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Big Band gig coming up. Would like your suggestions on mic EQ, selection, and setup


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Good afternoon, everyone!

 

I have an upcoming gig for an 18-piece Big Band group. We will be performing in a small outdoor setting under a bandstand. Volume requirements are modest (don't need it loud past 50-75 feet or so); in fact, we will have to be careful to keep the volume down. Yours truly will be mixing the show from on stage and playing bass. Budget for sound (and everything else) is nil, so we will be using my rig.

 

Rig is as follows:

 

Peavey 16FX Mixer (in Mono mode)

Digitech DSP256 Effects

DOD 31-band EQ for Aux 1

QSC HPR122i (x2) for FOH

Yorkville Pulse PW Sub (x1) for FOH

Peavey PR12D (x2) for monitors

 

Mic List:

1 - Beta 58A on Shure SLX wireless

1 - Peavey PVM 48

1 - Peavey PVM 45

1 - Shure SM58

1 - AKG D880

1 - Sennheiser e835

1 - EV Cardinal

3 - Sennheiser e845

4 - Peavey PVM22 (my favorite sax mic, by far!)

 

Ok, so the plan is to give the lead singer (female) the wireless Mic, a Beta 58A on a Shure SLX wireless system, run the bass and keys direct - if at all, and mic the rest of the stuff in your basic 'zone coverage' pattern. The overall effect is not to get stupid loud, but to use the PA to get vocals on top of the mix, and balance the sound overall. Yes, I know most of you would want a 6-box hang per side for this, but high volume is not our goal. The goal is clean sound at modest volumes for the folks in front of the band shell. Oh, and since we are a non-profit, no budget for more gear.

 

With only one 31-band external EQ, there will be only one Aux mix. Vocal mic will use the external Digitech effects as the built-ins in the mixer are kind of so-so. Power is two 20A circuits with 8xGFCI outlets each.

 

So, my questions:

 

1. What are some recommended EQ settings on the Beta 58A wireless mic to help it sound good with a female singer? Should I use another wired mic instead?

 

2. What combination of mics would go good on the horn sections? I was planning to use the PVM 22s on the saxes, e845s on trumpet, e835/SM58 on trombones, and put 1-2 mics on drums as needed.

 

3. Any suggestions for EQ on the various mics to optimize their sound?

 

4. I plan to gate/comp the drum mics using the built-in effects of the mixer. Seem reasonable? Settings? Mic choice and placement?

 

5. Compress/limit the horns using the other effects channel on the board?

 

6. Other suggestions?

 

I have mixed this band on this rig once before for smaller gig and, while it worked, I was not as prepared or as practiced then and would like to do a better job this time. Any help or input you can provide would be appreciated. This time, I have enough mic stands, transport, mic cables, and power. These all proved troublesome last time I rolled out the bigger system and I would like to be better prepared.

 

Thanks!

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I suggest you EQ according to how the vocalist sounds. Any pre-determined setting should be viewed with suspicion.

 

You may want to avoid micing the trumpets at all, and simply let their natural volume plus what will inevitably bleed into the neighboring mics handle them.

 

I'd put a mic on the kick and either near the snare or overhead on the kit, and avoid using any gating...it's a solution for which you might not have a problem.

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Thanks, CraigV! Of my mics, which do you think might be well suited for the drum mic config your suggest?

 

Honestly, I'm not too sure. I'd suggest maybe the PVM 48 on an overhead, but you may have trouble finding a compromise for the kick. Maybe the PVM 45.

 

This is why a bunch of SM-57's is a godsend...you can put them almost anywhere, and they won't sound great on any of the positions....but they won't sound bad :D

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CraigV, the e845s are very similar in many regards to the SM57, and, yes, I do need to add a few to the mic kit, but might the 845 make a workable kick mic?

 

jwlussow - hmm, interesting idea. That would be much simpler, that is for sure. How and where did you set up the "solo" mics?

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Once you start micing drums you've set a tough job in motion IMO.

 

If it were me (and I was mixing from stage) I would throw up a kick mic just in case, and have a couple of solo mics. Let the band mix themselves.

 

I've seen a few outdoor shows like this with community bands. Some didn't even have solo mics, and it still worked out okay IMO (except for flute solos).

 

Just depends on your intended area of coverage.

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18 pc band mixed from the stage sounds pretty daunting. If it were me I'd try and scrounge up 3 or 4 condenser mics and mic it almost like a choir, just trying to amplify the natural mix of the band. I'd probably throw up an overhead on the drums and mic the kick, although with one sub at an outdoor event it may not matter much. I'd use the other condensers a few feet in front of the horns, sax, etc and just tell them to back off during solos.

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My experience with this is that the horn section is so loud (compared to the other instruments) they usually don't require micing. I'm sure that venue has a lot to do with it however. How many solo's are you working around? Knowing how many and who will help your strategy. IF you have any input with instrument location, try to avoid having any quieter instruments (flute) seated next to the horns. Since you will most likely be forced to mic the flute, the bleed-thru from the horns will still overpower the flute. The drums are a background element in this type of music so maybe one overhead (a condensor if possible) a little kick and a little snare. I would also attempt to keep the vocals away from the horns. I realize that's not always possible but I think you will find the horns to be controlling factor.

