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We are dropping our backline


jeff42

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We had a band meeting last night to discuss a bunch of stuff and we decided to try losing our amps and just using powered monitors for our stage volume.

 

This will cut the amount of equipment we have to lug and really cut down on setup time. We talked about it once before but nixed the idea. Now we are going to give it a shot... and my question has always been why not? Our stage amps are only used to amplfy. All the sound modeling is done with our processors/pedal boards/modules and so on.

 

Our band has been around for about 8 1/2 years and we are trying to figure out the best way to bring the least amount of stuff and to have our set up and tear down time cut down. Without hiring roadies of course. :lol:

 

I think this will work pretty well, our stage volume is low because no one has to play over the natural volume of acoustic drums, I play Roland Vdrums so I can just turn down. It is nice to not have your ears ringing after a gig like they used to back in the 90s. :thu:

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I think the only issue will be if a couple of your guys decide they just don't like the "sound" of the monitors. That, and if the are used to "feeling" their amps at all, it will take some getting used to.

 

We're in the process of switching over to IEMs. I'm hoping we can completely loose the entire backline in the process.

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I think the only issue will be if a couple of your guys decide they just don't like the "sound" of the monitors. That, and if the are used to "feeling" their amps at all, it will take some getting used to.

 

 

That's what our bassist is saying. He thinks he is going to miss the feel of his amp but he is still going to go through his head just direct to the board and not his cab.

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For you guys I don't see a problem. The venues you seem to play you are always in front of the crowd. You are already using V drums with success and you run your keys through the PA with no need for them to be amplified. It will help with volume control and of course your back.

 

It wouldn't be an option for us as

 

#1- The band all uses IEM's which greatly reduces any bleed over/stage wash for sound the PA doesn't fill.

 

#2 Some rooms it's just not practical for design reasons. Either the shape of the stage area leaves people to the sides (where there would be major dead spots) or the stage is wide (25-30ft in some cases) between PA that the spread between speakers wouldn't allow enough coverage.

 

It would be a nice option though for some smaller gig situations we play. Each year we play an event on a small riverboat and loading gear can be harrowing. It's on a few 2x4 planks during low tide. and each time, loading amps on this boat looks like a scene from some war movie (soliders loading guns on a riverboat).

 

Let us know how it works out. :thu:

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That's what our bassist is saying. He thinks he is going to miss the feel of his amp but he is still going to go through his head just direct to the board and not his cab.

 

 

We haven't really worked with the IEMs yet---we did a rehearsal with the stock earbuds, and now we're all waiting for custom buds to be shipped to us---but I got the bass player and guitarist to agree to at least TRY the idea of playing with no back line.

 

The big challenge is going to be talking the drummer into getting a V-drum kit....

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It wouldn't be an option for us as


#1- The band all uses IEM's which greatly reduces any bleed over/stage wash for sound the PA doesn't fill.


#2 Some rooms it's just not practical for design reasons. Either the shape of the stage area leaves people to the sides (where there would be major dead spots) or the stage is wide (25-30ft in some cases) between PA that the spread between speakers wouldn't allow enough coverage.

 

 

You lost me here. If you're using all IEMs, how are there any dead spots? Are you saying you need stage volume from amplifiers so people on the side of the stage can hear them because they can't hear them coming out of the PA? How are they hearing vocals in that case?

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I think the only issue will be if a couple of your guys decide they just don't like the "sound" of the monitors. That, and if the are used to "feeling" their amps at all, it will take some getting used to.


We're in the process of switching over to IEMs. I'm hoping we can completely loose the entire backline in the process.

