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Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

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Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby RyVee » Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:57 pm

Hey everyone.

I'm brand new to this forum. I am the front man for a band, and have taken this quarantine to dive head first into learning as much as I can about live audio, but would still consider myself a rookie.

I have a question regarding adding a subwoofer to my bands PA system and was hopping to get some clarity from anyone with more experience with that.

To start, our current set up is as follows:

Singer/guitar (me). I run my vocals through Ableton Live. Don't need to go much into the set up of that, but essentially, I am going mic into a tc helicon voicelive 2, out into my interface, out through a DI box to balance the signal, to the FOH mixer.

I run my guitar into a board (Line 6 Helix) straight to the mixer.

Bassist just goes out of his amp, but would love to pump him through the sub for bigger gigs.

Drummer is mic'd depending on venue size, but again would love to get his kick out of the sub when needed.

The problem I am having is that I live in an apartment and can't test the set up myself until I get to rehearsal.

The Mixer I have is an Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ16. Similar to this: https://reverb.com/p/allen-and-heath-mi ... 4qEALw_wcB

Here is a photo of the inputs and outputs:

https://dt7v1i9vyp3mf.cloudfront.net/st ... e9rh9n.jpg

My unexperienced brain is having trouble figuring out how I am going to route certain instruments or sounds to the sub, but not others. Actually I don't even know where I'd plug the sub in to the mixer haha.

Obviously I wouldn't want me vocals or guitar sounding all bassy. So how could I set this up so that I can pick and choose what channels go to the sub? Would I do that via a monitor send?

I know these may be super obvious questions, but again it's hard to set this all up and test in an apartment, so I usually have to visualize what is needed and test and tinker during rehearsal. Any help or guidance would be super appreciated!
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:18 pm

What tops do you have? Ideally you'd buy a 'matching' sub from the same manufacturer.

WRT the way to stop the guitars and vocals becoming muddy they all should have the HPF button engaged (it's between the gain and HF knobs on the MixWiz you linked to) which will limit the low frequencies from them. Guitars and vox don't generate much in the way of LF* at least none that will trouble the sub but there can be LF mechanical noises and stage wash getting into the vocal mics and electronic stuff getting into the guitar signal. Using the HPF will mostly remove that stuff.

Using a digital desk I frequently apply a HPF as high as 120 Hz, sometimes much higher on vocals or guitars with no audible affect on the sound, I'd guess the HPF on the MixWiz are set at 80 or 90Hz so won't affect the wanted signal at all.
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Luke W » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:27 pm

RyVee wrote:My unexperienced brain is having trouble figuring out how I am going to route certain instruments or sounds to the sub, but not others. Actually I don't even know where I'd plug the sub in to the mixer haha.

How it's connected together will depend on what speakers and sub you're using (or planning to use) whether they're passive or active and a few other factors, so if you could post those details as well then you'll get some more specific answers.

RyVee wrote:Obviously I wouldn't want me vocals or guitar sounding all bassy. So how could I set this up so that I can pick and choose what channels go to the sub? Would I do that via a monitor send?

The most common way subs are fed is simply via the main outputs, along with your normal speakers. The way you'd stop your vocals and guitars (or anything else) ending up with too much low end is dealt with at the desk, thats where the high pass switches and EQ section on the Mix Wizard come in. The idea is that you filter out the lower frequencies from instruments/sources that don't need it to be present, and the sub will simply "ignore" them as there's nothing there in the range that it works in.

That said, sometimes it is necessary to runs subs from a different output, but without knowing what the rest of your kit is it's probably not worth getting into yet as it may not be relevant to you.

Edit - Beaten to it by Sam!
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:34 pm

Luke W wrote:Edit - Beaten to it by Sam!

It does demonstrate that we are all singing off the same hymn sheet* :D

* Unlike a certain FB group for 'Professionals'** I'm a member of :blush:

** Professional in that case is clearly (correctly) used to mean 'makes money at something' as opposed to 'knows a lot about it'...
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby AlecSp » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:20 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:* Unlike a certain FB group for 'Professionals'** I'm a member of :blush:
** Professional in that case is clearly (correctly) used to mean 'makes money at something' as opposed to 'knows a lot about it'...
If it's anything like the FB "Professional" group I'm a member of, the making money at something sounds unlikely, unless it's at something completely unrelated to live audio...

And, just like the others, I'd endorse that most small to medium setups would simply send a stereo/mono mix straight to their speakers. Using either the built in crossover in the sub, or an external crossover/processor, to high pass/low pass the tops/subs respectively. And using HPF on the mixer channel strips to avoid any unwanted signal for almost everything other than kick/bass (and *possibly* keys)

While it is possible to feed the subs independently, in the way you describe, and it is done, it would not be common to find it at the low/medium end rig setup.
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:51 pm

AlecSp wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:* Unlike a certain FB group for 'Professionals'** I'm a member of :blush:
** Professional in that case is clearly (correctly) used to mean 'makes money at something' as opposed to 'knows a lot about it'...
If it's anything like the FB "Professional" group I'm a member of, the making money at something sounds unlikely, unless it's at something completely unrelated to live audio...

