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Discussion Starter #1
I plan on using a wah pedal and some other pedals for some funk-type sounds. I understand that after going through a mic, through the pedals, and then out, I can either plug into a mixing board or an amp for projecting. Is there any way to minimize the dry/clean sound or are headphones the way to do it? I don't think I have any problems in my chain, but I'm worried about hearing too much of my clean sound unless it's a really loud gig.
 

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You fold back the 'wet' sound so you're hearing what goes out the 'front'. Otherwise how can you know what all these effects sound like to the listeners? You do this by sending the 'front' the mixed sound and they send it back to you in your monitor. On a smaller scale, you carry your own small powered monitor. An old trick for smaller venues is to have the speakers behind you so you hear exactly what the listeners hear. This is the ideal way to go with a solo act or small group at moderate volume. Moderate volume, because if you start turning up the mics, it will start to feed back. How this usually works is a speaker in each rear corner aimed toward the opposite front corner. This maximizes the distance between mics and speakers while it increases the angle between mics and speakers which minimizes feedback.
An unexpected reality is that we can hear better what we are singing/playing when the monitor speaker is behind us, or in front of us but in the ceiling pointed down, rather than being on the floor pointed up.
Then of course you have the 'in-the-ear' monitor. Any way you go, the object is to hear what the audience hears in this circumstance where you are using multiple effects so you can better control it.
 

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I'm having the same quandary at the moment. My clip-on mic goes out to my effects box, which sends the left (wet) channel out to house. By default, the right (dry) channel comes back to my belt-clip personal headphone monitor, which has only one I/O. If I want to hear the effect, I just ask the FOH for a snake with the mixed channel and plug that into my PM instead. I could always add a larger mixer to the chain, as 1saxman suggests, but that takes up more floorspace, XLRs, outlets, and set-up time, which isn't always feasible for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What about a practice setup without buying monitors and all that? Also, if I were to play the effects at a semi-quiet volume, wouldn't my sound coming out of my bell overpower the desired effect? I feel like the output would have to be significantly louder than the volume I would be blowing at.
 

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Practicing using effects when you have to play at a low volume is pretty useless unless you're using a pickup. Playing at apartment volume your input volume through the effects won't be high enough for them to have an...effect.
 

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You're going to need a set of in-ear-monitors to minimize the acoustic sound of your saxophone, but you will still hear it through bone conduction.

Getting the effects to any level in a small room to really hear them well through speakers will cause massive amounts of feedback. Saxophone isn't like guitar in that effect.
 

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You're going to need a set of in-ear-monitors to minimize the acoustic sound of your saxophone, but you will still hear it through bone conduction.

Getting the effects to any level in a small room to really hear them well through speakers will cause massive amounts of feedback. Saxophone isn't like guitar in that effect.
With a properly distanced clip-on mic, is feedback still an issue? And some sound foam should help out with the feedback, right?
 

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With a properly distanced clip-on mic, is feedback still an issue? And some sound foam should help out with the feedback, right?
Your main problem is the amount of acoustic and unprocessed sound that the saxophone puts out versus the amplified and effected sound coming through the PA system or your monitor speakers. In order for you to hear the effects over the acoustic you have to get the volume of the effected sound 5 to 6db above your acoustic sound, which means that it has to be twice as loud as the acoustic coming from the horn.

The rule with feedback, which is an unchangeable law of physics, is that the loudest source at the microphone wins. If the effects are putting out twice as much volume from as the horn is, then you have just made that the main sound that the mic is picking up. Which takes you into feedback hell.

You can make it work on a live stage, when the room is much bigger and the PA system is set up such that it's not pointing on stage and your mic is far upstage and not hearing the PA system...unless you have a stage monitor pointing into the mic also, then you get back into feedback hell again.

