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best PA for "almost acoustic" DB-based combo

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by myrick, Apr 11, 2003.


  1. (this is admittedly a bit off-topic, but I thought some of the regulars in this forum may be able to offer useful advice)

    I am putting together a small group for post-bop material in smallish (100+seat) restaurant/lounge. Intent is to keep loudness to an acoustic-like level, but anticipate needing modest PA to ensure balance is okay in all corners of this oddly shaped room. Instrumentation is double bass, small grand piano, tenor, trumpet, and full drum kit with player capable of some control. Brushes will show up fairly frequently.

    It is up to me to put together the PA kit, including for CDs before/between sets. As for bass, though I'm sympathetic to the no-amp bass philosophy espoused by several regulars here, I have not done this sort of gig in some decades, and may not have the chops. Still, I will stick to mics if possible.

    Since I don't know what the state of the art is these days, I wondered what some of the more regularly working, sound sensitive, gear saavy players here might suggest. RE budget, the less, spent, the better but we want pretty good sound quality. Haven't really begun looking , though I have an idea (possibly mistaken) that a handful of those great sounding little Bose speakers scattered around the ceiling might be a good start. So what amps, speakers, mics can you suggest. Do I need compression or EQ for such a job? How many channels and how pro a board?

    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm no live sound expert, but I've got a few ideas:

    I have worked in a group that used a couple of those small Bose enclosures, and I have to say, they sound wonderful. The only problem with them is, they lack that THUDEROUS BASS RESPONSE that so many people want (for that, you need a sub woofer, which means bi-amping, which means $$$ and @&^#%$^!!!!). But for what you've described, they'd be perfect.

    I'd go with an 8-12 channel board (2mics for piano, one for everything else except drums - if you need to mic the drums, a couple of overheads should be fine). I've got a Soundcraft Spirit M12 that I use for recording, and it's a great board for very little money. It will also let you control playback options if you want to use canned music. For power, just make sure that you get more than you need, because headroom is the key to clean sound. The QSC PLX series of poweramps have a great reputation for reliability and sound, and they're light to boot.
     
  3. thanks alot. great input.

    Wondering about that good experience with Bose loudspeakers you mentioned. Were these enclosures the little tiny ones usually hung from the ceiling in small arrays pointed in several directions, or the larger PA type enclosures, placed on stands at stage left and stage right?

    Any suggestions on the right mics for this project? for bass, for piano? for drums and horns?

    Generally, I am still wondering where to spend the most money to get the accurate detail and clarity at modest volume levels that we are after. Are mics the key, or are board, amp or loudspeakers relatively more important, or is it the whole chain?
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The ones I was using were the stand-mounted ones. They each had a bunch of small speakers inside - they may have been 4" or 5" cones, I'm not sure, but there were at least 8 of them in each enclosure.

    As far as mics, a lot depends on your volume levels and proximity to each other. Sometimes you can get away with condensers, sometimes you need to stick with dynamics. I see vibe players using AKG C1000's a lot, but for the most part in live sound I see a bunch of dynamics like SM57's for instruments. Our own Monte uses a large diaphragm mic live and likes it a lot, but I've never been able to get anything but feedback and bleed through with LD condensers live. YMMV, as mine has.

    As to the last part of the question, my impression is that - like anything else - the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can get a Soundcraft board for about 6-$700, and as for the rest I have no idea. One thing you might try is posting a link to this thread over in BG, and then try to sort out the metalhead responses from the folks who actually have experience with ACOUSTIC amplification. Also, with any luck, Monte himself will make an appearance before too long and help out with his take on the mic info.
     
  5. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Also CRACKHOUSEY , and YO ADRIAN , and Christian McBride, and........well I could go on, but you get the point.

    I've found that a hypercardiod pattern with good bass frequency response like my own AKG C3000 (no longer made and not the same as the C3000b but you can find them on E-bay), the AKG C4000b, etc. just do not feed back. You lose a slight bit of clarity, but the AKG D112 gets a great sound and I guarantee you can't make it feed back.

    I did have trouble with the EV re20 Christian McBride often uses though, and it is a cardiod pattern.

    Monte
     
  6. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I would really look hard at the powered Schertler Pub 2/280 and the Pub 1/380 bass extension. You can run a small mixing board, and it is bi-amped to send the lows to the sub. I know I sound like a shill foir Schertler, but I'm really convinced of their high fidelity. I haven't gotten the bass extension yet, but this is similar to an experiment I am going to try once I do. I think paired with a good small mixer (I hear Schertler is going to make their own soon) like a Mackie, you will get a very small clean rig. I think my small but heavy Pub blew the Mackie powered speakers out of the water both in clarity and handling the low frequencies.

    Monte
     
  7. thanks for all these ideas.

    In the experience of those of you using mics, is it better to go only into house mix, or can a mic-only approach work fine in a double bass amp. I own both an AI Contra and a Pub 2/280. I had only been using the Contra for the sort of occasional one-off jazz pub work I had been doing - the Pub 2/280 killed my back. This gig will be regular 3 nights a week, I will consider using the 2/280 and parking it there permanently. But I still think I'll get the bass into the house system as well, because as mentioned, we have an oddly shaped room, and I want to be sure to get a decent mix even in the obscure corners. So maybe I need a splitter, or two outs off whatever preamp is on the bass mic, or something.

    For rest of the PA, I am looking at Bose MA12 towers, plus a sub woofer. The MA12 claims to radiate a wedge of sound, which can be aimed so as to avoid ceiling and floor reflections, both potential problems in this room. Bose guy coming around next week to discuss.

