Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dear SNR: Eike Hillenkötter - Live Mix Smorgasbord II

Tonmeister deluxe
Yesterday I got a start on a list of questions from our good friend Eike in Germany. I had been letting it lie in my inbox for far to long to just shoot off a couple quick tidbits so it turned into a second post. 
- Some of you are sometimes using a Presonus. Have you ever tried using a laptop connected to it via firewire as a VST effects device? What are your experiences? Any tips? Things that work well, things that don't work?
I've mixed on them and recorded performances with them but honestly the effects engines in them aren't anything to write home about. They're good at what they do, but they don't really do anything beyond basic spatial effects. There was one time when mixing on a Presonus that I considered hooking up a netbook to be able to use auto tune on a lead actor who was having a little trouble with the high notes. There was too much latency though. Ideas like this are becoming ever more possible for us small fries to do. 

For instance the MOTU interface I bought for work isn't just for recording. I also plan to use it as a small digital mixer for events in the church that aren't in one of the venues and as a system processor for events we do with our portable systems in other venues. I've already seen kids on club stages doing some heavy vocoding with their laptops. Things are definitely moving in that direction.

- I have a couple of cheapo K-Micro omnis [ http://www.karmamics.com/shop/K-Micro-Silver-Bullet-Drum-Pack.html ] lying around. While I love them as specialty/novelty mics, it has annoyed me at times that they're not directional. I was thinking about converting some of them to cardioids. I THINK all i have to do is drill a hole behind the membrane.. any ideas? Should I go for it or just forget about that?
 That's pretty close to the mark. Part of what gives a mic its pattern is how much sound can get to the back side of the diaphragm. The side you sing in hears your voice plus noise, the other side hears the noise but in the opposite polarity and a lot of it is canceled out. That's your basic cardioid and that's the reason why dynamic mics sound like garbage when the singer cups the grill. At $99 for a pack of seven you could drill a different number of holes in each mic and come back with a detailed pattern analysis for the benefit of all!

Let this be an encouragement to all you Brethren of the Knob and Fader out there. There are actual human beings behind the in boxes and the Facebook page. We're always happy to hear from our readers and listeners so don't be shy about writing in. We do our best to get back right away. And we do try to respond to every single one and turn as many of them into posts as we can. There may also be the occasional embarrassing situation where we need to learn more math before we can answer properly (still working on it Liam!).


  1. Yeah, I agree about the FX on the Presonus. I don't really love them. If you treat the sends/returns heavily with eq, you can make them work, however they don't really exude lushness, if you know what I mean.

    That's why I've been thinking about using some vst-verbs. I'm figuring that the latency won't be much of an issue in this situation, I'll just shave a couple of milliseconds off the predelay :)

    If you want to get really nerdy you could use Reaper as a vst rack, set it to automatically offset the channels by their respective latency (which I think it can do), and route the returns to the mains of the Presonus. You could then route all the "dry" signals to 2 of the subgroups, which you delay by the same latency your fx channels give you (which you can do with the SL's newest firemware). That way all the returns and the dry channels should "line up". That MIGHT work in some situations :) Obviously this causes all kinds of issues on small stages for example, and might get pretty confusing (for the band) if the offset between monitors and PA gets too large.

    If I ever get around to the k micro mods, I'll let you know. I wonder if I could find a "blueprint" for the mics somewhere, with exact measurements and so on, otherwise the drilling could be a little too much of a trial and error undertaking.

    1. Seems like way more trouble than it's worth. Especially for the type of gigs that you tend to see a Presonus on. It's got adequate effects built in for most stuff and if you need something that it doesn't do like pitch bending or something then there's likely something in a rack nearby that can just be patched in.

      As for the mics. I think if you can get one completely apart and set it next to one that's still together, with a ruler and a good eye you can get the job done. I'd love it if you could show some frequency responses, even from a phone RTA. That's big fun!

  2. yeah, i agree. setting your fx up that way would be way too much trouble. OT: I have heard nothing but good things about the new behringer digital desk. I'm usually really sceptical about that brand, but this one product seems to be a winner. 8 stereo / 2 mono fx, interesting features like sidechain compression and so on. Got my interest peaked.

    As for the DIY mod: I found two pictures of the k micros taken apart.
    With the help of those, at least i should be somewhere in the ballpark.


    Still don't know where to drill exactly though. If someone wants to draw a red dot on the picture, feel free to do so..

    1. [thats 8 stereo 16 mono fx of course.]

    2. I can't wait to get my hands on that Behringer digi desk. I hear they're in stock at Guitar Centers now. I need an excuse to get over there.

      As for the mic, I would say half a dozen holes about 1/2" to 5/8" (~1.2 ~ 1.6 cm) back from the business end of the mic should yield some pattern.

  3. And writing a hands-on first impression review for the blog doesn't count as an excuse, maybe, please?? :)

    They're not in stock in my area, but as soon as I get the chance I'll head on over to the nearest music store to check it out..

    1. It absolutely would. But I have a few more pressing matters to get taken care of at work. Believe me, as soon as I can manage part of a day for a research mission I'll be on it!


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