Rig sounds awful at rehearsal volume

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by LazymanHST, Mar 16, 2021.

  1. Hello everyone!

    After reading on this site for a long time, I finally decided to register and create my first thread. :thumbsup:
    Of course I tried to use the search, here and via google, but I came up with no results. So if there are any threads regarding my problem, please point me to them. :)

    So, my problem... I'm able to get the sound I like from my rig, but only when practicing at lower volumes. But as soon as I turn the volume up to rehearsal levels (i.e. with our drummer and PA for our singer) I cannot find any tone with my current rig, that I like. It's either way too boomy or too thin.

    I don't think, we are too loud, as our rock band consist of just 1 drummer, 1 guitarist, 1 female singer and me. Also, I think I have enough power in my amp to produce the volume needed. So - what is my problem and how can I fix it? Are there any guidelines of how to translate an EQ from lower volumes to an EQ at higher volumes?

    I play an Yamaha TRBX 605 into an Ampeg PF-800, which runs into a Glockenklang Duo (2x10) and a Glockenklang Uno Rock Deluxe (1x15). Being a bit proud of the looks, feels and specs of my gear, it is even more frustrating, that my tone is rather awful.
    My settings on my bass are: active mode, bass boosted a bit, mids totally cut as they seem to be boomy, treble at noon, balance center. On my amp I currently use (on a scale from 0-10): bass at 2, mids at 2, midrange selector 2 (450 Hz), treble at 3, volume and gain at 7, ultra lo engaged. I already read, that many of you don't like the ultra lo, but as soon as I disengage it, my bass sounds like played through a tin can.
    I tried many other combinations, but it's always the same: nice sound when being quite, awful when being loud. :bawl:

    The tone I try to achieve is something like
    This has to be possible, right?

    Thank you for your time to read through this lengthy post and for your help! :bassist:
    DJ Bebop, dkelley and Roxbororob like this.
  2. So you're using your BASS control at 2/10 and have the MIDS on 2/10 AND use the ULTRA LOW control, is that right?
    The ultra low is a mid scoop button really. Which means you're dialling in a huge mid scoop.......
    If so, I would try the ultra low OFF.
    BASS on 5 or 6/10, MIDS on same or to taste, and try moving your rig a little.
    Apart from your settings, it might br the position in your rehearsal room
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
  3. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    This is a tricky problem. I am not familiar with your gear, but in my experience a lot of bass gear tends to have this sort of problem. Essentially as you turn up, the sound sort of goes to crap. You might be surprised that some people actually like this :rolleyes:. If you want the sound to remain consistent you may need different gear.

    However, the problem may also be related to how sound behaves in the acoustic space you are in. If you like a really nice HiFi bass sound you need to change your expectation or you are always going to be frustrated with live bass. The direct sound comes out of the cab and hits reflective surfaces, and then start bouncing around and forming a reverberant field. Worst case scenario the reverberant energy forms a diffuse field where the sound is moving in all directions and the SPL is uniform in all locations. The more you turn up the more of a problem you create.

    Here is a page with definitions. Check out Diffuse Field and Critical distance.
    sound fields - acoustic glossary

    Something I adopted a long time ago is an approach the involves elevating my cab and aiming it at my ears. The cab functions sort of like headphones. The idea is so I hear more direct sound coming from the cab and less of the reverberent energy bouncing around the room. Some bass player love this approach and some hate it.

    Another thing that may help is limiting the amount of energy you are feeding into the reverberent field at problematic frequencies. Let's assumed the room easily rings at 420hz. The idea is you use an EQ with a narrow bandwidth to put a notch at 420hz so you put less energy into the room at this frequency.

    Usually after you notch 4-5 frequencies you start getting diminishing returns. Also you can use a really deep cut if the room rings at one frequency, but if it rings across a range of adjacent frequencies you have to use less of a cut or it will gut your sound. This is sort of an art form that takes some time and a bit of natural aptitude to master. If you hate tweaking your amp's controls it's sort of a lost cause.
    dbsfgyd1, DJ Bebop, Ewo and 18 others like this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    You're scooping the ever loving heck out of your mids. Mids is where definition and volume are, particularly in a trio+vocal situation.

    Turn off the ultra low, put all your EQ stages at zero db cut or boost. On the amp and the bass. Read the manual for the amp, I can't remember if it has a passive tone stack or active EQ section. But find flat. Start making small adjustments from there with an ear for the whole mix, not just yourself. I guarantee it will sound better than what you're doing now.
  5. And as @Wasnex said above, point yr cabs at yr ears.
    It makes a difference
    DJ Bebop, shoot-r, Zbysek and 2 others like this.
  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Looking closer at your tone settings, I would definitely suggest some changes. Ampegs are generally fairly flat with the tone controls straight up, so bass at 2/10, mid 2/10, treble 3/10 is a whole lot of cut to begin with. Then you engage the Ultra Low which is more of a huge cut in the mids rather than a boost in the lows. From the owners manual:
    ULTRA LO: This switch, when engaged, enhances the amount of low-end output by 2 dB at 40 Hz, and implements a –10 dB cut at 500 Hz.
    So as @lz4005 observed you are creating a massive cut in the mids with the selector set to 450hz and the mid control dialed 2/10.
    DJ Bebop, Ronzo, dkelley and 6 others like this.
  7. rickdog

    rickdog Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2010
    @Wasnex is right about Ampeg tone controls - 5/10 is flat, you can boost or cut from there.

