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Author Topic: Gain structure issue  (Read 2318 times)

Steve-White

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2020, 11:27:52 am »

   That is an idea.  I suppose I could run things that way, but not sure how I'd feel about myself.  Also, my Worship leader and another member of the band are becoming very well versed in the x32 because they spend lots of time there rehearsing.  They are paid staff and I'm a volunteer.  I can't always be there.  I really appreciate the help, but if they found out, I'd have a really hard time explaining a hidden main master.
    I think if I can tame some harshness in the 2-6K range on vocals, maybe I can live with the mix they desire.  This has been a struggle.  I believe this is the 10th Worship leader I've worked with.  By far the hardest, but also the most talented.  So, this has me second guessing my settings and the sound that my ears crave.

Interesting thread - all the way to last comments regarding thanking the members for not having the thread trail off into all to common online snippy comments, sarcasm and such nonsense.

Your dilemma reminds me of a gig I did back in the 90's.  At a friends house in the neighborhood, a buddy of his stopped by while I was visiting.  Conversation led around to him being a blues player and me an engineer, and he didn't have an engineer at time.  I would later find out why.  He said he was playing J&J's Blues Bar in Fort Worth that following Saturday night and to come down and mix the show.  I said sure thing, should be fun - it wasn't.  At that point I wasn't dong much audio work, but had 10+ solid years behind me - clubs, B list club concerts, small concerts, club showcasing and such.  Pretty qualified for a 300 seat club gig with 1 guy on stage.  Yeah, he was a one man show and that's fine, he pulled it off and sounded good.

The problem was he didn't know how to work with an engineer, in his case it was largely a trust problem from what I could see.  At the sound check he fumbled around for 10 minutes trying to get his guitar working, I stood there watching him flounder to correct a bad cable problem by substituting other bad cables and rotating through a case of them mixed together - good and bad, none marked or even a simply knot tied in them or wrap them to identify and clean them out after the show.  He had a group of ~3-4 minions that followed him around, not sure why - but they told me he had gone through several engineers.  On to the show - got the mix going and he sounded good - had instructions to leave vocals dry - no effects.  He sounded marginal with dry vocal mix, guitar sounded great.  So, I began doing my job and got him sounding like Jimmy Vaughan of the Fabulous Thunderbirds - I mean the guy sounded good.  He gave me the death stare from the stage and at the break came off stage enraged.  I just walked away......not the first time.....nothing to argue about......see you later, I wish you well sir.

You're "the engineer," they're the "musician/artists".  The roles require mutual respect and individuality - each has it's place.  Simply imagine if the roles were reversed.  It was "your domain" and they showed up as "volunteers", but had to work within your constraints to do their jobs.  The basic formula you have is flawed.

Sometimes there are situations that are just unworkable.

Another one that comes to mind was a club called the Rock Palace in Fresno, Ca.  Originally the Country Palace or ShitKicker Haven or whatever, I worked with a band that transformed the format and crowd from Country to Rock.  We started playing on Sunday nights, then added nights over a 2-3 month time span and became the house band.  Then as a part of growing, we started touring again and they brought in touring club bands.  I used to bring in my PA which was stout for a 300 seat room.  When we returned ~6 months later, the owner George had "taken charge" after returning from months in Nashville with his wife's budding recording career (see Marty Merchant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxOwzlUBtTc - not exactly my style).  They had a nice for it's day in a club Bi-Amp 2442 console up in the crows nest over the waitress station at the end of the bar dead center of the stage which was nice - a private workspace in a club with a great view.  That's where it ended.  Well no, the JBL 4602 monitors worked well powered by a Bi-Amp 2400 amp and the MXR 1/3 octave eq worked ok (I preferred parametrics).  The mains sucked badly.  Some underpowered junk Cerwin Vega passive stuff that was woefully inadequate for a power rock act.  That was the PA, no more bringing in your own stuff.   Probably worked just fine for Marty and her band.

Then is was all about the monitor mix and stage volume - just get enough monitor for Larry the front man & singer - the other guys were good with just the stage volume.  Mixing that cluster was like walking on a combination of eggshells and broken glass.  We only played in there a couple of more times, the crown was thinning out more and more each consecutive time we played in there.  A shame, Fresno lost a really hopping rock venue.

If you can't talk to those guys, explain what you're struggling with and they meet you with a workable solution then you need to ask yourself if you want to continue.
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lindsay Dean

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2020, 01:49:21 pm »

No one can critique a mix from the stage.
People have hearing deficiencies they're not even aware of and will try to compensate for that deficiency.
At one large church I was mixing I had to slip a little effects into the monitors so the bass player /stage manager/ boss of all things running guy would be happy.
 He never noticed what I was doing and was finally good with the house mix perceived from his stage position
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John P. Whiteker

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2020, 10:46:11 am »

Interesting thread - all the way to last comments regarding thanking the members for not having the thread trail off into all to common online snippy comments, sarcasm and such nonsense.

