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Opening Acts/Sound Check/

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Kael, Apr 1, 2013.


  1. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Just a quick question for anyone working FOH/monitor mixes that are on here.

    We use a utility guy who has 4 instruments, all of which are solely dependent on the monitors. He doesn't use an amp. Also, we are usually have 6 men on stage so there's no way stage left can hear stage right without a decent monitor mix. Usually, we set up, take the time to get a good mix on the monitors, get the sound set for FOH and then go hit the hotel leaving the opening act to do their thing. Occasionally we'll backline the opener to make things run smoother. None of us are kids who crank their amps to 11. We keep a fairly quiet stage. Our drummer is light handed. For some reason, approximately half of the time when we get back to the venue, the monitor mix has been trashed. We've worked with soundmen who have digital board where I would've presumed that they saved our presets. Doesn't seem to change the outcome.

    Any suggestions for action from us that could help alleviate this? We do frequently offer to backlkine drums and bass, but I don't think that is the issue. Usually it is the utility player, acoustics and vox that are... wonky.

    Really wish we were still on the road with our on FOH guy and had the in ears system we had been talking about. Oh well...

    PS: When we are supporting another act and are the opening act, the monitors are almost always spot on. This is something I've noticed that only occurs when we have an opener. Thought I'd mention this as I don't think it is something that is being caused by mains interacting with a room now packed with bodies.
    _________
     
  2. pflash4001

    pflash4001

    Dec 2, 2011
    Sorry for openers, but when it's something that complicated, the openers get a line check and vocals in the monitors. If I have the space on the console to run their essentials I will, but sometimes I don't have the space OR the time to switch out between acts...sometimes they look at me or other sound guys like we're a$$holes, but if we tell you you have 15 mins to get off and the next band to get up and I see the previous drummer casually taking cymbals off stands, I'm going to say something. They're eating into the subsequent acts time. I do my best to get the best mix possible for everyone, but headliner gets priority.
     
  3. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Maybe we just need to be more of an a-hole... er, assertive, after we check.
     
  4. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Virginia
    Maybe the multi-instrumentalist could provide a basic instrument mix for themselves to alleviate the hassles of a more complex patch. A clean, small mixer with 4 inputs and a mono send would work wonders for consistency. (It would also be very telling about the source of most of the issues. It could be one particular instrument spoiling the party.) This also allows the player to control muting the unused instruments.
    As far as things changing, yes, a lot can happen with multi band bills. Even though recall systems are the norm now, monitor placement, changes in the house etc. that you are used to might seem even more extreme if the quality of the system is that much better. Especially if you are playing vocal oriented music quietly enough that the room acoustics are more a part of the situation than say, an svt rig with a big muff in front of it...
     
  5. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    We all provide our own DI's and most have some sort of EQ on them. We also have tuners that mute so the job for FOH once we are dialed in should be very minimal. In theory... In theory, communism works.

    I've thought about grabbing a spare mixer and powered wedge and tossing them in the trailer for the utility player a couple times. I am a little worried about going with a mono send for four instruments though. What might sound great on the dobro will make the fiddle sound brittle, etc.
     
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Learning how to put on a good show even when I can't hear myself *at all* is a skill I have never regretted learning. :)
     
  7. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Playing mainly double bass in a large americana outfit has lead to me also getting used to not hearing myself. When you are swinging the occasional four part harmony, hearing the other vocalists and/or chord pad is necessary.
     
  8. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Virginia
    Well, if you have specialty di's with eq, you should be able to dial a great sound in, which is their purpose. Unfortunately, usually what I get when these show up (80% of the time probably) is a lot of poorly done eq on multiple sources- then I have to convince the player to flat it and start from zero... but I digress, if there is a quality eq/ di like a fishman platinum pro, for example, and I then need to eq again and fix what is happening from that in the house, there is a mistake being made before it gets to foh.
    You can always keep the multiples to foh and use the mix to monitors only, and should be able to dial up what you need with more consistency that way.
    But the only way to really be consistent is to remove as many variables as possible- so, your own powered speaker and mix for the problem area sounds like a great idea....
     
