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Phil Starr

Accidental FRFR experience

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I forgot to put my bass amp in the car for last nights rehearsal. I'd taken along a single RCF 310A Mk3  as sometimes the band don't take the PA and we use those as vocal monitors. It was the only easy way of amplifying my bass so I used that instead as the rehearsal room was an hour's round trip away from the amp. The 310 was a revelation, not the sound because I use it for bass duties in my duo but that it was working so well within it's limits. I tuned the thing right up to see if it would be loud enough and ended up backing it right down. They claim 127db so even if you discount that by 6db it should have been enough, and it was. Our drummer is pretty loud and even though he was not really pushing it in rehearsal I thought we were not far off gig level for many bands. Given the levels in reserve I'm wondering just how far I could push it . The tone controls on the bass were set flat and I prefer not to have too much bass but I was surprised at just how well this little thing coped.

I know skidder65203 has just upgraded his 310 to a 315 but his band are seriously loud, for most of us would a single 10 do? I'm going to have to try this at a gig I guess. 

That's quite a serious combo for £255 

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Pa speakers make great bass amps. After all its usually pa stuff that pushes audio tech forward with many bass amp manufacturers being way behind the curve. 

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Agreed totally. Today's bass cabs are on a par with what the PA guys were making in the 1970s. I notice Markbass have just launched their latest cab with a bullet tweeter instead of a piezo. I despair.

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My entire rig (replace the Fishman with a HX Stomp though), I’d never go back to amp/cab now...

7AA49877-4BC6-4B2D-9C36-54E7C73A4EC3.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Frank Blank said:

My entire rig (replace the Fishman with a HX Stomp though), I’d never go back to amp/cab now...

7AA49877-4BC6-4B2D-9C36-54E7C73A4EC3.jpeg

 

This is pretty much my FRFR rig - bass into Fishman into QSC. Such a neat little setup as the Fishman is such a handy little tool, I managed to ditch a pedalboard and an amp when I bought mine!

Edited by lemmywinks
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8 hours ago, Frank Blank said:

My entire rig (replace the Fishman with a HX Stomp though), I’d never go back to amp/cab now...

7AA49877-4BC6-4B2D-9C36-54E7C73A4EC3.jpeg

Glad to see you still loving the alt. rig.

Night and day over traditional rigs eh?

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Whilst PA cabs do deliver useful features that are lacking in today's bass cabs - and they offer unbeatable value for money because they are produced in larger numbers - we shouldn't forget that they haven't been designed for bass guitar use in particular. Their main application is voice and music.

So we have plastic cabinets (really not ideal for bass, sorry) and a driver specification biased in favour of the midrange. RCF, in their excellent range of powered cabs, spend twice as much on their compression driver as they do on their bass driver , which is great for vocals  but not a sensible use of resources if your goal is bass guitar amplification.

One of the reasons why bass players often prefer these FRFR cabs to normal bass cabs is that they handle midrange frequencies much better. But there's no reason why a bass guitar-specific cab can't do the same. I know a couple that do - and they have better quality bass drivers than any comparable QSC or RCF cab. But they are the exception (and one of them you have to build yourself 😀).

In the meantime, a couple of high-profile American bass cab manufacturers are happy to fit a tweeter to their £1,000 cabs that I can buy at retail for £15. No wonder you hear players say "I don't like tweeters", and why they keep buying and using PA cabs for their backline.

 

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8 hours ago, lemmywinks said:

This is pretty much my FRFR rig - bass into Fishman into QSC. Such a neat little setup as the Fishman is such a handy little tool, I managed to ditch a pedalboard and an amp when I bought mine!

Yes, it’s a superb preamp, especially for the basses I mostly use. In fact I spend quite a lot of the time trying to get the Stomp to sound like the Fishman...

Hmmmm.

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1 hour ago, EBS_freak said:

Glad to see you still loving the alt. rig.

Night and day over traditional rigs eh?

Totally, a genuine revelation, just wish I could get back the thirty odd years I wasted  twatting about with trad rigs trying to get the sounds this setup gave me after five minutes!

