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Author Topic: Feedback through FOH last night.  (Read 14365 times)

Debbie Dunkley

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Feedback through FOH last night.
« on: November 29, 2014, 12:45:19 pm »

Cannot remember the last time this happened to me but last night I had some feedback issues through FOH.
The band was playing a decent sized bar - not the best acoustics - no furnishings and sadly the dance floor area (at least at the start of the evening) was empty. I have run sound here before for different bands without issue but it is always difficult when empty. The crowd doesn't seem to come in till after 12.00.
This band was hubby's (of course  :( ) and has excellent harmonies with all 4 players able top sing like birds. So they like to monopolize on that as much as they can.
The other bands I have mixed at this particular venue have more limited vocals.

Each member of the band sings both high and low harmonies and this causes me to not always be able to determine who is singing what and how to make adjustment if one voice stands out too far in the mix.
Because of this, I have been using conservative compression settings on the vocals and it has worked like a charm. Till last night.
I could not get the FOH level up to where I wanted it without it feeding back. I tried everything, PEQ tweaks, using LR separation, reducing FX a little etc etc but couldn't quite get the levels to where I wanted them.
I then decided to take down the compression ratios a little. They were conservative to begin with. It seemed to be better but not 100%.
So then I simply turned the compression off the vocals, the gate off the drummers mic and voila! no issues at all from then on.
It meant I had to work the faders more and sadly made some wrong guesses as to who needed taming but it opened up the sound so much.
I have never been a fan of compression and have always used it very sparingly  but it seemed the only way to combat this problem - and it has been working.
I figure unless I learn every single harmony to each song and know who is singing it and where it sits in his vocal range ie..whether full voice or falsetto, it is going to be tough to keep the vocal levels right without using compression.
Does this make me a bad sound person???
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A young child says to his mother, "Mom, when I grow up I'm going to be a musician." She replies, "Well honey, you know you can't do both."

David Parker

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2014, 12:56:09 pm »


sounds like you are a great sound person, you recognize the problem and come up with several solutions. The best solution to this problem is attacking it at the source. Mic technique. Of course, this can be the hardest way to accomplish.
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Jonathan Betts

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2014, 01:13:50 pm »

Are your monitors setup pre or post DSP?
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2014, 01:40:58 pm »

sounds like you are a great sound person, you recognize the problem and come up with several solutions. The best solution to this problem is attacking it at the source. Mic technique. Of course, this can be the hardest way to accomplish.

Thanks David...
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A young child says to his mother, "Mom, when I grow up I'm going to be a musician." She replies, "Well honey, you know you can't do both."

Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2014, 01:41:36 pm »

Are your monitors setup pre or post DSP?

Pre…no DSP through monitors.
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Jeff Hague

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2014, 02:23:09 pm »

Cannot remember the last time this happened to me but last night I had some feedback issues through FOH.
I have never been a fan of compression and have always used it very sparingly  but it seemed the only way to combat this problem - and it has been working.
I figure unless I learn every single harmony to each song and know who is singing it and where it sits in his vocal range ie..whether full voice or falsetto, it is going to be tough to keep the vocal levels right without using compression.
Does this make me a bad sound person???

Doing more (better mix) with less (fewer tools) will never make you a bad sound person!

In my experience feedback through FOH is usually due to improperly deployed speakers causing stage wash or bounces off of reflective surfaces.
However, since turning the compressors off solved the issue, it sounds more like a gain problem. Do you tend to run up the makeup gain when applying compression to vocals? I have found that backing that off can help a lot. Back in my analogue days I used to send my vocals to 2 groups  and would use the group faders sort of for makeup gain. I haven't tried that with the digital desks but haven't had the problem. I do use a VCA for vocals but that would bring each channel up causing the compressors to get hit harder.
When I cut my teeth I only had 1 compressor which I used on bass guitar so I got used to riding vocal faders as needed. I also found that panning the vocals (instruments too) across the stage helped a lot to differentiate who was singing what and to give some clear seperation to everything in the mix. (I wont use that cursed term stereo so as not to cause a riot but yes, I am a firm believer that "2 channel with panning"  ;D is the way to go for small to medium live shows.)
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2014, 02:38:32 pm »

Doing more (better mix) with less (fewer tools) will never make you a bad sound person!

