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Amp-less set-up advice

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by neonrich, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. neonrich


    Jul 26, 2012
    Bournemouth, UK

    As a band, recently we've started to cut out all the unnecessary bits of our live show, including amps...
    As a bass player, i have everything i need in a pedal-board. My problem comes with erratic sound engineers.

    I need to EITHER carry a wedge around so that i've got some feedback of my sound (which pretty much defeats the amp-less idea, but does reduce the size of what i need to carry around), for those moments when you get screwed by the sound engineer.. OR a simple in-ear set-up.

    Can people give me advice on both, so that i can make an informed choice of which way to go? Cost is a big factor, and the in-ear route as far, as i can tell, is fairly expensive..

    I know some of this has been covered a few times in different ways, but i do think its a relevant, current topic.. what with the advent of Axe-FX & other similar units...

    Thanks in advance!
  2. i watched a local band playing a few years ago, the bassist was ampless, and not standing anywhere near a monitor,

    i asked him about this, and he told me he was learning to play in situations where he could barley hear himself, so he would be prepared regardless of the state of the monitors

    his bass playing sounded great. i have played loads of ampless gigs. worst case scenario, i would go stand as close as possible to the foh, and that often did the job.

    i guess its really dependent on how comfortable you are ampless.

    how about splitting the signal at the bass to one of those little vox amplug things for an emergency in ear monitor?
  3. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    You'll need some kind of monitoring I guess. In the idea of being ampless I would go the in-ear route. Most stage monitors do suck on bass anyway and smaller stages do not even provide you an individual monitor channel.
    what I read often is that bass players have a personal mixer on stage. Instead of having a monitor speaker, they just get the wire with the monitor signal in it and plug it into their personal mixer. The bass signal is also plugged into the mixer and the mixer output goes into the in-ear transmitter. This way you'll have your personal mix with a bit more bass feedback for yourself.
    Some in-ear transmitter (AKG afaik) do allow two or more signal inputs and allow a mix between the signals.
  4. neonrich


    Jul 26, 2012
    Bournemouth, UK
    Its just such a lottery when you don't have your own sound man! Replying on the random people that you find in some of the gigs who are 'soundmen' really has forced me to go this route.
    The Vox Amplug idea is a neat 'emergency' idea, so that's helpful. I'd like to be able to come up with something more permanent than that though, rather than a quick fix. Good thinking though..

    Quite a few of the venues we've played, the sound engineers tend to be less than helpful, so getting a monitor feed can be an unpredictable pain in the ass as well.
    I feel we need to almost be self-sufficient on-stage & remove ourselves from that unpredictable situation. I can only really find expensive answers to that though!
  5. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    If you stick with the backline you have now, you don't have to spend any money, especially since you have to depend on others to do the sound.

    Attempting to go ampless without being incontrol of the PA seems like it could be a [DEL]waste of time[/DEL] problem that can't really be solved. :atoz:
  6. neonrich


    Jul 26, 2012
    Bournemouth, UK
    Stumbo, while it might look like we're trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.... it does!

    Honestly the random nature of sound from venue to venue, most importantly on-stage, make it very difficult to do consistent quality performances for people who pay money for our shows. One of the band at almost EVERY gig struggles to hear an instrument, due to any number of factors... so we want to take our stage performance away from that by being self-contained. We think doing this is a sensible solution to a real-world problem... allowing us to give the best for our crowds at EVERY gig.

    The question still remains, would this be better as a pair of our own wedges.. one bass.. one guitar for our DI'd instruments... or the in-ear route (to cut out excess weight/equipment)?
  7. Hi.


    Do remember also that for most groups everyone needs to hear everyone -to an extent anyway- so if the bass is lacking in the monitors, it's not just Your problem.
    The whole suffers.
    Based on my own observations on both sides of the console and on both consoles as well.

    The very narrow dispersion characteristics of quality stage monitors and most backline rigs (unintentionally on those, but still) can also help tremendously.
    A little bit of careful planning on the aim of the backline/monitors and the positions of the players, and everyone (except the poor drummer) can adjust their mix by just standing in a different spot.
    Or turning Your head in another direction.
    A kind of control that is completely lost with IEM's.

    I'm a die-hard tube lover but if the situation calls for it, I use a SWR WM10 on an amp stand for such duty.
    Works like a charm, and the FOH and onstage mics aren't affected by the bleed.

  8. neonrich


    Jul 26, 2012
    Bournemouth, UK
    Interesting to get another view!
    We want to give as MUCH flexibility to the sound engineers, by not overpowering them with on-stage volume & giving them a chance to actually mix the sounds properly & as they feel is best for the crowd... hence dispensing with amps. We didnt have to, but we felt technology was in a place where this was possible & practical.. especially with the reduction in gear to carry around.

    We feed off a,live sound, hence the wedge idea for our own on-stage monitoring. I don't really want to go the IEM route, unless its the best way to practically achieve what we're trying to do.
    What sort of wedges should we be looking at to recreate our sound? What sort of prices are we looking at? Give us some of your wide knowledge & see what we can come up with!

    Thanks everyone
  9. Hi.

    Even if it means that I do sound like a broken record preaching about it yet once again, for me there's only one logical solution then.

    Hiring Your own sound person.

    Snagging someone who is accepted by the majority of venues/venues sound person is not going to be easy nor cheap, but IME it's an investment that pays itself back in larger draws and in more/better paying gigs.

