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Using a venue's sound guy & PA at a gig vs using your own - pros and cons

Messages
144
So far I hate using the venue's sound and "engineer". In fact I'm going to have this same problem this weekend. We are a cover band, I've invested thousands of dollars to get a really good digital system because everyone is running direct, even the drums, and everyone has their own monitor mix.

The venue this weekend? A bar with a couple 15 inch tops, 2 floor monitors and a small board. And somebody's cousin/brother/regular running the sound. So I'm going to bring our PA and run sound from the stage. The last time we had someone else running sound on their own house PA, they had our lead singer's vocals on a hard gate so everytime he held a note the mic would just cut off. And of course to overcome the gate he'd have to sing harder. It was a mess. Told the "engineer" brother of the owner what adjustments needed to be made on the board and he blamed our equipment. Didn't understand gain staging or compression, just that louder was better.

So it's gonna be a no for me, with everyone in the band running direct we are at the mercy of whomever is behind the board. We're not playing the Fillmore so it's usually the lowest bidder and our sound reflects that.
 

Stokely

Member
Messages
1,761
You shouldn't need to be running out front to check on the levels during a gig once they've already been set. You just do a good soundcheck, then 'set and forget'.



There is absolutely no need to have to set up your in ear monitor mixes every time you do a gig. All you need to do is set these up during rehearsals, then just turn up and use the same settings at every gig. The Zoom L-12 we use allows us to save individual monitor mixes for each band member, so when we get to the gig we just load those up and go - no tweaking required for the IEM mixes whatsoever. I'm surprise you don't do it this way. Your way is terribly slow and inefficient.

Well, I'm overstating things a bit. Once the mix is set, then yes very little typically needs to be done. That said, we are a five piece with four different lead singers so sometimes we need to tweak things a bit more than some bands.

We are not setting things up every gig, but tweaks are sometimes needed. We have subs on bass and drums fairly often. Two of us are still on wedges and that causes issues far more often than in-ears. Typically by set 2 things are settled.

And "soundcheck", quite often we do not get a real soundcheck, only a line check. Some places we can't do it because it's dinner hour before the show, others with sound people they don't show up until it's pretty late etc.
 
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Steved65

Member
Messages
183
If it's a new venue to us we always choose to use the house sound... just so that we are "easy to work with".

But generally, the monitors are crap in those situations, and anything even a little complicated will be ignored.

Two weeks ago I had a sound guy at a festival tell me to nod to him anytime I needed to sing backups so he could turn my mic on for those. I told him I sing backup on every song and am scattered all throughout verses and most choruses. He said, "I can't have your mic on that much, just pick the most important ones." I mean... at least hear me sing before shutting my mic off! LOL!
 

smallbutmighty

I do my own stunts.
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,571
As god is my witness, I will never set up/tear down a PA again.

If the house sounds sucks that bad, try to work your way into better houses. I'm pretty lucky that the places my bands play typically have great sound and great sound guys. The more you play a certain place, and the more you develop a working relationship with the soundguy there, the faster things go and the better they sound.

Sometimes at festival-type shows it is never going to be ideal. Ever. The more you do, the more you learn how to not be all precious about "your sound", and make the show entertaining for the crowd regardless of your own personal sound drama.

The only way I would ever bring the band's own PA again is if there were other guys hauling it, arriving two hours early to set it up, running it, and staying two hours late to pack it up again.
 

drpoyer

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
798
Wow, that ranks up there with worst sound guy ever!!

Two weeks ago I had a sound guy at a festival tell me to nod to him anytime I needed to sing backups so he could turn my mic on for those. I told him I sing backup on every song and am scattered all throughout verses and most choruses. He said, "I can't have your mic on that much, just pick the most important ones." I mean... at least hear me sing before shutting my mic off! LOL!
 

Stokely

Member
Messages
1,761
Our PA is simple and easy to set up, I guess it's one benefit of being a small-time weekend band. I think back to th late 80s where my frat band (playing frat parties around the Southeast US) filled up a 15ft Ryder truck (say NO to u-haul!) to the brim with just our audio gear and lights.

One load on a rock'n'roller cart and we are set. We don't normally need to bring lights, a lot of places have a minimal set that works fine. Takes us 20-25 minutes to get set up if we bust ass.

Digital mixer, a couple powered wedges, and (usually) a couple EV line array dealies. We have a slightly larger QSC sub/top system but frankly most gigs we do are quite low volume. Unless we have a sub musician, everyone knows where and how to plug in so there's no waiting on anyone.
 

