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  • Basement Warriors Whole Band Single Sound System


    I'm new to this forum and a music sound noob too. After 15 or so years off from playing edrums in my basement through a keyboard amp, I'm getting back into it. I'll often be playing alone (headphones a lot), but also frequently with a friend - and we'll alternate on drums and guitar, some backing tracks and with both of us on vocals. We may bring in an occasional bass or other guitar too, and maybe more singers.

    I've preordered an Alesis Strike Pro edrum kit, and now that they've posted the manuals, maybe I'll actually get it this month. In the meantime, I bought two Alto TS215 powered PA speakers and mounted them on poles. Also got a Peavey PV10AT passive mixer. And I have 4 microphones and stands, though all low end.

    This is all setup in a corner of my 27x27' unfinished basement - though there is a carpet on about 10x27 of the floor, and a couch and love seat also on the carpeted area. The rest of the basement has a pool table (on concrete floor) and about 1/4 unfinished storage area. The "stage" is in one corner of the carpeted part of the basement, and is about 10x10' (with more space to roam, if necessary).

    I also hung some vinyl-backed black linen cloth on the two adjacent walls near the stage, but mostly for [non-sheer] looks, and I doubt it'll do much for sound improvement in a concrete box.

    While waiting for the drums to ship, I started tinkering with my iPad plugged into the mixer and some karaoke. The speakers are about 12-13' apart, each about 10' from the corner of the "stage".

    But I quickly found that I couldn't really hear my vocals well. So I turned my speakers in towards me, but that didn't help much either. And again, this is just my iPad playing YouTube karaoke. I'm sure it's an understatement to admit that this could get much more challenging when we have drums and guitars and more singers.

    So I'm wondering about many things and spent a good chunk of this weekend reading. But rather than just throwing money at gear that I'm not sure will help, I thought I'd ask for some general direction here.

    1. MAINS: Will the 15" Altos be too much for a basement? I went with 15" vs. 12" thinking I could avoid needing a sub this way. Right or wrong?

    2. DRUM FEEL: Will I need a sub to get good punch from the drums? Or are the 15s enough? (Of course, I'll know better when the drums arrive.)

    3. MONITORING: Do I need at least one wedge monitor for mics? What about guitars? I think my mixer only has one aux send, so is the best we can do is to run a mix of all the mics out to one wedge? Or will that totally mess up singers whenever there's more than one? Or should I consider EIMs?

    4. MIXER: I bought the PV10AT partly based on its price, but also because I thought the Autotune might be cool. But it's just a 10-channel mixer. If I want to be able to run through it: edrums, 2-4 mics, 1-2 guitars and maybe a bass, should I return it for a larger one (with more aux sends)? Or am I just trying to supply sound for too many people through one PA system? I realize guitars are better through their own amps; but to make it easy for guests to just drop in, plug in and jam, I'm trying to see how much this system can handle.

    5. SPEAKERS: For these desires, should I add a sub (or two) and a monitor (or 2 or 3)?

    Again, though the basement is 27x27, I mention that for sound reflection; but we'd be playing mostly within the 10x10' area, spilling over a few feet, as needed. But it's all one open space (with boiler and water heater and chimney in middle).

    At this point, I'm not concerned with if we ever gig outside my basement. If/when that day comes and my equipment can't handle it, we'll rent. But I don't see that happening really for awhile.

    Appreciate any thoughts. Thank you.
    Last edited by Sandman62; 04-02-2017, 04:47 PM.

  • #2
    You don't need mains in a basement - and really, you don't want them. You just want wedge monitors, and you want to run as quietly as possible.

    I'm not really familiar with the Alto product line, but I imagine their 15" powered speaker will do the trick for monitoring E-drums. It's NOT going to "THUMP" like an arena, but let's be realistic, a single good pro-audio subwoofer costs more than you have invested in your whole system. That's not a criticism, just an observation.

    My system is setup with a 12" wedge pointed at everybody in the basement. It works great. I could run e-drums and bass through it, but I choose not to.

    When we rehearse at my drummer's house, his sound system is setup with "mains" pointed at the band, and we struggle to hear ourselves. Most annoyingly, the SPLs there get high enough that I have to wear earplugs. It's just not an ideal monitoring setup IMO.

    Do daemons dream of electric sleep()?


    • #3
      Thanks for the info Wes. So if you don't run bass and drums through your 12" wedge, what do they play through?

      Could I just turn one or both of my Altos on its side as a floor monitor and leave one up for our fans?


      • #4
        It can be very tricky balancing everything through the monitors... it can be done, but in your case I wouldn't.

        The Alto15s can certainly be laid down and used as monitors, and the biggest issue I think you have is trying to run the entire band through the PA, especially the instruments.

