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Is volume killing smaller gigs?

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32 minutes ago, mrtcat said:

I like loud rock music and have played in some very loud bands over the years. Even the AC/DC tribute act I used to be in rehearsed at sensible levels with sensibly sized kit. We played across large parts of Europe for years with dummy full stacks on stage. Yeah they were essential to the aesthetic but were no good for getting the right foh sound because guitar cabs are so directional that they're generally pretty awful at blowing FOH mixes even in some of the big clubs we were playing in Germany. If it's too loud for the room then either the sound engineer needs shooting or the musicians are just being a bit childish. If I walked into a rehearsal room to audition for any band to find a guitarist with a cranked 4x12 they wouldn't have to laugh me out the door. I'd happily leave them to their own childish approach.

Have to agree.  While there are some fans that will buy into the "bludgeon the crowd" approach espoused by Lemmy (and I certainly did when i was 14) I've been to more than one big show where it was painfully loud to the extent that large swathes of the crowd were leaving - Airborne at Hammersmith on their second album tour, and I remember seeing Super Furry Animals at Guildford where they virtually cleared the room over the length of the gig, with just a few dedicated fans at the front, some grouped behind pillars or out of direct line of the PA, and everybody else in the bar or gone home.

It's also true that I've been to shows that are too quiet - the last time I saw the Cult for instance - so there is a happy medium, but at least too quiet doesn't do any permanent damage

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3 minutes ago, Monkey Steve said:

I've been to more than one big show where it was painfully loud to the extent that large swathes of the crowd were leaving - Airborne at Hammersmith on their second album tour, and I remember seeing Super Furry Animals at Guildford where they virtually cleared the room over the length of the gig, with just a few dedicated fans at the front, some grouped behind pillars or out of direct line of the PA, and everybody else in the bar or gone home.

It's just bloody mad that being at a super-loud gig is like spending an hour in a sheet-metal factory or hanging out on the runway at Stanstead. How is it in any way entertaining when you've paid good money to be physically assaulted in effect, and can't even properly hear the songs you came to hear?

5 minutes ago, Monkey Steve said:

It's also true that I've been to shows that are too quiet - the last time I saw the Cult for instance - so there is a happy medium, but at least too quiet doesn't do any permanent damage.

I'll take damage to a band's reputation over damage to my hearing any day of the week. I think more bands would consider playing quieter if audiences would behave themselves and actually bloody LISTEN instead of spending the entire gig talking to each other, checking their phones, videoing the gig and chucking vast amounts of booze down their necks. People just don't know how to respect performers and seem to have forgotten how to behave in public. Not very rock 'n' roll I admit, but there it is.

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What I meant before is that having a bad sound to start with is the be all and end all. Unless you sort that sound at base level, turning up isn't going to make it better. And bands keep going up and up trying to fix it.

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4 hours ago, Muzz said:

Coupla things: 'He is a good drummer apart from the dynamics' is kinda like 'He is a good bassist apart from the notes'

Thats true, but I didn't say that. I said he was a good drummer apart from being too loud, which is different than from saying the dynamics. his dynamics are fine, its just that his overall volume is too high. If he had a quieter kit, he would be perfect.

4 hours ago, Muzz said:

, and if your guitarist can't hear himself, point his cab at his head; I'm gonna guess he's standing in front of (at worst*) a 412 pointing at his knees - one of those tilt-back things works a treat, and costs about a tenner. 😕

No, not that sort of too loud now, after him turning up all the time I got him to tilt his amp back and also he is miked up into the PA and fed back into his monitor (and I keep trying to persuade him to get in ears, although that might be easier now since his monitor died last gig and he couldn't hear the rest of the band). It is an appreciation of the level of a guitar in the band. he will go out the front, stand in front of the PA and decide he is too quiet in the mix, in relation to the vocals, and more specifically the saxaphone. In this case he believes he should be louder, but I don't feel that the guitar should dominate in a band like we are, and he is generally the same volume as the sax, as they do different leads.

Of course, this could be that I am wrong and maybe he should be louder.