 

 

Just make sure your PA has enough depth and 'spread' to handle the rooms and gig situations. It might sound like a no brainer but once you remove the backline in an all IEM band just be prepared for a differen't dynamic when it comes to managing sound in a room. In many ways it can give you great control over the mix and volume but invaribly you will be left with major dead spots. Extra sound reinforcement will surely be needed for larger rooms. We have a powerful PA. All Yorkville powered speakers. 4800 watts and these things can throw sound for miles. One room we play has a back wall of 190' and you can hear the mix crystal clear and we've filled spaces as large as 4000 sq without nudging above unity. Yet the draw back is that these have a narrow speaker field (60x40) and the bass tends to overshadow the mids and highs outside that field. Off to the edges vocals and guitar fade away... to the sides vocals are barely audible. It's just a weird dynamic... which is probably why you don't see bands rushing to go all direct even though current technology supports it. I expect ModMan to chime in here as he is way more experienced running sound and usually has sensible advice. I don't see this a problem at all for wedding and corp gigs... but for niteclub gigs it may sound a bit thin.

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That's what our bassist is saying. He thinks he is going to miss the feel of his amp but he is still going to go through his head just direct to the board and not his cab.

 

 

I do that at some gigs, just go thru the monitor or sometimes there's enough in the subs I can usually hear & feel that.

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For you guys I don't see a problem. The venues you seem to play you are always in front of the crowd. You are already using V drums with success and you run your keys through the PA with no need for them to be amplified. It will help with volume control and of course your back.


It wouldn't be an option for us as


#1- The band all uses IEM's which greatly reduces any bleed over/stage wash for sound the PA doesn't fill.


#2 Some rooms it's just not practical for design reasons. Either the shape of the stage area leaves people to the sides (where there would be major dead spots) or the stage is wide (25-30ft in some cases) between PA that the spread between speakers wouldn't allow enough coverage.


It would be a nice option though for some smaller gig situations we play. Each year we play an event on a small riverboat and loading gear can be harrowing. It's on a few 2x4 planks during low tide. and each time, loading amps on this boat looks like a scene from some war movie (soliders loading guns on a riverboat).


Let us know how it works out.
:thu:

 

With regards to number two.. Why not just use a center fill? We ran into that problem at some venues. With acoustic drums you couldn't hear the vocals in the center of the floor near the stage, and with electronic drums you couldn't hear basically anything. We bought an extra monitor wedge, faced it straight out, and it completely solved the problem.

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You lost me here. If you're using all IEMs, how are there any dead spots? Are you saying you need stage volume from amplifiers so people on the side of the stage can hear them because they can't hear them coming out of the PA? How are they hearing vocals in that case?

 

 

They are not... and that is a major problem. No matter how you eq the vocals without stage wash or floor monitors the vocals are completely lost side of stage. I tend to take out my IEM's during the show and it's like a stage mix with the vocals edited out. We're looking to provide some stage wash or side fills to help fill in the gap. One room we play has a 30ft spread between the mains and you can walk out about 5 ft- from the stage to the edge of the 'X' and vocals are barely audible. Of course they would be more audible if your ears weren't fighting both the backline and the faint bleed from the FOH in that position. But even with an all direct backline we would still need extra sound reinforcement to fill those gaps.

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Just make sure your PA has enough depth and 'spread' to handle the rooms and gig situations. It might sound like a no brainer but once you remove the backline in an all IEM band just be prepared for a differen't dynamic when it comes to managing sound in a room. In many ways it can give you great control over the mix and volume but invaribly you will be left with major dead spots. Extra sound reinforcement will surely be needed for larger rooms. We have a powerful PA. All Yorkville powered speakers. 4800 watts and these things can throw sound for miles. One room we play has a back wall of 190' and you can hear the mix crystal clear and we've filled spaces as large as 4000 sq without nudging above unity. Yet the draw back is that these have a narrow speaker field (60x40) and the bass tends to overshadow the mids and highs outside that field. Off to the edges vocals and guitar fade away... to the sides vocals are barely audible. It's just a weird dynamic... which is probably why you don't see bands rushing to go all direct even though current technology supports it. I expect ModMan to chime in here as he is way more experienced running sound and usually has sensible advice. I don't see this a problem at all for wedding and corp gigs... but for niteclub gigs it may sound a bit thin.

 

 

Yeah, we'll have to see how it works, for sure. Our soundman is certainly excited by the idea of less stage volume to deal with.

