Lots of experience with some of the members here. I've been helping some other guys out with their systems lately so I figured I'd put some of that advice here and invite others to chime in with their tips. There are obviously variables within all of this stuff. Use your Hi-Pass filters A key thing about live sound is getting rid of unneeded frequencies or mitigating problem areas. The hpf on each channel goes a long way for this. If you're on an analog console, you may be stuck with a single pushbutton at 100 Hz. Use it on pretty much every channel except kick, lower toms and bass guitar. If you have a digital console you should be able to set a specific frequency. For lead vocal, I hpf around 150 Hz. You could even go a touch higher for Backup vocals if you want. For kick and bass guitar, somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 Hz is good. Guitars can be around 100 Hz unless you're playing some chug chug heavy guitar music... but even then..... Floor toms can have some pretty low frequency info and I find somewhere around 55-60 Hz good and each smaller tom as you get to rack 1 a bit higher. Electric keyboards often have a ton of low end. Depending on the style of music, I'll hpf around 100 Hz. Drum overheads around 300 Hz. These are basic guidelines and you can also set these by ear. While soundchecking the instrument or vocal through the PA, turn the hpf up slowly (frequency is getting higher) until you hear a noticeable change in the low end. Then, back it down just a touch. This will really clean up your sound out front. Ideally, you want this hpf to be active in your monitor sends for stage also. If you're basically using your wedges for vocals only, keep that low low stuff out of there. You'll be happier. Powered speaker levels/ input settings This may seem like Captain Obvious to many of you but use the LINE INPUT setting and not MIC on your powered speakers with a mixer. I've walked in on too many rigs where someone will have their master fader on -20 and their powered speaker set to the MIC setting on the input because that setting is louder. The MIC setting is only for plugging a microphone directly into the speaker input without any sort of PA mixer. Mixers operate at LINE level and so should all of your speakers. For volume level settings on powered speakers it's really okay to have them set wherever you need as long as your gain structure feeding into them is good. Ideally, your master fader on your mixer would be set to Zero (unity) and the mix levels on your output meters of the mixer would be around 0 VU. You would then adjust the volume controls on your powered speaker to a level that suits the room. I usually start with all of my powered speakers at 2 o'clock or 7/10 on the volume. I'll then use the master fader or Aux masters to get the volume where I want it. For most of my bar gigs, this gives me the best gain structure and performance. Most of the time, the volume on a power amp is actually an attenuator. The amp is always running at "full blast" and the volume control is turning down the input level feeding into the amp. If you find yourself with your volume control all the way up on your powered speaker, it's okay. Just keep an eye on your clip/overload/limit indicators. Also, if you find that you need to turn your speakers to 100%, it's a good idea to check your signal levels further upstream to see if you are somewhere close to 0 VU at your output stage. Proper gain staging means you have somewhere around a 0 VU level at all points in the signal path. If you have your master fader on -20 and your speaker turned up to 10, no bueno. Monitors Less is more is often a good approach for a clean stage. I've played plenty of less than ideal stages (if there even is a stage) where you are in a corner, against walls with a ceiling 8 feet above. There's low end reflecting everywhere and this is why you can't hear anything even though you keep turning stuff up. We could go deep into physics here but just understand that some frequencies build up and multiply with these conditions. Most of the new digital mixers have RTAs on each output that can help you identify these problems. Once again the hpf button is your friend. You basically want to get rid of the problems and not have that sound from those frequencies being reinforced on your stage. My approach is to have less in my wedge instead of trying to make each instrument louder and louder. That's a losing battle and will fatigue your ears quickly. For messy sounding stages, the quieter you can go with everything, the better. Also, if your amp is on the floor and hitting the back of your shins and you can't hear it, put it on a stand or tilt it up. Capt Obvious once again. As you move to bigger stages, not against walls, no low ceilings....these problems aren't nearly as bad. Outdoor gigs are easiest for me since there usually aren't standing waves. For eq on monitors, I'll start flat and then roll off some low end if there isn't bass drum or other low end material in the mix. Then, with the RTA visible on the output, start raising the monitor level on the Aux master up, with the vocal mic on its stand as it will be during the performance, until you start to hear some feedback. Identify those frequencies on your RTA and start notching them back a few db. Now do it again a bit higher on the Aux output level and find the next offender. It's also good to cup the mic just a bit to see where that's gonna feed back. Also tell your singer to NEVER cup the mic. Physics once again. I'll usually do this until I'm able to get it louder than I think I'll need during the performance. In other words, say 0 (unity) on the output fader is plenty loud enough, I'll make sure I can push it to +4 or 5 without feedback just as a safety net. Lastly, ringing out monitors in a bar is and excellent way to make new friends. For my own gigs, I've gone to In-Ears and couldn't be happier. PA Mains and Subs If you're running more than just vocals, a sub is a great addition. It will give you that lower octave of reinforcement you'll need for kick drum and bass but it will also take some of the load off of your mains since they will no longer be trying to produce really low frequencies. Your mains become more efficient and clean sounding. 60 Hz causes a woofer to move a really long distance front to back. It's easier on your mains if they're not trying to do that. Let the sub handle it. Most powered mains have some sort of crossover built in and will work easiest if everything is the same brand. I use the Yamaha DSR series. The main line out from my mixer goes into the sub and the sub has an output that feeds my main speaker. That speaker has a HPF button on it that I press. Done. The crossover is determining what frequency ranges go to the different speakers. The sub has a built in crossover that is essentially a Low Pass Filter set at 120 Hz. Any sound higher than 120 Hz falls off (gets quieter) quickly. The HPF button on the main speaker causes all sound below 120 Hz to fall off quickly. If you don't have a good crossover network built in or if you're using passive speakers with external power amps, the DBX Drive Rack is still probably the best and most cost effective solution. There will be a bit of overlap at the crossover frequency which becomes less and less as you go higher or lower in frequency. This is where phase alignment and additional eq comes into play but that's a much deeper topic. I see a lot of bands put their mains as high up on poles as possible, often close to the ceiling. Not really ideal in my opinion. The high end content coming out of the tweeter/horn is very directional and you're shooting it over the heads of all the people up front. Low end turns corners and will travel around stuff. High end doesn't. Set those speakers up to where the tweeter/horn is just above everyone's heads up front. If you want to get super geeky, look up your speaker's directivity pattern. That's all for now as I patiently wait on the UPS guy to bring my new Midas MR18. I got mixin' on da mind.