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ANy reason NOT to run everything through FOH?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by tbirdsp, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    I often see here on TB bass players talking about "no PA support". Why not? I mean I can see if you are lacking channels or just using speakers with 12's in them for vocals, but if you have subs (or at least some 15's) why not run the kick drum and bass guitar through the mains? I would also mic the guitar(s), run keys either mic'd or line out, and probably mic the snare (if nothing else to get a feed for a reverb). I just think having everything running through the PA kind of "unifies" the mix - even if you don't need the volume.
    Any reason NOT to run everything though the FOH system?
  2. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    I do GB, "country club gigs" where I can be asked to turn down using a 112 combo.
  3. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    Should have specified - I am talking small-medium bar gigs, blues, classic rock-ish material.;)
  4. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    If it's a crappy club with an amatuer PA and a novice engineer.

    I play a cool bar every once in a while that has a small PA and usually inexperienced engineers. I don't complain because there's free food, beer, and you get paid.
  5. No reason not to run everything through the PA unless you don't have enough channels or some other limiting factor. I am not a fan of vocal-only systems as I have never found the sound to be very cohesive out in the audience.
  6. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    It depends on the desired volume level of course. If the desired volume is no louder than what the un-mic'ed drums provide, then there is no reason to put anything except vocals and maybe some kick into the FOH. This is usually the case whenever you are playing a small-to-medium sized bar in any genre that does not contain the word "metal" or "core". As most sound guys will tell you, it is often the case that the un-reinforced stage volume is already too loud.

    But yeah, if you need to mic the drums to achieve the desired volume, then you should put everything else in the FOH too for two reasons: (1) to let the sound guy mix things to achieve the right balance, and (2) to keep your stage volume as low as possible.

    A guy I know once said that trying to drive everything with just the instrument amps makes you sound like a garage band.
  7. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    "ANy reason NOT to run everything through FOH?"

    Because one is stuck in the 1970s, with big stage amps, 'smiley face' EQs, crappy PA gear, etc?

    Even at low volume gigs, running everything through PA is much easier to balance and keep that way, if the sound guy has a clue.
    If sound guy does NOT have a clue, you're screwed no matter what you do anyway.
  8. Hi.

    When I read the title, I could've sworn that You have to be from outside US.
    Glad to see I was incorrect with that assumption :).

    The way I see it, the reason is simply laziness.
    Or cluelessness.
    Or total lack of intrest about how does it actually sound up front.

    As long as everyone hears themselves on stage, and preferably everyone "cuts through the mix", to hell with the audience.

    GAS and everything that comes with that obviously plays a role in it, but 9 times out of 10 a typical band has way less than half invested in the PA than they have in their individual instruments and amplification. With some it is as bad as 1/10th.

    From that viewpoint it's easy to understand why the "PA" isn't used for anything but the vocals: "I've bought this .... rig, I'm sure as crap is going to use it" on the other side of the equation and the sad fact that their budget PA just isn't going to cut it for anything BUT the vocals. If even that.

    9 times out of 10 bands (/solo artists) with such attitude towards the entertainment they're supposed to deliver, won't cut it either.

    IME anyway.

    If You can, run everything through the PA.

  9. badstonebass


    Jun 7, 2006
    Brilliant. Agree 100%.

    So many on here will suggest that if you run everything through the PA you cannot achieve a low volume mix. IME it is EASIER to achieve a low volume mix with the whole band in the FOH. Unless of course your drummer is an ass.
  10. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    One common reason is that the stage volume is already where it needs to be. If you run everything through the mains, at a level to overcome the stage bleed, it's going to be too loud.

    Emphasis on "Reinforcement" in "Sound Reinforcement". If there's plenty of sound coming off the stage, natively from the instruments, voices, amps, etc. then only those items that may not have enough native level need to be amplified through the PA. That's not necessarily ideal, from a control standpoint, but that's the way it is sometimes. On the other hand, sometimes the PA system seems to dominate the show, eclipsing the performers, & that's usually not ideal, either. The concept of PA "Support" suggests that the primary sound source is the performers themselves, with the PA filling in what's needed. The larger/louder the event, the less capable the instruments/voices are of providing what's needed, & the more the PA needs to take over.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    They will? Let me at 'em!
  12. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    Thanks to all, you have confirmed what I thought was true.
    For 90% of our gigs, the sound guy will be me - hopefully just asking this question shows I have a clue:) I borrowed a wireless so I can go and listen out front to check the mix.

    "Cohesiveness" as Misty Mountain mentioned above, is exactly what I am after.

