You are here

Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

For performing musicians and engineers: stagecraft, engineering and gear.

Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby Giggo96 » Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:19 pm

Hi all,

Sorry if this is the kind of post you guys see everyday, maybe I am just boring you all but would really appreciate some help on this!

So pretty much a newbie to this stuff. Although I am gaining knowledge and experience pretty quickly with this.

So after much dwelling last august I kitted myself out with a full PA set up, mic, mixer, speakers, and began practicing then playing a few gigs.

Basically I cannot get my vocals to cut through how they should, and how I want them to.

At first I thought it was just me, then I played 2 gigs in places that had in house PA systems, so I only needed my own Mic, guitar and cables, and realised then that it wasn't just me, as with the inhouse PA I got great sound quality and clarity..

After playing these 2, I realised, it must either be 1.) my mixer giving not good sound quality, or 2.) my speakers. I am thinking it may be the mixer.

So anyway my set up is
- Behringer B112D active speakers
- Behringer Xenyx 1202FX mixer
- Boss ve8 acoustic singer
- Stagg SDM50 mic (basically a rip off version of the Shure sm58, which is a very good rip off as I have had great results with it when playing in house PA systems using this mic)

So as I said above when I played a gig in a bar that had a Yamaha MG16 mixer in house and speakers I got creat vocal mix and clarity. (I also wasn't using the Boss VE-8 for these ones)

I am thinking if I upgraded even to the Yamaha MG12 or MG10 mixer that this may be a massive help, as they would potentially have better mic pre-amps, and compression knobs (which the behringer xenyx doesn't)

Would really appreciate some feedback on this and all opinions and help are welcome.
New here
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:05 pm

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:45 pm

Hi and welcome.

Your PA is from the budget end of the market but I have used B112Ds a couple of times and they sounded pretty good for the money, I haven't used a mixer with the Xenyx preamps but they get mentioned on here fairly regularly as being pretty good too. So I doubt it is your gear that is not good enough to do what you want*.

That being the case I can think of two things which are the likely suspects.

Firstly did you set the bar's PA systems up yourself or was there a house guy doing it for you? If the latter then you may be getting the gain structure wrong so might need to address that issue first.

Secondly, if you didn't use the Boss VE8 for the gigs with the house PA might it be that which is causing your problems?

I'm sure others will have more ideas, it's difficult to diagnose these issues remotely.


* Assuming you are simply not running out of power, your rig is not super loud but should be well within itself in small to medium bar type venues.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11084
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby Giggo96 » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:29 pm

Thanks for the feedback.

No an in house guy didn’t do the setting up I did it myself even when it was in house PA.

I actually got the boss VE 8 as a effort to try and improve the situation I was in.
Worth noting I can seem to get a better overall volume mix and vocal clarity using the boss as a mixer. How ever I still need a mixer board to plug in my stomp box.

Would a compression knob make much difference to things in terms of vocals?
New here
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:05 pm

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:28 pm

Cool, if you set the bar's house rig up yourself then either you have a fair idea what you are doing or you just got lucky with the settings on those desks so didn't have to mess with them. Forgive me for asking but do you understand the principles of setting the gain structure throughout the rig or do you just make a guess and hope for the best?

It should be perfectly possible to get good clarity from the rig without compression, in fact live and mixing from the stage I probably wouldn't use any compression.

Why do you need the mixer to plug your guitar into, the Boss is built to take both? So, if the VE-8 works then I'd use it without the Xenyx mixer if you only have guitar and vocals to deal with. Adding the mixer is adding unnecessary complexity.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11084
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby Wonks » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:19 pm

As Sam says, difficult to know exactly why.

Is this for an acoustic guitar + vocals set up?

If you are relatively new to all of this, you are probably missing a few sonic clues as to what's going on, which you only really get with experience and time. It's also difficult to sing and listen objectively at the same time.

The mic can obviously be better. I've tried out a few budget SM58 look-alikes, and whilst they varied from terrible to adequate, none of them worked as well as an SM58 does. But if you can, I'd take your Stagg into a shop and compare it against some other mics. I'd certainly consider trying an AKG D5, which you can currently get from £52 and is a great mic for the price. A different sound to, but as good as, an SM58. The better the PA system you put a mic through, the better it will sound, but upgrading the mic will probably be the lowest cost improvement you can make.

The mixer should be fine. You won't notice any difference in preamp quality with even a much more expensive one until your speakers are considerably better quality than they are at present. And whilst a semi-parametric mid control would be nice, at least the EQ has a mid control. Getting a mixer with one-knob compression and using it is not recommended unless you've got someone mixing FOH. It's a feedback nightmare waiting to happen.

