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PA advice after recent gig

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,486
I had a big full band gig on Saturday night. 5 pieces, drummer on small kit but a HEAVY hitter (killer player), really great bass player with a loud backline rig, one guitar using real amp / 2x12 and myself using AxeFX II into Atomic CLR (setup as backline). I also ran a feed out of the AxeFX II and the other guitarist was mic'd as well. Only thing on the kit mic'd was kick.
The room is really weird, it's not that big but it's longer than deeper and there is really no great way to get full coverage pattern to the bar area. AND, it gets flipping packed and was quite full on Saturday.
I've been working my ass off to get this project going. I have what I consider a great "small-ish" PA for acoustic duo/trio gigs which is the bulk of my shows this year. I was concerned about not being able to carry the club so I called in a favor and had a friend do sound with my old band's system.
Long story short, I think the sound was subpar. The performances were great but more than one person (mostly non-musician) said they just could not hear the vocals. This is not good, our female lead is great, the male lead is great and I do my best to harmonize. Also, our monitor mix sucked I could barely hear any vocals including my own. We were also loud onstage because the drummer is quite loud (again, worth it I loved it!).
I'm starting to think committing to a vocal only PA (well, just some kick support) is the way to go for where I play. Here is what I own:
2 - EVZLX12P's. These are better than decent for mains (and monitors) and I think they can get pretty damn loud. I have stands as well
1 - Allen and Heath ZED10FX (4 xlr, 2 stereo and some other good IO). It's a tiny board but the pre's are actually good and the built in FX do the trick. I have one dedicated aux out as well.
For the gig we had big subs, big mains (2 - dual 12's), 4 monitors, all Peavey gear and powered by some older QSC power amps. Also had a drive rack (basically on some setting) and an EQ for the monitor which was not tweaked. Tons and tons of cables everywhere, a snake, it's just a freaking mess every time I use this system.
I guess what I'm asking is should I try less is more?
The lead singer has a powered 15" and I could grab some cheaper monitors out there as well. I really think if I dedicated the PA to vocals only and pushed the mains good the vocals would have cut over the drums/band and we could have had a cleaner monitoring solution as well.
Are subs necessary? I simply can't afford them right now.
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,763
Get the stage volume down. There's only so much you can do to amplify a voice before you reach the limit of air movement in the room. If you have that monster PA you described an the vocals just don't cut through, there's only one thing that can be done, reduce the volume of everything else.

That said I see another common mistake made, and that's to set the EQ like a smile, all highs and lows, no mids. Your vocals will cut through better the other way around, more mids, less highs and lows. But you said you didn't EQ so I don't think that's it.
 

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,486
Get the stage volume down. There's only so much you can do to amplify a voice before you reach the limit of air movement in the room. If you have that monster PA you described an the vocals just don't cut through, there's only one thing that can be done, reduce the volume of everything else.

That said I see another common mistake made, and that's to set the EQ like a smile, all highs and lows, no mids. Your vocals will cut through better the other way around, more mids, less highs and lows. But you said you didn't EQ so I don't think that's it.
I know, this is the first time I played with these guys. It was really great but I actually think the large PA was a detriment. I know that doesn't seem to make sense, but I feel like with much less gear and having that gear dedicated to one thing we will be better off. It's rare to hear someone say the band isn't loud enough, even in a larger club that's packed.
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,029
It is all about headroom
And aux fed subs.

Stage volume is critical as well.
 

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,486
It is all about headroom
And aux fed subs.

Stage volume is critical as well.
So do you think a sub is mandatory?
I'd hate to invest in a pricey sub when my full band gigs are limited (less than 12 this year) AND some of the clubs I'm targeting have house systems. I can't imagine using a sub on acoustic gigs.
 

GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,280
I think you're headed in the wrong direction. You should bring the stage volume down, not ridiculously down, but down to the point where it's covering the stage, not the house.

You should get a better mixer that lets you plug everything in, and gives you 3 or 4 monitor mixes. They're not that expensive.

I have nothing against loud drummers, but if he's so loud that he's burying the vocal monitors, he's a problem. He doesn't need to use brushes, but if the vocals are buried, the band will suck.

So, get the drummer to control his volume. Bring your stage amps down, so that they blend well with the drummer on stage.

