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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Sound Reinforcement Newbie Seeks Advice


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/355302

KCJones - Posted - 07/09/2019:  06:20:18


Hey folks, hope you're enjoying the weather. I have some general questions about sound reinforcement in a studio situation



Situation: Four piece band. Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, (electric) bass. Set up in four corners of the room, facing the center. Banjo and mandolin both have sm57s and pickups. Guitar is a pickup to an normal amp, bass is a huge amp. We just bought a Zoom L-12 mixer. We've got mics and stuff and all the accessories. We have a single Kustom powered wedge monitor (10") and are planning on getting 3 more. We have no PA mains.



We currently have an issue where over the course of our jams, a volume war ensues and eventually it is just super loud. The bassist wants more banjo so I turn up, then the guitar can't hear himself so he's up, then mandolin does the same, and around and around until we're all at 11. I understand this can be fairly common, but it's annoying nonetheless.



 

I have two main questions.



How many monitors do we need? Is having a monitor for each person overkill? The band is really pushing for four monitors, one for each person. I feel like it's overkill but they say it will result in us being quieter and having personalized mixes and a consistent volume overall. I've seen lots of bigger bands play with fewer monitors. Personally, I feel like two monitors is enough, one for each side of the room. Can you have "too many" monitors in a studio? Most any advice regarding monitor setup is appreciated, both stage and studio. We're looking at kustom 10" powered wedges, but feel free to suggest alternatives in that price range.



What size main speakers should we aim for? We're not a big band, we play bars and smaller venues. I'm thinking a capacity 150-200 is probably the biggest thing we'll play for the foreseeable future. (side note: The vast majority of the time we don't need to provide sound anyway. In fact we've never provided our own sound. But we are making money now, and want to spend it, and a PA system sounds like fun). Right now we're looking at 12" mains and 10" monitors. I've read that 12" mains can be better for the high-mid range, provided you don't need a massive amount of volume. Our bassist probably won't go through the PA at all because he's running an amp the size of a small house. Is this enough? We're looking at Electro-voice ZLX 12p, and would like to stay in that price point. But we could get 15s if it's really necessary.




Any help is appreciated. Thanks


Edited by - KCJones on 07/09/2019 06:24:49

paxflyer - Posted - 07/09/2019:  13:53:16


Simple, in-ear monitors perhaps with two units in stereo. On a mixing board with 4 aux sends, set your mix the way you like then send to the IEM. Each person would set their pack to mono and pan the side they prefer, pan their channel to preferred mix. This would make 4 mixes from two IEM transmitters.



Have someone on the outside set the final house mix/balance.



Some mixing boards like Mackie have an iPhone app where each performer can control their own aux send (mix).



This should be that hard, you'll also save a ton of time on set up too.



Cheers, James


Edited by - paxflyer on 07/09/2019 13:53:39

paxflyer - Posted - 07/09/2019:  13:54:47


Also, I've had good success with Carvin brand IEM.

KCJones - Posted - 07/09/2019:  14:41:06


Thank you for the advice! In ear monitors are definitely appealing. Only think is... Can you get a full IEM setup for four people for $500?



Unfortunately all the IEM setups seem to be prohibitively expensive at this time. We're looking at spending about 120 per monitor right now. We could go up a bit but we're not really making the kind of money at this point where dropping $1k+ on monitors is an option.



Unless there's something I'm missing, or I'm shopping in the wrong spot. I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to sound reinforcement, doubly so with wireless in ear monitor systems.



We all really like the idea of IEMs. I just haven't found anything we could really afford at this time.


Edited by - KCJones on 07/09/2019 14:42:04

paxflyer - Posted - 07/09/2019:  15:19:41


carvinaudio.com/products/em900

I would look on eBay too.

KCJones - Posted - 07/10/2019:  10:22:22


quote:

Originally posted by paxflyer

carvinaudio.com/products/em900



I would look on eBay too.






I hesitate to even respond to this  but...Honestly?



$400+ for a single in ear monitor as far as I can tell on that page. That'd get us to, what, the better part of $2000 for four people? Even if we could double them up like you say, that's still gonna be over a grand.