:D It's a complete contrast to this place, they are so rude, and, using the excuse that it is a forum for professionals (whatever they think that means), especially to any newbs who have the temerity to join the group. :madas: then they go on to spout some nonsense about 24 bit recordings sounding worse than 16 bit 'cos you lose data when you dither down to 16 bit :headbang:

edit :- sorry just needs to vent, I'm fine now...
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby RyVee » Wed Jan 13, 2021 9:30 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:What tops do you have? Ideally you'd buy a 'matching' sub from the same manufacturer.

I have Alto 15s so was thinking about something like this: https://www.guitarcenter.com/Alto/TS318 ... bwoofer.gc
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby RyVee » Wed Jan 13, 2021 9:38 pm

Luke W wrote:
How it's connected together will depend on what speakers and sub you're using (or planning to use) whether they're passive or active and a few other factors, so if you could post those details as well then you'll get some more specific answers.

Thanks for your response! I currently use Alto TS315 15" active speakers for my mains. These are powered speakers, and so I'd be looking to pair them with an Alto TS318S 2,000W 18" Powered Subwoofer.
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Luke W » Wed Jan 13, 2021 9:57 pm

RyVee wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:What tops do you have? Ideally you'd buy a 'matching' sub from the same manufacturer.

I have Alto 15s so was thinking about something like this: https://www.guitarcenter.com/Alto/TS318 ... bwoofer.gc

Great stuff.

It'll be as simple as running the main L/R output from the MixWizard to the left and right inputs of that sub, and then there's a pair of outputs on the sub itself which will feed your two Alto tops.

I've not looked properly, but I assume there will also be a switch/setting on the sub to high pass the outputs so that the tops don't have to deal with the low end that the sub is now taking care of. If so, make sure that's in and you're away.
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:03 pm

Just cycle the DSP output mode on the back round until your speakers are indicated.
Easy. :thumbup:
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:12 pm

:thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby RyVee » Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:11 pm

Luke W wrote:
Great stuff.

It'll be as simple as running the main L/R output from the MixWizard to the left and right inputs of that sub, and then there's a pair of outputs on the sub itself which will feed your two Alto tops.

I've not looked properly, but I assume there will also be a switch/setting on the sub to high pass the outputs so that the tops don't have to deal with the low end that the sub is now taking care of. If so, make sure that's in and you're away.

Woo! Awesome, that sounds easy enough for me. Thanks so much for your help! I had a Mackie mixer that I think actually had a sub output, so I was picturing I'd need to find something similar on the mixwizard. Good to know I can go mixer > sub > tops.

Will just be sure to high pass anything that doesn't need much low end. I have some backing tracks that would likely benefit from some bottom end frequencies.

Thanks again for your expertise!
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Mike Monte » Thu Jan 14, 2021 2:14 am

RyVee wrote:The Mixer I have is an Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ16. Similar to this: https://reverb.com/p/allen-and-heath-mi ... 4qEALw_wcB

Here is a photo of the inputs and outputs:

https://dt7v1i9vyp3mf.cloudfront.net/st ... e9rh9n.jpg


I know these may be super obvious questions, but again it's hard to set this all up and test in an apartment, so I usually have to visualize what is needed and test and tinker during rehearsal. Any help or guidance would be super appreciated!

I mix with digital desks these days although I do still have a MixWiz that I used for years....rock solid with zero issues.

Living in an apt makes it tough to work your rig. When I was in an apartment (years ago) I used to bring my gear to my church's function hall (& give the priest a $25.00 donation) and have-at-it. It is a big hall and I could air-it-out.
Every time my band's PA grew I would rent the hall and get some basic settings/levels set.

A rehearsal site may not be big enough to gauge things..... It's best not to be fiddling with levels/things on-a-gig........a tweak here/there is ok (and normal) when changing venues but learning-your-rig on a gig is a recipe for disaster.
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby RyVee » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:01 pm

Thank you everyone who provided valuable insight.

Wanted to circle back around on this thread and just ask, what sort of risk do you run by adding a sub that is a different brand. I am on a bit of a budget, so rather than dropping $500 plus on a brand new one, was going to look at the used market, but for an Alto sub specifically, there aren't a ton of options currently.

Is it a bad idea to try to throw in a subwoofer from a different brand if I can find one within my budget (under $200).

Thanks!
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Re: Questions about adding a subwoofer to my live set up

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:32 pm

The Alto TS315s don't have a HPF built in as they are designed to be used with the TS318 sub which has the DSP/crossover on board. That means you will need to ensure the sub you buy has a HPF output, not all do and more so those made in the last 10 or 15 years. Other than that any sub of roughly the right power will work fine. If you can find a 'name' brand with HPF out it may well outperform the Alto 318 and be worth keeping if you eventually upgrade your Alto tops.

FWIW I use a 'proper old school' EV sBA750 15" sub with my QSC K12s and i's a good match
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