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My Amplification Epiphany! How to Go Direct Out Correctly

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Tunaman, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    After a recent gig with awesome sound coming through my cab & absolutely horrible sound through the P.A. I have done some seroius experimentation with my amplification and here are some results I think everyone going direct out may want to consider. Comments are very much appreciated as well

    1st... What comes out of my cab & the P.A are worlds apart
    2nd... During soundcheck I have to EQ my bass to the P.A. first with my cab on mute. This isolates the P.A. to my ears with no bias of my excellent cab to hide the P.A.s lousy sound.
    3rd... Once the P.A. sound is isolated & sounding good I must have a seperate equalizer adjustment to my cab to compensate for the changes I made for P.A. speakers. I CANNOT use 1 EQ to sound good for my Cab & the P.A. I wont risk it again.
    4th... I could go direct out through my Gallien Krueger Pre EQ to avoid the need for another EQ but I want more control PLUS my compressor \ effects are in my loop (I should probably know if my effects loop is affecting my sound when my I use Pre EQ but I have no idea)
    5th... So as a result I will pick up a Preamp for the rack, run that post eq with the compressor \ effects Direct Out, go into my GK amp & re-equalize while using the 2nd channel of my compressor as now appropriate.

    When buying amps I will now highly consider whats important for live gigs such direct out features, power of equalization with less weight on wattage, cabs (The people hear the P.A. not your cab with direct out)

    I guess I'm not a big fan of micing a bass cab. I have very little confidence in a soundman putting an appropriate mic in front of my cab, the interference with other stuff etc although there may be others out there that prefer this.
    Which leads to another question
    Do you go Direct Out in this manner or do you prefer mics?
  2. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    The biggest problem here is that your amp speakers have one response and those of the PA have one that is totally different. Even micing doesn't get around that. The PA likely has adequate EQ on the console channel that your bass is going though to make the PA feed sound quite close to the stage amp sound, but only if the soundman is both skilled enough to do so and, more important, wants to do so. Generally you have to just get the stage sound where you want it and hope for the best out front, and pray for a soundman who has a clue.
  3. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i'll come from the absolute opposite school of thought. i send a plain jane un-equalized di to the pa, and eq (if at all) on the amp for my cab.

    i had a very recent positive experience micing a cab in the studio which is making me want to give it a try (with a di as well) live.

    IMO and IME, you can't know what it sounds like "out there" in the house and have to trust/work with the soundman. if you give him your slick eq sound that's gonna screw him up if he's good, and if he's bad he'll screw up your tone anyway. :smug:

    if the problem is a bad PA (speakers, board, whatever) no amount of EQ is going to help that.
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    that too................

    they are not the enemy, when you find a good one, feed them, marry them, lock them in your basement, whatever it takes. they are worth twice their weight in gold.
  5. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA


  6. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    You'd figure very reputable places in Boston that have done live music 5 days a week for years would be able to handle these things. I mean hell, we all have to be competent in our jobs why not these guys? I've been saying that about a lot of things lately :)

    As for pre EQ, I guess I haven't been satisfied with that raw sound and I figure if I can have an EQ set up specifically for P.A. specs it will be close to where I want it to begin with & do just that... pray for the best.

    Do you Direct Out or Mic at Toads IvanMike?

    I was also contemplating a Navigator for P.A. EQ, sending D.O. & then running the signal through my GK 1001RB to SWR 6x10 for onstage (Love the amp & the head just radically different than a P.A.). Also the Navigator SHOULD be better than a GK 1001RB for profressional studio recording due in less than 3 weeks.
    Maybe GGuitars? Same price as Musicians Friend... still have no clue after hours of searching whats on the back panel or if it comes with a footswitch at that price. I'll call G manana!
  7. My school of thought on the DI to PA situation is to give the soundguy the signal that you want. I run a tube preamp into a multiband compressor, all pre-tweaked to my liking, DI out of that for the PA, then link that signal into my stage rig. If you know that you're happy with the signal that's going to the mixing board, it's more likely that you'll get the sound that you want out of the PA. Not guaranteed to get you what you want, but it's at least half the battle.
  8. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    There are lots of opinions on this topic, and I have wrestled with this issue on many occassions. Some options work great in one situation, and then not so well in another. There are many variables involved (room, your rig, PA gear, sound tech's competence, method of getting your signal to the PA, EQ and where to use it, etc.).

