Author Topic: My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside  (Read 11768 times)

Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« on: October 22, 2008, 02:02:23 PM »
Hello, I'm sure this is a common gripe but I'm not satisfied with my Rhodes sound at the moment.

It seems a bit muddy and muffled for my liking, I'd prefer less low fequencies and more mid-range but I can't seem to achieve it.

I have an EQ, a Behringer Ultragraph Pro which is a pretty decent EQ, and I've cut the 20/40/63 frequencies but despite that, it still seems a bit too muffled for my liking.

I haven't had the piano set up professionally because I don't believe there's a rhodes tech anywhere near where I live.Here's a clip of a recording I made tonight:

http://sites.google.com/site/nunchucked/Home/Rhodes_demo.mp3

I prefer to play chords & stuff rather than fast solo work, but I find it all a bit distorted for my liking, whereas I prefer a more metallic and bell-like tone, but I don't seem to be able to achieve that. The only kind of mods I've made on the piano so far is that I replaced a couple of dead pickups and I moved some of the pickups a little closer to the tines because it wasn't consistant.

Any tips would be very much appreciated, sorry if this post doesn't make a lot of sense, I will try to clarify what I'm moaning about in due course.


1979 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 Mk1 -- Behringer DD400 -- Behringer UT100 -- eight fingers -- two thumbs

Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2008, 02:45:27 PM »
http://sites.google.com/site/nunchucked/Home/Rhodes_demo_2.mp3

Here's another recording that I've subsequently attempted to use amongst something I'm working on; this clip probably more accurately describes the kind of rhodes-playing I like to use in recordings.

However, I've had to cut even more of the bottom end, and although it sits better in the mix after the additional processing, it still seems a bit distorted to my ears

Any advice would be much appreciated; thanks!


1979 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 Mk1 -- Behringer DD400 -- Behringer UT100 -- eight fingers -- two thumbs

Offline dnarkosis

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2008, 03:16:53 PM »
See tnelson's final post here:
http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=4621.msg22427#msg22427
There are a couple of other threads where he talks about this as well, or perhaps he can weigh in on it again here.

{edit: ouch: read signature before asking what kind of Rhodes it is}
« Last Edit: September 22, 2010, 06:45:24 PM by admin »
1979 Suitcase 73
1980 Stage 54

Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2008, 03:31:16 PM »
Quote from: "dnarkosis"
You did not mention what kind of Rhodes you have.


Sorry... It's a Rhodes Mk 1 Stage 73 1979


1979 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 Mk1 -- Behringer DD400 -- Behringer UT100 -- eight fingers -- two thumbs

Offline dnarkosis

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2008, 03:32:33 PM »
Duh; I could have read your signature. Sorry.  :(
1979 Suitcase 73
1980 Stage 54

Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2008, 04:02:58 PM »
For an example of how I'd ideally like my rhodes to sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMCNT0lKNjM

...it seems to have a lot more mid-range than mine, any tips as to anything I could do to improve the sound of mine would be very much appreciated

Thanks.


1979 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 Mk1 -- Behringer DD400 -- Behringer UT100 -- eight fingers -- two thumbs

Offline Mark II

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2008, 04:14:31 PM »
Robert, do you use a preamp ? As first audio stage you need a preamp that matches the high impedance of the rhodes piano. If there is a mismatch you will loose some frequencies and you sound could become muddy. So, keep that in mind when trying to solve your problem.

Edit:
Some use DI boxes, the original Suitcase preamp is said to be a good impedance matching stage and there are other devices with high-Z (high impedance) input to be a good match for the rhodes.

how do you record ?
how is your timbre setting ?

there are a lot of possibilities

kind regards
Mark II
Rhodes Stage 73 Mark II 1980 / modified Peterson Suitcase Preamp

Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2008, 04:21:08 PM »
Hi Mark II, I have to admit that I don't have a pre-amp at the moment, but I will get one and let you know how I get on with it.