    If you don't have the manual for your amp you can find it at PF-800 Manuals (Ampeg).
    DJ Bebop, Ronzo, Zbysek and 3 others like this.
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Plus with the mids rolled completely back on the onboard EQ, he's looking at potentially a -25db mid cut in total.
    DJ Bebop, Ronzo, dkelley and 3 others like this.
  9. As plenty have said, lose the ultra-low then work with the basic eq. A great low volume sound will almost certainly be bad at higher levels due to the way our hearing's frequency response changes with volume. At higher volumes push the mids.
    DJ Bebop, Ronzo, Need Gigs and 5 others like this.
  10. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Mid scoop sounds pleasant when you are playing alone and/or at low level. But it does not work at all in a band situation.
    As many have already stated, you should do a complete 'reset': Set your bass and amp flat (without ultra low) and start from there.
    Also try different positions of the amp and yourself in the room: e.g. if your amp is in a corner, get it out of the corner
    Good luck!
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
    dannylectro, DTRN, DJ Bebop and 8 others like this.
  11. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    I have been there, my friend; a mid-scooped tone might sound great solo but gets lost in the mix. It took me a lot of beating my head against many walls (rehearsal rooms and club stages) before it finally sunk in. Start flat and make minor adjustments until you find your tone in the mix. Record your rehearsals and gigs if at all possible. It turns out a nice even tone, with plenty of low mids, slots you nicely into the mix without getting buried by the kick drum. A hi-fi/scooped tone just gets buried and sounds thin in the mix in my experience.
    DJ Bebop, Ronzo, dkelley and 9 others like this.
  12. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Also, it sounds like your amp might be in or close to a corner. If so, try moving your amp next to the kit along a flat wall. A block of wood can be used to tip the front of the cabinet up which gets your ears closer to a direct line of fire enabling clarity. Room placement is very effective in changing what you hear. And take all that eq advice. It seemed spot on.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    Here's a graphic with the Fletcher Munson curve to show how our perception changes as the volume goes up.

    A Phon is a measure of apparent loudness. To get the perception of 10 phon you need 10dB at 1000hz and 30dB at 100hz. In other words 100hz must be 30dB louder for equal perceived loudness.

    Now let's kick up the volume. To get the perception of 70 phon at 1,000hz you need about 70dB and at 100hz you need about 77dB. In other words at this percieved loudness level, 100hz only needs to be about 7dB louder for equal perceived loudness.
  14. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    Ditch the ultra low, start with amp eq settings at 12-12-12 (noon) you are in essence 'strangling' your amp AND cutting db's.
    Ronzo, AlexanderB, Zbysek and 3 others like this.
  15. 707GK


    Jun 13, 2013
    -10 dB @ 500hz from the Ultra Low is a significant cut. Add too much back @ 500 & it can make it sound boxy but -10 is too much IMO, not even taking into account your other EQ settings.
    Ronzo, Zbysek and BBassBassington like this.
  16. erratick


    Mar 2, 2014
    There is some simple science behind why a rig at low volume will almost invariably sound like crap cranked.

    It's built into people. The equal loudness curve:

    Equal Loudness Curves


    Bass lives in about 80Hz -800 Mhz. There are some feel things below 80hz locked up with the kick, and some overtones above 800Mhz. But on a recorded album- ~80-800 is where that bass will live.

    But look at that curve for "equal loudness" between say 100-1000Hz at low volume (20-30db) vs. band volume (at least high 60db). When you scoop an amp, you're pulling out some of the stuff in that range and it probably sounds good up to around 40-50db.

    But between 80db and 100db there is a flattening. That's getting right into the meat of band volume.

    Those used to be hard to hear bass sounds at 50-80 are now boomy. The 200mhz-300 bass primary freqencies? not as much power needed, but relative to the highs and the bass, not as much cut needed either. The overtones at 600+? They actually have a little notch back up

    The advice of flatten the thing out, turn it up and start adjusting. That is the way.
    Ronzo, Lobster11, Gustopher and 5 others like this.
  17. Zoffy

    Zoffy Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2020
    Sacramento CA
    This. My band just moved onto a new practice room that is smaller than the one we were using before. It's trial and error time trying to determine the best placement for the amps and drums. Even small changes in amp position and placement make a big difference - especially if the room is small. Also, like others have said, kick up the mids on your amp.
    Ronzo and BBassBassington like this.
  18. Your first stop is here.

    Download, Read and Understand the manuals of the Ampeg PF-800 amp you are using.

    With the settings you wrote you have, and the way the numbers are on the amp, it is no wonder it all sounds bad at rehearsal volume. (At low volume it might sound ok because there is enough power to push through the bad EQ choice.)

    Keep the EQ knobs at "5" or "12 o'clock" position, and adjust sparingly from there.
    Once the EQ is at "5" you'll notice how much power the amp is now giving and will likely bring down the Volume from 7 to 3 or so.
    Rip Van Dan, Ronzo and Zbysek like this.
  19. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    You have some weird settings man. Set everythying halfway and disengage the high and low boost, set the bass and treble controls to taste, then try the buttons if you need em. then spend some time on the mids. 400Hz is cardboard box territory so don't boost that. If you're going to boost mids do it around 800Hz, the upper mids.

    When I tried Ampeg gear it always sounded best when upper lows were boosted at 250Hz I think
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
  20. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    What you're experiencing is why "bedroom" tone doesn't work at live loud(er) rehearsal or gig volume. Your settings sound great to you playing solo at lower volume but they're not gonna work "in the mix". Often good live tone sounds like crap soloed at lower volume but works well with the band. Follow the suggestions made above and tweak the knobs accordingly. That's why the knobs are there.
    DTRN, DJ Bebop, Ronzo and 5 others like this.