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Thread: Any Tips 4 Live Sound?

  1. #1
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    Any Tips 4 Live Sound?

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    First of all 'hey everyone and thanxs in advance for any help!'

    Ok....simple really, im a student putting on a 'Rock Night' with some buddies from college. We have everything sorted and the equip is good.

    What i do need tho is any advise that anyone can give me on working the desk. I have experience using desks and have been and recorded in a studio doing my own mixing BUT never live sound.

    If you could possible give me some advice/tips on doing live sound and what to be wary of and what to and what not to do on my first attempt at this, all help is gratefully appritiated!

    Thanxs
    G1B0

    P.s not sure if this is the best place to ask this.....if not plz point me in the right direction

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    Set up a few hours ahead of time and ring out the room. Make sure you have a decent 31 band graphic EQ or the equivalent. Find out where the room gets squirrely and feeds back; cut those frequencies a bit. If the idea is strange, do a Google search on "ring out" and you should get a few decent hits.

    If you are using monitors, watch them like a hawk. These are the things that usually feed back first.

    Spend some time doing a real sound check with real volumes prior to the performance.

    Mark the mics and direct signals on the board because when something is misbehaving is not the time to forget whether the bass is channel 6 or 7.

    Get some help; this is too much work to do alone. Find someone who has done it once or twice.

    Use a snake if you have one; you will be controlling the sound much better from halfway out in the audience.

    Mix in mono unless you have a good reason not to.

    Having a talkback circuit is a good thing, but if you don't have one, try to work out some kind of signal with the band to get their attention and vice versa.

    Easy on the effects.

    Easy on the booze. Drink water instead.

    Have a blast!!
    Fall seven times; stand up eight
    Music at https://soundcloud.com/glenn-howland-230561145

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    Quote Originally Posted by drummer_phobia
    First of all 'hey everyone and thanxs in advance for any help!'

    Ok....simple really, im a student putting on a 'Rock Night' with some buddies from college. We have everything sorted and the equip is good.

    What i do need tho is any advise that anyone can give me on working the desk. I have experience using desks and have been and recorded in a studio doing my own mixing BUT never live sound.

    If you could possible give me some advice/tips on doing live sound and what to be wary of and what to and what not to do on my first attempt at this, all help is gratefully appritiated!

    Thanxs
    G1B0

    P.s not sure if this is the best place to ask this.....if not plz point me in the right direction
    The best advice if you've never done it is find someone who has and ask them to come along, especially if you are teching and not just mixing.
    Failing that, here goes.
    Live sound is about a system that includes the PA and the band, and how that system interacts with a room, not just a mixer.
    Realize the limits of your system. In a 30ft by 70ft room, with 1000 watts of PA, you just gotta realize that if it is crowded, people more than halfway back just ain't gonna get crystal clear sound. They will get what they get and like it. You also aren't going to get a Metallica kick drum out of it.
    Live sound is fun. I've been at it for a long time, and mixed and teched systems from 100 to 250,000 watts.

    Here is a bunch of shit. I've had a lot of coffee. Much of it is tech as opposed to just mixing. But like I said, mixing is only one part of live sound.
    For a small system, don't worry too much. Just set it up and go. Turn it up, it sounds ok, have fun. Scan this for the info you need or want.

    On anything bigger than a powered mixer things change a bit. You can go with the basics or get as complex as you want. This is just the barest of bones. Hope it helps. I probably forgot a lot of shit, but fuck it.

    Set up the PA and monitors if you have them. Get a line check with a band, have them run a few tunes to set levels.
    Level setting: Don't use the recording practice of getting every input to hit zero on the channel. If you do, with many mixers, you will overload the main mix bus. You will also probably not be able to effectively mix, as things like overheads and guitars will have to be pulled down farther than you have fader, if you know what I mean. And since things like guitar have volume already, you are just using up headroom. If it's loud enough, it's loud enough. Screw the level.
    I use this technique. Set channel faders at unity. Set master at unity. Adjust input gain to set initial mix. If something needs more gain for sound quality, pull down fader and increase gain. Adjust mix with faders as necessary. Make sure you have enough gain to boost solos enough before you hit the end of the fader. This is more important with amateurs, who mostly suck at setting the balance between rhythm and lead channels.

    Everyone plays louder and more forcefully at showtime. Most of your perfectly gained inputs will peg the instant they start playing, so be prepared to turn them down. Don't bother asking them to play "like you are going to during the show". It just won't happen.
    Do you know how to ring out a system? Do that, if you have the luxury of a graphic EQ. Also walk around while the band plays and see if there are any obnoxious standing waves in the low end, and notch them out.
    Do the same with monitors, if you have them.

    Don't worry about getting everything in the mix or monitors. Again, be aware of the limits of your system, and the room you are in. Vocals first and foremost. Most people don't give a shit as long as they can hear the words and the kick and snare. Then drums, then instruments. Cymbals are a distant last. It is easy to make a 2000 watt PA sound like crap trying to pack too much into the mix. Amps on stage will provide much of your volume. You aren't trying to craft a sonic masterpiece, just trying to let people have some fun and hear some music.


    Double for this if it is a reflective room, all glass and concrete or hardwood.
    On that topic, don't worry too much if a bouncy room sounds like crap empty. When it's full of meat bags (people) it will calm down a lot.

    It is sound reinforcement, not sound enforcement. If someone fifty feet away from the stage can't hear every little detail of the snare drum, tell them to get closer, unless you have appropriate venue and PA.