    While I have had good (and bad) results using just a direct line or just a mic, in most situations, I have preferred sending both a direct and a mic'd signal to the PA. Yes, this raises potential phase issues, and if the sound tech can't figure this out, I gently offer suggestions on how to correct it. If that fails, and we have some severe phase issues, then I will choose whichever source sounds best and roll with that.

    An amusing conversation that I have with sound men (it's actually almost a deja vu) is when they come close to my rig while I am playing during sound check and I tell them, "You know, I have really spent a lot of time playing a variety of gear, and gosh darn it, I just love the sound I am getting right now. Can you make sure that the sound coming out of the PA sounds as much like my rig as possible?" Or maybe I'll say, "Can you get this sound out to the front of house?" To which they will respond, "I wouldn't be much of a sound man if I couldn't!". Well, more often than not, their actions back up the supposition that maybe they aren't quite as good as they might like to believe (but then again, who is?).

    This is one reason why I usually bring a small arsenal of bass gear to gigs where I don't know the sound man or his capabilities. In a worst case scenario - and I do mean after trying hard to "play nice" and work in the mix - I can usually just let my rig rip and know that everyone out there is going to hear "my tone"... :cool::bassist:
  9. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    everytime i've played at toad's or was with pals gigging there etc they've always just taken a direct line. there was one cat in a place called city limits in waterbury (now defunct) who would mic up your cab if he liked it. very few soundmen want to deal with miking up a bass rig. you'll get better chances of doing so if there are only a few actsand your bad doesnt already have tons of other channels to use.

    want to really tick a soundman off? when he asks you for the fifth time if anything else needs to be miced up or needs a direct line say no. then 5 tunes into the set have the guitar player produce an acoustic guitar and look at the soundman like he's supposed to do something. i've come really close to hurting people over that. :eyebrow:
  10. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    Absolutely my train of thought after the last show exaxtly. Only problem is that what I'm happy with going to the P.A. I'm not happy with going through my cab. I agree too with the kissing of the soundmans ass with polite ways of saying keep it like it is. As the non-headliner band you don't get the max attention of these guys, almost no time at all during soundcheck so I have to go in as prepared as I can be.

    Hell my GK can sound as awesome on my cab as it does but going to the P.A. is what counts, especially when you get a live recording of every show. My last live recording was AWFUL! A dedicated Pre-amp for the P.A. should do the trick
  11. I use an old MP2 tube preamp and a TC Electronics Triple-C compressor. I like them because they let me store my settings, so I don't have to worry about resetting everything from show to show. I just turn them on and I know what I've got coming out of them. As for running that signal to the rest of my rig, I play through a GK 1001RB and two Aguilar GS112s. Almost any signal will sound good through those.
  12. I feel that you should give as much of YOUR sound to the board as possible, all the time. If you run effects, eq your head, and go through your effects loop to some other gear, your D.I. should be the last thing before the power amp. That way you know that you did everything that you could do to 'get your point across'. If the soundman messed it up, then get a wireless and go into the house. Right up to the board and help him. Most soundguys don't have any idea how your rig sounds because your stage sound is so corrupt by the time it reaches them.

    Crap in, crap out. If you give the soundguy a signal that doesn't have all the character you've developed, there's really no way he can just make it happen via the board.

    As for micing cabs. The only time I'd say it's good to mic a cab is if you have a sealed, tweeterless cab. if you mic something with ports and a tweeter and you just put the mic on the speaker, you're not getting a true replication of what's coming out of your cab.
  13. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    Love my GK 1001RB, I think its the SWR 6x10 that throws things off. I need a quality preamp for recording anyway. Rumblebot... you're close, I may be able to check out your show on the 27th. We'll be playing at Harpers next, The Middle East in Cambridge was where my sound was awful through the P.A. great through the cab. Also from Portland Maine myself.
    I'm 100% sure that the 2 EQ is the best way to go. I can't risk another show like that with totally different tones
  14. I've been regularly gigging for close to twelve years now and thought I'd drop my 2 cents.

    1) I feel that one ought to put himself in the shoes of the sound tech. Firstly, he has a job to do of which he holds himself (often mistakenly) competent. He trusts himself to be able to eq the sound of each instrument properly and although he may be open to suggestions, he is ultimately responsible for what is coming out of the P.A. He does not tell you to play fewer notes or not to solo so much. That is none of his business. The P.A. sound is, strictly speaking also up to him. It is unfortunately true that sometimes they are not up to the job.

