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Someone please explain...Ampeg B100-R...sound guys...power needs...various nonsense

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by mikarre, Nov 6, 2003.


  1. mikarre

    mikarre Guest

    I've been doing so much research lately on bass amps, I'm getting a little dizzy. I really appreciate all the advice I've been getting here, but I have to admit I really still don't get it as to what a working bassist really needs. I've come to the following conclusions:

    1) To be heard you need a lot of power. Like, some people saying as much as 1000 watts, but others saying at least 350.

    2) If you don't have enough power, you can mic your amp. Ummmm....doesn't this contradict number one?

    Now, I may be dumb about bass stuff, but I have played guitar for almost 20 years. In my younger days I played through an all tube 120 watt Peavey 5150 half stack. I was pretty thrilled with all my power, and ability to crush the rest of the band as well as every other band in the practice facility. That is until we started playing shows, and the soundman would just mic my cabinet and tell me to turn down. Now, as a guitarist, there is no way in hell I would lug around a half stack knowing that most of the power would be wasted. Now, I would look for a great sounding combo, knowing it would just be mic'ed.

    Relating this to bass amps, I am really not following why I need to spend mucho dinero on a huge and powerful amp, since the sound guy can just mic my amp anyway. Not to mention that it would be so much to carry around. Also, when I was playing bass in a band with a 350 watt Hartke head a few years back, they would always send my signal direct. Again, all of my power was wasted. What's the point?

    I have a head and cabinet in mind that I will purchase if I must, but really what I would rather do is get a good combo and mic it for shows or even rehersal. I really love the tone of the Ampeg B-100R and if I could somehow make it loud enough to meet my needs it would be perfect.

    Again, if I were playing guitar I wouldn't care how loud my amp was, I would just mic it. Can't I do the same with the Ampeg?
     
  2. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    You could, unless you wanted sound you could FEEL as well as hear. But the B100R is a good choice. :bassist:
     
  3. My understanding is that power doesn't have to mean volume. To get a nice full range of sound including the lowest of the lows you need to have some huevos. I use an older SVT and almost never turn it beyond 9:00, but it has the huevos to handle the low B very nicely. I always try to run a direct line whenever possible as opposed to micing the cab, and keep my stage volume level just enough to feel it in my arse when I'm in front of my rig.
    I sometimes use a stack and I can see the club owner cringe everytime, but I don't use it for volume. My feeling is the more air I'm moving the better the overall sound.
    Peace
     
  4. ESP-LTD

    ESP-LTD

    Sep 9, 2001
    Idaho
    You are absolutely correct; if you have good PA support, all you need onstage is enough sound to make YOU happy. Where folks need lots of power and flexibility, is in situations where they may have to carry the whole show without the help of good PA.

    All the sound folks I have talked to agree that you need to keep your stage volume to a minimum and let them control it with the PA. This is of course, contingent on having a good enough PA to do the job, and a sound person who can do it well, so most folks get the biggest rig they can in self-defense.

    Power by itself doesn't mean much without reference to the sensitivity of the speakers being used. If you are using subwooofers (which have long cone excursion), you will need a lot of power to make them sound as loud as speakers carrying highs (which barely have to move the cones). I think as much as anything, folks use big power amps because they can; big power amps are pretty cheap these days.
     
  5. pbd

    pbd Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2003
    Metro Detroit
    owner Procables N Sound
    Bass sound waves are longer so take more energy to go as far as the shorter guitar and vocal sound waves. The sound waves actually travel out then fall pretty quickly. I've seen House sound systems with the subs installed above the audience head pointing out so the sound will fall while the mid/highs are pointed directly at the recipients. So many philosophies so little time.
     
  6. mikarre

    mikarre Guest

    Thanks for the link, I just read the whole thing. You had some interesting posts in there. What is your opinion on what I said in my original thread...that is using a somewhat under-powered combo with great tone and using a mic on it when more volume is needed? Would the average sound man go for that, or would he be miffed if I insisted he miced my amp? Nobody seemed to talk much about anything like that. It seems like everyone has these huge rigs and then bypass them with a DI and the sound guy wrecks their tone.
     
  7. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    "All the sound folks I have talked to agree that you need to keep your stage volume to a minimum and let them control it with the PA."

    That sounds typical of a sound person who has no concept of a musician's needs on stage. The key concept is being able to hear YOURSELF, which has little or nothing to do with what's going on out in the audience. I haven't seen too many club boards with individual monitor outs. In fact most of 'em are pretty crappy, and most of the "sound men" that the house provides are pretty crappy too.

    Bass players need power because we have to compete with loud rock drummers and Marshall stacks. The drummer sets the stage volume, and everyone else has to follow. It's pretty pointless for a soundman to tell the drummer to "turn down".


    "Bass sound waves are longer so take more energy to go as far as the shorter guitar and vocal sound waves. The sound waves actually travel out then fall pretty quickly. I've seen House sound systems with the subs installed above the audience head pointing out so the sound will fall while the mid/highs are pointed directly at the recipients."

    ???

    Bass frequencies typically travel "through the ground" as distinct from "through the air", but it has nothing to do with sound waves "falling". It has to do with the increased absorptivity of materials at low frequencies (for example, a cab component that acts like a "baffle" at high frequencies can easily turn into a porous sieve at low frequencies). The reason that higher power is needed to get a low note from point A to point B, is absorption and increasing diffusion. Hanging subs are a (philosophical) attempt to compensate for this by "forcing" the low frequencies to travel through the air instead of through the ground, hopefully mitigating "boominess" and other unwanted phenomena related to stage resonances and etc. Anyone who's been to concerts lately can tell you that this works to varying degrees depending on the acoustic properties of the room. There's no free lunch. Either way, your soundman has to know what he's doing.

