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seth

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Jan 10 16 10:00 AM

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It seems that most of the clubs I've been to in NY recently have four or five bands each night, no sound check, and one over-worked sound guy doing his best. In a situation like that, would it be welcome for a band to find out who the sound guy is going to be a few days before the show and either send him a link to the band's music or give him a CD? I'm thinking some inkling of what the band does would help everybody do a better show. I'm sure some sound guys won't have the time to listen, some won't care. What do you think?
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scaramanga

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Jan 10 16 11:22 AM

That person has to mix 5 bands a night AND listen to your CD? Bring her a cake instead, or a coffee. At the point when your band is rocking it guerrilla style on a multi-band night at a NYC club you should set yourselves up so that you don't need to rely on a soundperson to get your thang across. Hopefully there will be opportunities for that later.

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seth

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Jan 10 16 8:59 PM

It's not for me, but that's the general vibe I get. I thought having a target to aim for might be helpful, but it seems more pressure than it's worth.

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soapfoot

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Jan 10 16 10:34 PM

seth wrote:
It's not for me, but that's the general vibe I get. I thought having a target to aim for might be helpful, but it seems more pressure than it's worth.

My subjective expereince is that most in-house FOH people are probably underpaid, and as a result underqualified. Many seem all too happy to defer if a group has bought their own FOH person, though.

 

brad allen williams

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malcolmboyce

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Jan 11 16 11:10 PM

Only in the case where a FOH mix would be capable of recreating specific subtleties and/or mix cues would it be worthwhile for me to listen to an artist's recordings. There is rarely enough time to get to that point in one off situations, especially in club type environments. In my experience, an artist being able to articulate what they are generally hoping for sound wise out front is far more practical and productive. If the artist isn't able to present a reasonable version of their music without a consistent sound person, they would be best to start a relationship with one. IMO, if you are reliant on specific mix cues to get your sound across, and you are not bringing your own tech, you are dreaming if you think that degree of precision is going to happen with a listen of a CD.

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gold

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Jan 12 16 4:48 PM

soapfoot wrote:
My subjective expereince is that most in-house FOH people are probably underpaid, and as a result underqualified. Many seem all too happy to defer if a group has bought their own FOH person, though.

 

My favorite live sound job is house sound. Throw it up and go. Unfortunately the gig gets no respect and no money. If the band needs more out of a random FOH club mixer than to balance the vocal with what's coming off the stage then it's time to hit the woodshed.

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fern

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Jan 13 16 7:35 AM

seth wrote:
It seems that most of the clubs I've been to in NY recently have four or five bands each night, no sound check, and one over-worked sound guy doing his best. In a situation like that, would it be welcome for a band to find out who the sound guy is going to be a few days before the show and either send him a link to the band's music or give him a CD? I'm thinking some inkling of what the band does would help everybody do a better show. I'm sure some sound guys won't have the time to listen, some won't care. What do you think?

Having done live sound and studio work for over 40 years now (wow, I'm really old), with part of it as a house sound guy, I can tell you the link or the CD will never get listened to.  I know bringing your own engineer sucks, largely because it's cost prohibitive, but the only way to be certain one gets the best mix is to bring your own engineer.  Nobody will be familiar enough with  the artist and their music to do them justice except the person they bring.


    -- Greg "Fern" Quesnel

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jaykadis

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Jan 13 16 11:32 AM

The key is to balance your stage volumes so all the house mixer needs to do is vocal balancing and maybe some instrument fill only if necessary in the particular venue. We played 3-band shows through the '80s and '90s and that worked fine most of the time. Now we bring our own small PA and run it ourselves for the gigs we have been doing lately. Certainly not my favorite, but...

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soapfoot

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Jan 13 16 11:58 AM

indeed, there's no substitute for good ensemble blend. Of course, when a house has MASSIVE subs under the stage to make big boom (as so often happens), the ensemble blend very often changes/suffers in 2 ways IME (as a player)--

1) The kick drum is too often treated like basically a trigger for the subs, so it sorta becomes an 808, not a bass drum. Regardless of what it feels like onstage, that will tend to subvert the inter-kit balances a sensitive drummer creates, and will consequently make on-stage balance less meaningful. Now the FOH mixer will be relied upon to re-create some semblance of blend between the rest of the kit, the rest of the band, and this big domineering boom that may not be stylistically appropriate for the music.

2) Since there is almost never any real effort toward decoupling, the energy from the subs more often than not tends to turn the whole stage into a big diaphragm resonator, creating a lot of mud onstage which interferes with band members' ability to hear both their bandmates and, in extreme cases, even themselves. It sucks to try and hear and blend with a bass player from across the stage when there are subs underneath cranking and making a massive "wooooof" that underscores everything. Often even expereinced musicians don't recognize/identify this issue--they just "can't hear the bass" and will commit the cardinal sin of asking for bass in their monitor, at which point ensemble blend goes entirely out the window for everyone onstage, in my experience at least.

brad allen williams

Last Edited By: soapfoot Jan 13 16 12:07 PM. Edited 7 times.

