Live sound solutions? Compression?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Jeb, Aug 3, 2003.

  1. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    The rig is very simple. Either my Jazz bass or Stingray5 cabled to a stage Trace Elliot 2X10 combo run direct to the board. Thats it.

    I am happy with the authentic, un-altered tone from the rig and the sound tech loves it too (from the mains-out front), but on stage (at stage volumes) that tone can sometimes be lost what with every one else wanting more of themselves in the monitors. I am sure that I'm the only one who has ever experienced this!? ;) Understand that this is a Christian worship group and that I am thankful just to be a valued part of the team. I admire everyones talent and committment.

    Much of the material requires some modal melodic runs in the higher registers that can get lost in the stage mix at stage volumes. The monitors can't seem to handle the "boomieness" of the bass' lower notes (especially from the Stingray), so the bass is backed off there and much of the "busy stuff high on the neck" can be lost in the stage mix.

    I want to add compression to the rig as a solution. What would your thoughts be? How can I best implement compression to improve my overall sound given the circumstance?

    Or am I wrong headed here?

    Thanks!, and fire away. If this is the wrong place for this, moderators please move appropriately.
  2. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I think an Aphex Bass Xciter MIGHT be a better solution over compression.

    I don't own an Aural Exciter, but it seems like the Aphex 1402 might solve some of the problems you're having.

    Just a suggestion...:)
  3. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    A compressor will change your dynamics and could change your tone. It can smooth out your sound which might help in a monitor mix. Compression with some Mid EQ boost could be what you need for your monitor mix.

    If you use a Passive bass, you might want to check out the DigiTech Bass Squeeze pedal.
    The pedal has different levels for high and low frequencies and a knob for determining the split of low and high frequencies. You could compress the lows more - since the monitor can not handle them - and boost the level on the highs.
    I would not try the pedal if you are using an Active bass - it will squeeze the life out of an active bass.

    The Aphex 1402 might be helpful also. It uses a limiter and EQ on the low portion of the signal to give a boost in lows without actually driving the speakers any more. It also adds harmonics to the highs, giving additional clarity.
  4. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    You may need a DI box, these allow you to plug directly into a PA while preserving your tone. I am not sure how or why as I am just learning about these as well but take a look at the threads about DI's in here I think it will answer all your questions.
  5. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Thanks for the replies. The Aphex unit sounds interesting enough, but I'm not familiar enough with it to understand what it actually does. I'm pretty low tech when it comes to effects, I just review my music, plug in and play. The only effects that have my attention so far is chorus and compression to even things out a bit.

    I have not been able to gleen a whole lot of useful information so far and there seems to be a drought of these pedal boxes on ebay.
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I don't think compression will be the answer - as you turn it up enough to hear the effect, the tone will start to alter as the peaks and troughs in the volume (attack and decay) get squeezed into a narrower band.

    I think the heart of your problem is that you've hit the two fundamental dilemmas of live bass sound:

    1. It's hard to have a good stage sound and a good FOH sound

    2. What sounds good on it's own doesn't necessarily work in the context of a band.

    As a fellow church bassist, I might be able to offer a few more thoughts but first a question - how large is your church and what other instruments are in the band (including voices)?

    Wait.. that was two questions... never mind ;)

  7. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I don't think compression is the best solution, unless it comes with boosting some frequencies for cutting you through the mix. Compression makes you dynamics sound smoother. Compression brings you stuff to a more even level in terms of volume. For example, if you pick a note softly it will still have the tone qualities of the soft pick but give it increased volume. On the flip side, if you play a note real hard, it will bring down the volume of that note to a consistent level. They are good for sustain and evening out your volume, but not necessarily for cutting through.

    Once there was a speedy running back who was constantly getting stopped at the line of scrimmage. His coach became frustrated and screamed at him "Run where the defenders aren't!". From then on, he evaded tacklers and used his speed for TDs. From a bass playing perspective, play where other people aren't. No need to compete with a guitar player when you can play notes that are below the guitar's frequency range. It's a little harder with a keyboard player. Maybe you can talk to you're band members about musical space, and where y'all should occupy. If it's just your monitor mix you are concerned with, you can ask the sound man if he can put a little more mids or volume in the monitor for you.

    About the Aphex 1402. There's a drought on the Aphex 1402s on E-bay because 1) They are pretty new and 2)People aren't selling them. That's a good sign.

