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How to get a good FOH sound?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by slap-a-da-bass, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009
    I played my first gig last saturday, place was roughly 4000 sqft and I use a Carvin BRX10.2 and a BX500 for my rig. Bass is G&L trib SB-2. I had no problems with stage volume and if anything tone from my rig had too much low boom for stage use.

    Anyway, We have 2-215" mains, 2 18" subs, I DI from the head (only pre EQ). My tone just sounded dead...not enough tight lows, very middy, but dull with no clarity. What can I experiment with to help this out. I was thinking about adding a reverb pedal to make it more airy sounding. Can I correct my FOH tone with the 3 band board EQ?

    I have another gig this Saturday and am hoping to correct some of my tone problems.

  2. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    What kind of PA are you using?
  3. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009
    We have a Peavey board with basic effects, 31 band eq, 2 way crossover. The 2 dual 15/horns are from Kustom, and the 18" subs are Peavey. seperate amps for mains, subs, & dual monitor sends.
  4. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    If you're running your own sound, you could throw something like this in your channel's path or effect loop to compensate for differences in speaker sizes (15's & 18's vs. your bass cab) & to add more precise EQ'ing than the board's current 3-band EQ.
  5. johnboy65


    May 22, 2009
    I like to run post EQ. In my experience "pre eq" is best when you have a sound man that you trust.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i think you just answered your own question. roll off some of the boom from your stage rig.

    getting a good foh sound is all about slotting frequencies. in most modern music, we give the bass drum the lowest of the low freqs and start scooping it right around 60 hz, and then we roll off the bass response anywhere from 60 hz to 100 hz depending on the room.

    might want to seek out some live sound forums and do a google search on slotting frequencies in a mix. it really helps.
  7. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    ^^^^^what he said

    It is often hard to get a good sound out of an ordinary/crappy PA.
    It's more often "damage management" than "mixing".

    You probably have an EQ on the board , even if it's written Peavey on it. :)
    If the EQ on the board is not enough , than it's not only a problem with your source.
    (bad PA / room acoustics / loud stage)

    BTW ; adding reverb to an already muddy sound will only make it worst.
  8. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Well the problem is your PA cabinets suck.:eek: Sorry, decent 215 cabinets are at least a $1000.00 each. Looking at the musicians friend website Kustom 215s sell for about $200-300 apiece. I imagine the Peavey subs you have are entry level also.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    you know, while that may be true, it's what he has, and considering i've played on worse stuff than that and managed to do ok with it, i think it's possible to get at least a workable sound out of them, don't you?
  10. First- get your PA balanced. Get a spectrum anylizer if you can and get the EQ curve correct for the room. If SA is not available....get a CD of the style of music you play and play it through the board with ALL of the EQ\s flat ....If you have cross overs adjust them to were the CD sounds close to what what you want. Then use the 31 band to tweak to taste (assuming you have any) just joking!:D

    2nd Without the PA mains on...have the band get the stage sound balanced twixt instruments

    3rd Now get your monitors to sound good WHILE the band is playing.

    4th. Now start adding instruments to the mains starting with the bass drum, snare and toms cymbals...then bass and drums etc

    This is just one method of getting a good House sound...others may have different methods,, But you are on the right track by asking.

    You need to understand the difference between sound reinforcement and FOH. If you are in a small room it should be "reinforcement"...if you are in a very large area then most of the sound the audience hears will be from the FOH. Don't ask the PA to do more than it can...Dammit if you are playing too loud TURN IT DOWN!

  11. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    you know, i hate people like you. whatta jerk. absolutely the most useless post i have read on TB all day. price and quality arent necessarily correlated, and i *surely* have heard some scary-good sounds being produced with inexpensive gear. shame we cant all be uber-pro like you are.

    i agree with the above recommendation to send post-eq signal to your DI. and dont be afraid of those channel eq's. just because it "looks" like it would sound bad (or "incorrect"), doesnt mean it will.
    and let's face it... there are FAR FAR too many people who mix/eq/compress/etc with their eyes and brains instead of their ears. sometimes eyes and brains are wrong.
    on that note, a little compression could go a long way towards fattening your FOH sound if you have some available. but again, a little can go a long way.
  12. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009
    My amp is pre eq only, so the compression on my amp or the eq section is useless in the mains. How can I get EQ or compression in the XLR out? I was almost considering using my Zoom G2.1u to split my signal. I've used this for practice with the same system and it was better than without.

