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Author Topic: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad  (Read 2062 times)

Scott Holtzman

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Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« on: June 25, 2014, 09:49:49 pm »

Hi, long time reader.  First post.

Quick background.  I have been working around live sound as a secondary vocation for 30+ years in various capacities.  HOW, theater and live music of many different styles.

My "day job" is an Electrical Engineer and I also have a background in physics.  I enjoy speaker design, micing techniques and all facets of acoustics.

Recently I have been getting much more involved in live audio, as I plan on getting out of the engineering business in the next 5 years and concentrating on live audio, hoping to get on the road with the wife and a good crew and do small to medium size festival work.

On to the current situation.  I hooked up with some local musicians/sound guys and have been working various gigs with their rigs and mine.  Small clubs using Apogee/QSC KW series/Mackie 1600 series and most recently a Behringer X32.  This year has been my first exposure to digital gear other than some Yamaha experience in a corporate setting.  I have no issue with digital theory or the operation of digital mixers however it seems that I am developing bad workflows on the X32 and not keeping my head up.

Last week we were doing a gig for a packed house.  The guitar player actually had to leave the stage as I failed to recognize a low frequency wave that had built up on the stage and developed into feedback.  It was centered around 300hz.  We don't use any monitor speakers I run 5 monitor mixes with in ear units.  The feedback had to be from the subwoofers and back into a vocal or possibly drum mic.  Bass and Electric Guitar are DI.  Only vocal and drums have microphones.

I had the spectrum analyzer up at the time and the feedback recurred several times during the show.  I was very tuned in on it and very on edge at this point.  I handled the feedback by reducing master gain then bringing up instruments and rebalancing the vocals.  I tried an aggressive low pass up to 200hz shelf and it sounded like crap so I had to abandon that idea.  Then I tried applying a narrow 9db dip using the parametric centered at 200hz and about 120hz wide with a fairly steep roll off.  This solution seemed to work during the second set the however in the last set of the night we once again had a very quickly building feedback event.  My guess is some different samples from the electronic drums hit the resonant frequency and IM products and once again created a sort of bass trap on the stage.  We have worked this room before but our usual KW181 subs were not available and I used some physically much larger Mackie dual 18" that have significantly deeper low end extension than the KW's.

After the gig the emotional flood gates opened with the band.  Apparently they have had issues that I have had my head down in the mixed and making insufficient eye contact, perceive that I have missed solo's and don't have a good handle on the music.  To top it all off the lead singers Sennheiser in ears were malfunctioning during the show and I was not told about it.  It may have been an RF issue and I could have done a local spectrum sweep to see if I had known.

So now I am on edge being on notice that my performance has been less than satisfactory.  I am not sure though I am fairly confident that I will be back for the next gig.

My question is, how can I in the two weeks I have to the next gig improve my workflow beyond additional practice on the X32 and start to rebuild the confidence of my band mates?   I would like to be able to articulate my remediation plan to them however any time I discuss audio challenges I don't get much feedback.  It seems to be a "that's what I am paid to do" thinking. 

One additional point.  While informing me of these issues they went to great lengths to add personal praise and how hard I work.  Frankly while I appreciate the fact I am liked it really is not the issue, it's not an emotional event.  It's business and art and my performance.  I did not in any way take the criticism personally.

I want to make the band sound their best.  Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Scott AKA Skyking
Passion Fuel Productions, Cleveland OH

Cailen Waddell

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2014, 10:41:35 pm »

How do the band members, wearing in ears, have a clue about what it sounds like front of house?   If they don't like the mix in their ears that is a problem you can fix, but I don't understand how they can judge a mix you can't hear...

Regardless, if your only open mics are vox and drums, and your vocal is high passed, and subs aux fed (my favorite method)....  I would look to the drum mics.  Some gating on the kick maybe?   

As for workflow, line check, in ear mix, tweak FOH to taste.  Adjust in ears if needed...

