What did the Sound Man Do?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Trevordog, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    I was playing an old Gretsch tenor banjo that I picked up years ago for $25 at a show last night, and I was using a cheap stick-it-on pick-up that I duct taped on to the body. I was going thru an Acoustic Image Corus amp, and the sound men at the park we were playing at saw the mic jack on the front of the amp, and said excitedly, 'All we need is an XLR!".

    They plugged a cord into the mic input, and i couldn't believe the difference in sound when I tested it out. Instead of the ratty, annoying, crappy sound the banjo usually got, it sounded like a $10K banjo, full, warm, strong and pretty, with a little click kind of sound every time I strummed a chord.
    My guitar was plugged in the other channel, and sounded the same way it usually sounded.

    I asked the head sound man why it sounded so great, and he said that he did a little something to give it a warmer sound. I told him it seemed to come out of only my amp, and he said I was probably hearing the back of the big speakers they used, and also some of the monitor that they set up for the vocalists. he also said it could only be as good as my amp was.
    I asked him how i could get a sound like that all the time, and he recommended a Fishman pick-up.
    What happened?
     
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  2. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    It's very nice to hear a complementary comment about sound guys for a change. :aok

    Anyway, might have something to do with impedance matching on your amp...you don't mention the type of pickup you were using and/or whether or not they used a DI to convert it's output to suite the low impedance input....?
     
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  3. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    It was just a cheap contact pickup, made by a cheap-ass company like someone not known for their pick-ups, like D'Addario or someone. It cost me $20 maybe 15 years ago.
    All I heard them say was the XLR connection. I didn't plug my guitar or banjo into any box, the wire went in direct to my amp.
    The head guy did his thing at the board, way far away from the stage. He tried to tell me it was because I was a good banjo player; I told him i just tune it to the four top strings of the guitar and
    chunk away.
    I'm just wondering if I can get a sound like that without their help.
    The Acoustic Image amps are not cheap amps, they go for about $1800 new. I got mine from some poor starving jazzer for for $440.
     
  4. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    Yeah, looks like a nice amp and that would be a great deal. The specs indicate typical 1 MOhm on the normal (High Z) guitar input and typical 600 Ohm impedance on the microphone input. Most contact pickups would have high impedance and not be expected to work well into a low impedance input. So, hard to say what's going on.
     
  5. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    Yeah, it sounds like shite when I play the banjo through it, normally.
     
  6. Flogger59

    Flogger59 Member

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    The XLR was likely the signal out on the back of the amp. He plugged that directly to the board. Basically the amp was the DI.

    As to what twiddling occured at the board I cannot say.
     
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  7. yfeefy

    yfeefy Member

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    I noticed a difference between this story, and the soundman nightmare stories --> The people who knew what they were doing: the sound guys, and you, didn't feel a big need to call attention to themselves.
     
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  8. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    Yeah, but it sure sounded as if the OP indicated that the pickup (somehow) went into the mic/XLR input of one of the amp's channels. Now, that amp does have an XLR direct out - also mounted on the front of the amp, fwiw, which might have confused him. Hopefully @Trevordog can provide more details to clear that up.
     
  9. Steviecaster

    Steviecaster Member

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    He hust hooked the XLR out of the amp directly to to PA. The PA horns ,and added treble brought it to life. I would try that if you have a PA.
     
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  10. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    Maybe he waved his sound engineering certificate in front of it.
     
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  11. cram

    cram Member

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    Check his rig out and see if/what he has to send/return.
    Things that are possible:
    Sonic Maximizer or equivalent -

    Compression?

    Other musicians playing with you?
    How were vocals sounding? good? Any other, "Wow, my sound is great right now! " observations?

    Other thoughts - If the guy didn't point to anything specific, he likely did little-to-nothing aside from compression & EQ but you're just in a good sounding spot.

    I've experienced this with vocals.
    A) play in a dive bar with a bad shape; i struggle and fight to be audible.
    B) play in a slightly larger place with a lot of diffusion and good sound; sooooo much more comfortable for my meager voice. so much better.
     
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  12. misa

    misa Supporting Member

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    Maybe you’re not jiving with the amp’s speaker and hearing the signal through the full-range PA system perked up your ears.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 6:48 PM
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  13. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    I was playing the show "Mame" with a large 30 piece orchestra, and I was amazed that my single lines with the trumpets had just as much presence as they had. The vocals sounded okay, with their wireless mics taped to their heads.
    unfortunately, this gig was with a touring company, and I won't be back to that park in a long time, so I can't check out their rig.
    On the title tune, the banjo has two solos, but otherwise is in the background.
    That night it sounded like the orchestra was in the background, and the banjo was the featured instrument; I was ecstatic! LOL!
     
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  14. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    Yeah, the pickup was plugged into the mic/XLR channel of the amp, and I cranked the volume up to a little past five, and the treble all the way up, because the conductor wanted the banjo to stand out.
    He must have been happy with it, because he said, "Thank You!" when I walked by him after the show.
     
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  15. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    The head dude was at least in his 60s, and his company is supposedly a prestigious Manhattan sound operation that does a lot of stuff in the city. He had a team of scruffy-looking guys with beards in jeans working for him.
     
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  16. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    Still a mystery then. Most passive "contact mics" (which are, really, just piezo's mounted on or "in contact with" a vibrating surface) have relatively high output impedance. The low input impedance of a mic preamp will tend to produce a thinner sound, not fatter as you suggest. The mic preamp input would be likely to give you a hotter signal - as they often boost low level mic signals - so that could be some of the difference, perhaps.
     
  17. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    This might explain why my guitar didn't sound any different than it normally sounds. On future gigs where I'm using this amp with only guitar, it might be a good idea to plug my guitar into that channel instead of the other one...
     
  18. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    My background is radio station management. A standing radio engineer joke was that he waved his license in front of the transmitter, his authority was enough to get it up and running again. I meant no disrespect.
     
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  19. cram

    cram Member

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    I have two tenors - both from my grandfather where he'd played in groups prior to WWII.
    One was his every day player; I forget the brand, but it still works - open back. Still stays in tune. I still have the same drum on it.
    The SECOND! Ha! - Pre-war Gibson. So, when you mentioned a 10k banjo as your quality bench mark. This one is in great condition. I can't seem to put it down whenever I start playing it again. I'll likely pass that one on to one of my little musical kids for them to enjoy.

    I love it.
     
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