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Author Topic: Live Sound NLive Sound Novice: Dealing with Miked and Unmiked Sources, Basic Questions  (Read 702 times)

Jordan Williams

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Hi everyone,

I'm fairly new to live sound so I wanted to ask everyone some basic questions about best practices for the band/setup I usually work with. It is a mixture of miked and non-miked sound sources and I could definitely benefit from some pointers.

I work with a 5-piece band consisting of vocals, bass/vocals, keyboard/vocals, guitar, and drums. They usually play small bars and clubs and I often have to use their own gear. They don't want me to bother miking the drums except for the kick, and they don't bother miking the guitar either. So, my sound sources consist of miked kick, unmiked drums, bass DI, 3 vocals, unmiked guitar amp, and keyboard DI.

I am wondering what is the best procedure when you are working with a combo of these miked and unmiked sources. In other words, is there a recommended order I should use when I am bringing these signals up in the P.A. so that they mix well with the drums and unmiked amp? Also, in a situation like this is it better to get a good monitor mix before I go on to P.A., or vice versa?

I usually have less than an hour to set all of this up and get levels/monitors before they play so I'm looking for a streamlined approach. I've had trouble getting the vocals loud enough before feedback/clipping in these situations so any help would be so appreciated.

Thanks so much!

-Dr. Bob

Robert "Void" Caprio

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First of all, the abbreviation for microphone is 'mic'.

Second, if you have trouble getting the vocal above the rest of the band without the troubles you describe then start with those first when soundchecking. Get those vox where you need 'em and get the rest of the band to work within those levels. With small rigs in many clubs you have to make the band understand it's all about compromise.

My typical lineup for a gig like that would be to work the monitor mixes first and then once the band is happy I try to appease myself. If you quickly pfl each instrument in order and set the gain you should be able to whip up a decent monitor mix in no time.

Make sure that guitar player's amp is not too loud and if it is have him turn it down! If his volume sounds acoustically correct while playing along with the drums you should be in good shape. Once those are done you mix in the bass and keyboards and that should do it, give or take.

Good luck!
Robert "Void" Caprio
Interzone Studios
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Adam Whetham

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The volume level you'll have to work with is the Drum level normally.

Times like this i have the drummer start playing a beat. Then bring the kick up to match the rest of the kit (actualy a little lower as they always seem to sandbag you)

Then have the guitar player start playing at the same time. If he's too loud. Tell him to turn it down. They have to balance themselves without a PA. if he's to quiet, CONGRATS!! you have an awesome guitar player!  Cool

After those are done, then get your vocals in check. If you can't hear the vocals, Both, the drummer and guitar player will have to turn down. If you have a gorrilla drummer with a ear killing snare, borrow a bar rag and throw it over the snare partially. Works for a little bit at least. Get him some smaller Drum sticks (there is a life below 2B's... really there is! Believe me I play drums)

After you have those balanced, bring in the keys, and the bass.

Loudest thing in the microphone wins. so if the guitar is blasting, or the cymbals are crashing like crazy, guess whats going to win.

As long as they realize they need to balance themselves, and the vocal's come first. You should be good to go.

After you get the FOH sounding good, I start adding in some monitor level's, as they get a mix of FOH, then get what they need extra from the monitors.
-I practice safe excursion on the weekends.

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." -Paul Neal "Red" Adair
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