Balancing levels while performing live

  • So, I recently had my first seriously by-myself performance in alien territory with a full-length set (Renegade Lights was good for breaking the ice, but playing for 10 minutes for the 8 people there setting up isn't what I'd really call a real world stress test :), and I meticulously balanced the levels of all my clips and fx ahead of time.
    Yet, during the performance, I kept having to make minor adjustments here and there, which ended up skewing thing such that by the end of the performance, dropping a sample or a loop would punch through the soundscape and I'd have to quickly adjust volume after it was out in the wild.

    So, I don't want to put limiters/compressors on every track, and I try to avoid limiting except on the master bus. What do y'all do to adjust for this?

  • One of the reasons people like playing through an external mixer. In my experience, if i have time for a soundcheck, i'll drop an eq on the master and make any gross changes to account for the venue, but the problem is that if you soundcheck in an empty venue, then play when the dancefloor is packed with people, this will change the sound substantially. So there will always need to be some substantial eqing on the fly.

    Some might suggest the whole 'smart compression' route with different levels of compression for different frequency bands, but i find that the right frequency bands need tuning between tracks, and it tends to muddy the sound a lot if you don't have those frequencies allocated properly, which can be hard to do in a dj setting.

    One thing would be to have your eq controls on rotary encoders, then use a clip through iac to send a set of 'restore to default' midi messages when you launch a new track or preset, so you can get back to level easily, but it's not as straightforward to do that as it is to suggest it, so your experience may vary ;]

    Practice and familiarity with your material will help too ;]

    good luck...

  • have you asked any of the more experienced colleagues that work with you on Renegade Nights? Or pay attention to their setup?
    I'm sure Raja or Searchl1te to name a few would gladly help :-)

  • I should have asked those folks when they were here! When they were here, I was kinda running bonkers setting up the show and doing last minute prep for my set. Doh!
    Searchl1te is mainly a DJ, so he generally is just mixing 2 tracks together. When I performed live recently, I was running 8-10 tracks with loops and samples and instruments. All balanced ahead of time, but as I said, things got outta whack pretty quick.

    Hmm, multiband compression may help some, but my main issue is that I'd have an audio clip to play on a track that would be balanced ahead of time, but then when it came time to drop that clip in, it would burst out much louder than anything else. Quick pullback on the fader!
    Yep, I'd love to know the different ways to account for this! Experience seems the most likely answer. :)

  • nahh, mores the merrier!

    self: needs larnin'

  • Heh! Thanks for the advice Raja, I do appreciate it. so, to my great chagrin, I in fact have Ozone4. I usually put an Analog Tape emulator compressor on my main bus, just for kicks.
    So, the thing that really makes me embarrassed to have this problem is that I'm fully schooled in the intricacies of audio mixing, havin worked in a jazz studio where compressors, limiters, and fx processing in general was kept to near zero use. And also I generally work doing post production and track mixing in Logic, so I know how to balance tracks all in a post-production setting.
    Somehow getting into a live context wiped all that info from my brain. I just got brain-constipation, and didn't think that info would transfer. Jeez. This whole live in the moment performance thing is all new to me, and boggles the mind a bit.
    Also, point of controllerism: 12 buttons on a monome don't cover a wider range than a fader or knob. They cover the same range. There is an absolute max and absolute min that any parameter can have, and the buttons and the knobs/faders will cover that range (unless you specify otherwise when mapping controls.. but you can only *reduce* the range, you can't go beyond the min/max). In fact, a fader/knob will have finer control over the changes since they are continuous and not stepped. So, at the end of the day, I actually prefer knobs and sliders for things like volume control, and have mapped my monome buttons to fx triggers, and stepped fx settings. It's freakin great for that!

  • @ Rama
    ".. if it's too loud on one beat, and my
    volume buttons are quantized to 1/16 note..."

    there's a way to quantize button presses when they're assignmed as use for sending values???

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