 



I do appreciate the attempt at help but sometimes I wish people would read the OP before posting generic advice that completely ignores the criteria set in the original post. I don't understand how you think it's reasonable to suggest a $450 in ear monitor system as a comparable alternative to a $120 wedge.



Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.

eagleisland - Posted - 07/10/2019:  11:16:14


This is just for practicing, right?



Perhaps it would make sense, rather than using floor monitors, to get a headphone distribution amplifier and each band member could get a set of cans and appropriate cabling.



A simple DA setup would NOT allow, say, the bass player to boost the banjo player specifically, but it WOULD enable everyone to hear the house mix better. A DA would allow one member to have less in his cans than the next chap.



Less chance of feedback, too.



Maybe that would help?


Edited by - eagleisland on 07/10/2019 11:16:51

paxflyer - Posted - 07/10/2019:  14:41:08


quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

quote:

Originally posted by paxflyer

carvinaudio.com/products/em900



I would look on eBay too.






I hesitate to even respond to this  but...Honestly?



$400+ for a single in ear monitor as far as I can tell on that page. That'd get us to, what, the better part of $2000 for four people? Even if we could double them up like you say, that's still gonna be over a grand.



 



I do appreciate the attempt at help but sometimes I wish people would read the OP before posting generic advice that completely ignores the criteria set in the original post. I don't understand how you think it's reasonable to suggest a $450 in ear monitor system as a comparable alternative to a $120 wedge.



Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.






One set will handle two IEM performer packs, so two units can provide 4 performers with their own mix.  Its not a stretch and my Carvins are great quality thus recommended.

KCJones - Posted - 07/10/2019:  15:29:48


quote:

Originally posted by paxflyer

quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

quote:

Originally posted by paxflyer

carvinaudio.com/products/em900



I would look on eBay too.






I hesitate to even respond to this  but...Honestly?



$400+ for a single in ear monitor as far as I can tell on that page. That'd get us to, what, the better part of $2000 for four people? Even if we could double them up like you say, that's still gonna be over a grand.



 



I do appreciate the attempt at help but sometimes I wish people would read the OP before posting generic advice that completely ignores the criteria set in the original post. I don't understand how you think it's reasonable to suggest a $450 in ear monitor system as a comparable alternative to a $120 wedge.



Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.






One set will handle two IEM performer packs, so two units can provide 4 performers with their own mix.  Its not a stretch and my Carvins are great quality thus recommended.






Awesome man. You like your Carvins, we get it, you've made your point. Unfortunately, as I've stated more than once, we cannot afford them. Your advice is not applicable to the situation described in the original post. Thank you and good day, Sir.

KCJones - Posted - 07/10/2019:  15:49:59


quote:

Originally posted by eagleisland

This is just for practicing, right?



Perhaps it would make sense, rather than using floor monitors, to get a headphone distribution amplifier and each band member could get a set of cans and appropriate cabling.



A simple DA setup would NOT allow, say, the bass player to boost the banjo player specifically, but it WOULD enable everyone to hear the house mix better. A DA would allow one member to have less in his cans than the next chap.



Less chance of feedback, too.



Maybe that would help?






Yes pretty much just for practice.  theoretically we could use this stuff for the road but we've never had to provide our own PA and I don't see that happening much in the future. I'll ask the guys if they'd be down for a seperate amp and do the cans like you say. One issue is that probably a third of the time we have guest musicians and if we all use ear monitors I'm not sure how that would work.





Thanks for the idea, a lot to learn.

eagleisland - Posted - 07/10/2019:  16:55:48


Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can get distribution amps with enough outputs to handle anpretty good sized gang.

jwold - Posted - 07/10/2019:  17:00:56


Lots of opinions on this, I'll offer a few to chew on but you'll need to do some research on what you want your bands sound to be.



Are you using this sound reinforcement system to practice with to make the volume sound better or just for practicing? Mics and pickups and you want 'more' monitors? Too many! You say you're in a studio, you shouldn't have to reinforce your sound to be louder in a studio. You might want to have some kind of headphone distribution mixer and headphones, otherwise it's no wonder things keep getting louder and louder and you guys are going nuts. For just practicing I'd suggest no mics or maybe just one or two to: practice around or stereo record for playback/critique/blending purposes.  Get a little practice amp for the bass player to use, you all are fighting to be heard.



