Really tired of all my patches sounding different at different venues


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It's a never-ending battle. I get all my patches normalized and mixed well at home. I also run them through loudness meters and all that jazz. I take them into the rehearsal studio and the organs are completely inaudible, the synth leads are screaming, and the violin patch sounds like a sneeze. Then I go into the live venue and the organs are overpowering, the synth leads are soft, and the violin patch sounds like mud.

WTF?! I've been fighting this for years, and it just drives me crazy. My bandmates now all hate me because they say my patches are uneven. I go back and re-tool them, and nothing ever gets better. I think one of my bands has started taking me out of the house mix altogether because they're afraid one of my patches is going to blast, sometimes I think I'm just there to look pretty.
 
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Rayblewit

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Then I go into the live venue and the organs are overpowering, the synth leads are soft, and the violin patch sounds like mud.
Probably not your fault. You need a sound engineer to mix it properly. Your band members are being too harsh.
sometimes I think I'm just there to look pretty
How pretty are you?
Ray:D
 

happyrat1

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Time to tell your band mates that you and Yoko are hitting the trail and becoming a solo act!!!! Then they'll all suffer while you go on to write the best material they never had....

You may also have to wear a Nehru jacket and learn how to play a sitar :D :D :D

Either that or else find that sound guy thingie that Ray mentioned :D

Gary ;)
 
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Sound engineer? HAHAHAHA. We're a working cover band in Waikiki. Probably the biggest in town, but NO WAY we'd get a live sound engineer for bar gigs. Just doesn't happen.
 

happyrat1

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Then it's time for Plan B...

Roofie all the drinks in the bar and people won't remember what the patches sounded like. They'll also piss their pants and wake up in a dumpster :D :D :D

Gary ;)
 
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But seriously... how do other people here handle keyboard-heavy material? Things were the keyboard really needs to be able to take point in the mix, and then dive down when appropriate. I keep my hand on the volume slider at all times, and still I find myself banging my head against the wall. Even the same patch will have different response in different registers, or at different points in the same song.

Seriously feels like a hopeless endeavor sometimes.
 
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happyrat1

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Regardless of whether or not he's a real engineer or whether or not you pay him as such, you need someone controlling the mix from the floor.

It's simply impossible to balance all those levels live while performing.

Gary ;)
 
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But seriously... how do other people here handle keyboard-heavy material? Things were the keyboard really needs to be able to take point in the mix, and then dive down when appropriate. I keep my hand on the volume slider at all times, and still I find myself banging my head against the wall. Even the same patch will have different response in different registers, or at different points in the same song.
Hey Eric, I pretty much do what you do. I manage volume constantly throughout gigs using the volume knobs on my keyboards, including in the middle of songs. Sometimes the keys need to cut through, sometimes they don't. I have my own monitor so I can hear myself clearly at all times.

In saying this, our bar band also has our own sound guy. He's part of the band and makes sure we always sound good FOH. We treat him no differently to everyone else in the band and split the pay equally. We don't have amazing PA gear and we're not playing amazing venues, but getting FOH right is critical, and none of us have the ability/motivation to attempt to do it from on stage.

Good luck with it!
 
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That may very well be a possibility with my original bands. I'm not the band leader of my working band, so I gotta make do with what I have. Yeah, I have a very nice keyboard/bass amp that acts as a personal monitor, and I keep it angled on a crate so it's fairly close to my ear for good monitoring. This definitely solves some issues, but it doesn't solve them all, since I still get flack from mates from time to time... and just when I thought I'd gotten it figured. Oh well, at least I'm getting well-paid.
 
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I'm glad your band is going well, sounds like you'll just have to put with things the way they are. Honestly I've ridden my volume knobs constantly in all my bands for years, I'm that used to it I don't even think about it and it doesn't bother me.

Based on the video you posted you're an excellent player. With this in mind I'm sure your band mates can put up with the odd variance in volume here and there, just like you put up with their constant tuning between songs, overly loud solos, rattling snares and lack of music theory knowledge (I'm guessing hehe).
 
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Thanks. Yeah, I just make it work. I'm a pretty busy player (as you probably guessed from the vid), I think my mates would prefer it if I just played the occasional lead lines and bailed on everything else. But I really like to fill out the rhythm section too when not playing lead.

The larger problem is when I'm in a more keyboard-centric band playing prog style material, I often have 3-8 patches loaded per song, many times 2 going on at one time, and then the mixing becomes really tricky. Often the mix between the two concurrent sounds isn't very straightforward. I have one current tune where I play a fast organ lead in the left hand, and fast square-wave arpeggios in the right. Being a sonically simpler waveform, the counter-melody arpeggios can easily drown out the organ. But then I practice in a different room, and the synth sound disappears. Frustrating.

