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  • When the venue provides the sound crew...

    I have a small sound business where I work with primarily acoustic groups. Feedback is frequently a problem but I seem to be able to handle it when I work the sound. The band I am in (bluegrass) played a festival this past weekend where the venue provided the sound. The group before us used DI's for everything except vocals and drums. They had a slight feedback problem, but the sound guy seemed to handle it,mostly by limiting the signal to the monitors (the group members were complaining that they couldn't hear the monitors). When our turn came we started with minor feedback problems and escalated from there. By the end of our set we had mostly extreme feedback to the point where we could not hear each other. We were mic'd for vocals and instruments. I am thinking that we have two options if such a situation happens in the future; we can tell the sound guy to turn off the monitors, or we can anticipate the problem based on who is providing sound, and use DI"s for our instruments. This may eliminate the need for a higher level of skill and experience from the sound guy. I am familiar with the sound guy in question this time and my opinion is that he is a "hack" who has a few good people working for him, but everything goes downhill whenever he is running the board instead of one of his crew.

    Anyone have some ideas about dealing with a like situation in the future?

    Thanks in advance for your responses.

    One Dude
    I've had enough of folks who don't know what they want, but are very good at knowing what they don't want.

  • #2
    DI's on the instruments will only help if the instruments were contributing to the feedback. However that is still a good idea, probably on the right track, and certainly helps with "what ifs". Did you have time for any sort of a soundcheck with said soundman?

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    • #3
      Were they using the same mics you usually use? Mixing on the fly without a sound check can be difficult but sounds like it only got worse not better.
      Dan Snyder is bad Karma

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      • #4
        How loud were you playing, and how loud was the PA? Was it inside....

        I just mixed an outdoor concert with three violinists, on their own and altogether. Backing band was a keys, guitar and drum trio.It was a briefcase gig, with a piece of turd PA with terrible mics, but luckily the violins were all DI'd - and the musicians were all first call guys. However, just because you DI the acoustic instruments doesn't mean they can't feedback at some point - but I made sure there wasn't any. In fact the promoter was there and I'm sure if he had heard more than 2 or 3 seconds of feedback I would have been fired. I just can't imagine mixing a whole show with a little or a lot of feedback throughout. What's the story?

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        • #5
          We didn't have time for a sound check. The group before us actually cut a couple of their numbers because the whole show was running late. The stage manager let the first couple of groups run long and the venue had to be vacated at a certain time. The sound man provided all the mic's; vocal mic's were Shure's and were the same ones the previous group used, but they didn't mic their instruments. Don't know what the instrument mic's were, but maybe AKG or AT. I have been in the audience at other shows where this sound man worked and he usually has some kind of trouble, ie; monitors don't work, volume too high or low, poor mix, feedback, you name it. I'm just thinking that removing one element (instrument mic's or monitors) from the situation can only improve the end result.
          I've had enough of folks who don't know what they want, but are very good at knowing what they don't want.

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          • #6
            This was a typical acoustic gig; two guitars and a mandolin; a blend of bluegrass and old-time, along with some gospel. It was an outdoor job at the local fairgrounds. Band was on two wagons put together to make the stage, with a canvas roof cover. Not sure what brand of PA he was using, but it certainly had enough power. At one point he had the monitors so loud they we hurting my ears. I think the sound guy is just in over his head when it comes to mixing on the fly and working with strictly acoustic groups. I'm sure the time constraints didn't help either.
            I've had enough of folks who don't know what they want, but are very good at knowing what they don't want.

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            • #7
              Thanks for your replies. It does indeed sound like he was in way, way over his head. DI's could have helped some, but maybe you need to bring your own acoustic amps to a show like this, then at least you have some control. That's what electric guitar players do - even if they play too loud Then you just tell him (them) no monitors please.

              It also sounds like he thought you should be much louder than you needed to be. A very common thing these days.

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              • #8
                sound guys that don't know too much tend to use too much processing. they over use compression and EQ to the extent that the dynamic range is so squashed that any signal will cause feedback. then to counter act the feed back they turn up the compression which makes it worse. Ive done hundreds of acoustic and bluegrass shows -- I never get feed back and i don't use outboard EQs or compressors.

