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lowendgalore

Bass mix in live concerts.... Disappointing?

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As others mentioned before, went to see PG in Sheffield last night. It's definitely the kick drum/low floor toms that are ruining it for bass. During a song with little drums for a lot of it you can hear Tony Levin, even on fretless. As soon as the full drum kit comes in he's completely drowned out. Chapman stick? he might just as well been up there playing my ironing board with rubber bands attached. Swings and roundabouts though - crappy bass sound but otherwise the mix was fine and you wouldn't fit that superb light show into a small venue.

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I don't often get to big gigs but I'm seeing The Who at NIA on Sunday. Hope the bass sound will be good. Don't even know who's playing: is it Pino?

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[quote name='KevB' timestamp='1417427470' post='2620098']
As others mentioned before, went to see PG in Sheffield last night. It's definitely the kick drum/low floor toms that are ruining it for bass. During a song with little drums for a lot of it you can hear Tony Levin, even on fretless. As soon as the full drum kit comes in he's completely drowned out. Chapman stick? he might just as well been up there playing my ironing board with rubber bands attached. Swings and roundabouts though - crappy bass sound but otherwise the mix was fine and you wouldn't fit that superb light show into a small venue.
[/quote]Yep, the drums are king as far as sound engineers are concerned, bastards.

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[quote name='bassace' timestamp='1417428274' post='2620105']
I don't often get to big gigs but I'm seeing The Who at NIA on Sunday. Hope the bass sound will be good. Don't even know who's playing: is it Pino?
[/quote]

I assume it's Pino. I also assume (pure conjecture) he may well not be playing John's lines. So there may be a few disappointed people on that front.

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I saw The Who last night in Glasgow (you can read [url="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/live-music-reviews/11263774/The-Who-Glasgow-SECC-review-too-polite.html"]my review in The Daily Telegraph here[/url] if you like) and this thread came instantly to mind. It was Pino, though it may as well have been my aunt Mabel. They go and hire what must be one of the most expensive hands in the business and I honestly didn't hear a single note he played all night.

I was in great seats, maybe 15 rows back, bang in the middle, and I was straining to hear him as I admire his restrained, tasteful playing, but nothing.

I totally appreciate what Phil Starr is saying above, that's a very informed and measured response. But as others have said, the kick drum or the left hand of keyboards or other bassy noises seem to make it through, it just seems to be the bass that's more or less turned off.

Very frustrating. All I had was Townshend and Daltrey bickering like old fishwives to cheer me up.

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[quote name='magee' timestamp='1417449845' post='2620447']
I honestly didn't hear a single note he played all night.


[/quote]Wot, no My Generation?

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At most 1-4 band line ups I've been to the bass has been okay/good. At big festivals it is usually terrible, for shame :( . It's so bad, and frequent, that I have my own name for it, "lazy festival sound". The bass is usually there but very muddy and ill-defined, snare or kick drum way too loud and guitars too quiet apart from solos. Almost like the sound engineer(s) just avoid having to work hard with all the mid-range sounds required and just drop most of it.

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I was thinking about starting a thread on this topic. In the last two years, I have been to see:

Seasick Steve @ Larmer Tree
Alter Bridge / Shinedown / Halestorm @ Wembley Arena
Toseland @ Mr Kyps - Poole
Black Stone Cherry / Airbourne @ Wembley Arena
Slash / California Breed @ Leeds Arena

Now they were all great concerts but the only one that has any bass were the Larmer Tree and Mr Kyps ones. Wembley has been mush both times (I even saw Brian Marshall fiddle with his amp a couple of times during their set and managed to improve his sounds a little) and Leeds was not much better - which was quite disappointing especially with California Breed.

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PaulWarning - nope. I guess they're too embarassed to sing about dying before they get old at 70-odd years old. There was, in fairness, outrage about this in the toilets afterwards, so the well-lubricated ageing mods started their own singalong. Great reverb in there.

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Saw The Cockney Rejects on Sat - we supported them - and their bass was fine. Fender Jazz into a GK Backline head, into a mahoosive Fender cab of some sort, which was miked up, no DI. Sounded great.

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arent engineers just trying to recreate the mush on the record. To me the bass in most modern recordings is just that...mush.

Oh for the clarity of recordings from the late 70's, early eighties...

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[quote name='notable9' timestamp='1417457829' post='2620550']
arent engineers just trying to recreate the mush on the record. To me the bass in most modern recordings is just that...mush.

Oh for the clarity of recordings from the late 70's, early eighties...
[/quote]

This.

