Weird room sound

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by hdiddy, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I kinda have an interesting problem and wonder if some of you may have a solution. My teacher and I have been trying out different cabs, amps and such in the effort towards better tone. In many different spaces, everything seems to work fine. But in the club where he holds a weekly jam session, good sound is hard to find. I'm sure some of you have experienced this before so maybe one of you will have an answer.

    Everything we've tried seems to always have some sort of drawback. When using a AI Coda on stage, the bottom end is inconsistent in some places in the club, and great in one tiny spot away from everything else. My teacher has tried using a Clarus head with my Flite 10" cab or an Aguilar Cab (a 12" speaker) and he seems to lose all low-end power. He used to use a polytone amp and that seemed pretty consistent but we wanted something more hifi.

    Here's some more variables:
    1) The Room - bar/restaurant space with tables and chairs enough for about 30 people. There's a curtain behind the stage. The room is rectanglar with the stage in one corner. The band faces width-wise to the room.

    2) The stage - the stage is a raised platform. Probably hollow inside. About 10" high. This is what I'm guessing that eats up alot of sound. There is a PA + mics for the vocalists. The baby grand at the very end of the stage is mic'd too.

    3) The band - usually a trio or quartet will be playing. Drummers that play there usually aren't that loud.

    At first I was thinking maybe the cabs we're using aren't good enough or not set up right. I've noticed that the Flite (as much as some of you are not into them) needs to be coupled to a floor otherwise it loses it's bottom end. So I haven't been able to try much in terms of raising the cab off the ground. Putting the coda on it's side wasn't any good either. I have an Epifani UL110 and I'm hoping that it'll be the silver bullet.

  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Fire the drummer, turn off the PA and leave the amp at home :)

    If you have a length of un-curtained wall you can try firing the speaker into the wall and reflecting the sound into the room. Works sometimes.
  3. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    hdiddy, if the bass cab is sitting on the hollow riser (i.e. not up on a stand or a chair), I would have thought you would get the opposite effect. Instead of the riser eating up the sound, I would have thought the floor coupling (or riser coupling) would make things much boomier, with the riser and the air underneath it acting kinda like a huge subwoofer. But I see your comment about the Flite not performing well when raised. Hm.

    If it weren't for the Flite has to be on the floor thing, my first inclination would be to get the cab up off the riser and decouple it.

    Maybe that curtain behind you is eating up a lot of the sound and especially the low frequencies that would normally be reflected back out into the room. I've found that the closer I position my cab to a "normal" wall (hard reflective surface), the more low end I get. As I move the cab away from the wall, the sound thins out. Nothin' new to you I'm sure.

    [ Oh yeah .. Kinda like what Ray said. ]

    Since I don't use any EQ, the only variables I typically deal with are (1) floor vs. raised, and (2) the position of the cab relative to walls and corners.

    No joke - Finding the right spot can be tricky.

    Yes joke - As I move the cab all around looking for the optimal spot, I'm thinking Feng Shui, baby.
  4. pat.p


    Nov 20, 2004
    Poland, Poznań
    Have you tried (I don't know the proper word in English:rollno: ) kind of modular, wooden wall which you can fix different ways? You could put it behind you, very close and arrange different acoustic environment... I don't know if it works, but I did something like that when I was playing with no amp- it added clarity and punch to the sound.
  5. Randy Ward

    Randy Ward Formally Known As Univac Jr. Supporting Member

    There is a room I play that is similar but has the added caveat of a high ceiling above the stage that goes back to low in the rest of the room. What is the ceiling like above the stage like in your situation? The curtain in my room is a little father back than you seem to describe ,the room is longer and the stage was higher but no PA & electric keyboard. using a long speaker cable I put a speaker in front of me off the stage on the floor on a short stool and therefore I was just au natural on stage and the bass sound didn't go up to the ceiling and bounce around. it Worked a lot better for the room and no boom and automatically made the band quieter on stage. The gig now has a small PA and a mic'd spinet so i send a line and I use the speaker behind me at a very low volume for a monitor. Why can't your teacher send a line to the PA. If the piano gets to do it, so should bass.
  6. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    +1. Try to use the PA a little if you can. I've played in a similar room where it is impossible to get a good sound using just my amp. I do much better using my amp and sending a line to the PA as well. It helps fill the room much more evenly than just the amp, even if I only use the PA a little.
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Wow, great suggestions guys. I'm gonna have to have him try the most we can.

    I was just there last night so I can answer some of your questions about the room too.