I am a big fan of in-ear monitors, I didn't used to be, but play guitar occasionally in the church band and we have an in-ear system so I've been convinced with first hand experience. I've also been in several bluegrass bands (banjo & guitar) over the years that used multiple floor monitors. I've setup and run FOH sound on several occasions for a bluegrass concert series with multiple band configurations as well as be the sound guy for the church, and I'm a sound guy for my work...though that's mostly sound mixing for picture, related but different.



The bad thing about having lots of monitors on stage (or in your practice space) is they just add so much extra overall volume & noise bouncing around in the room making it hard to listen to each other and blend. More monitors on stage can make it harder for the sound person as well as they try to chase down which mic is feeding back into which monitor, and if you don't have a sound guy it can be really disruptive to a set to suddenly have a blast of feedback.  Plus it's all that extra crap to lug to the gig, set up, tear down, haul home, put away etc.  Less is more I think.



Lots of bands that I see lately are using 1 large vocal, 2-3 satellite mic setups sometimes forgoing monitors entirely which can be great (or not great) depending on whether you practice with it. Personally, I think it makes for a more interesting 'show' seeing people weaving in and out for their breaks & harmonies, but you have to work with it so, for example, you know that mandolin player plays soft and has to get closer to the mic to be heard & blend so get ready to get out of the way for him. The downside of this is you run the risk of not being heard if you aren't close enough to the satellite mic, some of the videos bear this out. Vocals really need to be worked on as different folks sing at different volumes so a recording will help isolate the 'too loud tenor' or 'too soft bass singer' and help you to get closer or farther to the mic for a pleasing mix.



I've used a Bose L1 system as well a few times for a bluegrass band and that worked out pretty well, we could hear each other and didn't have any feedback issues. No monitors beyond the main speaker stack, good system but a little spendy. This was for a senior center/dinner hall type setting and it was loud enough for them to hear us. Not sure if this would be the best for a bar type setting, but it packs a pretty loud sound in a small package without a lot of extra stuff to lug in.  Others may chime in with their results, there are so many ways to skin this cat.



I might suggest Ear Tumpet mics they work pretty well for reinforcement & have a cool vibe but again, it takes practice to get a loud sound without feedback.  Some good sound reinforcement demonstrations at their website.



Listening to your band mates is really important, blending and knowing when NOT to play or backing off & working your mic is really important.



I'd suggest watching some videos of bands and see what they're doing. I'm just throwing these out there to show a variety of sound reinforcement approaches old and new with some commentary as it struck me. All of these though have some kind of 'sound person assistance' which you may or may not have at your gigs. It really helps to have a sound person out there in the house. At the least, video record a practice session and listen for what & who is too loud, too soft, & intelligible. This can be hard to watch sometimes...keep it positive & constructive, try not to step on anyone's toes but from what I'm reading you all need to turn your volumes waaaay down.



I was looking for live musical examples with a variety of approaches. Obviously all of these had sound people manning soundboards, but you can hear weaknesses and strengths in the various scenarios.



Less is more:



Foghorn Stringband: Really nice blend, guitar is maybe a little too overpowering at times? Raising the mic an inch or a slight tilt back might help.

youtube.com/watch?v=rAwmedjNNYw



Jeff Scroggins & Colorado youtube.com/watch?v=6mNW6cs8NCQ nice blend, maybe not enough rhythm guitar in the blend? notice he works closer for leads.



Vintage Hot Rize: youtube.com/watch?v=llH-dyIi56Q Nice blend overall.



Classic Monroe in the 'kind of minimal way' with a lousy vocal mic to capture 3 singers. but offers movement, forces the banjo player to be quiet during the mandolin breaks...youtube.com/watch?v=dLn3b9GGJQ8



Del McCoury: youtube.com/watch?v=K7uyG6RrBDE Nice blend but Del's guitar & bass are kind of lost.



Early AKUS: youtube.com/watch?v=ZWVtc3nO01A Instruments are too far away from the mics for good clarity, same with backup singers IMO, these look like cheap 'cable access TV' budget mics so what can you expect, not bad though.