In my experience feedback through FOH is usually due to improperly deployed speakers causing stage wash or bounces off of reflective surfaces.
However, since turning the compressors off solved the issue, it sounds more like a gain problem. Do you tend to run up the makeup gain when applying compression to vocals? I have found that backing that off can help a lot. Back in my analogue days I used to send my vocals to 2 groups  and would use the group faders sort of for makeup gain. I haven't tried that with the digital desks but haven't had the problem. I do use a VCA for vocals but that would bring each channel up causing the compressors to get hit harder.
When I cut my teeth I only had 1 compressor which I used on bass guitar so I got used to riding vocal faders as needed. I also found that panning the vocals (instruments too) across the stage helped a lot to differentiate who was singing what and to give some clear seperation to everything in the mix. (I wont use that cursed term stereo so as not to cause a riot but yes, I am a firm believer that "2 channel with panning"  ;D is the way to go for small to medium live shows.)

It certainly seems to be the compression at fault here. After I took it away I had lots of headroom and no feedback whatsoever. I had the make-up gain set conservatively - nothing too crazy.
In fact when I switched off the comp from each channel, the levels remained pretty much the same but my ability to increase the levels without feedback was what changed.
I had the vocals centered but I suppose using a small amount of panning could help me distinguish from one to the other.

One other band I run sound for regularly has one female singer and 2 male - only one of the guys does very much singing (harmonies). This makes it so easy to determine who is doing what at any time so I never have these problems with them. I have a very little amount of comp on the female vocal but it has never caused issues with feedback.
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Jeff Hague

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2014, 02:48:50 pm »

It certainly seems to be the compression at fault here. After I took it away I had lots of headroom and no feedback whatsoever. I had the make-up gain set conservatively - nothing too crazy.
In fact when I switched off the comp from each channel, the levels remained pretty much the same but my ability to increase the levels without feedback was what changed.
I had the vocals centered but I suppose using a small amount of panning could help me distinguish from one to the other.

One other band I run sound for regularly has one female singer and 2 male - only one of the guys does very much singing (harmonies). This makes it so easy to determine who is doing what at any time so I never have these problems with them. I have a very little amount of comp on the female vocal but it has never caused issues with feedback.

Definitely try panning - nothing too far from center but enough to get some space between things. That has helped me immensely in a lot of situations - especially when there are 2 guitarists with the exact same "sound" and you've never seen the band before so you don't know who is soloing when.
As far as the feedback, did it happen only when they were singing, only when they weren't singing or was it all over the place? I have had issues with compressors essentially bringing up the level when no one was singing (for lack of a better way to explain it) and causing feedback. In that case I adjust the channel gain and reset the threshold and makeup gain.
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2014, 02:55:46 pm »

Definitely try panning - nothing too far from center but enough to get some space between things. That has helped me immensely in a lot of situations - especially when there are 2 guitarists with the exact same "sound" and you've never seen the band before so you don't know who is soloing when.
As far as the feedback, did it happen only when they were singing, only when they weren't singing or was it all over the place? I have had issues with compressors essentially bringing up the level when no one was singing (for lack of a better way to explain it) and causing feedback. In that case I adjust the channel gain and reset the threshold and makeup gain.

I do pan instruments a little - guitar back line to stage left panned slightly right, bass back line to stage right panned slightly left etc. but I never really panned vocals…didn't want to lose a vocal due to audience position to one side.
Feedback occurred when they were singing and when they were not. No real pattern. The feedback was there as soon as I attempted to increase the master gain or vocal channels. It caused me to keep the levels down a bit till I worked out what it was.
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Jeff Hague

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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2014, 03:22:19 pm »

I do pan instruments a little - guitar back line to stage left panned slightly right, bass back line to stage right panned slightly left etc. but I never really panned vocals…didn't want to lose a vocal due to audience position to one side.
Feedback occurred when they were singing and when they were not. No real pattern. The feedback was there as soon as I attempted to increase the master gain or vocal channels. It caused me to keep the levels down a bit till I worked out what it was.

Again, not trying to cause a riot, but panning things across the stage wont cause something panned right to not be heard on the left (until you get into really big and especially wide sound fields). The level may be down a bit but isn't that kinda the way it should be naturally?
The feedback issue must be something between channel gain, threshold and makeup gain somewhere - keep tweakin till it works...
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Re: Feedback through FOH last night.
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2014, 03:22:19 pm »


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