 

 

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I've posted a couple of extremely curmudgeonly reviews of bands at the Arena in Manchester (Alterbridge were I think the last), and although it wasn't necessarily the only moan I had (did I mention 'curmudgeonly'?) the main problem was the sheer volume that the sound engineers were trying to generate in an enormous space, which resulted in a positively painful experience when looking down the barrels of the PA, and was still godawfully loud, even when we moved (we moved several times) right to the very back of the arena, in the out-of-sync* seats by the back wall. Just stupid, and of course everything revolved around the howitzer-sounding kick, and went downhill from there.

It's not just small gigs that suffer from excessive volume: it'll be some time before I consider going back to the Arena, and I'm not the only one...

 

* You know, the ones so far away from the stage the sound and lights are out of sync...as proved in the legendary experiment with the difference between relative speeds of sound and light aka 'Give us a shout when you see it' ...

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6 hours ago, Woodinblack said:

Our group is way too loud, the drummer is one of those 'its only fun playing it loud'. He is a good drummer apart from dynamics. So we turn up to match the drums. I do the sound in leu of anyone else doing it, so I set the sound up, and then the guitarist complains he can't be heard (when he is the loudest thing), it would be nice if someone else could do it, but there is noone to do so.

We would certainly sound better if we were quieter, but I have tried a lot and it isn't going to happen, so I just have to accept that. I certainly wouldn't come and watch us at that volume!  

Ummmm... 😕

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I take your point about the guitar mix, though...it's not an uncommon phenomenon with Guitar Heroes 🙂

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6 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

No, not that sort of too loud. He will go out the front, stand in front of the PA and decide he is too quiet in the mix, in relation to the vocals, and more specifically the saxophone. In this case he believes he should be louder, but I don't feel that the guitar should dominate in a band like we are, and he is generally the same volume as the sax, as they do different leads. Of course, this could be that I am wrong and maybe he should be louder.

A guitarist who understands their place in a mix is a relatively rare beast. Most of 'em think they're a 'frontsperson' in the lead role, therefore the punters have come to see and hear them (and the singer, probably). The rest of the band are just the supporting cast.

Guitarists who dominate a band with volume and who refuse to turn down because they think they're great should be ground into a thick paste, which can then be used as a cheap fertilizer. So some good will come of it.

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Lots of really useful posts about good sound, PA mix and the physics of sound and hearing.  Thanks guys, lots of things to discuss with our band.

I recently went to see a favourite band of mind that had recently reformed. Really looked forward to it. I got rather nervous when my trouser legs started flapping to the bass and kick drum.  Left before my ears bled. Would have left faster if my shoes had not been sticking to the floor where the beers spills had been left (an aside).

I got me wondering how much it is due to the young sound engineers listening to lots of drum and bass and thinking that is what the sound should be like.

 

 

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1 hour ago, discreet said:

I'll take damage to a band's reputation over damage to my hearing any day of the week. I think more bands would consider playing quieter if audiences would behave themselves and actually bloody LISTEN instead of spending the entire gig talking to each other, checking their phones, videoing the gig and chucking vast amounts of booze down their necks. People just don't know how to respect performers and seem to have forgotten how to behave in public. Not very rock 'n' roll I admit, but there it is.

Absolutely this.  I hate going to gigs where people aren't actually watching the band.  What's the point being there and paying your ticket money if you're just chatting, moshing, etc.?  Especially people nowadays who watch the whole gig through the screen of their phone.  Just enjoy it rather than taping it for your Faceberk wall or whatever it is!!!

Thankfully I've always been that miserable, so I don't see it as a sign of ageing!

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4 hours ago, Muzz said:

Ummmm... 😕

Ok - looks like I did say that! Well, that isn't what I meant, so yes, your point is correct.

But his dynamics are fine, it is just his volume. Well, his drinking isn't great but that hasn't been an issue with the band!

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4 hours ago, discreet said:

A guitarist who understands their place in a mix is a relatively rare beast. Most of 'em think they're a 'frontsperson' in the lead role, therefore the punters have come to see and hear them (and the singer, probably). The rest of the band are just the supporting cast.

Honestly I have always felt like the supporting cast. It is the group of the singer and guitarist. 

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1 hour ago, Woodinblack said:

Honestly I have always felt like the supporting cast. It is the group of the singer and guitarist. 

Nothing actually wrong with that if it's the plan. I'm just one of those people who go up to complete strangers and shout, 'You think you're better than me? Huh??' ...Actually I don't, but I think it quite a lot. :D

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I got to a point two years ago where even with ear plugs I knew I had to quit electric live bands......now play drums in a jazz "ensemble"....killed two birds etc for a quieter life sitting behind everyone at the back away from any noise, much happier.

