Need to buy a mixer to balance outputs between patches - sound balancing and sound checks


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Hi all
I have a Roland VR09 on top (this week upgrading to the VR760- yay!), and a Kurzweil SP4-7 on the bottom- I have about 30 different settings in the Roland as I play in Madness cover band and there are a lot of sounds plus I've only been in this game for 2 years so not skilled enough to change sounds on the fly quite yet.
I have a volume pedal for the Roland, and I use in ear Monitors. Both boards have mono cable into passive DI boxes and then into PA

1. Balancing:
I get complaints from the band and from the sound guys that the volume on each of my settings varies too much. I have at this stage been balancing by using a SLM app in front of my monitor at home.
It seems I need a mixer with a level meter I can view and set to zero for each patch. Can anyone recommend one? Is digital better?
From reading the threads in this forum- it seems that volume pedal is King- however as I am still on a steep learning curve, I'd like to have everything as balanced as possible first.

2. Sound checks:
This confuses me every time. The sound guys asks you to go to your loudest setting possible - so the peak gains can be set right? Then they don't seem to say - ok now go to your normal level - so the volume can be set for FOH? I can't seem to understand this process or the language used. How do you manage this process? I want to find the correct language so I can communicate this at the time? Thank you!!!!
 
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Balancing:
I don't think that you necessarily need a mixer to balance the patches. You should be able to do this by ear. one of the things though that I have found is that depending on the patch what might sound balanced at home is not balanced when the rest of the band is playing. If your keyboard sounds start to compete with other instruments in the band what might sound balanced at home is suddenly lost when played in a band context. What I typically do is to play my keyboard with music in the background so that when I'm switching patches I want to ensure that my keyboard is outputting the same level when competing with other musical instruments. It is actually best done, if possible, on the fly during a performance. But to get started work with each sound that you use, switching back and forth, balancing all outputs so that they sound the same from a volume perspective. Then note which ones during the gig need further adjustment and make the adjustment between sets or at home.

Sound Checks:

The sound man is checking absolute loudness to ensure that you won't be clipping in the mixer during the performance, causing feedback and other disturbing noises. There should also be a warm up song that is played before the performance where he is checking for instrument balancing. Is he/she doing that?
 
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I have some of the standard Combi’s (Korg speak for layered instrument sounds) that have sound levels all over the place so it happens and I have adjusted them by ear.

Using a mixer for your own output before it goes to the DI box will, with theright mixer, give you far more accurate setup of the Patch level than a human ear can.

I mean, I have lost count of the number of Concerts that I have been to where the sound guy has completely screwed up what the audience hears.

So yes, take control of your output.

If you look at the Mackie website


Which will show you their products then navigate down to the VLZ range as a possible contender (1402VLZ4 is £260 here in the UK).

A benefit of the Mackie mixers is that quite a few of them do have pretty large VU meters via a series of 12 LEDs where as many other makes just have something like 4 LEDs in their VU meter (2 green, 1 amber and 1 red).

You could then work through the patches and set them on your keyboard to peak just short of amber with the mixer control input slider set as a value which will give you some headroom.
 
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Sound Checks:

The sound man is checking absolute loudness to ensure that you won't be clipping in the mixer during the performance, causing feedback and other disturbing noises. There should also be a warm up song that is played before the performance where he is checking for instrument balancing. Is he/she doing that?
This is very important. If possible, try and play enough songs (or snippets thereof) at sound check that allow the sound engineer to understand the full dynamic range of your band, including your various keyboard patches.

I personally find that no matter how much I balance my patches beforehand, I still need to ride the volume control a little during shows from time to time.
 

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