Horrible sound dude needs advice

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Snowglo, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. Snowglo

    Snowglo Pro Aris et Focis Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    U.S. Military endorsement since 1984
    live sound gurus ~ I was somehow granted the duties of sound dude for my band. Don't mind, but I honestly don't know much and need a little help. Fortunately, all the gigs we have played have supplied FOH and someone who knows what they are doing. Our PA system has stayed at home.

    Here's what we have;
    Carvin RX1200L non-powered mixer
    Carvin DCL1000 poweramp
    Two ??? Very nice QSC powered mains. Huge suckers the drummer paid ~$1,200 for a couple years ago
    Four Carvin 15" 8 ohm monitors
    Sennheiser and Shure mics

    We practice in a typical garage only utilizing the monitors and I cannot set the mic level very high or feedback of death occurs. Band mates want to plug in the QSCs in hopes they can hear the vocals.....I'm doing my best to convince them otherwise and am telling them the more power and sound we throw into a tiny garage will only make matters worse.

    Reference mixer below. I have both poweramp attenuators set full, two monitors per side. The Gain, Level and monitor dials set between 9:00-10:00. I'm sure at least one of these settings is where the issue is. I cannot turn anything up anymore with bad feedback. FWIW, the vocals sound amazingly clear, just too quite.

    Could it simply be the confined space? Poor EQ?


    Yes, the drummer hits too damn hard for a garage, thus the guitars turn up, now the vocals are too quite. One guitarist can hear the other.....you know the story. I have said many, many times this could be the root cause.

    Thanks guys!
  2. Snowglo

    Snowglo Pro Aris et Focis Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    U.S. Military endorsement since 1984
    Basically, should the gain, or mic level be much higher, then bring up the monitor level to taste, or vice versa?
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    You're probably right that it's just too much volume in too small a room.

    But you might be able to reduce feedback by moving the monitors farther behind the mics.

    You should also try using the EQ as a notch filter to see if cutting one frequency helps.
    AltGrendel and LowActionHero like this.
  4. Snowglo

    Snowglo Pro Aris et Focis Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    U.S. Military endorsement since 1984
    I have tried various locations with the monitors, but not so much behind the mics. The only complaint I get is the guitarists and drummer always say they can't hear the vocals. I can hear them fine. Note* I'm also they only one who wears musician type earplugs 100% of the time.

    Good call on the EQ. Definitely giving that a try.
  5. You have to quit the drummer, I mean quieten the drummer.

    Turn all the amps around and put them up on stands. This makes guitarists turn down so to not tear their own head off. Better chance of getting your moron drummer to play along.

    "I still can't hear the vocals"
    "Don't hit the drums so hard! Fool!"
  6. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Yeah, not cool trying to rehearse at gig volume in a small confined space. Maybe try an in-ear system in an effort to hear the vocals. Otherwise, bring it down 1000!
    Plucky The Bassist likes this.
  7. Snowglo

    Snowglo Pro Aris et Focis Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    U.S. Military endorsement since 1984
    The drummer is getting better. Sometimes he gets out of control when he gets excited. The guitarists are at a pretty decent volume. Could be a touch quieter.

    We are definitely lower than gig volume. I honestly think there should be a tad more output from the vocals before the system feeds back.

    Any setting suggestions?
  8. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    1) Use the Octave app on your phone, its a real-time spectrum analyzer that will quickly show you what frequencies to reduce to prevent feedback. Its very easy to use, and made a huge difference a couple of times when we had some serious feedback problems.