IEMs will be the best solution, as the mic won't hear ANY of the processed sound from the IEMs and you can set up the monitoring send to your IEMs such that you can hear ONLY the effected sound (minus your bone conduction of course). Really good closed back isolating headphones can get you closer, but won't be as effective as IEMs, as you can still often hear the headphones outside of them.

The difficult part, or course is that it takes much longer and is much harder to dial in your effected sound because you can't hear as much of the effects as you want in order to practice with them.

When I was experimenting with my effects pedals, I could never get to the point of actually hearing enough of the processed sound to learn what I wanted it to sound like. I gave up on the exercise.
 

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Quick story here:

I was mixing an outdoor festival a couple weeks ago (with an L-Acoustics Kara PA system on a Stageline SL100 stage). Nine bands each with 30 minute sets. One of the bands has a saxophone player, for whom we prepped a Sennheiser MD421 on a stand for him because their tech info did not indicate that he was going to be on a wireless mic and using an effects board. Of course he showed up with the effects board and wireless mic. I had my monitor engineer set up the 421 anyway for him.

I ended up ditching the channel with his wireless mic and effects unit because it sounded like complete S**t. It was harsh and shrill and and really awful. I used the mic on the stand instead for the FOH mix.

I have yet to find a horn player that sounded better through his effects unit than he does without it. Effects on saxophones and brass instruments just don't sound as good as they do on guitars and synthesizers.
 

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Call me illiterate, but I can't even imagine why you would want to put effects on a horn??? Even reverb or delay. Yuckka!! Sounds to me like you're playing the wrong instrument.
 

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Call me illiterate, but I can't even imagine why you would want to put effects on a horn??? Even reverb or delay. Yuckka!! Sounds to me like you're playing the wrong instrument.
Yeah, Nobody good has ever used FX on their horn.

Ever.....................................................
 

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Call me illiterate, but I can't even imagine why you would want to put effects on a horn??? Even reverb or delay. Yuckka!! Sounds to me like you're playing the wrong instrument.
Some reverb sounds good on saxophone, I’m partial to a nice tight plate reverb on saxophone myself. Even a delay or chorus can sound cool in specific styles of music.

Other effects, like flangers, phasers, distortion and wahs I’m not such a big fan of. I really wanted to find a solution to a nice wah pedal for saxophone, but every time I would hit the wide on the wah, it would be feedback City because of the way it changes the EQ.

Part of the problem is that almost all of these effects are built for use with guitars and guitar electronics. And the electrical signal that a guitar puts out is far smaller than that that a saxophone puts out through a microphone, so it’s easier to deal with. Plus they are all built around the sound and EQ of guitars. Vocal processors like the TC Helicon line are a better choice, but often lack some of the more eccentric effects that are available to guitar players.
 

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As littlewailer hints, you can do a lot with effects, his own cool loops being a case in point. One of my favourite players, Donny McCaslin, uses a ring modulator, granular delay, and reverb/delay pedal to create some really amazing sounds. It inspired me to get a ring mod, which I'm still learning to use. (And yes, they both sound great without the effects too.)

There are several threads on the Forum devoted to effects; horn-fx.com also has some great reviews of effects boxes and advice on using them. Not all work well with all horns, and they'll usually require a different application than they do with guitars. But when used skillfully, as littlewailer does, they can add a lot of texture and colour to your sound.
 

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I like to monitor as dry as possible and let the FOH people take care of the FX...the more FX you try to monitor, the more feedback issues and mud you deal with. Reverb and delay disconnects you from your articulation.


Playing live is the best, but usually the sound sux...the gear has gotten way better, but the tradespeople are just not as good.
 

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The FOH can usually handle basic continuous FX like reverb. But the point of effects pedals is that they become part of your performance--you add them in at whatever moment you like, in the amount and style you feel to be right. The FOH can't do that part of your job any more than they can add in vibrato when you need it.
 

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Well, I have to admit, Sean does some pretty amazing stuff with his horn, and the keys, but he's a very rare anomaly. It's like comparing Laurie Anderson to......who?
 
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