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Tips for a beginner live engineer
Old 18th November 2009
  #1
Talking Tips for a beginner live engineer

Hey there!
First I just want to say that Im new at gearslutz. Been hanging here for some days and its great! Dont know if im in the right forum or if there is another thread like this one (couldn't find any1 tho) so I apologize if im causing anyone any trouble

Anyways, Ive been taking a live engineering class at the local club that most bands come and play at. Ive learnt basically how the mixer works and how to set everything up properly but I havent learnt too much about how to get a good sound. Ive got my first gig in the beginning of december. Thought you guys might be able to help me with some basic tips for live engineering. Im running the works (FoH, monitors, etc).

Its a relatively small place (holds 250 people). The room is relatively square and the celing is not that high (10 feet max). The mixing station is placed in the back of the room. Ive heard that the placement could cause some problems? Could there be some kind of bass build up or what?

Thought it might help with a bit of tech info etc:

Mixer: Yamaha 01V96VCM (digital, 32 channels)
Mics: Shure beta 52, beta 57a, sm58, sm57 and also some tom mics which I think are sennheiser but im not shure...
Monitors:4x mackie srm350v2
FoH speakers: mackie SWA2801z subs and the speakers are some older mackie model, which I cant remember.
We've also got a full backline, which consists of a peavy and a marshall stack (both are decent) and a really sweet ampeg bass amp. The drums are ok, ive got an experienced drummer friend who is going to help me with tuning them etc.

Tell me if you need some more info. Thanks!

Old 18th November 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Since it's such a small space and it seems like you have fairly loud amplifiers, I would avoid miking the instruments. Kick, snare, and vocals (and anything that needs to go direct like keys and acoustic guitar) should be adequate and make your life simple. As far as the room goes, play a CD that you're familiar with and walk the room. You will quickly learn the difference in sound between the center of the room and the FOH position and be able to compensate for it. Use your ears and have fun.
Old 18th November 2009
  #3
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 

Once you have a sense of the room, find out about the band- it's called "doing the advance". Get an input list- if they don't know what that is, it's the complete instrumentation. Drums- how big a kit? Bass? (Upright? does it have a pickup? Electric?)
Guitars? How many? What kind of amps? Acoustics? Do they have pickups? Keys? What kind? Strings? Horns? Wind players? Vocals? How may Backing vox, how many lead?

Once you know this, you can start determining what to mic in that room. You can mic the vocals and any other non-amplified sources (like acoustic guitar & saxaphone) and not worry about miking ANYTHING ELSE YET!

With An 01V, you have 16 mic preamps. So you can only have 16 inputs. If you have six singers, two acoustic guitars and three string players doing early Beatles tunes, you have room to add drum OHs and snare and kick mics. But start slowly, with one device at a time. It might make your life easier to set up mics for more instruments than you need but ONLY TURN THEM ON ONE AT A TIME. There is no problem with not using a mic on that guitar cabinet.

Does this make sense? Going too far, or not far enough?

You are building a mix in the room. BishopThomas made excellent points- you want to learn the room and then make a mix in it, by adding support "reinforcement" to only those elements that need it. And for a room for 250, it won't take much from any guitar amp or drum kit to be PLENTY loud.

Hope this helps!

JvB

By the way, where in the world are you? Do you have an older sound guy who is your mentor? Can you go watch/listen to him do a soundcheck and set up a mix, and see how he EQ's the room and each instrument?
Old 18th November 2009
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim vanBergen View Post

With An 01V, you have 16 mic preamps. So you can only have 16 inputs.
Yeah sorry, forgot to mention that I have an external preamp with 16 additional channels, so I just use the layer function in the mixer and therefore get 32 channels.

By the way, wouldnt it be ok to keep the guitar amps as low as possible and mic them in order to have some controll of their level? Or am I way out there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim vanBergen View Post

By the way, where in the world are you? Do you have an older sound guy who is your mentor? Can you go watch/listen to him do a soundcheck and set up a mix, and see how he EQ's the room and each instrument?
Im in sweden. Yeah, Ive clamped in and bothered other engineers but most of them work pretty quickly and I dont want to be too much of a pain. I ask questions when I figure theyve got time to answer them.