Edited by Frank Blank
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46 minutes ago, stevie said:

Whilst PA cabs do deliver useful features that are lacking in today's bass cabs - and they offer unbeatable value for money because they are produced in larger numbers - we shouldn't forget that they haven't been designed for bass guitar use in particular. Their main application is voice and music.

So we have plastic cabinets (really not ideal for bass, sorry) and a driver specification biased in favour of the midrange. RCF, in their excellent range of powered cabs, spend twice as much on their compression driver as they do on their bass driver , which is great for vocals  but not a sensible use of resources if your goal is bass guitar amplification.

One of the reasons why bass players often prefer these FRFR cabs to normal bass cabs is that they handle midrange frequencies much better. But there's no reason why a bass guitar-specific cab can't do the same. I know a couple that do - and they have better quality bass drivers than any comparable QSC or RCF cab. But they are the exception (and one of them you have to build yourself 😀).

In the meantime, a couple of high-profile American bass cab manufacturers are happy to fit a tweeter to their £1,000 cabs that I can buy at retail for £15. No wonder you hear players say "I don't like tweeters", and why they keep buying and using PA cabs for their backline.

I would suspect that the majority of bassists using FRFR cabs over a "traditional" bass rig are using them, like I do, solely for on-stage monitoring where being able to hear what you are playing is far more important than having a "awesome tone" - that's being handled by the FoH system.

Since I switch to an FRFR system I've only once had to use it without the benefit of PA support and that's when I was using my Bass VI so the additional HF support and projection was useful.

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You could well be right, BigRed, but I think there are still a lot of us out there for whom full PA support is the exception rather than the rule.

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It is a good point Stevie, I can probably count on the fingers of one hand when I have had decent PA support. I despair when the sound person thinks my bass will sound better through two Mackie 15" Thumps than my bass cabinet.

Of course a long lead or radio system helps when comparing.

Edited by Chienmortbb

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1 hour ago, stevie said:

Whilst PA cabs do deliver useful features that are lacking in today's bass cabs - and they offer unbeatable value for money because they are produced in larger numbers - we shouldn't forget that they haven't been designed for bass guitar use in particular. Their main application is voice and music.

So we have plastic cabinets (really not ideal for bass, sorry) and a driver specification biased in favour of the midrange. RCF, in their excellent range of powered cabs, spend twice as much on their compression driver as they do on their bass driver , which is great for vocals  but not a sensible use of resources if your goal is bass guitar amplification.

One of the reasons why bass players often prefer these FRFR cabs to normal bass cabs is that they handle midrange frequencies much better. But there's no reason why a bass guitar-specific cab can't do the same. I know a couple that do - and they have better quality bass drivers than any comparable QSC or RCF cab. But they are the exception (and one of them you have to build yourself 😀).

In the meantime, a couple of high-profile American bass cab manufacturers are happy to fit a tweeter to their £1,000 cabs that I can buy at retail for £15. No wonder you hear players say "I don't like tweeters", and why they keep buying and using PA cabs for their backline.

 

Absolutely - the issue is, that due to numbers, if bass cab manufacturers upped their game in terms of drivers, they'd either double their prices and price themselves out of the market... or severely dent their profit margins. Lets not forget, bass cab manufacturers are in the game of shifting boxes rather than optimum audio but at a price that keeps them in competition with their peers.

The plastic thing isn't ideal agreed - but it is light and again, good enough and probably not that a big an issue to be audible on a gig. And to be honest, even in a plastic box, lets face it, they still play a lot of bass cabs under the table anyway. Re: compression drivers costs - agreed, although it is freeing up headroom for the larger cone - and really, it's only the x3x and x4x models that are at a premium with those drivers. Anyway - as we've discussed a couple of times before, I still dont see how they are doing the 735 and 745 for the prices that they do!

Hasn't an Italian Tonka looking brand done similar with their "tweeters"...? But of course, as a brand, good enough for Marcus and King... let the marketing and endorsement do it's merry dance.

 

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3 minutes ago, Chienmortbb said:

I despair when the sound person thinks my bass will sound better through two Mackie 15" Thumps than my bass cabinet.

 

It may do... just not at volume! 😛

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1 hour ago, stevie said:

You could well be right, BigRed, but I think there are still a lot of us out there for whom full PA support is the exception rather than the rule.