    Yeah, the curtain seems kind of heavy but I never took a look at it myself. It sits right on the length of the riser, against the wall. I can see how that could be minimizing the sound. The problem is that usually the bass is set up between the drummer and the piano. I think it would be beneficial to have the curtain for the drummer. I dunno. How about a diagram?

    =========================== <-Curtain
    | ......Piano.........Bass......Drums...|....x...............Audience
    Audience ....................................... Audience

    x=PA speaker *Ignore the periods.
    I was also a little confused about the riser too. After reading alla the old stuff on TBDB, I wanted to take his his rubber end-pin stopper off and jab the tip into the floor. Dunno if management would be happy with that.

    Yeah, I just noticed last night that the ceiling was rather high.

    Last night, my teacher used his Polytone and it definitely had the most consistent sound everywhere in the room. He usually has it elevated. Nice lows and oomph but we both wanted more high-end definition and less EB-like sound. I was thinking it's been the cabs we've been using but you guys are making me think it's definitely the rooms fault.

    Anyways, thanks again and keep'em coming if you have any other thoughts.
  8. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    [ EDIT! - I want to give pat.p credit for this idea. What follows is not meant to knock it at all. I especially like the fact that it works with the acoustic sound naturally, and not with electronics and gadgets and such. ]

    Why does this make me think of hauling a rowboat to the gig, and standing it up on its end behind me?

    Think of all that sound coming from the back of your bass (which typically is pretty deep and luscious) being reflected back into the room this way. Odd visual, eh?

    I think I actually read this as a quote from someone who had been playing DB for a looooong time, back when nobody used amps 'cuz thar warnt none. They wanted to do this and joked about it, but never actually did if I recall.

    hdiddy, you close enough to the shore to try this?
  9. Randy Ward

    Randy Ward Formally Known As Univac Jr. Supporting Member

  10. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Nowadays, any room where there is something weird happening with the sound from my amp, I make sure to bring my Auralex Gramma pad. I have zero knowledge of science, but I know that with the Gramma, my amplified sound is a constant, not a variable. At least there's that.
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Sorry, I spaced out after my last post. Yeah, I was thinking of a mini version of the hollywood bowl when BOLOYEUNG mentioned the canoe idea. After rereading the Ron Carter Amp Clinic thread, I'm interested in trying a Flite 12" now - but raised off of the floor since The Flite 10" isn't all that bad. Maybe the large speaker will make for a better bottom end.

    Anyways, I'm starting to focus more now on raised cabs and using a PA. Gonna try the PA idea on thursday and see how that goes first.

    Theo - does the Gramma isolate the cab from the floor? Can it reflect? I had thought about possibly using the the Gramma as a band shell thingamabopper but didn't think it was meant for that purpose. Also, I know the gramma is light but it seems kinda bulky. I was poking around on Music 123 this morning and they had some speaker stands that were around 5 lbs. Should be easier to move around sine they fold up. Thoughts?
  12. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    I'm not Theo - But FWIW I have the Auralex Gramma and I also have an amp stand.

    Does the Gramma completely isolate the cab from the floor? Not completely, but when I have used it on hollow wooden stages and risers, IMO it does make a noticeable difference. It reduces low end boom (the undesirable kind), and works pretty much as advertised. It's not like a night & day difference, but as I said under certain conditions, you can tell the difference.

    Between the Gramma and the amp stand , I think I currently prefer the stand. I think that's because LOUD musicians and LOUD crowd noise are present almost everywhere I play nowadays. Having the speaker up closer to my ears not only decouples it from the floor, it also just helps me hear myself that much better, and in turn helps me hone in on intonation issues, inflection, articulation, etc.

    You're right hdiddy, the Gramma is bulky. But the amp stand I have is kind of a pain to lug around too. I bought the QuikLok BS-619 because I didn't just want the amp up off the floor a little bit, I wanted to get it up fairly high (spare me the wise cracks please). It's adjustable in a number of ways, and I can set it so that the bottom of my cab is about 33" off the floor. Having the amp up that high is really impressive to me in terms of being able to feel and hear the energy that the cab is putting out much better than when it's on the floor, even in the tilt-back position. So despite the disadvantage of having to lug it around (it is big & heavy, like a girl I used to date in college), I have been using the stand more often than not lately. It does fold flat, sort of, for storage. It's still bigger and heavier than most people would probably put up with I would guess.

