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Boomy sound in big rooms

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by natrab, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Here's the problem. I'm playing a theater gig in an old 1200 person theater with an extremely high ceiling (made for those drop down sets) and very echoey acoustics (it wasn't made for amplification, it was made so you could hear someone talking on stage). The problem is, I can't get any definition out of my rig in this room. Granted, I will be going through the PA for the final production, but I'm not sure I will be able to get a monitor for me and the band.

    So far I've been using my Schroeder 1210. I'm thinking I maybe have to cut the 12" speaker out of the mix and go with all tens (I need as bright a setup as I can get). Next I think I will try my Bergie NV610, and after that my Schroeder 410s (which are on the way).

    As far as EQ, I'd like to use my AI Focus as it doesn't make any fan noise. Do you guys think I'm going to need a separate EQ to get some of the boom out of the mix?
  2. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    That type of room is really, really tough. As much as you want to cut bottom, if you cut too much it's gonna sound squirrely out front. Minimal mumber of speakers is a good idea...if you have some control over EQ spike up the 1K range a little to help with definition.

    Good luck.
  3. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    A brighter rig will help, but when the boom is in the room...you're effin' doomed.

    I've played acoustic halls before, and it's a nightmare. One last hint: Whatever you do, don't scoop the eq. You said it yourself: the room is tuned for human voice. Voice your bass accordingly, and that's perhaps the best you can do not to sound like a thunderstorm.

    Good luck.
  4. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Some rooms just sound bad. The key is (IMO) to get rid of some stuff below 60 hz or so, and find the sweet spot in the low mids (from 150-400 or so) that will provide the allusion of bottom and still be punchy. I don't think 10's versus 12's vs. 15' will have much to do with it. Fortunately, the Focus has that handy filter that reduces the low frequencies below a certain frequency... you might try setting that at around 7 or 8 o'clock, which would roll off approximately below 50 or 60 hz, and then turn your bass control up.... which would emphase the lower mids for punch and clarity and take out some boom.

    I'm sure other TBer's will offer suggestions also. Sometimes... nothing works, but that filter on the Focus might be the ticket.
  5. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Yeah, I've tried the filter on the Focus. It does cut out the low, but doing so also kills my volume. I'm having trouble getting enough volume to even hear myself when 10 feet away from the cab.

    I'm wondering if I should move up to a bigger cab (maybe the Bergie) and also if I should un-couple the cab with the floor.
  6. jacove


    Apr 12, 2003
    Aalborg, Denmark
    how about getting a parametric eq, that is always useful in those situations...
  7. Bear in mind, in a room that big, a little bit of fan noise will be completely overwhelmed, so you could easily go with a different amp if that gets you the EQ you want.

    I hate big boomy rooms with lots of echo, mixing sound is no fun at all. Like the others said, I've had the best luck with cutting the bass way back. If only one frequency boomed, a notch filter has helped me, but if everything echoes, whatcha gonna do?
  8. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
  9. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    I'd get the cab up off the floor onto a crate for sure. It can be surprising how hard your rig will drive the stage floor. It will roll off some of the bottom end you're hearing as well. Have you played there before when it's full or only experienced the acoustics when the room's empty? 1200 bodies will soak up a lot, it may not turn out as bad as you anticipate. Keeping the stage volume as low as possible (the whole band) and letting the pa do the work will help. So if it were me I'd be trying to make the 1210 work by getting it off the floor, closer to my ears and turning down.
  10. winston


    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I recently played a big band jazz gig in a theater with similar acoustics. Even with a small amp (GK 400RB into EA Wizzy 1-12) I had to cut tons of lows, boost high mids/treble, and bring the volume WAY down. I put the speaker up on a chair pointing at my ears. The band director walked around the room while I was playing, and made suggestions for volume/tone changes.

    If you haven't yet, have someone with good ears do the same. While you may feel the low cut filter takes away your tone/volume from 10 feet away, it might work much better out in the room. Also try notching out different frequencies.The one time I played a Schroeder 1210 I felt like it had a noticeable low/mid emphasis with the amp set flat, so cutting down there might help.

    Have you tried raising the Schroeder (many theater stages are resonant) and putting out on its side so the angled speaker is pointing right at your ears? Or perhaps lean it back like a monitor, either in front or behind you.

