Volume Wars - need help

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by ChrisQuinn91, May 30, 2018.

  1. Hello, first post on here. Love the site.

    I'm in a 4 piece cover band based in the UK. We do a lot of Indie/ Britpop stuff. Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Black Keys etc. We play bars every weekend to around 100 people.

    I'm having a lot of trouble getting a good stage sound out our current set up and could do with some suggestions. I believe that everything sounds good out front, maybe a touch loud sometimes, but nothing over the top.

    We have lead vocals, 2 guitarists, bass and drums.
    Lead guitar plays through a SS Marshall Combo. He isn't mic'd up.
    Rhythm guitar plays through a Sansamp into the PA
    I (Bass) play through a SS Kustom KBA200 Combo and Sansamp into PA
    Drummer is VERY Loud. I can never hear his bass drum though which is frustrating.

    The PA consists of 2 RCF tops and 1 8" Monitor.

    How can we make use of our setup to hear each other nice and clearly while still projecting? I was thinking that we could get away with using 1 top for FOH and the using the other as a second monitor?
  2. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Welcome to TB.

    When weighing your potential stage-monitoring solutions, above all consider how they'll change your sound out front. (That doesn't mean to the absolute exclusion of all other factors, but FOH sound should be a working band's highest priority.) For example, if you're already a bit loud for your small venues, then boosting the monitor levels of the bits now being buried by the drums will also throw more sound out front. If that pushes your band from "a touch too loud" to annoyingly loud, it's not much of a solution.

    I. Drum balance

    So except for the kick, the drums are too loud on stage. I'm left guessing, but it also sounds like the band's drummer isn't in the PA. First thing: figure out whether the drums are also a FOH problem, or just a stage monitoring problem.

    How is the drum kit's volume and balance in FOH? If the kick drum is a good volume on the dance floor, then the cymbals and snare might seem out-of-balance to you just because of your stage position. If the drum kit pieces are at a good volume and mix out front, then the options are (1) to make it possible for the drummer to hit less hard, (2) to let the drummer continue to play loudly to cover the room and te rest of the band just learns to live with loud on-stage drums, or (3) let the drummer play at his current volume, but add gear to help band members hear less of the drums on stage and more of other elements.

    Option #1 requires putting some of the drums in the PA. Option #2 could lead to hearing damage. Option #3 could be managed with decent & cheap in-ear monitors plus a headphone distribution amp.

    II. Vocal stage mix and volume

    What's too quiet on stage, and how much headroom do you have? If you just need to hear vocals better and your stage monitors aren't even close to feeding back, then the fix could be to toe-in one of your PA tops or to trade up from the 8" monitor to a more robust wedge. If vocals are already on the edge of feedback, then you won't likely be able to spill a bit more of the PA tops across the front of the stage without problems.

    Higher quality monitors and mics are less prone to feedback, but on loud small stages physics will limit how much signal your singers can have in their wedges. If your close to that point, you'll need drums (and other loud instruments) to be quieter on stage.

    III. Single monitor mix, or multiple aux mixes?

    Sound like you're running just one monitor mix. That can work for self-mixed bands, but usually only either when monitors are vocals-only, or when the band runs a silent stage and everyone is good about blending volumes and frequency slotting.

    If different players have different unmet monitoring needs, then you'll be looking at either running multiple monitor mixes on wedges (wedge and mixer upgrade, more load-in time, cramped stages, increased chance of volume wars) or moving to in-ears and multiple aux mixes (gear upgrade, and need to balance cost against having a fiddly set-up).

    Will you current mixer support multiple aux mixes? If not and money is tight, you might be able to solve your individual monitoring needs with something like a Rolls PM351. But for a whole-band solution, the band will need to decide whether better stage monitoring is worth upgrading the mixer—ideally to a small digital mixer w/ multiple auxes.
    Christine, 31HZ and ChrisQuinn91 like this.
  3. samson3382


    Apr 26, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    A band I sub with has a mixer with two aux outs. Loud drummer. They’ll put everyone but the drummer on one, drummer gets his own. He has a personal headphone amp, so they’d “mic” his kit, (one 57) and have it pretty high in his mix, but that was it.
    Seems like it kind of works, but that drummer is not tech savvy and is half deaf anyway.
    ChrisQuinn91 likes this.
  4. We have plenty of headroom in FOH. The RCF tops are great for what we do. We have played with just one in the past when the stage area has been a bit too small. That's what is making me think of using one as a monitor.

    The drummer isn't mic'd at all at the moment. I've mic'd his kick a couple of times but have never been impressed with the sound. I imagine a better Mic choice, mic placement and EQ could solve this. We currently use an SM57 clone by LD systems for him. His kick doesn't seem to carry out into the dancefloor. He uses a very loud snare drum which maybe puts the kit out of balance a touch.

    I would happily take all of the instruments out of the PA as the amps are capable of holding their own. Monitoring is the main issue. I don't think a single 8" monitor is up to the task of a full mix.

    Maybe some clever amp placement would help? I often struggle hearing the lead guitarist (he plays stage right, i play stage left). Amps are pointed at the crowd straight ahead.

    EDIT: I would add more monitors but it's only me that pays for the gear...
  5. dheafey


    Jul 22, 2012
    Cow Hampshire
    I think re-positioning amps, pulling out of the PA, etc... is just postponing the inevitable - you need a good monitor system to properly hear what the rest of the band is doing. As long as your board has 2 AUX outs, you can get 2 monitor mixes which is enough to start off, provided you're all OK with with only 2 mixes. Once everyone wants their own mix, things get more complex (and more expensive!).
  6. Oddly and Downunderwonder like this.
  7. A properly kicked properly tuned kickdrum is friggen loud. Bass your mix around that. Most guys way overstuff and then have the skin way loose.