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We all run direct at smaller venues. It saves time, backs, and stage volume. However, there is a disconnect - it's just not the same as having an amp behind you. It might be better if we could have our own monitor mixes. We'll find out when I get a new mixer. Until then, we just deal with it.

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They are not... and that is a major problem. No matter how you eq the vocals without stage wash or floor monitors the vocals are completely lost side of stage. I tend to take out my IEM's during the show and it's like a stage mix with the vocals edited out. We're looking to provide some stage wash or side fills to help fill in the gap. One room we play has a 30ft spread between the mains and you can walk out about 5 ft- from the stage to the edge of the 'X' and vocals are barely audible. Of course they would be more audible if your ears weren't fighting both the backline and the faint bleed from the FOH in that position. But even with an all direct backline we would still need extra sound reinforcement to fill those gaps.

 

 

I can see needing sidefills if you've got a bunch of people standing over there and you want them to hear the mix. But, unless I'm missing something here, it seems to me that people on the side would hear the overall mix better WITHOUT stage amps and dealing with whatever-little-bit the PA washes to side rather then hearing a full stage mix and no vocals at ALL.

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With regards to number two.. Why not just use a center fill? We ran into that problem at some venues. With acoustic drums you couldn't hear the vocals in the center of the floor near the stage, and with electronic drums you couldn't hear basically anything. We bought an extra monitor wedge, faced it straight out, and it completely solved the problem.

 

That's what we are looking to do. Just curious... with placement. Where do to place the speaker facing out? What if you aren't on a stage (at chest or face level) but on a floor crowd level. I know sometimes you use a front truss you I'm sure you could fly it... but we don't have one. One the floor, in front of the singer, with drink girls swarming the stage, it would last 6 songs. ;) I assume we could put it on a stick... direct it at 45 degrees.

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I can see needing sidefills if you've got a bunch of people standing over there and you want them to hear the mix. But, unless I'm missing something here, it seems to me that people on the side would hear the overall mix better WITHOUT stage amps and dealing with whatever-little-bit the PA washes to side rather then hearing a full stage mix and no vocals at ALL.

 

 

That might be true... just remember that speaker path is still the only way someone will hear the mix. Not unlike a DJ mixing a party... however it's rare to have the DJ 10-15 ft from the back wall with people spilled to the sides. There's is also a differen't dynamic when spining CD's through a PA vs a live band performing. I'm not against this idea at all, in fact in your situation I think it's terrific. I'm not a sound expert by any means either. I'm just bringing up something basic that people rarely talk about with usings IEM's. When you remove floor monitors you are removing sound reinforcement from your setup. Even though those speakers are directed toward the band there is some contribution for bleed over. When removing them there is nothing that will fill those gaps.

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That might be true... just remember that speaker path is still the only way someone will hear the mix. Not unlike a DJ mixing a party... however it's rare to have the DJ 10-15 ft from the back wall with people spilled to the sides. There's is also a differen't dynamic when spining CD's through a PA vs a live band performing. I'm not against this idea at all, in fact in your situation I think it's terrific. I'm not a sound expert by any means either. I'm just bringing up something basic that people rarely talk about with usings IEM's. When you remove floor monitors you are removing sound reinforcement from your setup. There is nothing that will fill those gaps.

 

 

Yeah, I don't know if I'd be considering it if we were playing big clubs at loud volumes unless we had a {censored}-load of PA. So I get what you're saying about the stage volume filling gaps in the sound. I just thought it was odd to want stage volume to fill the sound on the SIDE of the stage where the people ALREADY aren't hearing the vocals. Seems stage volume would just make that part of it worse....

 

I think maybe Zeromus-X's suggestions would be the better way to go---use additional PA to fill the gaps instead of stage amps. That way the mix would stay more consistant around the room.

 

But yes. I'm interested to hear what Modulusman and Jwusslow and other all-IEM guys have to say on the subject!

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Jeff, how long does it take you to break down and load out? Really the only thing you are eliminating with this setup is the amps themselves, you still have to hook up all the processors and run lines to the PA. Are people lazy about breaking down after the show? Do you have any kind of system on how things get torn down- does each band member have responsibility for gear aside from their own rigs or do they all go off and socialize while 1-2 people get stuck tearing things down?

