#1
Hi, all! I posted this in Musician Talk, but I'm pretty sure that was the wrong forum, so I'm re-posting here. I hope that isn't against any rules.

So, my band has a very weird setup going on right now that...really doesn't seem to have any end in sight. We play progressive symphonic metal, which obviously entails songs containing drums, bass, guitars, vocals, and orchestral arrangements. However, in terms of physical members, we are limited to two guitarists and two female vocalists.

From a stage presence standpoint, we've figured out how to fill a stage, hypothetically, in an entertaining manner with just us. However, from a sound standpoint...how does that work, exactly?

I'm assuming we'd need to feed pre-mixed tracks containing drums, bass, and orchestra into one channel of the PA, with vocals going into another, with the guitar amps hard-panned opposite each other.

What worries me is, do PAs do the whole bass response thing well enough to convey the rumble of a real bass guitar, or the punch of real drums? Would most house engineers even know how to deal with a request like this? I really see no other option aside from making this work - the music scene here is just abysmal. Is it even possible to do it this way?
#2
The way you'd set it up is by having everything prerecorded on an IPod, and pressing play when it comes time to play. A click track going to earphones of the drummer/guitars/singer would be optimal too so that you play in time with the pre-recorded tracks.

PAs can have the "thump" of a bass/drums, however not all PAs are made equal and two 12" speakers FOH will probably not do the job. Additionally a lot of house systems would not have the gear to immediately set you up with in ear monitors feeding a click track at the exact time of the backing tracks.

I think it would be a lot easier to simply find other musicians to play with you.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
It would certainly be easier, but trust me when I say that it is literally our only option at the moment. Moving somewhere a bit more lively is on the agenda, but for now, we're kind of stuck.

I'm not too worried about the click - we've spent ample time analyzing recordings of our sets played to the backing tracks at home, and following the programmed drums is no different from following a real drummer in terms of the band's accuracy. Or...wait, would we not be able to clearly hear the backing tracks?

So in your experience, it's unwise to expect venue sound systems to provide the low-frequency power required for our missing members' instruments?
#4
This isn't new but it is becoming more and more common, inevitable in this era when you can record high quality sounds so easily at home.

You'll need some discipline on stage though. You'd be amazed how often band members **** things up on stage, go to the wrong verse or miss out whole sections, put in extra bars or just miss their entrance. All this is smoothed over by the rest of the band. even following a click track is a real skill that has to be learned, none of my previous band could do it. Don't go to a performance unless you have absolutely rehearsed everything to perfection, getting out of sync with a recorded rhythm section is going to be awful.

Expect not to be able to hear the backing track too well, especially if you don't have control of the on stage sound. The sound levels when you perform are going to be higher than you are used to and the room acoustics worse. In fact I'd say don't leave this to chance and build up your own gear. Start off by investing in a decent set of monitors for all the recorded/programmed sounds you use, I'd probably put them behind the band where the drummer and bass player usually go and then use separate vocal monitors in front of the singers, separating the sounds mean you can hear both more clearly and move between monitors if you need to pick up a cue you are missing. It also means that on stage you are performing with the gear and sound you are rehearsing with.

It could be great but you have to solve different problem, just think it through.

Good luck.
#5
Quote by KevinGoetz
It would certainly be easier, but trust me when I say that it is literally our only option at the moment. Moving somewhere a bit more lively is on the agenda, but for now, we're kind of stuck.


You can understand that I never take this type of comment seriously, it suggests that you and your bandmates are the only musicians that like a certain genre in a certain area. That said I understand you're not chasing this path up.

I'm not too worried about the click - we've spent ample time analyzing recordings of our sets played to the backing tracks at home, and following the programmed drums is no different from following a real drummer in terms of the band's accuracy. Or...wait, would we not be able to clearly hear the backing tracks?


Well every song would have to start with backing track drums leading you in. Not much freedom in arrangement. You may or may not be able to hear the tracks clearly, it depends on the venue.

So in your experience, it's unwise to expect venue sound systems to provide the low-frequency power required for our missing members' instruments?


Nothing will really replace the sound of live drums and bass. Basically your question is whether subwoofers will be supplied at the venue. And that really varies. I dont expect anything from a venues PA anymore, and generally bring my own DIs and microphones at the very least.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#6
I've just had another thought. What about running everything from a laptop, and for the bass, route a line out through a reamp box into a bass amp, instead of the PA? That would be one less instrument taking up headroom, and would also be far less reliant on the venue having quality subs built into said PA.

Any opinions on that? Thanks to both of you for the advice so far, by the way! Very helpful stuff!
#7
You're obviously pretty inexperienced with gigging mate. Try out your ideas and see if you like the sound.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#8
You probably need to re-read the current posts. All the advice is here now.

You can't trust in house systems, some are good some not.

You will have problems hearing everything on stage so you need monitors of your own.

Backing tracks have problems but you can overcome them.

Practice with your stage gear in the rehearsal room until you can get the sound you want.


Using a bass amp as your on stage back line is the same as using a monitor, you still need to hear the rest of your backing track so it will have to be an extra you don't need. Bass amps distort the sound, so if you are using synthesized bass you will have more control over the sound with a decent monitor. Just make sure your monitors are good enough to handle the bass. Go and read the Ultimate Guide to Live Sound in the stickies above.