Trying to get the same tone from amp and PA

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Berberdeng, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. Berberdeng

    Berberdeng Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2020
    Machesney Park IL
    So this may be a dumb question...Forgive me if the answer is obvious. I’ve had this issue for a while and it drives me crazy. So when I’m playing shows we always have a sound guy and I’m always running into the PA from my amp head. I’ve noticed before though that the sound coming out of my amp is different from the sound coming out of the PA. Usually what I hear from the PA is much more clacky yet more defined, whereas what I hear behind me is “just right” because it’s how I’ve tweaked it at home. I assume this problem is because of my cabinet...but I wanted some more knowledgeable opinions. How can I ensure that the sound coming out of my amp behind me is the same sound the audience is getting out front?
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  2. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Not a simple answer. For me, I create the majority of my tone through pedals and feed a Radial JDI. The sound man gets that signal and that's it. I don't count on my rig to provide any more character to my tone. Are you counting on your rig to give you a certain amount of coloration to your tone? Put a microphone on your cabinet then. Close mic it too. I will suggest the Audix D4 - it's inexpensive and I always loved it's ability to capture my bass tone. I feel it captures 90% of what I hear up close to the cabinet. It's also a Hypercardiod - that means it rejects outside sounds really well. Really good choice for a small and loud stage.

    What tone are you sending the sound man? Is it after effects, your bass only, Post EQ on the amp head? The reason it is "clacky" sounding starts there, but then you are also dealing with a sound man shaping it however they want. Is this the same person/venue you hear this happening? Are you judging this by recordings? Other audience members?

    In the end, there is no simple answer, but the best thing you can do is be consistent in what you send the sound man.
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  3. Berberdeng

    Berberdeng Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2020
    Machesney Park IL
    So my sound is based around my pedal. I use a Zoom B3 that always has my EQ settings on it. My amp is usually set flat but sometimes I’ll fiddle with the eq on it depending on the venue we’re in. So it goes bass > Zoom > Amp > PA. It’s always the same sound guy. I’m basing this off of the moments where I’m the only one playing and I can really hear what’s going on, and also times where I’ve let a friend play a song on my bass while I grab a beer. I always notice a difference. It doesn’t sound “clacky” through my cab but I can hear the “clacky” sound on the PA speakers. I’ve tried going straight from my Zoom into the PA and the difference between PA and my cab was even more pronounced. So I went back to running it from the amp head.
  4. Kro


    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    This is the solution I found to work best as well. The purpose of my amp and cab is to make my signal louder in a way tha I can control on stage in the same way that the purpose of the PA is to make my signal louder in a way that is controlled by the engineer.

    It can be very difficult to figure out what the signal you're sending to FOH really sounds like, but the benefits of really paying attention to what you're sending FOH are worth it.
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  5. Kro


    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    What amp and cab? Knobs at noon for many amps is a somewhat scooped sound, but a lot of times the cab is what can really color things - including potentially acting as a low pass filter and attenuating higher frequencies.

    Depending on how different the tone is in general, if it's really just high frequency click and clack, adding a low pass filter to your signal (can your zoom incorporate one?) might be the ticket. Dial it in by bringing the corner frequency down until you just start to hear the difference through your cab, and then turn it up a hair to get a similar level of attenuated highs through the PA.
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  6. Berberdeng

    Berberdeng Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2020
    Machesney Park IL
    I have a Peavey Tour 450 head with a Carvin 1x15 can. Definitely nothing spectacular in any sense. I’m not sure what a “low pass filter” is...Sorry I’m not very knowledgeable with this stuff...:thumbsdown:
  7. Kro


    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    No problem. :) A low pass filter is a filter, or effect that lets "lows pass" through your signal, think of a tall and short guy walking through a small door. The tall guy (high frequencies) bumps his head and is filtered out, while the short guy (lower frequencies) passes through.

    Many traditional bass cabs, especially ones without horns or with the horn turned down, roll off high frequencies in a natural way that many bassists like. If you can use your Zoom to put a controllable LPF on your signal before it gets to the PA mixing board, it might be able to emulate your cab's rolloff by dialing it in as I noted above.

    Or try applying a cab simulator. That will include a little bit more tonal flavoring, but it should include at the very least a LPF that sounds good for bass. Actually, you know what, try the cab sim thing first with your Zoom if you're able. :thumbsup:
  8. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    My philosophy is the sound should be equalized for location and intended purpose. You like a certain sound on stage and have certain way of dialing in what you like. There is no guarantee that sound will sit well in the mix out in the main hall, so the audio tech will most likely need to process your sound a bit different than you do....different levels of compression and different EQ.

