. I start realizing my mistake is at scratch. while getting input levels i pull down the fader again and move on the the next one, after that i build a mix and keep a eye on the mix busses not going over, and start riding whatever that needs a ride idem for the fx. i dont set all faders at 0 to start the mix, thanks for the kick in the bud, ill give it a go tommorow heh thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by username
it's very easy to get caugh in the trap of mixing with your eyes!... I've had the same problem plenty of times before.. I find the other place people do this in is with comrpession.. I've found I've gotten better results since I covered up the gain reduction meter and had to listen to what was happeing
The same with mixing by numbers or is it the same as mixing with your eyes, i have used this aprouch for a while and still regret that i ever read an article about it.

I think i have to re'ask my question a bit different "what not to do while doing Foh ?" i mean from soundcheck untill end of the gig.

lets start with the desk, is it a mistake to start where the previous engineer left, or do you put everything at scrath? like eq's and sends etc before getting levels, trim pots are mostly closed i have noticed. so how do you leave the desk or how do you like it to be when you begin on a foh session? i assume if it's your own setup things go much smoother than at festival gigs.

thanks
Old 31st July 2005
  #7
Nut
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I like the console to be completely "zeroed" when i start. All gain pots down, all Aux sends down, all EQ flat (and switched out if the option is there) and the buss assignments buttons all out.

If you walk into another engineers mix and use their settings, your setting yourself up for a fall if things go terribly wrong during the set (for whatever reason) and you have to think very fast about what to do. If your not in total control, it gets ugly...
Old 1st August 2005
  #8
Gear Addict
 

0db

I think your gut instinct was spot on.Be careful how you push the levels.I have not heard a live club mix in Seattle in 8 years now that wasnt too ****ing loud...common practice these days I suppose.If anyone out there in slutzland is a FOH guy in Seattle let me know where you work so I CAN CHECK OUT YOUR LEVELS.
Old 1st August 2005
  #9
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Remoteness's Avatar
Let’s get over the “overs.”

When I first saw the post subject line “The Reds” I thought you were talking about those red pucks for Otari 2" analog machines…

In any event, here we are -- Now, let’s get over the “overs.”

I love pushing the limits but, I also like plenty of headroom. My ears are my best equipment when it comes to how something sounds when you’re pushing the envelope.

IMO, if the system you were working on had more power on the other side of the desk output the headliner FOH engineer wouldn’t have needed to push the system as much as he did. There’s nothing wrong with observing your levels. Maybe the amount of scrutinizing needs to be addressed. Listen to what your ears are telling you than what the meters are showing you.

I’ve seen various FOH engineers approach their mix buss levels differently. Some push the level at the desk and reduce the feed to the power amps. Others like to have plenty of headroom and the meters hardly move. In my opinion, it’s all good as long as the end result sounds great and the equipment didn’t have to get damaged from the consequence of the mixing process.

Think about it, if you had tens of thousands of watts of power at your finger tips, would you have needed (or wanted) to push the group or mix busses? If you’re talking about tonality, that’s a completely different thing altogether.

Like many folks, I mix with my ears. The only time I mix with my eyes is when my ears are a bit fatigued from being on a very long (or loud) gig. If the sounds were on point at the start of the session or event, I tend to stick with it and go by my visual aids.

When it comes to how I set my fader levels it all depends on how much control I want and how fast do I need to make a change. With that said, let me explain…

I may set the faders at or near zero when I want to make subtle adjustments. When I want to make quick and noticeable changes I tend to keep the faders closer to the bottom of the fader scale and drive my input gain higher.

I like to start with completely flat console settings but, I’ve been known to use the previous engineer’s settings when they‘re in the ballpark. If it’s already close to what I’m going for I say, “Why not go for it?”

I hope this helped.
Old 1st August 2005
  #10
Lowdbrent
Guest
Ditto on that above, plus:

Some consoles can be pushed "into the red" and not distort. For instance, working above 0 dBV on a Mackie is mucho different than a Midas, etc. Why? Headroom. The max voltage of a Mackie may be +18. A pro console can be +28. 0 is relative remember.

I think that mixing style has more to do with it in this case. I have seen some of these guys not maximizing the gain structure of the channel strips, only to over work the summing busses and master. This adds unnecessary distortion to the signal. They often feel like their band needs to be louder, because louder is better to the average moron music fan. I also know that most tours that I have been on have a system tech who is responsible for the rig. As that guy watches the night build at festivals, etc., he will manage his system at the drive rack, making sure that the amps have headroom, are running clean, etc. As he trims back, the FOH guy is pushing the desk into the red. YMMV
Old 1st August 2005
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowdbrent
Ditto on that above, plus:

Some consoles can be pushed "into the red" and not distort. For instance, working above 0 dBV on a Mackie is mucho different than a Midas, etc. Why? Headroom. The max voltage of a Mackie may be +18. A pro console can be +28. 0 is relative remember...

Very good point!

Believe it or not, some console manufactures say their consoles can handle +26 or greater but, you can clearly hear a difference in their sound at +18. Sure, their console can handle blah, blah blah -- Does it sound the same at +18; +22; +26; or whatever as it did at zero?

Furthermore, does that distortion sound musical or harsh and unpleasant to your ear?
Old 3rd August 2005
  #12
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Thanks for the reply Steve; it makes me more confident about that gig. I sure had enough power on the other side and indeed the main gig needed more power that wasn’t available without hot mix bus and master levels, it wipe's of my doubt's I get when watching someone else. Although I have a terrible hangover from last night's gig where I had no other choice pushing the reds. I had an opening gig with a new band (there first gig) that is rehearsing the past six months at my place. We had to use the headliner setup from PA to drums and bass etc. It was on small Open Square, front speakers where 4 Mackie powered monitors and I had some Yamaha can’t remember digital 16 channel desk. The only problem was the engineer of the headliner found it necessary for some reason to put a small passive 8 channel mixer behind the stage for the drums since the headline was a band of 7 people and the 16 channel wasn’t enough. so al I got to work with was 2 channels guitar, 1 bas, 1 vocal an 2 channels of drum poop, it was too much too ask; 1 to put that small mixer in front of me next to the other and; 2 since it was behind the stage he didn’t found it necessary to properly pan the drum signals, telling me that would not make any difference etc etc and allot of blablabla, not worth discussing about it with him since it didn’t bother him at all. So at the end I did the 5 songs we had to do and stage left. But guess who was to blame that the drums sounded like poop? Me of course. So that was another lesson of situations that not being in full control things get ugly. Funny part for me while watching him for about 15min, in that time I saw him about 10 times running from desk to behind the stage to work on the poop (drums) lol heh
Old 3rd August 2005
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProFool
Funny part for me while watching him for about 15min, in that time I saw him about 10 times running from desk to behind the stage to work on the poop (drums) lol heh
I HOPE THAT THE NEW TOFT CONSOLE COMES OUT FAST, SO I CAN LEAVE BEHIND THESE SITUATIONS heh IM REALLY WAITING FOR IT and i hope there will be plenty of headroom heh
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