        As a vocalist, two things are crucial: stage volume and monitor clarity.

        Because you have e-drums, a small bass amp and a couple of low wattage guitar amps should be inexpensive enough and will provide more flexibility. Just keep the volumes within reason, and consider going back to using the keyboard amp [hopefully it has a 15" in it] for the drums rather than pumping it into the board. Having the kick thumping up into the vocalists face is not going to work out well, nor is having the drum sound going out only on the FOH mains and nothing back with the band; what this will do is make you pump the drums louder so you can hear them...not the right solution. So a separate stage monitor/amp for the e-drums seems a good solution.

        If you opt for separate monitors, there should be at least one with every mic stand for the vocalists, and typically we put one back with the drummer whether he/she sings or not.
        For rehearsal purposes I like nearfield monitors, like 'hot spots'; some can be mounted on the mic stand with a boom arm above the monitor, some just sit on a mic stand. One of the advantages is less wattage required to drive nearfields, and less volume thrown on to the stage muddying up the mix, plus they are small and light. Drawbacks are, of course, extra mic stands with the older units and smaller powered units...but worth it if space and floor clutter are a concern.
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        • #5
          Thanks for the detailed reply daddymack.

          I no longer have the keyboard amp. But maybe the Simmons DA200s would be a suitable replacement for the drums? But being just one speaker, there'd be no panning sound from hihat to floor toms, right? Also, if we want to record, don't I need to run the drums through the mixer? Or would I run the drum amp to the mixer instead?

          If I go this separate amp per performer route, I could start with, as you suggested, a couple guitar amps and one for bass (maybe even wait til we get a bass). But what about vocalists? Maybe one monitor for a mic stand. But the drummer and guitarist will sing too. Do I need a separate monitor for each of them just for their vocals? (separate from their instrument amps)

          So I'm just trying to understand how this all fits together... separate amps for drums, guitars, bass, and individual nearfield monitors for each vocalist and the drummer. All of these are positioned directly in front of each performer so they can each hear themselves? But then no one in the band really hears a full mix, right? And if we had a small audience, then we need something FOH, correct? And for the infrequent occasions of that, it probably doesn't make sense to keep both of the Alto PA speakers if they'll only be used when we need FOH, right? Maybe keep one though or is there a better solution to run the whole band's mix through for a basement audience?

          Thanks again for your advice. Much appreciated.
          Last edited by Sandman62; 04-03-2017, 08:48 PM.


          • #6
            We run the bass through a Mark Bass 400W amp with 2x10+horn enclosure. This is way overkill for a basement, but the tone is great and the bass player is getting a handle on his volume levels. This is also exactly how we perform........no coincidence!

            You can keep the e-drums in the mixer without putting them through every monitor.

            You don't need stereo.

            The easiest way for you to get a decent basement sound is to put the drums and vocals into one speaker, and point it at the drummer's head. Put vocals only (and maybe a tiny tiny tiny bit of drums) into the other wedges, ideally, one per band member.

            I see no reason to get rid of the Altos, they look like they should make decent wedges, although they are a bit big for that. 12" is a better form factor, but 15" is fine.

            You are right that nobody in the band hears the out-front mix. This is SOP. Band members need to hear themselves clearly. As for your basement audience, just point a speaker with vocals-only at them and the stage bleed will take care of the rest. Even an Alto TX-8 would do the job to fill in the high frequencies that won't make it to them.

            If you want to record, you really want a way to multitrack everything. Your analog mixer won't really be enough. The cheapest way to get there is with the Behringer XR-18. It will stream each input to your PC running a program like Ardour. Then you can tweak and mix on the PC to your heart's content. The XR-18 is also a very competent live mixer, and is fully capable of complex routing, fancy effects, etc.

            Do daemons dream of electric sleep()?


            • #7
              FWIW... we run everything except acoustic drums through the PA in our music room, with two 8" speakers and a 12" subwoofer facing the musicians. The two 8" speakers are actually monitors, although we have them pole mounted just because we can. The sub could be almost anywhere, but it happens to be useful as the base support for one of the smaller speakers... so we've taken advantage of that.

              The room is approx the same amount of space you have, but more of a rectangle instead of a square. Our system has given us plenty of power for the environment.

              My mini-kit is an e-drum thing, except for cymbals; when using that set-up, the pads/kick go through the PA. I suspect the 15" FOH speakers you've got will get you started, but I also suspect you'd be happier with a sub... and our bass player is happier with a sub, too.

              Last edited by Drummer44; 04-04-2017, 04:22 PM.
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              • #8
                Thanks Drummer44. Good to know that setup works for others. We'll see how much punch the Alto 15"s provide when the drums arrive. If not enough, a sub can be added.