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Suggestions for PA reconfiguration
Old 2 weeks ago
Here for the gear

Suggestions for PA reconfiguration

Hi Folks, new to the forum. I'm the sound engineer in my local live music venue/pub in Scotland. Small place, roughly 300 capacity although no more than 100 in front of stage usually, everyone else dispersed across venue.

I've been here for a year now mixing Friday & Saturday shows for mostly top end cover bands from all over Scotland. The venue previously used a promotion/gig team for events and they originally set up the system.

So long story short, the rig seems to have done well for the level of venue and I've not really changed much, but I'm now looking for suggestions from the more experienced as to what I could do to improve the setup i.e reconfiguration or possible purchases.

The set up is as follows:

Everything through system excluding Drum overheads (not suitable for venue)
Bass is DI'd where possible

6 Sm57s
5 SM58s
2 Beta58As
Shure PGDMK6 drum mics
4 BSS AR133 DI's
3 DBX 266xs
Alesis quadverb
Aoss se50

Desk channel configuration usually stays the same:
1. Kick
2. Snare
3. Tom1
4. Tom2
5. Floor
6. Bass DI
7. XXChannel FaultyXX
8. Guitar Left of Stage
9. Guitar Right of Stage
10. Vocal Left of Stage
11. Vocal Centre Stage
12. Vocal Right of Stage
13. Drum Riser Vocal
14. DI Left of Stage
15. DI Right of Stage
16. Keys/Synth
17. Spare
18. Spare
19. Spare
20. Media Line In
21/22. Boss SE50 Effects Unit
23/24. Alesis Quadverb

Aux 1. Left monitor (Peavey CXP 112)
Aux 2 Centre monitor (Peavey CXP 112)
Aux 3 Right Monitor (Peavey CXP 112)
Aux 4 Drum Riser Monitor (Red Fire Audio RFA-M12H)
Aux 5 Boss SE50 Effects Unit
Aux 6 Alesis Quadverb

Stage snake to Mackie onyx 24.4 Mixer
Effects use aux send 5 & 6 to end channels 21/22 and 23/24 (alesis quadverb) ( boss se50).
3 DBX 266xs compressors usually send/return for kick, snare, lead vocal, lead backing, sometimes bass and guitar.(again thesechange depending on circumstance of band)
Main outs go through DBX 231s Graphic Equaliser then straight to Behringer DCX2496 Ultrad*rive Pro crossover, onto peavey cs2000 amps powering two Peavey PV 215's and two Peavey 118D Subs.
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Pro Sound Guy's Avatar

Digital mixer.
Then you can eliminate the outboard rack gear.
Dump the Peavey FOH loudspeakers and go with higher quality loudspeakers.
The used market is filled with great passive loudspeakers at great prices.
EAW,JBL,Martin,Meyer etc.
Old 2 weeks ago
Gear Head

#1 : Digital mixer.

An A&H QU24 or Behringer X32 with an outboard hub and AP would bring you into the current century in terms of functionality.

#2 : FOH speakers

There is a whole world of speakers better suited to a live music venue than what you have so lots of room for improvement even without changing the amps and processing.... although that is included with the better versions.
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear

I'm with Paul but I'd steer you towards an M32R and an S8 stage box. Doesn't sound like you really need 24 faders, but you need more than 16 inputs. X32's faders and knobs break too easily, hence the M32R suggestion.

And there are so many better options for FOH speakers. Something you should know about Peavey speakers is that they are rather inefficient compared to better designs, especially their subwoofers. Also, dual 15" speakers aren't made to be paired with subwoofers. The bottom woofer usually only goes up to about 250Hz, acting as a quasi-subwoofer, and not very well. Your treble horns only disperse 60 degrees wide too, only suited for a rather narrow room or bright room.

I'd want a pair of 12" tops per side, at least 500W program and 98dB sensitive each, and if there's only room for your existing subs then replacements better be very efficient single 18's. Not a lot on the passive list, look at Electro-Voice, there's the Yorkville LS808 which is efficient as hell but not everyone likes the horn load. If there's room you'll probably find better bargains on dual 18" subs since nobody wants to have to move them.
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear

I'd personally leave your existing analog board and outboard gear in place . . . not to say that it doesn't have some serious shortcomings, but I think it makes more sense to keep your existing workflow, and put your upgrade budget where it really matters -- speakers. Specifically, the tops.

For all the money that you'd spend trying to "upgrade" a bunch of stuff, you could replace the just the top cabinets to something pro-grade, with good pattern-control . . . the results would be transformative, not incremental. You'll find that your entire approach to mixing in this venue will be able to change for the better; you'll need less EQ and compression, you'll be better able to deliver the impact and energy of the performance at a lower SPL . . . and you'll have more clean volume at your command for when you actually need it.

