#1
I don't know if this is the right place for this question but I kinda considered it "recording".

I've been playing in a metalband for a few years now. We've done a lot of gigs (once or twice a month for the last couple of years) but we are getting some mixed reviews.
Although a lot of people like the energy we bring, we are getting a lot of comments which generally point to the same issue over and over: The sound is just a massive wall. With the distortion,fast playing and downtuned guitars people can't really hear what we are playing.

I've tried everything I can think of to solve this issue: Getting a transparent amp (EVH III), getting transparent pickups (Bare Knuckle Aftermaths), Boosting my signal with a Maxon OD808, rolling of the gain, rolling of the bass, putting more mids in there, using drum triggers for the kick, playing as clean as possible (which got my standards pretty much in the direction of "sylosis tight") but we are still getting pretty much the same result.

I know this is a problem these days with metal bands that sound like a huge wall of distortion coming at you but I feel like I've tried everything I can think off to get more clarity. Is there anyone who also has this problem or knows a solution to its? Any tips are welcome!
#2
I have some very limited experience in live mixing (some school shows and a couple of others), and the #1 problem I've had with messy live sound comes from the drums. If your drummer is banging as hard as he can without any regard for dynamics it can get pretty difficult to mix, since drums don't have a volume knob.

I would've recommended the bass/gain roll off and a mid boost, but you seem to have tried that already. I'd still keep the tone that way in the future.

Do you use huge tube amps, and do you dime them all the time? You could try running the amps with lower volume, but micing them up so that the audio guys have some room to mix the instruments.

You could always try a modeling amp or something you could plug directly into the PA to have complete control over your volume.
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#3
If you play with heavy buzzing distortion that's the sound you will send out. It's not your amps or pickups, it's the distortion. I spent quite a lot of hours doing sound for a metal band who were friends of mine. They were all good musicians and singers but they kept complaining that they couldn't hear the vocals so they got rid of their sound man and asked me to fill in until they found someone else. The sound man they had was a very good soundman and worked for years at a big club/room that brought in well known major acts. This guy knows his stuff and they were really lucky to have him.

It took a long time to convince them that they had so much saturated distortion and stage volume that the overall sound was a mess and I couldn't make it any clearer than it was. They were all using stacks and heavy distortion and you could barely hear any chord changes. I finally got them to turn it down on stage and give me a chance to do my job as a sound mixer. I convinced them to limit each guitar to one 4x12 cab (mic'd) and to buy bigger powered monitors (one for each musician) and turn it down so I could do a decent mix and send it back to them through the monitors. Once we got everyone to agree to at least try it my way we did it at their next gig. They couldn't believe the difference. Everything was nice, defined and clear, and the vocals cut through with no issues. Overall they sounded just as loud to the audience but the quality and definition was 100% better.

Unfortunately I saw them play a few months ago and they were back to blasting it out and blaming their new soundman. Sometimes you just can't win.
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#4
Quote by Rickholly74


It took a long time to convince them that they had so much saturated distortion and stage volume that the overall sound was a mess and I couldn't make it any clearer than it was.


This again. Turn down your amps on stage and let the sound guy try to do something with it. The people in the audience should be hearing the PA, not the stacks.
Harmony: Stratocaster
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Fender: BXR-60
Dean: Metalman Z Bass (Betty)
Egnator: Tweaker 15
Pearl: Maximum
ESP/LTD: EXP-300
Custom: Harley Quinn Bass
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#5
If the venue has a capable PA, turn down the guitar amps and mic them. If you are playing in a big enough venue where they mic the entire drum kit, then that sound is in the hand of the sound techs. Playing a bit softer will help, but if you are having to play softer with a PA you may just not need the PA in general. It depends on the venue.

Also, something that is probably key here is sonic separation of the instruments. Mixing like that is more complex than just EQ'ing the band like a crossover. And again that is in the hand of the sound guys if you are using a PA. But the sound source needs to help in that regard, which makes it easier for the sound techs to get a good house mix.

So, that means take some of the thump out of the guitars and let the bass guitar and kick drum carry the low-end stuff. Guitars will stick out and sound crisp in the midrange. Cymbals will take the really high upper frequencies.

