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What additional equipment does my band *need* before we start gigging?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by azfatboy, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. azfatboy


    May 11, 2016
    I promise I have scoured this forum and others, and it has been invaluable. The stuff I've read so far is the only reason that I can even talk about this right now. But I feel I'm at a point where I know the broad strokes, but I wanted some specific advice on what I may be missing. And yes, this is all admittedly way early in the game, but I want to stay ahead of the "we need this NOW" curve...

    My intent is to understand everything we would need for small to medium gigs, both with and without FOH support.

    First a little background. We have 4 members (adding a 5th after our final auditions this Saturday): Me (bass/vocals), a drummer, 2 guitarists, and an incoming vocalist/keyboardist. We each have our respective instruments, cables, pedals, and cabs. Indeed we all have smaller combos, or larger head/cab solutions as required. I even have a slant-top rolling rack if needed.

    I also have a few decent mics (SM58's and assorted). But what we don't have is an actual solution for vocal amplification. Right now, I am just running vocals into an audio interface and then into old Fender tube guitar amp. It works, but it doesn't seem to be a viable "performance" solution to me.

    So starting there, I am trying to figure out next steps. As of right now, my top priority is a digital mixer. The Behringer XR18 is the front-runner due to features and price. Also I already have a dual-band router, convertible 13" touchscreen laptop, and a Fire HD8 tablet (both with X-Air already installed), so I wouldn't need anything other than the XR18 for a complete mixing solution. I figure with this, I can rack the mixer (kept on or near stage), set the laptop on top as a "master" mix console (also for EQing out front over WiFi), and use the tablet for my individual mix (each member will use their own tablet/phone for real-time control of their mix...). All the instrument amps have DI out, so they would also go into the mixer. I would then have the main outs on the mixer to send to a PA system (FOH or our own, see below).

    I know another priority is monitoring. I am super-keen on the idea of wireless IEMs. Unfortunately, I don't have any of that rx/tx equipment yet, although I do have some buds that should work for now, either KZ ZS6's or Westone AM Pro 10's. I know wired is cheaper, but I am already addicted to wireless (using the cheap but effective G30 on my bass). I am leaning heavily towards either Shure GLX-D or Sennheiser (their models are confusing to me). I like the idea of a "dual" receiver that could handle both my mic and my instrument (nice but not required), and I would like it to be rack-mountable (almost a hard requirement). How expensive do I have to go to get something that I won't consider wasted money in a year?

    Finally, we are also missing any sort of PA, and this becomes critical if we don't have FOH, mainly because of vocals. I would love to grab a pair of QSC 12.2's and a comparable sub, but frankly that just ain't in the budget! Assuming I have the XR18 (or the like), what are some reasonably-priced decent solutions to get at least the vocals (and probably the keys) amplified? I don't need top of the line, but neither do I want to spend money on something barely adequate for beginners that I just want to throw away in 6 months... So I've looked at JBL, EV, and even Mackie, but I am not willing to go too much lower to something like Harbinger or Behringer (my choice of mixer notwithstanding...)

    As an aside, I've read from lots of folks that have an XR18 (or another similar digital mixer with WiFi access), but that *still* use a snake for some reason or other. Why? I really want to avoid the need for one of those if I can.

    Lastly, I've read about folks that get an XR18, only to turn around and spring for an X-Touch as well. Frankly, if physical faders are so neccesary and/or superior, I would rather spend a bit extra up front and just get the X32 Producer.

    Sorry for the verbal diarrhea, I just wanted to provide enough detail that specific advice/suggestions/alternatives could be offered. Am I on the right track? Am I missing a key ingredient? Am I overlooking obvious alternatives? Thanks for looking.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
    InhumanResource likes this.
  2. For IEM's, I know you want wireless, but have you considered the P16 units that hook into the behringer boards?

    The wire isnt horrible. I use a long enough headphone extension cord to ziptie it to my instrument cord, and run my IEM headphones inside my shirt down to my bass. Quick to connect, wire is long enough to stay out of the way, and the P16 are fast to adjust personal iem mixes
  3. azfatboy


    May 11, 2016
    I have. In fact I was going to mention it. My problem is that I know I wouldn't be happy with it long-term, so it seems like something else that would feel like wasted money, and sooner than later. Especially since I already run wireless on my bass, and I already have a tablet which I can use for real-time control over my own mix (once I have the XR18).
  4. My concern with wireless iems has always been, do I really want musicians/singers messing with phones and tablets mid-song when something in their mix is too loud/soft? With a p16, its a quick change. With a wireless IEM and using an aux output, you have to hope the tablet/phone isnt asleep, make sure its on the right wireless network, get the software open, and change it. Not very easy for a front-man or guitar player mid-song. Thats why we went p16's for our church instead (we were also on a budget, and a $200 p16 + BYOiemHeadphones was wayyy cheaper)

    For a board, one middle-road you didnt mention would be an x32 rack unit (not the core). This does run different software/tablet apps, but it adds the ability to use digital snakes down the road (as well as a lot of other features).