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[quote name='magee' timestamp='1417454618' post='2620498']
PaulWarning - nope. I guess they're too embarassed to sing about dying before they get old at 70-odd years old. There was, in fairness, outrage about this in the toilets afterwards, so the well-lubricated ageing mods started their own singalong. Great reverb in there.
[/quote]shame you might have been to hear the bass on that one :lol: or perhaps that's why they didn't do it

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[quote name='notable9' timestamp='1417457829' post='2620550']
arent engineers just trying to recreate the mush on the record. To me the bass in most modern recordings is just that...mush.

Oh for the clarity of recordings from the late 70's, early eighties...
[/quote]yes, it seems to be the fashion at the moment that the bass is just there to add some bottom end, as I've said before I thought that's what the bass drum was for

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Bass players have had their bollox cut off by sound engineers to make it easy for sound engineers.
Just DI the bass straight in the desk, where there is no compression and very poor limited EQ.
All that drive and warmth you spent years creating as your sound is gone from your showcase of the big gig.

If they tried this with guitarists they would be a riot, it is our own fault, make them mic up the amp, insist, demand to have your sound, compare it, get on his back until its done and they might just start to take us seriously.
Same in studios, just DI and we will use the warbilater to cut all the mid and you out of the mix, again those yesteryear iconic sounds were mic up cabs.
DI has its place, but getting your sound to be replicated elsewhere is never going to happen with a bass DI straight in to a desk.
Make them go fetch a mic, just like they have to for the guitar.

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[quote name='Lozz196' timestamp='1417265374' post='2618686']
And how the hell do you make a Stingray a muddy mushy mess - prizes for achieving the virtually unachievable there I reckon.
[/quote]

Easy. Same way as you make any bass, good or bad sound like a piece of crap. Just Low pass everything under 400Hz cutting all the mids and treble. That's the standard soundman context I've encountered. Ever heard an Alembic reduced to a "blurruurrp" when it should be twang galore with the filters wide open? I could have played a plank of mdf for all the difference it's made on certain evenings.

[quote name='spacey' timestamp='1417468853' post='2620746']
Bass players have had their bollox cut off by sound engineers to make it easy for sound engineers.
Just DI the bass straight in the desk, where there is no compression and very poor limited EQ.
All that drive and warmth you spent years creating as your sound is gone from your showcase of the big gig.

If they tried this with guitarists they would be a riot, it is our own fault, make them mic up the amp, insist, demand to have your sound, compare it, get on his back until its done and they might just start to take us seriously.
Same in studios, just DI and we will use the warbilater to cut all the mid and you out of the mix, again those yesteryear iconic sounds were mic up cabs.
DI has its place, but getting your sound to be replicated elsewhere is never going to happen with a bass DI straight in to a desk.
Make them go fetch a mic, just like they have to for the guitar.
[/quote]

Sound guys are generally idiots to bass players. In 15 years of gigging in London I've come across 3 good ones that respected the sound I wanted to achieve and why I needed to use it to be heard in the mix of the band. The rest? Not so much shall we say. The most hilarious one was playing the Water Rats where I ended up having to play through an Ashdown Perfect Ten which the engineer refused to mic ("The bass will spill all over the stage if I do that" - total crap, the previous band had 2 guitarists both using 4x12's!!) nor did he let me use my pod into the pa. Naturally because I became irritated, he deliberately cut the bass into the monitors to mess me up so I couldn't hear myself at all.

All this DI before the amp stuff? Er, no. You're mic'ing the cab sunshine. I take no crap with this these days as I play to enjoy myself not to subsidise the fact that some muppet is deliberately screwing with me because he doesn't have a clue how to mix a band properly.

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[quote name='Lozz196' timestamp='1417265374' post='2618686']
And how the hell do you make a Stingray a muddy mushy mess - prizes for achieving the virtually unachievable there I reckon.
[/quote]

Easy. Same way as you make any bass, good or bad sound like a piece of crap. Just Low pass everything under 400Hz cutting all the mids and treble. That's the standard soundman context I've encountered. Ever heard an Alembic reduced to a "blurruurrp" when it should be twang galore with the filters wide open? I could have played a plank of mdf for all the difference it's made on certain evenings.

[quote name='spacey' timestamp='1417468853' post='2620746']
Bass players have had their bollox cut off by sound engineers to make it easy for sound engineers.
Just DI the bass straight in the desk, where there is no compression and very poor limited EQ.
All that drive and warmth you spent years creating as your sound is gone from your showcase of the big gig.

