You are here

Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

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

Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby benaround » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:39 pm

I have a Marshall AS 50R which I use as a vocal amp during band rehearsals, with a Sure SM58 connected to the XLR input.

Our line up is
Singer/sax/keyboard
Singer/Rhythm gtr
Lead gtr
Bass gtr
Drums

When I use the Marshall at home myself it can sound terrific, but in our rehearsal room, a medium size living room, with the other band members, who are not very cooperative about playing quietly, I literally cannot hear myself sing and have to scream into the mic.
I tilt the amp up toward my face, to no avail.

I make recordings with a hand held device, (on a stand) and I can’t hear myself on them either.
I assume when the band kicks in my ears shut down, and I am looking for a better vocal amplifier, maybe one more specifically suited to the task.

We have recorded in a rather basic local studio, I was reluctant to turn the pa up too much as the others complained I was too loud, but no matter what where or how we record, the instruments sound as though they are close up to the mic but the singers always sound as though they are in the bath in the room next door!

The bass player uses a Carlsboro Cobra 90W combo, guitarist uses an Orange 30W valve combo unit, but both point them into the room and stand with their backs to them, as though on stage. I need something to match up to that.

I don’t understand how my friend’s Orange 30 can drown out vocals from my 50W Marshall, but it does.

What should I use, within a £300 budget? I have found the Roland CM-30 recommended, but at 30 watts, will it stand up to the other guys? Also found the Behringer B205. That is rated 150 watts, but why should there be so much difference in wattage for two amps that seem to be for the same purpose?
benaround
Poster
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Von Junzt » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:01 pm

Hi,

I think what you're looking for is a either a decent monitor, or in-ear monitors.

TC Helicon has the Voicesolo and SingThing, which ought to be an ideal solution for your problem, look here:

https://www.tc-helicon.com/Categories/Tchelicon/c/Tchelicon?q=:catRank:division:CREA:publicProduct:true#googtrans(en|en)

Even better, they are below your 300 GBP budget. So you could consider adding a pair of closed headphones, such as the Beyerdynamic 770 Pro, for home practice and so on.
Von Junzt
New here
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:59 pm

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:33 pm

An Orange 30 watt valve combo is a loud stage amp not a practice amp and far too big for a living room..... To compete with that you'll need 250-1000 watts of PA, then you'll have to contend with the consequences of regular exposure to high volumes (hearing loss, complaints from neighbours/partners etc). TBH the only answer is to somehow get the other guys to turn down or find a different band.

If they are willing to try to find a way of reducing volume then consider getting them both to buy a Line 6 Spider modelling combo or Boss Katana 50 or similar which will sound decent at living room levels.

But, the elephant in the room....... You say "Drums"? Is that an acoustic kit? If so it's is more problematic but it is still possible* to work at a volume where your Marshall would be loud enough (and it will go loud enough to give your hearing a decent workout/hammering).

Last suggestion, get the Marshall close to your ears and have the recorder close too (a couple of feet away and see if that helps.

*very light sticks (knitting needles my drummer mate calls them), brushes or hotrods
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10493
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby benaround » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:48 pm

I'm coming to realise that about the Orange 30. Don't understand how a 30W gtr amp can drown 250 watt pa but there it is.
Yes, we have acoustic drums and they play pretty hard, everyone seems to want to do that on the blues scene round here in the sticks.
I think one or two of the guys actually get thrown off course if they can hear the other players, except the drums, so that;'s why they turn up the volume.
But they are mates, it's them or nothing round here if you want to sing and play blues and r.n.b.
benaround
Poster
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby resistorman » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:53 pm

Man, that is an uncooperative bunch you're working with, if not abusive. I'd look for people interested in having a good band and not just stroking/ stoking their egos.
User avatar
resistorman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 676
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 1:00 am
Location: Asheville NC

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby CS70 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:28 pm

benaround wrote:We have recorded in a rather basic local studio, I was reluctant to turn the pa up too much as the others complained I was too loud, but no matter what where or how we record, the instruments sound as though they are close up to the mic but the singers always sound as though they are in the bath in the room next door!