    And that's why, we always use our own soundman. That person is an important member of the band. Ideally the soundman will participate in rehearsals and learn the songs along with the musicians. Soundmen need practice too!
     
  8. ESP-LTD

    ESP-LTD

    Sep 9, 2001
    Idaho
    I disagree that we have to compete with anyone.

    Everyone in the band needs to function as a member of a team, and modify their playing style to produce the best overall result.

    It's not the soundman's job to make folks play nice together; he just has to make the best possible FOH sound out of what choices are left to him. If you give him more choices, you have a better chance of good results.

    I agree completely about the sound person making practices and getting a share of the proceeds; they are full participants in the outcome.
     
  9. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    ESP-LTD, your point is well taken. Harmony and cooperation are good things. I was suggesting that it's difficult to do one's job (as a bass player) when one can't hear oneself. If you've ever been overwhelmed by a loud drummer (or underwhelmed by a bass rig), you'll understand the "competition" aspect. Some less experienced players end up completely changing their playing style just to make themselves heard. And that's not where we want to be as bass players. My experience has been that it's critically important to have "enough" power, so you can hear what your playing, and equally as important, so you can be comfortable with it. Sometimes it's hard enough just hitting the notes, 'cause gigs can get pretty frantic sometimes. Under those conditions, we wouldn't want the additional handicap of playing blind (or in this case, deaf).
     
  10. You're welcome. I'm an opinionated ol' cuss sometimes (OK most times.) ;)

    This is the shakiest proposition of all. Not only can you be inadvertantly drowned out by your bandmates, a bad sounguy can completely KILL what you hear of yourself with monitor phasing problems, while pissing off the singer or guitar player by blasting a horrible abomination of your sound at them. It requires a GOOD mic and also good monitors.

    It's not impossible and I did something very similar today as an engineer. I used the DI output of a GK MB112 for three monitor mixes and a broadcast mix for a few hundred thousand people. FWIW, there was NO bass in the monitors and everyone, players and audience alike, heard it just fine with a full acoustic drum kit, keyboard, and a Fender Hot Rod Deville.

    The bass player did all the work and the band was great; I just tried to capture what they sounded like and not screw them up. Unless they were lying to me about that, I succeeded.

    "Soundguy 101" usually dictates: "Bass is to be taken through a direct box."

    Most inexperienced and/or bad soundguys usually take that as a hard and fast rule and by requesting that you only have your amp mic'ed, you're operating outside of their comfort zone. Even the good ones can mistake such a request as a challenge to their skills. (That's the nicest thing about TV audio: my house; my rules. LOL) It can be dicey situation. People skills helps more than anything.

    Keep in mind most of the posts are coming form younger players still feeling their way around stage. I've been doing this awhile. In that time I've learned two things:

    1. I don't begin to know everything.
    2. Neither does anyone else.

    Experimentation is the best advice I can give.
     
  11. mikarre

    mikarre Guest

    How about the XLR output from a bass amp? Is that as good as a direct box to a sound guy? Otherwise, to be honest, I'm kinda feeling like it's not worth it to invest in a good amp at all, since the sound guy will make me use his DI anyway. I may as well just buy a good DI unit. If he uses the XLR on the amp at least I'd feel like there was some point in bringing my rig to the venue at all.

    Thanks for all the advice so far! Man, guitar rigs are so much easier for me to understand. I sure do appreciate the help.
     
  12. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    The XLR output from your amp will work just fine.

    But, "Otherwise, to be honest, I'm kinda feeling like it's not worth it to invest in a good amp at all, since the sound guy will make me use his DI anyway."

    Wrong! Don't ever let the sound guy tell you what to do. Your job is to get "your sound" on stage. His job is to make you sound good "as is". If he can't do that, he's not much of a sound guy.

    There is a caveat though. In the best of all worlds, you and the sound guy can "collaborate" to get you the best possible sound, both on stage and off. But that's a lengthy process, and it requires a meeting of the minds so that both of you understand what each others' needs are. That's not (generally speaking) something that can happen in five minutes with a sound guy you've never met before, and who doesn't know you from the last dozen bands he's worked with.

    That's why, we always use our own sound man. If the house can't deal with that, then we don't play. It's usually that simple. We learned long ago that the vast majority of so-called "sound men" that clubs provide don't know their board from a hole in the ground, and couldn't dial up a sound if their lives depended on it. A crappy sound man can totally destroy a gig. A good sound man is the band's best friend, and in fact that person should be the N+1th member of the band, with full participation in rehearsals, so he gets as good an understanding of the music as any of the musicians.
     
  13. bassmantele

    bassmantele

    Jul 22, 2003
    Boston MA USA

    How is it that Elvin Jones, who could snap a drum head with the flick of a wrist, could "turn it down" to back a flute player, but your average pimply, tattoo'd dweeb can't help himself?

    Never mind.
     
  14. jondog

    jondog

    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Most xlr outs on amps are fine. Some suck. It's *always* a good idea to invest in a good amp. If you have an underpowered amp, you will be relying on the monitors to hear yourself. Most monitors roll off between 60 and 100 hz. Low B on a 5 string bass is 30 hz. Unless every club you play will have *really* nice monitors, you need more than just a good DI if you want to hear any bass, which is the whole point of our instrument.