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Author Topic: Improving our live sound with our current PA  (Read 1244 times)

René Vik

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Improving our live sound with our current PA
« on: July 14, 2017, 09:56:21 am »

Hello

We're a 80s band that have been playing together for some years. Back in the days we purchased a big PA (for us atleast) to be able to play in larger avenues after recommendations from different people that works with live sound.

Our PA:
2x Martin Audio W8
2x Martin Audio W8S

2x Tannoy TDX1 Digital System Controller

2x Crown CTs 3000
1x LAB.GRUPPEN LAB4000
1x LAB.GRUPPEN FP7000

Monitors:
1x LAB.GRUPPEN LAB2000c
4x Marin Audio LE-350A

Mixer:
Soundcraft Si Expression 3

We haven't been tinkering too much with the PA, the adjustments we've done to the sound has been to the indidual instruments using the 3-band EQ on the mixer.

After using the PA for some years, these are the issues we currently have:
1. Our synth sounds hard (especially the piano sounds). We have a Roland Jupiter 80, but just this month we bought two VSTs (Omnisphere and Hans Zimmer piano) and they have the same tendencies.
2. Some lack in the lows (If we want that punch from the bass-drum I feel we need to boost it a lot so we often opt to a middle way).
3. Lack of crispiness in the highs.

Our experience with live sound:
At home we have 2x Munro Acoustics sE Electronics The Medium EGG 150 System which we used when we decided to buy the VSTs. The VSTs sounded great with the EGGs compared to the sounds from our Jupiter-80 (even though the EGGs are lacking some lows), so we will with time build a computer and only use the synths as midi controllers for to use the VSTs from a computer. Also we've been to concerts where the bands sound amazing (playing for 500-30.000 people), but most of them are national or international artists (so I guess they have access to great gear and great sound engineers).

In the later years we've worked with 5-6 sound engineers, but we've always ended up doing the sounds ourselves as they have been below par.For instance we ended up giving our two guitarists each a Voodoo Lab Amp switcher. Usually the output from the guitar goes into the switcher and you have four selectors to send the guitar signal to one of four different connected amps. Instead, we connect the guitar to the amp, and take the DI-signal from the preamp of the amps and feed it into the Amp Switcher, and then run four jacks into four different tracks in the mixer where each track is panned (to the sides or center) and volumes adjusted differently. This is so that when one guitar switches from comp (panned to one side) to solo (center with higher volume), the other one switches from comp (panned to other side) to a stereo panned track with higher volume to compensate for the other guitar dissapering from the comp and keep the balance. Audiences and some semi-professionals have taken note of our well-balanced live sound.

Maybe we are a bit perfectionistic, but we know the sound we want is possible (as we've heard great bands with great sound live before), though we don't know if it's possible with our current PA. We are new to the idea of configuring a PA and that's why I come to you. Can our issues be solved? The problem here is that we don't know what we don't know so it's hard to look for information about our issues.

Please keep you answers simplistic enough so we understand, we haven't learned all the jargon/slang yet.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 11:03:08 am by Nheme »
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Stelios Mac

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 11:06:17 am »

What sort of settings are you running on the Tannoy?
Judging by Martin's recommended settings for XTA processors, you should be boosting some HF (mid/narrow filter near 12k, about 3-5dB depending on your setup) which could cause that "lack of crispiness" you describe.
Make sure it's not ear fatigue that makes you think your speakers lack "crispiness".

As for the lack of lows; Martin, again, recommends boosting about 4-5dB at 37-44Hz with a mid-sized filter depending on your setup. You can boost the low-end on your console as much as you want as long as you're not driving the speakers too hard (set your DSP limiters right and just make sure you're staying within those limits).

In regard to your synths sounding hard; Does that happen at all levels or just at high SPL? Does it happen specifically when you stand on-axis or off-axis to the speaker? Do they sound the same through your wedges?
By your description, it probably is something in the high-mids that causes it (could be the crossover, could be horn distortion, maybe the driver has some natural bite you need to tame with some EQ)... Was the PA bought second-hand? Have you made sure all the drivers are original? Getting a PA to sound like studio monitors is going to be very difficult, but make sure you've got a blank canvas to work with first (Everything in it's original state and configured as designed and intended by Martin)
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Doug Fowler

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 12:40:55 pm »

Read the rules, fix your display name.

