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  • Mixing from on-stage

    Hi folks,



    Need some help.



    The band I play in has finally agreed to bringing the volume down and have in fact decided to get rid of guitar amplifiers all together. While this is great news there is a downside.



    The downside is that it is now more complex and difficult to mix from on stage - in fact we really need a sound guy but its just not economic for us. So I am faced with the prospect of playing guitar and mixing from on stage. I really need my monitor mix to have more of my guitar and vocals in it than in FOH. This makes balancing the whole band a lot harder.



    So I hoping to hear how people are doing this and in particular how they are monitoring the FOH balance from on stage. One thought I had was to feed my monitor from the headphone send and take advantage of the solo buttons to regularly check on the level of other instruments and vocals. (BTW I am using a Studiolive 16.0.2 mixer)



    Any tips and advice appreciated.



    Cheers



    Fluddman

  • #2






    Quote Originally Posted by Art Flood
    View Post

    I really need my monitor mix to have more of my guitar and vocals in it than in FOH. This makes balancing the whole band a lot harder.



    So I hoping to hear how people are doing this and in particular how they are monitoring the FOH balance from on stage.




    I mixed on-stage for years while playing bass. I found that eliminating a/the monitor for myself, resulting in me mostly hearing the room, worked... for me... although admittedly it took some training. Occasionally (once or twice a set) I'd walk out on the dancefloor aways for a reality check... less often as my hearing got more trained.

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    • #3
      I imagine there are plenty of different ways to mix from stage but my method has always been as Mark suggests.



      Whether I'm the lead singer or just one of the peanut gallery, I try to forego a monitor and place myself near the FOH, left or right. I guess another method would be to have an identical monitor as your FOH and run the same mix - although you stated that was undesirable.



      Getting out front is key, especially in new rooms.



      Just wondering... if there is so little money that you can't "afford" a sound tech, is there any chance that the band might just bite the bullet and see if you can find a guy who will do it for briefcase rates? I mean if you're working for close to nothing, maybe making "yet even closer to nothing" might be more fun if the sound is good.

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      • #4
        We've mixed for ages.



        The secret:



        Restraint, and volume pedals.



        Get a decent drum mix. Mic the guitars. Have everyone play something at the same time. 12 bar blues maybe. Then set your lead volume. Back it off with the volume pedal for rhythm. Same thing with the other person.



        Once you get a pretty good mix, don't be tempted to turn anything up. If you need more you, bring it up in the monitor mix.



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        • #5
          Thanks for ideas - keep em coming.



          Note that the big change is that we have ditched guitar amps - so I am having to run to individual monitor mixers. Prior to this I could always hear the guitar well direct from my amp.



          I am finding it really hard to get the guitar levels mixed - seems like going direct to the board makes finding the sweet spot more difficult.



          The lower stage volume is a god-send though. Really enjoying that.



          Cheers

          Comment


          • #6
            With a low enough volume level, you can run the FOH speakers in the backline. (Did that for a year with a band that was gigging 5 nights a week steady. So don't tell me it can't be done.) Most bands can't get down that low. Having your own custom mix helps, but you have to keep track on how it needs to sound to you for the band to sound right to the audience. It's sort of a weird thinking. I've monitored the FOH mix. That works but I don't like it much. (We rarely mix everything in. Usually only vocals, Sax, Kick, and keyboards only to the monitors.) I always have headphones attached to the mixer, but they're usually only used for the setup.

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            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by WynnD
              View Post

              With a low enough volume level, you can run the FOH speakers in the backline. (Did that for a year with a band that was gigging 5 nights a week steady. So don't tell me it can't be done.) Most bands can't get down that low. Having your own custom mix helps, but you have to keep track on how it needs to sound to you for the band to sound right to the audience. It's sort of a weird thinking. I've monitored the FOH mix. That works but I don't like it much. (We rarely mix everything in. Usually only vocals, Sax, Kick, and keyboards only to the monitors.) I always have headphones attached to the mixer, but they're usually only used for the setup.






              Thanks Wynn - good idea. That could be the solution.



              Cheers

              Comment


              • #8






                Quote Originally Posted by W. M. Hellinger
                View Post

                I mixed on-stage for years while playing bass. I found that eliminating a/the monitor for myself, resulting in me mostly hearing the room, worked... for me... although admittedly it took some training. Occasionally (once or twice a set) I'd walk out on the dancefloor aways for a reality check... less often as my hearing got more trained.




                My experience has been very similar to yours. I played bass and mixed for my band in the 80's. We would usually play two weeks or longer in the some hotel and then move on to the next one. I could get the sound dialed in pretty good after two weeks, but I found that having a monitor with a FOH mix really helped.