I assume you must all be playing covers in pubs with vocal only PA systems then?

Having spent most of my gigging life playing in "originals" bands, full PA support has very much been the norm except for a handful of tiny venues.

My switch to FRFR came as a result of a succession of gigs where I'd been asked to turn down my bass rig on stage so far, that despite the fact than I was stood right in front of it, I could hear the bass guitar louder from the guitarist's monitor wedge on the other side of the stage. It was at this point that I had to admit that the rig was 100% for show and nothing after the BassPod was contributing in any way towards what audience were hearing, and often nothing to what I was hearing either.

And a lot of the time when my rig was expected to provide a decent volume for the audience to hear the bass guitar, it was so loud on stage I was having trouble hearing the rest of the band!

For the last few gigs I haven't even bothered with the FRFR, relying solely on the PA monitors to hear the bass. It has made no difference to the on-stage sound at all, and I'll only be taking it to the next two gigs because they are at venues I haven't played at before and I don't know how good the supplied foldback will be. 

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6 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

I assume you must all be playing covers in pubs with vocal only PA systems then?

Having spent most of my gigging life playing in "originals" bands, full PA support has very much been the norm except for a handful of tiny venues.

My switch to FRFR came as a result of a succession of gigs where I'd been asked to turn down my bass rig on stage so far, that despite the fact than I was stood right in front of it, I could hear the bass guitar louder from the guitarist's monitor wedge on the other side of the stage. It was at this point that I had to admit that the rig was 100% for show and nothing after the BassPod was contributing in any way towards what audience were hearing, and often nothing to what I was hearing either.

And a lot of the time when my rig was expected to provide a decent volume for the audience to hear the bass guitar, it was so loud on stage I was having trouble hearing the rest of the band!

For the last few gigs I haven't even bothered with the FRFR, relying solely on the PA monitors to hear the bass. It has made no difference to the on-stage sound at all, and I'll only be taking it to the next two gigs because they are at venues I haven't played at before and I don't know how good the supplied foldback will be. 

And then the final stage is when you take a monitor rig that you split to foh. Silent stage, all on inears.

I think the mindset is finally changing.

I remember at the beginning of gigging career, sound engineers would tell me, "let the PA do all the work". I scoffed. Stupidly. Of course, he was right... but I had a band new Fender Twin that I wanted to crank.

I know, I know...

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

I assume you must all be playing covers in pubs with vocal only PA systems then?

We can't all be rock gods.🙂  For a lot of us, it's a way of socialising and being involved in music-making.

I do tend to forget sometimes that there are plenty of players out there for whom the backline is not very important, but it does have an important job to do when you're playing a smaller venue. Unless you're using in-ears, of course, but I've yet to see a band using in-ears in any of the pubs around here.

 

Edited by stevie

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

I assume you must all be playing covers in pubs with vocal only PA systems then?

Having spent most of my gigging life playing in "originals" bands, full PA support has very much been the norm except for a handful of tiny venues.

My switch to FRFR came as a result of a succession of gigs where I'd been asked to turn down my bass rig on stage so far, that despite the fact than I was stood right in front of it, I could hear the bass guitar louder from the guitarist's monitor wedge on the other side of the stage. It was at this point that I had to admit that the rig was 100% for show and nothing after the BassPod was contributing in any way towards what audience were hearing, and often nothing to what I was hearing either.

And a lot of the time when my rig was expected to provide a decent volume for the audience to hear the bass guitar, it was so loud on stage I was having trouble hearing the rest of the band!

For the last few gigs I haven't even bothered with the FRFR, relying solely on the PA monitors to hear the bass. It has made no difference to the on-stage sound at all, and I'll only be taking it to the next two gigs because they are at venues I haven't played at before and I don't know how good the supplied foldback will be. 

I do play in a covers band and yes I rarely have a good enough PA to trust the bass with. I hope you have also have the benefit of a sound person that does not use up all the FOH headroom with the kick drum. Don't get me wrong, I understand the benefits of a good PA and monitors , in a a past life, was Technical Manager for a Ramsa.