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Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2008, 04:24:36 PM »
Quote from: "Mark II"
Some use DI boxes
how is your timbre setting ?

there are a lot of possibilities

kind regards
Mark II


I'm using a Behringer DI box. I have a lead in from the rhodes input --> DI Box --> Delay Pedal (which splits out into L+R) --> Behringer Ultragraph EQ --> Laptop Line Input



Not sure what you mean by my timbre setting.


 :?


1979 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 Mk1 -- Behringer DD400 -- Behringer UT100 -- eight fingers -- two thumbs

Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2008, 04:28:33 PM »
I don't have a very good understanding of my DI box but these are the settings:

ATTENUATION: 0db (other settings seem to simply reduce the gain)
Mode: Link (other option, 2-CH doesn't seem to do anything)
Ground: GND (seems to eradicate the buzzing sound)




1979 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 Mk1 -- Behringer DD400 -- Behringer UT100 -- eight fingers -- two thumbs

Offline Dan Belcher

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2008, 04:41:17 PM »
Quote from: "robertgraff"
For an example of how I'd ideally like my rhodes to sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMCNT0lKNjM

...it seems to have a lot more mid-range than mine, any tips as to anything I could do to improve the sound of mine would be very much appreciated

Thanks.
One of the things you must pay attention to is just the difference in the pianos themselves.  The one in that clip is a Fender-era MK I, which has a different tone than your later era MK I, which is actually much closer to a MK II.  The difference in the construction of these pianos (tines, hammers, pickups, etc.) will give you a tone that has more lows and highs and less midrange than an early 70s MK I in general.
Proud owner,
1978 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73

Offline robertgraff

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2008, 04:47:22 PM »
That's an interesting point


1979 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 Mk1 -- Behringer DD400 -- Behringer UT100 -- eight fingers -- two thumbs

Offline Dan Belcher

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2008, 08:38:08 PM »
Here's an MP3 I just threw together quickly for you so you can get a sense for the natural tendancies for a piano of your vintage.  Mine is from mid to late 1978, so it's very similar to yours.

http://boomp3.com/listen/c24n3o6jz_0/rhodes1978-test

In this, I play the same basic lick four times, each time with different EQ settings on my amp.

-The first one, I have everything turned up to 11 for a bright but full, rich sound.
-The second, I have the bass and mids at 1, treble and presence at 11 for a bright, but very thin sound
-The third, I have the bass and mids at 1, treble and presence at 6 for a warm, slightly muddy sound
-The fourth, I have everything turned down for a very flat, muddy, boomy sound

I recorded from the line-out of my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp through a Tascam USB audio interface.  The only post-production was a little noise reduction (the treble really hisses when you turn it up otherwise) and using a little volume changing and compression/reduction to make the four clips sound similar in volume.
Proud owner,
1978 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73

Offline sean

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Tech it yourself...
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2008, 11:51:54 PM »
Dear Robert,

You can systematically improve your Rhodes sound with a few nights of careful work.  You can certainly adjust the escapement, timbre, pickup volume balance, and even strikeline yourself.  The only precision tool you will need is your ears... and patience.  My gut feeling that the timbre adjustment will be most significant for you.

Before I get into that, let me suggest five quick tests:
1. Try to put a high-input-impedance good-quality preamp first in the signal chain, then go into your normal signal chain (even a cheapie Behringer mixer has good enough inputs to make a notable difference).  Borrow a preamp or mixer from a friend.
2. Try the signal directly off the harp (bypassing the bass boost and volume controls), into your regular signal chain,
3. Try the signal directly off the harp into a high-input-impedance preamp...
4. Try listening with headphones instead of your usual amp, and
5. Try turning the bass boost down to 5 or 6.

Each of these tests may give you significant differences in low-end and maybe midrange performance.  (I prefer numbers 1 and 5 myself.  Also, I was pretty mad when I found out how much better headphones sounded than my amp, and that was using the headphone jack on the amp!)  These five tests would be an hour well spent (give each setup a few good minutes of getting used to, and give each an honest chance).


