starting to think about using effects with
Kingfisher I posted
asking for advice on the right way
to hook this up. This is a protocol problem:
Electric guitars and similar give you an unbalanced output
(signal and ground) that connects to a high-impedance input. The
guitar pedals ecosystem works with this protocol.
If you want a fiddle to sound good at a dance you generally use
a clip-on microphone, which has a balanced output (signal, inverse
signal, and ground) and requires phantom power.
The three main solutions we discusses in that post and the comments
Use the Radial
Voco-Loco. It is designed for exactly this, is well built, and
should last very well. But it costs $360.
Use a mini-mixer. There are lots of options that both provide
phantom power and can be configured to route the signal out
through an unbalanced 1/4 jack and back. Cost depends on
manufacturer: the Soundcraft
Notepad 5 is $125, the Mackie
Mix 8 is $93, and a no-name mixer is $50.
Use the main board's effects insert. All you need is a
Why not just use an insert cable, then? It's not going to work
everywhere: the board needs to have an effects insert, and not all do.
Or the board might be on the other end of a snake which only takes
balanced signals. Or the board might be too far away on stage for
your insert cable to reach. Using an insert cable requires a
different interface with the venue: you're swapping the reliable and
standard "musician → venue" setup for a much less typical
"musician → venue → musician → venue" setup. Still, I
think it's worth bringing along an insert cable since it's small,
cheap, and will work in many configurations.
In our case there's another reason I don't like the insert cable
approach: it doesn't work with our recording setup. I've been
bringing a multi-track
recorder to dances, which I connect with XLR Y-cables. While in
theory I could tap the insert cable as well, with a 1/4"
Y, something about that makes me pretty nervous.
Instead, we've been bringing a mini-mixer. I wish I could say we
haven't had any problems, but at two of our last five dances we've had
an issue with it and needed to fall back to an insert cable. It's
possible that the mixer is flaking out, but it's also possible that
the configuration is just enough fiddly steps that we plugged things
together wrong or had a switch or dial in the wrong position.
For now I think we'll stick with the mini-mixer, and insert cable as
backup, though the Voco-Loco is pretty tempting.
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