Your speakers are probably the weakest point in getting a loud clear sound, probably due to a lack of headroom compared to the in-house PAs you got a good sound with. I've seen a 126dB max SPL quoted for the B112D, and with 250W RMS of amp power, that probably seems about right (the 1000W value quoted is peak). I've never heard or used them, so can't comment on the sound quality compared to other speakers.

Whereabouts do you have the gain knob set to on the speaker input? 12 o'clock or less will be probably be the best setting point, otherwise you get into mic gain territory and you'll be in danger of overdriving the inputs with a decent signal level from the mixer.

Whereabouts in the country are you? There may be an experienced SOS member who'd be happy to pop along and have a look at the system with you.
User avatar
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10528
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby AlecSp » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:34 pm

If you and your mic sound great on the in house systems, with you seeing up, and not on your own kit, then think about what is different between the two scenarios.

I'm never a fan of vocal pedals, so try doing that with your own kit for a while - no harm in keeping things simple.

Then I'd be looking at what the club speakers are, as they may be significantly better than you have, although clubs often have pretty ropey kit. Also, what about the venue acoustics themselves, as that can make a massive difference.

Also, is ask how you know that the vocals aren't cutting through, as you shouldn't be in the coverage area for your FOH speakers. Who knows what you're hearing!
Posts: 424
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:00 am

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby Giggo96 » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:42 pm

Thanks again for the comments guys!

Yeah it is for acoustic guitar and vocals but I also use a stomp box and this is why I have to keep the mixer while using the Boss VE8 as I can’t put the stomp box into the Boss.

To be honest the only benefit at the moment of the Boss is for the acoustic guitar sounds, it gives much nicer guitar sounds and has a resonance setting that is very good for adding acoustic resonance that I can get sound anywhere near like on just the mixer.

There isn’t a gain setting on the speaker I assume you just mean the volume setting on the speaker? Yeah it is never set above 12 o’clock always normally slightly lower so I can run the mixer at a higher volume output.

I’m actually based in Donegal in Ireland (close to Derry) lol, so I’d be very surprised to find someone near by.

What are some of the best speakers out there for gigging? Taking price into account also but I know you get what you pay for? So realistically what are the best value on a budget? And what would be the best upper priced ones?

So taking compression out of the equation then so! Cool good to know.

I do understand basic gain principals, at least I think. Before outputting to speakers, setting the gain by using the mic at your peak singing points to get it to just before clipping point?

Also I understand it’s near impossible to hear what people are hearing and what I’m hearing when I’m playing, how ever when I’m practicing with my rig at home I set my phone on the opposite side of the room and record then listen back with high quality head phones as I’m lead to believe this is the best way to get a real sense of sound?
New here
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:05 pm

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:27 pm

Just picking up on a comment in your last post. If you are relying on the phone recording at home to assess your vocals, then that could be the problem. Combination of phone recording quality and small room acoustics will not be representative of what people might hear in a larger venue.

You asked what speaker system would sound best. For portability, sonic quality and feedback resistance I would use the Fohhn LX61/XS10 system, but as you rightly observe it’ll be really expensive! Of course there’s lots of alternatives now between your Behringers and the likes of Fohhn but the concept of column speakers could work for you as they are feedback resistant and you can probably place them slightly behind you to use as monitors.

And I wouldn’t skimp on your vocal mic. There are some amazing mics available these days of which SM58 is only one. Whilst it’s worthwhile finding a mic that best suits your voice, my go to favourites are Beyer M69, M201, M88, Sennheiser e840, e835, e845 even though I have 58s available.

User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3983
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:18 pm

Welcome G.

Check your PMs.
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4285
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
"Dancing Queen - feel the heat from the tangerine, ooh yeah!"

Do yourself a favour, wear earplugs at gigs.

Re: Cant get good vocal quality with PA set up

Postby ehvio » Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:11 pm

Make sure the Low Cut is enabled on the mixer, and pull the bass eq knob back to at least 10 o'clock or so. Don't be afraid to go further. A slight boost on the mid might also give you some more clarity, but I would tread lightly there.

The Xenyx preamps are actually pretty decent. If you're looking at new analog mixers, look for something with sweepable mids. There's a lot of mud and boxiness that can occur in vocals in the 200-500 range, and as it stands, the only way for you to affect that frequency range crank the lows down far enough that it begins to affect the signal 3-4 octaves up. Doing this, you lose ALL of your bottom end warmth, but the clarity will be improved.

With a board that can sweep the mids, you can dial in a heavy boost and turn the frequency knob listening for where it sounds the *worst*, then just turn that boost into a cut at that position.

I'd also try out some other microphones, as others have suggested.
New here
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:00 am

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: davidpurton