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22 hours ago, discreet said:

Nothing actually wrong with that if it's the plan. I'm just one of those people who go up to complete strangers and shout, 'You think you're better than me? Huh??' ...Actually I don't, but I think it quite a lot. :D

I think that too. And no, its not really the plan, but while the plusses are higher than the minuses, it does the job.

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3 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

I think that too. And no, its not really the plan, but while the plusses are higher than the minuses, it does the job.

That's pretty much my criterion for everything. If you don't compromise you don't do anything.

Edited by discreet

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On 20/09/2018 at 21:59, discreet said:

Did a gig last week where the venue had a prominent db meter visible from the stage. We were told the limit was set at 105db, but we got nowhere near that. Maybe 95db peak for a very short time during our loudest number. We're quiet, so a 90db band is very quiet. :)

By way of contrast, last nights gig, large hotel type venue. Band set up on lower level, on hardwood floor area no curtains or soft furnishings, audience up six steps in a carpeted lounge area. Acoustic drums were peaking at 105-107dB at the top of the steps, dropping to 80dB five metres back. As the PA was also setup on the lower level I had a weird mix pointing the subs at the wall behind the band to get any bottom end up onto the upper level. After much tweaking I managed to get the mix sounding good where the ‘audience’ were, but I was still well over 100dB at the steps. An example of how much environment can impact on volume and your mix.

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A couple of years ago we did a wedding in a venue which had a meter. We we're surprised to see the gear trip. . . because we weren't playing at the time.

The guests were making so much noise that they tripped the power supply!!!

Edited by chris_b

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OK. I didn't read any of these posts.

If you don't feel like you're loud enough, play more quietly so that the people who really care about the.. "quality"... of the music.. will listen harder to what you're playing. And when they do, well, that's a special thing. 

It's like whispering to make sure that people actually listen to what you have to say. Dynamic.

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8 hours ago, JPJ said:

By way of contrast, last nights gig, large hotel type venue. Band set up on lower level, on hardwood floor area no curtains or soft furnishings, audience up six steps in a carpeted lounge area. Acoustic drums were peaking at 105-107dB at the top of the steps, dropping to 80dB five metres back. As the PA was also setup on the lower level I had a weird mix pointing the subs at the wall behind the band to get any bottom end up onto the upper level. After much tweaking I managed to get the mix sounding good where the ‘audience’ were, but I was still well over 100dB at the steps. An example of how much environment can impact on volume and your mix.

This is always something that amazes me. A venue allows live music and goes to the trouble of installing a noise limiter. Why then not be proactive and create a space suitable for live music with appropriate acoustic treatment so that the space itself isn't the main cause of the problem. 

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1 minute ago, mrtcat said:

Why then not be proactive and create a space suitable for live music with appropriate acoustic treatment so that the space itself isn't the main cause of the problem. 

Because the people who run these places lack imagination and do everything half-àssed, as their main purpose is to turn a profit for the owner.

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11 minutes ago, discreet said:

Because the people who run these places lack imagination and do everything half-àssed, as their main purpose is to turn a profit for the owner.

Sad but true. 

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I played an all-dayer at The Fleece in Bristol yesterday, 7 punk/oi bands and today my ears are whistle-free. The sound-people they have there are to be applauded, they make all the bands sound great, at volumes which are tolerable. Bear in mind punk/oi isn`t exactly subtle, yet you could hear the bar staff when ordering a pint of diet coke, chat - albeit loudly - to people when the bands were playing. A great venue made even better for the sensible approach to the sound.

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Our gig last night was the classic hard floor, bare wall, low ceiling, hollow stage big room. As is often the case the person who organised the party (a 50th birthday) completely overestimated how big a venue was needed for the 90 or so guests. Had the potential to be too loud due to all of the reflection from hard surfaces and half empty room. Sound check confirmed this but the saving grace was our drummer who read the situation well and reigned it all back. A bit of useful notch filtering and everything wound back on the mixing desk meant it was OK. Not perfect but certainly a perfectly acceptable sound at a comfortable volume. It really is all about the drummer tho.

DSC_0002.JPG

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