    The problem that is more relevant comes down to varying opinions on sound concept. If your goal is to have a smooth sound and the audio tech is mixing you bright and clanky, there's significant a disconnect. Unfortunately this can be difficult to resolve, but discussing sound concept and playing a few recordings with mixes you like is a good start, providing you can find the right time and place.

    The idea of dialing in your sound at home goes against what I believe should be done. If you have a bunch of effects, I think you should definitely dial in the patches as close as possible, but they all need to be fine tuned for each venue IMHO. Same goes for the EQ settings on your amp.

    My opinion is you should focus primarily on what you can control. Your probably don't have as much control over even your stage sound as you want. Given the chance, definitely express how you want your bass to sound out in the hall, but chances are this is going to be well beyond your control. Worrying to much about it is not only going to stress you out, but also be a total waste of time.

    The reason I say this...I have worked for a long time as both a bass player and an audio tech, and reliably getting a good bass sound in a live environment is way harder than most people think it is. I have mixed many gigs where the bass sounded awful, but there was nothing I could do about it because there was so much bass coming off the stage that I really could not put any bass in the subs or mains without blowing the hall out with excessive volume.

    Sometimes I will try to run a HPF way up on the bass channel and just mix in a little bit of mids and treble to get some clarity. This is where you might get the perception that I am mixing you bright and clanky. But if you are not out in the room, you really can't judge how it sounds.
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  9. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Totally normal.

    Yep. Sure is.

    Yep. That happens.

    Has nothing to do with your cabinet.

    Not only can you not do this, you’re not supposed to. The sound guy has to make your bass - the bass coming through the PA - work with the room. It’s never going to sound just like it does out of your amp, nor should it.
  10. TheDirtyLowDown


    Mar 8, 2014
    It's not a dumb question at all. I may be piling on a bit here, but I can tell you that unless you are wandering around the room via wireless while playing it's very very difficult for you to realistically assess the quality of the FOH sound.

    So, you are in the hands of the sound engineer. That's their job. Your job is to play awesomely and trust them.

    Given that, here's what I do. I run my bass through the pedalboard, and the last thing is a SansAmp Bass Driver DI, which provides the XLR output for FOH sound. I get "my" sound with the BDDI -- the other odd pedal or two are just for occasional effects. (I lust after a nicer pedalboard preamp, like the Noble, but I'm too cheap for that right now). Anyway, I've listened to this sound on headphones, through amps, recorded, etc, and I'm happy with it.

    If I am using an amp on stage, I'll run a 1/4" output from the BDDI in to my amp and make make any slight eq changes which I need just for stage sound there. It depends on the cabinet I'm using, but mostly that's just rolling off some low end if I'm in a boomy location and/or punching up the mid/high end if it sounds a bit dead. But any of those adjustments are independent of what's going to FOH.

    I used to worry a lot about what various sound guys were doing and not doing -- even more so when playing acoustic instruments like guitar/banjo in venues that didn't do a lot of acoustic music. So I totally get your question. But now-a-days I'm just so happy to have someone else dealing with the PA and FOH that I let it go and enjoy what I can hear and control on stage.

    Good luck. Play well. Have fun!
  11. Sound men often get hard of hearing. Clackity clack sounds just right to them. If they aren't hard of hearing they just like clackity clack bass and it's an uphill battle to get any change.
  12. rohi

    rohi Lead Lined

    Mar 1, 2018
    South Jersey
    I use a cab sim pedal.

    Clean signal from the 1/4" output goes to my amp which I use for stage monitoring, and a cab sim'd DI goes out of the XLR output to the sound fellow.
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  13. Bboopbennie


    Jun 16, 2019
    Quincy Jones had the control rooms in the studios EQ before he showed up. Smart guy, so he didn't have wonder what it was going to sound like in the mastering room?
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  14. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I've learnt not to worry too much about how my bass sounds in FOH. First, there is no way I can control it (and I've learnt not to worry too much about things I can't control, in general) and second, I am not there (in the audience) in order to know how my bass sounds in the mix. So I trust our sound techs and let them do their job.

    That being said, I make sure to send them quality signal to work with. In order to do that, I speak to them. I ask: "What do you need from me? Is the signal ok? Is it strong enough? Is too bassy? Is it too zingy?" and things like that... Sound techs appreciate it.

