Buy a Mic, or Buy a D.I. and deal with it?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by ledyard, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. ledyard


    Jan 31, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Something that really P*sses me off is playing live and a sound man walking up to me with a D.I.

    Now, when you spend alot of money on a mesa or ampeg rig because you want a specific sound whats the point? If your going to plug into a D.I. then you may as well have a peavey combo amp for a stage monitor. Because no one is going to hear your killer bass tone you spend thousands for.
    I understand some heads have good D.I. outputs on them and I suppose getting the sound from the head is better than nothing. But isnt the final sound coming from your cab the whole reason you bought your rig the way you did????
    Sure some guys get D.I.'s installed in VT bass pedals and stuff and thats great. But you still may as well be playing through any random garbage amp that lets you hear yourself onstage.
    Not to mention through a D.I. you usually get the sound man"s interperatation of a bass sound. Not necessarily what you or your band wants to hear.
    At the level alot of us are at who play in origional bands...we play clubs with multipile bands and dont have tons of time to set up and or sound check. Alot of times the sound man doesnt have enough mics or have the right mic perhaps for a bass cab.
    I am always polite to the sound man. But I find when you ask for your cab to be mic'd you get the deep breath of annoyance, bitching, or just "no, i'm not doing that".
    I know as you move up as we hope to do this year, to being a signed band, indie or otherwise, things do get better.
    So I was considering getting a good D.I. which I REALLY DONT WANNA DO!
    Or investing in a great mic, and a clip type stand thing so I can attatch it to my cab and have the mic set so the sound man can just plug the cable into it and go.
    Sorry for kinda ranting but this really really is an aggravating subject for me.
  2. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    If you want to mic the rig up, then mic the rig up. It's the sound guy's job to accommodate you technically.

    That being said, the sound guy is going to eq you the way he wants no matter what you use (DI or mic). Just because you get a microphone on your rig doesn't mean that your sound is going to be out front. In a lot of cases, that's a good thing, as you usually have no clue what's going on out front, and it's the soundman's job to make the FOH sound good to the audience. If he thinks that means changing your bass sound, he'll change it. Your best bet it to try to work it out with the sound guy and help each other try to get your tone through the FOH.

    Your rig will always be there to get you a good stage tone, and in situations with no PA support. The rig also blends into the FOH sound to a point, so some of your sound is getting out there.
  3. ledyard


    Jan 31, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Well not playing where there is full FOH doesnt happen.:D
    If its not there, they either get it or we dont play there.
    I understand what your saying but, even if he re-eq's your sound you can still hear the ampeg tone or mesa tone ect. Unlike just being plugged straight in from your bass.
    The way things are heading, hopefully we will have our own FOH guy that knows our mix and travels with us soon. that would fix alot of it. Also gaining a bigger following lets us drop our shows from 4-5 band shows to 2-3. Which allows time for my guitarist to run out and make sure the bass sounds right, as I do for his tone also during sound check. When time allows ofcourse.
  4. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    1st : Soundman is your friend & is there to make the band sound good.
    2nd: The sound you have on stage is not necessarily what is needed for FOH
    3rd: Be polite with sound guys, don't be that guy. If you want your amps signal use a mike & ask the tech to use both the mike & the DI sound.
    4th: See number 1
  5. BigMac5


    Nov 26, 2005
    San Diego, CA
  6. ledyard


    Jan 31, 2010
    Upstate NY
    As I said, I am ALWAYS nice to the sound man. I understand the B.S. they have to deal with, rockstar attitudes, crappy gear, A-holes, ect. Even if they piss me off, which i cant recall happening in many years, I am still nice.
  7. ledyard


    Jan 31, 2010
    Upstate NY
  8. BigMac5


    Nov 26, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    Just saying.
  9. Tim C.

    Tim C.

    Feb 4, 2010
    I've personally never dealt with what apparently is a cult of sound guys hell-bent on ruining a bass player's night, but couldn't you compromise in this situation by using your amplifier's onboard DI, if it has one? Seems to me like the best option.
  10. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    I've been through every stage of this scenario & here's what I think is advisable:

    If the soundguy feels the need to 'default' automatically to just a di- then this is probably all the guy can actually handle & expecting him to learn any "new tricks" (ie., mic'ing a bass cabinet) is just going to result in pain for everyone involved.

