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Total newb confused on bass amplification

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by nboyer941, May 1, 2009.

  1. nboyer941


    Jul 22, 2008
    Burnsville, MN
    I've been playing for about a year and am just starting to play out. I searched and couldn't find a clear answer to my novice questions. For whatever reason, my bandmates and people I meet can never give me a straight answer.

    The way I see it, there are three ways to play....
    1) Simply play out of your rig (loud)
    2) DI into the PA
    3) Mic your speakers into the pa

    What is the most common way to go here? In what different situations would you use these possibilities? Are there other ways to go about this?

    Seems to me if you di into the pa, you will not get the tone you want out of your cabinet. If you play straight out of your rig, you can't mix it.

    But I hardly ever see a mic'd bass amp.

  2. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Most bands starting out will just depend on their amps for volume. This is usually because they don't have a decent/large enough PA for a DI or mic. When they move further up the foodchain they will probably be playing with a pro PA and having a Bass rig is not necessary. Two of the last 3 national acts my band opened for the bass players had no bass rig. One guy was using a BBE pre-amp with IEMs the other just a DI with IEMs. When you get to that level no one hears your bass rig anyway it is pretty much all PA. It is not uncommon for the soundman to use a DI and also mic the bass players amp if he has one.
  3. What you missed with the three options are combinations of the three options. For instance, you could play through your rig, have a DI between the bass and amp, and mic the rig.

    I always just use a DI to the PA and play through my rig.
  4. ....also, the obvious benefit of PA support, via DI or mic, is you can keep stage volume down to a sane level. Cranking your rig to supply FOH sound in a big room will just start a volume war with your band mates.
  5. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    IMHO it depends upon the sound of your rig, and style of music you play.

    I have a filthy, filthy SVT style fuzz tone that a DI just can't capture, so I bought a decent mic (EV-RE20) and left it in my case, since 98% of sound men give you a DI and walk away. They would say "we don't have a mic for your bass amp." I've seen lots of bass players do the same. (Bring their own mic with nice bass response).

    If the stuff you're playing if very clean, or funky, or the amp/cab doesn't add much sound to your bass, (if you have a super clean, active-bass tone) then the DI is probably the way to go, and you just use the amp so your band can hear you. Some pro bands with DECENT monitors, or earplug monitors just use PODs. (no amps).

    Don't be afraid to ask to mic your cab. But an SM57, or 58 wont cut it. You'll want something like a bass drum mic, or an EV-RE20 (around $300).
  6. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    A mic will never give you the deep bass response of a DI (because bass cabinets don't reproduce the deep lows). The best deep response I've encountered so far was from AcmeBass and Hughes & Kettner cabinets, but they still can't do what decent PA subs can do. (Although admittedly many mixpersons don't get a very good bottom out of their subs.)

    In most rooms, a well driven 2x10 amp is quite capable of overdriving the room at certain frequencies, making the soundman miserable because s/he can't get rid of the roar.
  7. nboyer941


    Jul 22, 2008
    Burnsville, MN
    Last time I played out I had a small 1x12 amp that I used as my personal monitor and I di'd into the pa. I think I prefer that best. (except with my 4x10 setup)

    Would it be in my best interest to buy a di box for $30 so I always have it?

    Should I rehears like this and di into our pa? what is the bennefit of doing/not doing this?
  8. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Don't bother having a cheap DI on hand, as the sound provider should have one. And these days most amps have a usable DI output.

    For rehearsal, do whatever works for everyone, likely amp or DI but not both.
  9. Fu22, ever looked into a speaker-level DI? Loses the cab sound but keeps the head's sound. & NEVER gets knocked off-axis ;)
  10. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    Sadly, I don't gig at all much anymore, but what's a speaker-level DI? Something in-between the head and the speakers? Sounds great. Will it mess with the impedance? How does it work?
  11. Parallels the cab. I haven't dove very deeply into, but it should only impact the impedance faintly. Think of a normal DI for your bass but with resistors in series to bring speaker voltage level down to bass voltage level.
  12. I run a SVT 8-10 cab and I use a Mike instead of a DI and our soundman and I agree it sounds better than using my DI.
  13. Stumbo

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    Feb 11, 2008
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  14. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    Ok... this is sounding familiar.

    When I played my SVT (actually a V9), I and had to start using a Tom Scholz Power Soak to get the sound I wanted without causing a mutiny.

    The Power Soaks were made for 120ish watt marshalls, and the SVT would COOK them. I'd go through one every nine months or so... solder would drip out of the power soak onto the top of my amp. Smelled like a grilled cheeze sandwich burning.

    So a speaker-level DI is basically a powersoak, or powerbrake with an XLR out? That's crazy.
  15. No.

    Let's say a bass sends a signal that's 1 volt peak to peak max. And the amp sends 100 volts peak to peak. (Just grabbing numbers folks.) Rig up your amp/cab normally. Plug another cable into amp & into the input of a voltage divider circuit that drops the voltage 100:1. Plug a cable from the Divider's output into a ground-lifted DI.

    You can get DIs that have a switchable voltage divider built in.
  16. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    di to make the sound guy happy.
    then i just play out of my live rig. what's the point of even having a live rig if not to play it?
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sorry, not true at all. A mic absolutely can give you the deep bass response of a DI if it's spec'd to do it and your cab can put it out. I use a Heil PR40 which kills for low end response if you want it. And soundmen almost always roll off all those deep lows in a PA anyway so it doesn't combine with the bass drum to make mud. But the big question is if your cabs don't reproduce those big lows, why would you want them in the PA?

    Also, I'd like to stick up for the SM-57 and 58's. True, you won't get big low end from them, but if you DI and use a 58, you can use the DI for the lows and use the 58 for everything else. Sounds great. That's what I do when I'm on the road and I don't have my Heil mic.

    And while I'm all for keeping the soundman happy, it's my gig, not theirs, and they should be more worried about keeping ME happy. Why should I be miserable just to make them happy?
  18. Gigabajillion


    Sep 19, 2006
    Spring Hill, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Bluesman Vintage, Ernie Ball
    +1 I have found using an Audix D6 with a DI and mixing them works well too. The Freq Response on the Heil is much better, but the Audix is cheaper.
  19. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    So I'd just need to make sure impedance doesn't drop too low? I think my SVT has two 4 Ohm outputs and the amp automatically drops to 2ohms if both are plugged in.

    So I'd need a 4 Ohm speaker-level DI?

    And I'd get my fat fat SVT tone sent to the board? That would be mighty.

    (My SVT is so old, the line out is not balanced, nor does it work anymore.)
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The speaker DI has no effect on impedance. You can use any speaker DI with any cab. It will definitely send the sound of your amp, power tubes and all, to the PA. I've done it and I like it a lot, but I still prefer a mic on the cab to the speaker DI.

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