ToneGrail

Member
Messages
1,783
I find that monitor mixes are always far from the ideal when using house sound and we never have time to fix it since we play multiple band shows and just normally get a line check before we go on. if we need to make adjustments then we have to ask for a "little more or a little less" between songs, which doesn't always work out well. So we always try to take control of our monitor mix and let the house worry about FOH.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,783
You shouldn't need to be running out front to check on the levels during a gig once they've already been set. You just do a good soundcheck, then 'set and forget'.
and this is from experience? how many live band gigs have you used this setup for?
There is absolutely no need to have to set up your in ear monitor mixes every time you do a gig. All you need to do is set these up during rehearsals, then just turn up and use the same settings at every gig. The Zoom L-12 we use allows us to save individual monitor mixes for each band member, so when we get to the gig we just load those up and go - no tweaking required for the IEM mixes whatsoever.
sort of

with a saved setup in your own mixer you indeed will be most of the way there but you still often need some minor tweaking and balancing, especially with IEMs where a mix that's even a little off is really annoying
 

nksoloproject

Member
Messages
372
and this is from experience? how many live band gigs have you used this setup for?

I've been playing gigs for years in different projects. It's simple logic - you set the sound balance correctly during soundcheck, and therefore if you don't touch it during the gig then it's gonna be correct for all of the gig. That's just simple basic logic and common sense, so I don't see why you're trying to over-complicate it.

sort of

with a saved setup in your own mixer you indeed will be most of the way there but you still often need some minor tweaking and balancing, especially with IEMs where a mix that's even a little off is really annoying

Well since IEMs block out external sound, then if you set a great IEM mix during rehearsals and save it, it'll sound exactly the same at every gig. You only need to tweak it if there's something you realise isn't quite right.
 

markmann

Member
Messages
1,385
Using the house system and sound guy really is a crap shoot IMO. I've heard bands sound pretty good through a fairly crappy system and vise versa. That said I'll take the gamble to avoid hauling that gear and doing the setup/tear down,
 

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
24,911
I was having a discussion with my bandmates about the fact that some venues have their own PA system and sound guy, and they were saying this is a great idea because 'all the band needs to do is turn up, plug in, do their soundcheck and someone else takes care of the sound'. This has to advantage that you don't need to carry round a heavy PA system etc.

However I was thinking, isn't using a venue's PA and sound guy a bit iffy because it's not going to be 'your sound'? When you use your own PA system and have all the settings and effects dialed in (on your digital mixer etc), you get a much more consistent sound from venue to venue. It's not always a good thing to use an unknown sound guy and PA.

What are your thoughts on this? What are some things to remember if using the house PA and sound guy? How can we ensure we get the right sound if he hasn't even heard the band before until soundcheck? What about certain vocal effects that come from our digital mixer - how do we get the right effects on an unknown PA if we don't have access to the mixer and someone else is controlling it?

I dunno, it all seems like it's a recipe for disaster to me and like it could end up giving you a really hit and miss live sound from venue to venue. I think it's better to do the sound yourself and use your own PA where possible if the venue size is right for your PA.

What about taking our digital mixer and plugging that into the venue's PA? Or using our mixer for our monitor mixes and using a split snake to send the instruments to FOH also?

Do you own and run a PA?
Are you responsible for loading it in, setting it up, dialing everyone in at every gig, then shutting it all down and loading it out?
If the answer it no then I can understand your hypothetical OP.
If the answer is yes, then I assume you will most likely vote for provded sound (and lights) every time.
NO venue is going to let you swap out their mixer with your own LOL...
Split snake is money and rife with possible issues -- first one being a house sound guy saying NFW.
 

Gasp100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
24,911
You shouldn't need to be running out front to check on the levels during a gig once they've already been set. You just do a good soundcheck, then 'set and forget'.



There is absolutely no need to have to set up your in ear monitor mixes every time you do a gig. All you need to do is set these up during rehearsals, then just turn up and use the same settings at every gig. The Zoom L-12 we use allows us to save individual monitor mixes for each band member, so when we get to the gig we just load those up and go - no tweaking required for the IEM mixes whatsoever. I'm surprise you don't do it this way. Your way is terribly slow and inefficient.

Are you gigging yet?
You seem to have it all figured out, yet you are asking the question?
We are all on IEMS and depening on venue, room, positioning and IDK, crowd size/energy/volume things can absolutey change mid gig! Maybe not so much to your precious IEM mix but definitely FOH.

I love IEMs but I will not let myself or the band become too reliant on them for the exact reason you stated in your OP.
If they provide house sound and it's a decent venue, then we are using it and probably using wedges period.
True professionals can get it done with less than ideal monitoring and can also adapt to different situations and challenges.

Most of us use all digital mixers with recall... laughable that you'll save scenes in rehearsal and they won't change at ANY gig.
 

MikeMcK

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,158
In most situations, unless the system and/or soundperson is really bad, it's a no-brainer for me... let someone else do it so you can concentrate on music. I hate, hate, hate trying to mix from a stage, with no clue how anything sounds FOH, where every song ends with two people telling me how to adjust their monitor, where every break starts with someone saying, "sounds great, but I couldn't hear...", where half your band has no FOH point of reference whatsoever but is somehow sure they need to be "way louder", watching a room fill up and realizing that if it somehow sounded great an hour ago it sounds lousy now, and on and on and on.