Thanks for the input, if youve got anything else to add, please do. I need as much help as I can get, lol
Old 18th November 2009
  #5
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DCtoDaylight's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudevico View Post
By the way, wouldnt it be ok to keep the guitar amps as low as possible and mic them in order to have some controll of their level? Or am I way out there?

If you can find a way to make rock & roll guitarists keep their amps as low as possible, you will have succeeded where thousands of others have failed!

Seriously....what you suggest is a very logical approach, but most guitar players believe (rightly or wrongly) that they have to crank their amps to get "the sound." You're better off letting them do their thing, and balancing the other instruments as best you can. Sad but true.
Old 19th November 2009
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCtoDaylight View Post
If you can find a way to make rock & roll guitarists keep their amps as low as possible, you will have succeeded where thousands of others have failed!

Seriously....what you suggest is a very logical approach, but most guitar players believe (rightly or wrongly) that they have to crank their amps to get "the sound." You're better off letting them do their thing, and balancing the other instruments as best you can. Sad but true.
Ok, Ill try that then. Thanks everybody for the help. If anyone has got anything to add please do thumbsup
Old 19th November 2009
  #7
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mingustoo's Avatar
 

stay sober...and when people come up to you and say the snare needs to be louder, smile, say thanks, look into their eyes, and do not move a muscle until they have left.
Old 20th November 2009
  #8
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DCtoDaylight's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mingustoo View Post
stay sober...and when people come up to you and say the snare needs to be louder, smile, say thanks, look into their eyes, and do not move a muscle until they have left.
a big +1 on staying out from under the influence.

And on the second part....well....if the person asks nicely, I'd be willing to, say, turn an unconnected aux send knob up a little bit for them!
Old 21st November 2009
  #9
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 

it's great to mic up an amp and say, "If you can turn down your amp, I can turn you UP in the PA!"

You can always leave the mic muted. Sometimes I get people who listen.
Old 21st November 2009
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
t_chance's Avatar
 

less is more

IF your musicians have your trust, and will take suggestions from you to balance all their amps to a good "blend" without the PA on their amps, the PA has more room for the vocals, keys, and other instruments you need to mic.
Old 23rd November 2009
  #11
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iluvatar's Avatar
 

Learn signal flow. Learn how to narrow down & locate problems fast. Download a feedback/frequency trainer and practice recognizing feedback frequencies.

The biggest hurdle w/ live sound, particularly for a noob is getting things up and going to where they're "good enough" fast. You won't have the luxury of spending 20 minutes tweezing your tom sound.

See if you can get some studio experience, too. Lots of people like to talk about the differences between live sound & studio recording, but there are many similarities, too (obviously - you're still putting mics in front of instruments). Each environment has its own set of priorities, forcing you to learn certain things, potentially at the expense of others. For example, live sound expects you to be fast, so with the time crunch and the poor ambient noise situation, it can be easy to get sloppy with your technique (e.g. mic placement, processor settings). OTOH, studio recording expects you to be perfect, so you focus on technique, potentially at the expense of working quickly and efficiently. IMO, learning one can help make you better at the other.

-Dan.
Old 23rd November 2009
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvatar View Post
Learn signal flow. Learn how to narrow down & locate problems fast. Download a feedback/frequency trainer and practice recognizing feedback frequencies.
Thanks a lot! Been looking for something like that! Ill get down to practicing!
Old 23rd November 2009
  #13
Gear Nut
 
Jarp2600's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DCtoDaylight View Post
If you can find a way to make rock & roll guitarists keep their amps as low as possible, you will have succeeded where thousands of others have failed!