    2) Maybe the group is more interested in satisfying their own need to jam and enjoy the experience rather than use the time and space to learn tunes. Suggest you all talk about the goal of your meeting, and if your purpose is to rehearse, then it is counterproductive if you all cant hear what you need to work on. Turning up or hitting the drums harder is never the solution.
  9. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    keep your vocal channel levels high, and your main levels high, and keep the gain pots low.

    you can still "ring out" your system by bringing up the volume till it feeds back. Then find that frequency on your main eq sliders and bring it down.

    check online to see the pickup patterns for your particular mics. If they're hypercardiod the monitors belong off to the singer's side, not directly in front of them.

    audix mics and sm57's do a nice job of avoiding feedback in my experience.
    Bassdirty and Groove Doctor like this.
  10. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    • Your space is too small to dime the poweramp's attenuators. Zero the power amp, and set the mixer's gain structure. Then bring up the power amp attenuators to a level that allows you to use more of a range of the mixer's main and monitor outputs. (Somewhere in the ballpark of 2:00-3:00 o'clock on the mixer outputs will leave a little headroom while leaving you more room to make mixer adjustents b/w audible and feedback.
    • Think of your rehearsal room PA as monitors only. You don't need to run your speakers as hot if you dial up more independent monitor mixes closer to the people who need them. You're not trying to evenly cover a large dance floor; you're trying to create a little hot-spot for each player where just the sources they need to hear are balanced. If the drummer needs to hear a little of your main vocalist, better to set one of the QSCs very close to the drummer w/ a monitor mix of just the main vocalist.
    How many monitor mixes do you need, what's running into your mixer for rehearsal, and what does each musician want in his/her monitor mix? You could run mon 1 & 2 outputs to your powered QSC monitors, and a L/R mix to your Carvin power amp. You could also get another mix by running one mic to one of the QSC speakers, then taking the line-level through from that QSC speaker to the mixer.

    And, yes, to the suggestions to bring overall levels down by bringing players' amps closer to their ears (away from knees), incorporating headphones/IEMs for players who have tricky volume needs, and putting the monitors behind the mics—that is, in their null spot. Not on the capsule side, but in the null point—usually w/ the mic's XLR connector pointing at the monitor. (Check your mics' spec-sheet for the capsule sensitivity pattern.)

    BTW, I'm assuming your instrument amps and drums are not in the rehearsal PA. But they are certainly spilling into the vocal mics. If possible, arrange your main vocalist at the far side of the rehearsal space from the drums, w/ some sound damping material behing the singer and the null point toward the drums. Similarly, arrange each instrument amp toward its player and away from the main vocal mic.
    Bullitt5135 likes this.
  11. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Garages typically have concrete floors. Throw down some rugs. Hang some rugs on the walls.
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  12. popgadget

    popgadget Commercial User

    Sep 4, 2005
    Eastern, PA USA
    Authorized Greenboy Designs Builder, Scabbey Road
    How many open mics do you have, and how is the singer's technique?
    Do they stay right on the mic? That's the first and simplest way to get more vocal gain before feedback.
    If they lay back, and you have to crank the gain, they all become room mics.

    Take a good look at the polar response of the mics that you are using and place the monitors in an area with low sensitivity.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  13. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    A noise gate on the mics may help.
    Lower gain and higher output level is generally better for feedback.
  14. Heeeyyyyy! You're not 'sposed to say bad things about sound guys around here anymore!! :woot:

    Seriously though, when you are at those gigs that have FOH support and other sound guys, try to pick their brains if you can. Most of the good sound guys I've known are happy to give advice.
    Snowglo likes this.
  15. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    Start by re-setting your gain structure. Turn down/off the Main L/R level, Monitor 1 & 2 levels, and individual channel Levels (Mon 1 & 2 and Level). Using the Gain knob on each channel, talk/sing into the mic until the clipping light starts to blink red, then back off slightly (since all your other levels are turned off, you won't hear anything through your speakers yet...you're just looking for that clipping light to light up on each channel). Do that for each channel. You are trying to achieve the max input level per channel before clipping. It's OK if the light blinks red occasionally, but you don't want it to glow (Note: if the input gain is too low, you end up having to amplify a weak signal in later stages which results in feedback, hiss, etc.) Keep an eye on those clipping lights once the band starts playing. You may need to tweak as you go.

