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Better to run Bass through PA system?

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Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby BobBolt1 » Fri May 19, 2017 7:56 pm

Hi,
I play in a 4 piece band: vocal w/ electric guitar, vocals w/ keyboards, drums, and I play electric bass. I have a 12" Aguilar GS 112 speaker with an SWR 750 head. We have a gig coming up in a boomy, old wooden town hall.

Our PA going out to the audience consists of two QSC K-12 powered speakers on stands, mixed with a Mackie PROFX-12.

The guitar player (who also runs sound) wants to run a cable from the back of my amp to mix me into the main system along with the vocalist, keyboards and probably the bass drum.
So my amp is primarily a stage monitor. I don't like this idea because I feel that the sound coming out of my setup is richer and more full tone than the one coming out of the PA speakers, where my sound is competing with all of the other inputs. Opinions please.
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Wonks » Fri May 19, 2017 9:13 pm

If you're not loud enough for, or playing venues big enough to demand subs as well as tops, I'd stick with just the bass amp. Until you add some subs, I'd leave the bass out of the mix. Whilst the 12"s will give a reasonable bass sound, it will take a lot of power to try and reproduce the bass frequencies loud enough for people to hear, which will reduce the power available for the vocals etc. so it will be harder to get them to be heard clearly over everything else.

Obviously be aware that you still need to adjust your bass rig for the out front sound, which can be a lot different to that on stage. if it is a boomy space (especially if there is a wooden stage) you'll probably need to knock a lot of really low end off the bass sound so that the FOH sound is balanced and you don't sound woolly.
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Martin Walker » Sat May 20, 2017 12:57 am

Hi BobBolt1, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

I'd agree with wonks when he says "Until you add some subs, I'd leave the bass out of the mix. Whilst the 12"s will give a reasonable bass sound, it will take a lot of power to try and reproduce the bass frequencies loud enough for people to hear, which will reduce the power available for the vocals etc. so it will be harder to get them to be heard clearly over everything else."

I remember in my early days of playing keyboards live when a bass player persuaded me to let him plug his bass guitar into my wide-range keyboard rig, and it destroyed my sound through intermodulation distortion :beamup:


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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby BobBolt1 » Sat May 20, 2017 2:11 am

Thanks for the advice guys.
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat May 20, 2017 4:12 am

It's hard to know if that system would be enough for that venue. What size is it? It depends on so many things: The volume you play at, the background noise, the reverberation...

If there's a difference of view between the guitar player/sound guy and you, it's hard to know who's right from this distance. Maybe he thinks your bass is too loud in the mix and wants the ability to control it. Or maybe he feels that while the bass is too loud onstage it's not loud enough for the audience, and he wants to increase your level in the mix for the audience.

I feel that generally all instruments should go through the PA system and so the system should have the capacity to handle that. If it cant, using an onstage bass rig has some issues because it often makes the stage unnecessarily bass loud - especially for the bass player, and I'm a working bass player myself - and so makes it harder to judge how the bass is coming across to the audience.

Ideally mixing for the audience is best done by one person who can hear a good representation of what the audience is hearing. Mixing from onstage is always a compromise, especially when you're also performing - I've just dobbed myself in for doing just that in a gig next month and wishing I hadnt - but sometimes it's necessary.

It's also important to think not just one's own instrument but also the collective sound from the band as that's what the audience hears.
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat May 20, 2017 8:52 am

I often mix from the stage and, if I'm doing so I find it helps to keep the monitor mixes as simple as possible. With the trio, electric guitar, bass and drums we each have only our own vocal in the wedge, spill is enough to hear the other vocals on a small stage. The five piece I add acoustic guitar and keys to all mixes as they don't have backline and also some lead vocal so we can pitch bvs but, again no bass, electric guitars or (heaven forfend) drums in the monitors.

Big stages are another game but you are unlikely to be mixing from the stage so anything goes (but I'd still recommend simplicity, less is definitely more where monitor mixes are concerned).
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Wonks » Sat May 20, 2017 9:11 am

Well, it didn't take long to get off topic!

Talking about bass going/not going through FOH here, not monitor mixes.
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat May 20, 2017 11:33 am

:oops: that'll be 'cos I posted that reply in the wrong thread :headbang:

Bass through the PA? Always (and guitar amps miked) it always sounds better and the FOH guy has control. In all but the smallest venues if the amps are loud enough to fill the room they are far too loud on stage.
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Wonks » Sat May 20, 2017 11:35 am

But not without subs.
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Re: Better to run Bass through PA system?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat May 20, 2017 11:44 am

I was just going back to add, I would run bass and kick through the PA even without a sub but I wouldn't run without a sub in any but the smallest rooms where a pair of K12s are enough on their own. However the backline can provide the low bass while the PA adds some definition and spread. Try this, set it up as your guitar player/sound guy wants and fade the bass up until you can just hear it coming out of the PA, it sounds as if the bass is stepping forward out of the shadows (though it doesn't actually make it any louder). I use the same technique for guitars.

But, tell you guitarist/soundie that a small sub really will make a night and day difference in all but the smallest rooms.
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