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Sound Engineer

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maltingsaudiomaltingsaudio Frets: 2149
It’s quite simple, we are hearing what the audience hears.

Over to you!
www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 2908
    I played a local festival recently and observed a couple of points:

    In the audience,  the sound of other bands and video clips of our band were fantastic.  Really clear balanced and nice.

    On stage whilst playing though,  the sound of my guitar through the monitors was like an ice pick and it wasn't possible to hear my own actual amp as it was a fairly big stage. It was So bright and brittle I was really distracted thinking I'd messed up amp settings and the audience was hearing an appalling mess and also made me play worse as I was adjusting my technique and pots to compensate (unnecessarily of course).  With only a 30s line check before playing it wasn't really possible to ask them to drop the 3k by 3db in the monitor and didn't want to lose momentum after we'd started.  The show must go on.

    Anyway, wondered what others felt the monitor sitrep is like on their festival stages and what a sound engineer would prefer happened in those situations.  
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 61636
    It’s quite simple, we are hearing what the audience hears.
    That’s sometimes difficult to believe, given some of the results…

    I’ve never understood why, unless the engineers are literally partially deaf. It’s easy to blame the band when the guitars are too loud, but harder to explain ridiculously over the top booming kick drum and inaudible vocals.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 3352
    It’s quite simple, we are hearing what the audience hears.

    Over to you!

    If the gig includes a sound engineer and a PA, I'd just let them help you get the best sound they/you can. If FOH sounds bad as a result, then it's their job to fix it and it's their fault if it isn't good. All you can do is play as well as possible and leave them to it. And hope they are as professional as you'd like/need. Which requires you to be professional, too, and work with them rather than resist. What you hear onstage may not be great for you, or what you're used to hearing at rehearsals, but the audience isn't sitting next to you. They're out front. 

    A few years ago, we turned up to play at a nice club in Croydon (someone has to...) and were sharing the venues drumkit with another band. It sounded awful and was held together with tape and damping materials. Through the PA it was fantastic. The engineer knew his venue and knew how to get the best sound through his PA.

    On the other hand, I was at a guitar show once where Bernie Marsden was demoing a new Marshall amp that was being launched. He was getting sound problems. The sound engineer at the back of the room was reading a magazine and not even looking at the stage until Bernie (rightly) embarrassed him by telling him he really needed to be paying attention and see what the artist needed from him. I've seen plenty of amateur engineers looking at their phones instead of the stage during a performance. 
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  • ICBM said:
    It’s quite simple, we are hearing what the audience hears.
    That’s sometimes difficult to believe, given some of the results…

    I’ve never understood why, unless the engineers are literally partially deaf. It’s easy to blame the band when the guitars are too loud, but harder to explain ridiculously over the top booming kick drum and inaudible vocals.
    I was told once by a pretty established sound engineer (ex Adele, Amy Winehouse amongst others) that when working with a popular band, or a band they've worked with for a long time, making the vocals too quiet is the easiest mistake to make,

    He explained that when the songs are so familiar, sound engineers often up unknowingly singing along to the vocal in their head. Which they then mistake for hearing the vocal coming out of the PA. 

    It takes discipline, or often someone else working on the show giving them nudge to sort it out.
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  • shufflebeatshufflebeat Frets: 45
    edited June 14
    ICBM said:
    It’s quite simple, we are hearing what the audience hears.
    That’s sometimes difficult to believe, given some of the results…

    I’ve never understood why, unless the engineers are literally partially deaf. It’s easy to blame the band when the guitars are too loud, but harder to explain ridiculously over the top booming kick drum and inaudible vocals.
    The mix of observations you describe are pretty common and tend to show up for similar reasons. Soundtechs appear to "blame" guitarists because the guitars (and sometimes acoustic snare) are often the element of the sound that dictates how everything else has to be calibrated, including monitor sound.

    Guitarists often don't realise the extent to which their sound is beaming out from between their legs and dominating the mix for a whole swathe of the audience while at the same time missing the rest, a situation that can't be remedied without causing even more discomfort for those already well covered.

    Booming kick is often the result of an enclosed or hollow stage resonating with the low frequencies coming off the sides of bass speakers.

    Low vocals are often just the result of everything else too loud. Once you've done everything you can to avoid feedback it takes onstage communication and coordination to make things work.

    There are, of course, bad soundtechs and problematic rooms as well.

    I got criticised for looking at my phone once while 'teching, until I showed the complainant the RTA on my phone which was keeping an eye (ear?) on resonances and SPL.

    I'm also criticised for, "playing with my iPad" when I am, in fact, doing the sound.

    If we were sat round a table with a beer and decent food many of these recurring themes could easily be eliminated. 
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  • westwest Frets: 778
    Some of them couldnt mix concrete ....
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  • shufflebeatshufflebeat Frets: 45
    For future reference, the "ice pick" guitar could probably have been improved greatly just by dropping a jacket or two over the monitor. I realise there's not a lot of time to consider these things in the moment but worth going prepared if it happens regularly.
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 24912
    I often hear masses of pointless low frequency content in lead vocals, rendering them totally unintelligible. 

    I have occasionally ambled over to stand near a sound engineer assuming they must be in a crossfire of clashing standing waves to account for a bizarrely crap mix, but no, they were just clueless. 

    But then again, lifelong pros at the BBC still do the crappy 1960s family TV mix of snare and vocals only for every band on things like The One Show, so it's not just an amateur problem. 
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  • shufflebeatshufflebeat Frets: 45

    This can also be true. 