    I'm just getting back into music after 20 years off, but my last "gig" was actually not playing bass, but sound engineering (with my old system, long since sold) for a popular local band. Pretty much self taught, using advice from experienced guys and books (need to buy the latest version of "The Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Bible"). I also was the house sound guy at a small bar for a time. I remember many bands that in spite of my lectures, let the stage volume get so out of control I just kept turning everything except the vocals and the kick drum down until they were off. At that point I usually walked away from the console and had a beer.

    I have since bought a small system, powered cabs with 12" and horns on stands and a single powered 15" sub. If needed I can run 2 different monitor mixes with 2
    12"+horn floor wedges on each. Again, blues, classic rock style music, with a female singer (drummer's wife) singing lead on most songs (guitarist does some singing too).
    We have our first gigs coming up, one on a multi-band bill with house sound, the other at a small bar using my system.
    Our drummer is probably going to be an issue. He is a nice guy and plays well, but is used to loud metal bands. The guitarist and I (and a keyboard player we just added) are the old guys of this group. We have been trying to stress that he's going to need to tone it down some on the drums. We'll see. I'm definitely going to mic the kick, just to get a good "feel". Maybe the snare too. I like some reverb on the snare. Even if I have the dry channel nearly off because he's too loud, I can still get the verb. The guitarist is reasonable, he has a boutique tube head and an Avatar 1X12 cab. I'm most likely going to just use my little GK MB200 head with either my Genz Benz Focus 115 or maybe even a Hartke 210XL if the place is really small. Just run the DI out of the head. I've used it for recording and tested it through the PA, sounds decent.
    My priority is that the vocalist(s) can be heard and can hear themselves in the monitors.

    I've been checking out some of the other bands in town. Most at our level are just running vocals (and maybe kick drum) through the PA, usually some kind of 15" 3-way cabs on stands, no subs. None of them sound very good to me. Even when they mic the kick, it usually sounds like crap, no low end to it. One bass player (at the same small bar we are going to be playing with my system) had a Peavey 1820 cab plus another GK 210 on top, plus a 6 space rack full of gear :eek: To his credit he wasn't stupid loud, but what overkill for that room!

    Anyway, I'll post back after these gigs and let you know how they went.
  13. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    Oh, just wanted to add - by far the worst bass sound I've heard was a guy who it appeared was going straight into the PA with no amp, or even pre-amp that I could see. Only using the monitors to hear himself.

    Now - I know it's possible to go "ampless" but this was not a shining example...
  14. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    A local Milwaukee band has EVERYTHING going through the PA. The only stage volume comes from the vocals, the slight clicking of picks on strings, strings on frets and the tap of drumsticks/beaters on the electronic drums. It's really weird to go to the side of the stage and NOT hear much of anything.

    FOH sound is very good, though.
  15. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Assuming a decent PA and a competent sound man, the biggest reason is probably because so many musicians have trouble managing their stage volume; PA + too much stage volume = amateur hour.
  16. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    It's a double egded sword. A good sound person is essential. Not your buddy who does it for beer and gas money LOL!!!! I've played in some really small venues with a 230 watt sealed 2x10 cab and was told to turn down because they could hear the bass :). I personally prefer going through the house so people can actually hear what I'm playing and not be stepped on by drums and a keyboard player with a too busy left hand.
  17. Many reasons...

    PA sucks... owner doesn't know how to run it... not enough channels.. not enough headroom.... personal preference.
  18. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    We play small bars. Running everything through the PA is usually not worth the effort.

    For example, I always plug the bass into the PA, but I very rarely turn it up. Generally, if I need the bass in the PA we are already so loud I am turning the bass down in a desperate attempt to keep the overall volume down and keep the venue happy.

    However, if the dance floor is very packed, sometimes we need some bass and guitar in the PA to carry over the dancers and into the back of the bar.
  19. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    If I'm running my bands sound, I'll usually mic as much as possible, just in case someone needs something in their monitor. Nothing worse than needing something and having to scramble between sets to hook up extra mics when it could've been done earlier in the evening when things weren't quite as hectic as they are after the show starts.

    I don't always put everything through the FOH, but it's nice to be able to accommodate monitor requests.
  20. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    Volume has nothing to do with it. You can still run everything through FOH and have acceptable volume. I understand your point but when running through FOH it is easier to get a good mix and balance as long as the stage volume isn't over powering. I have played everything from very small clubs to large outdoor venues and always run everything through FOH when possible. If you control your stage volume there is no reason to not run through FOH if given the option.