Also the band needs to be tight as well; if your bassist is off doing whatever, not following the kick pattern, and the guitarists are playing a counter-active line, you will sound like a wall of sound and there is nothing the sound guys can do. You have to be tight, together, and write songs that way too, if you want to be perceived as separated and not a wall. Make sure that beats of rest involve actually muting the strings, not resonating.

If you have a small venue but still have a PA to work with, I would just mic the kick drum, vocals, and try to get a direct out for the bass. If there are no subwoofers though this is useless except for the vocals, kicks and bass through drivers with little bass response is a quick recipe for mud.

Are you playing at the same venue mostly? It could be that the venue is bad, either in acoustics, sound equipment, personnel, or any mixture of the 3. Also if your audience "likes your energy" but not much else, that tells me you may not be performing for the right demographic... Nursing home?
Last edited by Will Lane at Mar 2, 2016,
#6
Yes, the audience should not be hearing your amps at all if possible, one thing I've done in the past is have the back-line at least under the stage, if not in a different room, cleans up the sound an incredible amount. The issue you are having is caused by the distortion in your amps forcing too much sound into the low-mids of the overall sound, causing it to become too saturated (i.i.r.c its roughly the 300hz mark, too much going in there just makes mud out of everything). By having your rig on stage and blasting out ALL the other mics are picking up this extra sound in this frequency band, hence, creating a wall of sound
#7
I do roll of the gain quite a bit in a live setting.. we play a lot of different venue's but I ALWAYS have to turn my amp up because the soundguy tells me to.

One thing i forgot to mention is my other guitarist in the band.. He is more of an EMG guitar crank your ENGL type of guy.. maybe that has something to do with it

Also my bass player is trying to follow all the guitarlines.. would it be better if he stuck to rootnotes locking in with the kickdrum?

Thanks for the tips btw!! keep em coming!
#8
You guys shouldn't be fighting each other for sound. Tell that fucker to turn down! Your guitar amps should be close to each other volume wise. He (lead player) should be using some sort of a boost pedal or other channel on the amp when it's time to solo.
The bass player should be fine doubling the guitars, but he needs to be occupying different sonic space than the guitars. He should be heavy on the lower frequencies while you 2 are sitting in the mids/highs. If he's using tons of distortion he needs to dial it back. Maybe even totally remove it. Most distortion (even great pedals) can eat up a lot of low end.
Harmony: Stratocaster
Alvarez: F-200
Schecter: Omen 6
Fender: BXR-60
Dean: Metalman Z Bass (Betty)
Egnator: Tweaker 15
Pearl: Maximum
ESP/LTD: EXP-300
Custom: Harley Quinn Bass
Custom: TK-421 Explorer
A steadily growing supply of pedals
#9
Turn down onstage and maybe turn your amps in from the side this will help stop spill in the vocal mics ask the sound guy if he can seperate the different instruments if there's more than one guitar.put one slightly left the other right and roll the frequencies off the second guitar where They overlap with the other guitar. He might try.seperating the instrument groups into different sub groups as well.if they are all going to the left ,right group then the summing amps will clip and it won't show on the meters.a trap for young players.but I would bet that you guys just can't turn down onstage.try a guitar compressor instead of just distortion.you will get nice sustain with an overdrive channel with compression.a lot guys use too much distortion to cover up for bad playing.im not suggesting this is the case here but if you cant play it well with a clean sound you can't play it fullstop.neilo.
#10
Like the above comments I agree that it's all about stage volume. Look at "Rig Rundowns" on YouTube and you'll see how many high volume bands use backstage isolation boxes with a cab inside that is mic'd out to the PA. Sometimes those cabs on stage are just for show and are empty or not hooked up at all.

The best bass players I have worked with followed the drummers kick but that will depend heavily on the type of music you play, for instance it's tough for a bass to follow a double kick drummer. Listen to any metal (or hard rock) band that has a good tight bottom and you'll most likely and see how the ones with the bottom end have the bass guitar and kick working together. The bass not only plays notes but is often part of the percussion sound.

Getting that thought through to your fellow band members my be a real challenge.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.