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I find i lose a muted trumped if not for a solo mic

 

but in general i send trumpet players as far away as posable lol

 

You really dont want to complcate stuff with gates comps

if you have keys and hes really bad at his settings or touch settings

then theres a reason for it

 

use the mics you have to mic the saxs the berry needs its own

the other sax i believe need their own mics also

i usually do one mic per three bone players the mic is on a 6 inch floor stand

 

one kick and one overhead

bass di

ax mic

and your singers mic

a bit of verb if you like

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Thanks, everyone, for the great advice. I believe that I am guilty of way over-thinking this task, especially with my smallish PA system and limited mic selection. It seems that jwusslow and jkm both suggest a simpler approach that will probably work better. The band, especially the horn section, is quite capable of being loud and audible for the distances required without too much help. I think focusing on getting the vocals up over the band and balancing the sound overall is a simpler and better approach.

 

If any of you are in or around Gainesville, FL on 1/22/11, PM me and maybe you can we can arrange for you to drop by for the gig.

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I suggest you EQ according to how the vocalist sounds. Any pre-determined setting should be viewed with suspicion.

 

 

+1 on this. Always start with your EQ flat, and then tweak to fix problems. And if you are going to be working with the Band multiple times, you can make que sheets to record channel eq settings that are for aesthetic tweaks to make a vocalist sound better. But be cautious using those settings without first listening to the band through the PA in a different venue. The same tweaks may not work the same way in different locales.

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Well, I definitely feel better prepared for this outing than my last one! The last time was on short notice and I was woefully unprepared. Oddly, our smaller indoor gigs using my teeny PA and just 4 mics with minimal processing has been really successful and sounded good.

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With big bands, especially in small rooms (

 

 

He knows of what he speaks.

 

I spent four years mixing a big band in every conceivable type of venue, from gardens to theaters to concert halls to cafeterias. I found that usually, very little if any miking was needed for the brass or the drums. Piano is challenging if you have one - you'll need to mic it. But if it's an electronic keyboard, it's easier.

 

The saxes might need a touch in the mains. And the bass. Of course the vocalist needs some reinforcement.

 

Mainly your job is to bring up, in a subtle and tasteful way, the instruments that can't acoustically compete with the louder ones. Also, you might think about replacing a touch of lost HF in the drums, by using a single overhead to give the cymbals some life.

 

In my years with this kind of ensemble, I experimented with different types of mic setups. I found that with a single pair of overheads set up in the wind section, closest to the saxes, if they were good mics, you didn't need to do anything else for the winds. Bring up the vocals to the foreground, add in a little bass & piano, and a touch of drum overheads, and you're done.

 

Oh yes - one more thing - a mic out front for soloists. Only problem is that the trumpet players often blow right into the mic, so you need to have plenty of headroom. Frankly, in the setting you are describing, you won't need much push for the soloists, but a little helps to get them out above the band, especially outdoors. Use a really tough mic that can handle a ton of level for that purpose. I used to like the EV RE20 for the solo mic.

 

But I agree with Abzurd that mixing from the stage is going to be a challenge...

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Well, got some good news. The keys will be electric, so I will just take a DI feed from him. I have a line on a condenser mic or two (Samson C01). I am thinking of teaming the borrowed C01 (maybe 2) with the EV Cardinal for general band mic duty (chorus-style, as suggested above) and just setting up 1 gtr mic, 2 drum (overhead, kick - if needed), vocal, and an announce mic. Simple, clean, easy. I will see if the director wants a solo mic.

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Other qualities notwithstanding, the advent and sophistication of live sound reinforcement/sound engineering has, in my experience, affected interpretation of music very much when it comes to DYNAMICS.

 

Muted trumpet: the rest of the band is reading/playing pianissimo, sax solo: piano, etc etc.

 

Many sound engineers' reaction: wtf, turn up turn up! When the forte/fortissimo kicks in everyone gets pinned up against the back wall. Currently, many parties in the process seem to be after the magic limited/compressed sound that ends up in a fairly bland, constant level (I suppose we have to thank MTV for much of that).

 

In my big band days, dynamics were so so important..... listening to the balance (me in the trombone section or playing bass?), letting the soloist cut through, pumping when necessary, always listening. The band leader, of course, would have quite a large part to play during rehearsal time and post show critiques, but all band members had responsibilities in the regard.

 

Bottom line, IMHO, rather far less than too much. Let the band also listen to the music and play accordingly.

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Bottom line, IMHO, rather far less than too much. Let the band also listen to the music and play accordingly.

 

 

I think this is the best advice so far. My thanks to all of you for showing me the light.

 

 

I would recommend for such a large band and it's outside to use a a sound person. Especially if there is a horn section. IMHO

 

 

I agree, but that is not an option, for a couple of reasons. I will have an assistant on site to help advise me and make minor adjustments during the gig. My plan is to shoot for a simple balanced mix and let the band mostly mix itself.

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