Seriously....what you suggest is a very logical approach, but most guitar players believe (rightly or wrongly) that they have to crank their amps to get "the sound." You're better off letting them do their thing, and balancing the other instruments as best you can. Sad but true.
When the levels really are insane, place the amps a bit higher, and make sure they point at the guitarist's ears. In case they are not already deaf, that probably will learn them to keep the volume low.
Old 26th November 2009
  #14
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Along with what Jarp said. Pay attention to where the amps are pointing as this can really influence your mix. Pointing the amps at the guitarists head can influence them to turn down, but can also get in the mics too much. If the g man HAS to have his amp loud maybe put it facing into a box of lights or something.
Get your levels about right, then use your eq to make the vox clear and the guit sparkle and the kik bang etc.
leave most of the bottom in the lead vox but you can hack away at bvox and guits etc. to give room for the kik when you are limited.
If the bvox cant sing, roll off some highs, cut the bottom and drench it in reverb. You can make a couple of hacks sound like a choir.
oh and number one..DO NOT redlight your main outs.
Old 26th November 2009
  #15
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tiny333's Avatar
 

Cool

dont press solo in the middle of the show........
Old 26th November 2009
  #16
Gear Nut
 
Jarp2600's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tiny333 View Post
dont press solo in the middle of the show........
Eehrm... Why not? An average PA system shoudln't be connected to any CRM output.
Old 30th November 2009
  #17
Gear Head
 

Apart from sound one thing that will make your life easier is getting a rundown from the bands of their setup if they're not going to use the backline. If you know in advance what they're bringing and what you have to mic up, it'll make your life a lot easier knowing what mics to put into what channels, knowing how many channels you'll need, whether you'll need to sacrifice a channel for one instrument over another etc. We once had a band bring in vibes, acoustic guitar, horns etc. as well as the usual bass guitar drums vocals. Knowing what you're going to be working with saves you a lot of time setting up. Especially if you have a few bands on in the same night, don't want to make those paying customers restless!
Old 30th November 2009
  #18
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Gilli C's Avatar
 

following on from what funkymunk said, write up a channel list before hand, and print off copies to leave at the FOH desk and on stage.


good idea to check the back of those mackies you are using for wedges and make sure they are on line not mic. Also make sure the mackies eq is flat to start with and not set on some contour setting.

I'v got an excel spreadsheet for channel list planning , if you want it PM me .

Gilli
Old 30th November 2009
  #19
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iluvatar's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarp2600 View Post
Eehrm... Why not? An average PA system shoudln't be connected to any CRM output.
Yeah, if solo had an effect on the house system, you did something wrong.

-Dan.
Old 30th November 2009
  #20
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ears2thesky's Avatar
I always mic everything--or at least run a line out.
Just because you have a mic in front of something doesn't mean that you have to turn it up. If you don't have everything miked you may not be able to provide adequate stage monitoring.
Like a previous poster mentioned: you may encounter audience members that want to tell you what needs to be different. Try to be polite, but don't be influenced by them. You are the one responsible for the system--not some drunk dude who is standing right in front of the loudest amp on stage yelling he can't hear the vocals.
When you drink alcohol it definitely affects what you hear. You become more desensitized to volume and high-end. Observe a live mixer who drinks all night. You will notice the sound gets progressively louder and brighter as the night progresses. Ouch! Celebrate a job well done at the end of the gig (after everything is struck and put away).
Old 30th November 2009
  #21
Gear Head
 

Get a set of decent (not TOO expensive) closed-back headphones. You'll want something to be able to help verify levels/connectivity on channels that can't be in the main mix during the main parts of a show.

The Audio Technica ATH-M50 are about perfect for this task. Superb quality, comfortable, and affordable.