    All the eq tips you learned in the studio apply. To keep the mix cleaner, though, raise your low-end rolloff frequency on miced amps when going through a small system. For instance, with electric guitar, it's going to be audible for a long way. But it sounds muddy. So you roll it off at 250-300, and the higher stuff through the PA restores the clarity without bodging up your mix with mud.
    To make something louder, don't forget that turning everything else down has the same effect as turning one thing up. You may not notice the SPL creep up as you constantly try to adjust everything . When you see blood coming out of people's ears as they run screaming or fall to the floor, you have crept too far.



    Guitar players are assholes. They will never turn down, as it "ruins their tone". Guitar players believe that their ears are located just behind their knees, and that is where they point their speakers to evaluate their volume and tone. Put guitar amps on chairs or milk crates if possible, and mic the speaker farthest from the floor. This will serve the dual purpose of 1) getting the guitar player to turn down as the 2.5k fries his teeth (unlikely) and 2) cleans up some low-end mud by decoupling the cabinet from the floor (absolutely). Guitar players will also complain that they can't hear the monitors, even though they sing into their chests as they look down at the neck for their next chord change.

    Keyboard players are assholes. They generally soundcheck with their volume sliders at half, so they can have "a little more" if they need it. Ask them if you can have "a little more" for repairs after your tweeters arc out of the box and fly across the room glowing like meteors when that big synth patch kicks in at ten times the volume you though it was gonna be.

    Bass players are assholes. Not realizing they are playing basses, most of them jack up the low end and turn down the treble to play through an 18" speaker. Then since someone told them it takes 4000 watts to be heard over a 25 watt Blues Junior, they let fly with all they have. They don't realize that bass doesn't come together until many feet from the amp, and they have never heard their so-called "tone". Since there is less chance of getting a bass player to turn down than a guitarist, at least try to get them to give you some treble, turn down the low end and drop the low mids as far as possible.

    Drummers are assholes. This one is pretty much self-explanatory, but a few specifics. They will play with earplugs before they play quieter, and with earplugs they will ask for hi-hats in their monitors.

    The solution for all of these problems is to hope the vocalist is the bandleader. Then tell the vocalist "I can't hear the vocals. The XXXX is too loud." Repeat until you are happy.

    One thing you will never hear: "The monitors are too loud. Could you turn my vocals down a bit?"


    If you have subgroups, put drums and on one, vox on another, and instruments on another. This gives you more control. If you have the extra groups, you can divide up instruments, such as a horn group, guitars group, bass/keys group.

    Don't worry about stereo. Unlike a set of nearfields, if you pan something hard left, the people on the right won't hear it. The stereo image in front of PA speakers twenty feet apart is in an area the size of a phone book about fifteen feet in front of the stage. Everyone else hears mono. Slight panning still helps separate things like kick and bass, like in the studio.

    There is more, but I gotta go to dinner.

    p.s. please realize that much of this is tongue in cheek. I love doing sound, and love musicians, and am one myself. A soundman with a bad attitude can ruin a gig.

    damn it. gotta preview my long posts. my elegantly structured paragraphs got munched.
    Last edited by boingoman; 10-14-2004 at 14:57.

  4. #4
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    Hell of a post, boingo. Nice work.
    Bacon!!!

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    Tree said it with a lot less words, though.

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    i'm kinda pissed that you forgot to put "vocalists are assholes" in there. vocalists have the same attitude as the bass and guitar players....they arent happy until they can mainly or only hear themselves and someone is always too loud for the vocalists.

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    Well My attitude is to give them their own mix and make sure they hear themselves well 9Sidefills RULE.)

    LOL

    Or just TRAIN your vocalists.

    I probably spend as much time Training a Band/Vocalist as I do mixing a Show.
    Last edited by giles117; 10-25-2004 at 10:02.
    Bryan Giles

    Mix on and Mix well

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    Quote Originally Posted by giles117
    Well My attitude is to give them their own mix and make sure they hear themselves well 9Sidefills RULE.)

    LOL

    Or just TRAIN your vocalists.

    I probably spend as much time Training a Band/Vocalist as I do mixing a Show.
    That is the real point of my qualification at the end of my post. Rather than fighting a band, working with them to give the audience the best possible experience is the way to go. I hear a lot of sound guys say the band is ruining their mix. It is the audience's mix. Helping bands understand this in a reasonable way is a big part of a mixer's job.

    Sometimes it falls on deaf ears. (pun intended) And from unexpected sources.

    I recently mixed for a formerly huge hair band rock star in a small club. Marshall stacks, huge rokk drums, the whole bit. They wanted to make sure they weren't fucking up the sound, very nice gents, who are used to playing in front of stadium crowds. The only loud monitors were the vocalist, who had me cut everything but 400-800hz and make that one octave as loud as I could. Great show, when I figured it was gonna be a nightmare.

    Then the local acoustic guy, who "had to" have the monitors so loud they overwhelmed the PA. Nothing I said made a difference to him. Needless to say, a crappy mix and bad experience for the crowd.

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    awesome post, thanx !!

    but now, questions;
    about monitors, the monitor in front of the vocalist, what audio is sent trough that? only the vocals? or the entire band + vocals?

    are monitors only to HEAR YOURSELF,,,or to hear the entire band?

    the reason i ask this is (i never worked with monitors myself) and second,
    if you connect the monitors to your subgroubs, then its not possible to:

    (for example the vocalist his monitor to playback the entire band trough that one monitor + playback the VOCALS , but the vocals are ALOT louder than the rest,,,,since the vocalist wants to hear himself

    ...

    mhhh... in simple: are monitors for ONE audio stream, or for Multiple audio streams?

    thanx,
    earworm
    ...listen...

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    I have actually been asked to do sound for a venue that my friends are opening up. I'm not sure how big they're going on the PA at first, but they want it to eventually be able to house big bands and such.

    What would you suggest for a decent live mixer?
    Hi, I'm Nick.

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