    Having the same person every gig as the final link between Your art and the audience ensures the best possible outcome.
    And income ;).

    Additionally, when You have your own sound person you trust, going the IEM route will be possible as well.

  10. I would just tell the rest of your band to turn it sideways and cram it.

    Play with your rig if you want to. If you actually DO want to spend the coin on IEM or a good wedge then pony up for that. Otherwise I say keep using what works.
  11. There are some great threads in live sound about IEM and suitable powered wedges, I use a rolls pm351 personal monitor box to provide, a mix of foh, my vocals, and bass to my iem, and a qsc k12 for 90% of my gigs.
  12. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    No AMP HUH....No thanks i wont be playing in that band.If i dont feel my vibs on the back of my legs im not happy..
  13. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    I would say that the trouble you are experiencing is with FOH, if I'm reading your situation correctly-inconsistant mixing from venue to venue? I guess I would second the suggestion to hire your own sound guy. It's the only way to insure you are getting your sound, the way you want it, to your audience. I have to use IEM's at a casino gig, but I always bring a small combo amp, as does the guitar player. One earplug for the mix in my right ear, left ear open to hear my combo. Works for me.
  14. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    question anyone - what is "foh"?
  15. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    Front OF House - meaning the PA system.
    He stood near the PA speakers to be able to hear himself
  16. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    I run amp less for our gigs, and have incorporated an IEM set up, as a great many of the local sound companies offer them (bring your own earbuds, mind you). My rig is actually iOS based as well. Here's the rundown.

    Send: Bass -> wireless -> Focusrite iTrack Solo -> iPhone -> ART Cleanbox Pro (to balance the signal out as a DI) -> FOH. I use an AirTurn BT105 pedal for patch/settings changes.
    Return (monitor): Monitor send into Channel 2 on the ART Cleanbox Pro (to unbalance the signal coming in) -> Digitech Studio S100 (for compression, EQ and gate) -> BBE Sonic Maximizer 362 -> GA 900 IEM transmitter -> receiver -> Shure SE215 earbuds.

    For rehearsals, I simply remove the wireless from the equation and go direct into the Focusrite iTrack Solo, and use a wired send out of the front of my GA900 to my Shures.

    Some things to note. You don't need the Compression/EQ/Gate/Sonic Maximizer in your rig, but they do indeed help tremendously to make the sound more pleasant, and allow you to pick up certain instruments easier. It's been my experience that monitor returns are typically not compressed at all, not gated (which in the case of audible hiss can be very ear-fatiguing), and EQ'd very flat to mid-trebly so as to remove the bass frequencies that could fart or damage a lesser wedge speaker. This being in my return signal chain allows me to tart up the sound a bit.

    I usually get a mono return, but on the occasion where I can get a stereo signal back to me, it's REALLY nice because I can have the drums panned and really isolate whichever bit of percussion I'm hanging the groove on. Worth factoring into your setup.

    The GA900 is a very entry-level IEM solution. It's not the quietest on the market, but it gets the job done, and takes a long distance before it lags noticeably or drops out at all. I'd recommend bumping up to the 1100 or a better company altogether if you can afford it, but if you can't, you'll do just fine with something like this.

    All of my rig is self-contained in one Gator rack, and can be turned sideways and upside down without anything banging around. All my cables and pedals fit within as well.

    In short, I need one box, and one bass, and usually carry a keyboard stand on which to set the rack.

    Hope that helps.
  17. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    My band is in the same boat. Some casinos and events have great soundguys. Some do not. Most are in between, but either way we needed to hear ourselves consistently and we needed to be able to set up quickly.

    I settled on IEMs, a Rolls PM351, and a small mixing board.

    I get my bass and vocals in my ears before FOH does, always. I use the mixing board (a small Mackie) on top of my bass-and-backing-track rack, and get a send from FOH. From there, I make sure the drummer and I (he uses the headphone out on the board, I use an Aux send to mix with the PM351) get click, vocals, track, and an ambient mic in our ears. I recently added a footswitch that sends the feed from my headset mic to the drummer's cans; it's been great for onstage communication.

    While it's not ideal, it means that at least, no matter how incompetent the soundguy at a venue might be, the rhythm section has what it needs to keep the show rolling forward.

    And no matter what, I always sound great in my own head :)
  18. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    I agree with all of this. My cover group did in ears and they're great and all, and you have a consistent mix personally, but that says nothing for how your mix sounds in the crowd. It may help you perform better, but it's not necessarily going to give you a better sound in the FOH. If you want consistent sound all the time hire a pro sound guy to do your mixing everywhere you go, someone with a breadth of knowledge on how to work any system you may play through and be able to compensate for room irregularities while you're touring.

    There's a certain new venue with kind of an odd shaped room here in Boston. I've seen 4 or 5 shows there and I've only seen one that was mixed well by the band's touring sound guys. Things to consider.
  19. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013

    + googolplex:bassist:
  20. stingraysvt


    Jun 20, 2011
    Ears with 2 or more inputs served me well for quite a while. I have shure PSM 900's now but my first in ear rig was a db technologies iem 1100. It had 2 inputs with thru's so I typically ran my vocal and bass through it in the absence of a mix. I did the ampless thing A LOT with that setup.

    I was running my bass wireless > IEM 1100 > console, there was no EQ control except for on my bass but it worked out really really nice.

    My backup mixer for my PSM 900's is a shure p4m. It is a 4 input stereo mixer, which sound sterile but works in a pinch

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