If they tried this with guitarists they would be a riot, it is our own fault, make them mic up the amp, insist, demand to have your sound, compare it, get on his back until its done and they might just start to take us seriously.
Same in studios, just DI and we will use the warbilater to cut all the mid and you out of the mix, again those yesteryear iconic sounds were mic up cabs.
DI has its place, but getting your sound to be replicated elsewhere is never going to happen with a bass DI straight in to a desk.
Make them go fetch a mic, just like they have to for the guitar.
[/quote]

Sound guys are generally idiots to bass players. In 15 years of gigging in London I've come across 3 good ones that respected the sound I wanted to achieve and why I needed to use it to be heard in the mix of the band. The rest? Not so much shall we say. The most hilarious one was playing the Water Rats where I ended up having to play through an Ashdown Perfect Ten which the engineer refused to mic ("The bass will spill all over the stage if I do that" - total crap, the previous band had 2 guitarists both using 4x12's!!) nor did he let me use my pod into the pa. Naturally because I became irritated, he deliberately cut the bass into the monitors to mess me up so I couldn't hear myself at all.

All this DI before the amp stuff? Er, no. You're mic'ing the cab sunshine. I take no crap with this these days as I play to enjoy myself not to subsidise the fact that some muppet is deliberately screwing with me because he doesn't have a clue how to mix a band properly.

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Its interesting to see so many of you guys commenting back....

A lot of feelings i am seeing that i feel ... I'm glad that its not just me that feels this as i thought i was going insane! haha

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[quote name='Lozz196' timestamp='1417265374' post='2618686']
And how the hell do you make a Stingray a muddy mushy mess - prizes for achieving the virtually unachievable there I reckon.
[/quote]

Easy. Same way as you make any bass, good or bad sound like a piece of crap. Just Low pass everything under 400Hz cutting all the mids and treble. That's the standard soundman context I've encountered. Ever heard an Alembic reduced to a "blurruurrp" when it should be twang galore with the filters wide open? I could have played a plank of mdf for all the difference it's made on certain evenings.

[quote name='spacey' timestamp='1417468853' post='2620746']
Bass players have had their bollox cut off by sound engineers to make it easy for sound engineers.
Just DI the bass straight in the desk, where there is no compression and very poor limited EQ.
All that drive and warmth you spent years creating as your sound is gone from your showcase of the big gig.

If they tried this with guitarists they would be a riot, it is our own fault, make them mic up the amp, insist, demand to have your sound, compare it, get on his back until its done and they might just start to take us seriously.
Same in studios, just DI and we will use the warbilater to cut all the mid and you out of the mix, again those yesteryear iconic sounds were mic up cabs.
DI has its place, but getting your sound to be replicated elsewhere is never going to happen with a bass DI straight in to a desk.
Make them go fetch a mic, just like they have to for the guitar.
[/quote]

Sound guys are generally idiots to bass players. In 15 years of gigging in London I've come across 3 good ones that respected the sound I wanted to achieve and why I needed to use it to be heard in the mix of the band. The rest? Not so much shall we say. The most hilarious one was playing the Water Rats where I ended up having to play through an Ashdown Perfect Ten which the engineer refused to mic ("The bass will spill all over the stage if I do that" - total crap, the previous band had 2 guitarists both using 4x12's!!) nor did he let me use my pod into the pa. Naturally because I became irritated, he deliberately cut the bass into the monitors to mess me up so I couldn't hear myself at all.

All this DI before the amp stuff? Er, no. You're mic'ing the cab sunshine. I take no crap with this these days as I play to enjoy myself not to subsidise the fact that some muppet is deliberately screwing with me because he doesn't have a clue how to mix a band properly.

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[quote name='spacey' timestamp='1417468853' post='2620746']
...
Just DI the bass straight in the desk, where there is no compression and very poor limited EQ.
...
[/quote]

I've not used a pro sound guy for about 15 years but the guy I used had an array of pre processors for each channel.

I agree if you're plugging straight into a desk you'll get maybe hi-cut, lo-cut, bass, treble and some swept mid as a basic. I can't imagine a big venue relying on those limits.

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[quote name='spacey' timestamp='1417468853' post='2620746']
Bass players have had their bollox cut off by sound engineers to make it easy for sound engineers.
Just DI the bass straight in the desk, where there is no compression and very poor limited EQ.
All that drive and warmth you spent years creating as your sound is gone from your showcase of the big gig.