 

We did a private party last night. Ended at 10pm, last piece of gear was in the van at 10:30. We don't have a lot of gear but it's a full PA, powered tops and subs, everything mic'd, 2 light trees, etc.

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Jeff, how long does it take you to break down and load out? Really the only thing you are eliminating with this setup is the amps themselves, you still have to hook up all the processors and run lines to the PA. Are people lazy about breaking down after the show? Do you have any kind of system on how things get torn down- does each band member have responsibility for gear aside from their own rigs or do they all go off and socialize while 1-2 people get stuck tearing things down?


We did a private party last night. Ended at 10pm, last piece of gear was in the van at 10:30. We don't have a lot of gear but it's a full PA, powered tops and subs, everything mic'd, 2 light trees, etc.

 

 

For us it's a matter of---the older you get, every single piece of gear less you load in and out helps!

The decision to go to IEMs for us was a result of 2 things: #1 being wanting to lower our stage volume and save our ears. But #2 was wanting to eliminate as much gear as possible. I can't stand hauling around the JBL Eons we use for monitors: they are heavy, bulky and don't stack well in the trailer. They end up taking up more room than they are worth. And as we're adding more and more lighting and PA as time goes on, the trailer is getting full. It's either get a bigger trailer, or eliminate gear somewhere else. I'd much rather dump the bass and guitar rigs and bring along a couple of more subs!

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That's what our bassist is saying. He thinks he is going to miss the feel of his amp but he is still going to go through his head just direct to the board and not his cab.

 

 

Our bassist would never do this for this reason. He complained a lot at first about my TD-20 but he does like how good it sounds out front. He is old school and insists he needs to feel the bass to get into it.

 

Tell your bassist to get one of these platform butt kickers: http://www.thebuttkicker.com/musicians/products/bkp_kit.htm

 

My bassist has a phobia for technology and would never consider one, too bad. I would love to go all IEM.

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When moving to IEMs but keeping acoustic drums and amps, the areas to the sides of the stage or directly front and center will be vocal deficient.

 

If you can move everyone to direct sounds, you will have a more consistant mix but will have to deal with the "holes" as Grant pointed out. Plus ditching guitar amps changes everything for the guitar player. I have a Digitech RP1000 that I've tried to use in 3 bands now but I always end up back to an amp. For me, you just can't replace an amp with direct sounds.

 

I have shrunk my amp down to a 1x12 most of the time for space and weight reasons.

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For us it's a matter of---the older you get, every single piece of gear less you load in and out helps!

 

 

Simply plugging a pedalboard into the snake means I don't need to bother with setting up an amp, cables to connect the head to the cab, a mic/stand for the amp, etc. Also, I like my tuner right up by my mic, so using a pedalboard also means that I don't need to worry about having power up at my mic AND back by my amp. That's another cord that I don't need to run.

 

I can carry everything I need in one trip when I use my pedalboard. Multiply that time saved by by three people and we can all spend time doing other things, like running speaker cables, making setup/teardown go faster than when we use amps.

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For us, we'd only be eliminating 2 little combo amps, so a move like this is really not necessary for us. I can get all my guitar gear loaded in 1 trip (amp, two guitars and a backpack)

 

Also, I don't use one of these fancy modeling pedalboard doo-dad's that you'd need to do that. I'm about as old school, all analog as you can get :D

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We wouldn't elminate much either. I'd still need my keyboard rack, I'd just lose the QSC speaker. Bass player rolls his rig in all stacked up (6 space rack, 2 Hartke cabs that weigh nothing). Guitar player uses a Boss ME70 which we run direct for his PA feed, and then a small Marshall combo, so he'd only lose the amp. We use 1 monitor on stage for our singer, so we'd have to carry more monitors for the bass player and guitar player. I monitor vocals and keys thru my QSC, so really, I guess that wouldn't go anywhere, what does it matter if it's sitting on a stand on top of my rack or laying on the floor.

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