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Achieving Better Sound

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Deep Release, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Would appreciate any advice.

    I’m not a sound engineer, just a musician trying to get a better sound.

    We’re a 4 piece band, 2 Guitars, Bass and Drums. We generally get a good sound most nights, Guitars seem to get lost in the mix (Although the stage volume seems high), I’m always compensating, eventually getting it. When I check certain other bands, good ones, the sound is clean and you hear everything perfectly.

    We bought our own equipment about 8 years ago, we were paying sound guys as much as or more than the individual band members were getting, some were really good, some were really bad, so we invested in a “set it and forget it” system. Suggested by a friend in the business, we’ve seen similar set-ups work well for others, so we bought it.

    It’s a simple PA set-up, Allen & Heath MixWizard 16:2, running through a BBE 882i Sonic Maximizer to two QSC 15” 3 way active speakers, Drums and guitars are miked, Bass runs direct. We use three Mackie SRM150 monitors, and a floor wedge, trying to keep our stage volume low.

    My question is, would an equalizer help clean up the sound?

    We’ve talked about a sub, but we feel like we have enough bottom end.

    I guess I may always think it could sound better...
  2. The sonic maximizer is something people use when they have no idea how to setup a good PA system. Everything it does can be achieved by good PA setup and proper EQ. I would absolutely invest in an EQ unit. Maybe sell the BBE for it. Get two if you can, one for the floor wedge.

    If you have enough bottom end I wouldn't bother with a sub, personally.

    If you can afford it, a DBX driverack has all the bells and whistles you'd need, and they make one specifically for active speakers. But it may be overkill for your situation.
  3. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Compression is a part of the "pro" sound too. On bass guitar for sure, usually kick drum and possibly vocals if your singer(s) don't have good dynamic control / mic technique.

    Unless you have onboard compression with your board it looks like you're missing that piece of the equation and if it's used correctly and discreetly it can make a big difference for the better.

    It's not more important than quality EQ but it runs a close second IMO.
  4. Read some of this stuff:


    I'm always after the guys in my band to think about this.
    It's a tough sell usually but so important.

    Acoustic guitars, the players always want the whole full "bedroom" eq cause it sounds so good alone.
    Throw that same setting into a band mix and you start competing with other instruments "sonically" not volume wise, although that happens as well.

    I am always reminding them we want to hear the the cool jangly string thing but not so much the low frequency stuff.
    So I tell them get off the full bar chords, think lighter smaller chords like triads on the upper strings or something.

    Anyway, just my .02 and one example, all instruments can be guilty of this.

    Volume is not the solution IMO.
    It just becomes a war that nobody wins.
  5. First of all, it's really important to create a frequency range for each instrument. You shouldn't have the same eq on both guitars, and you shouldn't be boosting the same bass frequency for kick and bass guitar, for example. Carefully giving each instrument its own space will make your mix much better.

    I cant remember if the MixWiz has high pass filters; try them on your vocals and even guitars, or roll the bass down on those channels. Just because the eq knob says flat, it doesn't mean that's the best place for it.

    I'm dubious about the BBE as well. Try getting a really good mix without it, and then see what it does for you.

    As far a subs go, I would add one, even for low volume or smaller gigs. Set up properly, you can take all of the low and low mid muck out of your top cabs. I use a similar system regularly, and IMHO I get a very good sound from it. I only feed bass, kick, toms, and maybe some keys to the sub. It's amazing how much mud disappears!

    That's all I can think of right now, but there have been similar threads in the past, and some really excellent answers.
  6. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    set and forget PA ? ain't no such thing unless it's a fixed install and even then it is highly unlikely
  7. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Acoustic guitar, IME, can really be a mutha to get "right" in a full band setting. Too much low end on acoustic guitar is common and can really muddy up the mix and suck space away from the bass guitar. I basically approach acoustic guitar as the stringed equivalent of the hi-hat and try to accentuate the frequencies associated with that function without getting so clicky-clacky that all tonality is lost. Playing technique, as you've also noted, is huge and "heavy handed" acoustic players who insist on full chords for everything can be a challenge, especially if there are other chordal instruments in the equation.
  8. While I agree about the bedroom tone thing, I hate the jangly string thing on acoustic guitars. I pull that annoying noise out of the mix and let the low mids come through so that when the rest of the band cuts out there's just this warm sound that fills up the space. But that's JMO.
  9. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    Part of running sound is diagnosing issues, eg. your missing guitars, and getting the most out of the equipment in the space. You can have a load of tricks & gizmos but nothing can compete with a good, experienced troubleshooting ears. If you can ID the major issues you're halfway there!

    Good luck. Oh and cut 99% the bass from the guitarists. It's bad enough they want the low mids!:mad:
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Another tip relative to EQ, which took me years to learn:

    Rather than boosting what you want boosted, try cutting things around it. Boosting the heck out of too many frequencies can mess up your gain structure, eat up headroom with the amps and introduce noise into the system.

    Same principle applies to building a mix (levels), but EQ is where it can really make a difference.
  11. Good point.
    I totally agree.
    I got our acoustic player to get a little boss eq pedal so he can have a good "with the whole band" mix sound and a solo sound with more mids/bottom in it.
  12. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    This is almost universally true. And it helps isolate issues more effectively. I hear too much treble... boost bass & mids and lower master? :rollno:

    It's all about listening. :D
  13. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Lose the maximum sodomizer and buy some graphic EQs. Since you don't use subs and the QSCs can't be pole mounted do you just set them on the floor? If you can't get the horns up to at least ear level then it will sound like crap.
  14. Thanks for everyone's input. It's alot of confirmation to what we've been researching.

    We've been at it long enough to know turning things up is not the answer, which is why we're looking into the proper way of doing things.

    We built wooden bases, with a slight angle, for theQSC's to sit on, so they aren't just sitting on the floor.
  15. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
  16. +1 on the dbx DriveRack, subs and compressors for kick and vocals. Use the DriveRack to EQ, crossover (assuming subs) and limit the system using its measurement mic at each venue.
  17. I don't think an equalizer will fix your problem. Its a useful tool for your PA, but for guitars getting lost in the mix I would check some other things first.

    Guitarists like to do some guitarist things, that might be contributing to being lost out front:
    - turning up their amps reverb so they feel like they are playing in God's own auditorium ...add the rooms natural ambiance and the guitar becomes a wash
    - Putting their amp on the floor, pointed at the back of their knees, then cranking it so they can hear, and then standing in front of it so no one out front can.
    - Turning up the bass so that the low strings create that low mid Marshall chug chug chug. If your band plays chug chug music that's great, but for anything else its pretty much useless.
    - Too much overdrive/distortion. Sounds some gui****iddly awesome by itself, but the instrument is lost instantly in the mix.

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