Put everything into the mixer. Use the monitors to get everybody a comfortable mix on stage and let the PA carry the sound to the house. And yes, subs are mandatory.

Loud is good. Uncontrollably loud is bad.
 

speakerjones

Member
Messages
2,299
Thing with not having everything go through the PA, is that guitars will get lost depending on where the listener is standing, due to the directional narrowness of the guitar speakers, and the fact that they're usually sitting on the floor. Also, without subs you lose that thump on the dance floor.

If you can get stage volume down, that always helps. Could be any number of things, but the #1 mistake I see made all the time is not having the mains sitting high enough in the air to get past the first row of people. People are not acoustically transparent. When you pack a bunch of meat bags on a dance floor, they absorb sound very efficiently. If you don't have your mid-high speakers above head height, it's not going to travel to the back of the room.
 

Unnecessary

Senior Member
Messages
2,667
everything GCDF said plus I suggest IEM....especially with a loud drummer...some drummers are loud, doesn't make them bad, but having your monitoring right in your ear is so much easier to control. If his volume is really bad, put him on an ekit and send the whole thing through the PA...now you have a drummer with a volume control!
 

CC Overdrive

Member
Messages
4,286
everything GCDF said plus I suggest IEM....especially with a loud drummer...some drummers are loud, doesn't make them bad, but having your monitoring right in your ear is so much easier to control. If his volume is really bad, put him on an ekit and send the whole thing through the PA...now you have a drummer with a volume control!
Since subs seem to be out of the question, and he's mixing on a small mixer that doesn't have the capability to mic up the whole band, IEMs are probably the last thing he needs. Maybe that's a great addition down the road though.

You need a bigger board, and lower stage volumes. You can get by w no sub, it's not crucial, but for now, that would be a something to consider after upgradi.g your board.

If your drummer can't lower his volume a notch then start recording everything, and sooner or later the fact that everything is squashed under his sound should become apparent.

Oh yeah, no classic mid scoops allowed, anywhere. Period! Haaaa!
 

Rex Anderson

Member
Messages
5,150
"had a friend do sound"

Is he a pro? Does he know what he's doing? Easy to blame all kinds of issues, but a good sound man can fix a lot of problems.

First place I start is with stage volume and balance. If the drummer is too loud, he has to back off or you are just fighting that and everything ends up being too loud to balance with him. Club owner and patrons will not be happy.

Proper placement and tuning of the mains and monitors is essential. System EQ to eliminate feedback and gain headroom is essential. A good soundcheck with enough time to sort out problems, get good balances for mains and monitors is also necessary. It takes time to do all the above.

Your system/mixer with only 1 aux send is not enough. Vocal only PA is not enough. No subs will not cut it.

You borrowed a system (because you knew you needed it) that might have worked if it was in the hands of a good sound man who had time and knowledge to do the job well.

Just my (40 years as an audio pro) opinion.
 

talbotpat

Member
Messages
192
"had a friend do sound"

Is he a pro? Does he know what he's doing? Easy to blame all kinds of issues, but a good sound man can fix a lot of problems.

First place I start is with stage volume and balance. If the drummer is too loud, he has to back off or you are just fighting that and everything ends up being too loud to balance with him. Club owner and patrons will not be happy.

Proper placement and tuning of the mains and monitors is essential. System EQ to eliminate feedback and gain headroom is essential. A good soundcheck with enough time to sort out problems, get good balances for mains and monitors is also necessary. It takes time to do all the above.

Your system/mixer with only 1 aux send is not enough. Vocal only PA is not enough. No subs will not cut it.

You borrowed a system (because you knew you needed it) that might have worked if it was in the hands of a good sound man who had time and knowledge to do the job well.

Just my (40 years as an audio pro) opinion.
+1 to all of the above. And also will echo the IEM suggestions above. A low volume stage does wonders for sound quality out front. A loud stage with an underpowered system or one that's not setup correctly for placement, gain staging, feedback elimination, etc., will sound like shite.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,312
everything GCDF said plus I suggest IEM....especially with a loud drummer...some drummers are loud, doesn't make them bad, but having your monitoring right in your ear is so much easier to control. If his volume is really bad, put him on an ekit and send the whole thing through the PA...now you have a drummer with a volume control!
I doubt he has $5-6K to dump into an IEM setup, for less than 12 gigs a year...

