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When do you really need big power and speakers on stage today?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by GreyBeard, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Heh, yep. With band #1, the guitarist is big into Stevie Ray Vaughan, 'nuff said. A couple gigs ago, some friends were sitting on my side of the stage and they said they couldn't hear me. :meh:

    The band with two guitarists is the quietest of the bunch... go figure.

    I definitely wish I didn't have to bring so much headroom.
  2. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I use about 400 watts of power and a 410 for practice, and I sit pretty well in the mix of a loud drummer, screaming vocals and two guitarists.

    Live, I use the 410, an 18, and a kilowatt of power. I'm not IN the mix. I AM the mix. That, and, c'mon, hit that B with that kinda oomph behind you... that's as close to being a diety as you're gonna get.

    Mostly just to be an @$$ (much like my disire to get a 7 string, then take off all but 3 strings; just 'cause).
  3. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Actually, this is a fallacy. You will get the greatest dispersion from the smallest possible setup, ideally a point source. Of course, that's not really possible in the real world, but you should still try to minimize the number of individual drivers in your rig, if you can.

    However, there is still something to be said for a large rig. With more speakers, you can sometimes actually get a better sound at lower volumes, because the bass frequency fall off of most cabinets means that the loud parts are all mid range and higher frequencies, anyway.

    Smaller rigs, though, are on the whole, better. All you need to do is match the volume of the drummer. It's a given that the guitars are going to be way too loud, but it would be a better idea to force guitarists into using less powerful amps.

    Anybody miking up a whole kit, not to mention a whole band, in a small club is guilty of overkill (and ear kill).

    Hey, in rehearsal, I often only play with a single 2x10 cab and my V-Type 220w head. We only use the PA for vocals (obviously necessary when singing over a rock drummer). Nobody ever has a problem hearing the bass guitar, even though the guitar is still way too loud (Mesa 50/50 into a stereo 2x12 and a JC-120 at the same time, grrrr....).

    Live, I mostly play with the 2x10 backed up with a 1x15, all driven by 750 watts of SWR power. Of course, my cabs can only handle 400 watts between them, so I never turn it up more than halfway. Any venue that can't be filled by that will have a decent-sized PA system--and most that *can* be filled by those cabs have the bass in the PA anyway, but for no real reason other than giving the poorly-trained sound guy something to play with.

    Actually, my preference is for 2 big 1x15's in a vertical stack. It has the frequency response that seems the most natural to me, and avoids the diffraction patterns of 4-by cabs (like 4x10's and 4x12's). The worst, to me, is a horizontal 2x10 (though I am myself guilty of doing this on occasion).

    I have to say, the state of sound reinforcement in the clubs in this area is pretty ****ing awful. Most people try to compensate by simply increasing the volume--a bad idea all around.
  4. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Outdoor rock gigs, is where I typically need the thunderous low frequencies at high power. I "almost never" use the PA (my singers would bite my head off if that stuff came through the monitors). For the big outdoor gigs, I use a pair of EVX-180A subs fed with 2100 watts each (Stewart 2.1's) and crossed over at about 60 Hz, and a bank of BagEnd 15's and 12's for the rest of the sound.

    For most "normal" gigs (indoor club situations, that kind of thing), I use a 1200 watt amp, and rarely have to turn it up more than halfway. For the smaller clubs, I use a single Bag End stack (one 12 and one 15 on top of each other), and that's more than enough in most cases. For the bigger indoor situations (auditoriums, that kind of thing), I might use two BagEnd stacks. And, I play with a "very loud" rock drummer, he's a great player but he has trouble playing quietly (that's just his style, he grew up around guitar players with Hiwatt's and Marshall's, and didn't usually have PA support, so he got really good at playing loud). When I play jazz gigs with another drummer who plays quietly and has a much more "controlled" playing style, I almost never go beyond a single speaker stack. It's all about the "balance", and how the bass sound fits in with the rest of the instruments.
  5. My new band is the one guilty of overkill. Everything is mic'ed, including every single piece of the drummer's kit. Each drum has an Audix D-series mounted internally. He has his own snake which feeds the primary snake going to our 32x8 FOH console. The PA has 18" JBL 3-ways on the bottom, and JBL 15" 2-ways sitting on top of them. A pair of Klipsch mains is kept in reserve. Monitors are 1x12 + horn for each player. Amplification is 9,000 watts of various Crown power amps and distribution systems.

    The FOH guy uses both DI and mics on the bass rig, so I'm now building a minimal-sized 1x15 JBL for my stage amp. The bass runs through all the monitors, and everybody gets their own version of the mix.

    The good news is, even in small clubs the sound is clean and not too loud. SPL peaks around 105 at the audience level, but the sound is very clean and detailed. Loadout is the price paid for this.

    With my previous band, I had to pull out all the subs and power amps whenever we played outdoor gigs. It's fun playing on all the big toys, but a pain to load.
  6. duncbass


    Dec 28, 2003
    I meant to get the tombolus part in here too but I guess I missed. Anyway, more cabs can get you better dispersion on stage, for the higher frequencies anyway, if you spread them out or point them appropriately which is what, I think, tombolus meant. A point source is ideal as a audio source in general because you don't have any phasing problems between multiple drivers. That's why coax cabs probably sound so clean.