    If you are unhappy with your sound, talk to your sound tech. You two should find a solution/compromise together. The worst scenario is that you will fight what he is doing with your signal from onstage. That's a battle we, as bass players, can't win.

    These are things you can (offer him to) do in order not to sound clanky:
    • employ the cabinet simulator on the zoom pedal
    • cut high frequencies on your bass and/or pedal
    • ask him to use LPF on the mixer
    • use DI box (or your pedal's DI out) to send signal to FOH
    You might wanna switch on the horn/tweeter on your cab (if there is one) and/or boost highs on your amp in order to substitute for the high freqencies being cut on your bass/pedal. Send the signal to FOH from your pedal or from DI box inserted between the pedal and amp.

    Please note that assessing your sound listening to your bass in empty room being played by somebody else without a band can be (and usually is) VERY misleading. Your bass being played by yourself probably sounds different. Furthermore, in order for bass to cut through the mix (sit well in the mix), some frequencies need to be either cut/boosted. Experienced sound techs know that. As a result, bass can sound awful on its own....especially if played in empty room during the soundcheck.

    Chances are that your bass being played by yourself with the band in a room full of people sounds good.

    Good luck!
  15. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I like the way you put it! :)
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  16. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    Differences all around:

    1. The system. PA is most likely full-range, intended to reproduce every part of spectrum with definition. Probably with specific drivers for at least bass, mids, and highs. Maybe a sub, too.

    Your system probably has one speaker that attempts to push out everything your bass puts into it (cones are very lacking in highs because of the sheer mass they have, i.e do not respond to highs very well), and your amp and speakers are chosen "optimised" and tuned for a spesific sound the designer had in mind.

    2. Distance. Your amp sits behind you, and mainly has to cater for you and your immediate band mates. It has to carry a couple of feet to satisfy everybody onstage. Yet, the low freqs are long waveforms and take a distance to fully develop, probably not getting to tehir fullest potential at short distances.

    PA has to carry further, and there will be differences and compromises most definitely.

    3. Surroundings. You tweak you optimal sound at home, and inevitably, the sound will change in differing acoustical surroundings. You'll notice it if get further away from your amp. All rooms have different sound. So, maybe let go of the idea that you can set your sound at home, and it will be perfect for everything. When surroundings change, the sound changes.

    Sound engineers tune and tweak sound to suit each room. At least professionals SE's do.

    4. Aesthetics. Maybe there's a "difference of opinion"... You like your sound round and warm/woofy. And the SE wants some clarity into your signal so it will cut through better...

    There's more, but this for starters...
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  17. nope. Ceiling and wall reflections cancel lows at certain stage positions sometimes. That is all.
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  18. baxter_x


    Nov 27, 2013
    Us musicians want the tone that we hear from our rig to be the same in the PA. But the sound engie has another goal: Making the entire band sound as good as possible. And this can totally contradict the tone we have in mind.
    However a little conversation with the sound guy can improve things or at least make you understand why the tone you tweaked is not the tone you hear coming out of the PA.

    That subject pops up sometimes here and ends up with some sound engie bashing.
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  19. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    Yes. That, too. Standing waves, room dimensions, surface materials, amount of people etc... Everything will affect how sound travels.
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I think the idea that low frequencies need space to develop might come from the dispersion characteristics of speakers, especially larger ones. Low frequencies tend to be omnidirectional. As the frequency increases the driver begins to develop pattern control. At yet higher frequencies, the sound will shoot out in front of the driver in a cone shaped beam. The size of the driver has some impact on the frequency where beaming begins. The bigger the driver typically the lower the frequency where beaming occurs.

    The way this relates is if you have a cab with a 15" driver it will tend to exhibit pattern control down into the mids and the highs will be fairly beamy. So if the cab is set flat on the floor, you have to be a significant distance in front of it in order to hear the full range response of the driver. If you stand to close you only hear the lows, and the highs will shoot by below your ears.

    I believe having a 215 can further exacerbate the problem because the two drivers will interact and form secondary lobes that shoot out along the axis the drivers are aligned upon; something like this:


    The number of lobes and the angle of the lobes, depend upon factors such as driver diameter, driver spacing, and frequency. In other words it depends upon the relationship between the drivers and wavelength.

    I have a pretty nice 215 cab, but I need to stand 12-15 feet in front of it for it to sound good. Some people think this is because it takes distance for the low frequencies to develop, but I believe you just need to be far enough away so your ears fall within the dispersion pattern of the drivers.

    I have attached the document the image was pulled from for anyone who is curious.

    Attached Files:

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