Old School sound in the days before in-ear monitoring and everyone with their own mic & monitor:

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, skip ahead to 3:41 for a full band song: youtube.com/watch?v=K7uyG6RrBDE Plugged in bass is constant, maybe relentless, no level adjustment(?) other instruments, banjo is minimized but Scott Vestal steps up for breaks, working the mic, note the vocal ending as the vocalists get louder at the end.



Tony Rice all stars:

youtube.com/watch?v=rVl1ibykWZU great acoustic natural sound, guys working the mics.



Totally plugged in, less chance of feedback:

Billy Strings & Molly Tuttle: youtube.com/watch?v=ovC1jULtcMM Everything is there, but no blending, you're dependent on your sound man to mix your leads, guitars can get that fake 'martian guitar' sound.



Newgrass Revival: Old school plugged it, everything is clear but you're dependent on the soundman, pickups sound a little 'martian-y' again, though technology has improved a bit.



In ear monitors, probably minimal stage monitors: AKUS youtube.com/watch?v=f-xGj47bka...U&index=4



Again, lots to chew on here...I'm sure others will chime in...


Edited by - jwold on 07/10/2019 17:18:25

rudy - Posted - 07/10/2019:  18:18:01


You're in a practice situation with 4 players situated in the corners of a single room?



Solution: Ditch the amplification (other than small combo amps for guitar and bass) and scoot your chairs closer together.



Instead of throwing money on a problem that's more easily addressed with a bit of diplomacy you can use your gig proceeds to invest in hiring a sound guy with a small PA and let HIM handle front of house mixes.



In all seriousness it most likely won't be a problem for long because this is the kind of stuff that causes playing together to be less and less enjoyable and pretty soon everyone will find reasons why they can't practice.  Think of all the money you'll save though!



Forget all I've said here; I might just be having a bad day.  cheeky

jwold - Posted - 07/10/2019:  21:24:15


Practice like you will be performing on stage too.

banjohood - Posted - 07/11/2019:  11:37:58


Based on reading what you have written there, before you buy any new equipment, you may want to take a close look at how each instrument is EQed. The volume war happens often because instruments are occupying the same sonic real estate, instead of complementing each other. For example, if a particular room accentuates frequencies 1 - 2K hz, and of all the instruments are hammering away at those frequencies, Everyone will be competing to be heard. But if everyone dials OUT those frequencies, The character of each Instrument can balance better. Typically you want guitar to be most present in the low mids, bass in the lows, mandolin in the mids, and banjo in the highs. When you run both pickups and microphones you broaden the spectrum for each instrument, and create more potential frequency conflicts. A frequency spectrum analyzer app for your phone cost a couple of bucks and can be very useful in figuring out Where some of the issues are. Typically, musicians are great at finding a sound that they are happy with on its own, but not as able to fit that sound into the context of a group of instruments where each instrument needs to be heard distinctly—That’s more the job of a sound person. Anyway, food for thought.

Old Hickory - Posted - 07/11/2019:  16:04:43


quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

We currently have an issue where over the course of our jams, a volume war ensues and eventually it is just super loud. 






Am I missing something here? Why are you practicing amplified, especially since you never provide or run your own sound and dont even own a PA?



I agree with others who have said you should all sit a bit closer together and the bass should use a small practice amp -- or use his regular rig with the volume turned down.



The only bands I've been in that practiced with full PA were electric or mixed acoustic-electric bands with drums. All my other drumless bands practiced without mics. This includes a Celtic-Americana band in which I pay both banjo and electric bass and the fiddle player sometimes plays electric guitar. For practice, we keep the amplified instruments at low enough volume so we can hear.



All that being said, in another discussion not too long ago when a Hangout member was describing his band getting ready to start use a sound system and pickups, I said it was necessary for them to practice with the sound system. I believe the same for your band, too, if you go ahead and buy a PA.  You need to practice with it because you can't take it to its first gig having never used it.  So do practice with your own PA a few times. But not every time. 



As to speaker size, my PA has 12-inch mains and 10-inch monitors. I play my bass amp to the house, not through the PA. It sounds like you're looking at better speakers than mine, so those sizes should do. 

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