By the time you get 5 IEM rigs, a new console w/enough Aux Sends, and enough mics/stands/cabling to mic every instrument, you're looking at a lot of money, and a lot of extra setup time.
 

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,486
Thanks guys, I know most of what you are suggesting. I hate to think it's a no win situation (and I'm actively booking clubs for full band gigs that have house sound). My main problem is that it's not really a band (more like fellow musicians helping each other out). I should probably look to augment my system, but like I said it could be a rare circumstance. We also were very pressed for time (one hour, maybe less for a LOT of load in AND setup AND no sound check, blah, blah, blah...)

What is the general consensus on a 16 channel Mackie mixer (has at least 3 aux sends), my EVZLX's and ONE sub to start. IF you have one sub, where does it go on the floor? center stage?
 

CC Overdrive

Member
Messages
4,286
Thanks guys, I know most of what you are suggesting. I hate to think it's a no win situation (and I'm actively booking clubs for full band gigs that have house sound). My main problem is that it's not really a band (more like fellow musicians helping each other out). I should probably look to augment my system, but like I said it could be a rare circumstance. We also were very pressed for time (one hour, maybe less for a LOT of load in AND setup AND no sound check, blah, blah, blah...)

What is the general consensus on a 16 channel Mackie mixer (has at least 3 aux sends), my EVZLX's and ONE sub to start. IF you have one sub, where does it go on the floor? center stage?
Dude, give up on the subs for now. Balance your sound on a better mixer for starters. Get everyone on the same page regarding stage volume.
 

modulusman

Member
Messages
2,066
I had a big full band gig on Saturday night. 5 pieces, drummer on small kit but a HEAVY hitter (killer player), really great bass player with a loud backline rig, one guitar using real amp / 2x12 and myself using AxeFX II into Atomic CLR (setup as backline). I also ran a feed out of the AxeFX II and the other guitarist was mic'd as well. Only thing on the kit mic'd was kick.
The room is really weird, it's not that big but it's longer than deeper and there is really no great way to get full coverage pattern to the bar area. AND, it gets flipping packed and was quite full on Saturday.
I've been working my ass off to get this project going. I have what I consider a great "small-ish" PA for acoustic duo/trio gigs which is the bulk of my shows this year. I was concerned about not being able to carry the club so I called in a favor and had a friend do sound with my old band's system.
Long story short, I think the sound was subpar. The performances were great but more than one person (mostly non-musician) said they just could not hear the vocals. This is not good, our female lead is great, the male lead is great and I do my best to harmonize. Also, our monitor mix sucked I could barely hear any vocals including my own. We were also loud onstage because the drummer is quite loud (again, worth it I loved it!).
I'm starting to think committing to a vocal only PA (well, just some kick support) is the way to go for where I play. Here is what I own:
2 - EVZLX12P's. These are better than decent for mains (and monitors) and I think they can get pretty damn loud. I have stands as well
1 - Allen and Heath ZED10FX (4 xlr, 2 stereo and some other good IO). It's a tiny board but the pre's are actually good and the built in FX do the trick. I have one dedicated aux out as well.
For the gig we had big subs, big mains (2 - dual 12's), 4 monitors, all Peavey gear and powered by some older QSC power amps. Also had a drive rack (basically on some setting) and an EQ for the monitor which was not tweaked. Tons and tons of cables everywhere, a snake, it's just a freaking mess every time I use this system.
I guess what I'm asking is should I try less is more?
The lead singer has a powered 15" and I could grab some cheaper monitors out there as well. I really think if I dedicated the PA to vocals only and pushed the mains good the vocals would have cut over the drums/band and we could have had a cleaner monitoring solution as well.
Are subs necessary? I simply can't afford them right now.
I don't think they were dual 12 inch mains. you have to look long and hard to find that configuration. Without knowing the model numbers of the speaker cabs they might have all been low budget junk.
 