    Next, raise the Monitor Level in each channel -- if I remember correctly, the 1 o'clock position was the sweet spot on my old Carvin mixer. I always ran my power amp wide open (make sure your speakers can handle it, otherwise, you'll have to back off on the amp). Finally, GRADUALLY bring up the Monitor 1 & 2 levels on the right side of your mixer to the appropriate volume. (Repeat with the Master Channel Levels and Main L/R if you are running your mains.)

    At this point, your monitors will probably start feeding back before you achieve the volume you want. As others have said, download a Real Time Analyzer (RTA) app for your smartphone -- this will give you a readout that looks like a 31-band EQ. Use that to identify your problem frequencies, then use the EQ's on your mixer to roll off where needed. The 7-band EQ on your mixer is not very subtle; if you want finer control, pick up a separate 2x31-band EQ (like a cheap Behringer FBQ-3102) and place that between your mixer and power amp.

    Other things to consider...deaden your room if possible. I bought 4 acoustic sound absorbing blankets (AKA heavy-duty moving blankets) off Ebay and hung them around my basement. Reverb and other effects on the vocals will make your system more vulnerable to feedback, so keep that to a minimum. For me personally, I like to just barely hear the reverb on vocals. Make sure no speakers are pointing at the mics. I always place the monitors directly behind the mic stand for max feedback rejection.

    You already know you need to get everybody to turn down, especially the drummer. Get him to try some light-weight sticks. When I host band practice at my house, I set my bass rig to a volume that I know is loud enough. If I can't hear myself, or others complain that they can't hear the bass, then they need to turn down. Get the guitarists to place their amps on a stand or chair, pointed at their ears.

    Lastly, invest in some good ear plugs! Seriously, you will protect your hearing as well as hear everything so much clearer. I'd recommend Westone customs @ $150 from your local audiologist.
    Snowglo, JmJ and LowActionHero like this.
  16. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Why would you use the mains at a rehearsal? When you are at a gig, all you will have for vocals on stage are the monitors. Get them in front of you like on stage. As others have said, get the amps closer to ear level, to help get the volume down. Get the %&-&%$#$%-in'volume under control.
  17. Snowglo

    Snowglo Pro Aris et Focis Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    U.S. Military endorsement since 1984
    @Luckydog , @morgansterne , @derrico1 , @popgadget thank you! No we are getting somewhere.

    I will most certainly research the microphones.

    We do not use the QSCs, only the monitors. However, we might set the monitors aside and try only the QSCs.

    The lead vocalist who has a super hot Sennheiser mic stays on his mic pretty well. Not so much for the other vocalist. He's the worst for never being able to hear himself, yet he is off the mic 6"-8". I remind him every night........

    I have a feeling that the Sennheiser is picking up the room, especially the drums and causing some of the issue.

    I read a little more on the amp and the attenuators can be used as gain controls. I know this is not the case for a lot of amps. I forgot to add that of the Signal, 40%, 80% and clips on the amp, only the Signal light barely flickers. I'm assuming this is telling me that we are barely pushing the amp.
  18. Chris Szatny

    Chris Szatny Work hard...play harder.

    Aug 20, 2016
    Mount Carmel, PA
    I do sound for my band and for others. Watch some YouTube videos about gain structure and PA basics. That's how I learned and we always sound great and never get feedback.
  19. Snowglo

    Snowglo Pro Aris et Focis Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    U.S. Military endorsement since 1984
    This is precisely what I'm looking for...an idiot's guide to basic sound. I'd buy you a cold adult beverage if we lived closer :thumbsup:

  20. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    Cool. Glad I could help. I was in your shoes 5 years ago. I've spent a lot of time on the Google and YouTube trying to soak up some knowledge.

    Search YouTube for "Gain Structure" and "Ringing out monitors." Plenty of helpful stuff on there. Owning a 31-band EQ makes the job a lot easier.
    Snowglo likes this.