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Guys who play live: How loud do you play?


Cirrus

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If you want an engineer that knows or cares about your songs and how you want them to sound in perfect fairy tale land, then hire someone and pay them as an employee of the band. A house engineer's job is to know the venue and get a workable sound out of the band at a volume that works for the venue. It doesn't matter to them if the bass tone sounds like your record. Honestly, it doesn't matter to anyone what the bass sounds like as long as its there and the bass player doesn't {censored} up.

 

 

EQing the bass before you've even heard the full band mix is pretty indefensible man.

 

Its not even a matter of "making it sound like the record" just basic common sense. Rock band, lots of guitars, EQ the bass so the mix isnt mush.

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also, it usually helps to have a quick chat with the soundperson before the check.
CEG is a 4-piece (drums, bass, keys, guitars) and the keyboards need to be the same volume as the guitars - not mixed in the background like most soundpeople gravitate towards (saying this through experience). also, we don't want the vocals way on top. we also want reverb or delay on the background vocals, but nothing on the main vocals.

i don't write any of that stuff on our input list / tech rider since many times that {censored} doesn't get read anyways (in smaller clubs at least). rather, i have a 1 minute conversation about what kind of sound we hope to achieve and it helps loads. no matter what style you play or volume you're playing at, simply telling someone what you want in a friendly way will get you far.

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I think this post is a good example of how you can be talking about one thing on a theoretical/ idealistic level, and someone takes it literally and to its logical extreme.


In practice I've never got into details for my monitor mix other than "Can I have a bit more/ less X" And even then I've got a huge tolerance for not being able to hear my vocals. If the engineer can't get me what I need quickly, my inclination is just to say "That's better, thanks." And I've not ever even vocalised an opinion to the sound guy on a Front of House mix, ever. Nothing would be achieved by that. Nor have I ever seen a single other band ever say anything about that.


That doesn't mean I'm not thinking about these things, and I'm perfectly capable of judging whether a sound guy is good or {censored} in the privacy of my own mind. I take a little offense that because I'm expressing that I care what my band sounds like out front you're saying that a; I'm an idiot for doing so because no one cares and b; it's likely hurting my ability to put on a good show. Those are bizarre generalities and I don't really see why you've brought them to the discussion.
:confused:

If your band doesn't care what the soundguy does that's fine, it's your music, your style, your ethos. It doesn't make you superior.
:wave:



too bad cirrus is in england. i would do him.

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Loud enough to hear myself mixed appropriately with the other players, ie. slightly louder then them so I can hear what I'm doing. I usually accomplish this by pointing the amp at my head with a stand. I'm usually playing somewhere around 2-3 on the clean channel of my amp, and about the same on the dirt channel, which is modified to reduce gain. I use a boost for solos, and try to keep all of my dirt at the same overall volume so that the changes are textural.

I would MUCH rather the soundman amplify the band. He has way more control. When we have to provide all the volume ourselves, I find the stage volume gets painfully loud. I'd rather be loud enough to feel like I'm rocking, and loud enough to get the people dancing, but not loud enough that people need to be at the back of the room, or leaving. Its all about entertainment. If the crowd isn't into it, it doesn't matter how powerful your amp is.

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also, it usually helps to have a quick chat with the soundperson before the check.

CEG is a 4-piece (drums, bass, keys, guitars) and the keyboards need to be the same volume as the guitars - not mixed in the background like most soundpeople gravitate towards (saying this through experience). also, we don't want the vocals way on top. we also want reverb or delay on the background vocals, but nothing on the main vocals.


i don't write any of that stuff on our input list / tech rider since many times that {censored} doesn't get read anyways (in smaller clubs at least). rather, i have a 1 minute conversation about what kind of sound we hope to achieve and it helps loads. no matter what style you play or volume you're playing at, simply telling someone what you want in a friendly way will get you far.

 

 

your not producing an album, it's not the studio, giving a soundman advice on how to mix your band is not a good idea, unless he's your own soundman that will be working with you exclusively in the future.

the only reason to ever talk to a soundman is if you have some special/unusual requirement.

if they suck at what they do, it won't matter what you say, if they're great at what they do, it won't matter what you say.

if you're an experienced soundman and can talk their language, they may listen, otherwise forget it.

