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  • Micing amp vs DI (plse help a noob)

    Hello all.  Very brief background to question (and please forgive any errors of terminology.  I know nothing about this subject).

    I have recently joined a band put together by the lead guitarist.  We haven't gigged yet but our first is coming up in a couple of months.  He bought a PA and mixing desk, but knows nothing about sound and frankly doesn't want to.  My husband has volunteered to try to learn with a view to being the sound man.  He's quite technically minded but has never done this before.   He only agreed to do it on the basis that every member of the band is agreed on wanting reasonable volume, and have all had bad experiences of "knob twiddlers" on stage cranking up the volume of their own instrument throughout a gig.  Hubby has done some initial reading and research, but so far has no practical experience.  He hasn't actually met anyone in the band yet.

     

    So, hubby favoured having all instruments directly inputting to the mixer and no backline.  I passed this on to the lead guitarist today.   He says he wants to have the instrument amps mic'd for two reasons:

    (a)  he says he bought his amp for a particular sound, and that can't be reproduced if he is DI'd into the mixer.   Bass player hasn't been involved in discussions yet, but lead guitarist says he suspects bass player will also want his amp mic'd for the same reason.  (There's also a keyboard player but he wasn't at practice today so I have no idea what his thoughts will be).

    (b) he says they can hear their instruments through their amps, and having the backline mic'd will mean they won't need to buy fold back monitors (which at present no-one has - except me (drummer) -  and everyone wants to keep costs down).

     

    Hubby, however,  feels that if amps are to be used for the guitarists' foldback/monitor purposes, that's going to conflict with the sound/volume he 'd be trying to achieve for the benefit of the audience out front, and can foresee "knob twiddling" issues!

    I would very much appreciate any thoughts/advice - both on the "instrument sound" issue (if the instruments are DI'd) and the potential conflict between the volume requirements onstage, and volume/balance out front.

     

    Thanks in advance.  (I would have searched for info, but I'm so clueless I wouldn't even know what to search for!) 

     

     

     


  • #2

    First off, I don't see why there be a difference in the amp's stage volume with mic vs direct. Not sure why that would be. Beyond that, bass and keyboard amp direct outs usually work fine. I prefer them easily to miking in those situations. As for guitars, I prefer going direct when possible there too, but the quality of the direct outs on my guitar amps are one of the important features that made me choose them. Many guitar amps don't have a direct out at all and some that do aren't "cab-voiced". In that case it can be pretty difficult to EQ the guitar channel to sound like a guitar speaker. Also, there is the part about different guitar speakers having very unique tone personalities. If a guitarist pays $500 for a pair of alnico blues you can bet they want them to be miked.

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    • #3

      IMHO volume is volume, it's where it is occurring that might matter.  If a guitar amp is beaming out into the crowd and making it difficult to mix, then that can be a problem. That's why I carry an guitar amp shield with me. And that's why 90% of the places I play that have in house PA's  have amp shields as part of their PA package. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CSPA24

      As noted, guitarists, and very often bass players spend a ton of money and/or time on their gear. To replicate their sound using monitors and cabinet voiced DI's would be costly, time consuming and usually futile. I personally hate going direct into a monitor, even a good one. Even when I was using a pre-amp that had reasonably voiced direct outs I would always mic my cabinet. Bass players can go direct from their amp or DI, but most (that I know) want to use their own cabinet. The bass players I know have spent big bucks on their gear - stuff like Eden, Genz Benz, and so on. They aren't about to leave their cabinets back home and play through a Behringer powered monitor.

      So my advice is to experiment with an amp shield and/or a cabinet stand. and stress that stage volume needs to be at moderate volumes.

      As far as cost, I made my own shield from some "in the bin" plexi glass that was on sale. You can also make them from plywood, throw a little carpet on the amp side and paint the audience side black.

      Comment


      • #4

        Inexperienced soundman, no backline and no monitors ?

        That doesn't work.

        Mic the amps. Keep them down if they are loud.  Get some vocal monitors.

        If it turns out hubby knows what he is doing, then broach the subject of direct lines for the sake of less bleed.

         

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        Comment


        • Tomm Williams
          Tomm Williams commented
          Editing a comment

          As a guitarist in a band myself, I can agree with your guitarist on one point but not the other.  #1--Yes I prefer my amp for it's tone that won't be reproduced going DI. #2--Although he might hear his guitar, without monitors, he won't hear anything else (depending on stage volume and room, etc...) With a little discipline, it is not that difficult to run a backline and monitors and have the whole thing work. That's the way it's done in a vast majority of shows. 


      • #5

        So my opinion is more from the "soundguy" side than the "guitarist" side.

        The guitarist may want his "god tone" but he's the only one that actually hears it or cares about it (pretty doubtful that the audience does).  From the total band performance side it may not even be desirable.  Chances are that is everyone shows up with their own god tone that their tone will conflict with someone else's and bring down the total mix.  From the house side you often have to pull a little out so that you end up with some distinction between players.

