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Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

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Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby vocialist-rob » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:10 pm

Hi Everyone

I am vocalist in a four piece Classic Rock band (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, that sort of thing!). We play live once a month, mainly in small, hot, sweaty and packed pubs. We usually go down very well, largely thanks to the three guys behind me who are excellent!

In rehearsals we play with the same set up as live (guitar and bass through their own amps, me through fold back monitor, PA carrying mainly vocal) but our volume is lower and we're more spaced out unlike when live on stage where we play often in very tight spaces - almost on top of each other!

After this introduction - to my question. As a result, in rehearsals I can hear myself very well and can sing with more control and less 'push' to be heard over the racket, sorry music, behind me. When playing live, the monitor sound is often lost in the mass of noise from rhythm and drums. If I turn the monitor up too far, I get feedback. Sometimes I struggle to pick out the key of the guitar so have to get him to turn it up which helps me hear him better but then makes it harder for me to hear myself!

Because of the monitor's 'maximum level' I find I then have to sing louder which loses the control, range and tone of my voice.

Any suggestions how to recreate the conditions and control enjoyed in rehearsals in the heat and buzz of the live environment?

I should out point we are never asked to turn it down by the landlords or attendees so I think the levels we play at are about right.

Many thanks in advance

Rob
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby twotoedsloth » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:42 pm

Have you considered trying in ear monitors?
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby vocialist-rob » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:49 pm

Could you recommend a brand/product to try? The problem I've had with ear monitors in the past is they haven't blocked out the surrounding noise sufficiently. Might just be the type I was using at the time.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby grab » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:03 am

Different mic? Beta 58 is *very* good at rejecting feedback. It's got a much tighter "on-mic" area than an SM58, so you need to make sure you're not waving it around bcos your voice will come and go, but by the same token that keeps unwanted noise out too. It also tends to cut through the mix a bit better than an SM58, which again will help you.

For an alternative which doesn't need more gear, you could put a mic on the guitar amp, get him to turn it down a bit, and then use the PA to get it loud enough out front. Not much you can do about the drums, and bass isn't usually a problem, but at least you can clear a bit of space from the guitar.

FWIW, I play in a nominally-classic-rock covers band too - perhaps a bit more power-pop than you, but still loud enough when needed! But mostly we try to keep the stage levels down and use the PA if we need to be louder, or put stuff in the monitors if one guitarist can't hear the other guitarist. We use stage condensors for vocals, but we still rarely have problems hearing or problems with feedback.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:29 pm

When you next play live have a good listen to the sound on stage and try to work out what is actually obscuring your voice. Since you say you are struggling to hear the guitar sometimes, I suspect that you might have a heavy handed drummer who likes his cymbals or a bass player with a middly sound.

Also make sure that the monitors are actually pointing at your ears and not at your knees - it sometimes helps to raise them up a bit or use wooden wedges to get them at the right angle.

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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:03 pm

The very best vocal mic I've found for rejecting monitor feedback is the Audix OM7 and I have over 10 different stage vocal mics in the collection. It is better by a large margin and that includes over a Beta58. Quite remarkable. It also sounds fine with good 'cut' if that's what you require.

However, you have to work it close, right on the grill.

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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby JPH » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:46 pm

AKG D5 is definately worth a punt for feedback rejection.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:36 pm

JPH wrote:AKG D5 is definately worth a punt for feedback rejection.

Unlikely to be as good as the OM7 - the D5 didn't make it into my locker after auditioning!

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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby forumuser899617 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:32 am

I am an engineer at a 1400 seat venue. I run front of house and also run our monitor board. If you are having feedback problems you need to run your monitors through a 31 band eq. Every show a big venue does, you ring out your monitors. Also differnt mic combinations or the wedge its self has an eq curve or Peaks whare it is stronger. to get a more clean and clear sound you need to get them flat. Sense most people in bands dont have golden engineer ears you can use an RTA to do this. The apps they have for smart phones work just fine to do so. play pink noise through your wedges and look at the RTA and make cuts on your 31 band until its pretty flat. then with your mic hot bring up the gain until it starts to feedback. look whare that peak is on the rta then cut that freq on the eq until it goes away. do this until they are stable. if you find that you are cutting out way to much that they sound dead and dull then that is the max voulume you can get out of them. put a few cuts back in a little then gain it back down so its stable. my wedges at work can be 110 dB spl and be able to point the mic right at the speaker and not feedback. this is the way the pros do it. also keep your amps down on instruments and mic them instead. send this through the mains to get your volume. remember a guitar is in the same freq range as the human voice. the guitar is through an amp, it takes alot less of that signal to cover up vocals. hope this helps out.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:38 am