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i am well aware that shows are completely different situations than recording an album or working in the studio.

i completely disagree. i've played countless shows where my amp is just as loud as the guitar amp on stage and people come up to me afterwards and are like, "dude great show but i couldn't hear the keyboards" or "sounded cool but the keyboards were really quiet" or something similar.

 

also, most venues have lots of different styles of bands playing and not all of them have the same mix needs. i don't really see the harm with simply telling someone in a friendly, conversational way the overall sound you're going for. in my experience if the soundperson isn't a complete douche then they'll be receptive. if they don't listen, whatever...

sure, if they suck then they'll {censored} it up no matter what.

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your not producing an album, it's not the studio, giving a soundman advice on how to mix your band is not a good idea, unless he's your own soundman that will be working with you exclusively in the future.

the only reason to ever talk to a soundman is if you have some special/unusual requirement.

if they suck at what they do, it won't matter what you say, if they're great at what they do, it won't matter what you say.

if you're an experienced soundman and can talk their language, they may listen, otherwise forget it.

 

 

i disagree. i always like to have a quick chat with the sound person before shows. we do have some unusual mic needs, only 'cause i run a stereo rig, but aside from that, we don't mix like a normal rock band. what we're doing works best with a different approach. it's nothing crazy or complicated, but it's not what sound guys usually do for any ol' rock band and there's no way for them to know that necessarily if they don't know our band. i usually just have a quick friendly chat about what we're looking for and ask if there's anything they need or want from us to make things go smoother. it always goes over well. usually they're friendly back and say something like, "sure i can do that." sometimes they'll ask do we want this or that other thing. and a lot of times they deliver. in general, i've found it to help a lot. sometimes people's complaints about sound guys have more to do with the dude not knowing what the band wants more than it is that they're bad at what they do.

 

i do have some experience running sound, so maybe that helps, but i think it's a good idea anyway.

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I usually leave my amp on whatever settings I had it on for practice, then adjust from there. I'll adjust the volume based on my perception, and then wait for the soundguy to give some direction. I'm actually told to turn up most of the time...

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I've been doing sound for over ten years, mostly corporate schlock with professionals, I don't think I've ever had a musician approach the board and talk to me. it's a full plate too with two guitars, bass, drums, three bg singers, keys, Hammond, three horns, main + guest vox, 4 bg vox.

in a professional environment, it's assumed that you know what you're doing.

when soundchecking and setting up monitors, there's lot's of discussion, but as afar as the mix out front, that's the soundmans responsibility, not the guys on stage.

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I've been doing sound for over ten years, mostly corporate schlock with professionals, I don't think I've ever had a musician approach the board and talk to me. it's a full plate too with two guitars, bass, drums, three bg singers, keys, Hammond, three horns, main + guest vox, 4 bg vox.

in a professional environment, it's assumed that you know what you're doing.

when soundchecking and setting up monitors, there's lot's of discussion, but as afar as the mix out front, that's the soundmans responsibility, not the guys on stage.

 

 

Not always, I've been working and touring for over 8 years and when I have bands with audio requirements who take the time to ask for specific things, I'll do it and check with them. Unless you have a listen in advance, you can't always know what the band wants. I had bands who demanded slapback because that's what they always had while others didn't care or wanted it dry.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone who comes up to you politely, tells you their preference and work with you on delivering a good performance. If anything, that would be more an incentive to work out a better solution. Cordiality gets things done at a show.

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your not producing an album, it's not the studio, giving a soundman advice on how to mix your band is not a good idea, unless he's your own soundman that will be working with you exclusively in the future.

the only reason to ever talk to a soundman is if you have some special/unusual requirement.

if they suck at what they do, it won't matter what you say, if they're great at what they do, it won't matter what you say.

if you're an experienced soundman and can talk their language, they may listen, otherwise forget it.

 

 

this is the best one in here, very true

 

i get what i want on stage so i can play well, normally

if not, then FK IT! Its a FKNG ROCK SHOW not a Coldplay concert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hasn't anyone here ever put together a stage plot and input list to send it to the venue ahead of time?

I thought this was pretty common

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help out the soundman ahead of time

and DO go see him, talk to him, be nice to him, buy him a drink, and thank him afterwards.

try to make their lives easier, put he musicians name on there to facilitate interaction

 

i really disagree with the notion of NOT talking to the soundguy.

