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Quiet vocalists, loud band

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Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Dave B » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:09 am

Ok, so I've just done sound for a band with a 4 vocals (lead, second, 2 bvs) and I was struggling a little with some of the levels due to a) the band being quite loud sometimes (in the 'live and learn and do better at handling it next time' category), and b) the vocalists sing quietly. I've also got that issue in bands that I play in. Anyone got any top tips for dealing with it?

TBH, I could have done a better job - I'd rate it as 'competent' - and left myself a bit more headroom when we rigged last night. So I'm kicking myself a bit and trying to work out how to deal with a few things. I'm tempted just to go out and buy a couple of guitar amp stands for when I find bands with amps on the floor - the guitarist just doesn't hear the levels right so I was fighting a little to balance things.

I also feel really bad about my own keyboard patch levels varying after having another bugger do it to me - although in fairness, I've almost sorted mine. Must buy my FOH a nice pressie... ;)
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby resistorman » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:00 am

Well, you can do like the Grateful Dead and use 2 adjacent mics out of phase so the band is canceled :bouncy:
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby zenguitar » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:15 am

Bulk purchase deal with a good local singing teacher?

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby James Perrett » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:40 am

Dave B wrote:I'm tempted just to go out and buy a couple of guitar amp stands for when I find bands with amps on the floor

I thought that's what beer crates were for ;)

If you want to go buying new gear then I'd suggest trying an Audix OM7 or two. They're extremely effective with quiet vocalists provided the vocalist can stay in the right position.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:00 am

Dave B wrote:... I'm tempted just to go out and buy a couple of guitar amp stands for when I find bands with amps on the floor - the guitarist just doesn't hear the levels right so I was fighting a little to balance things....

Amps pointing at the audience can be a shocker. I play in one band where one or two of the old guys still do it. I guess they grew up in the days where what the audience heard was a hybrid of actual PA speakers and the guys' onstage amps. These days no need for that IMO. Ideally any musician's personal amp would be in front of them, not behind, and pointing directly at their ears. But then I guess some guitarists would complain their amp sound was now too bright. Yes it would be - now. But that's the overly bright on axis sound the audience has had to endure, and any sound guy in the audience is powerless to reduce it. Some musos need to be enlightened as to how their amp/cab placement affects the total sound the audience hears, and can undermine the job of the sound guy they have paid to mix for them.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:39 am

The sooner someone invents a device which enables guitar amps to be strapped either side of the guitarist’s head the better...........

It’s an ongoing battle. Firing across the stage pointing at the player is best.

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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby ore_terra » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:44 am

Beer crates (or your amp stands if you’re that fancy :-D) are the answer. They may still be loud after that though.

My own life [guitar player life] changed when I got into attenuators. The good ones; not the thd hotplates and thigs like that. Not only improved my relationship with sound guys, but also saved me a lot of money in overdrive pedals.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:03 am

Absolutely beer crates, as ore_terra writes! Most often a venue have a few laying around and ready for use, and all you need is a dark cloth to drape on them if you want the whole to look good.

Also, as usual - ask the guitarist to turn his amp towards the stage wall. If he plays nearby he (and others) will get all the monitoring they need without affecting the audience too much.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby blinddrew » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:28 am

As Tim says above, never discount the idea that the guitarist might not actually know what their amp sounds like on-axis. Amp stands tend to be better than beer crates in this context.
The other thing to be mindful of is sometimes if you give a singer too much of themselves in the monitors they will back off on the volume.

But fundamentally, singing lessons! :)
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Wonks » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:50 am

If you can get the guitarist(s) to fit them, then these help reduce the amount of beamed treble, so at least the out-front guitar sound is more even, even with the amp on a stand. https://www.lean-business.co.uk/eshop/g ... oikmhpmik1

There is also a version by Weber, which is the one I have.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby blinddrew » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:41 pm

Ooh, very tempted by one of them myself thanks Wonks. Sold out at the moment it would appear though. I shall have a nosy in the usual places.
Cheers
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Dave B » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:54 pm

zenguitar wrote:Bulk purchase deal with a good local singing teacher?

:mrgreen:

This is one of those “voice in head, not out loud” things that I have a constant struggle with. People can take offence at things like that. Its half the reason I don’t drink at gigs ... :D

At another gig now, will post later
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Jorge » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:33 pm

I have found that recording gigs from an audience location, on a decent quality small digital stereo recorder and distributing the recordings to the musicians is sometimes helpful in changing musicians' perceptions and behaviour. Being able to hear the sound and balance as it sounds in audience locations can provide "objective" support to what you are telling them and MAY help convince them. You may wind up having to do it several times with the recorder in different places to address concerns that the recorder was in the wrong place, the recording was not high quality, etc. Often, however, the first hearing of such a recording is a real eye (ear) opener and gets the message across. Make sure they playback the recording using decent quality headphones or speakers, not on computer or telephone speakers. You could even play it back at the next rehearsal and have a group discussion.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Dave B » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:22 am

It's a good point Jorge. I could go one further and show them the mistakes in the multitracks (I record everything), but I'm not that cruel. I'm certain that they had a small 2 track recorder and some video, so they have that to critique.