The bass player uses a Carlsboro Cobra 90W combo, guitarist uses an Orange 30W valve combo unit, but both point them into the room and stand with their backs to them, as though on stage. I need something to match up to that.

I don’t understand how my friend’s Orange 30 can drown out vocals from my 50W Marshall, but it does.

What should I use, within a £300 budget? I have found the Roland CM-30 recommended, but at 30 watts, will it stand up to the other guys? Also found the Behringer B205. That is rated 150 watts, but why should there be so much difference in wattage for two amps that seem to be for the same purpose?

Before spending any money, you really want to learn a little more about the whole recording process - which also explains why you get the results you get.

What Sam said about amp and drums is perfectly correct - 30 watts of orange tube amp are simply way louder than 50w of transistor acoustic amp - for one, it's gonna work most of the times overdriven (i.e. distorting), plus it's likely to be far more efficient at putting that power out (orange are great amps; Marshall acoustic amps, they're ok). And an acoustic drum kit is a very, very loud beast indeed, even with a great player (and if your mates dont want to hear about volume levels and do not understand that vocals must have the top spot in any music that has vocals... it's unlikely they are).

But critically, how you record the ensemble is fundamental. It's not crazy difficult stuff, but if you just splat a hand held microphone (or a phone) in the room, you'll get the results you get. Some pointers: the sound in a room is always a mix of direct source and reflections. Bass sounds must move more air, so have way more energy than higher sounds, reflecting more (even multiple times). The room you record it is paramount as it affects how much energy gets reflected and how. In directional terms, bass frequencies don't have a direction - they "go" in all directions, while from midrange on (i.e. where the human voice is) sounds are directional and so are their reflections. When a direct sound is combined with a powerful enough reflection of itself but with a small delay (such as from bouncing to a wall and back), the frequency of the direct sound and the reflection interact, canceling some parts and increasing others: this is called "comb filtering", because the resulting wave shape looks like a comb. The combined sound is often unpleasant or odd - especially if, like voice, is a sound that we incredibly familiar with in every tiny detail. For bass sounds, this can results in certain notes being completely cancelled in certain positions in the room.

Hence where you put your mics is critical.

There's really a lot to go into that has no place in a post - I know Mike Senior has made a book called "recording secrets". I haven't read it, but having read his other book on mixing, I am pretty certain it's worth every penny and can bring you from knowing nothing about recording to a pretty decent level of understanding in no time at all.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4448
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:47 pm

Yep, Mike's book is very good (as is the mixing secrets one), but - as mentioned above - what you really have here is a people problem rather than a technical one.
If your band mates are your only local option to make your music (and I get that completely), and they're unwilling to compromise on volume, then you're probably going to have to give up on the living room rehearsal and hire a proper practice room (that will probably come with a PA).
At which point you'll all be on a level playing field and you can buy a nice set of ear plugs... ;)
Seriously though, 1) playing in an environment where you can't hear yourself properly is not going to help you develop as a band, 2) having to scream everything at the top of your voice could do real damage to your throat, and 3) i'm serious about the earplugs - this industry/business/hobby is filled with old people with damaged hearing and tinnitus, don't be another one. :)
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 8450
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:39 pm

Any band or ensemble of musicians need to hear each other clearly in order to develop and regardless of the nature of the type of amplification need to learn the basics of balance and ensemble. So as has been said this is as much a personal problem as a technical one.

Playing at the levels you describe would require ear plugs, otherwise you’ll all suffer permanent hearing damage, so your first purchase should be a set of those.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3906
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:15 am

benaround wrote:I'm coming to realise that about the Orange 30. Don't understand how a 30W gtr amp can drown 250 watt pa but there it is.

Solid state distortion/clipping often sounds unpleasant so PA amps (pretty much universally SS these days) don't allow it to happen, also the flat frequency response required means a further loss of efficiency so you need more watts to get as loud. A valve guitar amp distorts in a pleasing way that is usable/desirable (and actually part of the blues guitar sound*), the amp/speaker has a far from flat response which focuses the power in the mid range so is a lot more efficient. When you consider that you need 10x the power for it to sound twice as loud it's easy to see how that can be lost in the inefficiencies of creating a flat, clean rig.

