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ringing out PA for bar gigs

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Stev187, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    There may not be a solution to this problem, but I can't be alone...

    I run our sound from stage, and we now have gear that really works for us. We're a party/cover band with bass, guitar, drums and vocals. Running the sound has fallen to me because I have the most experience with it and I care the most when it isn't done right.

    Our gigs almost always start at 9pm at bar/restaurants that have a dinner service going while we load in; there is almost never enough time for an adequate sound check, but I can usually make adjustments during the first couple of songs.

    My biggest problem is that we can't ring out the system to avoid feedback. Last night I put my foot down and just started to do it, but the guys in the band got really anxious about it saying that the club owner would get pissed and not hire us again. Not having the system tuned properly at the beginning of the night makes the entire gig stressful for me.

    Any strategies for getting a PA set up and tuned when you've got dinner/bar service in the room with no time for ringing out, etc.? I'd love to hear it. I'd prefer to ring the system out myself, but I have toyed with the idea of a "feedback destroyer" type device, as we will probably never have the right amount of time to get it set up properly on the front end. I realize these things aren't ideal, but I don't know what else to do.


    P.S. We run a stereo monitor mix and the FOH speakers are large 2x15 cabs. We are not super loud as a band; lately to keep the stage volume down we run everything through the house: guitar cab mic, bass DI, 3 vocal mixs, and 4 drum mics. My main problem during the evening is keeping the lead singer's vox loud in the mix.
  2. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i haven't had to "ring out" a bar PA in a long time! if you set it up right and play within its volume limits, you shouldn't be anywhere near the verge of feedback out front.

    a big part of this is placement, keeping the boxes out in front of the vocal mics.

    (monitors typically need more of this ring-out process, but even then, good boxes with adequate power mixed right don't usually feed back.)

    making squealing racket while folks are eating is indeed a good way to not get asked back.
  3. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    Agreed. The club owner at this place really likes us, but it's a really funky room. We didn't have major problems with feedback, but even a little bit bugs me. And, again, I am trying to get our really good singer out front in the mix. We have two gigs there next month--I guess I just need to keep trying.



    P.S. If anyone has experience with the Feedback Ferret type units, weigh in. Thank you all.
  4. I have played a lot of gigs at restaurants with the 9 pm start time while people are still finishing dinner. I insist that we do the setup before the dinner hour starts - say, at 4:30 p.m., when no one is there. You should put your foot down on this. The venue owners will welcome it if they have half a brain.
  5. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    I love this idea, but sadly it's not possible. First, the "stage" area is used for dining before the gig. Second, the bulk of the PA arrives with the drummer at our load in. Suffice it to say, doing this the right way isn't an option. :(

    So I guess I am looking for a less-than-perfect compromise. The rest of the band, the club owner, and the patrons don't seem to mind. I just know we can get the mix much better and it bugs me. Thanks for the great ideas everybody.

  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    if you guys can do that (no day jobs) then yeah, that's the ticket. you can get a real soundcheck during the lull between lunch and dinner crowds.

    most restaurant bars would prefer that too, so there's not a bunch of scary band dudes wheeling in bass cabs around grandma trying to eat her seafood pasta.

    i never get that luxury (having a day job), so i always have to do the ol' "first song soundcheck", running out front with my wireless to see how it's going (i'm always the guy who mixes).

    it's like anything else though; do it enough to get good at it, and have a system that will behave itself (mainly by not being too under-powered for what you're trying to do), and it's workable.
  7. lol @ grandma and her seafood pasta. That part of it is as bad as the feedback part.

    trust me, we all have day jobs. But on gig nights at least a couple of us break away a little early for the setup.
  8. buy a driverack pa+ and a RTA mic. plug it into the drive rack run the auto EQ wizard, and save it.