If you can't talk to those guys, explain what you're struggling with and they meet you with a workable solution then you need to ask yourself if you want to continue.

Thank you Steve.  Firstly, I was amazed at the pure responses for this thread and how everyone stayed on topic.  This seems very difficult many times.  I try not to ask senseless questions or ones that leave the door open for snarky responses, but it still happens sometimes.  This community is pretty great!

I appreciate you sharing your similar experiences.  I really hope and pray we can someday afford a real sanctuary for our church someday.  I feel like decent acoustics would solve about 75% of our problems.  Our situation is an acoustic anomaly. The stage is hollow underneath and built in two separate sections, which creates weird isolation.  For instance, I can have subs pounding the crowd in the chest, but the drummer(electric) at center stage - rear can't feel or hear his drums for any type of feedback.  Worship Leader stands center stage in a dead spot directly behind a wide JBL J-array and wide spread subs.  I sit straight out from the stage, but my nightmare is the opposite.  I sit 3 ft. elevated in a wooden audio booth which is directly against the back concrete block wall (previous pastor was adamant about this design).  So, they're in a dead spot and I get an odd mix of front of house and back wall reflection which does some crazy things to soundwaves.  I do a lot of getting out of my elevated booth and spending time on the floor mixing on my tablet just because it's completely different.

Right now, after many hours of thought and research, I believe I'm leaning towards taking the leap and helping this leader acquire some molded in-ears.  3 or 4 driver units and pair them with a Shure PSM300.  I feel like the rest of the band has decent mixes with our existing headphone amps.  The drums have been tough as well, but after some gain adjustments and removal of a ton of low end EQ boost, his in-ears can now offer him a decent point of reference.  The leader also has access to mix his own ears with the app, which takes some of the heat away from me so I can focus on mixing the house.  I'd really like to have the room RTA tuned since we've changed so many things, but in our area it's $600 and I just can't do both.  I may have to use the console and just try to EQ the room ever so carefully. I don't like doing this at the console, but I'll do what I have to.  Thanks again!
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2020, 11:18:55 am »

Where are you located? Maybe someone on here would be willing to come by and help. I would if you were near me.
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2020, 11:54:10 am »


Right now, after many hours of thought and research, I believe I'm leaning towards taking the leap and helping this leader acquire some molded in-ears.  3 or 4 driver units and pair them with a Shure PSM300.  I feel like the rest of the band has decent mixes with our existing headphone amps.  The drums have been tough as well, but after some gain adjustments and removal of a ton of low end EQ boost, his in-ears can now offer him a decent point of reference.  The leader also has access to mix his own ears with the app, which takes some of the heat away from me so I can focus on mixing the house.  I'd really like to have the room RTA tuned since we've changed so many things, but in our area it's $600 and I just can't do both.  I may have to use the console and just try to EQ the room ever so carefully. I don't like doing this at the console, but I'll do what I have to.  Thanks again!

For ears if I would make two recommendations:

1. Check out the brand Al-Clair. I know a lot of musicians who enjoy them, additionally a couple of the musicians I mix work at Al-Clair, nice guys. Their prices seem pretty reasonable.

2. I would not buy IEM's for anyone. Let me explain why:

---

It mitigates that individuals responsibility. A musician should be responsible to show up on time, bring a working instrument, and to remember their ears. etc

Point and case I had IEM's really backfire at a small church I was contracting at several years ago. The environment was a place that had IEM's, but historically the musicians rarely had a competent engineer and never were taken care of (shown what a good IEM mix was) or had the sends processed to sound decent. Many of the musicians were novice and there were few skilled individuals from overseas (no gear). Very few people had their own ears.

I managed to make monitoring much better and as part of that the church got some house ears (in case somewhat forgot theirs, or they were in the shop for repairs etc). I also pushed for musicians to get their own ears, and I gave them links for  $20, $50, and $200 options and about 8 custom molded brands that are well regarded.  Overall things improved, but what did not was that I failed to communicate a sense of responsibility to them. I should have pushed them to take ownership, and while I did communicate that, it was not the loudest thing they heard. The staff musicians had an expectation that these ears were for them, and the volunteers heard (from the staff musicians) that they did not need to buy their own ears; I wasn't around enough to compensate for the misdirections  :o

They came to depend on the sets of house ears instead of investing in their own, and guess who got to deal with all of the problems?

It became a money pit for that church (small budget) after a few months and it had to come to a stop.

