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Running our own sound for smaller shows - help mixing???

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Toddbass65, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. Toddbass65

    Toddbass65 Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2012
    My band is starting to book shows at smaller bars and use our practice PA for sound. The guys trust my ear so looks like I will go out front to board with my wireless during sound check to mix us before we start. Is anyone doing this out there that has a strategy they use that would mind sharing? These smaller places just don't pay enough to pay our regular sound guy, but we can use the work so looks like we will be doing this more. Thanks for any ideas!
  2. camthebassman


    Jan 7, 2012
    We play only small places. 6 piece band with 18 different instruments ranging from Tenor sax to drums. We do our own sound. We set a base line FOH mix during practice sessions so that we are "close". Sound check adjustments/tweaks at the venue. For the show the first two songs we play cover the basic sound profile for the night. Our "utility player" goes out front and makes some tweaks as we play these songs. Tweaks are normally an adjustment of the relative level between "instruments" and "vocals", only due to crowd competition. After that we are usually good to go for the night. Not too difficult for us. We use k12s/Ksub and one of the new Mackie Ipad mixers. Everything runs through the mixer and to the PA (kick mic only on drums), but these places are so small that we could run vocals only and fill the room with just our amps and acoustic drums. Instrument levels to the mains are generally low. We're playing R&R/country from the 50's to current.
    Hope this helps!
  3. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Anything besides vocals going in the mix?
  4. I've been doing this for more than 10 years. Since 3 of our 4 singers sing lead, what we do is leave the vocal mics at "lead singer volume," and control the blending of the vocals by backing off the mic when not singing the lead part. This minimizes changes needed by the 'soundman' (me) during the gig. For the smaller places, I rarely put anything but kick drum and vocals in the mains.
  5. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    We do our own sound for most of our gigs.

    We keep our board on stage, and since our lead guitarist actually has a degree in sound engineering we usually just turn him loose and let do his thing.

    We use electric drums and run all instruments through the mixer even during rehearsals, so our individual mix and levels are pretty consistent. It's usually just a matter of turning up or down the mains level based on the venue.

    We'll set basic volume levels for the room during setup, then start the evening by running a little lower volume than we think we'll need, always better to have to turn up than turn down.

    We have a regimen where anyone who isn't playing during a particular song will slip off stage into the crowd and check volume and mix and we'll adjust accordingly.

    Anyway, that's how we do it.
  6. Toddbass65

    Toddbass65 Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2012
    Here's a little more info:
    Hard rock band with 2 guitars, bass (myself) drummer one lead singer.
    One guitar and drummer sing backup only.
    I think vocals and drums all that will go though mixer, but possibly guitars. My rig is loud enough on its own at 1500 watts using 2 410 cabs or 900 watts with one 410 cab. :) we only have 8 channels to deal with on the mixer. Drummer is pretty heavy handed, so maybe just kick drums (2) and an overhead maybe. Thanks for the ideas so far.
    Anybody else please chime in!!

    PS: I see more bands going this route now with the economy the way it is and bars less likely to shell out much up front unless they know there will be a good night at the bar. Understandable.... By going this route we feel we can charge less and make sure we at least make a decent rate at the end of the gig. Sound guys aren't too happy probably out there, but it is what it is. Small to medium bars just can't afford too much in our area so gotta go with what will work I guess. Any comments on this please share too...like to hear if other areas are like this more now.
  7. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Vocals only in the pa until you get comfortable with doing sound from stage--- it can work.

    Kick drum gets lost first--- even with heavy handed drummers.

    Mic the kick only if you've got the pa to handle it (subs).

    As you get comfortable , add the other instruments, using the same logic for your bass as the kick drum.

    one 4-10 with the right pa is better that two 4-10's IMO
  8. camthebassman


    Jan 7, 2012
    I guess I should have asked how small is small? 1500 watts in 2 410s, twin bass drums....not a small room setup. I'm guessing your guitar players have full rigs too? You guys would melt the walls of any place we play up with up to 200 people. Vocals and kick (maybe) in the mains, only. I can't imagine how loud your stage sound is going to be, even with the amps at 1. maybe I'm getting old...er.
  9. Toddbass65

    Toddbass65 Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2012
    I would say our room size would usually be 100-150 people tops.
    We have 2 215 cabs as the subs. Bass drums mic'd at practice always through those no problem. Both guitars run 412 cabs. I think myself and guitars go no PA first time out and see how it goes.
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware rep.
    Do you split the subs on each side of the stage?