    If you're playing at a volume where fan noise is an issue, I doubt that either of the larger cabinets with more speakers will help 'cuz they'll just be moving more air. Plus more speakers can equal comb filtering and phase cancellation which will just make things sound weirder. Of course, I could be wrong--maybe the sealed NV610 will have a tighter response. I'd go in the opposite direction and see if I could borrow the smallest 1-10 or 1-12 cab possible. Also try contacting the PA provider to 1) see about the monitoring situation and 2) check if they have any advice/experience for bass in that particular room. HTH.
  11. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    I've played quite a few places like this doing theater gigs. I always use my Berg HT112 with stellar results. I've had good luck amp wise with most anything from Glockenklang to an EA iAMP350 to Ashdown. For me what it comes down to is a one speaker box for greater control, get it off the floor and lower your volume since you're going through a PA anyway. Using a big speaker cab is way overkill and will only cause problems. A friend of mine who does theater gigs for a living uses an SWR 110 cab and a GK400RBIII. It ALWAYS works great in any situation. Less is more in this case.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I have no advice that hasn't already been offered... just wanted to say I've felt the pain of playing in a big gymnasium on a big hollow stage. It's a tremendous challenge even when you have boutique bass gear. :scowl:
  13. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    Whenever I'm on a hollow stage I use my gramma pad. Works every time.
  14. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Ok, so I've gotten more details on our setup. We will be on stage, underneath a staircase (we're doing the Rocky Horror Show, so they want the band on-stage and visable, but behind all the action).

    I'm going to stick with my 1210, get it off the ground (I have some foam lying around, I'll just prop it up).

    We're going to be boxed in and mic'd, so I am going to stick with the Focus to kill fan noise (the guitarist is using his Mesa DC-3 with the fan off as well). I'm going to go DI from the Focus, as well as a Beta 57 in front of my cab (I love the tone that little box gets) and will blend the two for the front mix. It's a bass heavy mix so I want to get it sounding spectacular.

    I'd like to get an EQ to help cut some frequencies that seem problematic (being tucked in with guitar, keyboard, drums, sax, and trumpet could lead to some rattling). Right now, I'd love to find a Raven Labs True Blue, but I'm also looking at PreSonus and a few other brands for a good EQ (I could also borrow my dad's Baggs PADI).

    Any other suggestions for an EQ (preferably half-racked size so it will fit side by side with my Focus)?
  15. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
  16. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    If you can manage it, an amp stand to completely de-couple the cab would be good. I find the 1210 to be kind of boomy all by itself. I suspect that is a characteristic of the side firing design. Not the cab I'd pick.

    If at all possible, I would point the cab away from the house, back at the band and play as quietly as possible letting the FOH do it's thing. Far as half rack EQ 's go, the ART Tube EQ would be OK, but I'd rather have fully parametric on all 4 bands. Managing your stage volume and your eq will be crucial.

    Not that you don't already know this but when you're settling in on a tone, mix for the band, not the bass ...
  17. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    I like the looks of the D-Tar. I'm a big Rick Turner fan (I have two Electrolines and an Alembic). I especially love his electronics (the Electroline preamps are to die for in my book). I may have to give that Eclipse a try.

    As far as cabs go, I know the Schroeder can get boomy with the 12, however it can also nail the exact tone I want. If I can keep it low and get it mic'd, I should get the sound I want. My only goal is to hear myself over the guitar (even with his 35 watt tube amp through a 2x12, that thing is cranking loud at the level where he gets his "tone") as well as the drums.
  18. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Hi Natrab,

    It might not necessarily be just you. It may depend on how much stuff you have going through the PA, but one often overlooked trick in playing live is to cut the EQ on the PA to some extent--try maybe 4 to 6 dB to start with--in the 200 to 250 Hz range. I learned this from Howard Page of Showco, and he described the phenomenon this way: "you get a lot of extra energy and volume in that region for free." It's probably due largely to floor bounce into the mics, providing a reinforcement at that approximate range of frequencies.

    Anyway, I've heard the difference myself; the drums, bass, keys, and even vocals sound cleaner and less tubby with that band of frequencies tamed a bit. That may be the answer, or at least part of the answer, to your problem.
  19. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    Great point Bob! 200 to 250 Hz cut a bit can make all the difference. This will work with just your bass sound as well.
  20. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Well, hopefully we'll be getting one of the techs from the Monterey Jazz Festival to run the sound for us. If so, he would be bringing in a whole slew of cabs he makes for himself and will run the sound extremely well (we've had him do sound for us at the fairgrounds before). If not, it will be my PLX3402 and 4 Peavey 15s in the front with some knucklehead running the board (most likely will be a Mackie 1604). If we can get the good soundguy, I'm sure my worries will be over.