Getting better live sound for small shows?


View Full Version : Getting better live sound for small shows?

01-13-2007, 07:30 PM
I'm not really sure where to post this, I guess it goes in here.

So, my band hasn't ever really had to play with our own gear. Every time we've played we've been playing with another local band around here and we play through their Mesas, our drummer uses their drums, our bass player plays their Ampeg, etc.

When we pratice, I notice that the sound is very... jumbled. It's an acoustic mess. There is no separation between the guitars, just the mud of them combined together. Parts with loud cymbal crashes drown out the rest of us. Everything generally sounds.. muddy.

I'm wondering if this is because of room acoustics, or what. I mean, when we practice it's in a small room, in a mobile home that is devoted to our music, next door to my lead guitar player's house. What can we do, short of mic'ing EVERYTHING and running it through the PA, to improve our overall tone for small shows that don't involve the other band?

I'm thinking that playing in open air (or at least more open than we have been playing in) will maybe help some, just to have better acoustics instead of the tight space we practice in. I'm also wondering if mic'ing JUST the bass drum (we don't have drum a set of drum mic's at the moment, and if we mic'd the whole kit we'd have to mic all the amps too I'm sure) will help the tone much. I've heard that having the kick cut through better helps a lot but its hard to tell while we're playing. Also, is it a good option to mic bass with an SM57, or do we need a microphone more geared towards lower frequencies?

If anyone knows where this thread is supposed to go let me know lol.

01-13-2007, 07:47 PM
In response to the drums.. you're better off with some kind of condenser mic than an SM57 for the kick.. but for every other part, an SM57 will fit the bill.

01-13-2007, 07:53 PM
Yeah I mean the other guitar player and I both have 57's for just that reason, but considering that the bass player has no way to mic his stuff and we don't have drum mic's, I was hoping we could make use of one of them for the

01-13-2007, 09:55 PM
definentaly put everything through the pa for live sound. and keep the satge volume relitivaly low and use the pa power to pump up the noise. this keeps everything much clearer and better sounding. also maybe use less distortion that helps keep it good

01-13-2007, 10:09 PM
This is actually quite useful information.

01-14-2007, 12:53 AM
there should be a live sound thread

01-14-2007, 01:02 AM
^yeh, at least then I would have known where to post lol.

to spiritinthesky, I'm trying to get a better overall mix WITHOUT having to run everything into the PA. Just a way to sound better if we feel like playing at a party or something, where its not really practical to run everything into the PA and blast it anyways.

When we play real shows, we always have drum mics and everything cause we don't have to use our own drums lol...

01-14-2007, 02:15 AM
Well, in a small room, sound is bouncing all over the place, so natrually it will sound a bit jumbled.

I heard that draping the walls with soft blankets help.

Levels and the direction your amps are facing effect alot to.

I don't really have much experience myself, just trying to help. :D

01-14-2007, 02:47 AM
One thing you have to remember is that the way you guys sound on stage, or in the same small room all close together, is not the way you sound to the audience. Try whacking a crash cymbal yourself when nobody is playing and then listen to the same crash standing out from a distance when the whole band is playing and you will notice it sounds a lot different. It wont sustain nearly as long and will prolly be a lot less "ringy". what sounds good from a hi hat to the drummer can just sound like tiny clicks to someone standing 20 feet away. You might think your amp isnt loud enough or cutting through but you arent getting the total picture unless you are standing out in front. You really have to trust your soundman when you are playing live.

Practicing in that small room is prolly never going to sound great. Id suggest turning your volume down a little and maybe using some smaller thinner cymbals. You dont need halfstacks for practicing in a 10 by 14 room either. Adjusting the EQ on your amps will help differentiate the instruments. other than the small room i think improper EQing is causing a lot of the muddiness. read more about it here and here the size of the room you are playing in is a huge influence in how you sound. My dad is a drummer and he has prolly over 30 cymbals he uses for different size rooms and for different sounds. He only uses 4 of them at a time.

For a small show your best bet is to mic everything but you dont have to. you especially dont want to strain your PA either, you have to work with what you have. once you start micing drums and bass you are getting into a whole new league and you need some serious power. you can use a SM57 on the bass but id use the line out on the amp if it has one and go straight into the board. for the kick drum you should try and get a kick drum condenser to put in front or inside of it. for a small gig id just mic the kick and then another condenser (PG81) overhead to catch the toms snare and cymbals. if you have an extra SM57 mic the snare. like spiritinthesky9 said you want to keep your stage volume relatively low so your soundman can get a good mix and keep mic bleed to a minimum. You want your amps to be loud but dont overdo it.

From the link above...

In Closing
Equalizers are one of the most over looked and mis-used pieces of gear in the audio industry. By understanding equalizers better, an engineer can control and get the results he or she is looking for. The key to EQ'ing is knowing how to get the results you are looking for. Also, knowing if its a mic character or mic placement problem. EQ can't fix everything. It can only change what signal its working with. Equalizers are also a lot more effective taking away things in the signal than replacing what was never there.