    :)
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 2908
    For future reference, the "ice pick" guitar could probably have been improved greatly just by dropping a jacket or two over the monitor. I realise there's not a lot of time to consider these things in the moment but worth going prepared if it happens regularly.
    Good tip thanks
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 61636

    Guitarists often don't realise the extent to which their sound is beaming out from between their legs and dominating the mix for a whole swathe of the audience while at the same time missing the rest, a situation that can't be remedied without causing even more discomfort for those already well covered.
    I’ve said this many times, but one thing that baffles and frustrates me about guitarists is not understanding why the physical placement of their amp is critical - most seem to put it on the floor facing straight out into the audience (usually then at ear level, from a raised stage), which is the worst possible thing to do… it means the player can’t hear it properly and it sounds muddy to them, so they dial it in far too loud and bright, but anyone in the beam hears how loud and shrill it really sounds - often including the sound engineer, who then annoys the guitarist by insisting it be turned down. The solution is to raise the amp, tilt it back, point it at an angle across the stage, or a combination of all those, so you can hear it better yourself and no-one else is in the beam.

    This is in addition to the effect that raising the guitar amp up off the stage rolls off the bottom end, and lets the guitar and bass - the bass amp should be firmly down on the stage, for the same (opposite) reason - sit together more naturally in the mix and have both audible, without needing excessive EQ at the desk or causing volume wars.

    Even simply turning a typical horizontal 2x12” guitar cab on its end makes a useful improvement, and yet it’s hard to convince most of them to even try it unless there’s so little room on stage that it’s the only solution. Thankfully, a few makers are now doing vertical 2x12”s…

    I really spent quite a lot of time experimenting with amp positioning until I got it to where I found that what I heard was as close as possible to what the audience did - for me, that’s with the amp raised to about waist height for the speaker, not tilted, and at an angle across the stage, hopefully not pointing directly at anyone at all.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 3352
    <snip>
    I got criticised for looking at my phone once while 'teching, until I showed the complainant the RTA on my phone which was keeping an eye (ear?) on resonances and SPL.

    I'm also criticised for, "playing with my iPad" when I am, in fact, doing the sound.

    If we were sat round a table with a beer and decent food many of these recurring themes could easily be eliminated. 
    If this ws prompted by my post, please don't take it personally. I really can tell the difference between someone using their phone for SPL readings (we've probably got the same app) and someone looking at their Whatsapp or texting and not looking at the stage for several minutes. 

    Good sound engineers can make a gig and bad ones can break it - just like bad bands. 
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  • rsvmarkrsvmark Frets: 1074
    Having played some decent sized gigs recently, my biggest issue is hearing myself. The stages have been big so there is a decent gap between me and the amps. I run 2 amps, pretty loud and when it’s just me playing, I am very happy with my core sound. I ask friends who know what they are talking about how it is out the front and it’s good. But the gripe is that I regularly can’t hear myself at all through the monitor when the band is in full flight. I played 1 gig where it was purely muscle memory. 

    Lesson learned, I now always ask for loads of guitar in my monitor and add a bit. I figure if it’s too loud, I can step away to another spot on stage. While it would be great to get my tone accurately coming back at me, my #1 priority is hearing myself.
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  • mrkbmrkb Frets: 3576
    Watched this earlier - gives a great insight into the tech and workload used in modern FOH setups.

    https://youtu.be/LAt7bDbkmJQ

    Karma......
    Ebay mark7777_1
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  • OnparOnpar Frets: 299
    I've come to the conclusion that my personal mix preference is very different to what I experience at gigs these days. There is nearly always way too much bass, which completely overpowers everything else. And the volumes are at insane levels. With these crazy levels of bass it makes it almost impossible to even hear the song. Festivals can be even worse. I nearly always take my ear plugs to gigs these days. To clarify, I'm referring to big gigs, medium clubs and even pub gigs. I can't believe people actually enjoy this sound. I normally find that bands in small pubs and clubs that just play backline sound better. 

    In my current band we have a 6th member who is a sound engineer and does an amazing job but I'm still not sure if micing everything up and putting it through the monitors is actually better or worth the huge amount of time to setup. I am still trying to adjust to hearing myself through a wedge. 

    Maybe I'm just getting old!! 


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  • De_BatzDe_Batz Frets: 63
    Came on this sub-forum to post a thread in praise of the engineer at our gig earlier today, this seems like a good place to put the comment instead. 

    Anyway, the guy was doing the sound at Shambles Street in Barnsley, and before us he had a four-piece grunge type band, and after us he had a death metal band with a direct guitar. He had a slightly whimsical look on his face at times, but did a good job of accommodating us and getting our sound out to the (fairly large and surprisingly enthusiastic) audience. 

    Never got his name, so can't make it personal, but the guy was very polite and professional and let us get on with it, with no moaning about guitar levels and whatever. 
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 7825
    I pity this poor monitor engineer, I've done sound for loads of old people and you just can't get anything loud or clear  enough for them because they just can't hear properly anymore. 


    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 2729

    I did read that Sir Elton has something like 4 wedge monitors set at a ridiculously high spl level.  Great team building there between Artist and Engineer and nice helpfull comments to enable the Engineer to clearly understand exactly what was wrong with balance.

    Don't try this at home kids.

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  • maltingsaudiomaltingsaudio Frets: 2149
    Loads of support from the touring community for that engineer, Elton didn’t earn the nickname Diva for nothing!
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • JonathangusJonathangus Frets: 2679
    Jeez, what a wanker.  I don't care who you are; that's no way to talk to someone who works for you.
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