The FRFR PA cabs many use for monitoring or as a combo will be adequate for Bass only, or Vocals with a little reinforcement for other instruments if used as PA tops. However if the bass and drums are to go through the PA, then several thousand real watts are needed and better drivers than fitted in even the best "tops". Now if you have a decent line array and some serious subs....but most of us can only dream.

 

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27 minutes ago, stevie said:

We can't all be rock gods.🙂  For a lot of us, it's a way of socialising and being involved in music-making.

I do tend to forget sometimes that there are plenty of players out there for whom the backline is not very important, but it does have an important job to do when you're playing a smaller venue. Unless you're using in-ears, of course, but I've yet to see a band using in-ears in any of the pubs around here.

 

I managed to convince the band to use IEM’s and everyone loves them, we play in small pubs and it has lowered our stage volume and we can all hear each other .

We use KZ10 pros at £27 each and I have recently ordered some customs from my experience 

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1 hour ago, stevie said:

We can't all be rock gods.🙂  For a lot of us, it's a way of socialising and being involved in music-making.

I do tend to forget sometimes that there are plenty of players out there for whom the backline is not very important, but it does have an important job to do when you're playing a smaller venue. Unless you're using in-ears, of course, but I've yet to see a band using in-ears in any of the pubs around here.

 

Indeed - there is still something to said about just turning up with a rig.

I've got a dep gig with a band that run the old school method... so I'll be lugging out 2x2x10s (cos I don't know how loud they are or whether they put stuff through the PA etc) and an amp head/powered kemper.

I've had many discussion with a friend of mind trying to get him onto IEMs... and he totally gets it. Although he is a bit of a bass whore and plays with so many bands, for him, IEMs just aren't practical as many of the bands he plays with aren't using IEMs and integrating such a system with those existing bands is a bit of a technicality that for him, is just not worth it.

Edited by EBS_freak
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27 minutes ago, Chienmortbb said:

However if the bass and drums are to go through the PA, then several thousand real watts are needed and better drivers than fitted in even the best "tops". Now if you have a decent line array and some serious subs....but most of us can only dream.

 

Historically, I would have agreed... but theres some very capable tops out now.

However, if you like the sound of a single cab working hard compared to a big rig that is on tick over... well, thats a completely different discussion!

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16 minutes ago, funky8884 said:

I managed to convince the band to use IEM’s and everyone loves them, we play in small pubs and it has lowered our stage volume and we can all hear each other .

We use KZ10 pros at £27 each and I have recently ordered some customs from my experience 

Indeed - entry point for IEM enabled bands is so low now. XR18 desk for example, with P2 and ZS10s...

A 5 driver IEM with plenty of headroom, a XLR and a P2 power amp. Easy rig/wedge replacement for £60 a player all in.

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34 minutes ago, funky8884 said:

I managed to convince the band to use IEM’s and everyone loves them, we play in small pubs and it has lowered our stage volume and we can all hear each other .

We use KZ10 pros at £27 each and I have recently ordered some customs from my experience 

That's interesting. Do you have a sound engineer, or do you set the PA up yourselves?

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slightly off topic but in relation to some previous comments we manage very well with 2x Yamaha DXR12 tops and a DXS12 sub at all our gigs (big and small pubs).  The entire band (e-kit, bass, 2x guitars and 3x vocals) all go through the PA with very minimal backline (1x 20w Friedman valve guitar amp and the other using his Boss combo on 0.5w setting with acoustic shield, both miked).  I run no backline and IEMs with bass sound processing done by the XR18 and we have no issues running that setup nowhere near flat out to get a great sound (if i don't say so myself).  I'm very much past using a bass backline for this band - we sound better for a quiet backline and setup time is no different to normal (less if you factor in the amount of gear we have to lug around).  The drummer is on IEMs and a P&D haptic drum throne and the two guitarists have their own Yamaha monitors.

it's taken 2 years of gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) persuasion to get to this stage - when i joined it was the same PA running vocals and bass drum only with the usual acoustic kit, 4x12's, 50 or 100w heads, i used a BF super twin with a 1500w power amp etc etc etc - sounded like any other pub band i.e. waaaay too loud for the locations played - we still have plenty of volume, it's just now through the PA and sounds so much better for it 

Edited by intime-nick
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