In ear monitors made a huge difference to my gigs. I have an ancient unit which I use with some Shure buds with decent isolation. If I'm playing solo I just use that, if I'm with the band I put enough through the wedges to keep others informed and use one ear of IEMs.

Sound engineers are generally very happy to accommodate me as it solves a potential issue for them.

I don't think it's important to spend a fortune on the system but personalised fitting might be worth it in your case.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby _ Six _ » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:11 am

Getting the band to turn down normally does the trick. Tough with RAWK musicians but it really does work wonders.

You don't need to be insanely loud to sound good. It's a fallacy.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby grab » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:21 am

It's a fallacy.


Or to quote Sir Pterry, a phallusy...
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby Guy Johnson » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:48 am

As said, the OM7 is a goody. So is the Heil PR 35; sounds good too. Worth a try if you can borrow one. Though like all mics, they don't suit everyone. (I find the old SM 58 still sounds better than the PR 35, and other good mics too, on some voices.) Best bet is to find a big music shop or a PA company who sell many different makes of mics, and try them all out for gain before feedback (and sound!) in a monitor.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby Dave B » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:39 pm

On the 'get the band to turn down' theme, it depends on who the limiting factor is. I've played with loud drummers as well as guitarists and they are the worst as everyone has to turn up to be heard and pretty much can't turn down. Depending on the drummer, they may be ok about some 'constructive criticism' or they may just sulk. My current drummer is a well trained young guy who has great control - so much so that when we first played we worried before the gig that he was playing too softly. But like a trooper, he knows how and when to hold back and when to give it some wellie.

OTOH, I've played with a total monster on the kit who could not do anything but bang away at the skins. If the rest of the band turned down, you could actually hear the hits making the PA ring in certain venues. That's a real problem.

A loud guitarist could just be that he needs a better stand and position from his amp - it really can be that simple. Plus, if the drummer can't hear properly, then sometimes the drums come up to 'lead' the song rather than all blend nicely. A simple change to stage setup can sometimes make a huge difference - we once moved one guitar amp 6 inches backward and everything fell neatly into place.

Sometimes though, you are going to hit a brick wall and have venues where you need to turn up and don't have the space to put the monitors back far enough. I've had ok-ish experience with the Mackie SRM 150 (mic-stand jobbie) as a monitor - it usually has my keys in it but it took vox ok. The rest of the band have just got some so we are looking to see how they work for three people next. I'm toying with the idea of in-ears for myself though.

At the risk of offending, have you looked into a little vocal training to help project better? I've played with a band where the vocalist had a great voice, but, because he was untrained, he sang quietly and that caused problems. In the end, his lack of training meant he trashed his vocal chords - nodes and everything last time I heard...shame.

Finally, bless you for asking! You'd be amazed how many vocalists just think that this is 'someone else's problem' and just demand that 'someone' fixes it. Hope you get it sorted.
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby vocialist-rob » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:10 pm

Some great posts and advice here, guys. Thank you. I will print off, digest and come up with a plan. And let you know what happens!

Best wishes, Rob
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Re: Perfecting the sound for the vocalist on stage in a Classic Rock band

Postby vocialist-rob » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:44 pm

Gig Saturday night (riotous, loud and successful affair!). Used a more powerful monitor which also had a more balanced rounded sound than our smaller, less powerful monitor I'd used before.

Made a big difference! Still lost the sound at times throughout the evening as the evening warmed up and pub filled up but overall was a lot better. I am guessing ear plugs the only solution here?

Still blew my voice out on Dio tracks but that's Dio for you I guess?! The suggestion of singing lessons might be sensible.

Cheers, Rob
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