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Better sound?

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Better sound?

Postby Dino67 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:29 pm

Hello all,
Really like this forum, great info here..
Would appreciate any advice
I’m not a sound engineer, just a musician trying to get a better sound.
We’re a 4 piece band, 2 Guitars, Bass and Drums. We generally get a good sound most nights, Guitars seem to get lost in the mix (Although the stage volume seems high), I’m always compensating, eventually getting it. When I check certain other bands, good ones, the sound is clean and you hear everything perfectly.
We bought our own equipment about 8 years ago, we were paying sound guys as much as or more than the individual band members were getting, some were really good, some were really bad, so we invested in a “set it and forget it” system. Suggested by a friend in the business, we’ve seen similar set-ups work well for others, so we bought it.
It’s a simple PA set-up,
Allen & Heath MixWizard 16:2, running through a BBE 882i Sonic Maximizer to two QSC 15” 3 way active speakers, Drums and guitars are miked, Bass runs direct. We use three Mackie SRM150 monitors, and a floor wedge, trying to keep our stage volume low.
My question is, would an equalizer help clean up the sound?
We’ve talked about a sub, but we feel like we have enough bottom end.
I guess I may always think it could sound better.
Thanks in advance for any advice
Dino67
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Re: Better sound?

Postby grab » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:07 pm

If you don't have a soundman, your guitarists need foot pedals (either separate FX or amp settings) to select solo/backing levels. And those relative levels need to be nailed at practise, or at least at soundcheck. Then when a guitarist goes for a solo, he stomps the "make-it-louder" pedal and gets the spotlight. Downside of this is that it's easy to forget to turn off the "make-it-louder" pedal and drown out the vocalist when they come back in after the solo. :)

The other way guitars can get lost in the mix is when both guitars have lots of fuzz going, and one guitar is obscuring what the other guitar is doing. The solution there is to sort your guitar tones out so it doesn't happen. Again, something that should be sorted at practise.

EQ is generally good to have anyway - helps you deal with odd rooms and feedback problems.

Also worth taking the Maximiser out of the loop and seeing whether it's really helping or whether it's the cause of the guitar-mangling.
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Re: Better sound?

Postby Dino67 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:55 pm

Thanks for the response and info,
The other guitarist and I both use solo channels, our stage volume was actually quite loud, The crowd wasn't hearing it clearly out of the loud speakers, it was there, just not THERE... we don't usually have the stage volume up that loud, suprising for guitarists I know,
I have heard bad things referring to the sonic maximizer with reference to guitars, that's a quick and easy test.
Funny, we played the same club earlier in the year and had great sound, no issues....
We did a benefit 2 weeks ago with another band and our normal PA settings got "adjusted".
We'll look into a EQ.
Thanks again
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Re: Better sound?

Postby robare99 » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:32 pm

I would start with removing the Sonic Maximizer

How are your guitar tones? Are the mids scooped? Are you running chorus? I find either of those two things cause a guitar to get lost in the mix...
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Re: Better sound?

Postby tacitus » Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:20 pm

The answers are all in existing posts - get back to basics, sort the levels and tone in rehearsal, get the PA set back to flat and adjust modestly, favouring cut over boost, and make sure the stage sound is not muddying up the FOH. I'd certainly take out the sonic maximiser and see where you are, and I'd go through all the backline and make sure all the speakers are pointing in useful directions (i.e. to maximise audibility and minimise mud). You might want to delay FOH to match the bass player's speaker which I assume is some way further back.

I might use an equaliser for the monitors, although you can use one half for that and one half for the FOH. There's no need for stereo.

In general I'd say the tendency is to add something to solve a problem when usually there's something you can take away.

One other thing if you do your own sound is that you probably have the desk at the side of the stage somewhere. This is fine, and at least safe(ish) from prying fingers, but do remember to get out there and check the sound from where the soundman would have the desk. If one of you has a wireless guitar setup that can let you play and listen at the same time. When I played bass in a band with no soundman I had a radio system specifically for that purpose.
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Re: Better sound?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:23 pm

+1 to removing the BBE.

I believe a GEQ across FOH is important as no two rooms are the same. Put it this way, I can't recall running a FOH GEQ flat when there's been one available - that says something.

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Re: Better sound?

Postby tacitus » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:22 am

... if only that it's hard to resist fiddling with something when you just can. Seriously, I agree with you Bob that every venue's different and as long as you don't go wild with the EQ it's more likely to help than hinder. I'd carry over what's generally said about this - cutting rather than boosting and no smiley faces - as I've seen aggressive boosting and smiley faces on EQs turn OK sound into total s**t. Obviously that was down to the hand of a moron somewhere, but keeping things as simple as possible never hurts and it helps you to keep on top of the system. Bearing in mind I do mostly relatively low volume, acoustic-based PA, having a flat-response system is usually the best starting point and sometimes the finishing point, too.

On a 31-band EQ I always turn the bottom couple of faders right down and often a couple at the top, just to minimise energy wasted on sound nobody will hear or want to hear. On monitors maybe another each end, especially bass, to give a bit more leeway with feedback. Not that it's a solution on its own, but every little helps.
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Re: Better sound?

Postby Dino67 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:49 pm

Really appreciate the input..
We usually have the board next to the amps in the back, So it can be adjusted easily.
Room sizes that we play can vary quite a bit from bar to bar.
We play from 9:30 to 1:30, early on the bar is empty, later it's packed,
we have to adjust the PA volume to compensate.
I think we're going to remove the BBE,
See how it sounds then maybe look into an EQ, although it seems as though we should have one.
Thanks for the advice
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Re: Better sound?

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:18 pm

Dino67 wrote:We play from 9:30 to 1:30, early on the bar is empty, later it's packed,
we have to adjust the PA volume to compensate.
You may need to do a bit more than that... a room full of people can alter the sound quite markedly from that when there's no-one or very few there. It's related to both the sound absorbtion of their bodies and also the probable increase in temperature and change in humidity caused by their presence.
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Re: Better sound?

Postby Dino67 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:05 pm

You may need to do a bit more than that... a room full of people can alter the sound quite markedly from that when there's no-one or very few there. It's related to both the sound absorbtion of their bodies and also the probable increase in temperature and change in humidity caused by their presence.

Knew about the bodies absorbing the sound......Humidity and temperature, I've never considered.
I always thought there was more to it than volume.
Thanks
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Re: Better sound?

Postby tacitus » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:54 pm

The band I usually play in now generally goes on late-ish, after a bit of disco, and occasionally they have a bit more disco afterwards, so we get a more consistent sound in our chunk of the evening. Bob's quite right about temperature and humidity - if you play outdoors you'll see exactly what he means, but indoors you do need to keep an ear on the overall sound as well as the volume. Don't get too paranoid, though, because the degree of critical acuteness falls off in the audience even faster than they soak up the sound. The main thing is that you're comfortable with the sound and you are inspired to play a smoking set.
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Re: Better sound?

Postby Music Wolf » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:59 pm

Mike Stranks wrote: increase in temperature and change in humidity caused by their presence.

Interesting. Long ago I noticed that the weather was having an effect on our sound during rehearsals (more so humidity than temperature). Nice to know that I'm not going mad (or at least, not going mad alone :headbang:)

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