Author Topic: Subgroup Scenerio  (Read 4334 times)

Harpman

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Subgroup Scenerio
« on: March 06, 2015, 02:18:02 PM »
So, here is a scenario for you. We have 5 vocalists in our 5-piece band.  All of them sing.  Some take lead (depending on song), but all do backup.  I don't want subgroups to over complicate things.  So the lead vocalist is primary on 80-90% of the material, but others are lead at times.  So, I created 2 subgroups (L-VOX and B-VOX).  I've added our primary vocalist to the L-VOX SG (CH1) and the backup vocalists to the B-VOX SG (CH2-5).  It seems like its more work to me when our primary vocalist becomes backup and our guitarist takes the lead role. I have to remove primary vocalist from the L-VOX SG and add her to the B-VOX SG.  It makes more sense not to use SG's and control it from channel strip.  Would be curious on how others approach this.
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Wynnd

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2015, 03:15:20 PM »
Can't you get them to actually work the mics?   I use a headset and when singing backup, I just pull the mic away from my face.  When singing lead, I put it right up against my face.  works fine.  (And is easier with a mic on a stand.  4 inches back for harmony and 2 inch for lead.  Or something like that.)   

On lead singer only wanted himself through his IEMs.  For him, singing harmony was all about working the handheld mic.  (Don't recall him having a problem.  Haven't worked with him for a while.)

Harpman

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2015, 03:40:38 PM »
Can't you get them to actually work the mics?   I use a headset and when singing backup, I just pull the mic away from my face.  When singing lead, I put it right up against my face.  works fine.  (And is easier with a mic on a stand.  4 inches back for harmony and 2 inch for lead.  Or something like that.)   

On lead singer only wanted himself through his IEMs.  For him, singing harmony was all about working the handheld mic.  (Don't recall him having a problem.  Haven't worked with him for a while.)

IEM's would sure be a lot easier, but not every player likes them.  I still deal with the old issues of drums getting too loud and everyone turns up, vocals start to get buried, so for them to know where their volume level is can be difficult. Most who are also lead singers in other groups, know how to work their mics.  If I can get everyone to use IEM's, then that would be a start :).
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Wynnd

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2015, 06:08:21 PM »
One band leader I know looks dirty at the drummer and takes his fingers moving closer to his thumb to indicate that the drummer needs to use SHORTER STROKES to reduce volume.  He says it works and having seen him many times, it seems to.  I've seen or been in bands where one person is the cause of excessive volume.   Guitar, drums, bass, trombone and one particular singer/guitarist/bassist/keyboardist.  What ever he was playing was too loud for the rest of the band.  If only they could get him to stop playing. (And he plays well.)

Harpman

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2015, 06:49:06 PM »
One band leader I know looks dirty at the drummer and takes his fingers moving closer to his thumb to indicate that the drummer needs to use SHORTER STROKES to reduce volume.  He says it works and having seen him many times, it seems to.  I've seen or been in bands where one person is the cause of excessive volume.   Guitar, drums, bass, trombone and one particular singer/guitarist/bassist/keyboardist.  What ever he was playing was too loud for the rest of the band.  If only they could get him to stop playing. (And he plays well.)

I know what you mean.  We are playing a new venue that is very small and the owner asked to play mellow music from 7-8:30.  We've decided to book as a trio (vocals/guitar/keys).  There is some concern that there won't be enough bottom end (Keyboard player plays left handed bass).  We've pulled this trio off before with the same formation and it works just fine.
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dpdan

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2015, 06:55:06 PM »
it's only five vocalists.
don't use a subgroup.
subgroups are wonderful, just like compression, but not it they don't do what we want.
.02

Harpman

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2015, 06:58:18 PM »
it's only five vocalists.
don't use a subgroup.
subgroups are wonderful, just like compression, but not it they don't do what we want.
.02

Dan, I agree. If it doesn't save time and effort, why use it :).
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dpdan

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2015, 08:47:19 PM »
I completely understand your dilema,
I am self taught, (and so glad) years ago I determined that uinless you have separate reverbs etc, for each "group"
the mix is going to be completely wrong when the group's master is moved and the associated effects are not.

I rarely use subgroups when mixing, that doesn't mean that MY WAY is the best, it's just how I like to work.

Dan     
 

Greg C.