At a large church it is ok to have some budget towards this (comply tips cost money) but for a smaller church I would not provide IEMS for anyone ever again, unless 95% of the musicians already had their own, and people were paying for the tips. I would probably buy a couple of M50X headphones and call it good.

---

To the point for this guys ears, they will need to go into the shop for repairs. IEM's especially when used often or mistreated do break, this is not if but when.

I know you want to help this guy out and that he has been faithfully serving for little cash so here is what I would recommend:

Give him the money (call it a stipend, a bonus, or whatever the church number crunchers need to call it so that it is kosher) let him know the fund is a one time gift towards him purchasing his own pair of IEM's. I would recommend giving him near the amount for a cheaper pair of custom molds ($250-300), and you can recommend a brand. Ultimately he would get to decide what he purchases. He may decide to spend an extra $150 and get something nicer. He may decide to put the money towards something else entirely. His responsibility, if he wants the sound to be great or to suck it is up to him.

It is good to help people, it often backfires to do things for people however (as above).

What wireless equipment you have is in your wheelhouse, as it what mics you use on people. What brand of guitar someone uses and what IEM they use is not in your wheelhouse, nor should it be.

1) He needs to appreciate how much IEM's cost, if he doesn't he will not take care of them.
2) He needs to take responsibility for showing up with his IEM's (not showing up to use the churches; unless you have LOTS-O-BUDGET)
3) He needs to responsible for their care (cleaning, changing cables when needed, sending in for repairs etc).

---

As far as the RTA tune, to be honest what are you hoping to achieve with this?

The main goal for good system tuner is to get all parts of the system to be working together, ie that parts of the room will sound relatively equal. A well designed system will not necessarily need a tune to perform well, while a poorly designed system cannot be tuned to outperform its inherent design flaws.

To the point EQ is a sledgehammer, and not always the correct tool; as you are aware in your posts it cannot make the room acoustics better, fix the angle/placement of the speakers, or make a poor speaker perform better.

If you have not separated out room tuning vs toning:

Tuning is getting things to sound equal, ie if the mains sound bad, then the fills should sound the same amount of bad. Think of this as spreading the sound around, this is done with measurements in key places so that discrete systems can play together, and be roughly in phase in the locations where they hand things off.

Toning is that artist-sparkle TM that the mix engineer might decide to apply to a hopefully tuned system. If the system is tuned this tone change will apply everywhere; if the system is not tuned, you probably made FOH area sound better.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #35 on: January 02, 2021, 02:50:52 pm »

I gave up on tuning for Spectral reasons several years ago. I only use it to align the mains to subs and bias confirmation. Here's why:

1. Often, you don't get to determine the PA's location or environment, so physics won't allow you to fix most of the EQ problems anyway.

2. The reality is that if you are certain the tops and subs are working well together, if it sounds good to you subjectively, then it is probably good.

3. By the time you tune the room out of the PA ( more on this later ), you will be happy if it sounds good at all.

So when I say tune the room out of the PA, I quite literally mean removing the sound of the room from the PA. The room has modes and other acoustic anomalies that the PA will excite. Reducing the output of the PA at those modes and sensitive frequencies will help in making the listening space more acoustically appealing at the cost of true system linearity. You cannot correct those problems with EQ, but to a degree, you can reduce them in the areas that matter most. Of course in other areas, it will be a severe compromise. Since you often don't get to move the PA or apply acoustic paneling/correction in the room, you are stuck with what you have. EQ won't fix most of the problems, so you compromise.
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John P. Whiteker

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2021, 11:03:35 am »

Quick update... after much deliberation, we chose to grab a pair of Mackie Thump 12BST to use for wedges.  They seem to fit the bill somewhat.  We fired them up and added instruments and vocals one at a time and the leader was quite pleased.  At least until I brought up the house and he started getting some of the room sound bouncing back to him.  I'd like to have the freedom to drive it at that level for worshippers, but we shall keep on trucking.  He felt like the more adjustments I made to achieve proper gain structure, the sound quality and dynamics went away in his opinion.  I just can't wrap my head around it.  Every step I took made it sound better, cleaner and less noisy to me, and to him it just got worse.  I feel like the monitors will give us what I need to eventually get him happy, but I think I'm going to suggest that after I get all the sends for the monitors in place, that he utilize his app to adjust the monitor mix to his liking.  I can deal with whatever he does on stage just fine, as long as I can mix the house as I feel it should be.  Man, what a struggle this has been.  Side note... if anyone is looking for powered wedges, these 12BST's seem to work quite well.  They're 1300W powered speakers and have factory presets to be used as monitors or mains, with or without a sub.  They have 3 band EQ and HPF on each unit with a digital display that's easy to navigate.  They run $399 each around here, but the non bluetooth version can be had for $299.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #37 on: January 08, 2021, 12:48:49 pm »

The only cure for this is between the leader's ears-not his ears but the organ between them.  My pastor has started listening to most special music (normally vocals + piano, occasionally some assorted stringed instruments) and has learned that it is more important for it to sound good in the auditorium than on the platform.