The performance of any system is also predicated on how well it's set up and calibrated . . . and if you're going to be out-sourcing these talents, then forming a relationship with a good pro dealer will be essential, as opposed to simply mail-ordering something from an online MI gear-pusher. If you're going to be doing it all yourself, then don't underestimate the need to invest in your own education and resources on this front - having i.e. a Smaart rig and attending training on how to use it will do improve the sound much more than a shiny new digital console.
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear

^ Someone forgets how much self-noise DBX231's have, for starters. If I had to choose one or the other, I'm not sure which I'd pick, but getting a digital mixer would be plenty transformative as well. Time-alignment, much more control on channels and outputs, DCA's, transient modifier, de-esser, etc etc. There's no contest there either.
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear

For gear upgrades, I'd probably prioritize anything that's broken or flakey (e.g. microphones that have been dropped too many times and now have distorted output, bad or noisy cables), then FOH speakers, then a digital mixer, as others have hashed out. Next on my list would probably be better microphones, particularly volcal microphones.

However, I think a bit more careful thought would be in order before buying anything. What are the room acoustics like? While speakers with good pattern control can help tame a bad room, they aren't magic in that regard. If, for instance, there's significant slapback echo from the back of the room making changes to improve that will make a big difference. Also, it would be good to sort out as specifically as possible what improved results you're looking to achieve. Do you need more output before noticeable distortion? More clarity of vocals? Less hiss or hum or background noise? More even sound throughout the room? A system that's more reliable? The better you can identify what results you wish to achieve, the better you'll be able to determine how to get there (or ask for help in determining that), and also the better you can evaluate how successful you are.
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear

I'm the bass player and soundman for two bands that p[lay similar venues all the way up to weddings and garden parties, biker rallies, those kinds of gigs.

The obvious thing is free setup stuff. Are the subs centre clustered? Are the horns in the tops aimed away from any reflective surfaces and maybe slightly down to keep the sound on the dancefloor? Is the gain staging correct? Are the speakers (especially monitors, where you didn't mention any graphc eqs) rung out to avoid feedback? Are all of the mains and subs time aligned and in phase?

When it comes to possible purchases I'd certainly say the same as everyone else, digital mixer and speakers. Because we have to transport our PA to every gig a digital mixer is a lifesaver for us. Now, you don't have that need but you'll still be able to have far more control, more options, and definitely a higher quality of sound too. I own a Behringer XR18 that I use in both bands. I'd have never bought Behringer normally but that mixer is brilliant. By the time you've hunted ebay for a graphic eq or two, maybe even an auto feedback destoryer, etc etc you'd be better off just buying a mixer. If budget is limited I've seen mine go for £200 used, which you could easily cover by selling what you've got already. The X32 or the equivalent from Soundcraft or A&H would be a little more but still very cheap considering you could essentially sell everything at FOH at the moment.

Speakers? Loads of options. Again, I'm thinking something like a pair of RCF745s and no subs, but then I have to carry my stuff. As it's an install you might be better looking for something pro-level but used and heavy. I can't help with specifics as it depends on the layout of the room for coverage and such, but there's plenty of Nexo, FBT, JBL, EAW etc on ebay for pennies on the pound in used prices as nobody wants to cart it round anymore.
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by AC2SPL View Post
^ Someone forgets how much self-noise DBX231's have, for starters. If I had to choose one or the other, I'm not sure which I'd pick, but getting a digital mixer would be plenty transformative as well. Time-alignment, much more control on channels and outputs, DCA's, transient modifier, de-esser, etc etc. There's no contest there either.
I haven't forgotten . . . actually if you sweep a DBX231 with any significant cuts or boosts in place, you'll see that the self-noise isn't even the worst issue that they have. It should be completely removed . . . the DCX2496 is a serviceable unit and can perform all the required processing. I also (unfortunately) haven't forgotten what a Quadraverb sounds like . . . but with a little channel EQ on the returns, there are a few patches in there that I could make pretty workable.

I do still regularly mix on a smaller-format analog front-end with outboard compressors and effects, in addition to digital consoles. The rig I use for 300-cap events is Danley SM96s and THMinis; consoles usually a GL2800 analog or SD11i digital. Last year I was set up on one occasion with the backup board (rain looming and poor protection at FOH), an old beater Mackie VLZ with tons of worn pots . . . but even in this situation, the system is a dream to mix on. It's nothing like working on the ubiquitous X32/M32 paired with QSC/Yamaha/JBL-SRX mains . . . one simply doesn't need to constantly grab for channel compression and de-essers, diddle with aux-fed subs, or play with a 1/3rd-octave during the show.

It seems that with so many processing options these days, and manufacturers constantly adding new bullet-point features . . . that engineers get into the habit of thinking that the key to getting a great mix is to use all of that stuff, and twiddle everything into submission. The system that the OP is currently working on is indeed pretty rough, old-school, and basic . . . but it forces the development of important skill-sets that are the true foundations of the FOH craft. Upgrading the mains and keeping the front-end will reap rewards and further develop these skills . . . but doing the opposite is IMO much more likely to merely develop a bunch of convoluted habits that will bear little fruit.

Originally Posted by DrewE View Post
For gear upgrades, I'd probably prioritize anything that's broken or flakey (e.g. microphones that have been dropped too many times and now have distorted output, bad or noisy cables) . . .
Absolutely agree with this . . . in fact, this is more important than upgrading anything. Getting everything in good working order isn't an "upgrade" . . . that is, it should always be performed/viewed/categorized as part of the running operating expenses, NOT capital expenditures.
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