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Tight band, but bad PA sound

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Postby Rossdoc81 » November 29th, 2005, 10:58 am

Hello,

Me and my friends have just started a band and we're a bit worried and looking for some sound Engineering advice. We are a four piece rock band playing pretty heavy stuff eg. Smashing Pumpkins,Nirvana,Guns n Roses.

We have bought three POD XT Lives so the bass and two guitars are going straight into the mixing desk with no amps on stage. We also are planning to mic the bass drum, snare, and use two overhead stereo drum mics. There are two vocals,one lead and one backing. We plan on playing mostly in pubs and small venues

Heres where the problems start. We practiced today with everything except the drums going through the Pa and the sound coming from the speakers sounded very muffeled.The vocals were clear but the two guitars and the bass just sounded like a wall of noise, you couldn't pick out one sound from the other. It didn't sound good! We fear its going to get even worse when the drums are miked.

Our PA setup is a Dynachord Powemate 600 powered 2 * 300w mixer with 7 band graphic equaliser, Two Yamaha S 115V 15" Passive speakers and only one KME Fidelty series 15" Sub Woofer with passive crossover. We are not 100% sure how to connect the speakers together - we run from the left and right outputs of the mixer to the sub woofer(the sub has two inputs and two outputs) and then up to the yamaha speakers using speakon leads.I'm not sure if this is the correct/best way to do it.

We are not sure what the problem is but think that maybe the three speakers we have are not suitable for running everything through or maybe we need to buy a bigger equaliser. We thought running everything through the pa would mean everything sounded together and clear but not today.We are on a budget so cannot afford much more equipment.

Any ideas, advice or solutions would be really welcome as we are a very tight band but practice is very frustrating when the sound is bad.

Thanks

Ross

PS. If anyone is interested the specs of our setup is below. Let us know what you think!

>POWERED MIXER
Dynacord Powermate 600-2, 2 x 340 W/4 Ohm, 6 Mic-Line Channel, 2
Stereo-Line input, 2 AUX, 2 x 24 bit StereoEffect, Speakon Out,7- Band Master EQ

> PASSIVE BASS BIN
K.M.E. BS 1151 TCE FILZ, stereo bass box, 15" double movingcoil,
2x 400W/2x4 ohms, passive stereo crossover,separation frequency 160Hz, speakon stereo in/out, felt(anthrazit)

> PASSIVE FULL RANGE SPEAKERS
YAMAHA S115V, Club V Series, 15"/2" Fullrangebox, 2" V.C.driver, 250W (Noise), 500W (PGM), 1000W (Max), 8 Ohm,Sensitivity 99dB/W/m, Frequency Response: 55 Hz - 16 kHz(+/- 3 dB), Directivity 90°x40°, black, Speakon in/out, 1/4" phone jack in/out
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Postby Laz » November 29th, 2005, 11:11 am

Hi Ross!

You received my response directly, and I assume my suggestions didn't work. But Wes or Joe may have a good idea.

Welcome!

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Postby Bish » November 29th, 2005, 12:32 pm

From what you are describing, I'm also no expert but have years of stage experience, it sounds like you have a crossover problem and the lows are dominating your mix.

Now in rereading your post you say the vocals are clear so maybe that's not the problem directly.

If you have a clean vocal channel, have you tried swapping with an instrument and see if the same problem occurs? Perhaps, you've got some settings in the individual channels that are set to a sub and not the main outs?

There might be an issue with the POD XT ( I have no idea what that is ) not being able to have its signal processed properly by the mixer.

I would surely take one instrument at a time and get it working as you expect and the other two should be more quickly resolveable.

Sorry if this is no help.
Bish

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Postby Wes Inman » November 29th, 2005, 5:09 pm

Rossdoc81

I would run your two main speakers off of one amp, and the sub off the other amp. So you will be sending 340 watts @ 4 Ohms to both sides. The two main speakers will get 170 watts each. That is not too bad.