    For any of the Behringer options, on Android there is a developer who wrote 'Mixing Station'. I find this wayyy better than the Behringer software. Theres a few different versions, I run MS Pro for my x32 rack, but they make an Xair version for the xr18. Definitely worth checking out, I like the fact I cna make my own app layout with only the items I want/need.
    Stumbo and azfatboy like this.
  5. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    You seem to have your requirements figured out and a good idea of the constituent parts of your system. If we had a sense of your budget, we could make recommendations that would help you maximize the budget.

    But I gotta ask: who will own the PA? And how do you intend to recoup your costs?
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  6. hsp-sandiego


    Oct 22, 2014
    San Diego
    I would get too complicated. With complete backline, just get a pair of Alto Active 10's or maybe 12's with stands, and the Behringer board you mentioned with the XLR cables you need, extension cord and power bar. I have the 12 channel Xenyx and it is perfect. Honestly, for vocals and kick drum, one 12 works well... the Alto's are cheap and good... I have had mine for several years. I would say, go as simple and cheap as possible and focus on the music. We used just one 12 on a stand and it is plenty of volume for a variety band.
    Stumbo and SoCal80s like this.
  7. azfatboy


    May 11, 2016
    @Sonicblaze maybe I don't understand. I thought the P16 would still be connected to an Aux-out port on the mixer? As for the mixer, if I was going to spend more than the XR18, physical faders would be the top reason--and the x32 rack/core don't get me there. And I have already downloaded one x-air alternative to my tablet. I forget what it's called but I will definitely check out the "mixing station" app you suggested.

    EDIT: I checked and the "Mixing Station" app IS the X-Air alternative that I already downloaded to my laptop/tablet/phone. So hopefully between both apps, I would have a workable solution...

    @DirtDog my budget is somewhat ephemeral. If I were to describe what I can actually afford, even Harbinger would be too much. But I have a tendency to buy and figure out later, but that only works up to modest dollar amounts... But I suppose I am hoping to find something comparable to the QSCs, but half the cost.

    As for ownership, me. I doubt anyone is gonna want to chip in. With the new vocalist, there might be some "I buy this and you buy that" but per other advice I've read, every single piece of equipment will have one and only one owner. And although I hope that one day, gigging can at least defray my musical hobby, that day is far enough off that it not a realistic part of the equation. I'm doing this because, since discovering the joys of making and playing music, it is the thing I love most.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
    Guiseppe and hrodbert696 like this.
  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Good luck.
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I think you're making the right decision to buy the PA yourself. It gives you status in the band, frankly, and can be used for future projects as well. Group ownership rarely works out for these kinds of things.

    Budget controls everything in these matters. You can easily go and spend $5000 on a full PA setup. It doesn't sound like you have the means to do that right now. That being the case, I would suggest stepping into it bit by bit until you have a full PA, and then upgrade it component by component over time until you have the setup you really want.

    For instance, first priority would be a "rehearsal" PA to have vocals amplified. A lot of active speakers have built-in preamps and can function without a mixer. So you get, for instance, a couple of Yamaha DBR10s or something, less expensive then the QSCs but still respectable. Just use them for vocals and get the mixer later on if you have to. Then you can add the Behringer mixer, and then later on you can either get something super-cheap for monitors (like Kustom or Behringer) and the Yamahas are your mains, or if you can afford it, get the QSCs and the Yamahas are now your monitors. Then you can start thinking about subs. Good IEMs will cost you so just use wedge monitors until you can afford to upgrade. That way, a couple of years from now you can find yourself in possession of a great multi-thousand-dollar PA system but only spending a few hundred at a time.
    gln1955 and azfatboy like this.
  10. @azfatboy The P16 units are connected to the Behringer unit via an ethernet cable; every person gets a p16 unit, and can mix their own mix right in front of them. This does not require using any of the aux outputs.