I know others probably disagree-but I have mixed from a terrible mix location for years.  Out of the direct throw of the speakers, in a corner.  But I have learned what it sounds like there when it sounds good in the room so we usually get very good results.  I feel like my pastor has/is learning how it sounds on the platform when it sounds good in the house which helps him and helps the overall service tremendously.

Personally, I feel like the focus on gain structure is entirely a mental block.  Most modern gear is linear enough that as long as you're not clipping or buried in a noise floor somewhere, I can't imagine it being an issue?  But I am open to correction on that.
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #38 on: January 08, 2021, 10:16:13 pm »

Quick update... after much deliberation, we chose to grab a pair of Mackie Thump 12BST to use for wedges.  They seem to fit the bill somewhat.  We fired them up and added instruments and vocals one at a time and the leader was quite pleased.  At least until I brought up the house and he started getting some of the room sound bouncing back to him.  I'd like to have the freedom to drive it at that level for worshippers, but we shall keep on trucking.  He felt like the more adjustments I made to achieve proper gain structure, the sound quality and dynamics went away in his opinion.  I just can't wrap my head around it.  Every step I took made it sound better, cleaner and less noisy to me, and to him it just got worse.  I feel like the monitors will give us what I need to eventually get him happy, but I think I'm going to suggest that after I get all the sends for the monitors in place, that he utilize his app to adjust the monitor mix to his liking.  I can deal with whatever he does on stage just fine, as long as I can mix the house as I feel it should be.  Man, what a struggle this has been.  Side note... if anyone is looking for powered wedges, these 12BST's seem to work quite well.  They're 1300W powered speakers and have factory presets to be used as monitors or mains, with or without a sub.  They have 3 band EQ and HPF on each unit with a digital display that's easy to navigate.  They run $399 each around here, but the non bluetooth version can be had for $299.

Good gain structure will not take away dynamics or cause diminished sound quality. Period.

To be blunt he seems to be caring more for his own mix than the rest of the room. If he doesn't want to hear the room, why is he wanting a wedge?

For sound quality ears are the way to go, and the amount of room involvement/sound can be created and controlled; they will always provide more isolation than a wedge will.

---

Also John I would be very careful giving someone a wedge with their own control of volumes; that is a level of trust I would strongly advise against giving in your situation.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #39 on: January 09, 2021, 02:14:03 pm »

I think it's clear you have an artist problem. His job is to worry about himself, not what the room sounds like from the stage. He is overstepping his bounds. He will not allow you to do your job, so you essentially don't have one. You can set it exactly as he wants it and not move a single knob and he will still want a change or have a new feeling about how it sounds to him. It is a never-ending circle when someone with too much power on the stage is trying to dictate what the rest of the room should sound like to them. You have the 30,000-foot view, while he is in the eye of the storm.

Again, I stress that you should record with a single mic at the mix location what your idea of good is and what his idea of good is. And then compare the two recordings. It doesn't matter how horrid the room acoustics are, it is an unbiased snapshot of what things sound like at that location. This will show once and for all, which way is more ideal. If his way records better, it might just actually be better. If your way records better, hopefully, he will lighten up and let you do what you do. If anything, you can get some data points out of it.

Dynamics is nothing that any musician should ever be dictating a sound guy manage. If musicians were that good at recognizing and applying dynamics in their playing, we wouldn't need compressors, monitors, or faders to mix them. A simple rule I tell musicians is that if they can't hear the other guy, no one else can either. Another thing I tell them ( as a joke ) is that if they can hear themselves at all, they are already too loud. The point is that they only need to be just loud enough to hear themselves and if they can hear everything, then it should be self explanatory what they need to do to keep it that way. The more me syndrome is hard to get away from. What's worse is the snowball effect that it creates. If they can't manage themselves on stage, they need not even bother with what is happening out front. They just need to let you do you. The reflections of the room back on the stage are irrelevant to them if they can do what they need to do.

I really think you either need to get these points across to them ( in an appropriate and gentle way ) or let them sink on their own. Until your music director can learn to trust and relinquish control on aspects he doesn't need to concern himself with, then you are fighting a losing battle. The only thing he should be worried about is the patron feedback after the service is over. If he gets an influx of it sounded great, or it sounded horrid, then he can make requests about what he would like to see happen. He needs to let you be you, while he manages the talent's ability to be them.
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Re: Gain structure issue
« Reply #39 on: January 09, 2021, 02:14:03 pm »


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