    Meanwhile, still wondering if the rest of the mix for this job needs any compression or EQ. If applied very carefully, is this useful for solving weird room acoustic problems, can it help make horns sound less edgy in an already edgy room, or is it something the purists scoff at for a more acoustic sound?
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Compression's main function is to squash dynamic range. Some people, myself included, claim that compression sucks the life out of what you put into it. Others like it because it takes what you play and spits it out sounding like what you played on some serious steroids. If that's a sound you like, then that's the sound you like. But I'd audition before buying if I were you - you might hate it on a whole mix.
     
  9. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I've done both many times with good results. For awhile, if there was no PA I would use the mic into a ART Studio Tube MP preamp into the Contra, with good results. I even had decent results putting a line transformer plug onto a mic cable and going straight into the Contra with an AKG D-112.

    A good PA is the ideal situation, but it doesn't always happen.

    Monte
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    A bit off topic perhaps, but could you run down the types of mics you've tried for straight into the amp and the results you've gotten as regards feedback and bleed through (especially from drums)?
     
  11. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS

    Sure. It isn't that extensive, but here is what I've found.

    1. Shure SM 57: not bad for the price; I used this in a situation when I had a last minute problem and it was the only thing around. Lots of bleed, sound was ok. No problem with feedback.

    2. Shure SM 58; same as 57, although seemed to have less bleed, interestingly enough.

    3. EV RE20: Considered buying this one, but had trouble with it feeding back in the store, so I never tried it live. This is the one Christian McBride uses.

    4. AKG D112: My favorite bass mic that doesn't require phantom power. You CANNOT make this one feed back, at least at levels I've ever played. Some people will argue that the frequency response at the upper end is inadequate. Maybe you couuld tell in a recording situation, but live; I doubt it. Also fairly cheap. Some bleed if you are close to the high hat.

    5. AKG C3000: Needs phantom power, but my favorite affordable mic if you find it on E-Bay (no longer made). I notice no bleed as long as I am 3-4' from the drums, as I try to set up to the drummers left. I've used this at a number of outdoor concerts at loud levels and never gotten feedback. Sound on recordings is really good too. I use it on the hypercardiod capsule with the bass roll-off to avoid close proximity distortion.

    6. CAD E1000: Sounded decent in the studio, never tried it live. It lacked bass response.

    A note on bleed: Personally, I think it is overblown. I only consider bleed in a live environment to be a problem at the point it distracts from the instrument being mic'd. For example. If we aren't playing and the drummer hits his snare and it comes through the PA, but when we all play together you notice bass and not a preponderance of snare, IMHO it isn't a problem. Once, I had to set up close to the high hat, and you could hear the high hat really loud when we played. That was a problem.

    Bleed is more of a concern in a studio for trying to get a clean track if you are doing over-dubs. I think most of the time if you sound good and nothing else is annoying, it's a moot point.

    Monte
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I wish I could agree, but I usually end up setting up between the piano and drums, which means on the drummer's right, which means RIDE CYMBAL HELL. With the Trinity mic, that ride just washes out my whole sound through the amp, at which point I dial it out of the blender and just use the pickup when it gets too bad. I'd be curious to see what a hypercardiod mic could do, though. Thanks for all the info, BTW.


    MY PERSONAL RICHARD - sorry for the highjacking, you may now return to your regularly scheduled program.
     
  13. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Ok, the D112 is the large Egg shaped mic commonly used for bass drum. I set it up about 12-18" from the G side f-hole. For a no fuss live mic, I don't think you can go wrong.

    There is some confusion over the AKG C3000. AKG no longer makes this, making an AKG C3000b, which is similar but only has a cardiod capsule, and the C4000b which has cardiod, hypercardiod, and omni-directional. This is the one that David K uses. I went the cheap route and picked up the AKG C-3000, which has only hyper and cardiod, and can be found regularly on E-bay for ~$200. The hypercardiod is definitely narrower, and depending on how close you are to the high hat, should work fine. I rarely have to set up on the left, so I don't know how close is too close. I know it is a heck of a lot closer than the Golden Trinity, which I found useless on the right side of the drums. Switching the capsule is done with a switch on the back of the mic. I record with it further away and in cardiod mode.

    Hope this helps. Ask around studios and try to rent a C3000 for a night. Chances are they will have one. They do require phantom power, which I achieve through use of my ART Studio Tube MP preamp if the PA does not have phantom power (most better ones do).

    Monte
     
  14. no problem with the thread migrating in this direction - its all part of what I need to think about.

    re mics for bass live, I agree with Monte's view that bleed is really a minor concern, unless it becomes so strong it starts to make it hard to get the bass up in the house mix relative to the drums. as long as PA or bass amp gain is kept down to near acoustic evels, I think feedback is largely a question of speaker placement and on-stage geography, though admittedly some mics are much less forgiving than others.

    Anyway, I've gone ahead and bought a mic nobody has commented on, I suppose because it is rarely seen in this application (tho seen a bit more in Europe). The DPA 4021 is small, very sensitive, reputed to be reasonably feedback resistant, has a handy side cable design, and can be paired with a very cool mounting thingie for bass. Sucker costs an-arm-and-a-leg. Hasn't arrived yet, but I will put up a review here after I test it out.

    As long as this thread is going in the direction of general live sound concerns in a small jazz group, I wonder what other thoughts people have on the pros and cons of various stage setups for rythm sections, that is the choice between drums, bass or piano in the center. Obviously there are sound issues involved in this as well as communication amongst players. what's your favourite arrangement and why?