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Help needed: personal monitor for concertina


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#1 Jim Besser

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:02 PM

I play in several very loud bands, and often find that I can't hear myself very well - or at all. This is true even when we have stage monitors, in part because I'm playing with a loud accordion with sophisticated internal pickups vs. my Microvox.

I'd like to construct: a battery-powered personal monitor with ear bud. What I envision: splitting the output from my Microvox with a Y adapter with quarter inch jacks, with one cable going to the DI box and sound board, the other to something like one of those personal guitar amps that clip to your belt. That way I'd be able to hear myself even when the monitor mix isn't right for me - or during our very loud practices, when nobody's amplified and I can't compete with the sax, accordion, drums, etc.

Has anybody tried something like this? Any tips on how to make it work, or warnings about why it won't? Suggestions for specific pieces of equipment?

Edited by Jim Besser, 25 April 2012 - 07:56 PM.


#2 hjcjones

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:25 AM

I've tried playing with ear-buds and found it quite hard to get the mix right - having it right in your ears makes it much more sensitive to small adjustments than when using monitors. I found I needed to have a band mix as well as my own instrument. I also found it quite tiring on the ears after an evening's playing. I now use it only when playing the dulcimer (which stands at the back of the stage away from the monitors) or when the foldback sound is really crap (some stages just seem impossible to get a decent sound)

We've abandoned floor monitors in favour of small individual monitors mounted on a mic stand. These allow for a more individual mix, and you can adjust the volume yourself rather than having to attract the soundie's attention. The Helicons we use (which unfortunately are no longer made) have their own mini mixer, so you can also have a degree of control over your individual mix although we tend not to use this feature.

I've played with loud bands, and the temptation is to turn yourself up to compete with the others, when often the answer is to turn everyone else down. An accordion is always going to be loud acoustically on stage, but from a foldback point of view the mics he's using shouldn't make a difference - if he's overwhelming you then he should be turned right down in your monitor mix. Drums are harder to control!

#3 Jim Besser

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 08:16 AM

I've played with loud bands, and the temptation is to turn yourself up to compete with the others, when often the answer is to turn everyone else down. An accordion is always going to be loud acoustically on stage, but from a foldback point of view the mics he's using shouldn't make a difference - if he's overwhelming you then he should be turned right down in your monitor mix. Drums are harder to control!


Unfortunately we rarely have control over sound, and often we're in halls with inadequate equipment. So I need some kind of personal solution when properly adjusting the monitor mix just isn't going to happen. And for non-amplified rehearsals, when I can't be heard above the brass section, the drums, the electric bass and the very large accordion!

#4 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:07 PM

Hi Jim,

This is a very nice unit I use that has through capacity, so you plug into it and run a cable out of it for your PA. You do have to plug it in though. http://www.musicians...30-cube-monitor

I haven't tried it but this battery amp looks like it might work for you.
http://www.musicians...content=reviews

#5 Kautilya

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:13 PM

If this would suit might be worth checking ebay US as at this price you can afford to experiment.
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item1c2665ecb1

And you could go low tech and use a folding echo box to the right or left of your tina ( bearing in mind point made elsewhere that you are sending sound to left and right) and presuming you are seated with tina at knee level. The cardboard version (think stiff cardboard supermarket packing box used for transporting 20 cereal cartons)is much cheaper than a cajun drum where you would have to leave one side open.
http://www.americanm...tm_campaign=non
If you can fold cardboard box for carrying, when u open it have a slat of plywood in it so you can jam that diagonally to stop it collapsing.

The inner space volume of the box should also amplify your sound as it bounces from the inside back of the box back to your ear (tilting box will improve line of sound).

If you cannot fold it for carrying, you just have to put your tinas in the cardboard box when bringing gear from the car and set it up next to you and the top might even be firm enough to put yr drink on ... wooden slat again.

A home made variant on this but with opaque reflective material which will bounce away otherís noise and bounce your sound back to you.

http://www.zzounds.com/item--SEEPSRF

Or at a more serious professional level it is alleged gesticulating Italian opera singers are known to use one of these as a spare hand over their ear to hear themselves:
The box above is just another version of the singer putting hand between ear and side of mouth to block out noise and hear what they they themselves are singing. Harmonica players use the same technique to hear what they are playing amid noise of the crowd and to keep in key.

http://www.ebay.co.u...=item4164cdeab7

:D

#6 Jim Besser

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:15 PM

This is a very nice unit I use that has through capacity, so you plug into it and run a cable out of it for your PA. You do have to plug it in though. http://www.musicians...30-cube-monitor

I haven't tried it but this battery amp looks like it might work for you.
http://www.musicians...content=reviews


Thanks! THey are both attractive options and I'll investigate. The Roland looks particularly interesting; portability isn't critical. I wonder if I can split the output from my Microvox without diminishing the signal going to the PA.

