live sound

Discuss anything in general that has to do with music.

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live sound

Post by echosauce1 »

I have a question for all you artists, soundmen, audience members on here.

A buddy of mine hit me up awhile back to run sound for his band because they did not like what the guy they had was doing. I bit and ran one night and they were happy with the results. I don't have a lot of live sound experience though but they asked me back to run more shows so I guess I did ok. I just rode the faders all night as I wanted to hear them. A little boost for the solo or background vocals when it seemed appropriate.

My question is, what are people looking for or unhappy with the guy running sound.

I'm not really looking to taking over anyone's job here. As I said, I'm helping a friends band out. I've played in bands but never spent much time behind the boards so to speak.

I know most of the people on here have

a. played live
b. ran sound live
c. listened to a band live.

Any tips to getting a good live mix or even more important, what you absolutely hate hearing from a live mix are appreciated.

As I said, not looking to steal a gig, just trying to help a buddy out and make his band sound as best I can.
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Post by Garr »

on stage, i want an even mix coming back to me with more guitar than bass or drums and more vocals than anything else. i need to hear the parts that help me play my parts correctly.

in an audience, i find that the bad sound guys often have things out of phase. if you're in one part of the room some things are drowned out or crazy loud while moving to another area causes that to flux. obviously, you aim for the best sound down the channel, but it should still sound good in the far corner. often times i find that vocalists are severely drowned out by other instruments and that guitar solos are not handled right. someone may be wailing, but i can't hear it because it's too low in the mix.

so, good sound = appropriate mix.
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Post by =^-..-^= »

I don't know if this helps, but when I run sound, I turn the drums up too loud because that is my instrument. I've seen other players do that as well with their respective instruments.

I have never heard electronic drums in a mix that ever sounded good to me, but then I think rubber kits were spawned in the depths of Hell itself. . .

Don't worry – If you're a bad soundperson, there's always a place you can go to mix sound: In church on Sunday mornings. . . ;-)
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Post by echosauce1 »

thanks for the reply garr.

as far as monitor mix, i'm not as worried. The guy is one of my best friends and he doesn't mince words so I know exactly what they need there.

sound for the audience is what I'm concerned about and you brought up a good point. Listen to diffrent points in the room is somthing I am trying to pay attention to.
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Post by echosauce1 »

at kat guy

It's funny you said that because my local church has hit me up to do that gig as well (and I might consider doing it, but that's another thread)

I'm not claiming to be good (or bad) at this. I don't even have an interest in pursuing live sound. I just am trying to help out a buddy as best I can.
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Post by dofus hipster »

My gripe's...

Poorly working gear. No need to expand on this

Volume natzi's....I have had both end of the spectrum. I do not need to be so quite you can kill me with monitors..My amp should NEVER be in the monitors unless asked for. Rock bands play loud, and sometimes too loud, but I have been asked to play so softly it was worthless. The band needs some restraint as well....

Making a Rock band sound like Pink Floyd...Ask the band if they like 20 efx all on together at the same time.

KISS.... why complicate things.. Most bar's in the Fort do not need big PA's and full sound guys.

A good sound guy is worth the big $ they want, so if you need big sound, it's time to pay up. Otherwise buy a nice small PA and learn to run it from the stage.

Just my 2c
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Post by Oliver's Army »

I could tell you horror stories of running sound for the Freak Bros for a couple years with about 16 open mics and a bunch of guys with onstage volume contests.

Running sound for Conley's band was a breeze by comparison

Oh, and I run sound at Church.

I offered to fix their mix two years ago and now they won't let me quit.

Something about Eternal Damnation.
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Post by tiny »

Biggest bitches from all sides of the stage, by Tiny. (Admittedly no expert, but it ain't my first day in pictures either)

1. Lazy ass sound guys that set it, forget it and go get drunk or mack on the drummer's girlfriend. The sound of the band changes with each song, if they do it right. Black Water shouldn't sound like Black Sabbath. Learn the difference.

2. Guitarists that turn their amps up to 11. That's what the freaking PA is for in the first place, is to make you (and the rest of the band) louder. PROPORTIONATELY. Easiest way for me to deal, then, is to take you completely out of the mix. It's impossible to balance the total sound if one asshat is cranked up past the point of rescue. And if you take them out of the mix, it's impossible to mix properly at all. A lose-lose.

3. Sound guys that forget to adjust for the vocals. Easy to do....easy to forget. If they're singing backup...back them off. If they're singing lead....punch them up a notch. The crowd actually wants to hear the words, sometimes.

That's the short list....let me go check out some bad bands and I'll get back to you with more.
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Post by MrSpall »

This seems like an easy one, professionalism. I know it's mentioned on this site all the time - and I know you're not a pro, but it's still important.

