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Bass sound in arena

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by jordan2, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. jordan2


    Apr 2, 2011
    Hi all, I went to a show at a big arena (around 10,00 seat set up sort of like a sports stadium) and while I was there I noticed something a little strange about the overall low end sound. In the first act the kick drum was extremely boomy and loud and completely dominated the mix, especially in bass frequencies. The only thing that you could really hear and define apart from the drums was the lead singer, and the only time the bass was audible and discernible was when the kick dropped out (the bass also had a lot of highs rolled off). It made me wonder is this common in live sound in big shows like this? Some rooms are ringy at certain frequencies and there is nothing you can do about it but at this show I really couldn't hear any bass behind the kick drum (probably because it was EQd at similar frequencies to the kick and was just softer in the mix). I am sure that I felt the bass and with out it there might be something lacking in the sound but I really could not define anything she was playing except for when there wasn't any kick drum. For the headlining band there were different engineers I am assuming and they tightened up the kick drum sound and it wasn't as dominant, still couldn't hear bass that well but it was slightly more present. The second group was also more old school funk whereas the first one was a newer pop group which could have been the reason for different sounds.

    Anyway I guess I was just surprised because I've never heard so little bass in my life. Has anyone else experienced similar things at this type of show?
  2. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Recently caught Toby Mac's show at the local arena.

    Similar observations, as above. There was plenty of energy in the low end of the mix, but the electric bass wasn't clearly defined. I guess that's just the nature of a big ambient space like an arena, especially as the overall volume level goes up.
  3. jordan2


    Apr 2, 2011
    Yeah, I think volume was definitely a factor. For me I was also wearing earplugs but they were good custom ones that have a really flat response. I assumed that a factor was the amount I could feel the kick drum in my chest; the sound I was hearing was cut evenly but the sound I was feeling remained the same and of the sound I was feeling the kick drum was the main part of it. But I took the plugs out for reference and it still sounded pretty much the same.
  4. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    I blame it on hip hop.:D The problem is the idiot soundman probably grew up listening to music in his car that you could here coming down the street from 3 blocks away. I doubt it is the fault of the PA or the arena.
  5. D.A.R.K.


    Aug 20, 2003
    I mix in these environments a lot,
    it definitely has to do with the acoustics in the space…
    but it also has everything to do with modern pa design and especially the technicians running the rig.
    I'll not get too deep into it but despite the issues with dispersion etc. I do miss the mid- range content that older sound systems and analog consoles provide… every now and then i'll run into some older gear and get reminded of what a warm rig sounds like vs. a glassy, precise digital rig.
    This is likely the reason every software company is tripping over themselves to make emulations of old, analog gear lol.
    There is a resurgence of sound system culture though, so there is still hope...
  6. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    I've also been to shows where the amount of bass I heard was dependent on where I sat. On the floor, the bass sounded great. In the balcony, it was non existent.

    Or, it could have been a crappy mix.
  7. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    If you move and the bass changes that drastically, it's not the mix, it's the acoustics and where the low frequency drivers are located. Room modes without treatment cause this.
  8. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I had similar experiences at arena shows. In my opinion it is due to the fact that too many sound engineers are mixing according to what they hear in the headphones rather than to the acoustics of the venue. At several shows, I never saw the sound guy remove his head phones at all. Just because it sounds good through head phones doesn't mean it sounds as good to the crowd.
  9. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    Best advice. Tip the sound guy.
  10. I have experienced this "phenomenon" also. The last two times - one outdoors, the other in an arena. The outdoor venue is known for acceptable acoustics, the arena, well, sucks acoustically.

    I don't know if the FOH guys were stoned, rap guys, or sucked into the 'phones because they were recording for later and didn't really care about what the audience was paying for. The experience seems to be getting more common, from tales I've heard.

    The last show I went to was at an acoustically-challenged venue, but the mix was as good as could be expected. Go figure.

    Short of verbally assaulting the guy at the board, what's a concertgoer to do? We pay good money - sometimes exorbitantly so - and we deserve better.
  11. D.A.R.K.


    Aug 20, 2003
    Do what I do, and avoid the venues you know that sound bad.
    There are venues that i've toured through that the groups I work with refuse to go back to, based on poor sound systems and/ or acoustical nightmares. Like the Masquerade in Atlanta, for example. The upstairs rig is complete junk.
  12. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Sports arenas weren't designed for musical performances. As a result, most arena concerts sound like crap.
  13. KentuckyMartian


    Nov 30, 2013
    Lets Face it There are Some FOH Guys that can't make an Radio Sound Good Let alone a Live Band.

    This is Coming from somebody that has mixed for 25 yrs.