    From our first gig, we also learned all the instrumets were too loud and were covering the vocals, not that it was necessarly too much for the venue, but the vocals were not dominant enough.
  13. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    well, that sort of blows the post-eq DI. you could try a mic, if you have an appropriate one available. still, the eq and compression i was speaking of would be applied at the board--- practically every mixer in existence has some sort of eq on each channel, and the compression can be onboard (if available) or via an outboard unit (more common). a few channels of PROPERLY IMPLEMENTED compression can do wonders to tightening up FOH. your overpowered vocals would probably benefit from compression as well. you will be able to run a higher average level without (or at least, with less) risk of distortion.
  14. Hi.

    IME the only feasible route for a good FOH sound is sadly to have someone (a pro sound engineer) to tweak the system.

    That obviously includes balancing and EQing the PA system.

    If the vocals are important part of the band, special care should be placed for EQ and compressor settings on the vocal channels, as should be for the vocal effects.

    If the reverb in the bass isn't a part of Your sound, it'll only muddy it up. Delay is better if a depth is what You're after, but also that must be used sparingly.

    I do agree that Your current speakers are somewhat low on quality, but as Jimmy said, people are using far worse systems all the time and doing perfectly fine, me included.
    In these couple of decades I've been doing sound, I've never encountered a speaker system that couldn't be tweaked for passable sound. It may take quite a bit of time and equipment, but it can be done. The bummer is that IME it can't be done without experience. Another bummer is that a somewhat limited system requires quite a bit tweaking from venue to venue, while a quality system is usually more stable.

    Unless the stage balance and/or sound level is in check though, anything You do PA-wise will be in vain.

  15. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    So I'm going to go out on a limb here and just say that compression, reverb, and eq pedals aren't going to fix anything. When I mix bands on smaller PA systems the most complicated task is balancing stage level and PA level. As others have mentioned, excessive low frequency energy from the stage is completely counterproductive to a good mix. Jimmy just scratched the surface with what he said about notching; it goes far beyond just kick drum and bass interaction. Keeping the low end in check on every single channel is important. A muddy mix is a cumulative problem of too many signals having too much overlapping & interacting low frequency content.

    I have rarely been impressed with DI signals from bass amps. They are not "flat" despite being pre-eq. I much prefer a DI signal straight from the bass combined with a mic on the cabinet to catch any effects and add some speaker compression.

    At some point you won't be able to avoid the sonic limitations of your current PA system. It is equally responsible for your frustration. If you don't have 31 band graphic eq's on the mains and all the monitor mixes, they are a must in my book and are the only way to tune the system to the room and maximize its performance while keeping feedback in check.
  16. slap-a-da-bass


    Sep 28, 2009
    Thanks for the replies.

    I'll work with some of the ideas this Saturday, we plan on setting up about 4/5 hours early. So I should have plenty of time to fiddle with things.

    I realize the quality of our gear is entry level at best, but it's what we have for now. I hadn't thought about compression to help level things out. I might be able to pick something up Friday. Can you give me some ideas of what I should be looking for? Something like an alesis 3630? I assume that would cover two vocalists?
  17. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Avoid the 3630 and look into a dbx 166 or 266
  18. try to DI from the speaker output of your amp, if you want to have more control with the eq and comp on your amp.
  19. gumtown


    May 7, 2007
    New Zealand
    #Secret Weapon: my PA sound started sounding better when i homebrew-built a 3U high 9 way gate/compressor/limiter, which is inserted into most of the channels in the desk.
    It cleaned up a lot of the drum splattering into the vocal mics, and tightened the drums.
    Everyone should set their stage volume so you can easily hear each other, and sit comfortably with the drums, not too loud.
    Then from out front of the PA, add what is required to give a good balance,... you know the drill, only add enough to compliment the stage sound, instead of making sound 'LOUD', try to make it sound 'BIG'.

    My observations as the Bass player view is the desk bass channel EQ has a slight cut in bass and treble, and either flat for mids, or if your mid frequency is 'sweepable' set the frequency down to low mids 200Hz'ish and apply a cut of around 4dB and tweak the bass back up again slightly, just to pull out the 'boxyness'.
    For my stage tone, i would say it is slightly scooped out in the mids (typical Marshall scoop).

    Set the 31band EQ after initial PA setup with a CD of music which you know compared to other sound systems, so you get the perfect sound with the Desk CD channel EQ mostly flat with a small bump up on the treble and bass, EQ the PA to the room/environment.
  20. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    I stand by my post. The most important part of a PA is the speakers. If you figure there is say a 100% mark-up on the $200.00 Kustom PA speaker then that means there is only about $100.00 in Parts and labor. Some of you posters are advising spending money on band-aids which is just throwing money away IMO. If you don't know how to use a compressor properly then it may cause more problems than it solves.

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