For those who insist, you can always run your mixer into two channels of the house board (or one if you're in mono like most houses), but it's your funeral. 9 times out of 10, what you get is a pissed off soundperson who can only say, "yeah, me neither" to the steady stream of audience members complaining that they can't hear the keys.

One caveat... I'm in an area where anyone who calls themselves a soundperson is probably really good. There are "other" sound people as well and there may be some who are bad enough to do it worse than you can from the stage.
 
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roverdog

Member
Messages
541
As the guy in the band who also does sound, I will almost always use the house PA system and sound person, exceptions only being if our PA( really the mixer) is better than theirs. But still use the sound person.

One thing to mention though is the need to go out on the floor and check levels after a soundcheck. As far as I am concerned, the only time you never have to do this is if you have as many people during the show as you do at your soundcheck. Adding people eat up volume and change the natural reverb of a room.

OP, what do you use for FOH? As someone else mentioned maybe your best best solution is to send a signal from your mixer to their FOH system.

I did like the comment from the gentleman who mentioned that using the house sound person and PA first time in the place as an “easy to get along with” vibe.

Good luck!
 

stevesherbert

Member
Messages
179
This is a great question, OP, so I'll add some thoughts:

- Most bands don't realize how much the room affects their sound. Replacing the house PA and sound guy with your own PA and sound guy isn't going to magically get rid of that horrible slapback echo that's driving you nuts. A different brand of floor wedges isn't going to somehow eliminate the microphone feedback issue. Some venues sound crappy, accept it and/or play somewhere else next time.

- Being precious about your live sound destroys the vibe of the gig. You will never achieve what you hear in your rehearsal space because you aren't playing in your rehearsal space. If you want to be a gigging musician, you need to learn to roll with the punches and put on a killer show no matter what. Whining is the opposite of rock and roll.

- All that really matters is what it sounds like to the audience. Band members need to be able to hear the instruments but only for reference. Say the bass player isn't in love with the monitor mix. Is s/he able to follow the song and play their parts? If so, boo hoo to them, you've got 234509826 more important things to worry about, the first one being playing the damn songs.

- The only band member who should get a say on this issue is the poor chump who would be running sound for your band. The only way I would agree to this is if the rest of the band took care of ALL the loading in/out and setup of the PA system (also make sure they take care of all the load-in and set up of the PA back at your rehearsal space after the gig!). Running your own sound is great for everyone in the band except the one person who gets voluntold to basically do two jobs for the price of one.

- Personally, I would bring an extra floor wedge / monitor to the first gig at a new venue. Sometimes the drummer doesn't get a monitor, sometimes there are no monitors, and other times you might have to use it as the vocal mains! Maybe don't play a second gig at these venues.
 
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modulusman

Member
Messages
2,102
I've been playing gigs for years in different projects. It's simple logic - you set the sound balance correctly during soundcheck, and therefore if you don't touch it during the gig then it's gonna be correct for all of the gig. That's just simple basic logic and common sense, so I don't see why you're trying to over-complicate it.



Well since IEMs block out external sound, then if you set a great IEM mix during rehearsals and save it, it'll sound exactly the same at every gig. You only need to tweak it if there's something you realise isn't quite right.
You don't have a clue to what it takes to be a band soundman.
 

jrjones

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,434
If the venue has a FOH guy and PA for it, then I'd be inclined to say use that. But if you guys are on IEMs or have monitor mixes that really work well for you, then you might want to bring that part of your rig.

Always nice to let someone else worry about FOH....IMO

Split snake and your own mixer is if you run IEMs.
 

jrjones

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,434
You shouldn't need to be running out front to check on the levels during a gig once they've already been set. You just do a good soundcheck, then 'set and forget'.



There is absolutely no need to have to set up your in ear monitor mixes every time you do a gig. All you need to do is set these up during rehearsals, then just turn up and use the same settings at every gig. The Zoom L-12 we use allows us to save individual monitor mixes for each band member, so when we get to the gig we just load those up and go - no tweaking required for the IEM mixes whatsoever. I'm surprise you don't do it this way. Your way is terribly slow and inefficient.

Lol what? What kind of gigs are you playing? Our mix at FOH NEEDS to be changing all night because we play a wide variety of music. And IEM mixes should be a little different in each room because generally your gain staging should be a little different based on the spaces you’re playing in.
 

MoosBros

Member
Messages
341
Communication ahead of the gigs is kinda important. That's WHY advancing the show, contracts and negotiating any particular riders are so important. Every situation is different. As a performer, we had to place a degree of trust in the pro sound techs to be competent, and 99% of the time, they absolutely were. With today's technology used in many places, even your own bands sound tech is likely to be totally lost on a strange rig. Whenever I've mixed big shows, a bands "sound tech" was always welcome to sit with me at the FOH console.(as long as they didn't get in the way). These days, I'm 100% sure that there's not even one top shelf performer that knows anything about running the sound rig. Their job is to be musical entertainers, not audio engineers.
 




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