Since I'm almost always playing on some hall's PA and not my own, I don't want any solution that requires me to run the monitor off their boards. But if I used a Y connector from the Microvox, that might do the trick, if the signal was strong enough.





#7 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:45 PM



This is a very nice unit I use that has through capacity, so you plug into it and run a cable out of it for your PA. You do have to plug it in though. http://www.musicians...30-cube-monitor

I haven't tried it but this battery amp looks like it might work for you.
http://www.musicians...content=reviews


Thanks! THey are both attractive options and I'll investigate. The Roland looks particularly interesting; portability isn't critical. I wonder if I can split the output from my Microvox without diminishing the signal going to the PA.

Since I'm almost always playing on some hall's PA and not my own, I don't want any solution that requires me to run the monitor off their boards. But if I used a Y connector from the Microvox, that might do the trick, if the signal was strong enough.

If you go with the Roland you will not need a splitter because you get two output options.

#8 Jim Besser

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 10:25 PM

If you go with the Roland you will not need a splitter because you get two output options.


Maybe I'm misunderstanding.
I think 'd still need a splitter. The microvox output goes to the splitter. One cable goes from the splitter to the house sound system, the other to the Roland monitor. The roland output would be the ear bud that would serve as monitor.
Or am I missing something?



#9 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 10:40 PM


If you go with the Roland you will not need a splitter because you get two output options.


Maybe I'm misunderstanding.
I think 'd still need a splitter. The microvox output goes to the splitter. One cable goes from the splitter to the house sound system, the other to the Roland monitor. The roland output would be the ear bud that would serve as monitor.
Or am I missing something?

Yep, you are missing something. The Roland has outputs that would go to the PA in addition to the earphones out. Look at the picture details and you will see what I mean. But really, earphones are not recommended at all, just adjust your amp volume so you get the mix you like in the air.

Then there is the HoneyTone http://www.musicians...1000?src=3XBACR

#10 Jim Besser

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 10:48 PM

Yep, you are missing something. The Roland has outputs that would go to the PA in addition to the earphones out. Look at the picture details and you will see what I mean. But really, earphones are not recommended at all, just adjust your amp volume so you get the mix you like in the air.

Then there is the HoneyTone http://www.musicians...1000?src=3XBACR



Wow: 19 bucks. Cool.

I'm also looking at this: http://www.sweetwate...tail/MicroCube/

But I"m liking the Roland; this looks like a sturdy, versatile unit.

The problem: in my current band I'm playing with a sax, trombone, very loud accordion, electric bass and drums. We haven't yet played in a hall with monitors I could actually hear myself on. It's making me a little crazy.

#11 Rod

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 01:13 AM


Yep, you are missing something. The Roland has outputs that would go to the PA in addition to the earphones out. Look at the picture details and you will see what I mean. But really, earphones are not recommended at all, just adjust your amp volume so you get the mix you like in the air.

Then there is the HoneyTone http://www.musicians...1000?src=3XBACR



Wow: 19 bucks. Cool.

I'm also looking at this: http://www.sweetwate...tail/MicroCube/

But I"m liking the Roland; this looks like a sturdy, versatile unit.

The problem: in my current band I'm playing with a sax, trombone, very loud accordion, electric bass and drums. We haven't yet played in a hall with monitors I could actually hear myself on. It's making me a little crazy.



I cannot speak from comparable experience. The Concertina was surely never conceived to compete on a level playing field with instruments such as 'saxophones, trombones and very loud accordians etc' and when attempts are made to do so they are seldom if ever successful. I suggest that perhaps the only solution may be for your fellow musicians to fully appreciate the problem and be generous enough to reduce the volume of their playing in order to achieve a true balance that allows you and the music a fair chance.

#12 Jim Besser

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 02:06 PM

Yep, you are missing something. The Roland has outputs that would go to the PA in addition to the earphones out. Look at the picture details and you will see what I mean. But really, earphones are not recommended at all, just adjust your amp volume so you get the mix you like in the air.


