[LAU] Live mic and monitoring (was rant.)

Jörn Nettingsmeier nettings at stackingdwarves.net
Sat Dec 29 23:23:29 UTC 2012

On 12/29/2012 09:55 PM, Len Ovens wrote:
>   - lead vocal (also da boss), Male, uses stand. sets the eq on the PA for
> bass and highend up and midrange down (U shaped yuck)
 > but then the whole PA is set to his voice as he likes it.

problem identified :) solving it is beyond the realm of the technical 
and may necessitate the use of blunt instruments.

>   - vocal two, female, handheld, sm58. even though the PA is set with
> boosted high still sounds "boxy" like singing in a smaller room than the
> hall. But this is really only noticeable when she does lead stuff.

boosting is usually the wrong approach for pa filtering (unless you 
really know what you are doing). try to attack the boxiness instead (for 
me, the term "boxy" pretty much means 800 hz give or take a third).

>   - vocal three, female, classic trained.. hardly needs a mic at all but
> has the Dixon I mentioned before... may as well be using a carbon pile
> telephone handset.. lucky she doesn't need much reinforcement.

still - it's nice to have a decent mike on a good voice, where it will 
make a difference.

>   - piano and guitar get the midrange sucked right out of them

will be solved by the blunt instrument mentioned above. at the risk of 
sounding like a teacher: try to avoid thinking in such imprecise terms. 
your analysis seems to imply that the midrange needs boosting.

from what you described above, it's evident that the midrange is ok (the 
room even has a tendency to boxiness), it's just that the smilie-shaped 
main eq will over-emphasize bass and treble. so the way to tackle that 
is _not_ to boost the mid-range, but to correct the crooked curve on the pa.

i honestly don't know why a 30-band eq lets you boost stuff. 99% of 
users would be much better off having an eq that only provides attenuation.

>   - Bass (thats me) no PA, (not by choice, but what's practical) Amp eq not
> used.

makes sense, unless you have a little headroom on the pa and a guy at 
the controls during the show, in which case it's nice to reduce the amp 
volume a bit and give him/her a few dbs of actually working with the 
bass (for me, even as little as 3db SPL raise over the amp sound gives 
me a lot of freedom to shape the sound). plus for the house sound, heavy 
compression on the bass is often useful, and bass players are naturally 
reluctant to use it (and they shouldn't, because playing into heavy 
compression leads to sloppy technique, so keep the amp unsquashed).
when i have to amplify the kick drum, i will put the bass on the pa as 
well. with small speakers, it's very difficult to create a kick drum 
that doesn't sound like a cardboard box thrown out of a window, but if 
the bass locks tightly, the combined sound can be quite impressive. to 
balance that, i need both instruments on the pa.

when i work with bass players in small venues (where most of the house 
sound is from the amp), i let them set up their preferred tone, and then 
if the amp has a good eq, i will approach them during the soundcheck to 
correct house sound problems directly at the amp (again, attenuation 
only). often, it's just a few frets on a particular string that are 
playing up.

> It sounds from what has been said, that an omni mic would help vocal two
> if it didn't give us Feed back problems. (we don't have any right now BTW,
> so we are not running on the edge or anything)

honestly, an omni mike won't help you. fons does have a point in saying 
that omni mikes have some advantages and could be put to good use 
outside the realm of classical recording, but until someone sorts out 
your lead singer problem, that's academic :)
get yourselves a sound guy to run your show who is thick-skinned enough 
to tell the bossman go pee, wait for the audience remarks about how good 
the sound was for a change to sink in, and then after one or two shows, 
you have yourselves a reference sound which you can try to recreate even 
without a sound guy at the controls.

> The lead vocal likes the
> added proximity effect... no changing that, but it would be nice to give
> him his own eq.

get a mixer with two semi-parametric mids, problem solved. very decent 
ones are available nowadays at very low cost. a year ago, i got the club 
i work for to invest in a new board (an a&h gl 2800 for about 3k euros 
plus taxes, which is really negligible for a professional venue), and 
the musicians have been more than happy with it. a board with that 
feature set and sound quality would have been high in the five digits 15 
years ago. nowadays, there's really no need (and no excuse) to work with 
inadequate mixers if you're serious about your music.

> For vocal three, anything has to sound better. She gets
> less of the monitor anyway and has curtains behind... I would like to have
> an omni to try there as well.

an omni has absolutely no advantage there. your singers will want to 
work on their microphone technique and exploit the near-field effect in 
a musical way.

> When I was in broadcast(80 to 85), the ENG guys had sennheiser shotguns.
> They used them both camera mounted or hand held... the talking head could
> hold the mic very low almost out of the picture.

shotguns are not useful for music stages. they do have better side 
rejection in theory, but at the cost of a very irregular off-axis 
response. the few times i used shotguns in the theatre, i found they 
would give me even less gain before feedback than a standard 
supercardioid, and required insane filtering.

Jörn Nettingsmeier
Lortzingstr. 11, 45128 Essen, Tel. +49 177 7937487

Meister für Veranstaltungstechnik (Bühne/Studio)
Tonmeister VDT


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