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Author Topic: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?  (Read 24364 times)

Charlie Zureki

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2012, 08:41:52 pm »

The guy mixing them definitely knew what he was doing, but he had the same thing you described, all kick and bass, cymbals on top, and mud in the middle. You couldn't even hear the melody instruments. He turned to me and asked if that is what they usually sound like, I told him I had never seen them with the drums before. We ended up listening to every single channel. The loudest things in the banjo mic was the drums and bass, the loudest things in the fiddle mic was the drums and bass.

The band had no control over the sound on stage and there was nothing the guy at FOH could do to clean it up.

And I would bet that many techs, both BE and not, get trapped by choices like this that the band made.

   +1

 Around 1997ish...   The Sound Provider I worked for was doing a one-off,  Arena show with some rising, (later A list) Groups.  One group in particular, BUSH, couldn't get their stage levels under control.  They had rented multiple guitar stacks and used every bit of amplification.  They had NO separation between instruments and with the hellish stage levels feeding any open mics....it just couldn't be massaged into sounding decent. 

   One big thing that added to the problem was the lack of familiarity by their BE with the Midas XL 4 which... I believe was new at the time. 

   By the time the BE asked for help.. the Group was on their last song...
 
   Looking back, other than the stage levels and aiming the Monitors & Mics where they should've been aimed... I think the biggest positive change the Band could have made was lessening their guitar Fx ...it just sounded like grating being dragged across pavement.

   Hammer
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Loren Aguey

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2012, 11:38:30 am »

But my point remains that it mau have been factors totally out of the BE's hands.

Point taken and acknowledged. We've all been there. Forgive me for leaning towards my initial assessment in this case but of course anything's possible.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2012, 12:53:48 pm »

I witnessed the absolute worst I've ever seen last night. Normally I'd be more inclined to start a thread in praise of a BE who did a great job on a band that I know well. I started a thread on the old forums a few years ago giving praise to the BE of Killswitch Engage, for delivering the cleanest and close to perfect mix of a metal band I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

{big ol' snip}

I have a little touring experience but more often I'm the house guy accommodating the BE. While I may not agree with everyone's mix, I find most BE's at least throw up a decent mix.

Those of you who work in larger venues with larger touring acts, or providers for national acts: how often is it that you see an A or B level touring act seemingly unaware that the person they're paying is destroying their attempt to attain a sound quality comparable to the albums they spent so much time/money on? Maybe it happens more than I'm aware of. I was just utterly baffled that a guy could do that bad of a job on a band that good.

Loren, I started out doing bar bands with a van load of gear I mostly built myself.  A few year later I'm doing "band in a van" gigs, eventually working my way up to better levels of spandex and eyeliner acts (mostly 1 hit wonders that still owe advance money to the labels...) with a bus.  After a couple years of that I took a gig with a "celebrity impersonator" show that was, uh, "interesting" to say the least.  Eventually I decided that sleeping in my own bed and having friends outside of work was a better deal for my sanity and I got a gig managing other peoples sound companies.  I spiffed up my SE chops, too.  20 years later I'm still doing that.

That all said, I'm surprised at the variety of BEs and the apparent random level of competence they demonstrate at the gigs we provide for.  Some BEs do a good job with every act they work for, others do an adequate-to-abysmal job for the same band, over and over and over.

Truly consistent and great FOH mixerpersons probably make up about 10% of the BEs I work with.  The next 20-30% may not be great but certainly do no harm to their artists and generally have good mixes;  the following 30% or so can have good nights or shit nights, and I find most of them to be at the mercy of the act's performance; the remaining BEs have serious trouble getting a mix that *I* consider appropriate for their act.  Since I don't work for the band I have no idea if what I dislike is actually part of their "art" so I say nothing unless asked.

There have been times over the last decade that I've wanted to tell a BE "hey, there's a problem... they need you on the bus..." and then "fix" it while he's gone.  Not that I'd actually do that, but when the promoter comes to me thinking there is some kind of system issue, I have to defend my turf.  "What happened to the system?  The first 2 acts sounded okay..."  Well, if you don't like where the car is headed you should talk to the driver, not the mechanic...

As for your dissatisfaction, if the band consistently sounds that way I can only presume the act or their management has either made these tonal/mix decisions or those same folks are blissfully unaware of the mix their engineer is providing.  Perhaps you should post your unhappiness on the band's MyFace/SpaceBook/Tweeter accounts and see if you get a response.