Last rehearsal I said "F*** the PA!!!" (literally and exuberantly) and just brought in my amp/cab as a guitarist would. Problem was, it was screaming in my ear, while no-one else could hear it very well. But the reality is most of the time it's not the PA's fault, it's the room that's the problem. So keeping the amp the same doesn't really help much.
 
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As a multi-keyboardist myself, I have a footpedal volume control for all 4 keyboards. Even the piano. Multi tone patches have footpedals for each tone. I've been doing this for years, I don't even think of it any more. Some are programmed for overall volume some for expression. There are still surprises once in a while, but they're quickly correctable without taking your hands off the keys. YMMV. Hope this helps.
 
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It's a never-ending battle. I get all my patches normalized and mixed well at home. I also run them through loudness meters and all that jazz. I take them into the rehearsal studio and the organs are completely inaudible, the synth leads are screaming, and the violin patch sounds like a sneeze. Then I go into the live venue and the organs are overpowering, the synth leads are soft, and the violin patch sounds like mud.

WTF?! I've been fighting this for years, and it just drives me crazy. My bandmates now all hate me because they say my patches are uneven. I go back and re-tool them, and nothing ever gets better. I think one of my bands has started taking me out of the house mix altogether because they're afraid one of my patches is going to blast, sometimes I think I'm just there to look pretty.
 
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Well I think you've solved your own problem (getting your own amp & such). Yes, we ALL have the same problem... and I think its the EQ on the mains (or lack therof).... My studio speakers are a set of old JBL Marquis side-fills..... they are about as flat as it goes. Same thing, get things nice and balanced then SHRILL highs through the house mains. I don't think there is a solution except lug your own stuff.... (I tend to knock the HELL out of anything above about 5K or so.... might muddy things up a bit but, keeps the keys from sounding like Yoko)...
Oh.. and on "amps" and such... I have had REALLY good luck using those little EV ZLX12P monitors....You can get them on the cheap B stock from "ProAudio Star". Like the a LOT better than the "high priced spread" (anyone need a QSC K8???? )
 
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I had the same problem with my Kurzweil SPS4 - OK in rehearsal, but live at a big festival the balance of L-R split keyboard sounds went nuts.
I discovered the issue was that the Out Jacks are TRS. In rehearsal/small gigs I used a mono lead.This meant I could program setups on my monitor (which I use 99% as we are a small venue outfit) but hook it to a DI FOH??? Mega trouble. I now use balanced cables straight to monitor. Helps. Just means I can't use a VOL pedal ad no-one makes a TRS in/out one.
 
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I wondered how long it would take for someone to mention volume pedals as a possible management tool. I'm old and that's all I've ever known. That is until I picked up a Hammond SK1 73 a couple years ago and a Nord Electro 5D 73 a few weeks ago. The Nord replaces the Hammond. While I was busy not buying keyboards, apparently and unfortunately, the rest of the keyboard playing world told manufacturers to de-emphasize the use of volume pedals for anything but organ patches. Oh, there was/is a jack for a pedal, and it works, but the "computer" in both keyboards (yes, folks, keyboard players are usually the only ones in a band dealing with a damned computer... or three) is set to a default of NO VOLUME PEDAL CONTROL on everything but the organ programs. On the Hammond, every non-organ patch required going into a menu to find and turn "on" the Expression Pedal, save it, and hope it worked for future use... which didn't always happen. Why in the world Nord couldn't make "volume pedal control on" the default for all piano and synth programs, as well, I do not know. Pisses me off, because I now have to make one or two extra key punches into the computer before I can prevent the problem Eric's writing about. I will eventually save settings in the User section, but it's a pain. At least the Nord's indicators and the controls for changing them are right up front and not buried in a menu like the Hammond.

Manufacturers get a clue. Global volume control with a pedal is useful to many more people that you think. Make it the default, and let those who don't want it turn it "off".

Even though I've got a few more years on you, you've got a lot more talent and facility on the keys than I've got, my friend. My badly-paid amateur's advice, Eric, is to give up on perfection, aim at improvement, and get a volume pedal or two. I've stopped using patches that don't work well universally. But then, I save a lot of heartburn by not committing my life as a player to trying to "cover" tunes to the level of being a "tribute player" where I'd agonize over whether I have exactly the sound that was on the original recording... and seldom if ever heard again even from the original band. (My finest keyboardist's whine!)