I have a pretty technical background. It was hard for me to stop looking at the console, trying to gain insight from what i saw on the meters, I would listen but try to equate what I heard to what I saw.  I was a very tweaky person mixing lots of super small adjustments that I think it made me feel better but I don't think anyone could hear the difference, including me.

Anyway, I didn't and dont do much mixing, I did much more system config etc.   One of the better engineers I work with helped make it a little more of an intellectual exercise for me.  Thinking of the mix as a whole and how each musician and instruments fit into it. I had to learn to look up and listen and not look down. 

Not sure this is helpful.... These are my thoughts, post a couple of adult beverages.  Perhaps I will edit in the morning.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Kyle Van Sandt

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2014, 11:42:50 pm »

One of the hardest things about working digital is the "listen, don't look" thing.  It used to be you just twisted knobs till it sounded right... and we never really looked at the labels on those knobs in the dark.  With digital, if you don't look down next thing you know your sweeping who knows what.  On the X32 there is no way around the looking down minus a laptop.  However, there are handles for other things.  Live in sends on fader mode when it comes to routing effects.  Use the user defined keys, they really help you get around quick just by touch.  Put big labels on things.  The more muscle memory you get, the better. 
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Kyle Van Sandt
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The Egg, Albany, NY
vansandtdesigns.com

Scott Holtzman

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2014, 11:48:59 pm »

How do the band members, wearing in ears, have a clue about what it sounds like front of house?   If they don't like the mix in their ears that is a problem you can fix, but I don't understand how they can judge a mix you can't hear...

Regardless, if your only open mics are vox and drums, and your vocal is high passed, and subs aux fed (my favorite method)....  I would look to the drum mics.  Some gating on the kick maybe?   

As for workflow, line check, in ear mix, tweak FOH to taste.  Adjust in ears if needed...

I have a pretty technical background. It was hard for me to stop looking at the console, trying to gain insight from what i saw on the meters, I would listen but try to equate what I heard to what I saw.  I was a very tweaky person mixing lots of super small adjustments that I think it made me feel better but I don't think anyone could hear the difference, including me.

Anyway, I didn't and dont do much mixing, I did much more system config etc.   One of the better engineers I work with helped make it a little more of an intellectual exercise for me.  Thinking of the mix as a whole and how each musician and instruments fit into it. I had to learn to look up and listen and not look down. 

Not sure this is helpful.... These are my thoughts, post a couple of adult beverages.  Perhaps I will edit in the morning.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

No it's good stuff, great reminders.  You are right I do look for data, in the VU's the RTA etc.  Something I can quantify to what I am hearing.

The monitor mixes are not a problem, we have tweaked them to perfection in practice and the members run the app on their i-devices on stage so they can tweak their ears. 


Honestly, as to how they heard it, frankly I think it almost blew them off the stage.  The stage is in an alcove at the front of the room with a glass window behind it.  It was somewhat subtle at front of house, with all the other issues I had in the first three songs I missed it for synth samples.  We were rushed and could not setup until 9PM because of a previous party.  Had to make do with short line check. 

In addition to the technical insights I am also looking for some feedback on how to get the confidence back of my band mates. 

Tall order for a first topic!

 
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Scott AKA Skyking
Passion Fuel Productions, Cleveland OH

Kyle Van Sandt

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2014, 12:44:17 am »

150hz and down can do some really weird things.  In our venue we stack all of our subs on one side of the stage, otherwise a bass trap gets formed onstage and the sub disappears from the house.  Its really bizarre.  If your at a kit centerstage it makes it feel like your inside the kick drum. 