To answer the subject line question with a number, I'd say 10% more recently; 20% a few years ago.

Have fun, happy mixing.

Tim Mc
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Mike Christy

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2012, 01:33:08 pm »

To answer the subject line question with a number, I'd say 10% more recently; 20% a few years ago.

So in my mind, this begs the question, how do they get and keep these (kinda) high profile mix jobs, if they consistently perform like this?

I feel ripped off when I do pay for admission, and it's not up to par.

Personally, myself not being anywhere close to the inner workings of an A level band or top level provider, I do not know what goes into the hiring and personnel deployment decisions. And I do not want to publicly "dis" someone in the mix brotherhood for their performance. But it seems to me there are must be ways to fix this and give feedback, be it not to buy tickets, etc, but it's too late by then...

Just to reconfirm, the show I spoke of did have top level gear ( Meyer Milos ) with each band patching in their own board for their set, it was unsettling to hear the headliner sound the way they did - can you say MIDRANGE BLURR?. I even watched over the shoulder of the house engineer/tech @ FOH while he monitored the boxes on a laptop, they were running maybe at 50% if I recall correctly.

Mike

{typos edits}
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 02:31:37 pm by Mike Christy »
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michael sveda

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2012, 02:15:10 pm »

Back about 6 years ago when our venue had B & C touring CCM bands coming thru for a few years, I can think of three really good BE's that made quality HIFI mixes, and I can think of one on a rental NEXO Geo-S rig that made me leave the room.  The vocals were making my chest and ribs hurt from the 107db level and absolute mud.  The stage volume was overmuddy even though they were on IEM's.  It seems that some do not understand channel strip EQ and making "pockets" for vocals to ride just above the music and EQing drums.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2012, 02:34:51 pm »

So in my mind, this begs the question, how do they get and keep these (kinda) high profile mix jobs, if they consistently perform like this?

I feel ripped off when I do pay for admission, and its not up to par.

Personally, myself not being anywhere close to the inner workings of a A level band or top level provider, I do not know what goes into the hiring and personnel deployment decisions. And I do not want to public "dis" someone in the mix brotherhood for their performance. But it seems to me there are must be ways to fix this and give feedback, be it not buy tickets, etc, but its too late by then...

Just to reconfirm, the show I spoke of did have top level gear ( Meyer Milos ) with each band patching in their own board for their set, it was unsettling to hear the headliner sound the way they did - can you say MIDRANGE BLURR?. I even watched over the shoulder of the house engineer/tech @ FOH while be monitored the boxes on a laptop, they were running maybe at 50% if I recall correctly.

Mike

I worked as a stagehand on a show we'd bid on and didn't get.  The rig was Milo/Melodie, Digidesign desks at each end of the snake, lots of good gear... and the shop tech that came with the lighting console quipped "I've never heard this much money sound this bad."

I think the Milo wasn't deployed or processed correctly, but that's not the reason for a train wreck mix.  The next act sounded much better...

How do these folks get/keep their jobs?  We've discussed that before, but sometimes who you are the other 21 hours in the day is more important than the 3 hours of showtime.  It doesn't matter how well you mix if you're an insufferable prick to live with on the bus.  Sometimes it's about long-term relationships that should have ended but inexplicably continue.

They "get away with it" because for most fans I think it's a matter of simply being physically proximate to the band.  Seeing them live is more important than hearing them well.  It's about being there.  If the band sells out of merch, the sound was fine.  I agree that for we soundfolks, it's harder to separate the aural product from our musical expectations of artists we like.  Jay B's post is spot on in that regard.

Have fun, good luck.

Tim Mc
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brian maddox

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2012, 03:18:53 pm »

having stated earlier that 50 percent of the BE's i've worked with were pretty bad, i would be remiss to not mention that some were truly outstanding.  and in every case i can think of, they used what was provided, without complaint, and crafted a great night for the audience.

when i'm asked what was the best gig i ever did, i always go back to a show i did with the Barenaked Ladies back when they hadn't 'hit' in the U.S. yet.  they were booked in this fundraiser gig in DC as the 'oh, we should have some entertainment...  book the band the college kids like'.  the venue was atrocious.  the Pension Building in DC has an RT60 in the decades.  the band was shoved over to one side of the room as an obvious afterthought.

