Reply To: NEWBIE ALERT: Hooking up a Signal Processor

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Major edit: Just realised I’d been referencing the Zed10 FX instead of the vanilla Zed10 in my previous post. Ignore what I said about yellow pots (you weren’t going to use them anyway, the ones you were going to use to send channels to the FX bus are now grey.)

If I need to use both effect and processing (compression, limiter etc.) from the LEXICON MX400, do I have to hook it up differently, knowing the processing usually go in front of the chain and effects at the end of the chain?

If you wanted processing (eg a compressor) on the start of a channel’s signal chain you’d use the channel’s insert point. If you then wanted FX (eg a reverb) at the end you’d need either another insert point, or to use a send-return. Unfortunately the Zed10 doesn’t have insert points per channel, it only has inserts on the main LR. Bear in mind that in a live situation you probably don’t want too much compression in monitors (particularly wedges) as it’s a recipe for feedback. What you could do is channel>fx bus>input A of MX400 (compressor) > output A of MX400 into input B of MX400, then Output B of MX400 return to Zed10. That would effectively get you compression followed by reverb on a single channel. It all depends on which channels you actually want to have which FX applied.

In the case that I want to control the FX fader on each channel, if I understand well, I will need at least a dry and wet channel. That means, for an instrument it takes 2 channel each time (ex.: M1 and M2), am I correct?

Yep, you need a dry channel, the send (the fx bus) and a spare channel (or 2) to use as the FX return (the “or 2” is if the return is to be stereo, eg for a stereo delay.) You can use a pair of spare mono channels and pan them or you can use a stereo channel (which is automatically panned.)

Given that I would use the Record Out and the Monitor Out both in RCA with the LEXICON MX400, is there anyway I can still record direct from the mixer?

You don’t necessarily need to use the record out and the monitor out to feed the MX400, that was just an idea so that you’d effectively get a master send level control on the Zed10 for the FX bus feeding the MX400. You could just use the record out by itself (as long as the MX400 has input trims.) Some recording options include recording the main mix via the USB socket to the computer, getting creative with the phones/monitor sockets, or you could just y-split the main outs into an analogue recorder (or the line-in socket on your PC.)

If I instead use the USB port with a laptop with Cubase installed, with a LEXICON VST REVERB PLUGIN, can I control the FX fader of each channel to blend in the effect?

Yes. You send individual channels to the FX bus using the grey “FX” pots on the channel strip. You then send the FX bus (acutally it ends up being the aux + fx bus, aux on L, FX on R) to the USB socket, using the Record Out+USB source out selector switches. This sends the audio to your computer. Use you DAW to listen to the R side of the stream: that’s the fx bus. Apply whatever plugins you want to the track in your DAW. Have the DAW output the returns from that track to USB L+R. The stereo return will appear on the “Playback” channel of the Zed10. You can then turn up this channel in the main mix and/or the aux using the relevant pots on the Zed10. If you decide you want more reverb on one channel and less on another you can use the fx pots on the individual channel strips. p27 of this manual explains it.

Would you advise me to get a different mixer for my setup?

The Zed10 seems like a capable mixer for your setup, just, provided you don’t want to get too fancy with FX routing. The next step up would be something like a PA series/mixwiz, with inserts and direct outs, more post-fade buses to feed your outboard FX units and a multitrack USB option.

You’ve listed some scenarios, which is good, and the Zed10 can handle all of them to a degree.

Your scenarios:

Backing tracks can come through on the USB port and end up on the playback/stereo 2 channels. Chances are they are already mastered and pretty well eqed anyway, so you shouldn’t really need to eq them anymore, so a lack of eq shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re playing them through your DAW chances are you can use an eq plugin on them in the DAW if you decide you do need to eq them.

If you’ve got stereo backing tracks coming through via USB then you won’t be able to use that USB input as an FX return as well (unless you mix backing tracks + reverb return in the DAW, and use the DAW for level control of each. It’s complicated to keep on top of, but possible.) It would be simpler to use an analogue out from your PC into an analogue input on your Zed10 for the backing tracks, and keep the USB IO exclusively for FX via the DAW. That way you keep separate level control of both on the ZED10.

This is probably the easiest application. Mic into channel 1, FX either via USB and DAW or via MX400. You could even use both DAW and one side of the MX400 for FX simultaneously, and use the other side of the MX400 as an insert on the mains if you wanted.

If you can give a little bit more detail on your scenarios, particularly wrt which fx you’d like on which channels, we can get a better idea of whether the Zed10 suits your intended application.

You can mic a single guitar with 2 mics if you want, but you need to control the mic positioning and process the signals really well for it to be worth it. It’s a lot easier to do in a studio with a DAW than it is to do live. Some dual-micing techniques require inverting the polarity of one of the signals in order to negate the phase cancellation, but the Zed10 doesn’t have polarity invert switches, so you’d need to use a deliberately mis-wired cable/adapter to create the effect. IME it’s it’s easier to just use a single mic (either a dynamic pointed at the sound hole, or a condenser a bit further back acting as an ambient mic,) then process to taste (usually a bit of stereo verb/chorus works well to space it out a bit.)

HTH is interweb speak for “hope that helps,” they’re not my initials.