If they tried this with guitarists they would be a riot, it is our own fault, make them mic up the amp, insist, demand to have your sound, compare it, get on his back until its done and they might just start to take us seriously.
Same in studios, just DI and we will use the warbilater to cut all the mid and you out of the mix, again those yesteryear iconic sounds were mic up cabs.
DI has its place, but getting your sound to be replicated elsewhere is never going to happen with a bass DI straight in to a desk.
Make them go fetch a mic, just like they have to for the guitar.
[/quote]


I love you!

:P

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Just saw Protest the Hero again tonight. Spector bass through a Mesa 8x10 rig and it sounded beefy and clear as you could expect when competing with such busy guitar and drums. Great mix! I also agree with that Spacey said. I don't have a great deal gigging or recording but I always get confused when I play gigs with shared backline and I'm the only one who bothers their arse to change the amp settings for their bass or even the acoustics of the room. To be honest, the one time I have saw it changed, the compression was up full essentially turning it into a mute button.

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I hate threads like this and as such don't normally contribute but there's been some utter nonsense posted with regards to bass guitar, it's sonic space and the capability of modern sound systems...

Modern sound systems (line-array setups) are designed for the best dispersion accross a large area. There's no 'gaps' in their frequency response (causing a lack of punch(!)) or indeed any 'fashion' issues going on, certainly not in my experience at least. They are the pinnacle of design and when correctly setup, work beautifully.

Sound in smaller venues (such as the place I mainly work) can be an issue but thats more likely caused by an issue on stage or an inherrant problem with the room itself. The system I use has horn-loaded 18" subs and bi-amped tops with a 15" direct radiator and a 2" compression driver on a horn. 98 times out of 100, the bass sounds just like it should, the other few times are made up with incompatible and/or un-useable sounds. The old 'I couldn't hear the bass' thing usually stems from 'the bass doesn't sound like or isn't as loud as I percieve it should be' or by young johnny's dad saying he couldn't hear his lad. Never mind the rest of the group, eh..

We're all bass players on this forum covering all styles, shapes and sizes but so many complain about this subject, it really gets my goat. I've been a pro engineer for nearly 15 years and a bass player for 18 and I've both played and mixed up and down the country for all sorts. I've met and dealt with a number of jackasses from both sides but with decent communication a decent result is achievable as long as whoever you're dealing with has a clue.. Some engineers are poor at their job, can't listen or simply don't understand but we're not all like that.

A comment on previous page about 'you're sticking a mic on this' would go down like lead balloon with me (and most engineers -good and bad- that I know) because it's not always the best option. Does the musicain know and understand the room? Do they know what the system is capable of? Do they know how to mix their own group? Probably a 'no' on all counts so being so arrogant as to assume they know best simply shows the short sightedness of some and the root of many problem.

I shouldn't comment on threads such as this because all it does is make me mad at some of the bad / wrong knowledge out there but the 'bash the engineer' thing feels like it becomes personal as so many think we're all clueless muppets with a stinking attitude not even capable of mixing a bag of concrete. I'll gladly help anyone who wants to learn how to mix a group (or indeed a bass guitar) but I won't be told by a musicain how to do my job. If they know better, I'll zero the desk and system then they can mix the whole thing their way. Thankfully it's never got that far.

I'm signing off at that as I could go on and on but its 3am and my feathers are ruffled.. Indeed. :yarr:

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[quote name='Wolverinebass' timestamp='1417473413' post='2620865']
All this DI before the amp stuff? Er, no. You're mic'ing the cab sunshine. I take no crap with this these days as I play to enjoy myself not to subsidise the fact that some muppet is deliberately screwing with me because he doesn't have a clue how to mix a band properly.
[/quote]

Unfortunately on a small stage with bass drums and guitar in close vicinity a mic on a bass cab is a hell of a lot more hassle than its worth your going to end up high passing all the thump out of it to get a useable sound. Unfortunately for us the fundamental frequencies of the bass mean that where you would roll off most other mics on stage to get rid of rumble you can't on bass which turns the bass sound into mush.

this is why bass cabs mic'd up on big stages is common whereas in smaller venues its usually a d.i.
with the best intention in the world you're actually just making your whole band sound worse by insisting on purely the sound from a mic

i'll happily put out a mic for a bass cab if a bass player asks for it (using it is an entirely different matter) but 9/10 it will make a mix sound worse

unfortunately the water rats has a special reputation for being a terrible place to gig for a multitude of reasons including the fact that they used to pay peanuts to their sound engineers resulting in them not really caring anymore...

Edited by Chrismanbass

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