The sub will also get 170 watts to each speaker. This is somewhat underpowered. The problem is you may have to really crank this side up to get any volume out of the sub. You may go into clipping (red warning light will come on). Clipping can quickly damage the speakers and will sound terribly distorted. So make sure you do not clip either side.

If you have a low cut or sometimes called a rumble filter on your powered mixer, use it. Set it for around 50 Hz. Sometimes you can just turn it on or off. But if you have it, use it. This will keep ultra low frequencies from going to the sub. They tend to muddy the sound and suck up lots of power as well.

As far as the POD XTs, I would read the manual. I am not familiar with this pedal, but it probably has a setting for running straight into a guitar amp and another setting for running straight into a PA mixer. So make sure you are using the proper settings for your application.

I suspect the POD XTs as being your problem as you said your vocals sound clear. Sounds like too much output from the pedals into your mixer to me. It is distorting.

Try keeping the individual gains or volumes on the channels the POD XTs are going into very low. You may also have to come down on your mic channels to get the right mix. Then try going up on the Master gains or volumes for each side of your Powered Mixer.

You should spend some time and carefully adjust the tone controls on each channel that the POD XTs are running into. Perhaps you need to bring Bass down. Don't worry where each control ends up, what matters is good tone.

These are just guesses. But from your description, you are getting way too much low end on the POD XTs. This will cause a very muddy tone.

Let us know what you try and how it comes out.
If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis
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Postby Rossdoc81 » December 2nd, 2005, 11:38 am

Hello and thanks to everyone who answered - its really helped us out.

We practiced yesterday and it sounded ALOT better. From the advice I got from everyone the problems seemed to be too much distortion on the two guitars, the bass up too loud muddying everything else, and the overall volume being way too loud. We started off yesterday with the volume real low and gradually brought it up to the right level,eqing each channel as we went along.It sounded pretty good.

When we play with the bass, drums, vocal, and one guitar going through the PA it is alot easier to mix and get a real clear sound. It seems to be that putting a second guitar into the mix makes things alot more difficult. Is this usually the case? I think that me and the other guitarist will just have to practice together setting up the channels on the PODs together so they compliment each other, not blur each other out.

Now onto more problems!! We haven't got a gig yet and when we practice we face the speakers towards us as moniters, since we can't do this at a gig we will need moniters. So heres our plan

There are two outputs on the guitar PODS(left and right) so each guitarist will run the left(mono) output to the PA, and the right output a 15 watt practice amp facing him.

The bassist has a 120watt bass amp so again,run one output from the bass POD to the mixer, and the other into the bass amp. We were also thinking of using the bass amp to take pressure off the PA by runnig the bass amp at a volume high enough to contribute to the front of house mix. Is this a good idea or will it muddy every thing up on stage?

Finally we have two 12" KME passive speakers so take from the auxillary out of the mixer and run just the vocals through this as a vocal moniter.

OR.....could we use these the two KME speakers as moniters facing back at the entire band running the 2 guitars,vocals and a small amount fo bass through them, or will this suck too much power from the mixer.

Im also not sure if you can connect this auxilary to powered moniters,or is there any output from the mixer that you can connect to powered moniters, or maybe for connecting a powered sub in the future. There are 8 outputs on the top right corner of the mixer. Could someone explain to me what each of these are for(we lost the manual!!). I also cant find the low cut filter?? If you click on the picture it comes up real clear:

http://www.musiciansbuy.com/Dynacord_Po ... 600II.html

Thanks

Ross
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Postby Laz » December 2nd, 2005, 12:59 pm

Lots of options, which may vary depending on where you play. Some places have their own house PA, so you may not need anything, or you might use your PA as the Monitor system, and the house PA for the mains.

Or you could rent a PA for gigs.

The advantage to keeping it all in the PA is it usually (but not always!) keeps the stage volume lower, which is always good. Guitar amps on stage are good for guitars, but can complicate the PA management.

Can you add your location to your Profile (the link at the very top)? Perhaps someone can assist you locally, or even come to your first gig!

