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The importance of a good mix

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by RAM, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Last night a friend of mine talked me into going to a local club to check out a band he is trying to represent (he's an entertainment lawyer). Their from Minnesota but I can't remember their name. I was impressed that the band had a solid following in Chicago, being from hundreds of miles away. To me, that speaks volumes!

    When they came on and started to play, I got completely turned off! What was apparent to me was that they began by mixing all the drums so they're balanced through the sound system, then they turned up all the other instruments and vox to match the output volume of the drums. The only problem was that they were one loud, distorted, crazy, droning mess. I left after 1 hour in disgust, my ears still ringing the next day!

    To put this in perspective, this particular club has 2 rooms, both of which have the same crappy acoustics. But, the band in the second room sounded FAR better than the one I was there to watch. Why?

    While I definitely don't have a problem with loud music, I can't understand why a band, particularly one big enough to have a multi-state following (and growing???) can't ensure they have good sound. Here's my thoughts: a band is out to play and grow itself, perhaps take pride in what they do and have an audience appreciate their work. If they can take the time to learn the material (or write it themselves), practice, travel, and invest in good gear, why can't they make it a point to have a good mix?

    In the end, they're marketing themselves. If I don't like what I hear, I'm not excited to go back and hear them again next time they're in town.
  2. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Did they provide their own sound/soundman, or were they at the mercy of the house?
  3. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    So many practical things can conspire against having a good mix. Heck, I know my bass amp sounds different on every stage, with me standing just a few feet away from it. Multiply that times a number of other instruments and vocals, and it can be tricky. Mix in the fact that the band can't really hear what it sounds like out front from the stage. More likely than not, these guys are trying to scrape by making a living or at least trying to make the band a self-sustaining enterprise, so adding a soundman to the money split might not be a viable option.

    That's not to say the band can be excused for sounding bad. Some bands overcome these obstacles better than others, and I agree that it can make a BIG difference in how the band is received.

  4. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    Wireless guitar or bass rigs can make it easy to go have a stroll around the club during sound check, if you get one, and go talk to the house soung-guy if you don't have one yourself.

    Or the lead singer can sit out and listen to the rest of the band; that leaves the house only to mix vocals against band. The options are out there, but the band has to take the initiative, especially if it's a showcase type situation where suits may be in the house.
  5. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I *think* it was their own guy...

    I think you bring up a good point, that they might not be in total control of their sound. But, it's got me thinking...here's a band that's obviously trying to market itself. I'd think that they'd take at least a little interest in their own sound. Perhaps that's easier said than done.

    But, consider the fact that here's a band that's interested in more than simply getting out. I believe if they are trying to grow their fan base by travelling to another city, they're obviously concerned about delivering a good product. They can be as *on* as they've ever been, be tighter than ever, hit the accents, play with all the emotion, etc...but, if the audience can't make any sense of the loud, distorted noise emanating from everywhere, what good is it? The audience isn't gonna feel good about what they hear...

    Are we guilty of giving soundmen too much control?
  6. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    It might be the mentality. Perhaps they are thinking that now that they have a sound guy, they don't have to worry about the sound themselve anymore?

    IMO there might be temporal reasons why the sound quality was bad, as every room differs from another. Perhaps a bad place, perhaps just a bad night. But a professional sound guy should at least be able to pull of somewhat balanced sound every night, even if at the cost of "ultimate bass drum sound". That should be the basis everything is built on, in my opinion.
  7. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    What choice do we have? If we have our own sound guy, we hope he has the ear to be able to dial in a good mix in any given room, but what happens when the band gets booked in a room that has in-house sound? Will the in-house engineer dial us the way we like, and/or how receptive would said in-house engineer be to our guy wanting to fine tune the mix?

    If that band did use their own soundman, maybe someone could constructively give him some pointers on what constitutes a good mix.
  8. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    That makes sense.

    This band's sound was so horrible, though, that I can't believe ANY soundman would have purposely dialed in this sound.:(