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Author Topic: First Run - all good except the EDM guys  (Read 1018 times)

Stephen Fairchild

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First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« on: November 05, 2017, 10:47:28 pm »

Alright, so last night was our first "real" run with a live audience and our new PA system. We've got 2 subs and 2 mains from the JBL PRX800 series all powered along with an old school 12 channel Peavey analog mixer. Also have a few older Peavey wedges powered for monitor sound.

Everything was extremely smooth for a few of the acoustic acts. Surprisingly, it also went smooth for a few of the hip hop acts. I'm insanely new to mixing live sound and even working a PA so I guess I went into it thinking the worst haha. One of the hip hop artists wanted a deeper bass sound which was simple to accomplish by bumping the subs to about almost 3/4 mark. We've only got about 2500 square foot building or something like that, small place, but these subs rocked it. The artists were all extremely happy with the sound.

Then came time for a few DJs to close up the night. These guys are actually super sick and not your standard "play some skynard" DJ. They were pretty much creating their own tracks and stuff on the stage live. I've never been super into that genre (bass music? EDM?) but it was very fun to watch. I had been babysitting all the sound so close all night I started getting relaxed, because nothing had changed. Well, it wasn't event a full 5 minutes when these guys took the stage and all of the sudden I started clipping big time. Mixer lights went crazy, limit lights on the subs AND mains both started coming on. I swear I could smell a faint burning smell out of one of the mains. Not bad, after research I'm hoping to god this was primarily because this was the first speaker use. I'm  positive it didn't clip for more than maybe 2 minutes. It wasnt constant clipping either, it seemed to die down for a second, then back up, then die down.

Anyways, I'm here to try to determine the "real" problem and the solution. My first two guesses are:
 1.) We don't have a lot of recepticles, and the wiring in the building is weird. We ended up plugging the DJ equipment into the same circuit as the speakers. Could too much circuit load have caused the clipping for the DJs and is this the reason no one else was impacted? Of course the goal is to update this anyway eventually, but I never imagined that a 20A breaker or two would not be able to handle this current setup.

2.) Could the DJs board (whatever that fancy thing is called) have too much gain or some other screwed up setting that could have caused the problem?

We were literally louder, with more bass and main, and rocking the house down with the hip hop dudes and no issues at all. I actually ended up forcing the guys to turn down a notch and I turned down too. I didnt want to risk screwing up the system until I learned the problem/solution. At the very end of the set, the DJ told me the next song was "engineered to sound like the speakers would be clipping but that was just the sound". Sure enough, whenever he broke into it the speakers DID sound like they were clipping, and they in fact were. This was with no change to my mixer or speaker volume levels. So that alone made me think that something he was doing was controlling clip or not, and he was just pushing his limits to close out the set hard.

What's going on here? Can someone educate this noob?

« Last Edit: November 05, 2017, 11:41:07 pm by Stephen Fairchild »
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Nikhil Mulay

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2017, 12:14:55 am »

In a word.. DJs!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk

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Keith Broughton

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 06:19:23 am »


Then came time for a few DJs to close up the night.
There is your problem right there!
It seems most DJs think that they need to be louder than anybody else and don't give a crap about the fact they may overload the system. >:(
I always put a limiter in on the DJ channels, which in your case, would have to be an outboard device.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 10:56:04 am »

Loudspeaker damage happens in two ways - too much instantaneous power which can either blow out the voice coil or mechanically damage the driver, and too much sustained power.  A speaker's sustained power - toaster mode - is much lower than it's "program" power.  Many kinds of electronic music have a lot of sustained tones, that stress loudspeakers much more than rock/country.

Clip lights during the DJ but not earlier means that you were being sent a hotter level.  Why it sounded quieter to you I can't explain, but that is the way it is.

Limiting/enough rig for the gig are lessons that are quickly learned once gear starts breaking.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2017, 01:18:25 pm »

There is your problem right there!
It seems most DJs think that they need to be louder than anybody else and don't give a crap about the fact they may overload the system. >:(
I always put a limiter in on the DJ channels, which in your case, would have to be an outboard device.

Limiter is good but won't help you out much if you're being fed a clipped/square wave from the DJ.  Red lights on the DJ mixer are bad news and can't really be fixed at your console.
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Doug Fowler

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2017, 01:30:39 pm »

Pro DJ mixers have a lot of gain, plus EQ.  Word to the wise: put thee some 15dB (or greater) pads on your line inputs coming from the DJ mixer.  Same goes for the DJ monitor setup.  You want get it down to a level you can work with, without risking clipping your inputs.

Which they will do, if you let them.  A stout monitor rig goes a long way to keeping levels down.  I found this useful when using Ashly GEQ as a DJ monitor front end; really easy to drive the EQs into clip.  Of course I reduced the input gain on the EQ but after playing that game for a while I decided pads were the way to go.

If Pioneer would hide a "max gain" switch inside the mixer or implement it in software with a password it would be a lot easier.
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Luke Geis

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2017, 09:44:28 pm »

DJ's have a small penis syndrome it seems. They make up for that by sending the loudest signal they can. Red lights..... who care's, it's not my PA and I think it sounds great..... The REAL professionals are the ones who send signal to you at reasonable levels and let YOU determine how loud it is.

There are two problems with attenuating the signal from the DJ.

1. They usually turn it up to the volume they like

2. Once they are in the red, the distortion from the DJ mixer ( or yours ) is so bad it sound like absolute crap and you can;t fix it anymore.

The easiest trick is to send them unadulterated monitor levels that far exceed the Main mix. This will at least keep them somewhat realistic. I mean seriously turn the monitors ALL the way up and let them have it. They will still try and blow them....... At least you might be able to just beat the sound from the stage, but it might actually sound good.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2017, 09:47:25 pm »

DJ's have a small penis syndrome it seems. They make up for that by sending the loudest signal they can. Red lights..... who care's, it's not my PA and I think it sounds great..... The REAL professionals are the ones who send signal to you at reasonable levels and let YOU determine how loud it is.

There are two problems with attenuating the signal from the DJ.

1. They usually turn it up to the volume they like

2. Once they are in the red, the distortion from the DJ mixer ( or yours ) is so bad it sound like absolute crap and you can;t fix it anymore.

The easiest trick is to send them unadulterated monitor levels that far exceed the Main mix. This will at least keep them somewhat realistic. I mean seriously turn the monitors ALL the way up and let them have it. They will still try and blow them....... At least you might be able to just beat the sound from the stage, but it might actually sound good.

I remember someone on here once writing about putting an expander on the DJ monitor mix so that it got stupid painful loud really fast once they hit the threshold.  Of course you've got to have a monster monitor rig for that to work out without damaging the gear.
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Len Zenith Jr

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2017, 03:20:34 am »

DJ's have a small penis syndrome it seems. They make up for that by sending the loudest signal they can. Red lights..... who care's, it's not my PA and I think it sounds great..... The REAL professionals are the ones who send signal to you at reasonable levels and let YOU determine how loud it is.


REAL professionals would never dis the talent and can anticipate a hot signal coming in from an inexperienced DJ and correct for that.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: First Run - all good except the EDM guys
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2017, 06:06:54 am »

REAL professionals would never dis the talent and can anticipate a hot signal coming in from an inexperienced DJ and correct for that.
While that's a nice idea, you can't correct a clipped signal and you can't correct a lousy attitude to the equipment.
I expect to be called out when I screw up and I should have that same ability when I see people abusing the rig.
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