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Postby Wes Inman » December 2nd, 2005, 4:38 pm

Rossdoc81

I would run your two main speakers off one amp, and then the two monitors off the other side. You really do not need a sub. Later on you can pick up a seperate amp to power it.

Let the bass player play through his amp alone. This will save a lots of power that the PA needs anyway. The bass amp will be fine by itself.

Maybe just mic the kick-drum and run it into the PA. Just send kick to the mains. You don't need it in the monitors, you will hear it clearly on stage.

As for the POD's, I would not use the same presets at the same time. That will be muddy, you won't be able to tell one guitar from the other. Try to find presets that use a little different range of frequency. Then you will hear both clearly.
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Postby Rossdoc81 » December 5th, 2005, 2:05 pm

Hello,

I added my location to my profile Laz, the thing is I live in the west of Ireland where there is virtually no one who knows anything about setting up/mixing a band. My local music shop stocks about 10 guitars but he mostly sells tvs and dvd players!! So around here it pretty hard to get sound engineering advice.

I've a few more questions we are not sure of, it'd be cool if someone could help us out.

How many watts are we getting from the mixer when we run the left and right into the sub, and then from the sub up to each speaker.

Can you run from the auxillary out on the mixer to both passive or powered moniters

Where should we place the 2 moniters so everyone can hear them.

Should we add reverb to the guitars/bass/drums, or pan them left/right.

What is the best way to mic the toms on the drumkit for about $100-130!!


Thanks
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Postby Wes Inman » December 5th, 2005, 3:55 pm

Rossdoc81

You cannot run two main speakers, two monitors, and your sub with your powered mixer alone.

Your main speakers are 8 ohms each. Run in parallel this is a 4 ohm load.

Your monitors are 8 ohms each. Run in parallel this is a 4 ohm load.

Your sub is 4 ohms.

Now, when you go out of your 4 ohm sub into two 8 ohms speakers, now that is a 2 ohm load.

Your powered mixer has two amplifiers built into it. Each one is designed to operate at a minimum of 4 ohms. If you run a 2 ohm load off of either amp it is very likely to burn the amp up. Don't do that.

That is why I said to run your two mains off one amp. That is 4 ohms. And run your two monitors off the other amp. That is 4 ohms also. That is all your powered mixer can handle.

There is one option that might work: Run your two main speakers off one amp. Have one speaker face the audience. Turn the other speaker to face the band. If the speakers are well out in front of the band and any microphones, you will not have any feedback problems.

Then run your sub off the other amp.

But you cannot run into the sub and then out into two speakers, unless this is some unusual design I am not familiar with.

Even if it works like that, that is a 2 ohm load and will damage your powered mixer. I would not do it like that.

I would forget the sub now. You should be alright without it. Later you can pick up another amp to power the sub.

2) I am not familiar with your amp. If the auxillary out is the same as a preamp out, then you can run it into a powered speaker. It won't do anything going into a passive speaker.

3) The most important thing is that the singer(s) can hear themselves sing. So place the monitors in front of the singer's mics. The back of the mic should face the monitor to prevent feedback. Never face a mic (the part you sing into) toward a speaker.

4) I am not a real expert on mic'ing drums. In my band we use Shure mics on a boom to mic the drums. This works fine for us. We simply mount the mics maybe 2 or 3 inches above the drums. Experiment with position to get the tone you like.

5) A little reverb on guitar is alright. You should not put reverb on bass or drums.
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Postby Laz » December 6th, 2005, 9:04 am

I have heard of a subwoofer with a built-in passive crossover, which lets you connect a full-range speaker. If yours is built that way, you should read the connection documents carefully, and you MAY be able to run it that way, as the crossover would keep the impedance at 4 ohms or higher.

But if you're not sure, don't do it.

Sticking a mic on a boom so that it can be placed just above the toms, and under the cymbals, can work very well, and will also pick up the snare nicely. But you should only be thinking of miking the drums if you're in a really big place.

Everything else Wes says is spot on.

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Postby Rossdoc81 » December 6th, 2005, 3:58 pm

Thanks Wes for taking time to answer all those questions,thanks to Laz too. Its really helping us out and getting our sound together.

