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PA survey (subs or no subs)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Juniorkimbrough, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    My band is discussing our PA situation, while I think we don't need subs some other members think we do. Please post what your PA consists of, speaker wise. 15" mains? 12" mains? subs or no subs?

    btw, we will be using the PA in bars that hold at most 100 people.

  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    We use JBL cabs for mids and highs (I think they consist of a 12", a 6" and a tweeter...but I"m not sure) and Cerwin Vega 18" Subs, with seperate EQ's for them.

    I wouldn't play in a band that didn't use true subs in the PA. I never have (over 25 years of playing pro or semi-pro).

    Using the drums or bass stage volume for the house will do one of two things...either blow away some of the musicians onstage, or not be heard adequately out front.

    Once you use true subs in a PA, not only will your bass be heard better without being too loud onstage, the drums (especially the kick drum) will have authority out front (and onstage). Every note you play will have more punch without having to be too darn loud.

    Once you hear the kick drum through subs, you'll see how much more dynamic and powerful the whole band sounds. Every band I've seen that didn't use subs (and get the drummer's kick drum thumping) always sounded weak. It's not about volume...it's about giving the audience the whole band's sound. Just because you use subs, doesn't mean you have to turn it up and play loud. We use the whole PA (including subs) even in small clubs because we can control the entire spectrum.
  3. 15 mains and monitors, no subs. Truth be told, I wish we had one for the kick sometimes.
  4. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    The other band I play in uses subs sometimes, but I just don't think the size of the places we are playing are large enough to really need a sub.
  5. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    For one thing...unless your drummer is using an electronic drumkit, without PA subs (seperately EQ'd) your drummer's kick drum might as well be left at home.

    Drums are an acoustic instrument, and no matter how hard a drummer plays, their kick drum is just non-existent without going through subs. The kick drum can only get so loud acoustically...and it's the kick drum more than anything, that gets people moving.

    It's one thing if you are playing light music in a coffee shop setting, but if you are playing rock, blues, etc. almost nothing improves the overall sound and "tightness" of the band like having that kick drum out there.

    Subs are especially useful in small clubs. I can feel my bass in the subs, even onstage. So, I don't need a big rig to hear myself and I don't have to be extremely loud. We get a very full sound even at low volumes in small clubs...because we use subs.
  6. Lex P.

    Lex P. You've got it awful loud -Kathy P. Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    2 x 18" JBL subs, 2 X 15" with horns JBL for mains. Even when we practice we put the kick drum through the PA (2 x 12" with horns EV) I can't hear the kick at practice volume with out the PA's help. I would never hear the kick without help when playing live.
  7. mwm70


    Oct 27, 2004
    2 15" Peaveys with horns for Mains, no subs presently, but will probably add them later. For me personally, the kick drum has to have a plastic or wooden mallet contacting either a plastic or metal bass drum disc. The disc helps define the beat and tighten up it's sound.
  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    The last two bands I've played for had inadequate subs at one time (basically just another set of mains that the drums and bass ran through).

    Both bands ended up getting the Cerwin Vega 18" subs and a seperate EQ for them. One got them because the other band heard what a diference they made. It was so dramatically different that most people who came to see us regularly (and a lot of other people, including respected musicians who came to see us) immediately commented on how much better we sounded.

    The ONLY difference was the subs...nothing else changed.

    As bass players, we know all too well how much horsepower it takes to get the low end "out there". Nothing is lower than the kick drum. Without subs, you have no kick drum...and you have no low end. Without true low end, it's hard to get people out there dancing or grooving to your music.
  9. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Our drummer simply mic's up his kick (straight up)...the rest of the "defining" sound comes from the subs and a seperately dedicated EQ, with 90Hz being boosted (as at around 85-95Hz, that is the resonating frequency of our chest cavity).

    That's where you FEEL the punch of the band. You need to cut a few other upper lows or the "punch" is felt too much in the sinuses...and not in a pleasant way.

    Sorry to go on and on about it...but if I can get even one more band to use subs, the world will be a better place. :D
  10. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    If you have bass, keys and kick going into a PA, you need a sub. The 2 or 3 way's with a 12" or 15" won't cut it - especially with vocals, keys, guitar etc runing through them.

    The size of the venue doesn't matter, either. Good sound is good sound in a 100 or 10,000 pearson venue.

    Adding 1 powered sub to your "PA on sticks" will make a world of difference in any venue at any volume with any style of music.

    I usualy play in a place that has 2 powered subs. Tonight we play somewhere were we won't have a sub. We will sound very different.

    Invest in a powered sub.
  11. Bob Bl.

    Bob Bl.