Thank you for your cooperation.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 10:14:47 pm »

Depending on the venues you use, I'm not so sure about having the guitars panned around.  It might be a nice effect for a sound person in the middle, but it will affect what the people off to each side hear.  The only reason I can think of for panning is if the stage volume of the amp is high and you compensate with some panned to the other side.
Also, taking a preamp feed off an amp won't sound the same as putting a mic in front of it.  Not sure about taking multiple amps to a gig but you might want to look into something like a Raidal switchbone that lets you run multiple amp heads though the same cabinet.  That way you can mic the one cabinet and have different tones from the different heads.  Jumping channels or amps between comp and solos sounds unnecessarily complicated to me.  When I played in what is sometimes called a function band, my friend was a volume pedal at the end of my pedal board chain.  With a distortion pedal upstream of it I could have distorted background parts at different volume levels depending on the arrangement.  Then I had the overdrive on the amp as well for different tones.  Or you can go the Frank Gambale route and put a volume pedal in the amp's FX loop to control the overall volume.  I have a friend who does this and I've sat in on his rig with one volume pedal in the front of the chain to control the gain, and another in the loop for the overall volume.  Or you can do like Jimmy Herring and use a pedal to pan between two different amps, one clean, one dirty.
A lot of ways to skin that cat without resorting to multiple mixer inputs.
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Rob Spence

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 02:30:39 pm »

One thing that happens lots is that after tweaking for years, you may have eq'd the channels or system to death.

Perhaps first get the output world cleaned up so a good signal through the mixer will sound good out of the speakers, then work on each channel without mucking with the speaker end again?


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Doug Fowler

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 03:32:51 pm »

One thing that happens lots is that after tweaking for years, you may have eq'd the channels or system to death.

Perhaps first get the output world cleaned up so a good signal through the mixer will sound good out of the speakers, then work on each channel without mucking with the speaker end again?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

This.

Do whatever it takes to find someone with a clue, zero your inputs and outputs, and start over.  Make sure the DSP is set with factory settings. 

This seems easily fixable. 
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René Vik

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2017, 08:20:54 am »

Stelios Mac

Wow, this might be our problem. We sent our VSTs direcly from the computer through a Audio Interface and to the PA (and compared it to our EGGs) and the sound is still hard. When I checked our Tannoys settings, there are done no adjustments to the EQ at all. I didn't quite understand the crossover menu so I will have to educate myself some to understand what it does. Could I ask where you found that information about Martin Audios' recommendation settings for the W8/W8S?

Stephen

Our guitars are not hard panned to the sides (more like 45 to each side) and we only pan to the sides when the guitars are playing the same riffs to get that broader stereo feel. The reason we've avoided micing our cabinets is because the treble gets just too dominating, while the preamps makes it sound a bit better through our PA. But maybe we will go back to micing the cabinets if we are able to tame the hard sound from our PA in general.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 11:37:56 am by René Vik »
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Stelios Mac

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 12:40:20 pm »

Stelios Mac

Wow, this might be our problem. We sent our VSTs direcly from the computer through a Audio Interface and to the PA (and compared it to our EGGs) and the sound is still hard. When I checked our Tannoys settings, there are done no adjustments to the EQ at all. I didn't quite understand the crossover menu so I will have to educate myself some to understand what it does. Could I ask where you found that information about Martin Audios' recommendation settings for the W8/W8S?

The settings for all Martin Audio systems can be found here:
https://martin-audio.com/userguides2015/#ControllerLoadingSoftwarePresets

What you're looking for, specifically, is this:
https://martin-audio.com/downloads/loudspeaker-settings/general-presets-v3.7.zip
It's a zip containing an excel file with settings for many Martin systems, including yours.  :)
It lists settings regarding crossover frequencies, slopes, delay times, EQ settings, gain levels and so on.

All settings are meant to be used with XTA (and I think BSS?) processors, so you might have to fiddle around a bit to get them perfect on your Tannoy. They should be a good starting point though.

Be careful when adjusting crossovers. Hook it up to your Eggs to see how it all works first. Make sure you got the correct filters on the correct outputs before you connect it to the PA - you don't want 50Hz routed to your HF or you may pop diaphragms.  ::)
Also, back-up your current settings first. Should you mess something up in the process, you'll be able to get back to where you started.

If your synths still sound ugly, you can try making a (6-ish dB?) cut with an EQ on the master on your console and sweeping it around till it sounds good. You can do that with music playing through the PA, and you can A/B it with your monitors as well.
Based on your description it's probably going to end up somewhere between 1.6k and 8k, but having never heard the W8s I can't possibly know for sure.
Keep in mind, also, that PA speakers are generally expected to project HF much further than a pair of nearfields, and in order to compensate for air loss they generally need to be somewhat (but not excessively) bright up close.

Another question - Are you running one W8 per side (two total) or two (four total)? If the latter, make sure you're splaying them correctly.
If you don't do so, you'll get great amounts of comb filtering which will really mess up your HF.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 12:42:31 pm by Stelios Mac »
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MikeHarris

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2017, 03:50:51 pm »

As a Martin dealer we used to have a demo room with exactly the same system. It can be configured as tri..quad or quint amped. My demo system was quad amped and when properly tuned and amplified the system can beat many studio monitors.
After hearing our demo system La Face Records purchased a identical rig for boardroom playback. We usually fitted a Bryston amp for the hf.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Improving our live sound with our current PA
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2017, 10:52:34 pm »

If the treble dominates when micing a guitar amp then the mic positioning needs to be adjusted.  This is an art in itself but I recently ran across this video where they demonstrate the sound differences with different positions.
https://youtu.be/s4kU-7t7gpc
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