I'm a bit confused about this subwoofer now, our bass player bought it a couple of years ago and he doesn't know anything about it.

We have practiced about 10 times now running the left mixer output into the left side of the sub,then up to the left speaker.Then doing the same thing with the right side. It sounds good and there doesn't seem to be any problem with the mixer. How will we know if we are damaging the mixer? We DEFINATELY don't want to do that.

The Sub has 2 speakon inputs(left and right) and 2 speakon outputs(left and right). I got information from a website about it and its a 15" double movingcoil, stereo bass box. Its 2x 400W at 2x 4 ohms with a passive stereo crossover at 160 hz.

Our drummer gets annoyed if he cant hear his kick drum fairly clear, and I'm afraid if we get rid of the sub we won't get the same thump from the kick. Also without the sub handling all the frequencys below 160 hz, will the main speakers be under more pressure handling these and so produce a lower volume?

But then there is the question of moniters so it looks like we have to get rid of the sub anyway. Ahhhhh - is live sound always this complicated!! Our bass player has the PA until the weekend so I have to wait till then to mess around and experiment with it so no point worrying about it now. We'll get it together eventually.

Thanks again for all the help.

Ross
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Postby Laz » December 6th, 2005, 4:16 pm

Wait, this could be exactly what I was talking about, with the crossover it keeps the impedance OK. The only problem, as explained by Wes, is you can't connect both subs to the same amp channel, as that would be a 2-ohm load below 160Hz. I don't know if the crossover is working perfectly either, as it may be looking for a 4-ohm full-range speaker, and I think you said you have 8-ohm cabs. That could also give you a weird frequency response in the 150-200Hz range, which could give you a muddy sound. Try to get more info on the subwoofer.

So for small gigs, point one of the mains out and the other back at you. For bigger gigs, get an extra amp and speakers for monitors.

Umm, if the drummer can't hear the kick drum, perhaps your stage volume is too high? I mean it's right in front of him, and it's his foot. 8)

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Postby Wes Inman » December 6th, 2005, 4:27 pm

Rossdoc81

I looked up that sub. They are all on German websites, so I had to have it translated.

It does appear that that sub is intended to be used just as you are doing now. One site said it was intended to be used in combination with a 8 ohm "topspeaker", which I suppose means a full range speaker like your Yamahas (excellent speakers by the way).

So, if it has been working well, continue to use it.

As I wrote earlier, turn one of your main speakers around to face the band. The audience will still hear it, and the band can use it as your monitor. As long as your main speakers are well out in front of the band, and all mics are facing back away from this speaker, you will be fine. This is a common technique used by bands without monitors.

Also, make sure to mount your main speakers on speaker stands. The woofer should be about head height, and the horn should be above people's heads. This is important because high frequencies are easily blocked by people's bodies. A sub is completely different. Low frequencies are not blocked by bodies. So it is traditional to place a sub on the floor.

The very best thing to do is buy another amplifier to power the sub. Use the powered mixer's amps to power your main speakers and monitors. Get a powerful amp to power the sub, at least 1600 (2 X 800) watts. This is double your sub's power rating which is standard.
Then you will really be able to put out some punch.
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Postby forrok_star » December 7th, 2005, 8:00 pm

Have you tried running it mono instead of stereo by connecting the two main speakers to one side (say the left), then connect only one sub to the other side. being the mains will be 4 ohms when connected together and if one sub is 4ohms. Ring the system out and work from there. From what I read on the spec's was this the mixer runs into 4 ohms 2 x 300 W, one YAMAHA S115V, 8 Ohms, connected together would be 4 Ohms, the K.M.E. BS 1151, 2x 400W/2x4 ohms leads me to believe their 4 Ohm cabinets.

Joe
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Postby hueseph » December 7th, 2005, 8:34 pm

Maybe this is a weird question but, doesn't the mixer have a mono mode? Most of the mixers I've worked with live had a mono button on each channel. Stereo is bad in a live situation anyway.
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