    May 1, 2003
    Sundogue - I'm not clear on what you mean by a "separate or dedicated EQ for the subs". I'm assuming that everyone using subs in the standard way (meaning NOT using self-powered speakers) is doing some subtle variation of:

    mixer --> EQ --> crossover --> then:
    - highs to the high amp --> top speaker(s), and
    - lows to the sub amp --> sub speaker(s)

    Any EQ'ing in the sub range (typically 120 Hz and down) only effects the part of the signal going to the subs, of course.

    Do you mean "dedicated to the mains", as opposed to something used for mains+monitors?
    OR, do you mean a separate and dedicated AMP? Now, that's something that people on a budget may not do right away - save up for the speakers first, right? But a crossover and a dedicated amp is what really makes the whole idea work.

    Yes, subs are great, even at reasonable volumes. Paying rock or pop or blues? Gotta have subs.

  12. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yes, we use a seperate power amp for the subs, and of course we use a crossover for the mains cabs. We also have seperate EQ's for mains and monitors.

    I did word that pretty strange, didn't I? I just meant that we use a crossover and obviously those frequencies below the crossover point are dedicated to the subs. So the EQ'ing of those frequencies are dedicated strictly to the subs, as opposed to running the PA full range and having those frequencies that belong to the subs also going through the mids.

    Gotta have a crossover...and EQ those sub frequencies carefully.
  13. Crockettnj


    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    sub. positively.

    +1 on teh kick drim comments. subs if for jsut the kick drum.

    we used powered subs, which is neither here nor there. (actually, its there).
  14. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    2 JBL EON 15 G2s
    2 JBL JRX118SP subs
    A simple, easy to work system.
  15. Lazylion

    Lazylion Goin ahead on wit my bad self!

    Jan 25, 2006
    Frederick MD USA
    We carry 4 subs, and use them all if possible. We only use sound on a stick at the very smallest/quietest gigs.
    Subs Rule!
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    If you've got enough power in your stage amp (say at least 500 watts), then maybe no subs needed. We've played a lot of gigs with just PA mains (either EAW JFX-590s, JBL MR925s or 935s, or Mackie SR 1530s), but it's in small venues where the kick can be heard. That said, a sub or two will really put some oomph in the sound, especially if you put the kick and the bass together in them. You'll be the only ones in there and, in my A rig, that's as much as 4,800 watts (two PLX 2402s bridged into two EAW SBX 220s) of booty kick.
  17. DblG


    Apr 27, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    We don't have subs, our mains consist of 2 peavey SP-4's (2-15's & horn) and 2 JBL (1-15 & horn) sitting on top. The peavey's are quasi 3-way and the bottom 15" speaker only gets 300Hz and below. It kinda acts as a sub, although probably doesn't sound or get as much power and umpff as true subs do. For the places we play, you can hear the bass and kick just fine in the mix. It doesnt' cave your chest in, but gets it out there for all the dancers. We've had nothing but compliments from regulars and musicians alike on our sound. (BTW...I do the sound as well. One way of making sure the bass and kick get their proper due in the mix ;) )

  18. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    I'll dissent.

    We mainly use whatever the club has.

    However, here's what I don't get:

    If subs sound so great for running the bass through the PA, why do almost zero of the bass amps use a mid driver/sub architecture? Bergantino et. al. must be missing the mark.

    I personally detest the way the bass sounds coming out of this kind of system. Mud; that's all I hear in 95% of the live sets - whether I am playing or whoever else. I have never heard a large system running big subs sound remotely like what I think the instrument should sound like. They remind me of a huge version of a young kid driving around in his car with something that sounds nothing like bass blasting all over the place. I realize they may be necessary, but don't care for the sound one bit. OTOH, perhaps the new Bose system will change my mind. One never knows for sure.

    That said, I will agree the kick is a different animal.
  19. 15"s mains are usually fine without a sub for main applications, 12"s can sound a bit small without a sub, but...

    mic'ing a drum kit in a bar (rather than a club with a stage, house sound and a soundperson) seems like overkill to me, unless you are getting paid (a lot). Are you going to have someone running your board? If not, I'd be using the mains for vocals only. In which case, no sub needed! Guitars and bass will be loud enough in stage volume to fill a decent sized barroom and generally drums will be too loud, at least the snare, lol!

    I certainly agree club sound is great, with a stage monitors and a big fat kick and bass pumping through giant subs... but look realistically at what you are doing. Go to the places you'll be playing and see what other bands are doing. Don't spend money just to do it.

    Just my .02 - good luck!
  20. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    It depends on several variables.

    Yeah, subs - used correctly - can help a great deal.
    But mixed the wrong way - they can Hurt you, too.

    Most of the places we play are very small, so I really don't think my current band needs them. Yes, they could help even in small venues but - variable 2 - my band doesn't put the instruments through the PA. [Not the way I would do it, but I that's the way they do it.] So, for us, with just a little vocals going through the PA and nothing else, I can't see hauling subs.

    Other thing is there are good subs and sloppy ones.
    The last subs I just played through made everything sound
    like doo doo.
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