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I've been doing sound for over ten years, mostly corporate schlock with professionals, I don't think I've ever had a musician approach the board and talk to me. it's a full plate too with two guitars, bass, drums, three bg singers, keys, Hammond, three horns, main + guest vox, 4 bg vox.

in a professional environment, it's assumed that you know what you're doing.

when soundchecking and setting up monitors, there's lot's of discussion, but as afar as the mix out front, that's the soundmans responsibility, not the guys on stage.

 

 

well, "corporate schlock" as you say, is going to be pretty bland cookie cutter music and is all going to be mixed in a pretty similar way. not that it's not a challenge at all or that it doesn't take someone skilled to make it sound good, but it's all goinng to be a similar type of end aesthetic to the mix. kind of like, if you can mix one classic rock cover band well, you can probably mix them all pretty well. with that type of music, you're not going to have one band come in who wants anything that radically different than the last band that was there. you know the genre and you know what the bands want to sound like.

 

but that's not how every situation is. i've played plenty of clubs with knowledgeable and skilled sound people who ultimately had little familiarity with the type of music that was happening that night. i have tried, and watched other bands try just letting the sound people do their thing. you often end up with a mix more fit for a normal bar rock band or something. heavy on the drums with the vocals right out front on top of everything and pretty mild guitars. that sounds pretty bad for blackened doom metal. and it's not really the sound guy's fault if he doesn't know what you're going for. he's just as likely to think your band sucks and that's it. which, maybe he wouldn't like it anyway, but giving him a starting point for making a mix more befitting of the type of music makes a more pleasant experience for the folks who come to watch it and the band. and ultimately helps the sound guy know more of what those type of bands want. i've also tried, and watch other bands try doing what i do now. check in with the sound guy. let him know a few starting pointers so he can get the feel of it. it's usually way more succesful. often the sound dudes are receptive and catch on really quick. here's what i'll usually say about vocals. "we usually like the vocals to be kind of low so they blend with the other instruments and with a {censored}load of reverb. so they're more like tortured screams from a distant cave than normal vocals." sound guys will often be like "okay that's cool. you want me to put just a little delay in there too to help that." then i'm usually like, yeah, if you think that'll be good. i like to say things to let them know i trust them to have a good ear. sometimes we'll mention keeping the guitars heavier, but we usually don't have to. just a little pointer and a lot of folks will get the general idea and roll with it if they have a good ear and are good at what they do. a lot of times we'll have sound guys say they liked it, or that it was fun to mix or they thought we sounded good. guys that didn't know the genre very well before and who ended up doing a good job. usually it's pretty obvious from the get go if the sound person knows the genre or not, but i've almost never had one get butt hurt at me for saying what we want, and usually we all have a friendly good time.

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we send a stage plot and an input list but at smaller clubs they usually don't get looked at. generally just before we check i go up to the soundperson, introduce myself and ask their name, ask if they got our input list then explain our setup and throw in those few particularities. easy peasy.

 

i've played shows consistenly for the past 10 years in rooms of all different sizes and am just relaying what works best for me and my band.

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your not producing an album, it's not the studio, giving a soundman advice on how to mix your band is not a good idea, unless he's your own soundman that will be working with you exclusively in the future.

the only reason to ever talk to a soundman is if you have some special/unusual requirement.

if they suck at what they do, it won't matter what you say, if they're great at what they do, it won't matter what you say.

if you're an experienced soundman and can talk their language, they may listen, otherwise forget it.

 

 

In my mind it's not that different, they are two different ways of getting your sound across, you wouldn't go into the studio with a random engineer and say "do what you want", why should it be any different for a gig.

We have the same issues as smallsnd/bigsnd, the keys, guitars and vocals should be about the same level, but we have gigs where the keys are quiet and the vocals are right out there and have no effect.

I'm not sure how being a sound engineer yourself makes any difference, I'm not saying a band should go in saying which frequencies need to be at what volume, just giving an idea of what levels the instruments should be.

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^ you're right about the corporate schlock thing, it's all cookie cutter and not much needs to be said.
any seasoned FOH soundman has done pretty much all genres, a death metal band isn't going to throw him.
mixing is an art, telling a guy how to mix is not a good idea, trust me on this.
let's say, there's a show with 5 bands playing that night.
let's say there's 4 people in each band.
if every band member went and had a chat with the FOH person, that's 20 peoples opinions on how they should mix.
who's opinion takes precedent?
the bass player will want a bass heavy mix, the guitar player will want to be out front, the drummer will want to make sure that new $600.00 snare is heard, and on it goes.