Another thing that's really helpful if you're on a new (to you) system is the channel list idea mentioned previously. Coincide your snake/input list with your board channel list (ex: channel 3 on the snake is channel 6 on the board). It'll save you a ton of time and running back and forth.
Old 30th November 2009
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ears2thesky View Post
When you drink alcohol it definitely affects what you hear. You become more desensitized to volume and high-end. Observe a live mixer who drinks all night. You will notice the sound gets progressively louder and brighter as the night progresses. Ouch! Celebrate a job well done at the end of the gig (after everything is struck and put away).
Plus, if you have my luck, you don't want to spill beer (or anything for that matter) on the board during a show. Talk about ruining it for everyone! heh

I once got coffee on a Sontec EQ. Luckily, the pots are sealed and it wasn't much liquid. Could've been much worse (and expensive)!
Old 1st December 2009
  #23
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jude's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvatar View Post
Yeah, if solo had an effect on the house system, you did something wrong.

-Dan.
surely im not the only person who has left solo-in-place running into a show?!

another thing... lable your mic leads, vox l, vox c, vox r etc. it makes change overs between bands that much easier and quicker!

get into the venue a few hours before the band to give you plenty of time to setup and tune monitors/foh

record the show- just the mix outs will do. this way you can listen back and hear any mistakes you made during the show and work out what needs fixing. be aware tho that a 2 track from the desk will be vocal heavy
Old 1st December 2009
  #24
Gear Addict
 
BFSound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jude View Post

record the show- just the mix outs will do. this way you can listen back and hear any mistakes you made during the show and work out what needs fixing. be aware tho that a 2 track from the desk will be vocal heavy
Thats a good point im trying to throw together a simple yet effective rig to record live gigs. What would be the easiest way to accomplish this. I was thinking like a yamaha MG24c USB to my laptop in a rack with 16 ch of mic splitting. And just split the mics before the main snake and mix on the yamaha and then record in cubcase which comes with the board?...

What are your thoughts.
Old 1st December 2009
  #25
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BFSound's Avatar
 

Hmmm... Seem like my post might have wonder from the OP's question. Maybe ill start another post where people can comment on simple recording rigs.
Old 1st December 2009
  #26
Here for the gear
 

tip

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudevico View Post
Hey there!
First I just want to say that Im new at gearslutz. Been hanging here for some days and its great! Dont know if im in the right forum or if there is another thread like this one (couldn't find any1 tho) so I apologize if im causing anyone any trouble

Anyways, Ive been taking a live engineering class at the local club that most bands come and play at. Ive learnt basically how the mixer works and how to set everything up properly but I havent learnt too much about how to get a good sound. Ive got my first gig in the beginning of december. Thought you guys might be able to help me with some basic tips for live engineering. Im running the works (FoH, monitors, etc).

Its a relatively small place (holds 250 people). The room is relatively square and the celing is not that high (10 feet max). The mixing station is placed in the back of the room. Ive heard that the placement could cause some problems? Could there be some kind of bass build up or what?

Thought it might help with a bit of tech info etc:

Mixer: Yamaha 01V96VCM (digital, 32 channels)
Mics: Shure beta 52, beta 57a, sm58, sm57 and also some tom mics which I think are sennheiser but im not shure...
Monitors:4x mackie srm350v2
FoH speakers: mackie SWA2801z subs and the speakers are some older mackie model, which I cant remember.
We've also got a full backline, which consists of a peavy and a marshall stack (both are decent) and a really sweet ampeg bass amp. The drums are ok, ive got an experienced drummer friend who is going to help me with tuning them etc.

Tell me if you need some more info. Thanks!

Make sure you get your gains set and don't adjust them during the performance as that effects everything else. Take the time to get those gains right. Check one, check two is great to make sure the mics are working but it is no where near performance level singing, make sure the band does a good three songs so you can set your gains. Also every band in the world gets a bit louder as they warm up so under shooting a db never hurts.
Old 2nd December 2009
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BFSound View Post
Thats a good point im trying to throw together a simple yet effective rig to record live gigs. What would be the easiest way to accomplish this. I was thinking like a yamaha MG24c USB to my laptop in a rack with 16 ch of mic splitting. And just split the mics before the main snake and mix on the yamaha and then record in cubcase which comes with the board?...

