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Vocals on top of the mix

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Re: Vocals on top of the mix

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon May 16, 2011 3:06 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
Sheriton wrote:
Mike Stranks wrote:make everything else sit around the vocals

Absolutely. EQ is your friend here. Each instrument needs its own space in the mix. How each sounds on its own isn't really important (although explaining that to the musos isn't easy...) For example, I'll quite often take a lot of low end off the rhythm guitar so it won't fight with the bass. On its own, it might sound a bit weedy but with the bass, the two sit together a lot better. Guitars and keyboards often sit in the same frequency ranges as vocals so you'll frequently have to carve out some space from them for the vocals to sit in. Again, the instruments might sound a bit odd on their own but in the context of the mix, it will be fine.
In small venues where most of the guitar comes from the backline, it's more of a problem of course. If it ain't coming through the PA, you can't EQ it...

Well, yes...but you shouldn't be having to do this at the sound board. The musicians should be choosing sounds (and, even more important, choosing what to play) so that they DON'T fight with each other. They should also be aware of when they're accompaning vocals, and leave room for them in the musical arrangement.

Well, yes, if you've got a band/group that's:
* of a very high standard musically and
* actually listens to the other members and
* knows enough sonically to know what to do to 'blend' and
* is willing to sacrifice "my sound" for the greater good of the whole band
* working with a strong leader who's respected enough by the others to change their method/style etc to achieve this blending.

In the un"Exalted" ;) circles that most of us inhabit most of the time life's not like that. Good bands that know their limitations welcome the input and expertise of a good sound tech to be able to help them achieve what they can't necessarily do themsleves by controlling their own dynamics etc.

Life ain't all jazz, classical, and big-band! :)
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Re: Vocals on top of the mix

Postby Steve Hill » Mon May 16, 2011 6:16 pm

Just to add: since my band started using in-ear monitors we have, predictably, discovered that we too have no idea what the level of noise on stage is or how to balance ourselves just by the way we play. And yes, we do need an overhead or two on the drums, even in a small pub, or we can't hear them!

Basically we mic up everything, even if it's just for the monitor mix and nothing goes through the FOH speakers.

And obviously, we can't even contemplate playing without a sound engineer we know and trust.

On the positive side, IEMs means no monitor wedges around the stage and a resulting higher headroom on the vocal mics before feedback becomes an issue.

Lastly, I'll mention the B-word. Behringer's cheap and cheerful Feedback Destroyers do actually help you crank another few db out of vocal mics in a pinch....
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Re: Vocals on top of the mix

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue May 17, 2011 4:37 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
Mike Stranks wrote:Well, yes, if you've got a band/group that's:
* of a very high standard musically and
* actually listens to the other members and
* knows enough sonically to know what to do to 'blend' and
* is willing to sacrifice "my sound" for the greater good of the whole band
* working with a strong leader who's respected enough by the others to change their method/style etc to achieve this blending.

These aren't advanced techniques. Just basic necessities for playing in a group. Are you suggesting any musician SHOULDN'T play a part that fits?
Of course not... but I say again... most of the groups/bands I work with (and I suspect the same is true of many others who inhabit this forum) are keen amateurs who have either not been playing long enough in a group or don't know how to "feed" off each other in order to derive that internal balance you rightly espouse so highly. Another factor is the type of music being played - and I know you'll probably debate that. In my incomplete experience the honourable exception is jazz where the whole ethos is the interaction. That can often be a virtual 'set and forget' exercise for me as a soundtech.

It's their job to play coherent music, yours to (a) assist them in hearing what's going on and (b) deliver it to the audience.
Don't disagree. But we probably do disagree on the definition of 'coherent'. It's often a very different ball-game with amateurs where everyone in-time and in-tune can be a major achievement. A good monitor mix will help with that, but often dynamics and blend does end up as my responsibility. And why not? Heaven forfend that we should decree that people can only play in public when they've reached a certain standard of cohesiveness!


It's a completely different job to producing a multitracked recording.
Erm... yes... and no-one ever said it wasn't. Making and mixing a multitrack is a far less buttock-clenching experience. :D
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Re: Vocals on top of the mix

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue May 17, 2011 6:20 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:
Don't disagree. But we probably do disagree on the definition of 'coherent'. It's often a very different ball-game with amateurs where everyone in-time and in-tune can be a major achievement. A good monitor mix will help with that, but often dynamics and blend does end up as my responsibility. And why not? Heaven forfend that we should decree that people can only play in public when they've reached a certain standard of cohesiveness!

Well, they certainly shouldn't be amplified until they've got something WORTH amplifing!

You can enable a performance (or at least refrain from sabotaging it). You really aren't helping anyone by attempting to correct it.

FAR more performances are ruined by mixer thrombosis (a dangerous clot behind the sound board) than by bad musicians.
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont bore us with beefing about it. Go fishing instead.

Re: Vocals on top of the mix

Postby DeWall516 » Tue May 17, 2011 10:42 pm

Sorry I should have mentioned that. I have 2 SM58s one of which is wireless and one BETA58A. I am going to use the wireless SM58 because i love the freedom.

With a little EQing of the guitar I lost some of my beloved tone but It now rests under the vocals even with the levels the same which is exactly what i was going for. I think I have it figured out alot better than I did before and thanks to all of you for your help.
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