As far as the confidence thing goes... sounds like you had a rough night all around.  Without getting to hear the house during a sound check you can only do what you can do.  Idealy you should be able to move around the house a bit during the show but it sounds like this a rather involved show so that is not possible.  If you did the best you could with your ears in the position you were in then you did what you could.  Some people will drop reference mics around a venue and watch them all night on SMAART.  Not my idea of a fun night, but to each their own.  Start the next gig with a good soudcheck.  Walk the room.  Blah blah blah.  After you get the room sounding good sit on your hands until it doesn't.  In the mean time...  Don't take your eyes off the stage.  Make it look like your twiddling things.  Nod occasionally.  Bands like it when you nod... 
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Kyle Van Sandt
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The Egg, Albany, NY
vansandtdesigns.com

Nils Erickson

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2014, 04:41:25 am »

In addition to the technical insights I am also looking for some feedback on how to get the confidence back of my band mates. 
A few off the top of my head: keep your eyes on the stage and watch the band cue each other; know and study the music and anticipate what is coming; demonstrate to them your eagerness to make them sound as good as they can with your actions; be a champion for the band's needs at the venues in which you play; anticipate and solve problems their sound problems, even the ones they don't yet know they have; practice your craft and learn your tools so you can use them seamlessly.

You obviously care about it, that goes a long way for many...
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Rob Gow

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2014, 10:04:30 am »

As a quick guess off the top of my head, I'd look into the compressor settings on the kick drum, if you are using one. Sometimes too much makeup gain can introduce a low feedback loop. I'm not familiar with the X32. Could you have assigned a GEQ to the kick? With an iPad could you have gotten closer and try to notch it out?

When I'm doing sound for a band, we will do a sound check. Then during the second song, I'll wander up beside the stage or close enough to see if everything is good, or if anyone needs anything more in their monitor, or any other issues.

Just a couple thoughts.
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Steve.Oldridge

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2014, 11:00:28 am »

Last week we were doing a gig for a packed house.  The guitar player actually had to leave the stage as I failed to recognize a low frequency wave that had built up on the stage and developed into feedback.  It was centered around 300hz.  We don't use any monitor speakers I run 5 monitor mixes with in ear units.
  Maybe I'm missing something, but if the band is IEM, and feedback forced the guitar player to leave the stage, it would have to be pretty darn loud for them to hear it first, and I'd guess you probably should have heard it from your mix post before they did.  Was it going into the IEM mix or was it stage only??

From your post, it sounds like you are over-analyzing things, getting bogged down in the details - based on the info about spectrum analyzer use, notched frequencies, and a "narrow 9db dip using the parametric centered at 200hz and about 120hz wide with a fairly steep roll off",  etc.  You have the technical down. :)

Maybe that's where the "eyes down" perception is coming from. You are mixing a band playing "live".. stuff happens.. and techies often tend to rely on the tools rather than their ears (not that tools aren't useful). It took me a long time to learn the difference and to trust what I was hearing in the room, even if that didn't jive with the displayed data.

If you know the source is around 300Hz (or lower) and you only have drums/vocals mic'ed, then it's a good bet you're looking at the kick..  That's where I'd start...  you mentioned electronic drums..  are those additional kit or primary?  If primary.. why would they be mic'ed?

And, unless your band is getting info from their "friends out front" on the mix, there's absolutely no way they can tell what's in FOH (someone already mentioned that) when using IEM's and be critical of you missing solo's...  if they can't hear those.. that's a separate IEM mix issue.
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Rob Gow

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2014, 11:09:25 am »

You could also quickly mute each suspect channel, and see which one gets rid of the low feedback.

Hmmmm not the kick, oh look it's the acoustic sitting on the stand that's not muted. (It happens).


That kind of thing.
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jasonfinnigan

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Re: Saturday Night - Gig gone bad
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2014, 12:58:32 pm »

They heard feedback from their IEMs before you did? that's crazy. Honestly, you should try to make things feedback (a little bit, doesn't have to be loud) during a setup/check so you know where the limits are.

Also put the dang RTA away. I had when I go somewhere and see people using smaart during a live show and while I love smaart it is for tuning and setting up the system no for use during a performance - USE YOUR EARS ONLY!
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