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obviously not every band member should bombard the soundman with requests

but one designated person (band manager even) to give the soundman the major cues.

{censored} like:

the guitarists are playing baritones, so don't cut out the low end

& bury the vocals in the mix,

and the obligatory: don't even put the rhythm guitarists vox in the mix.

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obviously not every band member should bombard the soundman with requests
but one designated person (band manager even) to give the soundman the major cues.
{censored} like:
the guitarists are playing baritones, so don't cut out the low end
& bury the vocals in the mix,
and the obligatory: don't even put the rhythm guitarists vox in the mix.

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^ you're right about the corporate schlock thing, it's all cookie cutter and not much needs to be said.

any seasoned FOH soundman has done pretty much all genres, a death metal band isn't going to throw him.

mixing is an art, telling a guy how to mix is not a good idea, trust me on this.

let's say, there's a show with 5 bands playing that night.

let's say there's 4 people in each band.

if every band member went and had a chat with the FOH person, that's 20 peoples opinions on how they should mix.

who's opinion takes precedent?

the bass player will want a bass heavy mix, the guitar player will want to be out front, the drummer will want to make sure that new $600.00 snare is heard, and on it goes.

 

 

Going by your example that's only 4 peoples opinions on how each band should be mixed, one bands ideas shouldn't have any impact on the others. Also, a good band should have an idea on how they want to sound as a group, not just each persons parts, only one person really needs to talk to the band.

A good soundman will ask a band how they want certain aspects, not just mix how they think it should sound.

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first of all, i'm not advocating telling someone how to mix at all... i think you're misunderstanding what i'm saying.

second of all, i am the band representative who talks to the soundperson - no one else in my band has that conversation and/or if they do, then i don't. i agree it would be {censored}ing obnoxious if everyone in the band were trying to get their 2 cents in. my bandmates and i all agree with my/our basic mix comments based on recordings, video clips and comments from people at our shows.

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We're looking at getting an engineer friend of ours to start being our live soundguy. Our main problem is that my vocals run through an FX pedal that I have set to have a dry and wet output. Often they merely plug in both without adjusting the mix between the two, so either my vocals are way too loud because it has double the amount coming in, and the effects feedback easily, or they run the dry vocals way louder than the wet, so they're almost pointless. The few times we've played shows put on by our engineer friend this year, were probably the only times where all four of us in the band were truly happy with the overall sound. They were also the two shows where we got the most compliments on our sound. It is easier going up to someone you know and letting them know your special needs for shows. I myself am extremely anti-confrontational, almost to a fault, where I psych myself out of asking the soundguy for help for fear of sounding like a douchey "rockstar type," but at the end of the day, we're there to play a show, and the better we sound, the better it'll be for everyone else, no?

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but at the end of the day, we're there to play a show, and the better we sound, the better it'll be for everyone else, no?

 

Haven't you learned anything from this thread? You should be grateful the sound guy is there at all! He's the star of the show, you're just putty for him to shape into art. His art. :D

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In my mind it's not that different, they are two different ways of getting your sound across, you wouldn't go into the studio with a random engineer and say "do what you want", why should it be any different for a gig.

We have the same issues as smallsnd/bigsnd, the keys, guitars and vocals should be about the same level, but we have gigs where the keys are quiet and the vocals are right out there and have no effect.

I'm not sure how being a sound engineer yourself makes any difference, I'm not saying a band should go in saying which frequencies need to be at what volume, just giving an idea of what levels the instruments should be.

 

 

a live venue and the studio are two completely different experiences.

the times I've recorded with a band as a player, we did leave it in the hands of the producer/engineer, that's their job. they know more about recording and mixing an album than I ever will.

in the studio you can get away with making suggestions on a mix because, there's time, you're paying for it, and it's "you're art". ultimately though, I trust the producer/engineer to make the right call if we're suggesting something foolish.

telling a soundman at a gig you want the keys the same volume as the guitars and vocals low in the mix is bordering on ridiculous.

when I do a show, I'm constantly mixing, if it's a keyboard pad that should be in the background, that's where it's going to be, if it's a synth bass line that's should move the earth, it will. keys are dynamic and should be mixed accordingly.

a mix isn't static, you don't set and forget the board, that's not mixing.

when I gig as a bass player, I don't say anything to the soundman, I'm there to play bass.

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