JUst ordered this: http://www.behringer...ucts/B205D.aspx

Looks like it has most of the features of the ROland Cube, but also mounts on a mic stand, which means I can have it close enough so I can actually hear it. Looks similar to the Galaxy Hotspot I used to have until it died an untimely death.

Edited by Jim Besser, 27 April 2012 - 02:23 PM.


#13 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:42 PM


Yep, you are missing something. The Roland has outputs that would go to the PA in addition to the earphones out. Look at the picture details and you will see what I mean. But really, earphones are not recommended at all, just adjust your amp volume so you get the mix you like in the air.


JUst ordered this: http://www.behringer...ucts/B205D.aspx

Looks like it has most of the features of the ROland Cube, but also mounts on a mic stand, which means I can have it close enough so I can actually hear it. Looks similar to the Galaxy Hotspot I used to have until it died an untimely death.

The Roland also mounts on a mic stand, but you made a good choice with the Behringer. One of my local dances got two of these Behringer units to be used as band monitors and they are very nice. What it is missing is an earphone out, but really I don't think you will be missing that. So plug your Microvox into one of the mic inputs and plug the Behringer to your house PA using the Thru plug in the back using a standard mic cable, should work a treat. Just check if the volume control changes the thru output level. You don't want it to, and if it does you will be changing the house mix every time you adjust your own level, could be problematic.

This EUROLIVE B205D is a slightly less expensive copy of a great little monitor, the Mackie SRM150.

Edited by Jody Kruskal, 27 April 2012 - 10:49 PM.


#14 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:48 PM

oops

Edited by Jody Kruskal, 27 April 2012 - 10:48 PM.


#15 hjcjones

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:56 AM

The lineup of a band I used to play with included brass (trumpet, trombone and occasionally sousaphone), a couple of saxes, a drum kit, as well as guitar(often electric) and electric bass or cello. I was playing melodeon and concertina alongside a fiddle player. So I know about loud :)

You've been looking for a solution to your own individual problem, but you are part of a band and should perhaps be considering this as part of a wider problem. You say "we rarely have control over sound, and often we're in halls with inadequate equipment". I would suggest that these are both areas you should also try to address. It doesn't matter how well you play on stage if the sound the audience hears is poor. One of the golden rules is "never use the house PA", and whilst there are exceptions it's a good one to follow. House PAs are often inadequate, as you've found, and are often set up with rock bands in mind rather than acoustic folk bands. If there's a house sound engineer the same may apply and he may have little experience of mixing accordions and concertinas. If you're band is playing regularly it might be worth considering biting the bullet and investing in your own PA. Yes, it's expensive and it involves a learning curve if you've never had to deal with PA before, but control over your own sound is essential for any band.

The other point is that responsibility for balancing the sound is first and foremost with the musicians, it shouldn't be left to the PA or monitors to sort out, although that can assist.. If you can't hear even in rehearsals it suggests that everyone is playing too loudly. As Rod suggests, you should be asking your fellow musicians to play more quietly - it is possible even with accordions!

Edited by hjcjones, 28 April 2012 - 04:04 AM.


#16 Jim Besser

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 03:29 PM

The Roland also mounts on a mic stand, but you made a good choice with the Behringer. One of my local dances got two of these Behringer units to be used as band monitors and they are very nice. What it is missing is an earphone out, but really I don't think you will be missing that. So plug your Microvox into one of the mic inputs and plug the Behringer to your house PA using the Thru plug in the back using a standard mic cable, should work a treat. Just check if the volume control changes the thru output level. You don't want it to, and if it does you will be changing the house mix every time you adjust your own level, could be problematic.

This EUROLIVE B205D is a slightly less expensive copy of a great little monitor, the Mackie SRM150.


TEsted the Eurolive on my sound system...didn't realize the quarter inch jacks on a DI box are both input and output. Ran a quarter inch cable from the DI (connected to the Microvox) box to the monitor - and it works like a charm.

First test will be tomorrow at the Shepherdstown dance, with the full band on stage and a finicky sound system. I imagine adjusting gain and position to eliminate feedback will be the challenge, But the omens are good. Jody, thanks for the suggestion about not using earphones; I can see now that having the speaker will be much better.

The real test will be in 2 weeks, when we play at a crowded pub for a ceilidh. 60 dancers, electric bass, drums, brass section...I'm going to really need that monitor!

Edited by Jim Besser, 04 May 2012 - 03:29 PM.





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