    Best sound for subs is having them together on the floor near center stage. Check out: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f203/sub-placement-stage-floor-does-matter-901817/ and the links within.

    For the gigs, I suggest setting the vocal levels first and then play song with amps/drums half-level and adjust from there.

    Be sure to re-check the balance/volume when the venue fills up.
  11. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    One of the things that I find helpful when I'm doing the mix from the stage is have the FOH mix in my monitor.
  12. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Start with the EQ flat. Cut frequencies from there. Very seldom should you boost frequencies.

    And that was my profound glimpse into the obvious. :p

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  13. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    But I usually leave the low end stuff out of the monitor
    (no kick or bass).
    The easy way to do this (if you are not running stereo)--
    run the FOH off the left side of the board, your monitor off the right side of the board. Pan everything to the middle except the kick and the bass, they get panned hard left.
    Then you only have to tweek those levels in the FOH by stepping out front--- a long cord usually does the trick.
  14. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    I usually put some kick drum in the monitors to help with timing, but you're right about the bass guitar. The only time I put it in is if we're spead out too far and have trouble hearing each other.

    I use one side of a crossover to highpass my monitors at 100Hz and let the backwash off the sub fill in the low end.
  15. TIP: Keep/setup the mixer near you on stage - that way, no one can mess with it, except you. Get band mates (and you) to adjust their stage volume and tone to match the drummers un-mic'ed kit without overpowering the drums as a whole band - then add the vocals. Walk the room to double check, fine tune, set it, and go for it. As the room fills with people the sound will change - don't turn up.
  16. will33


    May 22, 2006
    If you want to run the band in the PA at those smaller venues, I would suggest cutting all members backline speaker count in half. :D

    Otherwise, just put vocal and a touch of kick(s) in the PA, let mic bleed fill out the rest, and mix it all to the natural level of the drums.

    Tjere are advantages to putting more of the band in the PA, even if you're not using it to make them necessarily louder than they already are. They will still soumd "bigger" and better dispersed throughout the audience. If your guitarist likes to crank up that 412, he'll be making the ears bleed of whatever poor souls end up on center with his rig while giving the rest of the crowd more mud.

    If you're micing drums in rehearsal, you're already used to playing way too loud to get any kind of quality sound in a 100 person venue (assuming 100 people make the place look full.)

    Assuming you can control stage volume to some degree (not quiet, but not blaring either, should be able to hear an un-mic'd kick drum through the noise)....I would do as follows with 8 channels.....

    1. Lead vocal
    2. Back vocal
    3. Back vocal
    4. Kick 1
    5. Kick 2
    6. Single drum overhead
    7. Guitar
    8. Bass

    And make damn sure the vocals are clear and easily understood. A little cut on the vocals eq somewhere in the lower midrange (250hz-ish give or take, depending) usually helps this.
  17. will33


    May 22, 2006
    With double kicks and mic'd rehearsals, I'm assuming this is some type of metal or other genre where your audience likes it loud, and that's cool. You can get away with a little more volume-wise, but that does brimg its own set of problems. Regardless of genre, if you over-run the room with quantity of sound, you lose control of quality of sound. Without the quality, in your audiences minds, you just won't be as good as other bands, regardless of how musically/technically good you really are. So, set yourself apart from those other guys and maintain quality sound. Run the volume up if you want as long as the quality is still there, but don't trade quality for quantity.
  18. camthebassman


    Jan 7, 2012
    Seriously. 100 to 150 person room can't support the shear volume of this bands gear, unless earplugs are included with your paid cover charge. Why bother with all this fine tuning of a PA when the twin 412 guitars, 410 bass, double kick drum will overwhelm everything. You'll be lucky to have enough Pa power to even hear the vocals as you run screaming for your life when the first power chord is played.

    You guys are bringing bazookas to a skeet shooting range. We play this type of gig all the time with 30 watt combo amp guitars a light drummer and a 210 bass all turned up to 1/4 power. Rocks the house and no one complains about bursting eardrums. Sub placement? Who care? It makes zero difference in rooms this size.
  19. +1. Yep
  20. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    Last band I went to see as a spectator, this guitar player was overpowering the band a bit with his unmic'ed mesa boogie head into a single 12".

    I doubt any band was ever kicked out of its bar gig for being not loud enough.