What are your thoughts.
Most of those USB mixers only record the stereo out . I have no problem with recording that way as long as you have really good isolation to monitor with while your mixing. You can't go with what you hear in the house.
As far as posting a new thread, read the sticky about recording basics first.
Old 2nd December 2009
  #28
Gear Addict
 
BFSound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedupsteve View Post
Most of those USB mixers only record the stereo out . I have no problem with recording that way as long as you have really good isolation to monitor with while your mixing. You can't go with what you hear in the house.
As far as posting a new thread, read the sticky about recording basics first.
So what would be an easy way to capture let say 16 tracks at once. I thought these units yes recorded the stereo outs, but i thought you could record multiple tracks at once...
Old 2nd December 2009
  #29
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Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim vanBergen View Post
it's great to mic up an amp and say, "If you can turn down your amp, I can turn you UP in the PA!"

You can always leave the mic muted. Sometimes I get people who listen.
+1! Listen to this great piece of advice from Jim. There is a huge part of working with artists live and in the the studio that is purely psychological/political. A lot of guitar player amp volume issues are related to their sobriety and/or insecurity levels. For example in my first few years of club mixing, I had many battles with musicians, especially guitar players over too much stage volume in those smaller rooms. A guitar player actually punched me during a set, his volume issues were so bad that the band had begged me to manually turn his amp down. It was a silly and stupid situation. On the other side of the coin, after I started mixing big tours I came across many sober, accomplished, professional, and confident players, but not always. An example of how good it can get is when I walked into production rehearsals the first day for an upcoming Queensryche tour and met the band for the first time. The first order of business for the guitar players was to ask me "how quiet do you want our amps, we can get our tone at any volume, the monitor guy can just turn us up". Because of that attitude, we were able to sound great in every venue, with a minimum of effort, and have incredibly leakage free vocals for our amazing singer. That is as good as it gets, you will be lucky to work with anyone who can muster that kind of logic. It really is very psychological!
Old 19th July 2013
  #30
Here for the gear
 

A few things that have helped me out have already been mentioned by other users. However to recap I shall enumerate them and then ad a few of my own I haven't noticed anyone say yet:
1. Input list I use a legal pad and have two columns. One side is "big"snake / mixer (they line up thankfully) the other side is little snake -> Big snake
2. Explaining that while I have an "x" watt system to spread among a 5 piece rockband (Drums, Bass, Guitar (x2) and vocal) I quickly run out of head room. If we keep stage volume low from the get go I can make it louder over all. Or atleast fuller, but if you (g. man) turn up, things can get hairy pretty quick.
3. Lay-off the sauce. I know my hearing changes when I drink. I would like it to sound good all through out the night. Same goes for extra curricular cigarets.
4. Gain. Check your gain effectively... On second thought Sound check. Figuring out a system that works for you will help you be able to work through and get a quick but thorough sound check in....
---------
My tips:
A. Orginization: if you set a system to organize your inputs that you follow you will eventually be able to figure out where everything sits... Here is the system I use:
-1 Drums (however many channels
-2 space
-3 Bass
-4 space
-5 guitar or keys depending on whats first on stage.... I work from SR (left side as you look at it) To SL (right side as you look at it)
-6 space
-7 horns (if applicable)
-8 space
-9 Vocals again working from SR to SL

I put the spaces in (space provided) to help differentiate on the board where everything is.

B. Communicate with the artist before sound check, during set breaks and anytime in between if he/she or they are looking at you funny. This will help them feel as though they are in good hands. (I strive to make sure they are as happy and comfortable as possible on my stage, my thought being if they are comfy they put on a better preformance, better preformance=happy people=drunker people=happy bar staff = less crap from them to me.....)

C. Use your ears, if something doesn't sound right or out of place take the moment to figure out what it might be

D. Communicate with the artist, I know I already put this up there, but I hope it helps, it's important....

E. Have fun! by doing this your are effectiely the 5th man or the +1 to the band, you are effectively playing a really big instrument (the band).


I hope this helps.
Luck love and lollipops
Dingus
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