Contour knob fixed an anemic outdoor tone

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Standalone, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Like a lot of players here on TB, I learned to get away from the smiley face eq of my youth and the contour switches and knobs of my young adulthood.

    My band live-streamed yesterday and things sounded flat and anemic. I tried different gain/master volumes, tried boosting bass and/or low mids. Nothing really worked.

    As a last resort, I turned the contour knob up to 12:00, and it re-created that fatter tone I’m used to in clubs and the band locked much better. This was without the loss of audibility.

    Maybe this was a unique situation or unique to my gear, but I wanted to share this solution I found to outdoor tone problems.

  2. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    One thing I've found in dealing with acoustic challenges is that there are some helpful rules that make for a good and often logical starting place, but there are also exceptions. Good on you for trying something outside the box and saving a show!
    SwitchGear and Standalone like this.
  3. The same thing happened to me last Tuesday (Blues Society jam). I started with the contour down on my 700RB and ended up with it at 2:00 during the last set - it felt right. But then, playing outside, it seems like there is a world of difference in sound after the sun goes down. I don't know why, except the wind?
    Standalone and SwitchGear like this.
  4. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player

    Jun 12, 2008
    Unless there’s a whole lot of wind vs about none, it’s much more likely to be psychological. That doesn’t make it less real.
  5. Unless there’s a whole lot of wind vs about none, it’s much more likely to be psychological. That doesn’t make it less real.

    Maybe, I don't know - just something I've noticed.
  6. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Less ambient noise, or at least different bands of noise will be present after rush hour.
    wcriley likes this.
  7. Redbrangus

    Redbrangus Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2018
    Under The X In Texas
    One phenomenon at large outdoor events of which SR professionals are acutely aware is, on a warm day, after the sun goes down and the air begins to cool, there is often a warm, more humid layer of air closer to the ground, where the crowd is located. This can form an effective acoustic boundary layer and cause the deflection and refraction of the sound over the audience's heads. I wouldn't think that would be particularly audible from the performer's perspective, but it's a very real thing. Perhaps what you're perceiving is something related to this phenomenon, or as has been suggested... maybe psychoacoustics is playing a role. :D

    Edit: To further clarify -- changes in temperature and (especially) relative humidity can have significant effects on sound anytime and anywhere, but outdoors is where one is likely to encounter big changes as the sun goes down and the air cools.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
    Eric Moesle likes this.
  8. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Part of the difference indoor/outdoor may be that treble is very reflective, and bass forms nodes — so boosting those makes a muddy sound, and mids should take precedence. Outdoors the bass develops freely and the treble isn’t zinging off surfaces so some contour is desirable.
  9. Redbrangus mentioned the "warm, more humid layer of air" after the sun goes down. We were playing about 20-30 feet from the edge of a lake, as we frequently do. So maybe I'm not just imagining things?
    Redbrangus likes this.
  10. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I'm with Redbrangus. I think changes in humidity plays a huge role in outdoor tone. With temp changes come humidity changes, and it changes EVERYTHING.
    Redbrangus likes this.