WRT vocals, one of them (keys) was at the back and sheer wall of noise hitting his mic was just ridiculous. I'd already swapped for a beta 58 for some rejection, but it wasn't that much help. My solution to this was to invest in a mic mute pedal (Orchid do a nice one) and only turn on the mic when I need it (I'm also often at the back). It's a lifesaver if you are in-ear in that scenario (and I am). And it's one less thing for the poor FOH to fight.

The band have already identified that they should have split the guitarists up - it was throwing them a bit as well. Doing that and raising the amps should mean that they can hear themselves better and run at a slightly quieter volume. The drummer may hit hard, but I'm not sure if that's to do with him being excited, or the rest of the band being loud.

Cheers for the help chaps.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:50 am

Dave B wrote:It's a good point Jorge. I could go one further and show them the mistakes in the multitracks (I record everything), but I'm not that cruel. I'm certain that they had a small 2 track recorder and some video, so they have that to critique.

WRT vocals, one of them (keys) was at the back and sheer wall of noise hitting his mic was just ridiculous. I'd already swapped for a beta 58 for some rejection, but it wasn't that much help. My solution to this was to invest in a mic mute pedal (Orchid do a nice one) and only turn on the mic when I need it (I'm also often at the back). It's a lifesaver if you are in-ear in that scenario (and I am). And it's one less thing for the poor FOH to fight.

The band have already identified that they should have split the guitarists up - it was throwing them a bit as well. Doing that and raising the amps should mean that they can hear themselves better and run at a slightly quieter volume. The drummer may hit hard, but I'm not sure if that's to do with him being excited, or the rest of the band being loud.

Cheers for the help chaps.

Just in case, there is one reason for which guitarists like to keep the volume up, and it's got nothing to do with ego, the tone or pushing the power tubes :-). It's the sheer involvement and excitement in playing that you get from being hit by that big loud sound. Playing not so loud is ..meh.

Myself, I'm now using an Amplifire thru the PA at gigs and can keep the volume very much down and hear well what I play and sing (the drummer has switched to an electronic drum kit, live). Does great for the sound but it's not so involving as a guitarist. What I'm gonna try next is to swap my big monitor on the floor (a full range speaker really, which I use as wedge if the venue doesn't have a system) with a personal monitor at chest height, hopefully it can feel louder without unduly compromising the stage sound and the FOH.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Humble Bee » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:46 am

Been running a Friedman DS20 head (and recently a Marshall Origin 20 head) through a 1x12 cab with a Weber beam blocker and an Eminence Reignmaker speaker fitted for a few years now when playing pubs and smaller clubs. This and a stand that let's you aim the cab at your ears have been a blessing for our sound on stage and FOH.
Not selling my old 4x12 any day soon tho, even if it gets less and less use. More and more convinced that the UAD Ox is the way to improve things even further after having had the pleasure of trying it out in rehearsals a few times this summer. A bit pricy tho but man it sounds!
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby ore_terra » Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:42 am

The only problem of the UA Ox amp to use it live is that it’s not small and it’s not light. This is an issue for me that I like to go quite light (small 1x12 combos), but other people may not care.

It’s the same reason why having a Bad Cat Unleash attenuator I use this small Dr Z box when I go live.

... that said, the Ox amp is AMAZING. I’ve had it for a couple of weeks and it’s definitively gonna make me sell the Unleash
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby Humble Bee » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:27 pm

ore_terra wrote:The only problem of the UA Ox amp to use it live is that it’s not small and it’s not light. This is an issue for me that I like to go quite light (small 1x12 combos), but other people may not care.

It’s the same reason why having a Bad Cat Unleash attenuator I use this small Dr Z box when I go live.

... that said, the Ox amp is AMAZING. I’ve had it for a couple of weeks and it’s definitively gonna make me sell the Unleash

I hear you. I only use small valve heads and a 1x12 cab (see above) so the Ox would be more compact and portable when I can leave the 1x12 cab at home. If you have a combo it wouldn't.
Gas for ox. Frrrrr... :)
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby blinddrew » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:35 pm

CS70 wrote:It's the sheer involvement and excitement in playing that you get from being hit by that big loud sound. Playing not so loud is ..meh.
Was talking about this to a friend of mine at the weekend. He does sound for a couple of local bands and he's really struggling with one of them. Just to break the stereotype, it's the bass player in particular who's causing the grief this time. Basically, the bass player wants to feel the bass as well as hear it. So he has 6-foot stack that he likes to turn up...
This might be ok for big venues but they're a pub band so the consequences for the overall sound are predictable.
Apparently the argument goes something like this:
Soundman: you need to turn down because you're swamping everything else and i can't get a decent sound out front.
Bassman: but i play better when i can feel it so the audience will enjoy it more.
Soundman: just turn the F down!
Bassman turns down, then gradually turns back up through the gig.
Soundman cries into his low alcohol beer.

I suggested a sub-pac.
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Re: Quiet vocalists, loud band

Postby ore_terra » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:40 pm

I suggest a high alcohol beer :-D
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