how to eliminate feedback in a small practice room?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by zycro, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. zycro


    Jul 28, 2004
    We were playing tonite and man, way too much feedback! We play at a local rehearsal studio and the rooms are the size of an average small-ish bedroom. The PA and board are not ours so we really dont know how to operate them properly. Plus every week we seem to get a different room with a different board. The singer has a habit of moving the mic (i dont blame him) and often when he does... major feedback. Its a real issue as the guitar player couldnt have his mic loud for b/v's or else significant feedback would occur. It just gets really annoying after awhile. I know feedback occurs b/c of the proximity of the mics to the amps but being in a small room makes its really difficult.

    All i can say is thank goodness for earplugs!

    Any suggestions?
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Turn down? It's not a complete solution but if you can keep the volume down feedback is less likely to occur.

    You could also ask the owners of the studio - they may have picked up some tips that help minimise the problem.

  3. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Firstly, make sure the mics aren't pointing towards the speakers in any way. This can be hard if you rehearse in a circle facing each other as most bands do. You're better off setting up as if it were a gig and the PA speakers are your audience.

    Bring a graphic equaliser with you. The mic signals should go out of the mixing desk, into the EQ, than to the poweramp before hitting the spakers. This way, you can zap the frequencies that are squealing. 2k and 4k are often culprits, but this will vary from room to room, mic to mic, and even from night to night.

    Note this won't work if the rehearsal studio uses a powered mixer (mixer and poweramp all in one unit). These devices often have a built-in graphic EQ. The same principle applies. Start flat, then cut whatever frequency is feeding.

    If you really luck out and it's a powered mixer with no graphic EQ. There's not much you can do. I tend to bring a graphic EQ anyway and run the main vocal mic through it only. That way we've got one person who can hear themselves.

    Other than that, you've got no choice but to turn down. Obviously turning down the vocals means the rest of the band has to turn down as well to maintain balanced levels. Be careful not to overpower the vocals - that's a dead givaway of a band that are more amature than pro, but a lot of bands do it. It sounds awful out front............
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Another problem with small rehearsal rooms is that the vocal mikes pick up all the amps and drums, too.

    So when you turn up the PA to hear the vocals half of what comes out of the speakers is guitars, bass and drums; no matter how high you crank it you still can't get the vocals to rise above the mix.

    Try to orient the mikes to get as little bleed from the instruments as you can.
  5. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Are you using Mains or Monitors in your room?

    The microphone is going to pick up much more if the speakers are elevated, rather than on the floor. If you can move the speakers onto the floor and tilt them up, and use them as monitors. If that doesn't work, see if you can bring a set of floor monitors. You guys are rehearsing, so no-one needs to hear the vocals but yourselves and that is what monitors are for.

    I'll add to the camp that says to turn down. I don't believe in loud rehearsals. You won't know what you need to work on if you can't hear all of it. Especially a vocalist who is out of tune, or background vocals that require harmony.
  6. zycro


    Jul 28, 2004
    the monitors are on the floor. i understand the turn down vol. suggestion, but as we are in small rooms the drums will always be on the loud side so the bass and guitar has to be at least close to equal to the vol of the drums. we are not a band who suffers from members who crank their vol. if anything we are too quiet. last nite i actually asked the gp to turn up!

    i do like the idea of setting up all facing the same direction and i will see if thats feasable in our next practice. its pretty tight in there so i dont know if it'll work. there's a lot of rental gear in each room that we dont use, but to move it would be a huge hassle and take away from our practice time.

    i will try turning down the 2k and 4k on the board but with so many knobs those things can be a bit overwhelming. i think i should learn the basics of boards though as no else in the band seems interested.

    is there usually any easy way to tell which knobs are the 2k and 4k? ie are they usually near the top or bottom?

    thanks for your replies!
  7. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I don't know enough about the equipment in the room to help you.

    Does the PA look something like this:-

    If so, I've circled in red the graphic equaliser. Each slider will have a marking indicating what frequency it controls.

    What I do is start with everything on the EQ in the middle. Bring the volume of the mic up SLOWLY until you hear a squeal of feedback starting to swell up. Now stop or you could blow a tweeter! Turn the volume down just a smig so there's no feedback, but you're right on the edge. Now start using the Graphic EQ to find out what frequency is the culprit. Bring each slider up VERY SLOWLY. If nothing happens, then return that slider to the centre position before moving on to the next one. One of them will induce another feedback squeal that should sound like it had the same pitch as the feedback squeal you just heard. That's the slider one you need to cut.

    OK assuming you've zapped the right one, start the whole process again. You'll notice that this time you should get a bit more volume before the feedback starts again, and this feedback squeal should sound different to the last one. Again, one EQ slider at a time, find the culprit frequency, and cut it.

    Eventually you'll get to a point where the feedback frequencies stop coming one at a time and instead start coming in 2's and 3's. That's about as good as you can get it so stop there. Any more EQ cutting and you'll actually start losing volume. But by this stage, you should have a considerably louder PA than what you started with, and feedback should be eliminated.
  8. Warwick player

    Warwick player

    Dec 31, 2002
    Bucks, UK
    We used to have this problem at our rehersal studios, the geeza running the joint didn't know much and had the speakers pointing pretty much a right angle to the mics, so feedback was an eminent problem.

    The solution we came up with was having the singer turn the mic so it was facing the drummer and the rest of the band playing, this helps cut the drum, bass and guitars. Then to stop the feedback through the PA we moved the speakers around so they were pointing at the band and not near the pickup range of the mic.

    Hope this helps.
  9. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Perfect tutorial, Petebass!

  10. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Also make sure to use unidirectional mics like sm57's.

    I would put all amps, cabs, and monitors on the back wall and face the band as you sing facing all the speakers. All the sound will hit you in the face but not go into the mic.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    That's a nice idea in theory but, unless you've got a big room or the wall behind you is covered with some kind of material that gives significant damping, the sound is still going to get into the mics on the rebound. Mind you, the back of some people's heads probably have significant damping capacity... ;)

  12. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    the best way to eliminate feedback in any situation is to not ask for opinions or questions once you're done
  13. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI

    Your right wulf he will still get feedback but maybe at least this way they can practice?