                I was doing a festival once and was mixing FOH-- one band had their own sound guy that just had to mix them. so I let him take over. I was using a UREI 1176 in all buttons in mode on the main output, the first thing the guy did was jack up the main fader, and of course the limiter kicked in and squished his mix. i told the guy to back off the main fader and the apparent level would come up -- he didn't understand the concept so he tried to compensate in every way he could think of except taking my advise. needless to say - he had a tough time and his band sounded like poop.
                when the next band was coming on the guy comes back and the pa was back to normal and everything sounded great, he accused me of sabotaging him. I said I told you what to do but wouldn't listen. it seems the less someone knows - the more resistant they are to learning more. moral of the story --- less is always more.

                I always chuckle when I see monitor rigs with big smiley faced graphic EQs curves -- you know nobody is hearing monitors tonight.

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                • #9
                  You cant fix "no clue"

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by One_Dude View Post
                    Anyone have some ideas about dealing with a like situation in the future?
                    Outside of advancing a stage plot, input list, and monitor mix list (if you don't already do so)... there's only so many things you can do proactively. If you're in a situation where you've gotta do something reactive, my method for dealing reactively with a feedback mess concerning a monitor pointed at me is to either simply push it with my foot so it's pointed else where other than my head or at a mic, or I reach down and unplug the Speakon connector (if so equipped) from the speaker cabinet.

                    I'll also suggest that if the person at the mix console can't get a handle on a feedback problem on their own, attempting, as a performer on stage during the performance, to engage the mixer-person to rectify the situation can actually aggravate the problem... as I've found it's not uncommon they'll turn down all other monitors first (or exclusively) rather than the one(s) that is/are feeding back. Often it seems like the root of the problem is that the monitors or even the mics are patched differently from what the mixer-person believes is the situation... kind-of like having a two control electric blanket upside-down on the bed (After a few cool nights one controller is on "10" and the other controller is on "0" and the person who has their controller on "10" is freezing (I can't hear my monitor), and the person with their controller on "0" is roasting (their monitor is in and out of run-away feedback all night).)

                    I'll also suggest "it's common" (the feedback problem thing), especially with acoustic SR. Possibly one "helpful" thing the performers could do to diminish a potential feedback situation is to be sensitive to mic placement, and facilitate "close micing" if at-all possible. "Put a decent pick-up on that fiddle or mandolin" and pack along your own good quality DI... step right up to the mic... stuff like that.
                    Last edited by Audiopile; 07-25-2014, 08:21 AM.
                    I need to catch up with those guys, for I am their leader.

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                    • #11
                      I've never heard about blue grass style until I received a call from the US embassy (I had previously worked with them with other gigs) so the call was to asked me if I can help them with 5 shows in different places over the north part of my country and I said yes, they sent me
                      some links of the group that they were bringing as part of the culture of your country to my country, they were "the Ajusco Mountain Boys" 3 very nice guys playing guitar, Bandolin, acoustic bass, and the fiddle (actually I've never heard that term before because for me it scaled the violin) but the fiddle player explained me very kind why or where that term comes from; so I went with my powered speakers, my behringer mid console, and xm8500 mics (at that time I didn't haved the shure mics, but as I previously said they work fine), so i went on the road with them traveling almost the north side with some US embassy representatives, going to places that I've never been before; and doing the shows on the different University halls and one in a big teather auditorium; getting a good gaining structure is the key point for me, good positions in the stands and mics and that was it, no eq(almost), no compressor, no gates and a little bit of reverb for the vocals, I brought for them some monitors (actually the same foh powered speakers but on monitor duties ) and they were glad, grateful, then they were telling me that they always have some nasty troubles doing there shows were the Embassy took them and I've received very good compliments from the them as well the embassy representatives that were touring with them

                      Maybe the sound guys that the thread are mentioning forget to make a good gaining structure and didn't realize that up to certain points were you encountered the feedback problems, they were amazed how vocals sounded with the xm8500 and the instruments as well, they've never heard the brand of my powered speakers but they were going to look for them when they return to their country of origin,

                      That was a year ago, I still maintain contact with them

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                      • #12
                        There have been national blue grass acts that request a single mic and play around it and step in for solos and back off when done. Takes a good band to do it acoustic onstage with a PA and no monitors. When I played in a blue grass band, we rehearsed without a PA. Was good for the harmonies.

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