    I own one of em, and it is awesome. Really helps bring some "life" into your sound. It's good for the price. No need to understand much of the technicals other than it sounds good. It really does. It can also go direct into the board. I only wish it ran on phantom power.
  8. ConU

    ConU Guest

    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Is the stage you're playing on that big that the bass is even required in the monitors?On medium to smaller sized venues I never have my bass in the monitors.If you don't have enough volume on stage to compliment the mix,you need an extension cabinet for your 2x10.I have a Trace 2x10 with a 1x15,I've done some "loud" gigs,and my stage volume sits very well in the mix.At larger venues there may some bass in the drummers monitor,but that's about it.Also if you "sidewash" your amp,that is point it so it throws across the stage,you drastically improve the overall stage and house sound.
  9. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    To wulf:

    The fellowship room seats maybe 200. Octagon shaped probably in the neighborhood of 10,000 square feet with 15 foot ceiling on the perimeter to maybe 25-30' in the center.

    Instruments are 2 electric guitars, 1 acoustic 6string, Korg Triton keyboard, 3 vocal mikes and the drum kit (and me). Music is Darryl Evans, Sonic Flood, Eoghan Heaslip type stuff. Lots of up-tempo, happy foot tappers.

    To ConU:

    The stage is maybe 30' across. I can hear myself because I stand next to the Trace (not sure of the exact model, but its got a couple of letters and "300" stamped on the front :) ). Runs at about 5 gain and 7 master. One of the guitar players and the band leader/keyboardist can hear me because of their stage positions. The others can maybe pick up the driving root rhythmns, but not the higher register stuff.

    My rational on compression is to bring the skinny strings (especially when played in the lower areas of the neck) up to a more recognizable level. You know, even out the boomieness and bring up the weaker end. My guess is that this means losing a bit of low end to bring up the high end. Balance it out a bit. And compression is what comes to mind when I try to rationalize a solution (and when I read 'jive1's first paragraph that sounds like something I might want to experiment with).

    Thanks so much guys, I'm no expert, but I know alot more now than when I first posted this. What a great resource this forum is!
  10. ConU

    ConU Guest

    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    You need more volume IMO,dispersed to the other side of the stage,and unfortunately a bass sounds like **** through most monitors.IMO a compressor is'nt going to help.You're hearing the higher register parts fine where you're standing,a compressor is'nt going to help the others 20' away hear it if they're not hearing it now.I'd get a 2x10 speaker cab,and a long speaker cable and put it on the other side of the stage,pointing in.You can get a decent used one for a couple of hundred bucks.If you're amp is 300 watts you have more than enough power to drive it.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Do the rest of the band need to hear your upper register stuff? Possibly so with a more jazzy approach - possibly not if it's more rocked up (as long as they sometimes look across and hold back if they see you up the dusty end of the neck). Short of in-ear monitors and personal mixes, it's very hard to set up for more than a couple of people so that everyone can hear themselves clearly, everything else in a full range mix and get a good sound out into the congregation.

    When I'm leading at church, I tend to use the powered monitor wedge at my feet soley for bass - I'd rather live without hearing anyone else (or my vocals ;) ) than having to strain to pick out the bass (plus it saves lugging my amp up there). When I'm supporting someone else, I play through an amp behind me, keep my stage volume as low as possible and try to make sure that the leader's instrument is audible where I'm standing. What it sounds like for the congregation is up to the soundman (although, as a slightly smaller church, there's that much more bleed through of stage volume into the output of the main speakers).

    If you do need to be more audible then EQ might be the answer - more mids and less bass will make the notes more defined. It won't be such a nice sound on its own and you've got to watch that you're not stomping in othe people's 'sonic space' but it will help you cut through more. Alternatively, a dual band compressor (which can apply one set of settings to low notes and another to higher stuff) may help, although I've never actually tried one of these devices.

    Without EQ adjustments, I don't think a simple compressor will help at all - if you get everything audible across the other side of the stage (except by ConU's method of a remote speaker cab) you'll be too loud for the people near you.

    I guess the easiest way (and this one's FREE) is to change the standing arrangement so that people who need to hear you stand where they can, and people who don't stand where they can't.... :)

  12. thumbtrap

    thumbtrap Guest

    Jun 26, 2003
    I'm not an anti compression bigot to the degree that some folks here are BUT.

    I think it's be a really Bad Thing (TM) to run an uncompressed signal to the house while you hear yourself onstage compressed. Kinda like getting dressed with a funhouse mirror.
  13. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I don't think a compressor on bass will help you much with the monitors either. First, what you are looking for would be better described as limiting. This just squashes the most extreme peaks. Secondly, if there is going to be limiting of the monitors, which there should be, then it should happen at the monitor outs from the mixing board.

    Second, if you are really thirty feet from some of your bandmates, then you either need to run through the monitors or get an extension cab. (Assuming your combo can accept an extension cab.) Put an extension cab on the other side of the stage. If you go through the monitors, you will need much more powerful equipment than a typical stage monitor will offer. Upgrading the monitoring system will be costly. (Althought it should have a limiter!)