I've had sound guys that don't even show up until seconds before the show. We've gotta run a soundcheck, but I don't have time to talk to the guy at all. I generally want to talk to the sound guy for a good 15 minutes before we start sound check. If he'll give me that luxury I can make the show WAY easier for him by communicating my needs and expectations.

As Tiny said, RIDE THE SLIDERS! Never set and forget. Sound doesn't necessarily need to be tweaked after every song, but it should be adjusted as needed.

Communicate with the band. Let me know if the mic is feeding back when I walk to a certain part of the stage. Tell me what's going on so I can help fix things on my end.

At the same time, please understand that I don't know how to use a mic without being VERY LOUD, so you might wanna watch that clipping on the top end - I can't help it.

Communicating with the band is easily the best way to make the show smoother and better. Know what they want, tell them what you need to make it happen. Rock on (or country on, if you've got to.)

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Post by bassjones »

Always set drum and bass guitar levels first, then build the mix up from there. Think of it like a house. Bass and Drums are the foundation, Rhythm guitar/keys/horns are the walls, vocals and/or lead instruments are the roof. Build your mix that way with that visual image in mind. Bass and drums laying the foundation, keeping the whole thing upright, rhythm guitar/keys/horns/etc... supporting and vocals and lead instruments overhead. Don't ride drums and bass - unless the bass player takes a solo, then punch him/her up a little, otherwise set and forget it. Avoid the tendency to over e.q. and put too many effects on. Don't do anything to drums/bass except compression. A little reverb goes a long way - put it on vocals and maybe a little on the overall mix.

Make the band sound like that band. My number one pet peeve is having every band mixed/e.q.d the same. DMB should not be mixed like Kiss who should not be mixed like Steely Dan who should not be mixed like Metallica.
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Post by The_Dude »

free pie. everyone wants free pie.
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Post by kh_man »

Damn I love pie, but...I hate bass solos
And...nothing worse than trying to sing a harmony vocal and the channel in turned all the way down. Now...that may be because I don't sing that well, but it's probably because the sound guy is to drunk to pay attention.
And last but not least...listen, listen, listen.
Rock On
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Post by The Hammer »

There is no easy answer to this. If you are just doing it for a gig or 2 then just do the best you can. If it is going to be more long term and if you want to be good at it, then you have your work cut out for you.
You can either do what most do and mix to your personal taste, or you can do it right and mix to a set of objective standards and get close to CD quality sound for your band.
I will tell you my background and then my approach.

I have a degree in Electronics Engineering which includes a whole section on waveform propagation. Knowing how sound waves do what they do under different circumstances is critical to dealing with varying acoustics. You don't need a degree to gain an understanding of this. You can find most of what you need on the net. Don't worry about the math, just look for layman’s explanations. Look for terms like phase, freestanding or standing wave, and frequency, to start with.

I have read many books on the subjects of mixing and mastering sound. The best were by Bob Katz who is one of the worlds best mastering engineers. I know this is studio stuff but the same principles apply when you are listening for frequency separation and relative amplitude levels.

I have 47 years experience as a musician, 40 at the professional level both playing and mixing sound.

My Approach…
Know how the equipment works. Mics have different characteristics such as frequency response, pickup patterns and diaphragm specs. For example, to mic a bass or kick, you would use a mic with a high compression diaphragm. If you put a vocal mic in front of a bass speaker, the power of the sound waves will most often be more than the diaphragm can handle and it will be compressed to the point of not being able to recover properly between the sound peaks and you will get a bad sound. Another example is to know the difference between near field and non-near field speaker cabs. If a lead player is using a 100 watt Vox with 4 12s, because of its relative position to him, he might not be able to hear it onstage but it will be blasting the audience. You have to know how to deal with these things.

Train your ears. Bob Katz (Google him) has a list of songs that are considered the best of the best as far as being mixed and mastered. I have an Alesis RA-100 amp with 2 Alesis Monitor One speakers connect to my computer. I listen to these songs with all EQ turned off. This is the best way to stand on the shoulders of giants and hear what a mix is supposed to sound like.

Be in charge. The sound man has the band by the balls and pros know this. If you get a band that won’t do what you tell them to, then they are amateurs. You have a choice at this point as to making them do what is best or just letting them musically masturbate onstage. This is important because you have your reputation to consider. If you don’t control the band and the mix is bad, it doesn’t matter if they are a bunch of amateur yahoos, it is the sound mans fault. Even though the lead and the bass are out of the mix.

Let the musicians do the work. It is their job. You job is not to fix the band, it is to correct for the frequency response in the room and to balance and blend the sound. When you do the sound check, your goal is to make the sound coming from the PA duplicate the sound coming from the instrument on stage. If the musician has a bad sound coming from his amp, then that is his problem, not yours. You tell him about it, but you can’t fix it at the board.

There is much, much more to this and I don’t have time to go into it now. What I wrote here would only be part of the intro to the book I should write “Mixing Live Sound For Dummiesâ€
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