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Bass management
Old 26th September 2016
  #1
x86/x64 Moderator
 
George Necola's Avatar
Bass management

hi Robb, thanx for doing this!

I attendend the last 3 massive attack shows in Switzerland (as a fan) and I don't know if you were operating the FOH.. but it was incredible. The bass was super tight and loud.

I have 3 questions:
1. can you tell us something about the soundcheck procedure with Massive Attack? are you doing the laptop thing where you playback without the band/real instrumetns and do an "I call it offline soundcheck"?

2. is there any secret you can share about how you control the lowend? (which is very important with a band like Massive Attack)

3. how do you deal with the 100dB limit we have in Switzerland? I always struggle without 2bus compression (killing the peaks) and try to compensate in the lower mids (200-400 Hz) with a dynamic eq or us a multiband (I mostly work with Yamaha CL5 so I don't have much options).

thanx!
Old 26th September 2016
  #2
special guest
 
robballan's Avatar
 

Bottom end

Hi George
Yes we did a show this summer in Zurich and I think 2014 in Gurten. I mixed both those shows. Glad you enjoyed them. Next time come and say hi. I'm always happy to hang out with other brothers in sound and talk about desk and speakers. Some of the best features that made it into the S6L design I got from informal chats with other roadies who had a great idea. (I always steal them and pretend they're mine. Don't tell Avid).
1. Yes I mentioned in another answer that I use virtual soundcheck. MA don't soundcheck. 3D who is the main guy will sit with me at FOH during production rehearsals and we'll collaborate around the broad intentions and particular details of the mix. He has incredible ears. I also send the LTC from my desk to the video,lights and laser departments. This means we can do a virtual show with everything locked together. The band can sit and add comments or occasionally criticisms!!
2. Lowend. Secrets, I'm not sure I have secrets, any i do I'll share. I spend a lot of time in my virtual soundcheck working with the low end. I think of them as sub and bass. I don't play steely Dan or anything to check the system I'll dive straight in with last nights show. I like to flatten all of the eq in the system and anything I'd done on the previous show and start from scratch. If you're over eying the system you're draining the energy from it. It was my old friend Campbell always said: If you stop turning it down it goes louder. When we're touring PA my system tech will have done all the measurements with Smaart before I get involved and Tony is a genius so its always prefect. At festivals you hope for the same but sometimes theres a lot of work to do. I aim to have a uniform and even bottom end for as many people as possible. I don't want any frequencies to stick out. I hate that lazy lets make 60Hz thump kind of eying. MA use 30 and 40Hz up in their music. You have to feel the sub in your stomach and the kick drum in your chest. For me the relationship between the Bass and the kick drum is the basis for any mix and particularly so for M.A. There can be a bass guitar, two synth bass lines and a drone on playback at the same time to so unless we have the PA in great shape it ends up a huge mess. Its about finding ways to layer the bottom end not fight for the same space. I use the Pro multi band on the bass guitar and analogue synths, set the cross over points to the crossover of the PA speakers. this enables me to drive the bottom end hard but always keep it under control in each area of the PA.
3. 100dbA over at least 15 minutes is always doable. This summer many festivals were at 98dbA LEQ an hour. Suits me fine. Firstly MA are like an old reggae system loads of top and bottom. So the main energy is not included in the measurement. Also as the music is dynamic I can "save up" some level for the peak moments. I work closely with the noise police and build the peaks in volume to contrast the quieter sections. I always say the music is dynamic so don't worry about the high SPL it will balance out in the end. If you just go straight to the noise limit in the first chorus there's nowhere left to go. The audience stick in earplugs or their ears naturally compress. Volume is relative, to seem loud counterintuitively you have to turn it down for some of your show. I like the show to follow a dynamic flow. Angel is one of the loudest part of of the show and can peak at 110/112dbA. Another part of the show can drop down to a synth line and wind chimes. Its harder to work with noise limits with bands like the Manic Street Preachers particularly in their early punk years. I remember our first show at Wembley arena was 105 dbA at FOH 30 metres from the stage- without the PA on!! just the backline and monitors. No noise limits in those days though!!!
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Old 27th September 2016
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Robb, thanks for these kick ass answers!
Old 29th September 2016
  #4
x86/x64 Moderator
 
George Necola's Avatar
thanx a lot!
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