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2015, 09:00:58 PM »
My main use of vocal subgroups is to act as a second stage compressor/limiter. The vocal channels all get a light compressor, hard knee with no more than a 2:1 ratio -fast attack/release. Threshold is set to kick in at moderate levels. Then they all get routed to a subgroup with a compressor inserted. It's set to a 6:1 ratio with a hard knee, fast attack & release. The threshold is set to crush at a point when you don't really want the vocals to get any louder. It really helps keep things under control when more than one vocalist is singing. If the lead vocalist is changing to different folks and they have good mic technique, and the people doing backing vox back off a bit, this setup does a pretty good job of "automixing."
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Wynnd

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2015, 09:43:06 PM »
Effects is one reason to go for VCAs instead of subgroups.  VCAs will cut your effects on the assigned channels in addition to dropping the volume of those channels.  (Just assign the channels you were thinking of using in a group to a VCA instead.  All the output of those channels will drop with the VCA including any signal from those channels sent to effects.  I haven't used it yet, but I can see the value.  (I don't use much in effects.)

dpdan

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2015, 10:12:38 PM »
Wynnd, yep, that's how it works :)

Greg C.
 
another huge thing that most people who use compression on a group of instruments or vocals don't understand is that when....
ONE,,, of the vocals hits the threshold, all the vocals in that group are pulled back in volume,
when actually only the vocalist who was above the threshold should be lowered or held at bay. He/she ruins it for the other vocalsist who should NOT be lowered in volume. 

The end result of compressing a bunch of vocals with one compressor is not musical at all, but does indeed keep wigs from flying off of old ladies (and men) in the audience.  :o
     

Greg C.

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2015, 10:16:23 PM »
Greg C.
 
another huge thing that most people who use compression on a group of instruments or vocals don't understand is that when....
ONE,,, of the vocals hits the threshold, all the vocals in that group are pulled back in volume,
when actually only the vocalist who was above the threshold should be lowered or held at bay. He/she ruins it for the other vocalsist who should NOT be lowered in volume. 

The end result of compressing a bunch of vocals with one compressor is not musical at all, but does indeed keep wigs from flying off of old ladies (and men) in the audience.  :o

While this may seem to be true, in practice it doesn't really end up working that way unless your vocal mix is way out of whack.
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dpdan

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2015, 11:44:14 PM »
I disagree Greg,
if you have a good vocal blend and one person triggers the threshold, everything in that group gets lowered, not just the offending vocal.
It can not work any other way, regardless of whether or not the vocal mix is out of whack.
Now, if the compression isn't noticeable, it's because the compression settings were so timid that compressing the group was pointless. It is why I never do that.
Each vocalist gets his/her own compression based on their tendencies. If I do not know the vocalists and their tendancies, then each one still gets their own compression, even more important.

No sweat, keep doing this if it works for you.

 

 

wkndwarrior

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2015, 11:58:44 PM »
So, here is a scenario for you. We have 5 vocalists in our 5-piece band.  All of them sing.  Some take lead (depending on song), but all do backup.  I don't want subgroups to over complicate things.  So the lead vocalist is primary on 80-90% of the material, but others are lead at times.  So, I created 2 subgroups (L-VOX and B-VOX).  I've added our primary vocalist to the L-VOX SG (CH1) and the backup vocalists to the B-VOX SG (CH2-5).  It seems like its more work to me when our primary vocalist becomes backup and our guitarist takes the lead role. I have to remove primary vocalist from the L-VOX SG and add her to the B-VOX SG.  It makes more sense not to use SG's and control it from channel strip.  Would be curious on how others approach this.

If I'm reading this right, it seems you are using the Lead and BG subgroups to keep the lead vox on top, and the backgrounds underneath, with the Lead SG pushed higher as the norm? If you wanted to keep the Subgroups as-is, I would set up VCAs, one each for the 2 or 3 who sing lead. Keep the VCAs at unity, but when a different person sings lead, push up that VCA and/or pull down the others. Return all to unity when the lead singer takes over again. Pretty much the same as using individual channel strips, but the VCAs are situated on the far right of the screen, so it may be more handy that way. This would not disturb your existing subgroups.

Greg C.

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Re: Subgroup Scenerio
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2015, 12:13:24 AM »
I disagree Greg,
if you have a good vocal blend and one person triggers the threshold, everything in that group gets lowered, not just the offending vocal.
It can not work any other way, regardless of whether or not the vocal mix is out of whack.
Now, if the compression isn't noticeable, it's because the compression settings were so timid that compressing the group was pointless. It is why I never do that.
Each vocalist gets his/her own compression based on their tendencies. If I do not know the vocalists and their tendancies, then each one still gets their own compression, even more important.

No sweat, keep doing this if it works for you.

If you are using mild channel compression on each vocal as I stated previously and maintaining a relatively cohesive vocal mix, what happens when all the singers start singing and plow into the group compressor is that the overall level of the vocal mix stays under control. You do not get one vocalist jumping out over the top suddenly because they already have channel compression keeping their base level in check. It's a proven method. It's not a new concept. I like it because it prevents needing more drastic compression on the individual channels and sounds more natural at lower to moderate vocal levels. Heavy compression doesn't engage unless things start heating up. By messing with individual channel ratios and thresholds relative to the group compressor, you have a lot more control than with single channel only compression. 
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