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                • #9
                  In my band -we use an electronic drum set - so EVERYTHING is just run through the PA - no stage amps - no acoustic drums to deal with - just whatever comes through the PA. Actually - we just send the same mix that is going to "the house" to our monitors - so "what we hear" is "what they hear". The monitor speakers are the same exact speakers as the FOH house speakers (but without subs). This makes it "pretty easy" to "know" what "they" are hearing - although not exactly of course - and it is always better to have a sound guy out in the audience - if you have a good one.
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                  • #10
                    I have heard bands do what Wynn suggested the only thing was, the musicians didn't know how to turn their instruments down for the vocals to be projected out to the audience. Very sad, indeed.

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                    • #11
                      On larger stages a side wash or other mirror of the FOH somewhere can help you check things without going out into the crowd. It can work on smaller stages too, but does add to the gak in the back line and may cause others to want to turn up and you end up putting more bass guitar on stage which can muddy stuff up. It's kind of trial and error.



                      We use e-drums so have complete control over volume. I bit more challenging with acoustic drums as the noise floor is raised. The good news though is you likely don't need drum fills, or really any other drum monitoring unless it's a huge stage.



                      A mixer with a meter bridge is the biggest improvement to consistency and fixing problems with specific key and guitar patches later. Being able to "See" the sound has been invaluable. As long as the EQ is set I can literally hear no FOH at all and know it still sounds good. I also know which songs need a slider bump here and there. It's pretty much second nature now.
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                      • #12
                        What he said.






                        Quote Originally Posted by Rbts
                        View Post

                        In my band -we use an electronic drum set - so EVERYTHING is just run through the PA - no stage amps - no acoustic drums to deal with - just whatever comes through the PA. Actually - we just send the same mix that is going to "the house" to our monitors - so "what we hear" is "what they hear". The monitor speakers are the same exact speakers as the FOH house speakers (but without subs). This makes it "pretty easy" to "know" what "they" are hearing - although not exactly of course - and it is always better to have a sound guy out in the audience - if you have a good one.




                        Chuck
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                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by DBR
                          View Post

                          I have heard bands do what Wynn suggested the only thing was, the musicians didn't know how to turn their instruments down for the vocals to be projected out to the audience. Very sad, indeed.




                          It is sad when musicians won't do what's good for the band. In that group I used an 825 Leslie on the floor for the organ. The sound comes out of the bottom on that one. You can do so much more in a low volume club setting that you can with extra volume. People would come into the club and stay until we were done. (You always end up with a full house that way.)

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                          • #14
                            I mixed from the stage while playing bass and singing lead vocals for many, many years!



                            A couple of things that helped: My guys were absolutely consistent and did not play the volume-swell war - we would get a rhythm level set, and I knew that my guitar players both had lead boosts that were 'just right'.



                            I knew the rig - I knew everything about how it was set up (I was a professional sound guy for years) and knew how to really 'trouble-shoot' and not just make quick changes that might temporarily fix an issue - Mixing the monitors with a less-is-more approach really helps, if you cannot hear one thing clearly, bring down the rest of the things instead of cranking it up



                            The rig was never changed - it was only ever used for our 4-person setup, so that meant that once I dialed in input levels, even the monitor mixes needed very little tweaking each night. This was a God-send when we did multiple one-nighters in a row!



                            I used IEM's. I knew what my mix sounded like in comparison to the FOH and if anything seemed odd, I would hear it (one time the guitar player knocked over the mic that was on his amp - he didn't notice because he didn't have his guitar in his wedge, I heard it drop out and looked around and quickly got it back in place... Plus, I could run out and give a listen to the FOH, pop my ears in and jam until I had to get back up and sing - bar patrons freakin' love it when you sit down at the bar and play the song - totally a Schtick that works!



                            When I worked for a city park and recs dept, I would have to mix (on a nice sized rig) from behind the stack.... That helped train me to do 'comparative mixing' where you listen to the FOH sound and then go back to your mix position and make mental notes of the differences so that you can properly 'hear' what's going on from behind the stack. Not my preferred way to go, but I mixed a ton of really good shows that way!
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                            • #15
                              I don't have much to offer over what the other guys said. No guitar amps and IEMs for us. (Except the bassist who refused to use IEMs. That is the same bassist who is no longer with us.) We program the patches on my wife's keyboards to be appropriate for the song. I do the same for my guitar processor. An expression pedal gives me all the volume boost I need.



                              The thing that helped us the most was putting a camcorder on the opposite side of the room to "listen" to us. The next day, when we are just laying in bed, we play back the video and make notes of what patches need to be tweaked.



                              Now, I'm comfortable enough with setting the levels on the first couple songs, then the IEMs go in for the rest of the night. We have always had great comments on how clean our sound is.

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