    You can cross fire your PA to get a better sense of the rhythm guitar. Drummer still won't.

    You are on a hiding to nothing trying to do full PA in a bar room.

    You can try putting guitar amp to the side and low and tilted up into guitars head and mic it with your 57 thing. It could be problematic if stage space is tight and rhythm guirarist gets blasted as well.

    Tell the drummer to
    Dial it down.
    Tune the drums. (Every setup). Get a lesson if he doesn't know how.
    Get a plexi shield if he's still too much.

    So far that's zero spend for you, except maybe a lump of 4x2 to lay the guitar amp back on.

    A couple of powered monitors for rhythm and vox would help if you can get drums sorted. If you can't get drums sorted first he will only demand stupid levels of monitor that he can bash over.
    Fun Size Nick likes this.
  8. thekyle55


    Mar 14, 2012
    Give the drummer a monitor and crank the snare in it. He's playing too loud for your venues.
    jchrisk1 likes this.
  9. Cheers everyone, great suggestions. I had rehearsals with the band last night and used all of our FOH speakers as monitors to see how much difference it made for us (We don't need FOH for rehearsal technically). I got everybody to turn down and the drummer played with brushes. The sound was so much better!

    Looks like purchasing some extra monitors is the way to go. Gonna see if everyone is happy sacrificing a couple of gigs worth of pay to make the upgrade. We have 3 spare aux sends (our 4th is the effects bus) so can have a bit of versatility in mixes.

    The drummers bass drum is stuffed with blankets so maybe that is deadening the sound a bit. I will get him to experiment with them in/ out and some tuning.

    We've got a festival this weekend so fingers crossed sound is all good!
    Christine likes this.
  10. Fun Size Nick

    Fun Size Nick

    Feb 21, 2006
    In transit
    This is all too common...it gets you a bass thump but not very loud. You need a drum full of air to get good volume, for rock drums the muffling is mostly there to reduce the length of the overtones and accentuate the attack.

    I’ve had great results with the Evans EMAD heads on the kick - even just one of those on the batter and a regular head on the resonant side without any other muffling can help you get a great, clear well defined kick at big volume without long overtones. A beater patch can help bring out the attack as well (just make sure it’s not a ‘click’ patch intended for metal!).
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  11. That's a really good point. I never thought about the moving of air... duh! Cheers Nick. I will suggest that to the drummer. Does a ported resonant head make any difference?
  12. Fun Size Nick

    Fun Size Nick

    Feb 21, 2006
    In transit
    No worries! Sorry I just edited the post slightly with some extra info but didn’t realise you’d responded already. Yes, a hole in the resonant head will tend to make a difference in making the drum sound ‘drier’ (less overtones) and also gives you somewhere to stick a mic when you need it. It also makes it much easier to adjust the internal muffling if you have any.
  13. It's all good. I'm a complete amateur when it comes to drum gear so all info is useful. I think the blankets are his form of muffling. There isn't really any science behind the application though. They're just bundled in like it's a washing machine. I will have to have a look around at some muffling products. Ported resonant heads sound good to me in that case too then.

    All these tips should have the band sounding great once implemented. Can't wait!
  14. Fun Size Nick

    Fun Size Nick

    Feb 21, 2006
    In transit
    Everyone starts somewhere :thumbsup: I feel for drummers - I think it take a lot more learning/experimentation/work to get good drum sound than good bass sound. There's a lot of great resources out there online though, and lots that can be achieved with just a towel, some gaff tape, and good tuning!
    ChrisQuinn91 likes this.
  15. mobdirt

    mobdirt Guest

    Jun 14, 2017
    add a sub on stage and route the kick and the bass to it
    ChrisQuinn91 likes this.
  16. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    The best drummer I know, incredibly talented and well learned, goes nuts about people stuffing their kick drum. His biggest pet peeve - and I’ve heard all about it! Ha!

    He goes on about how if the manufacturers had wanted a dead thump they wouldn’t put so much work into designing the drum(s) with different woods, dimensions, etc.
    Stuffing has its purposes occasionally - usually, as mentioned above - just a little stuffing to deaden long-ringing overtones, but most drummers just stuff the kick with a full blanket because they’re too lazy to take time to learn to tune & set up their drums properly.

    I don’t know if this helped at all - the conversation just reminded me of this rant I’ve heard numerous times! Ha!

    Good luck with getting your sound situation sorted out!
    31HZ, Fun Size Nick and jchrisk1 like this.
  17. Haha of course man. It's good to hear the same stuff from multiple people. The blanket has been offically mythbusted!
  18. tshapiro

    tshapiro Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Jax Florida
    Drummer too loud = get new drummer

    Kick = a triggered kick into a module like a Roland TM2 will give you multiple kick options and will generally sound way better.

    In Ear Monitors = Unless you want your ears to ring 24/7 when you are older, use IEM’s. You’ll hear everything nicely and can subdue the snare and cymbals. It takes $ and experience to get good with IEM’s - don’t expect to love it right from the start.
  19. I might add a sub at some point but do have to keep our setup rather small and portable. If there are any small powered 12 inch subs with an adjustable crossover built-in, I'd certainly be interested. It doesn't need to be mega loud, just have enough headroom to keep up with tops.
    mobdirt likes this.
  20. I wouldn't wanna get rid of our drummer. He is a brilliant player, he just needs to reign it in a bit. Drummers are like gold dust around here too.

    I've seen a few people use triggers. How's the latency with them? Any issues?

    Yeah, IEM is definitely something we will invest in at some point. Don't quite have the budget yet.