    I don't think the top surface of the Gramma is particularly reflective. It's a hard, flat surface, yes. But it's covered with that low-pile black carpet stuff that many amps are covered with. So yes and no to the reflective question, thingamabopper.
  13. pat.p


    Nov 20, 2004
    Poland, Pozna&#324;
    Hi Bolo.
    I play Gerry Mulligan compositions in quartet with trombone, baritone sax and drums. We spend a lot of time looking for this special kind of acoustic sound which you can find in old Gerry's recordings. We played in a large concert hall and this solution worked great. I'm not old, and I like amps. But I also like to make experiments to find something interesting. That's all.
  14. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    It's usually better to have a dead surface behind you than a live one. A hard surface generates all sorts of reflections that will enhance and cancel different frequencies. (Conversely, often it's good to have a live surface behind the audience.)

    I suspect you're getting relfections from some other live surfaces. As bolo points out, putting the amp as close as posisble to a hard surface will eliminate interference from reflections coming off that surface.

    Sometimes you just have a horrible room and PA. The Ark in Ann Arbor has a large number of hot spots in the audience where you get a horribly loud and annoying peak at certain frequencies; there's just nothing you can do but move, at least until someone there gets a clue and reworks the room and the PA.
  15. Any hollow stage acts a bit like a bass trap. It resonates at bass frequencies and eats up power. They use resonant traps to tame the sound in recording studios, so you can imagine what a hollow stage will do to your live sound.

    If you can isolate your amp from transmitting directly into the floor (the Auralex pad will do this), it will help.

    The curtain would have to be pretty heavy to absorb bass power, though it's possible, especially if there's a gap behind it. In the main curtains absorb higher frequencies such as cymbals. If you want a brighter sound for your audience openeing the curtain may project more high frequencies outwards but could make the sound less controlled on stage.

    I'm guessing you'll be able to hear each other pretty well on stage just now with this set up; it's just the bass projection into the room that's inconsistent. Unfortunately, almost all rooms have areas where the bass is louder or quieter. putting some bass into the PA will certainly help get round that.
  16. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Hi pat.p. I think maybe you misinterpreted the intent of my post, and it's probably my fault. I wasn't trying to be critical or make fun of your idea at all. Really! I like your idea a lot actually, and I give you credit for trying something different.

    I went back and added an explanation at the beginning of that post. If I gave you or anyone else the wrong impression, please accept my apology. It just made me think of that rowboat quote, that's all.
  17. pat.p


    Nov 20, 2004
    Poland, Pozna&#324;
    It's ok:) Thank you for the explanation, it could be my misinterpretation. I'm sure, it will be many occasions to discuss and share opinions. Thank you again :hyper:
  18. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Thanks for this info mje and Doug. It explains a lot of things I had observed but not understood the "why" part. Until now.

    TB definitely increases your bass IQ. As always, you guys are great.
  19. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Well I guess my teach solved the problem. He put the Flite up on a folding stool and it seemed to work after all. I thought he had previously tried it but I guess he never got around to it. I don't think there's a huge bottom on it but it seems to work very well. Even sound all around. Also, the curtain wasn't that thick and I noticed he had it up close to it. So maybe some of it sound is getting reflected after all.

    We didn't try the long cable to the PA yet so I might talk him into doing it anyway. The Flite 10 was plenty loud. He's got a Flite 12 on order and hopefully that will sound even better. We were commenting to that the sound out in the room was much different (for obvious reasons). It was very full and even playing the bass right next to it, but out in the crowd it mellows out quite a bit.

    Anyways, thanks for all your responses. Since he plays that room weekly, I'm going to keep trying to see what the best sound we can get out of it, simply because it's a really odd room. I think I'm becoming a believer that the cab needs to be on a higher position, as discussed in the Ron Carter Amp's Clinic thread.

    Also, I'm continuing my "ultra-light cab survey" and am getting an Ampeg PB110 from another another TBer. Hopefully the Epifani UL110 I orderer won't take too much longer. Will be an interesting comparison.
  20. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    mje, I wanted to get a little more clarification on these points please.

    Say I put my cab really close up against the back wall of the stage. Say there's no curtain, and this wall is basically a plain old hard reflective surface. As I said before, with my cab close to the wall like this, in most cases I think I sense a nice full sound with plenty of low end.

    Now do you think I am getting a "truer" sound from my cab because I've cut down on unwanted reflections as you outlined in your post? I guess I thought I was kinda "cheating" a little bit by using the wall behind me to kinda over-emphasize bass reflections from the back of the cabinet.

    Or are perhaps both of these things true?

    Just trying to understand all this a little bit better. It's all been helpful thus far!

    Thanks again.