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gold

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Jan 14 16 1:52 PM

soapfoot wrote:
indeed, there's no substitute for good ensemble blend. Of course, when a house has MASSIVE subs under the stage to make big boom (as so often happens), the ensemble blend very often changes/suffers in 2 ways IME (as a player)--

1) The kick drum is too often treated like basically a trigger for the subs, so it sorta becomes an 808, not a bass drum. Regardless of what it feels like onstage, that will tend to subvert the inter-kit balances a sensitive drummer creates, and will consequently make on-stage balance less meaningful. Now the FOH mixer will be relied upon to re-create some semblance of blend between the rest of the kit, the rest of the band, and this big domineering boom that may not be stylistically appropriate for the music.

2) Since there is almost never any real effort toward decoupling, the energy from the subs more often than not tends to turn the whole stage into a big diaphragm resonator, creating a lot of mud onstage which interferes with band members' ability to hear both their bandmates and, in extreme cases, even themselves. It sucks to try and hear and blend with a bass player from across the stage when there are subs underneath cranking and making a massive "wooooof" that underscores everything. Often even expereinced musicians don't recognize/identify this issue--they just "can't hear the bass" and will commit the cardinal sin of asking for bass in their monitor, at which point ensemble blend goes entirely out the window for everyone onstage, in my experience at least.

If massive subs are inappropriate for the band then expecting the FOH with no sense to suddenly develop taste is expecting a lot. Anyone who starts with more than vocals in the FOH/Monitor in a small club is hopeless anyway.

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soapfoot

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Jan 14 16 2:00 PM

gold wrote:
 Anyone who starts with more than vocals in the FOH/Monitor in a small club is hopeless anyway.

Agreed. With the possible exception of DI keyboards and acoustic guitar. Even then, if the keyboardist/guitarist has enough of themselves in their monitor to make them happy, that's almost always enough for me across the stage. It's very rare indeed that I will have anything other than vocal in my monitor. If I'm not singing BVs then only lead vocal, most times. 

I think of monitors sort of like I think of eating stinky food on the subway. It doesn't just affect you, it affects everyone in the car.

brad allen williams

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seth

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Jan 14 16 2:18 PM

When I'm MD the first thing I do at sound check is tell the monitor engineer to turn the entire monitor system down by a quarter to a third. It's inevitably way too loud from the get go and the band winds up playing to the monitors. After they're turned down the band can find its natural level and THEN we can begin to figure out what we actually need in the monitors. It seemed pretty obvious to me, especially with a ten-piece band, that the lower the starting level the more control everyone has. When we were touring I typed up a 'monitor starting place' sheet that I gave out everywhere. It specified lowering the overall level, no kick or bass in any monitor on the stage, only piano and voices in the front monitors. Then we seasoned to taste. Sound checks went a lot quicker and more efficiently after that.

My initial thought in starting this thread was that I figured it might be helpful to an FOH guy to familiarize him- or herself with what a band wants to sound like before the show. I'd have thought that was part of thorough preparation, but apparently not. I must say I don't get it.

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gold

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Jan 14 16 2:33 PM

seth wrote:
My initial thought in starting this thread was that I figured it might be helpful to an FOH guy to familiarize him- or herself with what a band wants to sound like before the show. I'd have thought that was part of thorough preparation, but apparently not. I must say I don't get it.


 

With a touring act and a rider yes. Why not type up a rider? That might help. I don't get why you think preperation would get you closer to the sound of the CD when at most clubs there are trashed 58's, a half broken SPX90 and a gate at your disposal. I'd say most here could grok "what a band sounds like" in eight bars or less. That's infact why I like the house sound job. You have to get what the band is about very quickly and make it happen. I find that fun.

Last Edited By: gold Jan 14 16 2:40 PM. Edited 1 time.

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jaykadis

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Jan 14 16 2:44 PM

I've probably told this story here before, but one place we played regularly had a Tangent board and Peavey speakers. The house sound guy was having trouble getting a decent sound one night so I had a look at his setup. The mains ran through an MXR 10-band graphic with all the faders pulled down. I mentioned that the EQ was designed to operate with most faders in the middle (set to 0 dB cut/boost) and suddenly the sound improved immensely. He was impressed and we had acceptable sound that night.

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malcolmboyce

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#14 [url]

Jan 14 16 3:39 PM

Most of the time, if I followed "what we'll need in the monitor" prep sheets to the letter, the stage would end up twice as loud as it needed to be. I also prefer a workflow of not dumping a bunch of stuff into mixes based on assumption; something I see others do all the time. When mixing monitors, I consider the job to be making everyone happy, not just the performers on stage.