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yep. As a sound man and bass player, I can tell you that if the sound company doesn't have a digital board (and know how to use the memory on it) then the opening act gets a ROUGH vocal mix and good luck with the rest. It is senseless for the headliner to have to start all over on stage DURING the show. Next time, just tell the sound guy as you are leaving for dinner "Don't mess up that monitor mix. If you can't save out settings, then the opener will have to make do." It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to drop an email to the opener if you know who they are as well. This may save some hassles on the day of, and might even make them plan ahead (but I doubt it).

    I have been told this before when I was running sound. I get it, and I do what the headliner asks.
     
  10. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Virginia
    Great point,
    any show I work with a defined headliner, the tech is built around their needs contractually.... including dedicated channels or consoles with full recall. All mic stand and monitor positions are spiked, if moved at all. The contracts also stipulate a minimum amount of channels for opening acts to avoid problems. It's well within a standard contract to include minimum audio requirements.
     
  11. Hi.

    #1 solution to the very common problem You're experiencing: Bring Your own soundperson.

    Since bands are for some unimaginable reason very reluctant to care what exactly they sound in front (or in the monitors ;)), the next best solution is to have a personal monitoring system for the most critical musicians.

    When I ran sound semi-professionally in the late 90's all we had was analog desks. So no scene memories to recall.
    I did mostly monitors/foldback, so it had to be pretty perfect because the performer immediately noticed if I effed up or forgot something.
    FOH, not that much, the band has absolutely no idea what's going on in there so the FOH person is free to do whatever they feel like :).

    We had something called a pen and a piece of paper though, some of the older cats may remember writing down the "scenes" on channel-sheets when multi band gigs required tweaking between the acts.
    I guess that's a lost art nowadays.

    Perhaps the in-house sound engineers care just as little as the band about how it'll sound?

    Regards
    Sam
     
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That is exactly right. You also need to put it into your rider that your monitor settings are not to be changed after soundcheck.
     
  13. Simple, just write down the mixer-monitor settings on a piece or paper after sound check. Make sure the settings are back there after the opening act. (or take a photo with a digital camera / phone with large display)
     
  14. If you are doing this regularly it might be worth investing in a digital mixer and your own monitoring system/IEM and use a split for front of house. We've not had to do it so far but with my band, we are self sufficient monitoring wise and if needs be we can ask the sound man for a split and do our own monitoring wirelessly for ourselves.
     
  15. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Thanks for the replies. I think I am going to suggest altering our rider to include spiking the monitors/mics and leaving the mix intact after sound check. If we let an opener use any gear as a backline they will need to get their own channels or use the settings on the channels we have. No alterations. I don't want to be a dick about it, but I am through with issues over this.

    I recognize the things which could be done from the sound engineers point of view to correct this. I was curious about things that we might be able to do to help make this not an issue. I think the only reasonable answer at this juncture is be assertive about leaving the mix alone after sound check.

    I do want us to getd back to touring with our own FOH engineer, and we are headed that way again... hopefully. For the moment, we can only afford the one crew member. That is the merch guy for now. Hoping to get in ears in play so I can leave the amp at home. By the time we brought our own monitor system, we might as well have used in ears instead of wedges.

    PS: In regards to over EQ'ing, that's not occurring. We all use minimal EQ, if any. Hell, I do use a fishman pro plat on my big bass but I rarely do much more than dial feedback out by rolling off a touch of lows (depth knob) and switching phase with it. Bass guitar gigs see the paradriver with only a light boost, maybe 3 or 4 db, in the 800 range. If over EQ'ing was the issue, we'd have seen it in the sound check. I ran sound (smaller clubs, not massive productions) about ten years ago for a year or two. I completely get the futility of trying to fix a bad sound from onstage.

    Thanks guys.
     
  16. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    This is a good idea that I am going to bring up with the utility player.
     
  17. ggunn

    ggunn

    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Hire a merch guy who can mix.
     
  18. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    We did that for a while. Problem was the merch table was not being manned while he was mixing. We were losing sales. A lot of sales.
     
  19. ggunn

    ggunn

    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Get a merch guy who can mix and has a cute girlfriend who will work the merch table for free. :D
     
  20. Kael

    Kael

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    This act is not one you should send your girlfriend on the road with. Ever. ;)
     

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