    2) Moreover, if you would like to send to the board, say for instance, a really deep tone, with the bass rolled up, this might sound good to you but might wreck havoc with the overall sound, thereby reflecting badly on his capabilities. Imagine what would happen if in a nine piece band each member wanted to dictate the way in which HE wanted HIS sound to be heard.

    I find that the best option is to give the sound tech a pre-eq signal. Particularly, I try to make sure that I do not roll too much bass from the instrument itself as the sound tech can always add some if he needs to but it is harder to reduce. Step two is to hope for the best.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    My thoughts on this:

    Having been a recording tech (both small studio and live), I have found it beneficial for the artists to tell me what sound they want and we can dial in the "base" level. The lead singer (or preferably, musician with the best ear) comes to the board and we make adjustments. From there, when the acoustics change, I have that to refer to when I made my adjustments.

    What's REALLY helpful is when the guitarists/vocalists have wireless. I just have 'em all back there playing during soundcheck....it's amazing to see "the light go on in their heads" about the tone that's actually going out to the audience!!
  16. The more the merrier! I actually had pretty good luck with this DI setup at the Middle East. Although, I haven't heard the official board recording. I can record with this setup and not have to touch a thing about it.

  17. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    While I agree that you have to supply a good DI signal to the house to have the best shot at a good FOH sound, you are in the hands of the FOH engineer at the end of the process. You can use whatever preamp or DI you want to use but you can't get around what happens at the other end of the snake.

    I give the sound guy the benefit of the doubt unless it is someone that I know is incapable. Having done a lot of live sound I also know that the squeaky wheel often gets plenty of "suck knob" applied to his sound. Sad but true. If you start off by assuming that the engineer is an idiot, you will get that right back on ya.

    The idea that putting a mic on a bass cab is somehow doing a good job of replicating the "stage sound" in the FOH system is just not real. That mic still goes through the board preamp and eq and comp, and comes out the other end sounding very different. You might as well get the variables of mic placement off the table.

    FWIW I prefer using a SansAmp BDDI and then passing the bypass out to my rig, or I use the DI out on my amp... and if i'm in doubt I will send the sansamp line out to the house DI, especially if it is a proco junker.

    The studio is where the ideal happens, or has the best chance of happening. Unless you are one of a very few top-end touring acts you will never even approximate the ideal in a club.

  18. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    Crap in... EXACTLY what my pre-amp signal is, no doubt about it. In fact that is why an Aggy DB750 sounds awful with my bass but a GK makes it sing.
    I LIVE for the Contour on my GK, Aural Enhancers on SWR\Eden etc that just can't be replicated with a board.
    Having a better signal going to the soundman vs. my current signal is my best shot when going up against a less qualified soundman.
    Thats my real issue here, a bad pre-amp signal... never knew :rollno:
  19. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    I've been running sound for nearly 20 years. Here's my perspective:

    Before a single knob is turned or anyone plugs in, I want to know what you're playing. Give me a cd of your music and let's talk about your sound and your style. I need this and your setlist so I can hit all the solo spots and transitions.

    I do not believe you can accurately tell exactly how the house sounds from the stage. If you believe you can, I'd like to meet you. Please focus on your amps and monitors, not the mains after they have bounced off the back wall 100' away. During soundcheck, I build a monitor mix for the band first and the house sound will be down so I can accurately gauge what is coming off the stage.

    As for the house sound, please give me an un-EQ'ed send. If F/X are necessary, you may include that in a send as well. Let me handle the reverb though, OK?

    If we are in a small venue, the house mix will supplement what is coming off the stage. (This is sound re-inforcement after all.) If you have a big, fat juicy sound coming off the stage, I want a clean signal so I can tweak the finer details of your sound and make sure it fits with the rest of the band and the music.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is watching a band or FOH guy solo each instrument in the mains, get a great sound with each individual instrument, bring the main mix back up and wonder why it is so muddy. A bass that sounds killer solo'ed will not always sound so good with the rest of the band. All the instruments interact with each other. It isn't just about getting 'my sound'. It's getting the right sound to work with 'the band' and play 'the music.'

    Stepping off the soapbox.
  20. 95% of the time, this will never happen. For me. I play shows at clubs that have 3-5 bands/night, with quick set changes and quicker sound checks. Sure, in an ideal world where the soundguy is a best buddy and you are planning a big show with the guy, AND you have ample time to discuss things like song structure and solo spots, then of course getting a CD to him would be in the cards. All I'm saying is that it's pretty rare for the moderately gigging bassist to have that opportunity.