Wulf's Webden

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Using What I’ve Got


I’m still producing a new worship video for church each week day, many of which involve music. I’m fortunate to have acquired a good collection of tools over the years but I’m better equipped for some things than others. A particular challenge has been how to use my vocal mic (Shure Beta 58a) to track vocals when I want to keep them separate from the accompanying instrument.

Somewhere I’ve got an XLR to jack lead but I think it is in one of the boxes in my office at the church, which I’m not visiting at the moment. I do have an XLR to XLR lead but the only place I can plug that in is the back of my Roland KC-150 amp. However, I checked the manual and it turns out I can send a line out signal that combines channels 1-3 on the amp while still optionally monitoring the signal via channel 4. That means I can run the mic into the amp and into one of the returns on my Helix LT floorboard, directing that to one pair of channels in my recording software via USB while the guitar or bass goes directly into the Helix and down another pair of channels.

Does that sound complicated? It certainly gives me quite a nest of cables on the floor and, having had a good result with my first test, I found the vocals I tried were quite distorted when I came back and tried again. I have been tempted to solve the matter by getting a dedicated mixer (the Allen & Heath ZEDi-10 was top of the list) but I’m trying not to get more things at the moment with another move likely later this year to a more permanent base in Loughborough.

Instead, I spent some time testing this afternoon. An advantage of a dedicated mixer would be greater control – and visual feedback on – input and output levels. However, I’ve now figured out (and written down) a combination of settings on the amp and Helix that feed a reasonably loud signal into my recording software without clipping. A mixer could still be in my future but, for now, I’ll apply what I have learned and see how it works out in my next recording. GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) abated!

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