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,486
I don't think they were dual 12 inch mains. you have to look long and hard to find that configuration. Without knowing the model numbers of the speaker cabs they might have all been low budget junk.
They may actually be dual 15's.
Yeah, I really think my powered EV's while clearly not top of the line are probably better than those unpowered mains. I've owned QSC, RCF, EV ELX's, etc for using a personal monitoring for my guitar rig so I'm pretty well versed in what "decent" quality mains and the ZLX's are pretty good kit.
 

modulusman

Member
Messages
2,066
They may actually be dual 15's.
Yeah, I really think my powered EV's while clearly not top of the line are probably better than those unpowered mains. I've owned QSC, RCF, EV ELX's, etc for using a personal monitoring for my guitar rig so I'm pretty well versed in what "decent" quality mains and the ZLX's are pretty good kit.
Dual 15 PA cabs suck unless they are professional grade.
 

Flogger59

Member
Messages
11,649
They may actually be dual 15's.
Yeah, I really think my powered EV's while clearly not top of the line are probably better than those unpowered mains. I've owned QSC, RCF, EV ELX's, etc for using a personal monitoring for my guitar rig so I'm pretty well versed in what "decent" quality mains and the ZLX's are pretty good kit.
Those dual 15 boxes from Peavey are appropriate for a bad DJ. The crossover point is smack dab in the middle of the vocal range, and placed very high for a 15" speaker in order to keep the HF diaphragm alive. Even on their own, vocals will be a woolly, muddy mess.
You would be better off with a powered 1x12 box from QSC, Yamaha (used those in a similar configuration, outstanding), or EV. As for subs, don't buy, rent them when you need them.
 

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,486
Those dual 15 boxes from Peavey are appropriate for a bad DJ. The crossover point is smack dab in the middle of the vocal range, and placed very high for a 15" speaker in order to keep the HF diaphragm alive. Even on their own, vocals will be a woolly, muddy mess.
You would be better off with a powered 1x12 box from QSC, Yamaha (used those in a similar configuration, outstanding), or EV. As for subs, don't buy, rent them when you need them.
Thanks, as I look at the gear I own for my small-ish acoustic PA I'm still convinced that I have picked appropriate gear that can be built upon. The EV ZLX series is on par with their ELX series which is on par (IMHO) with the more expensive QSC K series stuff, Yamaha DR series, etc... They are LOUD and hold up well as long as I don't push too much "unrestrained" bottom end - meaning prerecorded stuff sounds great, live vocals, synth, acoustic sounds great. My AxeFX has some patches that can push the low end too hard. A Kick might be too much but if the guy is carrying a room acoustically a small amount of kick could work.
In short, I need to get these mains out on a full band gig.
Now people are mentioning I need a bigger board. I just don't know... I had the Presonus 16.0.2 with 4 aux sends. It was a killer board but way overkill for my acoustic rig. With the ZED 10 I swear I think the mic pre's are just as good as the presonus. The ZED has very fine built in FX (which I use sparingly). I have 4 mic/XLR ins. That gives me 3 vocals and kick drum. The stereo inputs allow me to bring in my AxeFX II (in stereo) and possibly some keys (in stereo) OR a bass DI.
The glaring issue is one aux send, but again if everyone is telling me stage volume needs to come down first than acoustic kit + mic'd kick, 3 vocals up front and a little FOH support for guitar "should" work. Again, I can't (and I don't think I should) mic an entire kit. The bass has the rumble without going DI but I could fit it. And with only one aux mix if it's ONLY vocals I don't see the issue?
How would the mixer itself provide more headroom? Like I said, the ZED has decent pres and I don't think the Presonus (or Mackie or whatever) is giving me "more headroom" or more play on the trim/gain.
If I decided I needed to add a sub (mainly for kick, more bass support and especially DJ'ing in between sets) could I daisy chain off one of the mains? (they do have the option to be daisy chained together AND they include a sub on/off setting).
Not sure where I could just rent a sub(s).

I just feel like I'm quite close with what I have and my gear budget is nil right now. My lead singer has a Mackie 12 channel VLZ I could use and she also have a powered 15" (Mackie I think) which could be used as a front line monitor.

I dunno, thinking of options. I'd love to have a PA that can handle all of my gigs, sound very solid and be in total control of AND be able to get up and running quickly. Saturday was crazy, we literally were setting up until the last second... didn't even have time to get the lighting rig up :(
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,029
I misunderstood your OP to read that you had subs. The ability to run only the kick and bass through the subs and keep them relatively out of the Mains will lead to slightly better headroom. Good EQ skills will also allow you to get better gain before feedback from your main vocal mics.
Every situation is different and it is always better to have more PA than you need for a given gig.
 






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