        I will agree with your guitarist's assessment in that the sound of the amp may be different than what comes from the DI as usually the non-linearity's of the speaker contribute to his tone.  But even once that tone come out into the air sticking a mic on it changes it so that exact tone will likely not come out the PA anyway.  The mic will change that tone, the speakers will changes that tone and if you've done much at all with the electronics they will change that tone.

        Advantages to using a DI instead of a mic include faster setup, more consistent sound, No mic movement that could cause problems and not pickup of leakage from other instruments that will likely result in smearing those other instruments.

         

        So this debate usually ends up looking to me like the good of the guitarist against the good of the band.  YMMV

         

         

        Don Boomer

        Comment


        • jimash
          jimash commented
          Editing a comment

          Here's a question or two.

          Does the OP play traditional drums or electric drums ?

          If trad, are they mic'd ?

          What if everyone ditch's their amps, and then you're the loudest thing onstage and they cannot hear their own parts over your drums ?

          I think the DI thing can go too far. If you want to use DI, I could throw a line out from my pedals or the back of the amp.

          It is not reasonable to expect that everyone is going to run out and invest in gadgets to make other's lives easier, with no promise that they will be treated to a fair representation of what they are doing.

          Some people don't want to fiddle around programming presets and hoping that they get some monitor.

          And IMHO few of the modeling or direct routes get a good clean amp tone, and when they do you can bet the level is wildly different from the JCM800 tone.

          Further, I find that the modeling gadgets do not always transmit the character of the particular guitar.

          The fact is that the amplifier is half of the instrument. If you don't like electric guitars played through ampos, maybe you should just get a piano player.


      • #6

        My husband has volunteered to try to learn with a view to being the sound man.  He's quite technically minded but has never done this before.   He only agreed to do it on the basis that every member of the band is agreed on wanting reasonable volume, and have all had bad experiences of "knob twiddlers" on stage cranking up the volume of their own instrument throughout a gig.  Hubby has done some initial reading and research, but so far has no practical experience.  He hasn't actually met anyone in the band yet.

        Hubby, however,  feels that if amps are to be used for the guitarists' foldback/monitor purposes, that's going to conflict with the sound/volume he 'd be trying to achieve for the benefit of the audience out front, and can foresee "knob twiddling" issues! So, hubby favoured having all instruments directly inputting to the mixer and no backline. 

         

        While your husband's motives may be good, he doesn't know what he's doing and, specifically, doesn't understand the downsides of his proposed solution. As such, he isn't really in a position to "not trust" people and shouldn't be telling other people what to do, even if his ideas can, in theory, work in some situations.

        Assuming you guys don't get ridiculously loud, your husband will likely have an easier time getting a halfway-decent mix by having amps on stage than he would having to mix all DI's.

        -Dan.

         


         

        formerly known as IsildursBane

        Comment


        • FranE
          FranE commented
          Editing a comment

          I play an acoustic set.  I have mics but  I'm assuming at present that the type of places we'll play - and the overall volume we'll be aiming at - won't need anything on the drums except perhaps a bass drum mic.  But everything's open at present.

          It's all cool, no-one's telling anyone what to do, or laying down any rules.   Stage 1: gather as much info as you can.  Stage 2: have a go.    Everyone has to start somewhere, right?    We all know it's going to be trial and error.  

          All this info from you folks is very useful and very gratefully received.

           


      • #7

        Volume is volume.  It doessn't matter where it's coming from.  Micing the guitar amp is almost norm while  IMHO DI is for bass and keyboards.  I'm old school and don't really believe in micing bass rigs.  There are a lot in here who will disagree with me.but that neither here nor there.  Micing the guitar amp so the guitqar player does not lose his tone as long as it's not a Marshall weapon. If it's a Marshall don't bother micing it unless you are playing a huge hall or outdoor gig.  Anything else can be miced to an extent.  Even when micd, they can be turned down in the mix and the signal can also be sent to the monitors to help the band hear each other.  I do believe in that.  The bass is all over the place and the keys can go into the monitors, too.  To go direct guitar, there is a flat signal going to the board and out through the mains and that tone thsat the guitarist is striving for is totally by the wayside.  Therefore, mic the guitar amp for that reason.  IMHO, the bass cabinet speakers have coloration, but the SPL's are a lot higher so a high SPL mic needs to be in place.  Nah...I'd rather go direct and let the bass be carried directly through the board.  IMHO, makes for a cleaner mix.  

        Comment


        • tlbonehead
          tlbonehead commented
          Editing a comment

          DBR013 wrote:

          Volume is volume.  It doessn't matter where it's coming from.  Micing the guitar amp is almost norm while  IMHO DI is for bass and keyboards.  I'm old school and don't really believe in micing bass rigs.  There are a lot in here who will disagree with me.but that neither here nor there.  Micing the guitar amp so the guitqar player does not lose his tone as long as it's not a Marshall weapon. If it's a Marshall don't bother micing it unless you are playing a huge hall or outdoor gig.  


          Not really a Marshall fanboy, but this makes no sense. For one, Marshall makes a number of tube amps in the 5 to 25 watt range. For another thing, there many amps out there being used that have volume capabilies much higher than a 50-100 watt Marshall halfstack. Why are you singling them out? Plus the fact that they all have volume knobs.

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