*I'm a blues guitar player (amongst other styles but that's where I started in the '60s) and use an 18 watt combo live, it's loud enough to compete with a fairly loud drummer.

Yes, we have acoustic drums and they play pretty hard, everyone seems to want to do that on the blues scene round here in the sticks.

They simply can't do that when practicing if you want to rehearse in a living room (and likely not in a pukka rehearsal room either unless it's a hangar at Pinewood or similar).

I think one or two of the guys actually get thrown off course if they can hear the other players, except the drums, so that;'s why they turn up the volume.

That sounds like inexperience but they need to learn they'll never be a tight/grooving band unless they can can hear each other.

But they are mates, it's them or nothing round here if you want to sing and play blues and r.n.b.

Nowt wrong with playing in a band with mates, It's all I've ever done in a 'career' (I use the word with tongue slightly in cheek BTW) playing pubs and clubs (and if they weren't mates when they joined/formed the band they were by the first gig or, usually, there wasn't a second gig).

Somebody needs to take control for you to have the best chance of becoming the best band your collective abilities will allow, that they are mates should work in your favour as you can have the conversation without falling out (hopefully..... been there, bought and worn out the teeshirt ;) ). Suggest that every other rehearsal is with acoustic guitars and the drummer playing a cardboard box or cajon and no amplification apart from the bass amp.

Finally, take serious heed of the advice WRT ear protection, I'm typing this with my ears ringing slightly more than usual after a 3 hour gig last night playing amplified acoustic guitars in a very noisy room.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10493
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Wonks » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:13 pm

As others have said, there's a big difference between valve amp watts and solid state amp watts - mainly because valve amps can normally push out an extra 1.5x to 2x their rating over the clean sound limit when fully driven, whist a solid state amp will max. out very shortly after the clean limit is reached.

But then there is the speaker efficiency to consider. A 12" guitar amp speaker will typically push out 98-102dB for a 1W input. Smaller, flatter response speakers (like in the AS50) may put out 92-94dB for the same input power, so are already at half the volume of a guitar amp speaker for the same power.

And our ears tend to hear the average sound power as perceived volume, not peak power, so 'thick' waveforms with a small dynamic range and a slow amplitude drop-off after the initial attack will always sound a lot louder than waveforms that drop off quickly after peaking. So a driven guitar sound which is pretty compressed with low levels of dynamics will aways sound louder than a human voice, even though the two sounds may have the same peak energy level.

Plus sound power levels work on a logarithmic dB basis, not a linear power one. So for the same equipment to sound twice as loud, you need between a 6dB and 10dB increase in the SPL (depending on starting volume and sound frequency), which will require the best part of 10x the amp power to achieve. A 60W amp isn't twice as loud as a 30W one; you'd need around 300W to guarantee achieving a doubling of perceived volume.

So given a 50W acoustic amp with speakers probably 6dB down on those in the Orange, an amp that probably puts out nearer 50W when pushed, you can see that you will need a significant increase in amp power to get the vocals to the same volume as the guitar, let alone to get them to sit over the top of the guitar sound.

Modern active PA speakers use very efficient drivers and high-power amps, so they can get vocals over the backline volume. But by then, you are talking about very loud volumes indeed. OK for big venues, but not for rehearsals.

Your drummer is the one setting the basic volume level. Everyone else can turn down to match (or get lower-powered equipment if they must have the amp turned up to get 'their sound'. But even so, it's unlikely that the AS50 will be loud enough.