    It sucks, yeah, and in a perfect world all sound engineers would know how to mic, di or (best case) both. But if some scrabbly local engineer refuses to mic your cab, you're not likely going to benefit from trying to argue with him that mic'ing the cab can sound great... or trying to convince him that cargo pants are required attire for him at every show! ;) It's best to try and work with what you've got to make the show a success as a whole.

    When you get to a level where you are hiring your own guy- well, that's a different story! And a more complex one at that...
  11. ledyard


    Jan 31, 2010
    Upstate NY
    It seems like the only option for a happy middle ground until things get to a level of having our own sound guy. At least I can send the ampeg tone to the board.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    oh, they're out me. the majority are fantastic. but there are quite a few who are more than happy to ruin your night.

    i say fight the good fight. buy your own mic and stand and tell them you want to use it. but always let them know in advance whenever possible. and buy a decent mic. bring a 58 and they will probably balk. bring a good mic with a good range for bass and it's a different story. most of the time.
  13. ledyard


    Jan 31, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Holy S**T !!! Bwaahahahahahahaa . Yes!

  14. Well, speaking as a sound guy who once had one of those dreadful “4-5 bands a night” gigs – If you bring your own mic and set it up yourself, the sound man probably won’t object. As Jimmy noted, you can better assure his cooperation if it’s a “real” bass mic, not a 57 or 58. If he’s hesitant, maybe offer him an additional DI patch from your instrument (not your amp) so he has the option of blending the two for the best sound.

    That said – no offense, but I don’t take much stock in a bass player’s “sound” in live situations. It’s fine for recording, when you’re in a controlled environment. But in live situations there are just too many variables that are guaranteed to alter your sound or flat-out swamp it, from room acoustics, stage noise from the guitars, drums etc. encroaching on the low frequency domain, and so forth. It all conspires to ensure that there is little chance your sound is getting out intact to the audience.

    And perhaps most “damaging,” the PA system itself. Once you’re patched into the PA system in any way, shape or form, your sound is dramatically changed as far as what the audience hears from it vs. your rig directly. This is because the PA system has a totally different speaker array than traditional bass cabinets. There’s simply no way a system with 18” horn-loaded subs, 15” midranges, and horn-loaded compression drivers can be expected to sound anything like a cabinet with four 10s and a piezo tweeter. (Don’t feel bad, guitar players have to live with the same problem.)

    So, the best chance to get your sound out to the audience is (naturally) to have your stage rig as the “sole deliverer.” I.e., you are not patched into the PA system at all. The problem there is that the sound man, from his vantage point out where the audience is, is better able to hear what the whole band sounds like, not just you yourself. You just can’t do that from the stage.

    So the million dollar question is, if you want to rely solely on your bass rig to “carry the mail,” and the sound man tells you during sound check, “Turn it up a bit; Whoops too loud, down a bit; Can you dial in a bit more midrange; That’s perfect right there!” If you can’t hear yourself at the settings that sounds best to the audience, or your drummer can’t hear you, etc. – are you willing to play your whole set without fiddling with your controls any further? Didn’t think so...

    Not to mention, the sound check is merely a starting point for a good live mix. Once the performance begins, the adrenalin flows and suddenly singers are louder, drummers are hitting harder, etc. This is why a sound man is reluctant to let the band “mix from the stage” as it were, with their own ideas of volume settings and EQ (the latter of which is usually pretty bad).

    Another problem the sound man has: if he’s been doing that “4-5 bands a night” gig for any length of time, he’s learned that precious few bass players have any idea how to adjust their rigs, instrument tone controls, etc. to get a good sound to the audience. It never ceased to amaze me how many times there’d be guys up there with a really nice bass and rig, and I’d spend their whole set fiddling with the EQ strip and just couldn’t get anything worth listening to from them – sonic mush. Then, a guy would get up there with some cheap Fender Squier that would cut through the mix like a knife, clear as a bell – no mud, every note from the lowest to the highest heard perfectly. So, great equipment doesn’t guarantee a good live sound in the hands of a player with a “deaf ear.”