we provided gear that was reasonable, but certainly just barely met their rider, including a repurposed PM3500-24 house console to use for monitors.  the band's house and monitor guy [i really wish i knew their names and if anybody does, please chime in] walked in, took a quick look around, then asked where the mic stand box was so they could start building stands.  no complaints, no whining, no sighs of 'this is gonna suck'.  this from a crew that was doing arenas in canada a few months prior.

showtime was amazing.  90 percent of the people at the event left, but about 150 people stayed and flocked to the stage.  the band was awesome, as always.  the mix was great, even though you had to be about 20 feet from the stacks to really hear it without the room washing it out [FOH guy largely used cans to mix].  and everybody there had a great time.  oh, and got to hear their breakout hit 'one week' before it hit the radio...

end of old guy gig story...  carry on...

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Rob Dellwood

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2012, 04:56:10 pm »


Those of you who work in larger venues with larger touring acts, or providers for national acts: how often is it that you see an A or B level touring act seemingly unaware that the person they're paying is destroying their attempt to attain a sound quality comparable to the albums they spent so much time/money on? Maybe it happens more than I'm aware of. I was just utterly baffled that a guy could do that bad of a job on a band that good.

I worked at a large club that brought in regional and some national touring acts with their own BEs, so I saw a lot of different guys come through.  This club had good gear, and a small line array system with plenty of power behind it, so the system was not an issue.  Most guys did a good job, and put up good mixes, but I would describe many of the mixes as 'average', and not usually as good as the regular house guys put up there with the local bands.  I attribute that to the house guys' total familiarity with the room and equipment, EQ curves, etc.
There were only a couple visiting guys' mixes that I considered bad, where the vocals were buried, and the whole mix was muddy. They seemed to know it was not going well.  There were some guys however, that really got the most out of the system and put up stellar mixes. 

As to bands being 'clueless' about what they sound like out front, some of the touring bands I saw come through had 'people' out front listening to the mix, and they would come up to FOH during the show with 'suggestions'  for their FOH guy to adjust the mix until they were happy. Those bands took it pretty seriously and would take steps to get the sound up their standards if their FOH guy was not putting up a strong mix. 

I too see a lot of mixes with a pounding kick and bass. It just seems to be a sound that many bands go for now, and I think it is by design. I usually don't have an issue if I can hear the vocals clearly and the intruments, but if it is all kick and bass, and the rest is mud, it turns into a long night. 
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Dave Bigelow

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2012, 10:29:23 pm »

Ive complained here about this before, I hear it more than 50% of the time at the Hampton Casino, I wonder if the band actually knows how bad they sound out front.

Last time (for an A level) it was wtf man, seriously? wtf. I know it wasn't the system, Royal Bliss (on a Presonus 24) and Rev Theory ( on a PM5D ) sounded great, the pilot on the Venue .... had one of those "off" nights... I guess....

Thanks Mike, I just had the pleasure of doing another 6-7 weeks with those guys recently. Was a co-headlining tour with the band I normally work with, put both bands on the Presonus and then added a couple effects from my rack and it couldn't have been an easier set up and tear down every night. Would much rather have something along the lines of an SC48 but I'm not about to complain.


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Bob Leonard

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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2012, 12:15:32 am »

Ive complained here about this before, I hear it more than 50% of the time at the Hampton Casino, I wonder if the band actually knows how bad they sound out front.

Last time (for an A level) it was wtf man, seriously? wtf. I know it wasn't the system, Royal Bliss (on a Presonus 24) and Rev Theory ( on a PM5D ) sounded great, the pilot on the Venue .... had one of those "off" nights... I guess....
In the 60's Mike the casino was a regular stop for my band 2-3 times per year. We had no real sound system and neither did the Casino. I don't remember a time when anyone complained about the sound, but that was when your stage mix had to be spot on and a 100 watt amp in a venue that size was the way to go. Almost every band I heard sounded great. It was a way of life and drowning out the other players was not tolerated at all.
 
Flash forward and ask someone about their bands stage mix today and you get this deer in the headlights look. At any rate I agree with you about the Casino (which now has a great system). It just seems like more than half the bands can't get a grip on WTF they're doping and the sound is horrible. A good example might be Brian Setzer. He came into the Casino and sounded fantastic, one of the best mixes I've ever heard. Then two weeks later Benetar comes in and all you can hear is mid range honk and hubbies guitar. One of the worst I've heard.
 
 
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Re: How often do you see national level BE's absolutely ruin a bands sound?
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2012, 12:15:32 am »


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