How do you run your stage sound?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by mun2001, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. mun2001

    mun2001 Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    I assume this question is posted to the right section (I'm a new user)...if not, I apologize! I tried to search for this, as I figure it's a common problem for people starting out, but came up empty.

    Looking for some advice on stage setup & stage sound. We're a new band, in the past just been basement players, but are now starting to play out. 5 piece band, with lead + rhythm guitars, bass, drums, and lead vocalist. Had 2 gigs so far, the second of which we really struggled with hearing what we wanted on stage. I'll describe what worked for us the first time, and what didn't the second time, and hoping you folks can chime in with what works for you. None of us are particularly experienced with proper sound, so any advice helps.

    First of all, the gear: both guitars are using quality tube head + 1x12 cabs in the 15-20W range, and both typically have a tele & LP each. My bass rig is a 300W amp (LittleMark II @ 8ohm) through a 2x10 cab, with a fairly high output G&L L2k. We mic the cabs & drums, and DI the bass for the sound guy to use at will. Admittedly, we prefer to play a little on the loud side, but nothing ridiculous. Rhythm guitar and drummer also sing, so that's 3 necessary monitors, while myself (bass) and lead guitar don't sing so typically try and share one. We primarily play guitar-heavy rock, from Pink Floyd to the Black Keys.

    Gig 1 (good): Small bar venue, pretty cramped stage. We pretty much had all the amps pointing in towards the stage (more from the corners than side fill) and relied more on the mics for FoH. This is typically how we set up for practice too, without FoH of course. Bar only had 3 monitors with 2 mixes to give us, but 2 of us don't sing and the stage was small enough that we could hear enough vocal through the lead vocals monitor. Sound guy worked for the bar, and though was frustrated with the quality of the system he knew how to control it well enough.

    Gig 2 (not good): Bigger venue, large stage. We had the amps along the back wall of the stage (1 guitar to drummer's right, 1 + bass to drummer's left) facing out to the crowd. 4 monitors this time, but they were terrible. In the sound guy's defence, we had only hired him for that night and he was not familiar with the house gear at all. We had to keep amp volume lower than we usually play - my LM2 was between 9 & 10 o'clock (3-4/10), and I was told by sound guy that I was "overpowering" the rest of the band, so I had to turn down to where I could barely hear myself. We struggled to hear each other and our playing suffered as a result. It was as though the monitors weren't "good enough" to be able to handle too much vocal + instrument coming through them; the sound coming out was either lacking clarity or started to feedback if pushed. FoH sound was good, though, from what we were told.

    Obviously, the next time we play we'll set up more like Gig 1, unless there are better ideas. We're now talking about what it would take to control our own monitor mix from the stage. IEMs are simply not in the budget, and though they're good in theory, I don't know if I'm completely sold and it's not really something that's easy to try before you buy anyway. Looking at the Rolls PM-351 as a cheaper alternative, but I'm not particularly fussy about being tethered to it, both functionally and aesthetically. They may work feeding into a powered monitor, but unless we have our own monitors we can't guarantee that the venue can support it. With the price of decent powered monitors, it'd be just as well to go IEM (unless we rent, which is feasible). At this point, we just don't know what road to take.

    So...what do you do? How would you set up both a cramped and larger stage? Do you control your own monitor mix, and if so what's your setup?

    Thanks in advance for the advice! ​
  2. robare99

    robare99 Senior Member

    Sep 18, 2010
    Can you rent to own IEM's?

    How much is your guitar worth?
    How much is your amp worth?

    How much is being able to hear everything worth?

  3. Bunn

    Bunn Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Winston Salem NC
    generally not much goes through the monitors that the venues have except to the drummer and vox ..... if its a big place we turn up if its small then the amps are easily heard cause we are all together. you got a good idea by a catacorner/side fill with the guitar amps that what I will do for my stage vol and so the rest can get it ....

    Last concert hall we played we relied heavily on the monitors but still we were all together cramped I know cramped in a concert hall ?? yeah there was a 250 person choir on stage) so drummer and vox need the feeds my bassist and I used the backline gear for the stage vol.

    Your only two gigs in ... you will have good and bad monitoring situations but your asking to be educated as to avoid this in the future. we always carry extra/spare monitors ALWAYS unless its a union backline job or whatever that way if we need to we can add or replace .... so between that and just getting a good spread on stage we have been able to counter all objectives risen. That and experience !!!

    Iem's are good but if the sound guys sucks and you dont have your own monitor mixer you screwed anyway, I use them at church and they are cool but ill take a good sound guy live monitor mix any day. PS my guitar monitoring in in venues usually comes from the amp and i can catch some from the vox monitor or a touch in my own YMMV

    you mentioned you play bass and yes my bass player is always asked to turn down cause they cant use him in the subs he has a massive rig .... well he does a little bit and then faces the subs toward the drummer and that helps alleviate the sound FOH and keeps the stage vol up for him
  4. mun2001

    mun2001 Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Thanks for sharing!
  5. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

    Aug 17, 2010
    Baltimore, MD
    allen and heath makes a mixwizard monitor mixer with a built in splitter. invest in one of these and an in-ear system for each band member and you are good to go.
  6. Reincaster

    Reincaster Member

    Apr 13, 2007
    On a large stage, we have the guitar amps mic'd, but crossing over each other.
                 [My Amp]                                               [Other Guitarist's Amp]
                              \                                     /
                                \                                 /
                                  \                             /
                                    \                         /  
                                      \                     /
                                        \                 /
    "x" is the edge of the stage. The lines are the direction of the amps.

    I can hear myself, I can hear the other guitar. However, we've gone to modelers, so its all from monitor mixes now.
  7. taez555

    taez555 Member

    Jul 24, 2008
    Laniakea Supercluster
    Mixing live sound is called "Sound Reinforcment" for a reason.

    Get everything sounding as good as possible for yourself on stage first. If you can't hear each other, you're probably not going to perform that well. If it means turning the amps in towards each other, that's fine. Don't rely on the soundguy to get your sound, he's just there to help project what you're doing on stage to the audience.

    After that let the sound guy decide what needs to be added. Unless it's a huge place where everything needs to go through the PA, you should really only be putting non amplified instruments like Vocals and stuff in the mix anyway. With a smaller PA and monitor setup instruments are just going to be fighting each other.

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