    its not SUPER perfecto, however its totally usable. the other plus side is that you can always recall it from venue to venue...save time on the repeat visits.
  9. slap-a-da-bass

    slap-a-da-bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2009
    I've almost never had problems with feedback through the mains. I have have monitor problems, but what I've done is simulate a gig set up & ring them out in our practice space. I realize that's not ideal, but I bring the gain up much higher than I would need for a gig, so I must be covering problem freq's. I've done maybe twenty-five gigs over the last year with almost no feedback.
  10. A-train


    Nov 22, 2005
    San Antonio,Tx
    I've run sound from the stage while having to play bass many times. Most of time that I've had feed back problems its usually the monitors not the mains. Are you using wedges or side shots? If so than this may be the cause of your problems. I would suggest getting the mix out front set up first and then bring in the monitors. While this is contrary to what most people do which is to set their monitors and then mains I've found that running sound from stage makes this near impossible to get right. What happens is you set the volume on monitors than being in the mains and as you give more volume to the vocals you get all sort of feedback. So do it the opposite way. Set the mix and volume on the mains and then bring up the monitors. You may find this will help with your mix out front as well as your feedback problem.
  11. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    +1 to Big_Daws for being able to SAVE SETTINGS. What you really need in your situation is a digital board. Is it pricey? Yep. But you can sell all that rack effects stuff to get some of your money back. What's the advantage? You can save entire mixes and label them. And those times you do get to do a good sound check you can make good notes about the settings. That way when you get to a room you can look up in your notes the setting that best fits the room you are in. Will it be perfect every time? Nope. But it will be a heck of a lot closer than having an analog board in the club with all the acoustics of a small gym when the last gig you played (and how the board is still set) was a dry conference room at a hotel set to low volume for a reception. Plus you can talk to the club owners at the places you frequent and set up a time to mix the room just ONCE. Then you'll always be dead ready when you go back. Just fire up your board and bring up the setting for "Stinky's Crab Shack". Stinky will be thrilled every time.

    If there was ever a situation for which those boards were designed yours is it.
  12. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I think this is your problem, if everybody else is happy you just have to learn to accept it.

    We played a gig where the lead guitar and drums where so loud you could barely hear the vocals. Then we get asked to turn down :( The mix was so bad I stopped going out front to check. Why bother?

    But the crowd was the best crowd we have ever had. So I just sucked it up and accepted that it was bad.
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    When positioned correctly, the monitors are more likely to feedback than the mains. It's not always practical or cost effective to have DR's or feedback destroyers on both the mains and monitors. One problem is the instrument-induced stage volume: they get their amps way too loud then complain they can't hear their vocals. In response, we turn up the monitors to the point the volume meets or exceeds FOH. I'm not kidding, I've seen it happen.

    If you can ring your system in a "neutral" friendly environment and save the EQ and feedback settings, you'll find the resulting EQ curve to be suitable for 99% of your venues. I've looked at the curves derived in small rooms and larger halls and found a profound consistency case-to-case...not much of a variance. I asked a sound engineer about this and, in response, he asked "are you positioning your RTA mic ~25' from the source?". He said the practice was deceptive as it balances the system but doesn't truly fold the room dynamics into the equation as we've been led to believe. I can neither confirm nor deny but it is a plausible explanation for the observations described.

  14. camthebassman


    Jan 7, 2012
    I'm wondering why you need 4 drum mics for bars/restaurant. We play similar places with 6 vocal mics + my sax mic, 2 guitars, my bass, and an acoustic drum kit....nothing on the drums is mic'd except maybe a kick drum mic (rare). You may be over-mixing the drums to the PA and monitors. The vocals will sound muddy throught he monitors mixed with all the drums in the mix and in the ambient environment causing you to turn up the monitors leading to feedback. Other likely issues are monitor placement relative to mics. SM58s and clones do not repsond well to monitors directly behind the microphone - place the monitor at an angle to the mics. This has solved many of our feedback issues. We ring out our system through the feedback buster before every show, but I don't think we need it. Mains should be in front of everything. Mic gains should be as low as possible. Good Luck!
  15. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    How awesome is TB? Thanks for these very practical suggestions, including the non-technical one of learning to accept a less-than-ideal mix. I have a visualization to use for this: my drummer looking at me during a song and mouthing the words "It's fine." He could tell I was bugged about the mix and he wanted me to drop it from my mind and focus on the music.