I'd suggest investing in a small low-cost active PA speaker, say an Alto TS310, for your rehearsals. If that can't cope, then you are definitely all too loud.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10102
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby benaround » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:22 pm

I don't see any way you can award kudos/thanks in this forum other than posting reply, so thanks all, really helpful.
Wonks, I am in Basingstoke btw. Do you play in Reading? Someone has loaned me a G4M J212 monitor rated 250W, I will give that one try and then most likely go for the Alto you recommend.
benaround
Poster
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:33 pm

The Altos are excellent value and will be a considerable step up from the G4M speaker. Bear in mind the limiting factor for foldback/monitoring in a small room is 'gain before feedback'. This is the loudest any speaker/mic system will go in a given environment before feedback (AKA 'howl round') occurs and if your bandmates insist on playing too loud the best PA in the world can't help.

But, re-read all the other advice about rehearsing at a lower level (and especially about hearing protection).
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10493
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Wonks » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:43 pm

No, I'm not in a band at the moment, and when I was, it was more in the Woking area.

Try the G4M monitor. It will probably be a bit quieter than the Alto, so if the G4M works for you volume-wise, then the Alto will be more than adequate. The Alto can also form the basis for your own PA system - either as a FOH speaker or as a monitor.

It's the peak dB value that is most important when comparing different speaker systems, not the wattage rating (though more watts help).
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10102
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby benaround » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:39 pm

Thanks again and btw I do wear ear plugs, I use the "Alpine" brand.
benaround
Poster
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby benaround » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:42 pm

Sam
I've noticed that, feedback occurs before I can get the amp up to max output.
I can't set either the gain or the master above half value.
benaround
Poster
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Basingstoke, UK

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Wonks » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:39 pm

This often happens with underpowered amps. All you can really do is move the amp away from the mic. and point the rear of the mic (it's an SM58 so cardioid) at the speaker for maximum feedback rejection. But pushing the amp so loud that it's distorting will also help bring on feedback a lot earlier than you expect.

I have to ask: Are you certain it's a genuine SM58 i.e. did you buy it direct from a music shop? There are a lot of fake SM58s and SM57s out there on eBay, and they certainly don't sound like or reject feedback as well as the real thing. Unless you know what to look for, the fakes can be very hard to tell visually from the real thing.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10102
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby CS70 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:00 pm

benaround wrote:Sam
I've noticed that, feedback occurs before I can get the amp up to max output.
I can't set either the gain or the master above half value.

As I wrote, in a small untreated room, feedback will get you way before you can get loud enough to even begin to compete with tube amps.

You can try and move the mic (just in case: it needs to point decidedly the opposite direction to the speaker(s) ) but what gets you usually are the reflections. Without proper absorbent walls, there's just too much that's thrown back into the mic when you up the gain.

I totally agree with the others that the others players _have_ to turn down. That's the only meaningful solution.

That said, if you want to be able to increase the vocal volume before feedback, you need an absorber behind you. The good old duvet on a T-shaped mic stand which serves so well for recording can help also in this situation - right behind you but a few feet from the wall at your back. It doesn't look pro tough. :)
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4448
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Music Wolf » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:02 pm

benaround wrote:I've noticed that, feedback occurs before I can get the amp up to max output.
I can't set either the gain or the master above half value.

From your description of the room setup / other musicians I was expecting this to be the next problem. In addition to what Wonks has already said the simple fact is that you are too loud for the size of room. Everybody, starting with the drummer, needs to turn down.

I was working, or rather trying to work, with a couple of guys the other year who would crank things up at practice to the point that we were on the edge of feedback and the bass player was wearing earplugs. Considering that the drums were on a backing track there was absolutely no need. Some people think that you need to be loud to sound good. You don't. Playing loud just de-sensitises the ear so that you can't tell that you are shit.

Play at a comfortable level so that you can hear your mistakes - then correct them.
User avatar
Music Wolf
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1785
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Exiled to St Helens

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby CS70 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:04 pm

Music Wolf wrote:Play at a comfortable level so that you can hear your mistakes - then correct them.

Now' that's a good line for a signature!
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4448
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Re: Good vocal amp needed for small band rehearsals

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:38 pm

Music Wolf wrote:Playing loud just de-sensitises the ear so that you can't tell that you are shit.

Thats a better one :clap: :clap: :clap:
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10493
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users