    There's a type of PA that does or comes close to achiving a point souce affect. Search on VDosc on google. I didn't find their website but found lots of audio Co's using it. I hear it sounds awesome

  7. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Outdoors on a large stage with no PA support forces me to bring two cabs but it's usually just the Bergantino HT115 and HT210. I never use two cabs indoors anymore. The Bergie HT322 is my single cab solution for just about all club gigs. I currently own two 3x10's but I don't even own a 4x10 these days. Most of the time, I use a Woods Ultra but I also have a Stew 2.1 with Kern 777 and a pair of EA iamp600's that see some duty.
  8. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Don't 2x10s project better on their sides? That's been my experience.
  9. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Actually, because of the diffraction patterns caused by the proximity of the two drivers to each other, the midrange and higher frequencies will tend to have cancellations in the direction that is perpendicular to the axis of the drivers. Meaning that if you place the cab horizontally, you will get better vertical projection, but if you place the cab vertically, you will get better horizontal projection. Seems odd, but the math supports it...check out Joe D'Appolito's research (or really, any information about D'Appolito array loudspeakers). It should be easy to find polar plots of amplitude response to give you a better idea.

    Of course, this is all dependent on wavelength. It may be possible that a horizontally placed cab gets better coupling with the floor for better bass response...

    I find that in rehearsal, if I'm using a horiz 2x10, I get really bad lobing of the bass frequencies. At a 45 deg offset, I get really boomy bass, but at 0 degrees (straight ahead), I get mostly high freq's (really annoying sound). Unfortunately, my head doesn't fit on top of my 2x10 when it's vertical!
  10. Personally I don´t need big rigs. On smaller gigs I can get by with one 1x12; I don´t care for huge low end, because it just gets boomy in small venues due to standing waves and stuff. It´s just not my thing.

    If I´m going through PA, I try to keep the stage volume as low as possible. I know how difficult it can be to get a good FOH sound if the stage volume is too high (especially in certain rooms) so I´m ready to go pretty low (volume-wise) if the situation calls for it. To me, the FOH is number one by a wide margin, number two is the singer´s monitor. My personal need to show off my gear and "feel" the sound is not even on the list.

    Mind you, I´m the official volume nazi in my band. I can get pretty mean if the other players (namely guitarist and keyboardist) start cranking their gear. Our guitarist plays through a small combo, but he also has a Marshall half-stack; I´ve told him that if he even thinks about bringing it to our gigs, I´m going to set it on fire :mad: It took few years, but they have learned their lesson: nowadays they always ask my permission before they turn up even a notch :D

    But as always, just my .02, YMMV etc.
  11. Rockbobmel

    Rockbobmel Supporting Member

    We have a "Bonzo" drummer and two guitars, now. The guitar next to me is a 100w Marshall and 2-12. He's LOUD too. It's agravating, but I have to play stinkin loud too- with ear protection... I use a Mesa 400+ and P1000 cab, and I use a lot of it. We play small clubs and mike into PA for presence. My point is, I am in it for fun only.... so,I want to FEEL my bass and "Rocl N' Roll" in-a my body, you know? :bassist: :D
  12. How often do you guys play? Sounds like you guys must play 6 nights a week or so. What are some of your secrets to having this kind of control over the other band mates volumn?
  13. duncbass


    Dec 28, 2003
    This is a bit of a tangent but how do you reach your head if it's on top of a 210? I've been looking at 212's but even then I'd have a 2 ft tall cab and I'd have to get on my knees to mess with the amp. I used to have a sort of compact Acoustic 215 that was just the right height with an 800RB on it, wheels on the side. So what does everyone else do?

  14. No no, nothing like that. We used to do 1-2 shows a week 5 years ago, but nowadays its more like 1-2 gigs a month. I don´t know about secrets... I guess I can be pretty scary when I get angry. Also, the rest of the band don´t know anything about sound reinforcement, acoustics and stuff so they really have no choice but believe me and our soundguy. I think of myself as a kind of sound man´s representative on stage.

    And we aren´t that loud anyway, thanks to our drummer. He has very light touch, but he still manages to sound great. His playing has really convinced me that you don´t need to be loud to sound good.

    But I know everybody isn´t as lucky. I´ve had my share of heavy hitters and Marshall crankers.
  15. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    My band always uses full PA support. We don't mic every drum, but our horns, keys, guitar, bass, and snare/kick sometimes the toms are always mic'd. We always get compliments on our FOH and rarely have stage volumn issues. Mostly the guitar complains the keys are to loud on stage. Our drummer is a middle-weight and not too loud. Mic-ing eveything gives us control with usually only the two main sliders, one for vocals and other for instruments. Our Drummer runs the sound from the stage. I would rather have a dedicated soundman I could trust, but we already have six guys and the clubs are usually too small. It works very well for us.....
  16. After all, I did pose the question, I've come to the conclusion that: 1) If you're working without PA support you need a big enough amp to compete with the other players and balance the sound (no sh!t) and 2) if you are using PA support you need a rig that isn't going to interfere with what is coming out of the PA. The idea of having the PA reinforce what my bass amp is doing has never worked all that well IMO. Placing your amp 10-20' behind the FOH just causes too many phasing problem to correct. If you are using PA support, your stage rig needs to be facing across the stage or facing you like a monitor. Trouble is, I developed my playing style with the sound coming from behind me. I need to feel my pants flap in the breeze. Best and most satisfying way for me to play is without PA support. I'll shut up now.................

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