    We've added a few pieces of gear to our fairly simple PA rig, so I think I may just need to get used to the whole thing. We have 2 gigs in that room next month, so I will explore all of these ideas and see where it leads us. Thanks, everybody.

    Since nobody chimed in about the feedback suppression units, I am guessing folks don't think of that as a great option. I was tempted to grab a couple of Peavey Feedback Farret IIs (available used for about $100/ea). I don't think $200 is going to solve my problem, but if it could help in some way, that would be a very tempting solution.

    I'll report back here. Thanks again.

  16. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    This is entirely possible. We started gigging with no drum mics and vocals only PA (pretty standard bar band set-and-forget kind of sound). I started by adding just a taste of kick and snare to the FOH (no drums in monitor mix ever) and got lots of compliments. Believe it or not, our guitarist is really quiet, so I mic his cab and run my bass to the board with a DI to even everything out. We recently added some tunes that feature the floor tom, and our drummer wanted me to throw a mic on there (he has a nice set of drum mics).

    The monitors are 12" wedges and placed as you say--at an angle to all mics. Our monitor mix last night was actually pretty darn good.

    We get compliments on our volume at nearly every gig. At this place, the DJ who spins between our sets is a lot louder than we are. People love this. People like being able to talk to each other during our set and they stay longer. When we got more powerful gear, we were actually able to bring the stage volume down even more and do a more even mix FOH.

    Again, thanks for all the tips.

  17. There's something wrong with the gear or setup if you're having feedback like this.

    Autofeedback supressors are cool.... .

    .How loud is your stage volume... are the montors and/or mics cheap?
  18. themacinator

    themacinator Always looking for the perfect gig

    Oct 8, 2009
    8,600 feet in the Colorado Rockies
    Endorsing Artist: Babicz FCH Hardware
    Very interesting thread. Bassist and sound guy for our band too.

    First I have a Driverack PA+ in my set up. We've played in many rooms from large to small. Setting the Auto EQ and Auto Feedback Suppression is a huge help. Not 100% of the issue is taken care of but 95% is.

    Second I set FOH first, always first. Because our singer likes only her vocals in her monitor it's too easy to set it so loud that we have issues on stage without even knowing what the audience is hearing. So FOH first, then I set monitors.

    One thing that has not been mentioned is since you are running a PA make sure that your guitarists, bassist, keys, etc aren't blasting their amps. That's what the PA is for. Get them in the board and mix them all right for FOH sound. After all if you have a PA all their gear is are big, flat monitors pointing right at your mics.

    Lastly make sure that your monitors are pointed at the mics, not at the knees. Placement and angle of the wedges can go a LONG way to eliminating feedback and stage rumble.

    Here is a video of our latest show tonight and the FOH mix I had. Lead guitar is using a Roland Cube of some sort (mic'd), Rhythm guitar is using a small Crate (mic'd), I'm using my V4B into a SVT 410HLN and D.I.'d to the board. Drummer has his kick, two rack toms, and two floor toms mic'd. Snare is not mic'd.

    Barefoot Dixie
  19. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Since you play there regularly, take 15 minutes after the next gig and ring out the system, then write down the settings. Assuming you set up the same way every time you should be pretty much good to go.
  20. camthebassman


    Jan 7, 2012
    Maybe it was the recording, but all I hear is drums and vocals. Why is the drum mic'd? Seems like major overkill...the drums are by far the loudest instrument on stage. Very clean stage set-up....I wish we could trim down to that size!! nice song, too!