    If you want to use wireless IEM's, then youd have to an aux output to feed them in the rack, and decide how you want to handle routing. Everyone with the same iem feed, everyone with their own, etc, and make sure you have enough aux feeds for your setup/future needs.
  11. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    My 2¢: Like Avioms, P16s make sense in church or other musical settings with lots of musicians and different combinations from week to week.

    If you're mostly working with just a few bands w/ stable personnel and BYO PA, you'll tend to dial in the IEM mixes after a few rehearsals. At that point, a stage full of P16s is expensive overkill.
  12. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    If you go full wireless IEMs, you're looking at $5K right there...no other gear. You can spec out a pretty decent bar gig rig for that kind of cash.

    I'd start with your mixer and a decent set of 12" powered speakers on stands in the $4-500 range, maybe a pair of 10's for stage monitors. EV ZLX series is good bang for the buck. You're also looking at a good chunk of change for cables and stands. That there is closing in on $2K. You've got mics, so you're saving $3-400 right there.

    If you MUST go IEMs, go wired and use a multichannel headphone amp between the AUX outs on the mixer and each guy's IEMs. Get each guy to supply their own IEMs. That'll run you a couple of hundred more. I wouldn't bother with the P16 monitor mixers. It's a lot of cash and extra kit to hump around and set up and really not a lot of return on investment. Instead, run a spare tablet or smartphone where each guy can remotely access his own mix and adjust accordingly.

    You're best owning the entire thing yourself if that's your thing. It was my thing too! My rig paid for itself from my own earning over a year's worth of gigs. It owes me nothing and I owe no one anything and I have a complete gig worthy PA system to use as I see fit.

    As for digital mixers, I highly recommend test driving each manufacturer's app before committing and see which you like the best. Hardware is hardware, but the software was the make or break factor for me. I personally hated the Behringer app, even more on a PC than on a tablet, I was OK with the Presonus and Soundcraft apps, but I absolutely LOVE the Mackie app and went with the DL1608.
    Stumbo likes this.
  13. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I've run IEMs mixes via tablet in my most recent band and we used P16s in my last band. Honestly, I spent 5x more time messing around with mix and levels on the P16 than I ever did with an iPad mix. The other guys in my band don't mess around with monitor mix hardly at all. Maybe slight mix level changes between sets and that's it. With P16s, we were all messing with those things for the entire gig. Currently, we use a multichannel headphone amp between the board and the IEMs. I have that set up so each channel/user can adjust their volume with one knob and adjust their "more me/more band" mix with the other dial. I've set up each guy's monitor mix in rehearsal - and they can season to taste with the two knobs on the headphone amp - so the need to run to the iPad during a set is a rare thing.

    Also, 5 P16s will run him $2K while a decent multichannel headphone amp can be had for around $2-300.
    Stumbo and azfatboy like this.
  14. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    What do you need to start gigging? A digital mixer and three active 12" speakers, the best ones you can afford. Two as tops and one as a vocals only monitor. Run the amps for stage monitoring. Do a few gigs this way and really get a sense of what more you'd benefit from. No sense blowing the life saving on IEMs or anything just yet as whatever you buy may end up superfluous.

    This is TB and we're all eager to spend far too much on music equipment because, like you, we love it and it's our hobby. But you don't have to spend that much these days, really. In terms of price/weight/sound/everything, I think the best bar band traps I've ever used are the RCF 735s, if you can afford a pair, get a pair. If not, my band uses an Alto system of 2 powered 15" tops and 2 powered 18" subs. They're great, really. They're the TS line, the more expensive ones, but they were so good that I bought 2 TX10s as small speakers for me and they're great too. You can now get a DSP corrected, bar-band-loud, under 25kg, active pa trap for like £300, it's the future!

    As for mixers, I have the Behringer XR18 and it's great but I do kind of wish I'd waited for the new Allen and Heath Qu stuff, I'm looking longingly at their rack mixer.......

    Stick with digital mixers (ethernet whenever possible, even when using an external router) and powered speakers and it's as easy as it's ever been.
    bigboy_78, 2112, DirtDog and 3 others like this.
  15. bearhart74

    bearhart74 Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2009
    #1 thing you need is songs people want to hear
    bfields, petch, fireman949 and 2 others like this.
  16. Everyone gave you great serious answers, so all I can add is Band Members with instruments ha ha ha
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  17. Toddbass65