    So don’t get mad at the sound man if he’s reluctant to cooperate with you, the rare conscientious bass player who knows what it takes to get a good sound and have painstakingly assembled your equipment accordingly. Be mad at all the idiots before you who gave bass players a bad name. :D

    For your long-term sanity and peace of mind, you might look into investing your time, money and efforts into getting a sound that you’re satisfied with that sounds as good through a PA system as it does your stage rig. At that point, your stage rig can become your personal monitor and you won’t have to worry much about how you sound in the PA system.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Pedulla Club #45

  15. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    Hrm, my ampeg head has a pre/post switch-if I understand it correctly, I can either give a soundperson a clean uneq'd signal or I can eq it on the head and send that. If the FOH has subs, you should sound good :)

    We have our own PA and no soundman.....only had to deal with soundmen situations once at a festival. I sent them my post eq'd sound out of my head, used it/speaker for stage monitor.....sounded fine :)
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    wayne, the one thing i would caution about in your reply is that there's a fine line between correcting sound issues with a bass player's rig and putting your sonic footprint on a band's sound. there are some bassists who have pretty specific sounds that they like, even if they don't always go by the book. guys like entwistle and squire come to mind. so i'd be hesitant to go too far with that and at least try to get what they're trying to do before reaching for the pre-eq di.
  17. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007

    Mods , how about making that answer a sticky ? Please.......
  18. BigMac5


    Nov 26, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    How about no. :D
  19. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    This statement is the only thing I take exception with in Wayne's post. And it demonstrates the root of where the conflicts come from on both sides of the argument!

    Most of these show/soundcheck conflicts could be easily avoided if both parties came to the table expecting to cooperate. If the bassist approaches the engineer du-jour ahead of time & expresses a willingness to work with the engineer to find a sound they both can be happy with, the best case scenario is achieved. There are merits on both sides of the coin, and contrary to the above statement, adopting a positive proactive attitude from the get-go is how true professionals work! It's shouldn't be an all-or-nothing battle between: "It's my tone, thats why the fans are here & that's all that matters!" or "I've been doing sound since you were a single cell & I know what the audience needs to hear!". Both of these attitudes are only partially justified & neither works to anyone's benefit.

    Of course, as I mentioned earlier, pragmatism is sometimes all you can go for. If you have no soundcheck or a chance to build a plan with the engineer, you may just have to go-with-the-flow. If it's obvious that one of the parties is going to be an immovable object, what's the point of fighting it out? You're not going to "win" & will most likely not get the full care & attention your channel on the board needs!

    I'm fortunate to perform with a regular, touring foh engineer about 2/3 of the time. The rest is relying on house & local engineers. I always approach a new face with a friendly demeanor & try to engender some cooperation. If that means buying the local guys a round, great! Usually it just requires a handshake and a smile. :) Next thing you know, an engineer that never tried mic'ing a bass cab is loving the idea! Plus, I always give a "heads-up" on any oddball or unexpected effects or techniques that might be coming the engineers way. If you give a local guy that kind of time, they're going to want to help you 85% of the time! The other 15% of the time, where I encounter a fella who simply "must" do it their way, I go along with it. But, I always let the road manager/production manager or even venue manager know about the attitude after the show. Dealing with multiple band "kluster$#%$cks" is no excuse either. It may identify one source of frustration- but if you can't deal with that frustration, you shouldn't have agreed to do the job. Once either a player or engineer gets in that headspace where they think they are always right, they need to retire.
  20. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I've dealt with many good sound guys. The bad ones aren't there to destroy your sound, they're there to do the least amount of work necessary to get the drinks and a bit of pocket change -or- they're there to help, but haven't got the slightest clue how.

    I've been on a good run lately. Last year my take was that I'd rather have no sound guy at all than one I've never met because I was batting less than 500.

    But I have dealt with many good sound guys as well.


    Added: A lot of the time, the PA is just there to spread the sound a little bit easier and the bulk of the sound is coming off the stage. Your rig is still being heard, the PA is just augmenting the sound, not providing it.

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