But that is less than half the story, so....   [all measurements converted to millimetres]

Print and read the complete service manual (http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/manual.php ), and then tackle the following steps in roughly this order:
(This order should be fine, since your Rhodes is not radically out of tune, nor that far out of adjustment.)

Volume adjustments:  make each note play with the correct loudness.
Adjust the pickups in the middle and upper octaves so that they are uniformly close to the ends of the tine.  (See figure 4-9 - http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-7 )  You can set these really close if you want, but 2mm is close enough (well, mine are about 1mm).  Adjust the bass pickups (maybe note C28 and below) somewhat further away from the end of the tine... start about 3.5mm or 4mm away.  Then...

Play the piano for a while and note the difference in tone and volume of each individual note.  Spend a half hour moving individual pickups in or out to make the volume of each note seem balanced with neighboring notes and adjusted to your personal taste.  (You might decide that you like the bass pickups really close to the tine, but I doubt it.)  (Due to variances mostly in the pickup magnets, you have to make fine adjustments by ear, not just tine-to-pickup distance.)

Escapement and Timbre adjustments:  monkey around with the two mounting screws on each tonebar.
Look across the end of the tone bars and hope that they are a reasonably uniform distance off the harp.  Ideally, there should be 9.5mm clearance between the tonebar and the wood.  If there is great variance, then it would be reasonable to set the escapement screw on every tonebar to the 9.5mm "factory spec." (See figure 4-3 http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-1 )   If that makes any of the tips of the tines point off into space, adjust the other screw so that the tip of the tine is nearly where it should be.  You will fine-tune this later.  (If this makes any of your top few hammers block or get hung up, leave the escapement where it was, and worry about that problem later.  For this reason, it is probably a fine idea to completely ignore the escapement and timbre settings on the top octave for now.)

Adjust the timbre setting for the octave above note C52.  (See figure 4-8 http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-7 )  In this octave, you should be able to get a nice mix of ping overtone and fundamental.  Adjust it to your taste.

Then adjust the timbre for the middle octave from C40 to C52.  It probably won't be easy to get a pingy attack.  I usually bring it to where I hear all second-harmonic overtone, then back it off until I get the fundamental again, then tweak it until I like it.  Play a few simple runs or scales to make sure that the neighboring notes sound compatible.  

Then set the octaves below that, but go for pure fundamental (you won't get any pingy attack down there).  For each tine, as you move the timbre adjustment screw, you may find that there is a sweet spot where the tine sounds just like you want it, another setting that sounds brash and powerful, and the rest of the range sounds lame.

Before you set the timbre in the top octaves, take a rest and play the piano for a while.  Now when you play, be on the lookout for oddball notes, and fix them right away.

When you get around to setting the timbre on the top octaves, you might find that the sweet spot is smaller, and variances in the hammer tips make it hard to get a perfect ping on every single note.

(When you get around to replacing the grommets, you get to do all this hard work over again.)


Strikeline adjustment:
Before you proceed to the strikeline adjustment, I think you should play the piano for a week, and get to love or hate it intimately.  Go back and try the five different signal path options that I mentioned above.

If you decide that you really need to find a better sweetspot for hammer-to-tine contact, then read the strikeline section of the service manual a few times.  
See http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/ch4.html#4-6

Good luck with it.

Sean

Offline Mark II

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2008, 03:56:15 AM »
Sean, you have just beat yourself.

superb post.
kind regards

Mark II
Rhodes Stage 73 Mark II 1980 / modified Peterson Suitcase Preamp

Offline Ben Bove

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My rhodes has a muddy muffled sound - audio inside
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2008, 12:33:09 PM »
Yes a great post.

In summation, you really have to get into your Rhodes.  When set as Sean says, then you have to start playing the instrument and see if you like how it sounds.  Then redo, and eventually you'll find a great tone.
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