Patches, programs, timbres, frequency responses, house acoustics, peoples' ears, levels of alcohol consumption, crowd size, and probably humidity and the phase of the moon along with a few other things control what comes out at each venue. And they all affect each other in multiple ways at different times, so it's almost ludicrous to think we can control the sum total of that dynamic, complex mix of stuff all that well. And, yet, I strive for that control, too. Timbre has a ton to do with the "apparent" volume the ear senses, so with the range of patches you mention, it's a challenge. I'd say you've gone above and beyond in trying to set up good sounds in songs that require several sounds balanced with each other. IMHO, it's an ambitious undertaking, so the risk of just such audio mishaps is high. You're a very successful band, so the reward:risk ratio must be pretty high. After that much work to control the sonic risks, though, it might be time to figure out how to adapt to reality.

My way is volume pedals. Hands-free control. If there is FOH sound without a FOH sound guy, that's another deficit. Bands who think they can control all the players from the stage will get it right maybe 60% of the time, so perfection is out the window already. I can honor the intention, but must point out the hubris.

Finally... this: I've grown to care less about audiences, although venue owners have the power. Audiences lap up almost anything, especially when drunk. This is reassuring and disappointing all at the same time. As one writer above wrote, they couldn't care less about the keyboardist's timbre/volume mismatches. They can't hear and probably won't remember them. I play for my own ears and those of my bandmates. If we can get a sound on stage that makes us all audibly balanced, happy, and energized, that energy communicates to the audience.. and THAT'S what makes a successful band. It ain't the money anymore that gives me satisfaction... it's a pittance... it's the satisfying sound, well-crafted by players who give a damn. And, though complainers they may be, your bandmates want that experience on stage as their compensation, too. They may have a crappy way of putting it, but that's likely what they're trying to say.

Here endeth the soapbox session. Best of luck! Continue using that great audio discernment you've got going on!
 
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Btw, Eric, I've dealt with volume issues using pedals in two ways. One is by connecting individual pedals for each keyboard, but the other is the use of a stereo volume pedal (a powered one preferably) for the Main stereo signal out of my keyboard mixer. On rare occasions when I've had a FOH sound guy, he gets the control room out signals, and I'm back to managing only my sound issues on stage, which are quite similar to the monitor imbalance and uneven sound distribution issues you have there. I'm still working with a CenterPoint Spacestation V3 to see if it can improve the keyboard experience of everyone on stage. Not quite there yet.

In full disclosure, I use only one sound per keyboard unit to minimize the pain you have. . If you've got balance problems between patches played at the same time within a keyboard, that's a programming issue I steer clear of. I can afford to, musically. Pros on the line here should be your guides. I'm not one of them. If the balance is between patches in separate keyboards, it's a little easier with pedals. Then again, my musical performance life has been simplified to a dozen or so patches on two keyboards and an extra midied sound module. Volume pedals do most of the work for me, but I, too, have to ride faders and knobs occasionally.
 
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Donabq I can hardly add anything because you covered it so well. At my age I have had to simplify my rig anyway and I do exactly the things you do except that I have expression/volume for each keyboard I use instead of the mixer. I am now using a Roland FA08 on the bottom with a VR09 on top and find they cover all the sounds I need to use and are nicely balanced patches with a little help from the expression/volume pedal. I like to use a small mixer just for my keyboards because it makes it easy for me to make fast adjustments but it really isn't necessary. This way I send just one signal to the FOH for all my sounds and give them less chance to screw up the balance. You are right on about the eq on the main boards too.
 
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I had the same problem with my Kurzweil SPS4 - OK in rehearsal, but live at a big festival the balance of L-R split keyboard sounds went nuts.
I discovered the issue was that the Out Jacks are TRS. In rehearsal/small gigs I used a mono lead.This meant I could program setups on my monitor (which I use 99% as we are a small venue outfit) but hook it to a DI FOH??? Mega trouble. I now use balanced cables straight to monitor. Helps. Just means I can't use a VOL pedal ad no-one makes a TRS in/out one.

Oh Great Don.... now I wonder... (hmmmmmm) .... I run Stereo here in the studio BUT, just out the mono at gigs (the sound guys hate tying up 6 channels on the board apparently). Now.... My Taylor guitar is a TRS out and actually outputs a balanced output (no DI needed). I wonder if the TRS outs on the keyboard are actually balanced?? Or is that how they mono the signal out???
 
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happyrat1

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TRS Outputs on Kurzweils ARE Balanced Outputs. That's why they have paired L&R TRS Line and Aux Outs.

The TRS outs are NOT stereo outs. They are single channel balanced outputs.

Gary ;)
 

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