    Toddbass65 Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2012
    I second all the Alto comments. For just vocals and maybe keyboards all you need is a pair of the TS215 powered mains, or the 12s if your keyboard player isn't doing too much in the lower register. IEMs would be good, but if you need a monitoring solution cheaper to start you can get the Alto TX8s for cheap. We have three of the TX8s for monitors and they sound decent and get very loud for such a light little monitor...12lbs. I have QSC K12s that we use as mains and they are great, but they are pricey. My drummers other band uses the Alto TS212s as mains and they sound very good....not quite as good as the K12s but for a bar band I don't think it's noticeable to most of the crowd to be very honest. Less than half the price. No one is gonna say, gees you guys should get K12s if they are listening to you through the Altos....they sound good and the difference is only noticeable in a side by side comparison. Digital board the way to go...presonus 1602 is what we have and you can grab one used for 500 all day. You can do the tablet mixing too if you have the router, which you do. For small gigs we have the Mackie one using their mixer connect software....open box 200 bucks. Has enough inputs for vocals. Can run from anything using Bluetooth. Been very reliable for a simple setup. Hope this helps...pm me if you have any other questions. Good luck :)
    azfatboy likes this.
  18. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    For the utmost basic, and I am going to assume you are gigging venues without PA support...

    Let's assume you are gigging with a 4pc, lead guitar / vocals, rhythm guitar / backing vocals, bass / backing vocals, drums and of course / backing vocals...

    Appropriate instruments, amps. (guitars, basses, amps). Proper cables, and tuners.
    Drum kit. Your drummer should provide this.

    Now the stuff your band needs, not individual members but the whole band. And mind you, keep in mind buy the best you can afford, but do NOT overpay just to get a name brand. The audience doesn't care...

    Mic stands.
    XLR cables
    Mixer (at least 4 XLR ports).
    Powered PA speakers. At least 2 mains and 1 for monitor.
    Again, appropriate cables depending on your mixer etc...

    My band is infrequent gigging, but we DO gig. Our rig is as follows.
    Mics. We have a mix of Behringer XM8500, Nady SP-5, and Shure SM58.
    Mixer. We have 2, depending on how we are running, but for the most part, if we are carrying vocals only in the PA, we use the Behringer Xenyx 1202FX, with a USB interface to my laptop for break / buffer music (I've used my phone with an adapter as well...).
    We use a 12x4 100' snake, however many bands find snakes to be unwieldy and simply set the mixer up on the side / back of the stage.
    Powered mains. Harbinger Vari V2115 x2 bought used dirt cheap. ($70.00 each).
    Powered monitors. Harbinger Var V2112 x2 bought new on Black Friday sale a couple of years ago.
    On Stage Stands speaker stands x2.

    I bring my bass, and a backup, my Rumble V3 500 combo and 210 cab.
    Lead guitarist brings his guitars, and amp (Fender Champion 40)
    Rhythm guitarist brings his guitars, and my guitar amp (Behringer GTX-60)
    Drummer brings his kit, throne etc...

    Mic cables are 20' XLR cables.
    We have a selection of TRS, TRRS, and XLR to TRRS cables that we can use to connect amps to the mixer, or we swap in the Behringer Xenyx X2442USB.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
    azfatboy likes this.
  19. jad


    Aug 29, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    This is good advice. As stated, you need to amplify vocals for you and the keyboard player. Ask the keyboard player to provide their own vocal (and instrument) monitoring. Keys players are good candidates for wired in ears, in which case you could use the headphone jack on your XR18. Just remember that if the keys player is IEM, there will be no stage volume except from your vocal monitor. Likewise, if you go IEM, the rest of the band will probably have trouble following the vocals.

    This three speaker approach will give you the bare minimum to start, with a long journey of enhancements and improvements in your future. Think about lighting, too. The places I play have little or nothing available.
    azfatboy likes this.
  20. RCH

    RCH Gold Supporting Member

    May 24, 2015
    I'm very happy with the XR-18, rack mounted. I use a laptop with a router so that a sound guy can adjust from the audience with a tablet. The laptop also lets me record gigs and rehearsals directly from the mixer with Tracktion. We went with QSC 10.2 mains and they are fully adequate for venues without FOH that we play. We don't miss 12s, but I run bass to the mixer for the recordings only and not through the mains. We use a short (25') snake from the mixer to a line in front of the band and connect mic cables to it. This gets most of the cables away from space where we might be stepping on them and, with adapters, I can also feed the monitors from the snake. What I didn't realize when I put this system together was that it takes time to assemble and I need to allow for it without rushing. Also, I would recommend that rehearsals are arranged as though you were performing so that your layout is familiar. This should also make it clear what cables, etc. you may need. You probably don't want to be figuring this out at the gig.
    azfatboy likes this.

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