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soapfoot

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Jan 14 16 4:35 PM

It's thankfully somewhat rare, but my biggest peeve as a player is when an engineer puts stuff in my monitors without my having asked, because they just "assumed" I would want kick and snare or whatever. To me, that is the cardinal sin.

The worst-- I played in one nice-ish, new-ish but rather prominent Brooklyn venue recently where the FOH guy (who was also doing monitors) not only was putting stuff in my monitor that I didn't ask for, but actually tried to negotiate with me when I wanted it removed.

The vocalist on this gig had herself so loud in her monitor that, being slightly downstage, I was actually getting plenty of vocal. I asked him to please take the vocal out of my monitor, (I had never requested it in the first place), and he went into pedant mode and lectured me that I should have vocal in my monitor. When I explained that I could hear her fine coming off of her own pair of monitors, his reply was "well, I'll just give you a little bit." I was gobsmacked and bemused-- a new bar for unprofessionalism had been set in my book. He also tried to talk us into letting him sit in with us on drums, but that's another chapter.

brad allen williams

Last Edited By: soapfoot Jan 14 16 4:37 PM. Edited 1 time.

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gold

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Jan 14 16 4:44 PM

At least he didn't get the CD in advance. That could have been a real disaster. He would have been making improvements. :)

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morespaceecho

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Jan 14 16 11:28 PM

malcolmboyce wrote:
Most of the time, if I followed "what we'll need in the monitor" prep sheets to the letter, the stage would end up twice as loud as it needed to be. 

friends of mine are in a pretty popular indie band...i happened to see their stage plot/'what we need in the monitor' sheet.....the drummer wanted kick and snare at "100%" in his monitor. he's a muscly guy who plays hard. WHY on earth does he need those cranking in his monitor? the snare's like 2 feet from his ears. 

i'd only ever ask for vocals in the drum monitor, and just try to get the amps set up as close to the kit as i could. of course, i was never in a famous rock band so what do i know.
soapfoot wrote:
a new bar for unprofessionalism had been set in my book.



that's pretty bad. i could tell my 'house kit at Piano's' story but i feel like i've told it a thousand times already. 

off topic but live sound-related question that doesn't warrant its own thread: we went to see Ride recently at a medium sized club. we were standing right next to FOH. i assume they had their own sound guy. i was watching him work and it seemed like the whole time he was constantly fussing with stuff. i couldn't tell exactly what he was doing, but for example he'd have an eq on the screen and would adjust one band from say -2 to -1 to -.7 to -1.2 to -1.8 to -1.3. then he'd go to a different channel and do the same thing. i feel like the difference between -1 and -2 in a live setting would be barely audible at best, no? it just seemed like he was spending a lot of time and attention messing with plugins rather than watching the band and moving the faders as needed. 

we weren't in a very good spot acoustically (under a balcony and close to the back wall), but it did seem like it all sounded ok and i certainly don't presume to know more about the guy's job than he does, but all that fiddling struck me as weird. yes/no/maybe/not really?

 

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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sausagemaker

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Jan 16 16 9:52 AM

I guess it's hard to say - as long you can get it to sound like MUSIC you are 3/4 of the way there. Sometimes in a live situation that's the hardest thing to do! Once a make that milestone I find myself working on all the little things that bug me about the way things sounds. Only once I'm as satisfied I have a handle on things will I work on any "effects" if needed. I follow my instincts which usually helps it be a better mix... Hopefully all this happens before the song is over! :)

A great mix is the accumulation of many small sometimes fiddly moves... but you can also go down the rabbit hole if you are not serving the song... which if the band is also serving the song you don't necessarily have to constantly watch the band for changes, etc. because you will feel the changes coming... and only need to watch the band for their cues to each other about who should be "wearing the red hat" next... (I hope the makes sense!)

A good mixer is like the catalyst when mixing epoxy glue - to much or to little "mixer" and the bond between the artist and the listener suffers - but just the right amount and "it's gold Jerry"...

-Steve

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mario i

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Jan 18 16 11:44 AM

Maybe I'm nuts... but I like to hear what a band sounds like before I show up and start plugging mics.
Given the opportunity I prefer to get an idea of their live setup.

Case and point, I've just been hired to mix a band coming in from Europe in the spring for 2 shows.
I asked for music samples as well and was given Youtube links of their live shows.

AFAIC, I'm already ahead of the game. I have an idea of their music, their setup, and have seen them interact with the crowd.

If it makes my job easier, and I'm familiar with them a little more, it's a win-win situation.
But of course this is a dedicated show for 2 nights...

Mixing 5 bands a night 3-4 days a week, I doubt I'd have time to listen to every act...
At that point it's really sound reinforcement and not so much mixing...

M

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